Often, entrepreneurs create a business plan based on solving an everyday dilemma. Keith and Patrycia Miller, owners of Bubbly Paws, an upscale dog spa based in Minnesota, are no exception.
Soon after their first dog, Roxy, joined the family, Keith and Patrycia learned a lesson all dog owners experience – grooming is no easy task. After countless adventures bathing Roxy in a bathtub, they grew frustrated with the amount of hair and mess she left behind, and so, a business began…
In 2011, they opened one of the first family owned, self-serve dog washes in the Twin Cities – Bubbly Paws Dog Wash.
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If you ask Keith and Patrycia about their biggest lesson learned during their first year owning a small business, they’ll both say, “Be different and embrace change.”
But identifying a consumer need was just the first step in developing a business plan. They researched the competitive market to help determine how to best represent the Bubbly Paws brand.
While the self-service dog wash concept was new to the Twin Cities area, their goal was to truly capitalize on the consumer need, and set themselves apart from big box stores.
The Millers decided to carry through a family-like environment throughout the store by creating a warm, welcoming atmosphere.
The inviting surroundings resonated when the first customers through their doors came in with children. Soon kid-sized aprons and stools appeared for young customers to stand on along with freeze pops and other treats. To this day, Bubbly Paws takes pride in branding their business as a warm, family-friendly atmosphere.
Keith and Patrycia turned to FedEx Office for their marketing and creative needs.
“We’ve loved working with FedEx Office. I think they are one of the reasons our small business has succeeded,” Keith says.
The first thing you see when you walk through their doors is a large, colorful vinyl sign with the Bubbly Paws logo.
They then designed and printed postcards, menu signs, banners and outdoor signage to create the perfect image for their business. Together, all the marketing materials helped cement the company’s brand identity.
For Keith and Patrycia, the convenience of FedEx Office® Print Online was a tremendous resource for creating appealing graphics solutions and sending the order directly from their computer to FedEx Office for printing.
We asked the innovative pair for their top five tips for new small business owners, and Keith and Patrycia replied with six, because it holds a special place in their hearts.
- Provide outstanding customer service – train your staff to make sure each customer always has a great time.
- Use social media – interact with your customers on channels like Facebook and Instagram, but don’t sell on your channels. Use the power of social media to your advantage. When Keith experienced a one-month wait for building permits, he and Patrycia decided to Facebook message the Mayor of Saint Paul. The next day, they received four calls from the city departments ready to sign off on their permits!
- Take time for yourself – make sure you have a life outside of the business – exercise, take a vacation and make time for yourself.
- Identify your strengths and weaknesses – if you are personable, strike up conversations and get to know your customers on a first-name basis, be visual and greet customers’ dogs by name.
- Hire great people, trust them and take care of them – trust your staff and treat them as an extension of your family.
- Be community focused – be more than just a business, give back. In 2014, Bubbly Paws donated over $10,000 in goods, services, and money to local pet rescue groups.
Staying true to this advice and a passion for making their brand exceptional, Keith and Patrycia will celebrate Bubbly Paws’ fourth anniversary this April.
For more information about how FedEx Office helped Bubbly Paws create an everlasting brand image, watch this behind-the-scenes video.