From puppy love to booming business
Buffalo-based Laundromutt Dog Salon and Spa’s owners share tips for success.
Four years ago, Corina Stammworthy stood in her backyard and examined the holes that her adopted Labrador Retriever, Luna, had dug in the ground yet again.
“The holes themselves weren’t a problem,” Corina said. “Messy paws were more the issue. I was just getting started in my career and the constant need for professional grooming was a bit too much to bear.”
Corina’s personal situation led to inspiration. She spent the next six months developing a business plan to open a self-service grooming dog salon and spa, and her plan became a reality shortly thereafter when Corina opened the doors of Laundromutt in Buffalo, NY. While the business focuses on self-service options for customers, Corina also wanted to give millennial dog owners what they’ve come to expect – options. So, Laundromutt offers a range of services from professional grooming to daycare; the grooming services expanded after bringing on business partner, Macie Pisa.
Corina and Macie quickly realized there is more to operating a small business than meets the eye. Both juggle other commitments – with Corina being a full-time master’s student and biology professor and Macie competing (and becoming nationally ranked) in grooming contests across the country. To make their business work in an increasingly competitive industry, Corina and Macie prioritized three components to stay ahead of the curve.
Quality over quantity
To keep pups and their humans happy, Laundromutt aims to provide a personalized experience for every animal. The company employs seven people, and each person tends only to one dog at a time. This practice ensures they avoid long kennel hours and allows them to give each dog the in depth one-on-one attention it deserves. At the end of each session, employees take the dogs to a photo station, and quickly upload the images for their humans to see.
Reliable IT service
When Laundromutt opened, the owners signed a contract with a reputable IT solutions provider, but soon began experiencing outages and low speeds. Corina said, “If the phones don’t work, we’re losing customers. In our business, if a customer calls and no one answers, they just go to the next option on the list.”
But that changed when a Verizon Business Markets representative walked into Laundromutt to welcome them to the neighborhood, and the owners decided to switch providers. Their clientele was growing by the day, and they were in need of extra bandwidth and lines to keep the business running. With business phone and Fios that offered more bandwidth at a competitive price, the owners were able to increase the number of lines used, and set up phones at each grooming station so dogs are never left alone on the tables. The bandwidth was high enough to support multiple users at a time, as well as allow the team to watch training videos and operate the video camera equipment needed to improve customer service. Separately, Corina and Macie were able to incorporate creative marketing strategies like advertising price specials via phone while customers hold on the line.
Strategic customer outreach
Buffalo, NY is a highly competitive market for pet services. Corina and Macie tailored their business plan to reach a specific audience in an effort to stand out. “We designed our business to appeal to millennials, so we focus on giving customers several options to take care of their pets,” said Corina. “We want to reach our customers where they are, so we use social media marketing and a strong Instagram presence to attract business, and we use online appointment scheduling and text appointment reminders to stay in close contact.”
This duo has no plans to slow down. Just as the inspiration for the business hit Corina years ago, they are continuing to add new services and offerings based on need. They have plans to expand, with the support of Verizon’s IT services, in the future. Corina said, “As soon as we’re settled and something is finished, it’s on to the next thing. If you’re not constantly evolving, you’re going to get left behind.”