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An Exceptional Experience

By valuing customer service, creativity and operations, Nancy and Chris Guinn have created a pet store that keeps customers coming back for more.

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Dog Krazy, Fredericksburg, VA

OWNER: Nancy Guinn, president; Chris Guinn, vice president; WEBSITE: dogkrazy.com; FOUNDED: 2006; LOCATIONS: 6 plus an online store; EMPLOYEES: 60 full-time, 8 part-time; AREA: 6,974 sq. ft.; FACEBOOK: dogkrazy; INSTAGRAM: dogkrazy; TIKTOK: dogkrazyinc; TOP BRANDS: Lupine, Steve’s Raw Food, K-9 Kravings, Primal Pet Foods, Earthborn, Zignature, Fromm, Vital Essentials, Fluff & Tuff, Kong Boss Dog, Earth Animal, Diggin’ Your Dog, Super Snouts, Mendota, Colorado Hemp Honey, Weruva, Dog Krazy Bakery


NANCY GUINN REMEMBERS her first customer, a Chihuahua named Bruno who came into the original Dog Krazy store in Fredericksburg, VA, 16 years ago.

“I wasn’t officially open for business yet,” she recalls, “but he was from out of town and his pet parents desperately wanted a harness so they could comfortably walk him around. I couldn’t turn them away, and they bought the cutest blue one.”

The experience established a customer service ethic that — along with Nancy’s endless creativity and the addition of growth-minded husband Chris — has built Dog Krazy into a chain of six bustling brick-and-mortar locations and a busy online store.

A dollar from that first sale labeled “Bruno’s Buck” hangs in the Fredericksburg back office as a reminder of the business-defining transaction.

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Leading with Nutrition

The Guinns have made it their mission for Virginia pet parents to equate Dog Krazy with an exceptional customer experience. One major way they achieve that has been to set up their stores as sources of expert nutrition advice.

Inspired by Piglet, the Bulldog Nancy started the business with who had heart issues, she has completed 800 hours of formal education on the topic, including most recently 100 hours through College of Integrative Veterinary Therapies.

Nancy passes on what she learns to staff through a two-week in-house pet nutrition course for new hires, regular seminars, and a communication board where associates can access information on which foods and supplements best address specific health conditions.

“This makes everyone self-sufficient and eliminates delays in getting vital information if I’m not around,” she explains.

In addition to creating lifetime customers who never forget how Dog Krazy helped improve the health of their pets, the training and support, as well as an extensive retail sales course, have a significant impact on revenue.

Chris says, “It reduces the on-the-floor-training needed and the learning curve from six months to about three. Prior to developing the training program, a new sales associate had an average sale ticket of about $18 and average items per sale of 1.4. With the training program in place, we are now seeing new associates average $29 a sale and 3.2 items per transaction. Associates average about 350 transactions per month. That’s an increase in an additional 630 items sold and an additional $3,850 in revenue per new associate.”

Connecting Through Marketing

Also elevating Dog Krazy’s customer experience are innovative marketing efforts that reach pet parents in their communities, on social media and at each location. Nancy created and continues to evolve brand strategy, from the bright color palette and fun font used throughout the stores and in marketing materials to all other aspects of customer engagement.

Last year, sales associate Emily Young moved up to marketing manager. She helps to brainstorm and execute events, email campaigns, and Dog Krazy’s memorable and impactful social media content. Her graphic design and photography talents can be seen in the many materials featuring Nancy and Chris’s pets. Store shelf-talkers highlight Bulldog Pork Wonton’s favorite treats and Beagle Sushi’s must-have chews. TikTok videos capture Bullmastiff Tala and Bullmastiff-mix Stirfry Fatguy taste-testing cookie recipes with Nancy at home, making customers feel like members of their extended family.

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“They love to see the Dog Krazy dogs reviewing and trying out products, and often purchase based on these posts,” Young says. “Our customers love what they love,” Nancy confirms.

The pups also appear alongside the Guinns’ blue-and-gold macaw Max and Vietnamese pot-bellied pig Jimmy Dean in pop art-inspired wall and window decals created for the Fredericksburg and Richmond locations. Pork Wonton, Tala and Stirfry Fatguy are also featured on Krazy Cash, a three-tiered bounce-back program for new customers. Recently launched, coupons come back daily, with the first one reaching a 20% return rate as pet parents become regular customers.

From left, Stirfry Fat Guy and Pork Wonton are just two of the Guinn pets that appear in window graphics.

The bounce-back program for new customers includes coupons for a 20% discount, then a free bag of treats and finally a free bag of food.

The bounce-back program for new customers includes coupons for a 20% discount, then a free bag of treats and finally a free bag of food.

