Happy Cat Hotel is proud to welcome one of our newest franchise owners, Susan Hamlin, a Happy Cat Hotel owner in Johns Creek, Georgia, whose territory covers Atlanta’s major suburbs of Duluth, Alpharetta, and Suwanee.
We recently had the opportunity to sit with her for a profile interview. Below, in her own words, Susan shares her meaningful entrepreneurial journey in becoming a Happy Cat Hotel owner…
I’m a married mother of three high school-aged kids, and my husband, Brian, works for a well-known restaurant franchise. Originally, I was in the news media business and then transitioned to more of a marketing position, also working for a franchise. As the years progressed, my career felt stagnant, repetitive, and there was no room for growth.
So, I started thinking, this can’t be all there is to life! I’ve always loved animals and wanted to try to figure out how to be around them as a career. Generally, I’m not a fan of needles and blood, so I knew working in a vet’s office wouldn’t be a good fit! But growing up, we always had animals, as my mom was quite the pet lover as well!
When I was born, my mom had a big tuxedo cat that slept in my crib. That’s probably where my love for cats began! Over the years, we had dogs, cats, a pig, a ferret, and even a squirrel monkey at one point! She was the sweetest!
Deciding on an Entrepreneurial Future
I hadn’t really given a whole lot of thought to becoming my own boss or being a business owner, but after years of looking unsuccessfully for another position, it became quite evident that I wasn’t getting anywhere. That realization, coupled with the fact that the kids were getting older and would soon be “flying the coop,” so to speak, led to a real exploration of what else is out there and what am I going to do with my life?
So, what if I became my own boss? I began to look into business ownership, and Brian went cautiously along with it. We looked for quite some time at everything from senior care and pet sitting to cooking schools and salons for kids. But nothing seemed quite right. Then one day, while scrolling social media, I saw an ad for The Happy Cat Hotel and Spa. So, I started to check it out and couldn’t believe such a cool concept existed, and I had never heard of it, being that I fancy myself quite the cat enthusiast!
I sent in the contact form and set up a discovery call. It was much different than the others I’d done. I spoke directly with the founder, Chris Raimo, and it was wonderful to hear all about the concept directly from the one who created it! No other brand we contacted did this, and it was so refreshing! I was so excited after the call but nervous that Brian would not be interested, as he’s been known to be more of a dog person. But after talking with Chris himself, he was all in!
Even though Happy Cat Hotel and Spa checked all of the boxes for me, and Brian was on board, it’s a big step to sign with a franchise, so I continued to explore options to be sure I was making the right decision, all the while listening to Brian continually ask if I’d talked with Chris again.
On What Attracted Her to the Happy Cat Hotel Franchise Opportunity…
So many things! The transparency was something we hadn’t seen with other brands. Chris is very easy to talk to, and we didn’t feel like we were getting the “run around” with important questions about operations and financial reporting. Spending the day with cats was another plus! Not to mention that it would be in an environment created specifically for them, but is also fun for us! The furnishings and decor are like nothing you’ll find anywhere else.
We hired a photographer to take professional shots of the interior and rooms. It’s an important step because people can’t really get an idea of what you’re describing with Happy Cat until they come in and see it for themselves. The whole place gives such a fun vibe; it’s unmatched. The clear camaraderie and support between not only the corporate team but also the willingness of other franchisees to share their tips and tricks of day-to-day operations is amazing. It’s our own little crazy cat family!
We really felt like if there was ever a time we’d need help, we’d have it from multiple perspectives, and so far, it’s been above and beyond.
On What’s She’s Looking Forward to the Most as a Business Owner
We signed our multi-unit franchise agreement with Happy Cat in April 2022 and settled on the first location in November – plenty big to accommodate the planned rooms.
The thing I’m most looking forward to is filling the gap for cat owners who can’t find suitable grooming options – and, trust me, I speak from direct experience. We’ve had long-haired cats, and it’s nearly impossible to find someone willing to groom them, and when you do, it can take weeks to get in.
I also look forward to meeting new people and learning new things and challenges. I know it won’t be easy, but neither is feeling like you’re wasting your life away. Plus, I get to spend the day with cats! Each guest gets enrichment time with our staff, so playing with them is a mandatory part of the job! I can’t think of a better way to fill my day (Other than with my family, of course, but they will be helping too)!
On What the Future Holds…
Our Grand Opening is slated for Oct. 21 from noon to 4 p.m. We’ve already started taking boarding and grooming session reservations. We’ve been busy overseeing the finishing touches on construction, ordering all the awesome items for our rooms, and getting out to introduce ourselves to fellow pet professionals like groomers and veterinarians. We hope to become a trusted referral partner for their feline clients.
We are also planning a special Happy Hour open house so they can come out and see the space and feel comfortable knowing that if they refer cat owners to us, they can feel confident that they will get the best care. There is no shortage of places in the Atlanta area to care for dogs, so I am really looking forward to being able to care for underserved cat owners and offer services that are hard to find for felines. Our quiet, specially designed space will be a stress-free oasis for kitties while their owners travel, remodel, transition to a new home, or any other life event that puts them in need of someone to care for their feline friend.
We don’t have cages, just luxury hotel-style rooms! Our full-service spa is also ready to serve our clients with everything from bathing and nail trims to full grooms and de-shedding. We are excited to have our groomer, Michelle, on board, who comes to us from Louisiana! She’s been grooming for more than 20 years and has special training in handling felines so they will be in great hands at our spa!
We are speeding to the finish line, and it won’t be long before we open the doors to our first location. We couldn’t be more excited to bring this awesome concept to Johns Creek, North Fulton County, and beyond!
Please follow this link to visit Susan Hamlin’s Happy Cat Hotel location in the Atlanta area.
A Final Word
That’s all for now, but we at Happy Cat Hotel Franchising insist that you stay in touch, please! To connect with Happy Cat Hotel Franchising, you can follow and like us on Facebook, watch our hilarious kitty vids on Tik Tok, connect with us on LinkedIn, and follow our latest feline feed on Instagram. And last but not least, don’t forget to listen to the Happy Cat Hotel podcast!