Hello, my name is Tina (that's me in the middle of the photo, 3 from the right). When I was younger, I can’t recall telling my careers advisor that I wanted a job arranging holidays for dogs!
So, how did I get here? I had been working in call centre management for two blue chip companies and although there were financial rewards, I had very little job satisfaction and I felt “like a square peg in a round hole”. I just didn’t fit. My husband was in a similar position with his job and we both came to the conclusion that things really needed to change.
It is a well-used cliché, but we do only have one life so we didn’t want to waste it doing a job that made us unhappy. So, we sold our house, moved into a little cottage in the country and resigned from both of our jobs. My husband went back to college and now runs his own photography business. I spent about 9 months searching for something that would fulfill me. I’ve always been very passionate about my job and I like working hard, so it was so important to me to find something that suited me. At the time, we had a Foxhound dog called Elvis. He was quite a challenge and I spent all of that year attending dog classes to try to socialise him with other dogs. I also read lots and lots of dog behaviour books and took advice from dog behaviour experts. As I was having some time off work, I volunteered with a local dog charity. Suddenly, my corporate life was replaced with dogs, dogs and more dogs. Somebody somewhere was trying to tell me something!
And then early in 2005, a friend told me about Barking Mad. It turns out that she was a dog groomer and she groomed Lee Dancy’s Auntie’s dog. Lee Dancy is the founder of Barking Mad and at the time, she did not have anyone representing Barking Mad in the North East. After a chat with Lee, we arranged a meeting at Head Office. We talked in detail about the business and I loved the fact that my ‘interview’ kept getting interrupted with Bronte, Lee’s Dalmatian, who would stick her nose in for a stroke or a treat! I thought, this is the type of business that I want to be involved in! I could see that Lee was absolutely passionate and professional about her business and she had made it a success through lots of hard work. But, she could still be herself and fuss her dog mid interview, because after all, this business is all about giving pleasure to and caring for our dogs. The business model really appealed to me. I could run my own business and be part of a franchise organisation that would clearly support and guide me. As I had never run my own business, I felt this would work really well for me, so the decision was made and in April 2005 I launched Barking Mad in Northumberland.
Over 10 years on, we are now a team of 6. In April 2009 Colin came on board, followed by Carol Ann in March 2012. I first met Colin & Carol Ann when they became Barking Mad hosts. In March 2014, Jenny joined the team to help with admin. Jenny is a customer and her lovely dogs have lots of Barking Mad holidays. My husband Brian has also joined the team!
In Feb 2017, Susan and Roly joined the ‘Dog Chauffeur’ team alongside Colin & Carol Ann.
Buying my Barking Mad business has turned out to be a life changing decision. My business has continued to grow year after year which has boosted my confidence and happiness. My family has also grown, as I now have two children. Running my business and looking after my family has worked very well for me. It’s such a great feeling to be able to say that you love your job.
In 2014, Tina was named as the BFA HSBC Franchisee of the Year - beating international competion from Subway and Domino's Pizza..