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From Empty Nest To Abundance

Kathy Ritter, Lexington, Kentucky franchisee, purchased an existing franchise in 2015. Originally started in 2009, the business was well-established when she bought it.


“My husband and I were at a Kentucky Derby party, when I was talking with a friend who began telling me about this business she owned, Snaggle Foot. She was dealing with some family health issues and thought she was going to have to sell the business.”

Up until this point, Kathy was unaware of Snaggle Foot, or any other pet sitting service companies. “This conversation happened at the perfect moment for me. We were about to become empty-nesters, and I felt this sounded pretty interesting, like something I would really enjoy. And I was looking for something to do.”

Kathy really liked the idea that she could work from home, set her own schedule, and be flexible enough to allow her to be with her family for special events.

“We did our homework. We met with our attorney, talked with the family about it, and eventually decided this was a great fit. So we went ahead and bought the business!”

Kathy brought her personal experience with animals to the table. She grew up with dogs, cats, fish, and even brought home injured wild animals to nurse them back to health. “I’ve always had animals in my life and loved them. To be a successful Snaggle Foot owner, I believe you need to have a love and compassion for animals.”

“The unifying thread that runs through my professional work experience has been taking care of customers. I’ve worked for large corporations in sales, and had a base of clients to manage and care for. So I understood how to talk with clients, find out what their needs were, and build a relationship with them. These same skills are fundamental to success with Snaggle Foot.”

This is valuable experience when Kathy does Meet & Greets with new customers. “I get to know the pet parents and their preferences, as well as their pets. What are their habits, special needs, likes and dislikes, feeding schedules – really listening. And then turning all of these needs into a service for them, or recommendation for a service. All of this helped me successfully take on the Snaggle Foot franchise.”

Kathy did not previously have any experience with owning a business. “When I first purchased Snaggle Foot, I felt that it would be a fun part-time business where I could take care of some animals and walk some dogs. Over time, this business has turned into something much more than I ever thought it would be. It’s become a passion. I love it.”

“You become so connected to your clients, to the pets, and we all end up feeling like we’re part of a large family. One of the most challenging aspects of the work is when one of our clients loses a pet. We have become close to the pet, our sitters get so attached, so when they have that loss, we feel that loss, too.”

Looking to the future, Kathy wants to control the growth of the business. “I really want to remain at a size where I still know each of my clients. To me, being successful is not about how much money I earn. Knowing that clients are satisfied, their pets are happy and well-taken care of. That’s my ultimate goal. If I can continue to grow the business without losing that connection, that’s the future I want.”

Kathy’s daily responsibilities as the owner encompass going on Meet & Greets with new clients, and also supporting her Pet Care Specialists. “I make myself available to them for as long as we are making visits. That means being there if a sitter can’t get into a home for some reason, or their car breaks down, or they call in sick. You really have to think on your feet. I don’t typically schedule myself for visits. I am simply the back-up in case one of the sitters is unable to be there.”

“I generally schedule out a week in advance, but we always have some last minute request, or a schedule change. So I’m adjusting the schedule pretty much every day. Even with COVID this year, the visits have continued pretty reliably.”

“I’ve been surprised at the amount of time that I put into the business. But I think that might just be me – I want everything to be perfect and I’m very detail-oriented. Staffing is probably the single biggest challenge. Balancing the staffing with the scheduling can be time consuming.”

“The biggest client problem I’ve had to deal with is a client who claimed we broke something in their house. Insurance covered it, so that wasn’t an issue. But this client was kind of an all-around problem – canceling visits at the last moment, not paying bills on time. I’ve learned to trust my gut about people when we have a Meet & Greet. I’m evaluating them as a potential client, just as they are evaluating me as a potential pet sitter.”

“My advice to someone who is thinking about joining the Snaggle Foot family is first, do your homework. Talk with some of the existing franchisees. Each business is run differently. Learn what to expect. Second, I think they should know that the support we get as franchisees is just amazing. The Home Office and other franchisees are incredibly supportive. It’s so much easier to be a franchise owner, than to try and run an independent business. Having this much support and the materials available, is amazing.”

“The Home Office and other franchisees are incredibly supportive. It’s so much easier to be a franchise owner, than to try and run an independent business. Having this much support and the materials available, is amazing.”


Tom Schwieterman | Powell, OH

Kathy Ritter | Lexington, KY

Hailey Dube | Cleveland West, OH

Janeé Gordon | Grand Prairie, TX