Connect with us

Best of the Best

Spa Offers Post-Groom Photo Shoots

Kentucky pet spa brings in the bucks with post-groom Facebook photo package.

mm

Published

on

BATHE. CHECK! Cut and style hair. Check! Trim nails. Check! Next task: Take a picture of the freshly groomed pet on an elaborate set, creating an adorable image that their person just can’t wait to share on social media. Fairytales Pet Spaw in Winchester, KY, does all of the above and more as part of its popular Facebook Photo Package.

THE IDEA

DIY Pet Portraits

Salon owner Heather Carter has been pampering dogs and cats for nearly 25 years. She would pay a professional to shoot “after” photos during the holidays, until 2008 when the groomer decided to DIY instead.
“I was already doing so much of the work. I had to book sessions and help out during,” Carter says. “I started making my own sets and taking my own pictures.”
She now offers the images as part of an add-on package available year-round. For $10, it also comes with teeth brushing, designer neckwear and a gourmet treat.

Advertisement

THE EXECUTION

Ready, Set, Shoot

Carter finds inspiration for her sets — holiday, seasonal and other themes — in a variety of places. She may find a backdrop online and build around it, or an item at a thrift store may spark an idea. That was the case with Labor Day photos this year.
“I was at Goodwill and saw a man looking at this teeny tiny grill. I thought, ‘Please don’t buy it please don’t buy it.’”
He didn’t, so the salon owner snatched it up. She put it on a patch of fake grass and added a mini Coleman cooler from American Girl, plus squeaky hot dog and hamburger toys. A green sheet and red, white and blue bunting hung behind.
Carter spends between $50 and $150 on each set. With minor adjustments, pets of all sizes can fit. The set currently in use — she introduces a new one every two weeks — stays in a designated photo room, complete with box lights from a $100 kit that also came with solid backdrops and a stand. During the busy holiday season, large dogs get their own set in the salon’s adoption center.
The groomer uses her iPhone to take pictures.
“I do have a professional camera that I use during the holidays, when we offer longer sessions for $50 with a CD of images to take home.
“Most people, though, just want one nice photo of their dog to share on Facebook.”
Because many pets are regulars, they are comfortable on the set.
“They know it’s the last thing we’re going to put them through, and then they will get a treat and can go home. It doesn’t take but a couple of minutes.”
Carter edits and adds her logo to photos between appointments, also right on her iPhone. She then shares the final images with clients on Facebook or via email.

Advertisement

THE RESULTS

Income Boosts

From five to 10 clients buy the Facebook Photo Package each business day, resulting in $200 to $400 in additional income per week. The branded images circulate on social media, seen and shared by Fairytales Pet Spaw’s 3,500-plus Facebook fans alone as well as proud pet parents. Carter does not have to advertise otherwise.
“We not only get to showcase our work, but it’s great marketing and has been highly beneficial for me.”
The salon owner also earns money through sales of her photo sets. She offers replicas and those she no longer uses to other pet businesses. A package including the set and pet accessories can sell for as much as $150 plus shipping.
“I’m so busy I can’t fill all of the orders!”

PHOTO GALLERY (5 IMAGES)

Do It Yourself: 5 Steps to DIY Pet Portraits

1. Create or purchase a photo set. Carter offers hers through the Tickled Pink Photo Sets group on Facebook
2. Designate a space where you can leave the set in place. Buy an inexpensive light kit if needed.
3. Adjust appointment lengths to allow for extra time, a bit more to start as you get in a groove.
4. Download an editing/watermarking app for your phone. Carter uses iWatermark and EasyMark.
5. Share the photos on social media. Run contests to encourage likes and shares, awarding prizes for the highest engagement.

Pamela Mitchell is the senior editor at PETS+. She works from her home office in Houston, TX, with Spot the senior Boston Terrier as her assistant.

Advertisement

FEATURED VIDEO

PETS+ Wellness Summit

Let the PETS+ Wellness Summit Boost Your Wellness Business

This October, PETS+ is hosting its first-ever education and buying summit, with a laser focus on one of the most exciting, fastest-growing areas of the pet business — wellness. The PETS+ Wellness Summit will be held Oct. 1-2 in Rosemont, IL, just outside Chicago and minutes away from O'Hare International Airport. Watch the video to see how you'll boost your wellness business at the event.