Finding Inspiration

Having Young handle marketing allows Nancy to focus on creating more programs and products that enhance customer experience and move inventory. (“Everybody needs an Em,” she says.) One such program: the Krazy Krate Sample Box.

When the Guinns opened a warehouse in 2020 to support their rapidly growing online business, manufacturers and distributors sent samples, around 10,000 total. Chris came home one day with a sample pack of men’s colognes from Sephora, complete with a gift certificate to ultimately purchase his favorite. Inspired, Nancy adapted the idea for Dog Krazy. One weekend a month, the first 200 customers who place an online order of $50 or more for pickup or local delivery receive a free Krazy Krate Sample Box. It comes packed with 12 or more full-size product samples.

“All customers have to do is tell us what they’d like brought into the stores,” she says. “It’s a win-win. Everyone loves free stuff. For us, it’s great market research.”

It also boosts online orders during Sample Box weekend at minimal cost. The program expanded and now also offers regular Krazy Krates, monthly subscription boxes that cost $50 but have $100 worth of products, many of which Nancy and Chris want to move out of inventory.

Nancy devotes more time to her bakery creations now, as well, also finding inspiration from human products and pop culture. Munchables Trays and Jurassic Bark Fossils are two of the recent offerings made at the three locations with in-house bakeries and sold at all stores. Customers look forward to the next fun design and regularly buy it out.

“There are so many human ideas that cross over well into the pet space,” she says, “like our gumball machines. Our special doggy ones dispense a handful of yummy treats and gifts. All proceeds are donated to a pet charity.”

Nancy named her in-store bakeries Lola’s Barkery after her mom and Piglet. Lola was Piglet’s nickname, and it means “grandma” in Tagalong, a nod to her Filapina heritage.

Nancy named her in-store bakeries Lola’s Barkery after her mom and Piglet. Lola was Piglet’s nickname, and it means “grandma” in Tagalog, a nod to Nancy’s Filipino heritage.

Bottom Line

Each store has a grooming department, with five also offering self-wash stations. The newest location in Fredericksburg offers day care, too. Dog Krazy has grown steadily since opening in 2006, but has achieved more than 50% revenue growth year over year since 2010. Contributing to that success are operational guidelines and practices put in place by Chris, thanks to his background in accounting. His monthly KPI retail report cards, in particular, help motivate staff and keep them focused on a common goal. They summarize their averages of sales, add-ons, and give overall ranking.

“The report cards aren’t meant to reprimand employees who don’t meet a certain quota, but rather to motivate them to grow and to be able to compare their progress month-to-month,” he says. “If the associate has above-average performances for the month, they receive bonuses for exemplary numbers. In May, the bonus was $750.”

The report cards are adapted and given to groomers, day-care staff and managers.

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Next Up

Nancy gets regular inquiries from other pet store owners who see how her bakery products engage customers and contribute to the overall Dog Krazy customer experience. With that in mind, the Guinns plan to make her cookies, cakes and other bakery products available wholesale to stores across the country in early 2023.

And with a solid management team in place, they are eager to spend more time remotely managing their businesses rather than working on site.

“The dream is to buy an RV, load up the pets and travel nationally,” Nancy says.

Five More Cool Things About Dog Krazy

1. VIPP: The Very Important Pet Parent loyalty program rewards regular in-store shoppers. During special VIPP events, those who spend $100 get a branded key chain. It gives them access to exclusive savings, including Fifth Saturday Sales where they get a tote bag to fill up and receive 20% off the items. Members who cannot make it in on those days can shop online and save 15% on their purchases. The club has more than 500 members.

2. FORGET CHEWY: Dog Krazy’s online store easily competes on a local level with big e-commerce. Orders pull from inventory at all six brick-and-mortar stores, plus the central warehouse where the full-time fulfillment and delivery team has an office. Customers can order perishable items for pickup or delivery within 30 miles of any location, and even set up auto-ship subscriptions. Deliveries are made in two vans wrapped with designs inspired by Nancy’s heart dog, Piglet.

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3.FUNDRAISING TREATS: Quarters collected from Dog Krazy Gumball Machines go into The Piggy Bank Fund, also inspired by Piglet, as do proceeds from Piggy Bank Cookies made in the bakeries. Each month, employees choose a receiving charity. To date, more than $1,200 has been donated from the fund.

4. BENEFITS & PERKS: In addition to employee discounts, the company offers a subsidized benefits package for full-time employees that includes health, vision, dental and pet insurance, plus PTO and a 401k with 4% matching.

5. K9 CONNECTION: Dog Krazy uses the power of its social media — 26,000+ followers across Facebook and Instagram — to shine a spotlight on Fredericksburg and Richmond pets who have been looking for their forever home for too long, often years. All of the dogs featured get adopted within a month.

PHOTO GALLERY (29 IMAGES)

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