How Can I Expand My Pet Care Business? [Practical Examples]

Pet shop with home animals, store interior with cat, dog, puppy, bird, fish in aquarium. Counter desk, accessories, food, toys, medicine on shelves. Petshop supermarket.

There are almost 12,600 registered pet businesses in the U.S.A. right now. Still, I don’t consider the industry to be crowded because the demand for different pet products is only rising. Reportedly, Americans spend around $137B on their pets per year.

To grow your small pet business, study the market trends and know your close competitors. Also, you need skills, enough money, and a strong customer base.

Let’s be honest. Expanding is sometimes way harder than starting a business. There are thousands of companies that fail to manage a consistent cash flow. To make sure you avoid the same fate, read the full article.

Key Takeaways

  • You should only consider expanding a pet business if the current sales are satisfactory or you notice an untapped customer need.
  • The most essential part of expanding is doing in-depth market & product research.
  • Having a competitive advantage in the business protects expanding pet businesses from failure.
  • Building a loyal customer base & taking regular feedback is as important as other tasks like collecting funds.

When Is The Right Time To Expand My Pet Care Business?

It’s only natural that you want to expand your pet care brand and open multiple franchises. I always appreciate an ambitious mind. But a successful expansion requires the right timing as well. Otherwise, you might end up struggling to maintain day-to-day operations.

Here is a checklist to make sure your timing is right.

1. Is Your Primary Store Doing Well?

First, examine how your current store is doing. The only way to figure this out is by looking at the cash flow statement. Are you securing a consistent cash in-flow every month? Do you have enough cash at hand to pay suppliers, get products, & pay for the utilities? If yes, then you are in the “safe zone.”

Otherwise, it would be a big mistake to consider expanding your business. You could have spent the money on bringing quality products would be wasted on opening franchises. We both know how that usually ends.

2. Do You Have A Profitable Niche?

It takes multiple attempts for any business to find a profitable niche. Just because dog collars are the number one product sold in this niche doesn’t mean it would work for you, too. First, hundreds of online pet shops provide customizable leash & collars at an affordable price. There is a slight chance you could earn a huge profit selling what’s available everywhere already.

Plus, the price for a leash is pretty low. So, you are only open to a little profit even after making a sale. You have to keep experimenting with different pet products until you hit the jackpot. Only then should you think about expanding the business.

3. Is The Demand For Your Products Rising?

The next indicator is your store’s demand. In simple words, are the products in store trendy or demanding? Suppose you keep live pets in your store along with some accessories. However, according to reports, people’s interest in buying animals from a store is lowering. You must have noticed some of the debates and protests going on. In such case, expanding your stores would be a bad idea.

The demand for store-bought animals is only going to be down in the following years. You should only continue your expanding project if the products in your store are estimated to have consistent demand in the future.

4. Do You Have A Loyal Customer Base?

Establishing a loyal customer base is tough until you offer something unique. If the product is of outstanding quality, pet owners will return. However, if you are selling something generic like canned dog food, leashes, etc, you would hardly have a loyal customer. If it is the only pet store in the town, that’s another story.

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There are other ways of encouraging loyalty from your buyers. I have discussed that later in this article. So, hang on.

5. Do You Have A Funding Source?

You should have a reliable funding source. Many companies put aside a portion of their income for years. That’s how they finance their upcoming expansion. But a quicker way is securing a loan.

However, there are many downsides to asking for a loan so early into the business. Banks usually charge a high interest rate if you can’t prove the company is capable of earning enough cash. Other factors, including inventory turnover rate, price of the fixed assets, etc, dictate how much favor you will get from the bank.

Have you checked all the boxes? Congrats! Your business is ready for an expansion. Keep reading to find out the step-by-step formula.

Fun Fact: Did you know Independent Pet Partners closed their 96 stores during the start of 2023? This parent company owns Chuck & Don’s, Loyal Companion & Natural Pawz. They previously had 164 pet care shops all around the U.S.A.

Pet store for dogs, cats, birds and other domestic animals square frame border pattern colored background . Vector illustration doodles, set of pet shop supplies in thin line art sketch style

How Can I Expand My Pet Care Business? Step-By-Step

Here’s the action plan you need for expanding your small pet business. I have broken down the process into several steps. That way, it will be easier to follow and implement. So, without further delay, let’s get started.

1. Find New Services To Include

Expanding doesn’t always mean more stores. You can expand your current business by adding more products to sell. I suggest exploring a closely related market segment. For example, your store sells pet maintenance items, including food & grooming kits. You can expand the product category by adding different brands of food on the shelves.

It’s even better if you have a cheap and premium food option. For more opportunities, you can bring fully organic products. That way, you can tap the potential of a new buyer segment. If you see the trick going well, add more organic stuff to your list. It can be organic shampoo, treats, etc.

Of course, I wouldn’t suggest including products also available in your neighborhood’s next pet store. For that, you need an in-depth competition analysis as well as market research.

2. Develop Core Competency

The term “core competency” is nothing new to business people. It means establishing a feature (product or company-related) that makes you unique in the customer’s mind. If you sell almost similar things that other pet stores do, you are easy to replace.

