Stories from the Covid-19 Front Lines: Tim Vogel, Scenthound CEO
Segment: Pet grooming
Units: 5 (8 by EOY); 29 in development
Locations: Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Nevada
How many locations has your brand reopened? How many are closed permanently?
While other groomers and pet franchises across the country were shut down, all Scenthound locations remained open throughout the pandemic because of the essential services that we provide to keep dogs healthy. Embedded in the name, Scenthound focuses on the five core areas of maintenance – skin, coat, ears, nails, and teeth – and provides preventive services that are critical to overall health and wellness. With health at the forefront of everyone’s minds this year, Scenthound has sold 29 units across 4 states during the pandemic.
What are your franchisees telling you about their economic recovery?
All our franchise units are currently in development and we are actively working with our franchisees to help them with real estate and construction right now. We have been working with landlords and explaining to them our position in the market: as a recession-proof business continuing to make strides despite the pandemic, we are a valuable asset to any shopping center. Negotiating with landlords for competitive rates and working with the franchisees to get the best possible deal has been a top priority for us.
Even with Covid-19, there is still a huge need for pet care. With this in mind, we are still moving forward with opening our franchise locations, and we are being very proactive to be sure that we are ready to operate as soon as possible. By the end of the year, we will be opening our first three franchise locations and expect to make a big splash going into 2021.
How are customers responding to your reopening guidelines?
Grooming is something that every dog needs, and not even a pandemic can stop that. Our membership-based model focuses on educating our customers on why routine care is so important for their pet. Scenthound members understand that grooming is so much more than just a haircut, that it needs to include routine care to ensure that their dogs are feeling their best, which is why we haven’t seen a decrease in sales throughout the pandemic. Our wellness-centered approach builds loyal customers who can feel the difference in their happier, healthier dogs.
We did put out restrictions in our locations to make sure our customers are safe when bringing in their dogs. This includes things like allowing only one person in our lobby at a time, requiring people to queue up outside and maintain a 6-foot distance, remove all dog leashes and clothing, and use cashless transactions. Our customers’ reactions to these policies have been overwhelmingly positive.
How do you see the future of your brand, operations, market, etc. over the next 3 to 6 months or more?
Our recession-proof model has proven to prospective franchisees that we are a brand that is only moving forward. During the pandemic we have seen our biggest franchise growth yet, and we believe that this is only the beginning for Scenthound. The pet industry as a whole has been praised for being recession-resistant given the large percentage of U.S. families with a pet in their home, although not all pet businesses are created equal. Unlike pet spas, dog walkers, or pet boarding, Scenthound is essential no matter what the world is facing. When the first wave of the pandemic hit, shelters were cleared out nationwide as demand for a companion skyrocketed during quarantine. This pandemic “puppy pandemonium” propelled growth for pet businesses that provided new owners with necessary products and services. As more people become “pet parents” across the country, they will need to find pet businesses that are open and ready to take care of their new family member, even in a pandemic.
We are poised to lead an industry transformation with a revolutionary model and blue ocean strategy in one of today’s hottest markets. There are 90 million dogs in the U.S., but the grooming market has not evolved to meet all the needs of the canine population. We believe Scenthound is the solution to the problems the industry is facing. We are disrupting an outdated industry with a shifted focus on dog wellness, which has made us an essential business poised for growth no matter what is happening in the world.
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