I arrived at Logan airport about an hour before my girlfriend’s plane from Atlanta was due in. As I wandered through the airport, I went to look at some books and magazines to kill some time. My eyes started to glaze over, as every magazine cover seemed to only be concerned with Paris Hilton’s latest escapades, or Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitts break up. Then, a head line on one magazine caught my eye. It said:
Hot Business! Pets are a $36 Billion Market
Since I’ve been in the pet business for the past 17 years, I quickly picked up the magazine and purchased it. The article, which appeared in the November 2005 issue of Entrepreneur magazine, stated that “Pet spending has more than doubled in the past 11 years – from 17 billion in 1994 to a projected $35.9 billion by the end of this year.” This is very exciting if you’re in the pet business. It’s even more exciting is if you’re a pet groomer. The article also added that the #1 fastest growing pet service business is GROOMING!
The article went on to explain that a whopping 63% of all US households, or 69 million homes, have a pet. There’s no doubt about it, it is a great time to be in the pet industry. If you’re a pet groomer, it is especially good. Lets face it, the pet industry is hot and getting hotter by the day. If you’re a groomer or are thinking about grooming, now is the time to get in…but there is one downside to all of this.
When an industry becomes hot it will always draw the attention of the big guys. They are going to see numbers like the ones listed above and they are going to look at the trends. If the numbers are big and the trend is going up, they are going to want in.
You see it already. Petsmart, PETCO, and Best Friends are all opening up more locations and bigger stores. The stadium in San Diego is now named PETCO stadium. When they decide to advertise their services, they are going to go all out – Full page newspaper ads, TV, radio, direct mail, sponsorships, you name it. They also have an ad budget that would probably rival the income of some small countries.
On top of having the big guys gunning for your business, grooming schools across the country are churning out thousands of new groomers every week. All of this is going to lead to some pretty stiff competition for anyone looking to get into the business or who already is.
So, what does someone do if they are suddenly faced with a huge mega-pet store opening across the street, or they want to open their own pet grooming business but the competition is pretty tough? The first rule of thumb is simple but often over looked. No business will succeed without customers. Business owners must have a plan for bringing in and keeping customers. Business owners must focus on their marketing. You see, most business owners focus on their craft. Pet groomers focus on scissors, clippers, puppy cuts, bathing systems, and so on. All this is very important, but just as important is how to bring in and keep customers.
There is a way that you can thrive and prosper even if a big pet super store opens up in your town, or if three other groomers open up just miles from your shop. All you need to understand are two words: Direct Marketing!
How many times have you run an ad in a newspaper and had no idea if it was successful or not? Most businesses run an ad that has their name, hours, location and logo with no way to track it, no idea how many customers it brought in, etc. When I run an ad for my pet grooming business I know exactly how many calls I received from the ad and how many of those calls I converted into customers. Let me share with you one of my favorite techniques.
I run my ads a little differently from everyone else. I don’t use my business name as the headline because no one cares about my business name. I start my ads with a big, bold headline that states: “FREE Report Reveals How To Reduce Your Dog’s Shedding By 90%, Call 24 hour recorded message and leave your name and address your report will be sent out immediately.” Anyone reading the paper with a dog that sheds is going to be interested. They call for the free report and we send it to them.
Now I have a very valuable lead. This person has shown me that they have an interest in my pet grooming services. I can now send this lead my report with some excellent advice on how to help their dog with its shedding problem. I also include a section in the report on our very popular Reduced Shedding Program, where we can take care of the problem.
So you can see how I can track every ad to the dollar. I can see how many leads each ad brings in and how many are converted to customers. It only takes a few minutes each day, and it pays off much better than your standard name, logo, and location newspaper ad.
This type of advertising can be done with newspaper, direct mail, phone book ads, websites, and just about any other type of media. With the amount of people and businesses that want a piece of the grooming profits you need to make the most out of every advertising dollar. Start to apply direct marketing and advertising and you’ll be able to stay ahead of the competition and have a profitable pet grooming business.