Stress and mess-free bath timeBy Meline Beach
Pets are an integral part of Canadian households. According to Statista.com, there were 8.1 million pet cats and 7.7 million pet dogs in 2020. While cats tend to groom themselves naturally, dogs typically benefit from a monthly wash. With numbers like that, many of your customers are likely to be pet owners. As a convenience store or carwash owner and operator, do you anticipate the needs of your customers as pet owners? Do you sell kibble, collars, leashes, and grooming products? Do you offer an on-site pet washing station?
Perry Flann of Campbellton, New Brunswick, is an accountant turned business owner with several companies in his portfolio, including convenience stores, Subway restaurants, gas stations, and carwashes – one of which includes a pet washing station called Puddles Pet Wash. He picked up a self-contained pet washing unit from a friend a few years ago and recently finished installing it in a built-in structure on the side of his carwash in the rural community of Northumberland County. The 15’x18’ structure shares a wall with the carwash and features a concrete pad, plumbing, three windows, ventilation, in-floor heating, and a door. Pet washing is not a seasonal activity and an indoor unit enables the station to operate throughout the year, regardless of weather and seasonal temperatures.
In operation since June 2021, Flann says the value-added service is profitable, “though not in the millions, it has a 75 per cent profit margin.”
The pet wash station shares the same drainage as the carwash and requires a weekly disinfectant. Besides paper towels, sanitizers, shampoo, conditioner and rinse aids, Flann says his pet wash is clean and low maintenance. In terms of marketing, he distributes flyers to local veterinarian clinics and does radio advertising, Facebook posts, and has a spinning sign at the end of the road.
Flann’s unit is not as sophisticated as other units in the market. His pet wash station is coin based and uses a manual dial to select the stage – shampoo, conditioner, flea and tick rinse, and dryer. The cost is strictly dependent on timing and how quickly you go through the stages.
“You pick and choose the service based on the dial setting,” says Flann. “Five dollars gets you five minutes and it’s up to you if you want to spend that entire five minutes on shampoo. For most customers, it takes 10 minutes and $10 to get a great wash. Considering most groomers charge between $50 to $100, and have limited availability, our self-serve pet wash is a bargain.”
K9000 and iClean Dog Wash are two internationally-recognized manufacturers of pet washing stations that are gaining market share in Canada. Both have similar and unique features that cater to customers’ needs when it comes to keeping their pets clean in a safe, fast, convenient, and cost-effective way.
Furever Clean Dog Wash
Built in Australia, the K9000 unit made its Canadian debut in 2017, with over 66 machines installed at a variety of convenience stores, gas stations, carwashes, laundromats, shopping malls, multi-residential condominiums, and pet businesses coast to coast. There are also thousands of K9000 machines sold internationally. According to Evelyn Rutherford, director of Furever Clean Dog Wash and Canadian distributor of the K9000, the pet wash is a valuable and complementary self-serve, standalone business that requires very little effort.
“No staff are required on-site and customers simply make a payment at the machine and help themselves,” says Rutherford. “The door of the dog wash area can be fitted with an automatic lock so it opens and closes on a timer. As the dog wash machine has a three-part filtration system and a free disinfect cycle, the tub doesn’t require manual cleaning after every pet wash.”
There are 4 K9000 models to choose from, each featuring a stainless-steel basin
, built-in hypoallergenic shampoo products and disinfectant, three-part filtration system, programmable functions, payment devices, and dryers. Additional accessories include non-slip mats, pet towel/leash holders, and aprons – to name a few.
Payment is available in many forms, including coins, cards, and tokens, as well as configured to offer free washes or combination payments, such as MEI Bank note and Nayax Card options. The Nayax readers accept credit/debit/apple pay and the Monyx Wallet app, viewable online using the Nayax online system. Pre-paid loyalty cards are also available and allow business owners to sell as gift cards or bulk dog washes.
In terms of ownership, K9000 units are sold, not franchised, however, Furever Clean Dog Wash offers the option to purchase in full or lease to own, over five years with low monthly payments. Delivery from Vancouver, British Columbia, where the company is based, and installation costs are at the owner’s expense. Furever Clean Dog Wash provides phone support seven days a week and one-on-one commissioning services to ensure proper installation and functionality as well as training on how to clean and maintain the machine.
To accommodate year-round use, Furever Clean Dog Wash also offers an insulated dog wash building in both single and twin sizes – ideal for carwash/convenience/gas stations that do not have space in their current business and are looking for a self-contained option to place on the property.
“We often consult with business owners and advise on the best location for their pet washing unit as well as with electricians and plumbers on the best way to install it,” says Rutherford. “Many of our business owners start with one machine and after a year or so purchase another.”
In terms of additional revenue streams, Rutherford suggests renting out an area of the pet wash room once or twice a week to a groomer who can provide additional services such as nail clipping to enhance the dog washing service, as well as provide Furever Clean’s pet-themed vending machines with pre-paid dog wash cards and dog treats.
iClean Dog Wash
With offices in Europe and the United States, iClean Dog Wash is growing steadily in Canada at a 60 per cent growth rate. Their customer base has expanded from pet stores, veterinary clinics, and laundromats to carwashes, gas stations, and convenience stores.
iClean dog wash units are available in 14 models, each made from aircraft-grade stainless steel. Suitable for indoor and outdoor environments, each unit has a built-in water heater, triple filtration hair trap and features seven settings: shampoo, rinse water, conditioner, flea wash, low/high blow-dry low, and disinfectant. Each purchase of a unit comes with a five-litre container of biodegradable, low suds, tearless shampoo safe for all dogs, cats, and sewer systems, as well as crème rinse, flea and tick wash, and disinfectant, which lasts approximately three months (and over 100 pet washes). At the end of each use, a free 30-second spray of disinfectant eliminates any concerns of potential cross-contamination. To install, all you need is a cold-water line, a 110-volt outlet, and a floor or wall drain.
The Futura and new Cyber Wash are the most popular models in Canada.
“Each customer has a choice of model that suits their business best,” says Phillip Cooper, chief executive officer for iClean Dog Wash, North and South America. “Some retailers want all the bells and whistles, like the Futura Touch Pad Plus, which offers 30 different languages and 40 celebrity voices that well each step of the wash, while others choose solely on price.”
Given the cost of a pet wash, return on investment is always important. Consider location and competition before committing – are you located within a neighbourhood that attracts foot traffic or is your customer base mostly commuters and commercial drivers? Are there neighbouring pet washes in the area that would detract from your business?
“Many of our customers pay off a unit in approximately one and a half years and have an equal amount of revenue,” says Cooper, who maintains that iClean units are trouble-free and last up to 30 years. “The average customer with an average location sees approximately eight to 10 washes a day. This, of course, is based on location and promotion.”
The most successful locations are in high-traffic areas and use social media to help drive traffic. A simple, inexpensive Facebook ad, targeted by area, can increase your customer count, not only for the pet wash but for your primary business as well as many retailers benefit from additional sales per visit.
A pet wash station is a stress and mess-free way to generate additional revenue.
Meline Beach is a Toronto-based communications practitioner and frequent contributor to Convenience & Carwash Canada. In addition to freelance writing, Meline provides communications and public relations support to businesses across Canada. She can be reached at www.mlbcomms.ca.