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How to grow a premium pet business from scratch?

‘There’s too much competition!’ is a common complaint I hear from pet professionals. They are not wrong either, competition is rife, and it’s only going to get worse.

This is true no matter where you operate. Sometimes it feels like there’s a new pet business opening up every week. In the major conurbations it can feel like a new pet business is starting up every day!

So, is the market saturated and are you wasting your time pursuing your passion and starting your dream pet business?

Well, this may surprise and upset you, but my answer is a resounding ‘YES’ to that question.

I used to always say ‘there are enough dogs to go around’ but now I’m not so sure. The pet goods and services sector remains virtually recession proof, but those pet businesses who serve the middle or (god forbid) the lower end of the market, are in for a tough time over the next few years.

It might surprise you to know that I’m not particularly bothered when a new pet business starts up in my town, and I have a simple test I use to determine if they are genuinely my competitors or just another wannabee walker who is peddling a pale imitation of my premium services, and I’ll share what that test is in just a moment.

First, let’s look at why those dog walkers, trainers and groomers who charge low prices are at best heading for a tough time, and at worst are freefalling into the pet business graveyard.

Lets start with a marketing maxim that smart and savvy businesses live by and that is, ‘Business is a game of margin NOT volume.’

By pricing your services at the low end of the market you are effectively positioning yourself as a Asda, Lidl or a ‘Own label’ pet business.  This means you have to sell A LOT of services to break even, and a LOT more to make your business worthwhile.

You also attract clients like flies to a pile of dog shit, but they are generally ‘price buyers’ who will complain about your prices, and not pay you on time (that’s if they pay you at all). They will also be the first clients to fly off to another (pile of fresh poop) cheap dog walker who starts up in your town.

Pricing your services too low puts you firmly on the ‘time for money swap’ pet business hamster wheel. You can earn enough money to survive but not much more than that. There’s no margin for error, and a van repair or a client who leaves can set you back massively. There’s also no wiggle room to fund any marketing activity or staff you will need to take on when you are run off your feet (but who you can’t afford to pay without wiping out your meagre profits).

‘But Dom’ I hear you say ‘this is my dream business, I’m not doing it for the money!’

Really? I’ve heard that before too. It almost always the reply of passionate, but pissed off pet business owners who are desperate to help dog owners in their community, but who have their heads stuck in the sand when it comes to pricing.

Not treating your pet business like a proper business is the fastest way to go out of business. 

Trust me, you should want to be paid as much as possible for your services, and here’s why;

Running any business brings challenges, and running your ‘dream pet business’ is going to be hard work.

Dog walking is pleasurable activity for sure, but a lot of dog walking is tiring on your muscles, bones and joints.  And walking for hours every single day leaves you with no energy for your own dogs, kids or partner.

Dog grooming is also physically incredibly hard work. Charging low prices for grooming also attracts PITA clients who leave it too long between appointments, and turn up with difficult dogs. These take longer to groom and add to the wear and tear on your body.

I think dog training is probably the less physically taxing of the three roles, but it can be mentally draining. The worse the problem you are diagnosing and fixing, the more mentally challenging it can be. Add in the human aspect and it can feel more like you’re a social worker and a life coach than a dog trainer.

The answer to all these problems is the same as the antidote to deal with increased competition, charge higher prices.

Vastly higher prices than your competition.

By doing this you instantly elevate your business above theirs. You leave them squabbling over the cheap and nasty end of the market (the lidl, Aldi and ‘own label’ price buyers) while you serve the top paying, affluent clients who are more interested in a fabulous high quality ‘Harrods’ type service, than they are in what price they pay.

But you already offer a high quality service right? So why don’t you have these clients now?

One word.

Marketing.

You may offer a high quality, personal service, but if you aren’t marketing it correctly as being different and better than the crappy competition then no one is going to know.

With no investment in marketing you will remain a beige, bland, boring pet business, that just ekes out a living, and never amounts to very much.

So, in answer to the question in the headline ‘Is it possible to start a premium pet business from scratch? The answer is yes, but only if you get your shit together, and master how to effectively market your pet business.

‘Being premium’ is just one of the five marketing secrets I share in Walk Yourself Wealthy, my pet business bible. You can find out more about how you can avoid the mistakes of the masses and create a premium pet business by grabbing a copy from Amazon or Audible, or you can get a signed copy and bonuses direct from me by clicking here now.

Oh, I almost forgot. What is the special trick I use to check if a new pet business is real competition for me? I check their prices. If they are charging lower than me then I know they are not my competition, and it’s only a matter of time before they enter the pet business graveyard.

And they always have lower prices than me…

Don’t make this mistake in your pet business.

Learn how to ‘be premium’ and create a sustainable and fun pet business. You can start by enrolling in one of Dom’s ‘home study’ pet business courses, click here to start now. In 2011 Dom Hodgson revolutionised the pet service industry with his first business Pack Leader Dog Adventures, the UK’s first, award winning ‘dog adventure’ company. Now a respected dog trainer, author, speaker and mentor to pet business owners, Doms calling is to help dog walkers, trainers and groomers to excel with their marketing, so they can help change the lives of more dog owners with their amazing skills. Dom’s bestselling books are available on Amazon and Audible. Check out Dom’s books here and his latest events schedule here