Josh White is first an artist, then a dog groomer. His palette? The Bichon Frizes, Doodles and Poodles of West Hollywood, California. As the owner of Dogue Spa, a dog grooming business known for its colorful dyes, he creates art worthy of Vogue (or mastiff in canine language). “Grooming is definitely an art form,” Josh said. “Instead of painting or sculpting, we sculpt dog hair.”
As a business owner, Josh also embraces the colorful quirks that make his business unique. Dogue Spa’s social media is full of photos of dogs with full rainbow highlights and dye jobs, even a dog that’s been groomed to look like a cheetah. Dogue’s branding might seem a little bold to the average pet owner, but in fact, these eye-catching displays have helped the company build customer loyalty.
“I myself have a pink dog. She’s been all over the place in the book,” Josh said. “And the smile she puts on people’s faces…the excitement people feel when they meet her is the same for those people’s dogs.”
For Josh, success is about creating moments of joy for his clients. Below, he shares three tips for building excitement and getting creative in your own business.
Social media plays a big role in the success of Dogue Spa. Customers always want to show off their dogs’ new look – and Josh has found he can build a huge following by reposting photos and engaging with followers. To date, nearly 13,000 Instagram users follow Dogue Spa on Instagram for adorable content about dogs and Josh’s creative styles.
“I’m a very creative guy and I love art. I love fashion. I love pop culture. And I just wanted to mix that into what I do with my dogs,” Josh said. “If you want your dog to look like a cheetah, a zebra, a painting, a dinosaur, anything, we’re definitely capable of that. It’s just that people feel a little more joy with their dog. .
Of course, not every client wants their dog to look like a dinosaur, but these eye-catching images help Josh tell an authentic story about the company and lend credibility to his work. For example, when Yelp reviewer Kayla J. found Dogue Spa on Yelp, she first looked at the photos to prove their quality. As a first time doodle owner, this was especially important to visualize the services of Dogue on her new pup.
“I wanted to see that they had done other doodles before,” she said. “I liked to watch [Dogue’s Yelp] reviews because there were hundreds of pictures of doodles and poodles. It’s allowed me to see them do such artistic work, and it’s so creative that I thought, ‘If they can really do it and they can do it well, then I have full confidence that’ they can give my little guy the perfect haircut. ‘”
2. Let your personality shine
Dogue Spa’s colorful style may not be for everyone, but that’s exactly why it works. Instead of forcing a certain kind of customer service or trying to fit into a pre-existing mold in your industry, infusing your business with your personality attracts customers who are right for you.
A way to do this? Embrace what makes you unique. Dogue Spa has an open floor plan, so everyone who walks into the store can see the dogs being groomed. It acts as a subtle word-of-mouth marketing strategy and puts Josh’s creativity in full view of all passers-by. Even better, it helps dogs feel more comfortable during the grooming process.
Josh also differentiates his company with a positive work culture, where employees are encouraged to bond with their human and dog customers. “Ultimately, these dogs become like our dogs too,” he said. “We see them so often. We always hang out with them. We see these dogs more than a veterinarian will see his dogs. And every person has their favorite dogs and they become like ours and we just treat them like that. So I think the feeling a dog can have is like, “It’s like my second home.”
Josh’s passion and pride for the company is contagious, not only to employees, but also to customers. When customers can feel your commitment, they’re more likely to become champions for your business, like Kayla did in her Yelp review of Dogue Spa.
“I really think putting the business owner front and center shows that they’re invested in their business,” she said. “[As a customer,] it feels like you really have an impact on their life, their baby. Business is their baby. And I can just say that by the way [Josh] posted on social media and just his overall involvement – you can truly tell it’s very near and dear to his heart.
3. Make customers part of your team
Your employees are the foundation of your business, but customers can also be part of your team. At Dogue Spa, Josh and his staff take the time to onboard and educate their customers, four-legged and two-legged, on how to be a great customer and dog owner.
“It helps us and them a lot in the long run and for the dog to have a great grooming experience,” Josh said. “We just like educating them and making sure it’s fun for both of us. It’s teamwork. It’s our job to trim and groom your dog, but it’s also the owner’s job to care for them at home. And [this way]you make a mutual respect of it.
The Dogue team trains dogs to stand still for grooming with treats and affection, and they educate clients on the maintenance required between appointments, which is especially important for the poodle and doodle clientele of the living room. This personal attention creates an environment where everyone feels equally invested in the business, ultimately transforming a business relationship into a personal relationship.
“Just talking to the owner of the business and letting him know not only me but also my dog helped me gain confidence,” Kayla said. “It’s really important in this dog grooming relationship. Every time, every interaction, it got better. They got to know us. And the second time he even went, they even remembered his name and mine too.
Photos from the Dogue Spa Yelp page; Emily Washcovick interview
These lessons come from an episode of Behind the review, the weekly podcast from Yelp & Entrepreneur Media. Listen below to hear Josh and Kayla, or visit the episodes page to learn more, subscribe to the show, and explore more episodes.
The above information is provided for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to replace professional advice and may not be appropriate for your situation. Unless otherwise stated, reference to third-party links, services, or products does not constitute endorsement by Yelp.