By Jennifer Higgins
For years, car owners have been able to wash their own car without pulling the garden hose out, filling a bucket with soap and spending an entire afternoon getting soaked. They just go to a self-serve car wash. It seems, also, that the DIY movement has become almost “fashionable.” It should come as no surprise, then, that self-serve dog washes have become popular as more pet stores are adding them.
Getting It Right
Concord Pet Foods and Supplies patrons can take advantage of the in-store wash bays at several of their locations. Jamie Godel, store manager at the Concord Pet Foods and Supplies in Moorestown, New Jersey, recalls that his location has had the wash bays for seven years now. He says that the presence of the self-serve dog wash “has increased sales of bathing and grooming products more than in non-bay locations.”
He promoted the in-store wash bays by handing out “Free Bath” coupons at special events. All Concord Pet locations that have the wash bays have a loyalty program wherein customers who purchase 10 self-serve washes get the 11th for free.
Concord Pet has also teamed up with Earthbath in a way that is mutually beneficial. Though it is fine for customers to bring their own pet bathing products or purchase a desired bathing product from the shelves for use on their pet in the wash bay, Concord Pet provides its customers with Earthbath bathing products at the self-serve bays.
“Earthbath is co-branded in a handful of self-service pet wash bays around the country on both coasts,” said Paul Armstrong, Earthbath’s president and CEO, noting that Concord Pet Foods and Supplies is one of them. “Additionally, we offer a pet wash program for professional operators of self-washes, as well as attractive set-up allowances and purchase rebates to make it a real win-win with the operator/retailer.”
When asked how Earthbath’s bottom line benefits from all of this, Armstrong says that “quality” and “natural” sells and drives margins.
“We are just helping our savvy retail/ grooming partners give their customers what they are asking for, so it is a high-margin revenue and traffic-driving strategy for the retailer; a solution-solved for the pet parent; and a job well done for us.
“[Co-branding] creates a symbiotic partnership that benefits the pet parent, the retailer and Earthbath,” added Yvonne Roth, director of Marketing at Earthbath. “Customers get the quality, natural grooming experience their companion animal needs and that the pet parent demands; the retailer becomes a repeat destination for grooming, gets a bath sale and an opportunity for a cross sale of food, treats, toys, etc.; and Earthbath gets exposure in a retail facility of matched brand positioning and an on-going sale of product.”
With eight Mid-Michigan locations, Soldan’s Pet Supplies is a small, family-owned chain of pet stores that offers in-store wash bays to their customers. Soldan’s goes the extra mile and makes available several tools and products at their wash stations.
Soldan’s Pet Supplies Business Development Manager Nikki Soldan states Soldan’s “offers premium shampoo, conditioner, cologne, ear cleaner, a high velocity blow dryer, brushes, combs, bows and, of course, treats.”
They also place brand name brushes in the dog wash bays for customers to use for free so they can see and feel how well they work, which often leads to more sales. Instead of making available an existing line of pet bathing products in the self-serve wash bays, Soldan’s uses its own private label shampoos and conditioners. These custom bathing products include, according to Soldan, “dirty dog, all coat, puppy, oatmeal almond, tea tree and many others,” and the retailer couldn’t be happier with the reaction from customers.
The financial benefits from these self-serve bathing stations, Nikki assures, “our dog washes are extremely high margin… the Soldan’s stores that have self-serve dog washes certainly have seen growth in customer counts.”
Like many other pet stores with self- serve wash bays, Soldan’s offers a “Frequent Washer” deal in which customers who buy 10 washes get the 11th for free. For a few months every year, Soldan’s stores also implement what they call “Tub Tuesdays,” when they offer self- serve dog washes for $5.
Quality is King
As with many retail pet store services or offerings, the addition or initial inclusion of self-serve wash bays requires specific materials or equipment to make the wash bay area come to life. Enter a company like Evolution Dog Wash.
“The benefit of an Evolution Dog Wash is its efficiency, its ability to attract and drive traffic, ease of use, design (including its triple filtration drain system) and maintenance characteristics,” Evolution CEO Gary M. Sherman said.
With the automatic injection of shampoo into the sprayer water stream, there is simultaneous application of bathing product and water, efficiency at its best. The shorter wash time means more time for the customer to shop and make purchases.
“The Evolution’s beautiful design, innovations and visual appeal draws traffic to retail environments and the triple filtration drain system prevents the pet from ever standing in dirty, gray water,” Sherman said. “The smaller retailers who have Evolution Dog Washes have absolutely benefited from increases in revenue, and in many cases have purchased additional Evolution Dog Washes to meet demand.”
The Evolution uses TropiClean shampoos and conditioners in its pet wash units. According to James Brandly of Cosmos Corp., which handles TropiClean’s PR and marketing, the products include TropiClean Berry Clean Shampoo, Tropicana Neem and Citrus Shampoo (flea and tick) and TropiClean Kiwi and Coconut Conditioner.
Small chain franchise pet store Ben’s Barketplace uses Evolution Dog Washes and the accompanying TropiClean bathing products in its stores.
“We’ve just opened our newest store and created a dog wash room very similar to our original location,” Ben’s Barketplace franchise owner Brad Romero said. “With only two months of operation, we have seen a higher marked result from consumer response to the Evolution Dog Wash.”