The coronavirus pandemic has made for an eventful year for all industries, including pet care businesses. Even though dogs and cats aren’t known to spread COVID-19, kennels owners and pet sitters have had to manage the crisis in unique ways to keep staff and customers healthy.
In some areas, pet care businesses were forced to close to comply with stay-at-home orders, while others stayed open with adapted safety guidelines. No matter what, it’s likely that you’ve faced changes in operations and in demand for your services, which may have negatively impacted your bottom line.
However, even in an era of remote work and decreased travel, pet care remains an essential service for many, and the need for your business is critical.
When the pandemic first made headlines, you and your team worked efficiently to make changes and reopen as quickly as possible. This may have included some temporary solutions, band-aid fixes, or procedures that weren’t in line with typical industry best practices. In other words, there’s probably room for improvement. As this year draws to a close, it’s time to revisit your pet care business plan.
At Revelation Pets, we provide simple tech solutions for pet business owners who want to spend less time on paperwork and more time with the animals. Through working with kennels, dog daycares, and catteries all over the world, we’ve seen how a strong plan is one of the most essential driving forces behind a successful business.
Based on these experiences, we’ve compiled a list of useful tips for revising and improving your pet care business plan:
- Evaluate your current pet business infrastructure and tools.
- Make necessary improvements to your facility.
- Refresh your branding and marketing strategies.
- Focus on delivering a safe and positive customer experience.
These strategies will help ensure your business stays afloat and continues to provide important pet care services to your community. Let’s jump in.
1. Evaluate your current pet business infrastructure and tools.
First, take a hard look at the systems you and your staff are relying on to operate your business. A strong business infrastructure will form a solid foundation for your operation to grow and thrive. Therefore, it’s important to weed out any inefficiencies that are no longer serving you.
The first question to ask is whether it’s time to modernize your tools. If you’re a mom-and-pop operation, it’s possible you’ve been using paper records to take bookings, organize vaccination records, manage your staff, and more.
While these traditional methods might be what you’re used to, 2020 has presented compelling reasons to adapt. Consider the following questions:
- Can your current setup effectively and safely handle contactless drop-off and pickup?
- Are you able to quickly notify your customers via SMS or email in the event of an emergency closure?
- Can you easily manage employee schedules and make changes if someone on your staff has been exposed to the virus?
- Can customers make payments online or with contact-free methods in person?
If you answer “no” to any of these, it’s worth exploring pet business software that can help you better adhere to social distancing guidelines. A system that relies on paper records may not be able to keep customers and staff as safe as possible.
Plus, switching to powerful pet business software can boost overall business efficiency, save you valuable time, and even connect with other useful productivity tools. For instance, Revelation Pets’ kennel softwarecan integrate with platforms like Mailchimp, Quickbooks, and Google Calendar. Choosing a solution with integrations like this will keep each component of your business in perfect harmony.
While it can be nerve-wracking to introduce new technology into an existing business, you should be able to find a provider that offers plentiful support to get you up and running.
2. Make necessary improvements to your facility.
Once you’ve begun to update your business’s tech stack, turn your attention to your physical environment. A fundamental part of your pet care business plan is the facility itself.
First, it may be important to assess the size of your facility. If you’ve experienced a serious loss of business due to the economic downturn, you may be operating in a space that is way too large for your current needs. The turn of the year may be a good time to downsize. On the other hand, it’s also possible you’ve outgrown your current facility and need to look for a larger space.
Before you consider moving locations, you’ll want to maximize the potential of your current facility. Smart daycare and boarding software can ensure you are leveraging the full capacity of each run or kennel area on a given day.
Additionally, make sure your physical space is well-outfitted to mitigate the risks associated with the coronavirus. According to Gingr’s guide for pet care businesses and COVID-19, you’ll want to implement safety measures including:
- Adding handwashing stations
- Requiring face masks
- Making hand sanitizer readily available to staff and customers
- Increasing the frequency of cleaning measures
- Changing the layout of your customer-facing lobby to promote social distancing
- Modifying staff schedules to minimize employee contact
While you are probably doing most of these things already, it’s worth confirming that each protocol is being followed appropriately.
