What they do: A dog hotel and spa providing daycare and boarding
Address: 2252 Drusilla Lane
Revenue: Between $300,000 and $400,000 in 2014
Next goals: Expand in current location or to a second location
Filling a dishwasher full of dog bowls and playing fetch did not come in the job description when Sara Moock and Taryn Giles became business owners. The sisters were regular customers of Petropolitan doggie daycare, when out of the blue the owner called to see if they’d be interested in purchasing the business. “It was almost too good to be true,” Giles says. Both sisters already enjoyed working with animals. Moock worked for six years as a technician at a veterinary hospital, and she and Giles often volunteered at the animal shelter and adoption organizations. With little hesitation, the sisters assumed ownership of the dog hotel and spa in 2012. Their clientele has since doubled. While Giles says the increase initially presented logistical challenges, it was ultimately a good problem to have. “We knew we were doing something right,” Giles says.
HOME AWAY FROM HOME
Over the past three years, the sisters have dedicated time to learning learn more about dog behavior and cognition to better manage and understand the needs of their furry friends. Moock is working toward becoming a certified dog trainer, although she says that is not necessarily a service Petropolitan will offer. Instead, the owners’ goal is to continually educate their staff on how to read canine body language and understand their feelings to keep employees and pets safe and happy. Many of Petropolitan’s customers are regulars. They bring their pets everyday, allowing the staff to create a home-like environment for them. “Daycare is amazing because you really get to know the dogs and their personalities,” Giles says. “We really put a lot of thought into grouping dogs together by compatible play styles, which makes a huge difference.”
PLENTIFUL, PERSONAL AND PLAYFUL
Not many business owners can say their employees hang out at the office off the clock. But when customers greet you with wagging tails, it is hard not to stop by for a dose of playtime between shifts. With two other major competitors in the market and more veterinary offices offering daycare, Giles and Moock set themselves apart with their 30,000-square-foot outdoor play space and by providing potential customers with their first day of daycare free. Pet daycare businesses typically hold interviews to determine if a pet is a good fit for the facility, but the sisters have learned it takes more time for some. “Half of the dogs that come here have been rejected from other facilities,” Giles says. “Just by giving them some time to get used to the environment, they come around.”
HAPPY PETS, HAPPY PARENTS
After doubling the staff to 18 employees and increasing the capacity, Petropolitan now handles about 60 dogs daily for daycare and boarding. Giles attributes the pet daycare market’s growth to a greater awareness of the service, increases in pet spending nationwide and a new generation of pet owners who treat their dogs like a member of the family. “We have some people who drop their dog off here and then drop their kids off at school,” Giles says. Daycare provides an alternative to busy professionals who may not have time to let their dogs out during work hours. “It doesn’t replace walking your dog or playing with them yourself, but it is really the next best thing,” Moock says. The sisters look forward to expanding in their current space or potentially opening a second location.