Small Business Spotlight: Preppy Pet
A visitor to the Preppy Pet boarding and grooming center on North Sherman Street in the Wilkes-Barre Heights will likely be greeted by the yelps of its excited four-legged residents and an unkennel-like clean scent. The company was founded in Orlando, Florida, in 2003 and, thanks to local owner Ruth Smith, Wilkes-Barre has boasted one of the two Pennsylvania franchises since July 2008.
Why a furry companion business in particular? “Because I love dogs,” Ruth says. “I mean, I have four of my own, and I thought, Wow, this would be cool. I could make this a career. . . . I love coming to work every day. It’s not a job if you enjoy what you’re doing.” She opted to pursue a franchise rather than start her own venture because of the substantial assistance an existing business framework could provide, notably in enabling her to navigate the many zoning and regulatory matters required for a kennel opening in Pennsylvania. The state Department of Agriculture issues its Kennel License pursuant to the “new dog law,” Act 119, signed into law in 2008. This license must be renewed annually.
After reviewing a few pet-oriented franchise options, Ruth decided to align herself with Preppy Pet. The company provided a full week of training to her and a manager, after which she “came home with a stack of binders. You know, they went through everything from the business aspect of it [to] dog care [to] what to do in an emergency . . . the whole thing.”
Preppy Pet offers three primary services: daycare, boarding, and grooming. With a capacity for about 70 dogs — PP’s leading clientele — the center currently has openings. Reservations may be readily made this time of year, although during the summer reservation lead times of two weeks or so are common. “Guests” stay in enclosures ranging in size from the Small Mini-Suite to the Super Suite, the larger units being custom built and featuring open view fronts and tops. They’re also constructed of materials which may be easily cleaned and sanitized. In fact, the company promotes its “Smell and Tell Tour” as a way to showcase its well-kept and properly maintained facilities to potential customers. Ruth has had a good experience with the tours. “A lot of people come in for tours and a lot of them comment on how clean [the facility] is [and] how it doesn’t smell like a kennel. That’s good.”
Daycare residents enjoy either group play or individual play sessions, depending on the package selected, and each one is given no fewer than five outdoor walks per day. A few seek more personalized attention, something Ruth has termed “doggie lovin’.” “Some of the little ones just enjoy doggie lovin’. . . . You just pick them up and hold them or scratch them. To them that’s play,” she describes with a laugh. Owners — or guardians — may place their pets in daycare for any number of reasons. One of the most popular, according to Ruth, is simply the attention required by a young puppy. With a reliable, quality daycare service “[guardians] get to come home and relax — the dog is tired from playing all day. It works out great,” she observes. The animals may even be viewed remotely via the web by a concerned guardian from 9 a.m. through noon and from 2 p.m. through 6 p.m. thanks to a nifty “pet cam” installation at the site.
“Boarding” denotes an overnight Preppy Pet stay. A typical boarding customer is “very busy and travels a lot” from what Ruth has seen. And while boarders are usually of the canine variety, Preppy Pet also accommodates cats, birds, and small animals such as ferrets and rabbits. Ruth was once asked to board a pot-bellied pig. She declined.
If you’re in the market for the services Preppy Pet provides, pay them a visit at 245 North Sherman Street, between Home Depot and Coal Street. Find them online at www.PreppyPet.com. Ruth would be glad to take your calls, too, at (570) 270–3711.