1. Make sure you have adequate space.
“Typically we recommend a 10 feet by 10 feet space for one dog wash,” explained Erik MacPherson, president of TMC Dog Wash Solutions, a company which manufactures pet wash systems.
2. Visibility is key.
“We recommend that customers place their pet wash in a highly-visible location near their carwash,” explained Heather Steines, executive vice president of CCSI International, Inc., a company which distributes All Paws Pet Wash systems. “In most instances, this location is on one side of the carwash or is slightly in front of the carwash.”
3. Make sure it’s secure.
A small gated, fenced-in area will give the dog owner better peace of mind so that they have a better overall experience, MacPherson said. MacPherson also suggested that operators who have an underperforming bay or extra space should consider an indoor system which allows even more security. Just make sure to use as much glass as possible so that people can see the dogs being washed. “People like to watch,” MacPherson said, pointing out that it’s a great selling tool.
4. Give ‘em a treat.
Vending items specific to the pet wash experience are a great way to bring in additional revenues. “In our experience, pet treats are a valuable vending option,” Steines said. “Customers and their tail-wagging counterparts become conditioned to purchasing and receiving the treats — and both walk away happy.” Other vending options include extra disposable hand towels and disposable aprons. MacPherson said for those operators who are interested in making it a true profit center, they should use a full-size snack vending machine with credit card acceptance and consider special items like holiday costumes for pets, toys, leashes and dental treats.
5. Keep it clean.
Just like your carwash building and property, it’s important that your pet wash station is cleaned on a daily basis and maintained regularly. “Daily cleanings typically take only a few minutes,” Steines advised. “Much like a carwash, a pet wash is a mechanical functioning unit and will require normal upkeep and maintenance.” Not only that, but according to MacPherson, customers who use a clean pet wash system are more likely to clean up after themselves and keep the area neat.
6. Make it “cute.”
“Make sure they know they’re at a dog wash, not at a carwash,” MacPherson said, adding that operators should work hard to “make it cute.” Women, especially, are drawn to dog washes that emphasize a pet-friendly and safe environment and use graphics, signage and themed décor to call attention to the nature of the business.
7. Visit a few pet washes before you build.
MacPherson suggested that before any new build, the operator should talk to owners of pet washes that are already successful. “Don’t try to reinvent the wheel,” he suggested. “There is a lot of success out there, so let’s just duplicate what we know works.”
8. Partner up with animal adoption agencies.
Consider hosting an event that raises money for a Humane Society or adoption agency that is a non-profit. Customers can donate money or you can give a portion of the profits to the organization.
Also, place fliers and pamphlets promoting your pet wash at their headquarters, offering a free wash to anyone who adopts a pet. This creates repeat customers and ones who will feel like you appreciate the fact that they've adopted a pet.
9. Have a pet-appropriate waiting area.
On the busy days (Saturdays and Sundays during the summer, especially) there will be a lot of people in line to wash their pets. Make sure you have an area, that is away from traffic, where people can walk their dogs.
10. Consider adding on a vacuuming station…for the car.
Chances are, the customer's pet probably shed some fur in the car on the drive to the pet wash. Therefore, it is a good idea to have a vacuuming station, either solely for the pet wash, or as part of the carwash, available to the customers. They will appreciate the fact that they're bringing their pet, and their car, home sans dirty pet hair.