The pet service industry has seen raging growth over the last 5 to 10 years. We have been riding an insane wave of growth and success. More and more dog kennels and dog daycares have come into the business. There were more than enough clients to go around and the need to compete for new customers fell year over year. Then Corona hit, and the world stopped. Our dog kennel went from 110 dogs down to 2 dogs in April.
As America begins to open up, the reservations have begun to roll back in. That being said, thinking that our business will snap back to normal in a hurry is not realistic. What worked before will not work now. As I outlined in a previous blog , it is vital now more than ever to find what makes your business unique and find ways to better separate you from the competition in your marketplace.
A great way to showcase your business, attract new customers, and increase your conversion from tours to new clients is to make an eye-grabbing welcome packet. While creating a welcome packet can be a substantial investment, it is important to look at the lifetime income an average new customer brings to your business. Our welcome packet all in cost us about 6 dollars to make. Our average customer spends 200$ per year, with the average customer staying at least three years. This means my average customer lifetime spend is 600$. In any business, spending 6$ to make 600$ would be a great investment.
In this blog we will outline what we included in our welcome packets and where to get them made.
We used Vista Print to make our folders. When designing your folder make sure that you are staying on point with your brand. You want to make sure the colors are eye-catching. Including a picture or two of smiling dogs will help to reinforce your brand of safety and happiness to your new potential customer. It is important to make sure that there is not too much information or an overload of pictures on your folder. This is the first thing your new customer will see and it is important to keep it professional, clean, and easy on the eyes. Having your welcome packet in a custom folder is more than double the cost of just handing your potential customer some stapled papers, but the reinforcement that your facility is professional and doesn't cut corners will definitely increase your conversion of inquiries to new customers.
This is an incredibly important part of your welcome packet. Even if you decide not to invest in a folder, this is a must have for any packet to new customers. Notice how I said "Message From Management Team" and not "Owner"? This is because this does not necessarily need to be from the owner of the facility. The only time that the owner should be included in this welcome message is if the owner is actively working full time at the facility. I personally am working part time at my kennel as I work on designing the best software in the industry ;) . As I am working part time at my kennel, I am training my general manager to take on more and more responsibility and daily management. I have found the more that I make myself the "face" of the company, the more it undermines my general manager and stops her from being able to do her job at a high level. If you have a manager that you are trusting to run your daily operations, you must make them the authority figure to the customers and the face of your business. If customers see you as the face of the business they will constantly say things like, "well let me talk to the owner." If your plan is to not be running your business full time, then drop the ego and let your manager whom you trust, be your brand.
When making this intro from your management team to your new customers it is good to make it personal. I had my management team include the following:
I can't overstate how important including this is to your customers. This puts a face and shows accountability. Your potential new customers know that if something does go wrong, you have a team of experts who will know how to handle the situation, and will be there for your customers.
Our next paper we have in our welcome packet is our reservation and photo sharing process flyer. My kennel uses Paw Partner to manage our business, manage reservations and share photos directly with our customers. Paw Partner has this co-branded flyer given to all of the businesses using them. Because it is the first software to have a full mobile app for customers to make reservations on and see photos of their pets directly on their phone from the app, this flyer has been great with showing customers all of the fun free features they can use.
Whether you use Paw Partner or not, it is important to outline your reservation process for your customers and how/when they can expect to get photos and videos from you. Sharing photos with customers has become standard and expected. We used to spend 10-20 hours a week collecting and re-uploading photos to Facebook. Our employees can now quickly tag our checked in dogs in the photos and the owners instantly get notified they have new photos of their pets on their Paw Partner app.
We included separate informational packets for each of our services: Dog Boarding, Dog Daycare, and Grooming. This will be the "meat" of your welcome packet. This is where you outline all of the guidelines, rules, and procedures. In our packets, we include our office hours, vaccine requirements, 'what to bring', canine cough policy and procedures, what a typical day looks like, and any other rules we have.
Our final pieces that we include into our welcome folders is a coupon and our general manager's business card. Our coupon is good for one free day of service for new customers. On the coupon we also put, "Already a part of the Hyline family? Refer a friend to us and get 2 free days!" Giving service away seems risky, but again, you need to think about the lifetime income generated by a new customer. As I calculated before, at my facility (not all are the same), our lifetime average income from a customer is 600$. Giving 2 free days to my current customer for bringing me 600$ of new income not only is a stellar business decision but also cements my relationship with my current customer. Also, the first day of dog daycare or dog boarding is your first opportunity to make an impression with your new customer. Our first day free lowers new customer's guard and increases your new customer appointments. It gives you more opportunity to make that good impression. Furthermore for dog boarding, this has been a great tool for us. We always recommend new customers bring their dog in for a "trial night" where we can give them feedback on how they did, and the dog gets comfortable with our facility and staff before staying for a long period of time.
Including my general manager's business card further reinforces that she is the "go to" person at our facility. This makes customers more comfortable leaving their pet at a new dog kennel or dog daycare. This has also drastically cut down on the "well let me speak to the owner" requests.
As we all come out of this unprecedented economic shutdown, the competition for new customers is going to increase to new levels not seen in decades. You have worked incredibly hard to build your brand, business, and customer base. You need to find new ways of showcasing what makes your business unique and different from your local competition. Finding new and better ways to help you connect with your customers and increase your business is my mission at Paw Partner. Whether it is you offering a new app for your customers to use or a unique service that you offer, a well branded clean welcome packet will help you illustrate all the hard work you have put in and showcase what separates your business from your competition. While your competition retracts their innovation and customer outreach, now is the time to think differently and do everything you can to capture every new customer you can. When your new customers come in, why not have an amazing welcome folder to showcase everything amazing about your business?