A Chamber member since 2013, Carol and Bill Barnett of 2nd Family Dogs share their insights on business and being a member of the McKinney Chamber of Commerce.
What inspired you to start your business?
We have always loved dogs and after retiring from 40 years in management and executive roles in high tech companies we knew that our retirement should be spent with the dogs! Our goal was to do something we love and do it well.
What services or products do you offer?
We provide dog boarding, daycare and grooming services. Summer in Texas is hot so we offer an environment which includes plenty of shade, “misting” systems, splash pools and a full size swimming pool to ensure dogs that board or use daycare services are always comfortable and can enjoy time inside and outside all year round. And for busy pet parents, our grooming salon is open seven days a week.
What is unique about your business?
Several things are unique. Our playroom and kennel design is different than traditional pet resorts allowing for the dogs to see more when in their kennels so they are less lonely. And our outdoor play yards are equipped with more playground equipment, shade and misters than traditional places offer. In addition, we have worked with several veterinarians and other dog boarding businesses that have asked us to show them what we do and how we do it so that they can incorporate some of these new ideas in their new or reconstructed businesses.
How does your business give back to the community?
We work with three local dog rescue organizations to provide free kennels for dogs that have been rescued from shelters but don’t yet have a foster family available to take them until they can be adopted. In the past 4 years we have provided free kennels for over 150 dogs. We also donate monthly to two dog rescue organizations.
What obstacles did you have to overcome to get where are today?
We learned a lot when we decided to open our business. We started in 2012 to get funding to buy our land and build our building and, at that time, lending was tight and the economy was not booming so it took us more than just a few meetings with several banks to get our loan. Then we had to learn about zoning and getting the right zoning for our business in the location we chose. It was a great learning experience and a lot of hard work.
What methods have you used to grow your business?
The first thing that we did was to join the McKinney Chamber to get a better understanding of local business and what makes them successful. Our location and our customers are our best marketing tools now. Our business is on highway 121 with our signs visible to the thousands of cars passing by each day and that certainly attracted many of our clients. Then, once they became clients and were impressed with our services their word of mouth and referrals to their friends gave us the next wave of customers. We also offer a free app for phones and tablets that allows our customers to watch their dogs on webcams and that has been a huge hit with our customers!
What is the secret to keeping happy customers?
First, I believe it is understanding that their dogs are not just pets – they are treasured family members. Listening to their concerns and instructions is very important. Next is doing what you say you will do, and constantly looking for new ways to improve their dog’s experience. Because if the puppy is happy, mom and dad are too!
Who has been your greatest inspiration?
In terms of this business, I would have to say it is our own dogs. I know what I want for them and I make sure we do that for other families.
What is your most/least favorite thing about your business?
I really enjoy getting the chance to sit down in the play yard and play with the dogs. They are so loving and full of energy. My least favorite thing is the doing the business accounting – it’s very boring!
Where do you see your business going in the future?
We are very blessed to have a great client base which we call our “2nd Families”. Our goal is to continue to stay aware of new and better ways to care for dogs and to continue to treat each of them like family.
To what do you attribute your success?
We love dogs and I think it shows in all aspects of our business.
What’s the best advice you would give a new chamber member to get the most out of their membership?
Proper planning and cash flow are very important. Not all businesses make money in the first year or two so you have to be prepared to work through that period of time and plan ahead to have enough cash to keep you going until you finally get to break even and beyond. It’s important!