How to Launch, Grow and Scale a Pet Business; Part Three – Innovating, Expanding and Re-inventing an Established Pet Pusiness.
This is part three of a three part blog series about how to launch, grow, and scale your dream pet business. To read part one of the blog series ‘How to launch your pet business’ click here now. To read part two ‘How to staff, scale and systemise your pet business’ click here now.
My pet business has undergone several re-inventions since it began in 2011. I started out as a dog walker/runner, then I started offering dog adventures. I transitioned to being a dog trainer in 2013, then become a ‘shopkeeper’ when I launched an online in 2015. The store was a disaster, but I had more success launching an online dog training program in 2016, at the same time I wrote my first book, How to Be Your Dog’s Superhero. This lead to me becoming a prolific author, which also lead to a speaking arm of my business, and now I’m a full time pet business coach and mentor to ambitious dog trainers, walkers and groomers.
What does my future hold? It’s hard to say right now, but I wouldn’t bet against the next 7 years being just as eventful. But, enough about me, this blog is about your business, and what your future holds.
Now then, I’m not suggesting you should want to do any of the jobs I’ve done in my business journey, but you should think about evolving, innovating and maybe even completely re-inventing your business.
Do you need to re-invent a successful business?
On one hand no, you don’t. If you’ve created your dream business, and are happy to continue doing the same thing day in day out, then you can continue to do that.
However, if you feel like you are more of an ‘entrepreneur’, than a business owner, then you may want to evolve your business to prevent you going ‘stale’ or to explore whatever new opportunities your current business might bring.
And even if you aren’t very motivated to try something new at the moment, you should keep an open mind about being innovative in your business because that will help you identify threats and opportunities, and enable you to stay ahead of the competition.
Which direction to go in?
Many of the pet business owners I deal with who have an established businesses, usually have a ton of ideas, but no clue how to action them, or which idea to pick first.
My advice is usually to take your business in the direction you have;
- The most experience in
- Are most interested in
- Can make the most money from
Businesses that sell just one thing tend to go through a growth phase that takes them from launch, growth through expansion to maturity and then decline. But, if you keep evolving your business, there’s no need for you to mature because you’ll always find new and exciting directions to go in.
Is there a perfect time to expand and change direction?
The honest answer to that is ‘NO’.
Ideally, you would have a solid business base to build from but it doesn’t always work out that way.
I chose to build my local dog adventure business up to a level I was happy with, then I coasted for a while before I got restless and was ready for a new challenge. The first time I tried to expand I opened an online store, but I didn’t have any staff so ended up doing all the extra work myself, which was ultimately very draining, and whilst it wasn’t the main reason my online venture failed, it was certainly a contributing factor.
The second time around I did it the right way, and systemised and staffed the adventure business (which you can read about in part two of this blog series here) which enabled me to concentrate fully on the new direction my business was going in. For me was about writing, teaching, creating online courses and leveraging my dog training and marketing knowledge.
How can your pet business evolve?
The real question is ‘How can you make more of an impact with your services, and make more money from your business?’
Money isn’t the only factor, of course, but it’s a big one. Extra profits allow you to take more time out of the business and treat your family to nice things. That’s certainly why I’m in business. Well, that and my love of dogs…
So, how do you start adding in new services to an existing pet business?
The answers are in the market
The easiest people to sell to are your existing clients. You already have a relationship with them, and they know, like and trust you, which means it’s easier to sell them something new, than to find a new customer who you don’t have a relationship with.
So, you need to ask your clients and customers what other services they might want from you. Only, you don’t frame it like that. If you ask your clients what other services they would like you to provide you’ll probably get wishy washy answers that show little enthusiasm for buying anything else from you.
That’s because your clients, as well as you, me, and everyone else in the world, only ever spend money to fix a problem we have.
If you are dog walker then your clients buy dog walks to fix the problem of them not being able to get home to walk him at lunchtime.
If you are a groomer then your clients buy grooming session to fix the problem of their dog looking like a Chewbacca.
If you are a dog trainer then your clients are hiring you to fix the problems that arise when their dog runs away at the bark, chews the furniture or bites the postman.
And you can find out what other services they might need by asking them what ‘challenges’ they face with their dog.
