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Mar, 07 2012

PUPPY LOVE PROMISES MONEY TOO

Pet care industry is bow- bowing with growth. From imported pet food to spa parlours, the avenues to be explored in this business are umpteen. Love for animals coupled with hard work is the only prerequisite to shine in this industry, which is still in th

T O own a pet was once considered to be swanky. Today, it has groomed into a big business, as from a common man to a celebrity, everyone wants their pets to look the best. According to the industry estimates, the pet industry in India has an estimated revenue earning potential of Rs 350 crore. Out of this, around Rs 250 crore is contributed by pet foods and the remaining Rs 100 crore comes from grooming and healthcare sector. Prior to franchising, pet grooming business was an unknown concept. With franchising entering the pet domain, this industry has witnessed unprecedented success.

One of the earlier players in this business was Scoopy Scrub, started by Sanjeev Kumar and his wife. Kumar quit his career as a bank manager to become an entrepreneur. Sharing his thoughts, Kumar said: “A few years ago, there were limited number of pet care shops with no grooming service available. There was no news or media coverage about these shops. We added glamour to this industry.”

Many entrepreneurs are envisioning this business as the next big thing in franchising. Just dogs, a fairly new player in this market, is going great guns. Poorvi Anthony, its Proprietor, firmly believes that anyone can start this business as no prior experience is required, except fondness for dogs.

Says Anthony: “Dog or cat owners consider their four-legged companions to be part of the family. This closeness creates marketing and sales opportunities that goes far beyond basics such as food to apparels, toys, treats, vet care and grooming, to name a few. The pet industry is expected to maintain a steady pace of growth, increasing by 35 per cent over the next five years.”

Pet areas for growth

Taking pets to a professional grooming salon is becoming extremely popular and one can find such parlours not only in metros but even in small cities now. Whiskers and Tails, another dog grooming centre, has two franchise outlets and plans to open at least 40 salons across the country via franchising. For its franchise, you need an investment of Rs 5-7 lakh and a location in a posh locality with a minimum area of 300 sq.ft.

Just dogs has two franchise outlets and is aggressively looking for expansion. “The estimated initial investment to establish our franchise outlet ranges from Rs 10-15 lakh, including a franchise fee of Rs 2.5 lakh. Apart from this, 800 to 1,000 sq.ft area is required. The continuing services or royalty fee is as per grid that is paid monthly. This fee entitles you to use the Just Dogs service mark, our distinctive system, marketing assistance, ongoing business development and counselling and other benefits that come with being a Just Dogs franchisee,” said Anthony. The breakeven is one year and RoI 42 per cent. The brand is planning to expand in tier A and B cities.

Scoopy Scrub is ahead in the game of expansion with 40-45 franchise outlets in cities like Delhi, Jaipur and Hyderabad. The brand has 18-20 locations in the pipeline in next five months. Some of the cities they would like to expand in are NCR region, New Delhi, Patna and Raipur. The company is soon going international with outlets in Nepal and Thailand. While Scoopy Scrub is a grooming parlour for pets, Pet Bytes, another venture by Kumar, is a pet shop. For the pet shop, the area required is 100-200 sq.ft and for the grooming parlour, 200 sq.ft, and for both, 300 sq.ft. The investment is around Rs 1-1.5 lakh and the stalk costs Rs 1-2 lakh.

Offshoots to be explored

Apart from pet grooming, there are many offshoots in this industry that can be explored. Kumar shares how he used to chop the hair of his Lhasa Aspo (a dog breed), as no grooming parlours were there, a few years ago. Keeping this in mind, their parlour offers different hairstyling for different breeds.

Not just grooming, pets today also enjoy tea parties and special weekends, just like us. Scoopy Scrub has special 'Scoopy Weekends' for pets wherein they organise tea/birthday parties for pets from their special pet bakery. Kumar, also a photographer, has recently come out with a 'celeb pet calendar'. Besides, he also holds talk shows in schools to make children aware of how to handle pets. Kumar states: “Parents present pets as a gift to their children who later abandon them or do not handle them with care. So, we at Scoopy Scrub look at all the aspects of pet care. It is more than a business to us.”

Just dogs also offers some interesting dog services like pet fashion shows, pet mating services, pet transportation, pet holidays (going for holidays to pet friendly locations and hotels), pet day care, pet boarding and pet walking. Anthony shares an interesting thought on this: “The array of product and service businesses for pet owners is limited only by imagination. Many people treat their pets like their children and following that logic, most products that people want for themselves, they'll want for their pets. Just look at the recent trends in the industry--organic foods, homeopathic products, luxury accessories--and you'll easily find they mirror counterparts for human folk.”

Groom to grow

The pet care business sector is highly unorganised. Small, unorganised pet care shops bring their rates down by offering discounts. So, one needs to be aware of the ways and techniques of attracting the customers.

Anthony advises that one needs to establish a niche customer base and have a good brand image to thrive in the business. The key to success is to have a high-end set up and the ability to get the products and services in front of as many potential customers as possible. Just Dogs provides onsite support with the goal of not only assisting with operations and facility set-up, but also to further develop marketing efforts. Periodic visits will be paid to the franchisee throughout the course of the franchise term. These visits are designed to provide consultation in areas of opportunity for improved efficiency and overall growth. The franchisees have the ongoing support of the 'Home Office Team' via phone or email contact.

Irene James, Founder, Whiskers & Tails elaborates: “People think pet grooming is a luxury. We are focusing on educating our franchisees and also encouraging them to use our services to know the difference (before and after grooming). Special discounts need to be offered in order to get them to get the grooming sessions done for their pets.”

The franchisees of Scoopy Scrub have to go through a grooming course with them or can hire a professional groomer who is trained under the company to run their salon. Proper training is given in all aspects related with pets, breeds, their behaviour patterns, equipment and food and accessories related with the pet shop, besides many other inputs.

Next 'Big' thing

Pet care business is being touted as the next 'Big' thing in franchising as the demand is escalating. Pet owners are splurging money to provide all the luxuries to their pets. So, tighten your belt to shower puppy love and earn profits.

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