Wishbone Pet Care in Missouri City, Texas, had to pivot and implement different types of services when the pandemic hit shortly after the retailer and pet service provider had moved to a much larger location, owner Tammi Bui recently told PPN.
Pet Product News: What is Wishbone Pet Care best known for?
Tammi Bui: We are known for many things, but one thing that stands out most is that we focus a lot on the personal relationship with pet parents. We offer tips and answer any questions or concerns customers may have, even if it’s something not related to our products or services. We understand that customers coming to a small-business pet boutique are seeking a different experience than a big-box store, so we want customers to feel comfortable asking for suggestions, tips or anything they need. It brings me a lot of joy knowing our customers trust us to come to us for questions.
PPN: What are the top-selling products in your stores right now?
Bui: All raw complete diet dog foods from Primal Pet Foods and gently cooked dog food from A Pup Above are our top-sellers. We are so glad that these brands are our top-selling products because we know it makes a big difference in dog wellness and longevity when you’re feeding high-quality dog food.
PPN: What are your favorite products right now?
Bui: Honestly, I have a few favorite products that I used on my four-legged son, Benji. I love both Super Snouts’ cannabidiol (CBD) and Austin and Kat’s CBD and supplements. I also love Primal Pet Foods and A Pup Above for dog food. I nearly lost my dog almost a year ago after he got sick. I switched to Primal and got him on CBD right away, and he was fully recovered in a short period of time. He’s still on both foods as I rotate his meal and on CBD when needed now.
PPN: What industry trends have you been keeping your eye on most closely?
Bui: I don’t consider it a trend, but I’m more focused and very interested in the pet holistic and pet wellness [category]. Over the years, I have learned a lot about pet wellness and continue learning about wellness and [holistic pet health]. I think these are important factors in our dogs’ longevity. I want to learn as much as I can so I can share the knowledge with my staff and my customers. I feel like while learning about pet wellness, I also learn to live better myself.
PPN: What is the most challenging aspect of running a business that offers multiple pet care services?
Bui: The most challenging aspect I would say is increasing the size of the facility to provide a bigger place for our customers’ dogs to play, run and exercise. With a bigger space, of course, rent is higher. This is one of the challenges in operating a bigger facility.
We were in a small 1,700-square-foot space until we moved to our current location of 3,400 square feet about four to five months before the pandemic hit. This was a very scary and the most challenging time for us. Not knowing if we are going to be able to stay in business with higher rent. Following the state shutdown during the pandemic, our bigger space was useless. I had to lay off all the staff to barely stay afloat. When the state slowly reopened, I was able to find ways to rehire our team back. We have had to pivot and try many new things like doing online Facebook sales, home delivery, curbside pickup and drop-off grooming service.
Looking back during that hard time, I’m very grateful to have great customers that support small businesses like us to stay afloat. I’m also thankful to be able to bring our team back.
PPN: How do you find and secure talented groomers for your business? Is employee turnover a problem?
Bui: Employee turnover is always a problem in every industry, including the pet industry. I also know you can never secure any employee. What I firmly believe in is treating everyone with mutual respect and appreciation. My team knows that they are all part of the success, and for that reason, we focus on teamwork and an understanding to achieve our goals. This is not only giving a great service to our customers’ pets, but also satisfaction in our work.
PPN: What business goal are you hoping to achieve in 2022?
Bui: In 2022, we hope to continue to grow and learn more in the pet industry. We hope that everything is going back to more in person. This year, we attended Global Pet Expo to bring back to our store more new ideas, products and education that we can’t wait to share with our team as well as our customers.
PPN: What is your best tip for connecting with customers?
Bui: Before calling myself a business owner, I am a pet parent. My dog, Benji, is my core value in my belief in running my pet business. I value our pet’s unconditional love, and I pledge to provide pet services in my community that is dedicated to connecting with all pet parents. The best tip for connecting with my customers is anyone who walks into my shop, I believe we already share one common interest. That is that we are not just pet owners, we are pet parents. Customers that visit small-business pet shops are all looking for better-quality products for their pets and services that treat their pets [the same way] they’re treated. My customers will never find any products in our shop that we won’t feed to our dogs.