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MERCHANT SPOTLIGHT:
December 2017

 

Dog Lovers of Tarpon - Tarpon Springs, Florida


Years in Business: 22 years
Number of employees: 9


 

Dog Lovers is an independent, locally owned, natural pet supply store located in Tarpon Springs Fla. Dr. Anapatricia Garcia and her husband bought the store in April 2017. Both are veterinarians, and Anapatricia also holds a doctorate in veterinary pathology.

Dog Lovers is dedicated to providing natural pet foods, treats, and supplements for dogs and cats. It also offers many items such as pet apparel, high quality collars and leashes, dog and cat toys, pet bedding, carriers, crates, medications, dental products, grooming products, and dinnerware. Dog Lovers does not sell animals, but supports rescue and adoption.

 

Successful marketing and promotions:

According to Dr. Garcia, it starts by understanding the target audience and alternating tactics for different customer groups. The majority of their customers are Baby Boomers, which is why Dog Lovers provides a greater ease of service, offering delivery for phone orders so the customers don’t need to drive to the store location.

Dog Lovers uses both traditional and digital marketing tactics, including:

  • Loyalty/frequent buyer program encourages customers to provide their email addresses to earn points that can be redeemed for merchandise.

  • Newsletters that include special offers and promote the loyalty program.

  • Direct mail pieces sent to local neighborhoods announcing holiday promotions, product highlights, and coupons.

  • Advertising with the local newspaper to build awareness throughout the community. Dog Lovers advertises in both the print and digital versions, using the publication’s geolocation feature to create location-based offers.

  • Online advertising and customer relationship management using Google My Business service.

  • Social media that engages younger customers – particularly on Facebook.

  • In-store flyers and free samples for present customers.

  • Annual Customer Appreciation Day that goes all-out to make customers feel top dog!

  • Participate and engage in community events.

What differentiates Dog Lovers of Tarpon?

Dog Lovers wants to be the pet supply store known for knowledgeable, caring service and a commitment to keeping pets healthy and happy.

  • A wide selection of quality products at affordable prices – Dog Lovers firmly believes that serving natural food products and providing exercise with positive mental stimulation will help pets live longer, happier, and healthier lives. Dog Lovers carries natural pet food from a variety of brands for everyone’s budget. It’s a big benefit to Dog Lovers that some of their staff comes from a pet services background that understands proper pet nutrition.

  • Excellent in-person customer service – Dog Lovers hires friendly and knowledgeable staff who are passionate about animals. The staff at Dog Lovers is always learning about the advancements in pet nutrition. They can also provide tips on behavior training techniques. Dog Lovers is dedicated to providing personalized customer service with the knowledge of their customers gained through personal interaction and their loyalty programs.

  • One-line communications are important too – Owner Dr. Garcia also spends time reading customer reviews online, getting to know them and addressing their questions and comments. Dog Lovers also organizes onsite seminars to help their customers and pet lovers make informed choices with events like the Answers Pet Food Seminar.

  • Dog Lovers is a one-stop shop - Dog Lovers aims to provide a one-stop for dogs, cats, and their owners. For example, Dog Lovers partners with local dog training and behavior consulting firms to offer puppy and basic training classes. The store also partners with vaccination clinics to offer low-cost vaccination and Healthy Paw Mobile Vet to offer doggy dentals in store. Dog Lovers is considering expanding its services to day care, overnight care, self-service pet wash, and grooming.

Biggest challenges:

As with most small businesses, Dog Lovers faces some big challenges, including:

  • Competition: How to compete against other pet stores and big box retailers that offer pet products (i.e. Walmart).

    • According to Dr. Garcia, they are able to combat this challenge by offering outstanding, personal customer service from people that know and love pets.

    • On the horizon, its owners are continually looking for new personalized services that help pet owners with their furry friends and increase customer loyalty.
  • Employee retention: Although it’s challenging to hire and retain outgoing, knowledgeable staff who share the same passion, values, and philosophy as Dog Lovers of Tarpon, they have been fortunate with their team.

    • Dog Lovers strives to provide a rewarding experience at work and offer employees a competitive compensation package.

    • Dog Lovers attempts to hire employee team members who feel connected to the pets, families, and communities it serves.

Local community impact:

Dog Lovers gives back to its community and reaches new potential customers through various furry programs like:

  • Donating merchandise to local animal causes.

  • Supporting local rescue and adoption by partnering with local animal shelters and rescues such as Canine Estates Rescue and E.A.R.S. Rescue.

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