Do you offer regular discounts? How about freebies? If not, consider starting. Such offers serve a variety of purposes for your pet business:

  • They attract new customers and show appreciation to existing ones.
  • Freebies give pet parents a risk-free way to try a new product or service, with discounts reducing the financial risk.
  • They bring in business during predictably slow periods.
  • Shoppers who save in one area are more inclined to spend in others.
  • They create buzz, with word of mouth about certain offers earning goodwill and brand loyalty with different groups in your community: animal rescue, military, senior and student, just to name a few

To get you started — or to inspire new regular discounts and freebies — we talked to six pet business owners who have found success when going beyond the tried-and-true loyalty programs. They share details and encourage replication in your area. 


Manhattan Mutt MANHATTAN, KS

Active military families and full-time college students get 15 percent off dog-walking and pet-sitting services by Manhattan Mutt. The discounts bring repeat business, with students in particular.

“It has driven a great deal of loyalty, as we have many vet students in the area who appreciate reliable, flexible care for their pets,” owner Robin Brown says, pointing to Merlin & Finn (pictured here) as examples. Their human was a client from her freshman year until she graduated and moved away.


Fido & Stitch GRAND RAPIDS, MI

Fido & Stitch takes part in the 616 Lofts Pass program. Residents of seven mixed-use buildings in the city get discounts at participating local businesses, which benefit from the built-in customer base. The store offers 10 percent off retail and a one-time 15 percent off grooming.

“The residents who live in our building use it the most, but we do get several regular customers from other loft buildings,” owner Alli McDonough says. “It has definitely led to repeat customers, for grooming and retail!”


Cats N Dogs  PORT CHARLOTTE, FL

Owner Nancy Okun welcomes new puppies and adult dogs with a gotcha gift. Young ones get a bag filled with puppy chews, training treats and a toy, while those older get a bag of treats or chew picked out just for them.

“In most cases, Cats N Dogs becomes their go-to store for all things — food, treats, natural remedies, toys, etc.,” she says.


Bath & Biscuits GRANVILLE, OH

After adopting, many pet parents bathe their new dogs as a rite of passage. New home. New smell. For some, it can also be an immediate need if coming from an animal shelter, where risk of parasites and sickness can exist. Bath & Biscuits offers a free self-serve wash to pets adopted within the previous 30 days. To get the word out, owner Danielle Wilson partners with Licking County Humane Society, which hands out cards advertising the freebie.

“It’s led to a lot of repeat customers for us,” she says. “Plus, most start purchasing their pet food and supplies from us. We love having that initial introduction via the adoption, which begins a great relationship.”

To encourage orders for its newly launched in-house bakery, Wag Central sends out treat samples quarterly. “The sample box is about the size of a coffee mug, too big to be discarded like a postcard mailing,” owner Angela Pantalone says. “The package is addressed to our four-legged clients. This way, our brand-new biscuit selections can be sampled by the pup, and the client gets to see that all of our ingredients are human-grade and a healthy choice.

“Additionally, we can put in a newsletter, coupons or referral card to entice our clients to continue to use our services. This endeavor is not inexpensive, but the feedback has been great. Many people sent us videos of their pups opening the boxes, which we then used for social media. Many people are using our referral cards, and have been reminded that we are here ready to offer services to their pups. I’m hoping this personalized approach will further connect us with our clients and increase our client base through word of mouth and appreciation of a concierge level of care.”


Wag Central STRATFORD, CT

To encourage orders for its newly launched in-house bakery, Wag Central sends out treat samples quarterly. “The sample box is about the size of a coffee mug, too big to be discarded like a postcard mailing,” owner Angela Pantalone says. “The package is addressed to our four-legged clients. This way, our brand-new biscuit selections can be sampled by the pup, and the client gets to see that all of our ingredients are human-grade and a healthy choice.

“Additionally, we can put in a newsletter, coupons or referral card to entice our clients to continue to use our services. This endeavor is not inexpensive, but the feedback has been great. Many people sent us videos of their pups opening the boxes, which we then used for social media. Many people are using our referral cards, and have been reminded that we are here ready to offer services to their pups. I’m hoping this personalized approach will further connect us with our clients and increase our client base through word of mouth and appreciation of a concierge level of care.” 


Birds unlimited WEBSTER, NY

Feathered friends need grooming, too, and Birds Unlimited offers it for free three times a year to customers who purchased their pets at the store. The promotion began as a way to attract regulars on Black Friday.

Owner Paul Lewis says, “We realized Black Friday seemed to be a mall thing. People weren’t coming to standalone brick-and-mortar stores. Most people buy something, too, and we make sure the holiday toys are available. We put a couple of things on sale at the counter, and it has turned out to be a busy day for us now.” 


This article originally appeared in the February 2018 edition of PETS+.