Pet grooming is yet another business concept that has taken franchise route for expansion. Though the concept is quite popular internationally, it is gaining attention in India as well. In an Interview Irene James, Founder, Whiskers & Tails talks about her venture and her future aspirations from it.
Abha Garyali (AG): Share the entrepreneurial journey of Whiskers and Tails and how has it been so far?
Irene James (IJ): Whiskers and Tails was started in December 2010. The journey has been fantastic so far. In a short time of six months, we have added our second salon in Bandra, which has received great response from clients.
AG: What are the various services in the portfolio of the brand?
IJ: Whiskers & Tails offer various dog grooming services like hygiene and maintenance, brushing and bathing, dematting and deshedding, oral care, tick and flea treatments, skin and fur care, medicated baths with eye and ear care. As a company, we aim to evolve into a holistic grooming parlor, over the coming years, to meet all pet-care needs.
AG: Pet grooming sector is comparatively a new venture in our country. What made you start this concept in India?
IJ: It is true that unorganised players dominate the pet grooming sector at present.
With Whiskers and Tails, we aim to bring in the best international practices in pet grooming. I agree that it is currently the most untapped segment in terms of business but one has to be a passionate dog lover to make this an ever fruitful business venture.
AG: What are your views regarding the future of Whiskers and Tails in India?
IJ: With dog lovers importing new exotic breeds like shihtzu, poodles, maltese, terriers, chow chows, the pet grooming sector needs plenty of room to meet the grooming demands of these breeds. Also it is equally important to groom other popular breeds like boxers, labradors, golden retrievers, etc. If dog owners get options of professional pet salons and its various services, I am sure they would opt for this service with great enthusiasm.
AG: What are the opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs in the sector?
IJ: Pet grooming can lead to four to five streams of income for new aspiring entrepreneurs. These are moving pet products/accessories, toys/treats, dog food and also other services like matrimonial (mating), outdoor picnics for pets, dog training, and even breeding of exotic breeds in India itself.
AG: Tell us about the franchise model of Whiskers and Tails?
IJ: As mentioned we started in December 2010. Our franchise model includes training, equipment, salon set-up, onsite business development, license to use our logos, designs, promotional materials etc. We also have centralised marketing plans which will also help our franchisees to build a strong business. We also plan to launch our own brand of pet shop products. All of these will be distributed via our network of salons to the end consumers. This would allow the franchisees to have a strong steady income from the business.
AG: Where do you aspire to take the brand in the next five years? Will the expansion be done via franchising?
IJ: We plan to open at least 40 salons across the country. We aim to reach our target in the shortest possible time. Yes, the expansion would be via franchising.
AG: How many franchisees do you presently have in India and in which cities?
IJ: Presently, we have signed up two franchisees in Delhi and Bengaluru. We plan to launch more salons in the next month or so.
AG: What are the qualities for the selection of your prospective franchisees? How much investment and area is required by them?
IJ: The qualities that we look for in our franchisees are that they should be ardent dog lover with oodles of patience to deal with dogs. The minimum investment needed by prospective franchisees is Rs five to seven lakh apart from a place.
AG: What are the challenges that can be faced by the company? How can these challenges be overcome?
IJ: Since the concept is new and untapped, few dog owners still may continue to think that professional grooming and maintenance of their dog is a luxury rather than a necessity. However, it can be said that use of mobile phones was a luxury when it was launched and today it is the most basic necessity. Once a dog owner experiences the 360 degree new look, transformation of coat care on their pet, they are sure to visit us again for pampering their pets.