Taking the time to assess these areas will ensure your facility adequately supports the other elements of your pet care business plan.
3. Refresh your branding and marketing strategies.
By now, you’ve evaluated the efficiency and safety of your pet care business. However, it won’t matter how efficient your kennel is if there are no pets coming to stay!
That said, you’ll want to make sure your marketing strategies are bringing in a steady stream of customers. This involves making sure you have a cohesive brand and establishing the reputation of that brand in your community.
A core part of your brand is your business’s mission statement. Before you craft the other elements of your marketing strategy, remind yourself why you do what you do! Incorporate your mission and purpose into your advertising and marketing campaigns. Then, make sure to keep messaging and visual elements consistent.
We suggest implementing one or more of the following strategies to spread awareness of your pet business brand and attract new customers:
- Start a referral program One of the best ways to attract new customers is by leveraging the loyalty of your existing clients. Consider offering a discount to customers who share your business with other pet-loving friends and family.
- Engage in the community. Consider how you could establish your business as a pillar of your local community. For instance, you might make in-kind donations to fundraising events for local nonprofits, schools, or sports teams.This guide to corporate philanthropy discusses other ways you might consider supporting nonprofits in your area.
- Assess your competition. If there are other pet care businesses in your area, you need to have a strong understanding of what sets your business apart from the crowd. This is especially important in a climate where fewer customers are in need of pet care services. Try to highlight your competitive advantage in your marketing. Is it your luxury add-on grooming options? Your spacious facility? The intuitive customer portal in your dog grooming system? Whatever it is, be sure to let it shine.
Consider each of these principles alongside a standard multi-platform digital marketing strategy. After all, you’ll want to incorporate social media and email marketing to reach your customers where they are—online! Tools like automation and audience segmentation can help your messages resonate more effectively with potential customers.
4. Focus on delivering a positive customer experience.
At the heart of your pet care business plan are your furry friends and their owners. You and your staff work everyday to give dogs and cats the best care possible, and this priority should also extend to pet parents. Ensure that every aspect of your business plan is underscored by providing a positive experience to customers.
After all, no amount of walks or treats for Spot will make a difference if you’ve frustrated, alienated, or inconvenienced his owner.
Right now, a positive experience will also include some of the safety measures and contactless procedures discussed earlier in this article.
But for today and beyond the pandemic, here are a few innovations that can create a more convenient experience for pet owners:
- Online booking tools. In today’s digital world, your customers don’t want to deal with the hassle of booking over the phone. Using an online booking system will streamline the process for customers and reduce staff time.
- Activity reports. With the right pet business software, you can easily export data to show a pet’s activities, behavior, and feeding status throughout the day. You can either deliver these reports to customers at pickup or allow them to check themselves through your online portal.
- Pet webcams. When a written report isn’t enough, pet webcams allow owners to be a fly on the wall for their pets’ stay at your facility. Your clients will easily be able to sneak a peek at their dogs while at work or on vacation. This boosts trust and confidence in your business.
These tips will help you build stronger relationships with your customers. A positive experience will create more client loyalty and increased profits, allowing your business to thrive.
While your pet care business has already adapted to the social distancing and safety guidelines of this year, there may be room for improvement throughout your operations. As we move into the final months of 2020, take this opportunity to review your infrastructure, facility, marketing, and customer experience. By incorporating these considerations into an improved pet care business plan, you’ll be well prepared for the new year. Good luck!.
Hi, I’m Casey! I’m the Sales Manager at Gingr software. Originally from Indianapolis, I now live in Colorado with my wife and dog, Dexter. Our hobbies include hiking, skiing, and visiting local breweries.