EarthWise Pet Franchise Review: Career Change Built on Passion, Purpose
Q&A with EarthWise Pet franchisee Julie Ward
Julie and Scott Ward opened their first EarthWise pet franchise in Sioux Falls, SD, in January 2018. Scott was formerly a customer service manager for a cable and Internet company, while Julie still works full-time in the healthcare industry. The Wards represent so much of what the EarthWise brand embodies — from their love of pets to their dedication to customer education. The duo plans to open at least two more stores in the coming years in a city where health and wellness have become increasingly part of the social norm, for pets and their people alike.
We spoke with Julie about her experiences so far as a franchise owner.
Why did you choose to invest your money in an EarthWise franchise?
We have always been very passionate about animals and pets in general. Scott was looking for a change — he had been in the same role for 20 years. Avera, where I’ve been for 11 years, is a mission-based organization and what I love is I get to live out that mission. Every day I walk out knowing that I’ve made a difference, so it doesn’t matter how hard the day has been.
When we decided to look for something to do together, we wanted that same feeling. As we started to look for a franchise we came across EarthWise, and their mission resonated with us. We wanted to be passionate about what we were doing, and this gave us an opportunity to support animal rescue and pet wellness.
What do you like about owning the business?
Every day we get to interact with people who are like us. They’re all pet lovers and they are passionate about their pet’s wellness. Some are further along in their knowledge, and some take a bigger interest in it than others, but every day we get to talk to people and help educate them about what’s best for their pets.
You guys are relatively new franchise owners. How would you describe the support you received to get open and established?
We just can’t say enough good things about the franchise. From Day One we just felt like we were being folded into this family. And I think what we loved the most about being part of this family is that there’s always someone there to help, and to answer questions. So we utilized the communication tool a lot, and we made some friends — some good friends — through our training when we went to Portland. We’ve also learned a lot from those that have been open a lot longer. We’re also learning things from the folks that are coming on that are even newer than us. What I love about CEO Michael Seitz and President Daniel Webb, aside from the fact that they treat everyone so respectfully and professionally, is you can tell they really want what’s best for the brand. So we just appreciate the support. I don’t think we could be as successful as we are right now in this process without that franchise support.
It sounds like two of the areas that you felt really good about are the communication and the training. Can you talk a little about your training experience?
We thought the training was hugely beneficial, and it was just great to interact every day with the franchise staff. We also did our homework leading up to that. We were confident about the franchise we chose, but going to training really gave us a solid week of in-depth education on products. We met vendors; we learned a good framework for pet nutrition. But it didn’t just stop there — it kind of continued on, and every day we’re learning.
What legacy do you hope to leave in your community?
For me personally, that we made a difference, and again, I take that from my job now at Avera. With our store, I hope we will have made a difference for those who are on the front lines of rescue, and I hope we will have made a difference in the health of people’s pets. I hope the fact that they had better nutrition means their pets live longer with fewer health issues.
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