Leading The Way … to a fantastic work / life balance
A chance meeting with OSCAR Pet Foods’ behaviourist, Shelley Audis-Riddell, BSc (Hons) MSc, turned Andy and Michelle’s lives around. After attending “by far the best puppy classes you could ever imagine” Michelle’s love of animals and Shelley’s inspirational knowledge of pet behaviour sowed the seeds for a pioneering new franchise opportunity.
‘OSCAR Pet Foods, the UK’s largest pet food home-delivery franchise were launching a new business to support pet ownership – would I be interested in running their pilot franchise?
‘We’ve always had pets in the Corrigan household, so the concept was immediately appealing. The joy of walking them, playing with them and curling up with them at the end of each day is such a big part of our lives.
‘The timing was perfect. My job as a teacher had lost its sparkle and was totally exhausting. Andy and I were stuck in a rut. We had a new home, no savings and little time to enjoy with our kids. As Andy explains, “we were properly stuck in a bubble of negativity.” I was desperately in need of a change. In a leap of faith, I jumped at the chance.
‘Here was an opportunity for me to work by myself, at my own pace, with the flexibility to wrap myself around our precious family commitments and indulge my lifelong love of animals and Zoology. Helping other pet owners enjoy high standards of truly evidence-based care could only be good. Not to mention the dream of a reliable income from a rapidly expanding pet industry.
‘The team at Leading the Way were simply awesome. The training and set up was run so professionally, and absolutely everything — from marketing and business tips to first-aid skills and training — was covered with brilliance and clarity. After a flurry of research and business planning I was up and running in no time.
‘Waiting for my first clients to trickle in was definitely a bit hairy – but thanks to the experienced marketing team I soon learnt how to harness the power of social media and discovered plenty of help amongst the friendly pet-owning community.
‘As business picked up, I asked my husband, Andy, to step in to help with some of the dog walking. Following a disappointing experience with our Cavichon, Bella, he had trained as a part-time dog groomer (convinced he could do a more professional job – he was right!) and I had an inkling that he would turn out to be a great asset to the business. In fact, Andy’s naturally high standards and calm temperament turned out to be perfect. So much so, that before long he decided to leave his disheartening warehouse job and join the business full time. He’s never looked back.
‘If you’d asked me a year ago I would never have dreamed that I would have the business skills to run a successful franchise, let alone make the most of our different skill sets.
‘As Andy explains, “Dog grooming gave me the skills to handle dogs firmly but gently and an ability to calm nervous behaviour. It also taught me that every dog has a different personality and noticing their individual personalities is second nature to me now. People tend not to realise the skills required to manage several dogs together safely but the attention to detail and the focus on their well-being is truly rewarding. Being well-equipped is a top priority and the Leading the Way van is awesome. I’m proud every time I get in that van. It looks professional, its safety features are second to none, and I know I’m well equipped to deliver an excellent service.”
‘It’s great being out every day experiencing the changing seasons. We’ve learned to listen out for the beautiful call of a buzzard, and enjoy seeing the countryside at its very best; with the added benefit of staying incredibly fit!
‘Shelley’s knowledge of pet behaviour is incredible. It has opened up a whole new world of learning that I find absolutely fascinating. Her knowledge has given our business not only the expertise it requires but also the edge of professionalism that it deserves.
‘The CERTA Accreditation delivers certainty when it comes to knowing we offer the highest standards in the industry – nothing is left to chance.
‘One of the greatest joys we have each day is looking back with happiness at how far this franchise opportunity has turned our lives around. But, best of all, is being able to spend precious time with our children.
‘We could not be happier with our new-found life/work balance.’
“Leading the Way support has been outstanding, going above and beyond. We have never experienced this kind of commitment, helping us through the early challenges of starting a new business with no previous experience.”
Andy and Michelle Corrigan
Leading the Way Chorley