For business owners and patrons of the fast-growing mobile pet grooming industry, thinking outside the box often involves working inside one.
Like Matt Damon's character in the recent family blockbuster, We Bought A Zoo, Ciara Ann Lira, managing partner of Clean Paws Manila, was taking a risk when, in 2009, she and her boyfriend decided to invest in an old pet shop, just outside Bel-Air Village, Makati.
Though uncertain of how things would turn out, Ms. Lira, together with her partner, collected her savings and loaned a small amount of money from her parents in order to buy the pet shop. Noting the growing demand for pet grooming services in the area, the pair decided to turn the space into a one-stop shop for pet supplies and pet grooming, and Clean Paws Manila was born.
In its early days, the then-stationary pet salon also offered home services for furry friends in nearby areas, but problems encountered by the groomers forced Ms. Lira to think of a more convenient, practical, and fun way to address the needs of their residential regulars. With the help of two more investors, Ms. Lira decided to purchase a van to literally get her business moving.
Today, Clean Paws Mobile Pet Salon has a number of regular customers from all over Metro Manila, keeping the salon's small staff of four quite busy. Ms. Lira continues to oversee and manage her shop in Bel-Air, where grooming services are still offered. This arrangement allows Clean Paws to accommodate more clients, as groomers can simultaneously service pets at the original station and in the roving van.
The mobile salon eliminated the hassle many pet owners experienced in having to transport their pets to the shop in Bel-Air. For the groomers, the van meant no more lugging heavy equipment into customers' homes, or contending with space restrictions, as they did in their home service days.
Clean Paws' home service customers, usually owners of multiple pets, also found the new time-saving system much more convenient, as they no longer had to worry about setting up and cleaning up. Everything happens inside the bright green van, and cats and dogs can simply hop onto the sidewalk and walk into their homes with their shiny coats and new ‘dos.
Pet owners who used to leave their cats and dogs at the Bel-Air shop to be groomed can now watch their pets get serviced right on their street, giving them the chance to personally express any preferences and concerns. "Doing it in their own place and right before their eyes makes them feel more at ease," Ms. Lira said in an e-mail.
Though marketing is also done through Facebook and group buying sites such as Ensogo, Ms. Lira maintained that traditional referrals are still the most effective way of getting word about their business out there. "Word-of-mouth is still the most effective marketing tool aside from our candy-colored truck, which is a moving advertisement in itself," she said.
When asked what it was like to run the pet grooming business, Ms. Lira shared, "Grooming is a continuous learning process. There are plenty of dog breeds and each dog is different…. [The] groomer [has] to know the pets and their behavior well. Every day is a different experience."
Clean Paws offers full and partial grooming services for both cats and dogs, and operates from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. everyday. Partial grooming includes bath, blow-dry, nail-cutting, and ear-cleaning, while full grooming covers bath, blow-dry, nail-cutting, ear-cleaning, dental care, and sac draining. Each service can also be availed of separately.
Owners of sensitive pets need not worry, as Clean Paws uses only organic, pH-balanced products that are safe for animals.
Clean Paws Manila can be found at 78 Unit F, Estrella cor. Zodiac Streets, Bel-Air Village, Makati City. Telephone numbers are 668-4708 and 0999-551-PET-1.
Raul L. Locsin Building I
95 Balete Drive Extension,
New Manila, Quezon City,
Extensions: 706, 709-711
Direct Line: (632)535-9923
Fax No.: (632)535-9925
Email: New Media Group