For those who thought the COVID-19 crisis meant an end to franchise business opportunities, think again! Hounds Town USA has put all their muscle into making sure their Franchise Owners, Team Members, and customers are safe, well-protected, and equipped with everything they need to help them weather the storm caused by the novel coronavirus. From clever marketing campaigns to drum up business among essential workers in the communities they serve, to providing lunch for our hard-working staff members in the New York area, the Hounds Town corporate team is here to show prospective and current Franchise Owners that there is a bright light at the end of this tunnel.
How bright? We’ve uncovered some pretty encouraging statistics about how well the pet care industry has fared amid past times of economic downturn, and are confident that our industry is similarly well-positioned to weather this current storm. Take a look:
Since pet care is deemed an essential business, all Hounds Town locations are remaining open during lockdowns and shelter-in-place orders that are in effect due to COVID-19. Wearing protective equipment such as masks and gloves and allowing customers to drop their dogs off to a staff member at the curb rather than come inside the facility, our Franchise Owners are taking necessary precautions to ensure the safety of employees and customers alike while providing the high-quality pet care experience our fans have come to expect. In this way, we’re giving healthcare workers, grocery store employees, and other highly-important essential workers a way to ensure their pups are having a good time running, playing, and just being dogs while they’re working long hours.
Franchise Business Opportunities During COVID-19
We’ve got a lot of ideas up our sleeve when it comes to generating business and keeping our franchise locations running smoothly during this unprecedented time in history. We’ve rolled out a 45-day marketing plan to help our Franchise Owners stay afloat as the world does its best to adjust to the new normal. Here are some of the promotions we’re running right now:
Healthcare Worker Appreciation Program
As a thank you to our healthcare professionals working on the front lines in hospitals and medical facilities to help combat COVID-19, we are offering an appreciation program for ALL of our healthcare worker-customers, which includes $19 daycare, 19% off all play packages, and 19% off of overnight boarding.
Customers are rewarded with daily incentives to drop their dogs off for care, including discounted daycare and grooming services, free future visits, and special treats made right here in the USA! Offering these promotions not only helps add value to our customers’ experience now but also creates future franchise business opportunities for repeat visits once things return to normal and people go back into their workplace.
Hounds Town customers can let their furry friends interact with other pups without ever leaving their house! Each Wednesday at 7:00 PM Eastern, we’re streaming LIVE from our lobby and helping pooches connect via the magic of technology.
Founder Mike Gould points out that, in addition to being smart business to offer these discounts and incentives, it’s also a nice thing to do to help make an essential service more affordable for customers during this tumultuous time. “Having 30 dogs in your facility paying $19 is far better than having 8 dogs in your facility paying full price, it’s just simple math,” he notes, adding, “Call it karma or whatever you’d like, but our philanthropic efforts have ALWAYS given back to us more than what we offered.”
Hear Mike and Jackie discuss COVID-19 crisis management and future franchise business opportunities in their Dish on Dogs podcast here.
Here For Our Franchise Owners
We’re always committed to providing outstanding support for our Franchise Owners, but now more than ever, we’re dedicated to helping Owners in all our locations with whatever they need to succeed in their local market. Our Corporate Support Team has been helping Franchise Owners ramp up their local advertising efforts to let dog owners in our open locations know that we are still up and running! Last week we implemented a Facebook brand awareness campaign for all Long Island stores that has generated nearly 50 leads so far. “Our goal is to capture customers of other closed pet care facilities and let them know we are open,” notes Hounds Town President Jackie Bondanza.
The strategy appears to be working! Between March 15 and April 2, our total number of daycare visitors system-wide was 1,867, which is an average of 17 dogs per day in each open location. It’s important to note that fully-matured locations like Ronkonkoma and Farmingdale are currently seeing an average of 25 dogs per day!
Additionally, during the two-week period between March 15 and April 2, 22 evaluations were conducted for first-time visitors, while 24 dogs attended daycare at Hounds Town for the first time ever! As Jackie pointed out in a recent email to Franchise Owners, “These numbers are very impressive. What they tell us is, even during a 100% workforce lockdown, new customers are still coming in our doors.”
