Adding Value
at Every Step

At Montana store, staff learns to spell "team" Dee-O-Gee

 STORY BY PAMELA MITCHELL

Josh and Holly Allen understand the importance of teamwork. After all, it has helped them more than double the size and services of Dee-O-Gee — and increase staff from one to 16 — since they opened the pet store in 2008. Working together effectively and efficiently also allowed them to further expand their Bozeman, MT, business to include a second, smaller location in 2013.

Dee-O-Gee
Bozeman, MT

URL: dee-o-gee.com
OWNERS: Josh and Holly Allen (PICTURED)
OPENED: Opened in 2008, moved to featured location in 2014
AREA: 4,200 square feet
EMPLOYEES: 8 full-time, 8 part-time
FACEBOOK: facebook.com/deeogee

The couple points to the particular brand of teamwork they practice as a major reason for their success. 

“We really believe in adding value to people, and their pets, regardless of whether they are a customer or an employee,” Josh explains. “With the mindset of adding value, the staff buys into supporting each other and helping customers the best way they can.”

Team Efforts, Team Wins

This team mentality applies to all aspects of Dee-O-Gee employment, with a bonus structure incentivizing staff members to perform on two fronts. The first involves helping to meet monthly sales goals. The second takes quarterly expenses into account. Josh — who handles store operations while Holly puts her vet tech experience and pet nutrition knowledge to work on the sales floor — provides employees with a report that shows opportunities for savings.

“For example, damaged products are an unnecessary expense for us,” he says. “The staff sees that if they rip a bag of food while stocking shelves or mistakenly make 100 copies instead of 10, it affects our bottom line.”

Josh says that the monthly and quarterly bonuses, which both full-time and part-time employees are eligible to receive, promote a sense of ownership. That, in turn, contributes to increased profits.

“Our annual growth rate over the past four to five years has been 20 to 40 percent. That percentage will naturally start to taper off, as our town is not very big,” Josh says. “However, our next phase with franchising will really boost the overall growth of the company.”

Expanding the Dee-O-Gee Team

After Josh and Holly had two Dee-O-Gee stores open and operating in the black, they began to consider further expansion. Distance, though, presents a challenge.

“Bozeman isn’t big enough for another location,” Josh explains, “and we’re so geographically spread out in Montana that the next area big enough for one is hours away.

“Holly and I have two young kids we adore and don’t want to be traveling to open and manage stores. With franchising, we can grow but not be ultimately responsible for operations of additional locations.”

The couple also sees it as an opportunity to help others gain the happiness and success they have thanks to the Dee-O-Gee formula. Their flagship store spans 4,200 square feet in a shopping center, in a spot specifically chosen for its steady foot traffic from nearby retail and restaurants. Large windows line the front, with one offering a view into the 1,000-square-foot daycare room.

“It’s literally the doggie in the window,” Josh says. “We’re right next to a coffee shop, and shoppers love to stop and watch the dogs play.”

Once inside, they find a stylish warehouse space with concrete floors, exposed ductwork, and earthy green and blue accent walls, the latter a reflection of the store’s emphasis on eco-friendly and all-natural pet products. An 8-foot-tall red fire hydrant catches the eye — of both people and pups — as does the check-in desk for full-service grooming, which looks like an oversized doghouse. The grooming area itself features two large windows.

“We feel like visibility is very important with grooming,” Josh explains. “We want our customers to see that we’re taking good care of their pet.”

Dee-O-Gee has DIY dog-washing stations, as well, and offers puppy classes in partnership with local experts Know They Dog. The trainers also work with store staff, teaching them about canine behavior and body language so they can maintain a safe and fun environment in daycare.

Josh and Holly believe they’ve hit upon the perfect combination of high-quality products and services.

“We don’t want any part of our business to dominate the others. It’s the hybrid of all three that makes it great in our opinion,” he says.


 PHOTO GALLERY (16 IMAGES)


5 Cool Things About Dee-O-Gee

1. PET PORTRAITS: Dee-O-Gee regularly hosts “Paw-casso,” a two-hour painting class during which participants create a portrait of their dog while sipping on a BYOB of their choice. 

2. LOYAL LONGTIMERS: While some employees are from Montana State University, and therefore come and go with the semesters, many staff members are old friends to customers. Groomer Kristi Nelson was the first employee Josh and Holly hired. “We’ve known her kids since they were born. Our employees become part of our life,” Josh says.

3.DAY-CAMPER SPECIALS: To encourage daycare customers to also shop, the store offers them exclusive specials. “It could be $2 off this treat or $5 off that food. We surprise them. It has created a super-loyal customer.”

4. JERICHO THE SHOP DOG: Josh and Holly’s 12-year-old Papillion inspired them to open Dee-O-Gee. He was diagnosed with multiple health issues as a young pup, and their search for natural alternatives revealed a void in the local market.  

5. Q&A: On the store’s website, shoppers will find the Ask the D-O-G Expert form, where they can submit a question about nutrition, supplements, toys, treats or grooming. They will get a reply email within 48 hours and an invitation to schedule an in-person consultation.


This article originally appeared in the September-October 2017 edition of PETS+.