However, you can select a product category targeted toward a particular customer group—for example, pet toys. You can keep different types of toys (not readily available ones) for various pets on your shelves. That way, you can be the number one choice for buying new toys for pets.

Also, building a brand is easier when you know where your competency lies. You can prioritize that over the others. For example, when you open the next store, you don’t have to experiment with different products anymore. Your store is already recognized for its extensive toy collection. You can follow the same formula for future stores as well.

3. Get Funding

Okay, so you know what you want to sell. It’s time to get funding. There are many options, but the most popular ones are bootstrapping & asking for credit. Bootstrapping is using your own resources for the expansion. It implies that you use the business revenue to meet your financial needs.

Put aside a significant portion of revenue each month. The fundraising process may be slow, but you don’t owe anyone. This would be the best method, if the expansion only needs a little money (theoretically).

Next, you can apply for a bank loan. Any bank will be willing to loan you money if you have a high credit score (above 600). However, if you are planning on producing products yourself, you might need money to buy equipment as well.

Equipment financing loans usually require a credit score above 640. So, good luck!

In addition to that, you can pledge easy-to-convert inventories of your business to get an invoice credit. Under this system, the bank finances your raw material supply & the production process. The customer’s payment is then invoiced to the bank. It works well for manufacturing businesses.

4. Open Stores In Multiple Locations

You have enough money in your pocket to open new branches all over the country. But do research on the citizens and their spending habits before opening an actual store.

You want to avoid opening a store in a city where people prefer buying pet products online.

Reportedly, Missouri, Kansas, Pennsylvania, California & Iowa have the best history with pet stores.

If you want to consider the flat rent as well, you will find a list in our next article. Choose a location where you can quickly ship products. If the shipping cost is too much, ain’t no way you will be able to give the best prices to your customers.

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Article link: how do I manage my pet shop?

pros of owning a pet shop

5. Use The Space More Strategically

Once you have rented a spacious place or multiple places, you are spending a handsome amount on the rent. To be profitable, you have to use the remaining space more strategically.

If possible, establish a good relationship with your supplier. It helps you get the stocks on short notice. So, you don’t have to order products weeks before it is actually finished. With so many products in your store-room, you can definitely use some extra space.

Otherwise, with the increasing number of products, you will have to move out of your current store.

6. Hire More People

If you have settled your mind on expanding the business, you need new people. In case you already have employees working for you, there’s no need to explain the process.

However, I am not going to leave any stones unturned. My first advice would be to focus on your employee’s communication skills. I am sure you have walked out of a store just because the customer service was off.

Trust me, you want to avoid a person who is highly experienced but gets irritated easily by customers’ queries. So, that’s the number one quality. Also, it definitely helps if the employee has experience in the retail business. Emphasize pet-related knowledge rather than work experience. Especially if the workers also own pets at home, it will help them connect with the customers better.

7. Run Promotional Campaigns Offline

Marketing is the second most crucial factor after selecting profitable products. Yes, I am talking about both online & offline campaigns. However, let’s stick with offline promotional strategies for now.

Give Discounts

Giving discounts on pet products will increase your store’s traffic. People are more likely to convert and buy a product when they see the “discount” tag.

You can give festival discounts, BOGO (buy one & get one free) offers, etc.

But my favorite one is a bulk discount. It is more effective in compelling the customers to buy more.

Here’s how it works.

Instead of giving 5% off for the dog leashes, you put a cap on the customer’s spending.

For example, if a customer spends a minimum of $50, they get a 20% discount on the total amount. That way, even if someone only wanted to spend $20, they might try to buy more products to be eligible for the discount.

And, you have smartly compelled them to try more products than they intended to buy. From there, if they end up liking your products, there is a big chance they will purchase those items even when there is no discount. So, it’s a big win for you.

Reward Loyal Customers

Discount doesn’t have to be for everyone. You can choose to reward only your loyal customers from time to time. People who regularly buy pet food or accessories from your store can get the products at a cheaper price. Make sure you are still making a decent profit to run the store.

cons of owning a pet shop

8. Involve Yourself In The Community

“Be where your customers are.” That’s the 21st-century marketing tagline. If you open a store in a new city, you might need help attracting customers following the discounting method.

Focus on networking inside the pet-owner community. Nowadays, there are plenty of fundraising events to help animals in the rescue shelter. You can volunteer at some of the events and get a natural interaction opportunity with your customers. You can promote your store & hopefully they will give you a chance too.

9. Promote Your Business Online

You can run ads on social media to attract more potential buyers. If you don’t want to rely on mere “ad” snippets, try creating engaging content. For example, you can build an online community who are interested in a particular niche. Suppose you sell toys. You can post videos on how pets use that specific toy and encourage more pet owners to buy it.

I have seen many small pet businesses upscale only using the power of social media. If you need more expertise, you can always hire someone to create online content for your business.

Another exciting way to reach more buyers and expand your sales is partnering with individuals with high-quality followers. Here, “high quality” means relevant to your niche. You can propose them to refer followers to your website. You can recognize them through a coupon code. And, the customers can use the code to get a decent discount on your products.

