Record-breaking franchisee says ‘Huu-Ray’ for Petpals!

7th February 2018

A Petpals franchisee with only seven months trading under his belt has recently been awarded ‘Best Start Up’ in a special award at our annual conference.

Ray Hipwell, who runs Petpals Chislehurst with wife Sandra, has smashed all previous records, beating 20 other established franchises’ results in just a few short months.

Ray and Sandra Hipwell receive Best Start Up at the 2018 national Petpals conference

Ray and Sandra Hipwell receive Best Start Up at the 2018 national Petpals conference


A former Fire Brigade driver trainer, Ray left the life of ‘big boy’s toys’ behind to start up his brand new pet care company in May 2017 having seen an advertisement about the business on Facebook.

He and the family have always had a menagerie of pets and it was somewhat of a dream come true to turn is love of animals into a full-time and highly profitable job.

Raymond Hipwell owner of Petpals Chislehurst

Raymond Hipwell owner of Petpals Chislehurst

Says Ray

‘Initially I saw an advert on Facebook for the business; I clicked on the link, visited the website and read all about the opportunity; I was impressed with what I read so I took it from there.’

After a ‘discovery day’ with existing and highly experienced franchisee Clare Stafford, owner of Petpals Fleet, he and wife Sandra attended a meeting with MD Kevin at the company’s Andover office.

Sandra says,

‘The meeting with Kevin was really important; nothing was ‘dressed up’, we were just presented with the hard facts, ‘this is the business opportunity, we’ll support you and give you all the benefits of our experience, but at the end of the day it is up to you to make it work’. We were very impressed with that and would have been suspicious of anyone who tried to make it all look too rosy. As practising accountant I very much had my eye on the figures from day one.’

And make it work they have; from the very first week, while our southern operations manager Nick Skinner was still out with them distributing flyers, the phone started to ring and hasn’t stopped since.

Says Ray,

‘It just exploded; we hit the ground running and even now, seven months in, we are still getting between five and 10 calls a week from new clients. We have taken on two members of staff and others will no doubt be joining us soon to cope with demand.’

Asked what difference being a Petpals franchisee makes, as opposed to starting up on their own

Sandra replied,

‘Apart from the huge amount of support we received during the launch, one of the main things we have learned is how to effectively market our business; I am under absolutely no illusion that without following the tried and tested franchise model we would never have been this successful this quickly.’

Ray continued,

‘We knew there would be a steep learning curve but with the support from Petpals’ head office it has all just been so much easier, added to which, via the Petpals Franchisee’s Forum, we have 50+ other franchisees ready and willing to answer our questions that really shouldn’t be underestimated. There are businesses in the network that have been running for years, they have all ‘been there and done that’ so we know someone will always know the answer to our ‘newbie’ question!’

On their plans for the future the couple say they want to continue to grow the business, mindful of maintaining their reputation excellence in standards and the high levels of care they give to the animals they look after.

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