Sun Pony Ranch

Diary of novice (clueless) ranch owners

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Dirty Dogs, Done Dirt Cheap

Just a personal joke there. I've always thought a dog wash should name itself this. (Little homage to AC-DC) Anyways, I guess here's my chance - for as of yesterday, technically, we can offer dog washes in the kennel!

Let me back up -- Dave, Ginger and I attended a seminar a couple of weeks ago about how to increase your kennel revenue, without expanding your capacity. They were all about selling the extra services; catering to the "Nothing is too good for my baby" clientel. OK, sounds good, but the challenge is that for the most part kennels in this region don't do the a-la carte menu but rather offer everything included. That's us all the way - nice and simple. Bring your dog for boarding, they get what all dogs get and there is one price to worry about.

The problem with this business model are several. Primarily the only way to get more revenue is to get more dogs. Well, undoubtedly that is a task we have to focus on anyways - year round we could take more dogs and thereby be able to provide more staff, more flexibility with drop off times, etc. But also we notice a number of folks calling around for prices during the holidays, and basically walk away as soon as they hear our rates. So, if we could hook some new customers with a lower base rate, and then talk them up into add on services which we thing are really basic, then aparently the industry research says this is a win-win: The kennel gets the revenue and the customer feels they've gone the extra mile to provide a good stay for their pet.

*pause to roll eyes*

We just aren't into these marketing tricks. We want to offer a great service and find the customers that value it just as much as we do. Not play all these psychological games. However - we aren't really in a position at the moment to not do everything we can to bring in that extra dollar. So it's high time we start thinking abot doing something different.

We've always planned to have grooming services eventually. See, on occasion our dogs are in need of a cleanup.

Especially when they do this:

And then this:

Sometimes they end up looking like this:

Now isn't that just the dog you want to put in your car to take home? No? What's wrong with you?

We just needed the impetetus to do something about the grooming situation. Well, we're MOTIVATED. And we figured this was some of the easiest services to add on to what we currently offer. We thought we'd have to buy some pretty hefty equipment (wash tub, dryer, grooming table) and then also find a groomer to subcontract to. I'm not sure now what the arguments were for subcontracting with a groomer was... but we decided that since we're going to start with just the bare bones dog washes (no hair trimming or nail painting at this ranch, thank you very much) that we could do it with our existing staff. Then Dave reminded us that he'd saved the bathtub when we replaced the tub at the condo. So.... few hours emptying out the Storage/Groom room, another few hours to hook up the tub drain, set up the grooming table a friend left us when they moved away, and and voila, we have a bare bones groom room! *not kicking ourselves for not having done this a year ago!*

To be fair, I better wait to see how things go with our first bathing customers before proclaiming it a huge success. I can just imagine the Golden Retriever that takes an hour to wash, the customer arriving to pick him up while he's still sudsy... OK, I gotta stop this line of thinking. I'm pretty sure the disasters-that-make-good-stories that do occur won't be anything we'd anticipated!

(Coming home last night I heard the first 5 customers we told about the dog washes signed up for them!)

So the million dollar question is: Have I made up 'Done Dirt Cheap' signs and plastered them all over the kennel office? Um - no.

HA, maybe it sounds more clever than it really is. ;-D



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