Instead of hiring a dog walking service, Amanda Kania became one.
Looking for a way out of her marketing research consultant job that frequently required draining overnight trips to San Francisco, Kania saw an ad from Out-U-Go!, a dog walking company, looking for someone to manage a location. So, instead of hiring the company to walk her dog, she took over the Downers Grove location in August of 2010.
A little more than a year later and Kania is in the process of becoming the franchisee owner, a move she hopes becomes official sometime early next year.
It's a natural fit for 32-year-old Kania, who once thought a career in a research field was what she wanted. Kania's first job out of college was research related, and that first job eventually turned into a string of similar jobs until Kania realized she wasn't much of the office-job type.
"I started thinking about how [the marketing research job] wasn't what I wanted to do the rest of the my life, and i started thinking about what i enjoy doing, and it came back to animals," Kania said. “I'm not the person to sit in front of a computer all day in an office. It was starting to drive me crazy.”
Now, Kania's car frequently acts as her office, as she shuffles around the region, walking dogs, feeding cats, giving medications and anything else pet owners need her to do for their animals. In addition to any animal duties Kania handles, she's also acts as HR, sales, marketing, operations and everything else for the Downers Grove location.
It's a lot of work, and a lot of risk in a troubled economy, but Kania isn't worried.
“I read an article that said people in a recession don't stop spending money on their kids and pets,” she said. “I'm like that as well and I'm definitely not the only one that feels that ways.”
Of course, an article isn't the only comfort Kania has to lean on. According to Kania, Out-U-Go! is celebrating its 15th year and has been growing and doing well the past few years, reassuring indicators to Kania. Additionally, Kania said her location has been doing well since she took over.
“We've had a couple of months that were down but every month we've been up and we've really done nothing but grow,” she said.
Out-U-Go!'s strength is also the reason Kania opted to become a franchisee instead of starting her own company.
“There's so much they have figured out from all their years of experience,” Kania said. “There's so much that was handed to me, all these systems and efficiencies that if I were starting from scratch i wouldn't know where to begin.”
And though Kania knows where to begin, trying to build a new career for herself in a down economy hasn't given her much time to stop.
“I'm pretty much always working,” Kania said. “My personal life and my work life are jumbled into one. One minute I'm washing dishes and the next minute I'm taking phone calls. Every hour I'm awake I'm probably working in some way.”
Kania hopes to have office space in Downers Grove next year after she officially becomes owner.