Renuka Salinger: Vice President of Franchise Development, Camp Bow Wow

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Renuka Salinger joined the Camp Bow Wow family in 2007 and, like Steve Ricard, started out as a Camp Counselor at the unit level. She was brought over to the corporate support team in 2007 to help open more than 100 locations in a 3-year period. Renuka has held multiple roles at Camp Bow Wow, and her diverse skill set includes an in-depth understanding of franchise sales, vast institutional knowledge of Camp Bow Wow franchise operations, site search and pre-opening processes, franchise owner relations and business development. Today she oversees the franchise sales department, which is responsible for new unit, additional unit, multi-unit and resale development for the company. She is very passionate about animals and helping people realize their dreams of operating their own successful businesses. She and her husband, Brodin, share their home with their three dogs and three cats. Website:

How did you get into the industry?

I grew up on a horse ranch in rural South Dakota and have always loved animals.  When I was away at college I really missed all the animals and the first thing I did when I moved home was get a dog.  As I started my career search, I realized that I somehow wanted to incorporate animals into my career.  I was searching online and came across Camp Bow Wow. I was hired at the Boulder Camp as a Camp Counselor. I really liked getting to know the corporate support team as well as the company’s Founder that came in and out of the Camp. Within 6 months of starting, I was brought over to the corporate support team and I was part of our initial team that helped open the first 100 Camps across the country. After five years in operations and training, I transitioned to franchise sales and I now head that department. If I was asked ten years ago if I would be working for a doggy daycare company in franchising and doing sales, I would have said no.

Any emerging industry trends?

I think the biggest emerging trends in the pet care industry are related to technology.  Consumers are seeking technology advances that make their lives easier as well as delight them.  An example for us would be our new mobile texting app for our businesses which allows Camp staff to communicate and send pictures and other updates to clients that are away on vacation or business travel.  

Any industry opportunities or challenges?

Opportunities in the Pet Care Industry are wide open right now.  Beyond technology, anything that brings value for pets and pet parents is a hot commodity.  Above all else, we are finding that our clients seek a safe environment for their pet to stay and play in.  They are concerned about the health of their pets more than ever and will pay extra for services or products that provide this.  

A challenge for us right now is finding real estate as the market is very tight and costs for construction have sky rocketed.  Along with a hot real estate market, prohibitive and/or antiquated local zoning regulations can also create barriers.

Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?

The inspiration and vision for our business was born from our Founder’s own need to have a safe place to board her dogs while she was away on vacation or traveling for work.  In 1994, she wrote the Camp Bow Wow business plan which really turned the traditional kennel model on its head by moving the kennel out and adding in daycare for dogs which at that time did not exist.  This combination of convenience and an innovative new service was well received by the local community when she opened her first Camp in 2000. In 2003, she started franchising and the brand took off.  

Along with our franchise owners, the Founder also successfully launched our 501c3 non-profit Bow Wow Buddies Foundation which provides us the vehicle to give back to pets and people in need.  It has been truly inspiring to see what we have been able to do at a national and local level to help those in need.

What's next for the Business in the near future?

We are projecting to open 10-17 new Camps this year bringing us to more than 150 locations in the U.S. and Canada.  We currently have 45+ Camps in our sold not open pipeline and we expect to sell at least 30 new licenses this year.  By 2020, we would like to have 200+ open Camps.  We currently have more than 800 territories available in North America.  Our goal is smart, strategic growth with fantastic franchise owner partners.

Your key initiatives for the success of the Business?

I am very proud of the many different initiatives we have completed in the last year such as hiring a great franchise sales team, the complete revamp of our franchise sales website and the work that has been collaboratively managed with our marketing team for franchise sales lead generation and advertising.  The results of all of the above efforts have made the last two years our best in over a decade in closed franchise sales (19 in 2015, 26 in 2016), which fuels our brand growth.

Your most difficult moment at the Business? (and what did you learn?)

The most difficult lesson I learned (and this was early on) is that your customer’s perception is your reality.  When you are working with other people, how you approach issues that arise is key.  In a business relationship like a franchisor/franchisee relationship that spans 10 years or more, there will be ups and downs.  Knowing when to compromise and when not to isn’t always easy. I remember to keep the brand and the relationship with the franchisee or client first in mind.  I have learned that good communication skills in any relationship helps produce better results and often times faster reconciliation.  

Ideal experience for a customer/client?

Our Camp clients are looking for a fun and safe environment to send their dogs to stay and play while they are traveling or working.  Their satisfaction stems from knowing that their dog is well cared for and they love being able to watch their dog play in our monitored play yards and receive love and affection from our Camp Counselors.  They enjoy the various customer appreciation and charity events that our franchise owners host as well as training and education programs.

Our franchise owners enjoy the satisfaction of owning their own business and being a part of their local communities.  Our goal for their experience is that they successfully start and ramp up their businesses and run great locations all while living our vision statement of happy healthy pets, happy healthy people.

How do you motivate others?

I think that the ability to inspire someone stems from believing in what you do and believing in what others can achieve. The key to building, training and retaining a great team is support and accountability as a manager and team member.  On my team, we all have different roles, responsibilities and personalities.  People and teams have varying work styles and needs, and as a manager or team member, you need to be able to adjust your style if needed to produce the best results.  I take a holistic approach.  We spend much of our life at work and if you don’t take care of your team or be a team player, you may still produce results, but you may not have high engagement and employee satisfaction.

Career advice to those in your industry?

I firmly believe in the Roman philosopher Seneca’s quote, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”  In the past, I have had people say to me, “You lucked out with CBW, you were in the right place at the right time for sure.”  Well, I can’t say that hasn’t crossed my mind, but I also think that my success should be attributed to being open and ready for new opportunities.  I don’t believe luck just happens, I believe you create it.  Most people don’t win the lottery stumbling on a ticket, they go out and buy them.  You don’t win a card game if you don’t play etc.

If you want to move up the ladder anywhere, I believe you need to be ready to stretch, learn and grow and know that it will not always be comfortable or fun.  You will make mistakes and fail, you will learn what you like and don’t like and where your true skills are. I think to move up the ladder, you need to ask for opportunities, don’t expect them to just be handed to you.