By Amy Castro//August 1, 2023
By: Amy Castro//August 1, 2023
No matter what business you’re in, adding new services to keep your customers happy can be a great strategy for growth and strengthening your brand. However, many business owners hesitate to add more to their offerings because of the increased responsibility, cost and people power needed to make it happen. That said, if you want to maintain a competitive edge in the pet business, you have to give customers what they want and what many customers want is one-stop-shopping for themselves and their pets.
As a business-owner myself, I’ve seen first-hand the benefits of adding new services to my lineup. First, adding services for the convenience of your customers can increase customer loyalty and retention. Your customers will appreciate that you’re responsive to their needs, giving them another reason to visit your business and allowing you to interact with them more so you can build deeper relationships with them and their pets. You’re also saving your customers’ time, money and energy because they won’t have to research and “test drive” a new provider or business if you’re able to offer them all, or many, of the services they need. These types of services can include grooming, vaccination clinics, in-home pet sitting, daycare, overnight boarding, dog walking, training, etc. Adding these services is also a great way to build your reputation as a full-service, expert pet business, and to attract new customers looking for your expanded service offerings.
I’ve discovered that having more services helps you diversify your business and avoid “putting all your eggs in one basket.” If a particular service gets slow or is more seasonal, you’ll have the other services to keep your income levels up. Additionally, you can be strategic in pricing and packaging services to increase revenue per customer visit. For instance, if a client comes in for grooming services and sees signs advertising dog training classes at the same location, they may consider signing up for classes when they’d previously been putting off training for their pet.
Finally, depending on the competitive landscape in your community, you can set your business apart from others by providing unique or specialized services that cater to your customers’ needs and preferences. If you’re the only pet business in town that offers cat training classes, or workshops on nutrition, you’ll be the only place people can get those services. Yes, people may copy-cat you (pun intended), but you’ll always be the first and most experienced business to offer these services.
Risks and Challenges
Despite the advantages of adding new services to your current offerings, any time you try something new, there are always going to be challenges to overcome and risks you may need to take. The first challenge goes back to why you might have put off adding new services in your business until now, and that is stretching yourself too thin. You’ll need to take into consideration what kind of people power is needed to make these new services happen and whether you will be able to manage it all with your current leadership team. Adding new services requires some in-depth planning and strategy. If you don’t have a good plan, the right people in place and the right number of people, you risk having the quality of all your services drop, which could damage your reputation and cost you clients. Additionally, with every new service added you put yourself in competition with others who provide that service, especially if you’re in a larger community or city. For example, adding grooming puts you into the groomer pool with a new group of competitors who may offer better services at higher quality or lower prices.
Money can also be a challenge when it comes to adding new services. You’re going to have to spend money to make money, so you’ll want to be sure to consider the overhead costs of new services. This includes supplies as well as labor costs for the additional staff you may need to hire, training costs, insurance increases and new legal or licensing requirements to contend with. For instance, going into people’s homes for pet sitting or dog walking may require additional people, insurance, bonding and licensing.
Finally, the more you do for people the more things they could potentially have to complain about. That sweet customer who comes in for dog food and treats once a month could turn out to be the grooming customer from hell that you never saw coming.
Questions to Ask
Before offering new services, it’s important to ask yourself some key questions to increase your odds of success:
Is there a demand for the service among your current clients and within the local market? Have you surveyed your clients to confirm the level of demand?
Do you know what your clientele and future clientele would be willing to pay for such services or what the market will bear?
Have you run a cost-benefit analysis by calculating potential revenue streams against expenses such as staffing, training, equipment, supplies and other costs?
Do you have the resources and expertise necessary to provide new high-quality services without compromising your existing operations?
Have you researched, and do you understand, the regulatory requirements or licensing needed before launching these new services?
If the answers to these questions are yes, then it sounds like you’re ready to move forward. If the answer to some of these questions is no, or you’re not sure, consider moving forward in small steps. Rather than opening your own grooming salon in your store, you could look into partnering in some way with a local groomer so you can complement and support each other’s businesses. You can also seek the input of other business owners who currently offer multiple services and get their advice, especially if you reach outside your geographic area to a business that’s not a competitor of yours.
Once you decide you’re ready to move forward and launch a new service, there are some additional things you can do to increase your odds of success. First, you’ll need to be sure you have all the equipment required for the new venture, which means you’ll probably have to do a good bit of research so you can set a budget for purchasing the required items. Then, you’ll need to look at your team to see who is willing to expand their skills to provide those new services and then provide them the necessary training that will allow them to provide the new service to an optimal level to ensure the new service gets off to a great start. Alternatively, or especially if you’re short-staffed, consider hiring new team members who already possess skills and experience in the new service you’ll offer. You’ll also want to create standard operating procedures for new offerings so that clients always receive consistent service and information from any of your team members. And finally, be sure to get your new service started with a bang by planning an email marketing and social media campaign to promote your new offerings to new and existing customers.
Amy Castro is a business and leadership expert who speaks, trains and consults with pet businesses that want to build best-in-show teams that deliver a Five-Star Customer Experience. She’s also the host of the Starlight Pet Talk podcast, where she interviews pet industry experts and others to give advice and information for pet parents to help their pets live long, happy lives.