Expanding Services Skyward

The market for pet food, collars, leashes and other pet care products remains strong, but the country’s weary economy has left many independent pet specialty retailers looking for ways to boost their bottom lines. Adding services such as pet sitting or grooming is a natural fit for many retailers in search of fresh revenue streams.

According to a recent Pet Business retailer survey, 44 percent of respondents said that they expect services to be their biggest growth area over the next 12 months. The results suggest that there are quite a few retailers preparing to expand their scope rather than rely on retail alone.

Of course, grooming tends to be among the most common—and fitting—services of interest to pet specialty retailers that are looking to expand. For those retailers who are curious about grooming, here’s a look at how one resourceful mobile groomer has taken her business to new heights—literally:

Groomer Aims High
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Mobile grooming is certainly not a new trend. For years, it has served as a mutually beneficial way for groomers to deliver their services quite literally to customers’ front doors. So, what happens when the customer’s front door is 200 above the ground? Taria Avery, owner of Philadelphia-based Avery’s Mobile Pet Spa, seems to have cracked that particular nut.

Completely undaunted by Philly’s vertical geography, Avery is carving herself a niche among residents of high-rise luxury condominiums in her area. The scope of her two-truck business spreads across the county, and she estimates her client list to be about 700 people deep. Still, it is her urban skyward mobility that sets her apart from the pack.

“We are noting a huge trend in the metropolitan area of people caring for their fur kids,” she says. “They are truly part of the family.”

Avery, who is in her fifth year in the mobile grooming business, set her sights on culling a clientele from the high-rise residences early on in her endeavor. She even envisioned having formal contracts upon which to build that business.

“Originally that was my plan—to reach out to condo boards and management to form a relationship to drive penetration, but I haven’t even had a chance to do that,” says Avery, who is in the process of securing a third truck to handle her customer volume. “I’m afraid of what would happen once I start that industrialized process.”

Instead, her condo-driven business has grown more organically, and word-of-mouth advertising has gone a long way in promoting the service.

“People will see us on the elevator, and they’ll see our other pets that we’ve just groomed and ask the pet parents, ‘Where did you go? They look amazing.’”

She adds, “a lot of people will see [our trucks] on the road, and they will look us up. We get a lot of traction there, as well as from our marketing and our website.”

Of course, as one might imagine, there is more to this story. Working in a dense urban setting comes with its perks and challenges. Find out more about Avery and her bustling city business in the June/July issue of Grooming Business.