Our Marketing Support Team is also coordinating with Franchise Owners to conduct fun contests to keep both two- and four-legged customers engaged and in high spirits during their isolation. Hounds Town customers are encouraged to send us pictures and videos of their furry family members doing all kinds of funny things, including working from home with their humans, wearing GoPros to record their adventures, and of course, getting excited to come for a visit to Hounds Town! Winners receive a variety of prizes such as free daycare sessions, percentages off our services, and gift cards for future visits.
In addition to providing marketing support to generate new business and retain existing customers, our corporate Operations team has put together a resource document for Franchise Owners, outlining government policies, grants, loan options, and state-specific information for the areas where we are currently operating. This document is updated daily, so Franchise Owners can stay on top of the latest changes in information while concentrating on the day-to-day aspects of running their doggie daycare business.
Mike and Jackie are remaining in constant contact with Franchise Owners across the country through a series of informative and encouraging emails. These weekly “PUPdates” are geared towards helping Owners navigate the new challenges of owning a pet care franchise while making sure to take note of the silver linings that can mean a boost in franchise business opportunities once life returns to normal for all of us. For example, in one email update, Mike notes that the landscape for opening a doggie daycare will be quite different in the aftermath of COVID-19.
“Great real estate that a week ago was unavailable and unaffordable will soon become available as landlords are uncertain of their property value and open to negotiation,” he pointed out. “Contractors who a week ago would not return calls are now willing to work at affordable prices. There are investors who are going to make great investments in this exact moment.”
The weekly email updates also go a long way toward offering encouragement and emotional support for Franchise Owners, not to mention hope. As a doggie daycare that has been in business for nearly two decades, Hounds Town USA has seen its fair share of troubled times in the country and has successfully overcome those challenges to achieve greater success as a company by maintaining a positive attitude and an indomitable spirit.
“I attribute much of my business success to my optimism, particularly during challenging times,” says Mike in one such email. “In the 20 years since I started Hounds Town, we have navigated our businesses through the 9/11 tragedy, the swine flu (where 12,000 people died), the stock market crash, the housing crisis, Super Storm Sandy, gas shortages and a countless number of storms and floods. The 2017-2018 flu season, one of the deadliest on record, killed more than 60,000 people. And it had no effect on our business at all.”
Mike does note, however, “This circumstance, of course, is different, for a variety of reasons.” He encourages Owners not to panic and to focus on the bright side, saying, “The positive news is we are ALL in this circumstance together, with much of the rest of the world.” Mike’s positivity and motivational words for the members of the Hounds Town family help to boost morale and inspire confidence and optimism among Franchise Owners.
Helping People (and Pups) in Our Community
Of course, Hounds Town’s number one mission since opening its doors in 2001 has always been “helping people through animals,” and in this time of crisis, we’re doing all we can to help the people and animals in the communities we serve. To that end, Hounds Town USA is pitching in to make a difference in the lives of our neighbors in several ways.
In an effort to help support local businesses in and around the New York communities where we have Hounds Town facilities, we’re ordering lunch delivery from local eateries and having it delivered to our staff members. So far, we’ve supported Jersey Mike’s Subs in Port Jefferson Station and TCBY in Garden City, and plan to add to that list this week! Additionally, our Pittsburgh location is supporting several local pet stores including Lawrenceville Pet Supply, Petagogy, and Wagsburgh by matching every gift card purchase at those shops with up to $50 in Hounds Town bucks. It’s our way of showing our fellow business owners how much they matter to us!
Additionally, the Fresh Air Fund, a program sponsored by Hounds Town Charities, is fostering five dogs and four cats from Long Island-area animal shelters for the entire month of April at tour Ronkonkoma location. The dogs and cats, who otherwise would have been cooped up in the shelter during the quarantine, will get to experience fun, relaxation, and lots of pets and belly rubs, as well as partake in socialization and behavior training as they spend the month as special Hounds Town guests.
COVID-19 has thrown us a curveball we never could have imagined, but thanks to our fearless leaders Mike and Jackie and the full support of our corporate team, we are riding out the storm and finding creative new ways to engage with our customers and add value to their lives during this difficult time. We see good things ahead for our existing and future Franchise Owners and encourage everyone to stay PAWsitive as we navigate these uncharted waters.
Interested in owning a Hounds Town USA franchise? Visit our website to learn more about our franchise business opportunities.