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Jan, 04 2013

MAKING PETS A PROFITABLE PROPOSITION

Gone are the days when the board outside beauty parlours and spa’s read 'Only for Ladies'. After humans, it is now time for furry pooches to condition their hair and file their nails. Catch a glimpse of the pet service industry that would fetch high rewar

IT is said that a dog is a man's best friend. If the pet's popularity is anything to go by, perhaps that's true, as the industry of pet grooming is gripping the Indian market slowly but surely. Today, pet grooming services have turned into a big business. From a common man to a celebrity, everyone wants his pet to look the best. The industry is wooing entrepreneurs via various business models, franchising in particular, giving them low cost business opportunities to choose from.

The industry has witnessed unprecedented success, as it understands the needs of pets for care and attention. From spa sessions to training materials, from vet supplies to products pertaining to the transport of your pet, all services are provided by this industry.

Burgeoning market

The pet service business in India and is growing and is unevenly spread between organised and unorganised sectors. However, according to the industry estimates, the pet industry in India has a revenue earning potential of Rs 350 crore. Out of this, about Rs 250 crore is contributed by pet foods and the remaining Rs 100 crore comes from the grooming and healthcare sector. According to Euromonitor International forecasts, the Indian pet care market will be more than double to reach Rs 800 crore by 2015. Though the pet grooming service industry is at its nascent stage in the Indian market, it is growing at a rapid pace with franchising entering this sector. The pet services business also offers low investment, home-based opportunities to entrepreneurs via the franchise route. A few years ago, there were a limited number of pet care shops with no grooming service available. With many players entering the industry through the franchise model and the awareness among pet lovers increasing, the twin developments have added glamour to this sector.

Grooming for growth

The pet spas and grooming centres offer a spacious, friendly environment where pets are encouraged to browse merchandise, along with their owners. One of the earliest birds in pet grooming services, Scoopy Scrub, a sub-brand of Pet Bytes, envisions this business to be the next big thing in franchising. Started by Sanjeev Kumar and his wife Preeti, the brand now has three subsidiary brands: Pet Handlers, Scoopy Weekends & Pet Bytes-Petclicks n'more. Sharing his thoughts, Kumar says: “At Pet Bytes, we are into all kinds of activities/services that one can think of in relation to pets, right from offering home grooming service, pick-up and drop facility,  dog walkers, dog trainers, handlers, pet boarding and lodging, aquarium servicing , pet transportation and many more. We have organised the biggest of dog shows in India, along with pet talks and pet educational programmes for schools across Delhi. We now offer veterinary services at a couple of our outlets, as well.”

Just Dogs, another player in the industry, has significantly catered to the pet needs in servicing and grooming, since its inception. One of the proprietors of the brand, Ashish says: “There are several pet franchises that offer only a few services and products; but why restrict your business, increase the risk of failure and struggle financially in the ramp-up period or even wait for years for a return on investment? Just Dogs believes in maximising the square footage and your investment by offering more sales and services while increasing the two- and four-legged customer traffic count. Just Dogs provides a fun-filled, affordable and rewarding franchise for dog sale, pet superstore, grooming, training, overnight pet boarding, doggie daycare, etc.” The brand also boasts of consistent high customer satisfaction by rendering excellent service, high quality pet care and furnishing a fun-filled, clean and enjoyable atmosphere at an acceptable price.

Areas to explore

Apart from pet grooming, there are many unexplored areas in the industry. Not just spas and boutiques, but pets today are also offered services for tea parties, birthday celebrations, special weekends and many more. Scoopy Scrub has special 'Scoopy Weekends' for pets, wherein they organise tea/birthday parties for pets. Says Kumar: “Scoopy Scrub is more than a business to us. We have always believed in innovation or to be part of all new initiatives taken up for our friends, our pets.” Besides, he is a pet photographer and has recently come out with a 'celeb pet calendar'. He also holds talk shows in schools to make children aware of how to handle pets.

Mukesh Malik, another pet lover, has launched the first full-fledged pet bakery, 'Pawlicious', in India. He says: “The idea of floating this company came about with the non-availability of pet cakes and other bakery items for our pets. The only biscuit that one finds in the market across India is the typical bone shaped one with the regular ingredients. We wanted to provide delicious or you can say 'pawlicious' options for our furry friends, along with the idea of providing specialised cakes that are actually made for them.”

Kabbs, a fairly new brand in the industry, is also looking to expand its pet grooming services via franchising. Born out of an intrinsic need for premium grooming and styling services, Kabbs is dedicated to the beautification and well-being of pets. Started in 2010 by Sundar Ramaswamy, a corporate professional, Kabbs was the first brand to bring international level grooming services, along with global pet products, to Chennai. Today Kabbs caters not only to the pets in Chennai but also has a faithful customer base in and around Tamil Nadu and the neighboring states.

Big biz opportunities

Trends of taking pets to a professional grooming salon is gripping the metros and tier-I cities, in particular. Whiskers and Tails, another dog grooming centre, is also into franchising and has pet salons across the country.

Ashish, who is also a former banker, says: “Just Dogs is privileged to serve the best clientele in the pet industry. Reaching an exclusive clientele requires a good brand image to thrive in the business. Those trying to start the business can get into it from low investment, but all you need is passion for dogs, the rest we will teach. Ladies are best suited to do this business, as no prior experience is required. Anyone, who is a pet lover, can take up this business.”

While Ramaswamy, CEO & Founder, Kabbs  Pet Spa & Boutique, says: “We are exploring the option of a fixed annual fee and also providing the equipment and tools on lease required for grooming as well training of pets. As the grooming business worldwide is run mostly with the owners also working as groomers, we prefer people who are experienced with pets (dogs) and have a passion to work with animals, in general.”  Scoopy Scrub also offers low cost business opportunity to entrepreneurs.

Training & support

Just Dogs provides onsite support to its franchisees with the goal of assisting them not only with operations and facility setup but also in further developing their marketing efforts. Representatives of the brand visit franchise outlets periodically throughout 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.

Kabbs offers its franchisees complete training, including handling of pets (mainly dogs and cats), safety precautions for the pet and the groomer and also complete standard grooming required for common breeds in India.

The franchisees of Scoopy Scrub have to go through a grooming course related to pets, breeds, their behaviour patterns, equipment, food and accessories related to pet shop, besides many other inputs.

Pet areas for growth

Just Dogs has two franchise outlets and is aggressively looking for expansion. The brand has three franchise models: pet store, pet spa and a blend of both. The investment to establish a franchise outlet with the pet store and spa model is Rs 15 lakh, along with an area of 1000-1200 sq ft. The investments for pet store and pet spa are in upwards of Rs 7 lakh, with requirements of 800 sq ft and 400 sq ft, respectively, for area.

Scoopy Scrub is also looking for aggressive expansion. Currently, the brand has seven self -owned outlets in Delhi/NCR and 12 franchise outlets in Jaipur, Hyderabad, Pune, Gurgaon, Ghaziabad, Dehradun, Vijayawada, Secunderabad, Bangalore and Kolkata. The company is soon going international with outlets in Nepal, Thailand and Colombo.

Kabbs is operational in Chennai's Alwarpet, and is slated to open an outlet at the city's East Coast Road by December 2012. It plans to open a franchise outlet at Kilpauk by March 2013. The cities the brand is looking to expand from April 2013 are Coimbatore, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Mumbai and Pune, and in other Northern states in the latter part of 2013. The investment required for the franchise of Kabbs is Rs 5- 10 lakh, while the area required is 500- 1,000 sq ft.

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