Assessing the Value of Add-On Services
By Charlotte Biggs
One of the most rewarding experiences as a pet care services provider is to have a pet owner express how happy and grateful they are with the care and service you’ve provided for their pet. It’s just as rewarding to see that a pet’s specific physical and emotional needs are met. Even more important is knowing they are checking out of your facility in as good if not better condition than when they checked in. This experience combined with the successful operation of our business is what we strive to achieve on a daily basis.
To ensure this outcome is achieved, take time to assess the relevance of your services to the needs of the pets in your care and the expectations of today’s pet owners.
- Are you providing what they need or what they want?
- Can you improve your level of service or the type of services you provide to better accommodate the client needs in your market and the pets in your care?
- What would it take to add improvements in care or additional services?
- Would the return on investment improve the pet’s experience while in your care, the pet owner’s appreciation for your services and your business’ bottom line?
According to Veterinary Practice News, March 2018 edition, “other” services, which includes pet services outside of healthcare such as grooming, boarding, walking, training, pet sitting, yard services and more, saw one of the highest growths in the market. Our segment of the market came in at $6.16 billion in 2017, and spending in the pet services segment continues to grow.
What does this growth in our market mean? This increased spending by pet owners reflects a priority in providing the best of care and specificity of care and services for their pets. There is a great opportunity to expand your reach, have a positive impact on the lives of the pets within your community and increase your revenue at the same time.
As we continue to grow and evolve as a pet care services industry, now is the time to consider what services you offer and the value of adding services or additional add-on services to your business.
What are Add–on Services?
Add–on services are additional services provided to improve the pet’s care and experience while improving the pet owner’s appreciation and perceived value of your services. They provide an opportunity to increase your business brand or reputation and provide for additional revenue streams and increased profit.
- Add–on Activities: These can be as simple as providing extra activities not currently offered that will benefit the pet, such as individual walks, reading with treats, movie with the pup, belly rubs or one–on–one playtime. Essentially, they’re options that can be chosen based on the individual needs of the pet that provide increased pet engagement and an improved experience for the pet.
- Expanded Services: For an improved customer experience, this could be expanding services you currently offer in a limited capacity, such as extended business hours, special pick–up or drop–off times, adding video cameras, overnight staffing or offering a mobile app.
- Special Programs: To improve your brand and engage your pet–owning community, you could develop special programs such as providing Pet First Aid/CPR courses, Doga (Yoga with your pet), Fun Agility (Agility for fun without the competition), Geriatric “Easy Goes It” classes or providing pet owner educational sessions on different topics.
- Niche Services: To meet the needs of an aging pet population and the owners of those pets who are looking for specific quality care for them, it could be developing a niche service of care for geriatrics or special needs pets who require this higher level of care. There are other areas with specific needs as well, such as programs for puppies or tiny dogs, or Fear Free™ programs. This type of program results in an improved level of care and experience for the pet and a high value appreciation by the pet owner.
- Core Services: Adding additional core services to the services you currently offer, such as adding daycare, lodging, grooming, training, retail or pet transportation, depending on the needs of your specific market, would add an additional revenue stream and could enhance your overall customer appeal and uptake of all services.
Not all add–on services will work for all pet care services businesses. It will depend on your market, customer and pet needs, and your business model, mission and vision. The goal is to assess your business offerings to identify if there are opportunities for improved pet care experiences, customer demands or specific market needs that could be met with some changes from within your business.
You can begin your analysis by looking at and doing the research on your overall market and customer makeup. Are the pets you’re caring for currently aging? Are their needs different and could you add services to make it better for them? Or are you in an area where the demographics of working double–head–of–households has grown and dog daycare could thrive if you added it? Ask your clients verbally and with surveys how you’re doing and what else you could do to be of service to them. Ask your staff if there are things they think you could be doing that would be of service to the pets you care for.
Once you’ve identified possible add-on services, do a Benefits to Risk analysis before making your decisions. The following are some factors to consider.
Benefits of add–on services are:
- Improved pet experience
- Increased value to the pet owner
- Increased business brand or reputation
- Additional revenue stream
- Increased profit
Risk of add–on services are:
- Cost to benefit the pet/pet owner business; real and value assessed
- Direct business cost; space adaptation and equipment cost
- Staff knowledge; cost of staff education and training
- Pricing; based on cost plus profit
- Value message to the pet owner; ensure it will support required pricing
Creating a niche service or adding a core service will require more substantive changes to make them happen. These include identifying appropriate space and equipment or having to engage in creating the new space through remodel or construction, as well as additional staff and education and training for staff. Analysis, preparation and planning is a must. It may be that you can implement some things now and plan additional ones for later.
Assessing the value of potential add-on services can create the opportunity to keep your business fresh, relevant and successful as you respond to the needs and demands of the pet care services market you are in. If you’re not certain where to begin, there are industry and community resources you can access to assist you.
Charlotte Biggs, CPACO, is the Business Growth and Development Guru with The Dog Gurus. Charlotte is also co-founder of the Professional Animal Care Certification Council (PACCC), the pet care services industry’s only independent certifying body. She served as COO for four years for the International Boarding & Pet Services Association (IBPSA). Charlotte’s leadership in the pet care services industry, combined with her real-world expertise as the original owner and operator of Stay N Play Pet Ranch, Inc., which she and her partner founded in 1998 and grew to one of the most successful, full service, all natural and holistic pet care facilities in the country before successfully selling it in 2013, makes her a sought-after industry speaker and consultant.