It’s the best online marketing method to boost your sales and get more recognition among the pet-parent community.

10. Pay Attention To Customer Feedback

The majority of people keep spending money on expanding a business without paying any heed to feedback. Soon, they realize that they are not getting as many sales as expected.

Always pay attention to customer feedback during the whole process. Are the customers complaining about a quality issue? Then, you must’ve cut the budget for producing products and used it for opening new stores.

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Don’t do that.

Customers, especially in the pet industry, are susceptible to product quality. They treat their pets almost like their own kids. So, you don’t want lots of negative reviews about your service or product.

Some customers come again and again because they like you or your staff. Make sure your customers are not complaining about rude treatment. It’s a major turn-off.

Global Pet Industry Statistics & Trends Infographic

Practical Examples On Expanding Pet Care Business

Diversify Services:

A pet boarding facility can introduce grooming services, pet training classes, or even a pet spa. This not only attracts a wider clientele but also increases the average spend per customer.

Loyalty Programs:

Offer a “Buy 10, Get 1 Free” grooming session or discounts for regular boarding customers. This encourages repeat business and builds a loyal customer base.

Mobile Pet Care:

Launch a mobile grooming van that visits neighborhoods on specific days. This provides convenience for pet owners and taps into a market that might not travel to a physical location.

Collaborate with Other Businesses:

Partner with local pet stores or vet clinics. Offer exclusive discounts to their customers or set up a referral system.

Expand Online Presence:

Create engaging content on social media showcasing happy pets, customer testimonials, or pet care tips. This can attract a wider audience and position the business as an industry expert.

Introduce Pet Products:

Start selling pet products like toys, food, or accessories either in-store or through an online shop. This can be a great source of additional revenue.

Host Events:

Organize pet adoption days in collaboration with local shelters or pet-themed events like “Doggy Day Out” where pets and their owners can participate in fun activities.

Expand Geographically:

If the business is doing well in one location, consider opening another branch in a different neighborhood or even franchising the business model.

Offer Pet Health Workshops:

Organize workshops on pet nutrition, training, or health checks. This not only provides additional revenue but also positions the business as a trusted authority in pet care.

Invest in Technology:

Example: Implement a booking system that allows customers to schedule appointments online, or introduce a mobile app where pet owners can monitor their pet’s activities or health during their stay.

Best-Selling Item Ideas for an Online Pet Shop

Real Life Case Studies Of Pet Companies That Expanded Their Businesses

Chewy.com’s Subscription Model:

Strategy: Chewy, an online retailer of pet food and other pet-related products, introduced an auto-ship subscription model. This allowed customers to schedule regular deliveries of pet food, ensuring they never run out.

Result: This strategy not only provided convenience for pet owners but also ensured consistent revenue for Chewy. Their subscription model played a significant role in their rapid growth.

BarkBox’s Monthly Subscription:

Strategy: BarkBox offers a monthly subscription box filled with toys, treats, and grooming products tailored to the size of the pet.

Result: The excitement of a monthly surprise for pets combined with high-quality products led to a surge in subscriptions, making BarkBox a prominent name in the pet industry.

PetSmart’s Acquisition of Chewy:

Strategy: Recognizing the shift towards online shopping, PetSmart acquired Chewy.com in 2017.

Result: This acquisition allowed PetSmart to tap into the online market and expand its customer base significantly.

Rover’s Expansion into Dog Walking and Daycare:

Strategy: Rover started as a platform connecting pet owners with pet sitters. Recognizing the demand for other pet-related services, they expanded into dog walking, drop-in visits, and doggy daycare.

Result: By diversifying their services, Rover became a one-stop platform for various pet care needs, leading to increased user engagement and revenue.

Petco’s Introduction of In-Store Vet Clinics:

Strategy: Petco, a leading pet supplies retailer, introduced in-store vet clinics and vaccination services.

Result: This move not only increased foot traffic to their stores but also positioned Petco as a holistic pet care provider.

What’s The Big Challenge In Expanding Your Pet Business

Expanding a business looks easier on paper. The most common challenge that new pet businesses face is extreme competition. It’s very tough to find a sub-category you like that also has enough space for newcomers. It’s true for both online & offline pet shops.

I suggest you spend some days researching the pet market and how it has evolved over the years. For example, tech devices to take care of pets are on the hype right now. It includes products like GPS trackers, automatic feeders, water fountains, pet cameras, and so on.

Try to find such trends and see which one holds the most potential according to you.

Before You Leave!

Starting & expanding a business in the pet niche is not everyone’s cup of tea. I couldn’t be more proud of you for considering a daunting task like this. Again, finding your core competency through a unique niche or product makes the process ten times easier.

In case you need help brainstorming, here are 13 unusual pet business ideas I absolutely love.

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Muntaseer Rahman

About Author

Hello, I’m Muntaseer Rahman, the owner of AcuarioPets.com. I’m passionate about aquarium pets like shrimps, snails, crabs, and crayfish. I’ve created this website to share my expertise and help you provide better care for these amazing pets.

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