FREE REGISTRATION! Sign up for the Summit today at petsplusmag.com/register

Promoted Headlines

Best of the Best

A Day Care That Offers Dogs Hikes and Swims in the Ocean

It’s adventure time!

mm

Published

on

CERTAIN DOGS DON’T do well in day care. Andrea Servadio, CEO and co-founder of Fitdog in Santa Monica, CA, explains: “They need more activity or different mental stimulation, or they get overwhelmed in larger play groups.”
Or all of the above. To give such pups the best possible care and a fun-filled outlet for their energy, Fitdog offers Adventure Classes.

THE IDEA

Fun-filled alternatives. Two types of classes are available: Canyon Hikes and Beach Excursions. Three hikes, 4 to 6 miles each, happen every weekday in the Santa Monica Mountains. Dogs get to explore the trail, stopping mid-hike for a break.
Fitdog offers one trip to Huntington Dog Beach every weekday.

Advertisement

“The dogs who know how to swim go out into the ocean,” Servadio says. “The ones not fond of the water stay in the shallow end, digging and playing fetch.”

Pups come from seven neighborhoods with pickup and drop-off included in the cost. Hikes are $40, and beach trips are $49. Staff-to-dog ratio runs one to six.

THE EXECUTION

Coordination and expertise. Pet parents whose dogs have met behavioral requirements can book Adventure Classes through the Fitdog app. Reservations go to the Sports Coordinator, who groups dogs geographically and by activity level, then chooses appropriate trails.

A Sports Leader picks up the pups between 8 and 10 a.m. in a company van. Servadio uses the fleet-management system Samsara to create efficient routes and to maximize safety, the latter as it monitors driver speed and phone usage. The system also gives location information.

“We can update pet parents in real time, ‘The van is only 15 minutes away,’“ Servadio explains.

Once at the destination, dogs approved for off-leash fun are given that freedom. Otherwise they stay on leash with the Sports Leader or assistant. Drop-offs happen between 1 and 3 p.m., with notes and photos from the day arriving soon after.

Sports Leader Scott Korchinski gets ready to lead pups on a canyon hike.

THE RESULTS

Happier dogs, more bookings. Adventure Classes give pups the opportunity to expend both physical and mental energy, and to socialize with a small group of dogs in a fun setting.

“Once people start incorporating these types of activities into their dog’s schedule, they become addicted because their dogs are a lot happier,” Servadio says. “By doing something a little bit different, mixing up their routine, it makes time in day care a lot better.”

The classes have grown to 18 percent of the overall Fitdog revenue since being introduced in 2015. In addition to having a positive impact on day care bookings, they also lead to training referrals.

Advertisement

“If a dog is pulling on a hike constantly or not responding to their name or reactive to other dogs on the trail, we recommend that the owner take some of our training classes. Approximately 25 percent of dogs in training classes were referred from Adventure Classes.”

Do It Yourself: 5 Steps to Adventure Classes

  • Survey dog-friendly recreational areas nearby and determine which are good fits for your business.
  • Draw up procedures, agreements and waivers that cover all aspects of travel and activities.
  • Purchase dog-friendly transportation and a fleet-management system.
  • Dedicate and train staff accordingly. Fitdog assistants spend two months with a leader and must pass a practical exam before they get promoted.
  • Create a supplies kit for classes that includes water bottles and a first aid kit, plus protective gear such as paw wax.

Continue Reading

Best of the Best

5 Steps to Create Your Own Locally Made Products Section

A section devoted to locally made products gives an edge over big-box stores.

mm

Published

on

WHEN STOCKING THEIR shelves, many independent pet business owners give preference to products made in the U.S.A. Danielle Cunningham also looks closer to home for her store, Lewis & Bark’s Outpost in Red Lodge, MT. She seeks out manufacturers in the city and state for its “Made in Montana” section.

THE IDEA

Sell local. “There are no corporate stores in Red Lodge, only small businesses,” Cunningham says of brick-and-mortar retail options for the population of around 2,100. “We know everyone who owns a small business and their families.” Because of that, “We understand the importance of supporting locals.”

She added the “Made in Montana” section in 2018, a year after opening. It appeals to residents and tourists alike, the latter who stop in on their way to and from Yellowstone National Park. “They want to buy local, too, to have something to bring home.”

THE EXECUTION

Source big and small. Some manufacturers are an easy find, such as West Paw in Bozeman. “They’re our best-selling toys.”

Lewis Barks Outpost bowls

Others she discovers through the Montana Department of Commerce’s Made in Montana program, which certifies products made or grown in the state. Participating companies feature the appropriate logo on their packaging, and stores can hang signs in their windows.