Then you can create services for them that provide a solution to their problems.
This is a much more sensible way to grow a business. You find out what your clients and prospects need THEN you create a solution.
It’s like you are creating a service for an existing problem. It’s almost guaranteed to sell.
Asking your clients these questions will also give you a good insight into what’s going on in their heads, and it’s often the first step that can lead you in a new direction for your business to explore.
To a degree, every serious pet business owner should be finding out what else their customers need and selling it to them. It’s where the easy money is.
How to make more money from your existing clients
It’s possible to keep adding on more and services into you’ve built up your business to be a ‘one-stop shop’ that offers everything from training, walking, food and treats, grooming and a daycare. I’ve got several coaching clients who have such businesses.
Before you go in that direction though, it’s worth thinking about what kind of business you want to run. Do you want to offer dozens of services, have hundreds of customer and a load of staff working for you? The answer might be yes , but make sure you ask the question.
This is one reason why you might want to take on a business mentor, or join a business mastermind where you can get ‘fresh eyes’ on your business plans. I’m always there to offer advise and help to my coaching clients, but I’m also prepared to ask the difficult questions which you, your family and staff members aren’t prepared to ask. Check out how to ‘Work with Dom’ by clicking here.
So, you might be up for expansion and worldwide domination, but for me it was a resounding ‘no’. I realised I wanted a small numbers business with as little staff as possible, which lead me down the other option you might prefer.
Go a mile deep, not a mile wide.
Rather than constantly adding on new services and increasing staff, you can instead choose to ‘niche’ down and become a ‘specialist’ in one particular area.
I’ve consistently tried to niche down in my business.
First I chose to offer adventures to working dogs.
Then I wrote books and created courses than would help pet dog owners
Now, I’m a marketing expert in the pet industry who helps ambitious pet business owners to develop their dream business.
Each new stage of my business development was about identifying a small segment of the market that I could sell to.
How could this apply to you?
Well, if you are a dog walker, then you could choose to niche down to only walking dogs owned by business owners in your town. Chief executives tend to be very busy and spend a lot of time travelling to meetings, or on holiday recovering and de-stressing. Your service
If you are a dog trainer, you might want to specialise in puppies, teenage or reactive dogs. Once you niche down you’ll find a there are a lot of services and products you can create in that niche. You could have a program for people who have kids and dogs, a program for people who want a puppy who already own a dog, a program for people who have a puppy but live in apartments a program for crate training, to prevent biting and lead pulling etc. And of course, you’d have a book which cements your expert status too….
If you are a groomer who already specialises in Shi-tzus (as I described in blog one) then you can offer a range of ‘Shi-tzu’ only services and even products. Shi-tzu puppy grooms and Shi-tzu facials. Specialist Shi-tzu brushes, fragrances and lotions.
There’s also the option of selling information products and courses around your ‘niche’ too. This will enable you to scale your business and sell your ‘expertise’ to dog owners all over the world
You’re probably thinking that this only applies to dog trainers, but you’d be wrong. For sure, dog trainers are the obvious candidates to create information products, and if you are a dog trainer reading this, then you should definitely be thinking about ways you can take all the knowledge you’ve spent years collecting, and leverage it by packaging it up again and sell to dog owners. Again, this is much easier to do if you have a ‘niche’ skill.
Dog trainers aren’t the only ones though who can get in on the ‘information-products’ bandwagon. If you are successful dog walker, groomer, pet photographer, massage therapist or daycare owner then you also have skills which will be of use to dog owners.
You can, if you work at it enough, create a whole other business around your niche that includes books, courses and seminars.
If that doesn’t interest you, but you have a successful business model then you could choose to franchise or licence your successful business model to new and inexperienced business owners (who are just like you were when you started your business)
So this concludes the three-part mini-series of blogs about how to launch, grow, establish and innovate a premium pet business. If you enjoyed this please share the content with your pet business owning collegues, and if you want a more detailed plan then check out my FREE pet business bible ‘The Ultimate Pet Business Plan’ Audiobook by clicking here now.
If you want to discover how to successfully market your pet businesses so you can make more money with less stress and fewer headaches, then there are a number of ways I can help you…
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, Dom’s 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.