October is Pet Services Month here on the Signpost Local Marketing Blog! We’ll be surfacing insights and strategies specifically for marketing your veterinary practice, grooming, training and boarding businesses while driving more new and repeat customers.
Not a pet care professional? Don’t worry, we’ll still be sharing insights that will help you to promote your local business, acquire new customers, and encourage loyalty. Want your industry to be the next featured month? Drop us a line, and let us know!
Let’s face it, our pets are part of our family. And although dogs were originally domesticated in order to provide protection and warmth (amongst other rational reasons!) for their owners, they’re now more likely to be treated as our children or “furbabies” than livestock. So, it may come as no surprise that the boarding and pet sitting options for our precious pets must exude attention to detail, comfort, and above all else, TLC.
In order to get your boarding business found by more new customers, you must focus on accentuating the differentiators in your approach and amenities. Follow these best practices, to reassure your target customers that their beloved pets will be in good hands.
Focus on the right message
Your business’s digital presence should strongly convey your brand message. In order to strike a chord with pet owners, it’s important that your digital and print assets reinforce your commitment to high-quality pet care, and serve to reassure anxious owners. This should inform your approach to your business’s website, which is most often the first impression that potential customers will get, and also sets their expectations.
Be liberal in your use of client testimonials, as these have been found to increase conversions by 34%. Make these prominent on your homepage, and place them strategically on each page of your site. Vary the length and type of testimonials you use, and don’t be afraid to test different placements to see which types perform best in various locations.
The decision of whom to entrust with their beloved pet is a uniquely emotional one. Be mindful of this as you are creating your website, and put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Think about why you got into this business, and let your love of animals inform your message. Consider creating a mission statement as well as a brand promise that guides your approach, and will assuage any reservations pet owners might still have. Remember, it’s more about cultivating a sense of care and nurturing for these animals, and providing a sense for what the pet’s experience will be while they are in your possession. At the end of the day, they want to know that you’ll treat them as your own, and feel as though selecting you and your business will minimize the trauma of being separated from owners.
The more details and transparency you can provide, the better, as this will determine how much owners will trust you. They will avoid any uncertainty, so including video tours or numerous photos of the accommodations and what a normal day looks like for dogs in your care, will help you banish any doubts and win over customers. Of course, the usual rules still apply, so make sure that you’re also giving them as much business information as possible. You should clearly state your availability, location, policies, pricing, contact information, amenities, and you may want to also include a sample schedule including feeding and walk times, as well as food options and recommendations.
Make sure your online reputation is pristine
Testimonials are a great, proven tool in any business’s marketing kit, but consumers know that these have been carefully curated by the business owner, and are not impartial. This is just one of the many reasons why third-party review sites have risen to prominence and become a crucial starting point in many purchasing decisions. First and foremost, make sure you’re committed to delivering the highest quality of service to your furry boarders. Consistency and customer service should be your priority.
Next, remind your customers how important these reviews are to your business, and ask that if they’re happy with your service, if they wouldn’t mind taking the time to leave you a review on Yelp. On your own website, place links to your profile across reviews sites to encourage prospects to check out what unbiased sources are saying. This will also be a good way to subtly remind past customers to leave you a glowing review. If you send out any form of feedback requests, you can also include a link to make it easy for them to review you.
Similarly, in the event that you do receive a negative review, reach out to the customer and attempt to find a resolution. Consumers understand that mistakes happen, but an appropriate response from management is key in this scenario. Doing everything you can to make things right, will only highlight your commitment to ensuring customer satisfaction.
Emphasize your differentiators
Again, this is your chance to reinforce the benefits of your service. Yesterday’s cold and impersonal kennels have fallen out of fashion amongst pet owners, so offering more amenities can give you a leg up. But they won’t do you much good if they’re not on your prospects’ radar and helping to influence their decision.
Clearly list these on your site, and provide videos and photos so owners can see them in action, and clearly envision their pet being happy in that environment. These could include options for accommodations, recreation, and diet for starters. Does each pet get their own space and bed to sleep in? What is the ratio of caretakers to pets? How long are they socialized with other pets? Are they always under supervision? What is the longest that they’ll be left alone? These are all likely questions pet owners will be asking, so the more you can preemptively answer, the more compelling your solution will be to them.
Are you trained in behavioral issues, or to help them cope with separation anxiety? Don’t be afraid to emphasize this, as you never know how important that is to any potential customers. You can highlight the advantages to your boarding over a dogsitting-friend by educating them on the importance of social interaction with other dogs. You might even want to make additional guarantees in terms of minimum number of walks a day, recreational or outdoors time, etc.
You can gain an advantage by offering things other boarders or kennels won’t, such as heated floors and well-lit areas. Live feeds of the pets, check-in calls, or even video conferences with their pets are a great way to put their mind at ease while they’re in your care. Think about what makes sense and is most sustainable for your business. It may mean that you need to scale down the occupancy numbers so you can devote more individual care to each pet and owner.
Don’t just limit this to core services, you could also offer some additional services, upsells or packages for their convenience. The last thing your customers want to do after a long trip is to have to get back in a car or mass transit in order to pick up their pet. Yet, they don’t want to wait any longer to be reunited and get them home, either. Offer to do pick ups and drop offs within a set radius. Or, offer grooming services on the last day of their stay, so they’re looking their best when it’s time to go home. You could also consider offering training during their stay. If you’re not able to offer these these services yourself, partner with local experts to work out a system (while also getting a dialogue started about cross-promotion efforts!).