“The stickers and signs go a long way. People today really like seeing where things are made, and they are paying more attention to sourcing.”

Cunningham also finds items through contacts in area agility groups and at veterinary clinics.

The “Made in Montana” section features a handpainted sign by local artist Lee Walker.

Edible products include freshly butchered beef bones from the Emmett family’s Stillwater Packing Company in Columbus, and Arlene Paul’s Just Meats Dog Treats in Reed Point. Paw butter and dry dog shampoo come from Jenny Travis’s

Ginger Red Naturals in Red Lodge. Fleece snuffle mats get made by Cristy Carpenter’s K9 Kreations in Fromberg. Bandanas come from Marcia Sullivan at So Sew Sullivans and Headwaters Studio Design and Screen Printing, both in Red Lodge.

THE RESULTS

Feel the love. Cunningham says that “Made in Montana” products make up about 5 percent of her overall sales. The goodwill she creates by selling them, though, has a much higher value, as residents of Red Lodge and neighboring communities frequent and recommend her store because of it.

“It all comes around, all of that love.”

Do It Yourself: 5 Steps to a ‘Made In’ Section

  • FIND LOCALLY MADE PRODUCTS. Look to area departments of commerce programs for leads and also manufacturer vetting. Cunningham says, “I’ve found a few on my own I thought were really cool, but they didn’t have a business license or quality control. I don’t want to ever make someone’s dog sick.”
  • BUY, DON’T CONSIGN. Consignment requires additional work. “I just buy everything and sell it.” Plus, “I have more freedom that way.”
  • START SMALL. Create a table display with a few products to see how they sell, with “Made in” signage. Scale accordingly, merchandising to suit as you grow the selection.
  • PERSONALIZE THE PRODUCTS. The “Made in Montana” section at Lewis & Bark’s also features a “Meet Your Makers” display with photos and bios.
  • PROMOTE IN-STORE AND ONLINE. Display any print and electronic “Made in” signs and stickers. Don’t have such a program in your area? Create your own logo to use.

Continue Reading

Best of the Best

This Store Gladly Accepts Wooden Nickels

Bucking the idiom, this store gladly takes wooden nickels.

mm

Published

on

WOODEN NICKELS DATE back to at least the 1930s. Local banks used them during shortages of national currency. The Chicago World’s Fair introduced wooden nickels as souvenirs. And merchants have given them as tokens redeemable for specific products or cash value for merchandise. Lindsay and John Webb do the latter at Just for Paws, their grooming salon and boutique in St. Charles, IL.

THE IDEA

Create a better “coupon.” Lindsay says, “We wanted to give our customers a value, but we didn’t want to give it as a coupon that would be underused.”

They hit upon the idea of a wooden nickel with a $5 cash value for merchandise, no minimum purchase required. It appealed to the business owners on multiple levels.

“There’s the nostalgia factor, which goes along with our vibe,” she says of the boutique and salon’s rustic design and old-fashioned approach to customer service. “We felt that tapping into that nostalgia, creating an emotional connection, would get the customer excited to use the nickel.”

Lindsay and John thought the tokens would resonate with their customer base, those in their 40s and 50s who may remember when their use was more common, but also interest millennials who have never seen them before.

And they counted on eco-conscious shoppers of all ages to appreciate their reusability, which also provides savings to Just for Paws.

THE EXECUTION

Order online, mail to customers. The owners used NationalPen.com to print their logo on the front and “Same as Cash $5 Coin” on back. They ordered 500 wooden nickels in January at 20 cents each and began sending them to first-time grooming clients with a handwritten note. Lindsay also keeps a few on her.

“For when I’m out and about and meet a potential client,” she explains, adding that the token’s weight and shape makes much more of an impact than a business card with coupon.

Just for Paws has given out 125 wooden nickels in the grooming salon, and another 25 through various promotions. The cash value approach allows them to be used for anything, from pushing sales of a particular food to meeting a sales quota.

“Super-simple, creative and effective,” Lindsay says of the tokens, which employees track redemption of through 123Pet Software.

THE RESULTS

40 percent redemption rate. John reports that 60 wooden nickels were redeemed in the first three months.

“We don’t track them by specific promotion, but we can see when they are being used per transaction. So far, every sale has exceeded the $5 token amount. We have not had anyone use the $5 token without spending additional money in our boutique,” he says. “The sales in our boutique continue to climb month after month.”

Continue Reading

Most Popular