Atlas Networks Economic Impact
9% Job Growth
2016 - 2020
2016 - 2020
Scenthound was founded on a simple vision – to help people connect with their dogs by removing barriers to clean, healthy dogs. As the first wellness-focused, membership-based dog grooming franchise, Scenthound is disrupting an outdated industry with a blue ocean strategy. We found that the basic care and maintenance needed to keep dogs healthy were sorely lacking. So, we set out to revolutionize the way people think about and access routine care for dogs. We offer an easy and affordable way for dog parents to get the preventive care their pups need to stay clean and healthy.
What was the journey that led you to Scenthound?
My first job out of college was at Enterprise Rent-a-Car back in the ’90s. After working my way up there, I decided I did not want my bosses’ job and left to work for a company called Flexcar instead. I opened the DC office for them and a few years later we merged with another company. During the merge was when I decided I eventually wanted to start my own business. I started looking at different industries and in the meantime, my wife had convinced me that we needed a dog. I raised the puppy when I had a month off between jobs and geeked out over learning and reading more about them. I had read one way to establish pet hierarchy is to put the puppy down somewhere out in the open and walk away. The puppy will follow you and then instinctually know you are the leader. I went out to the woods in Maryland, put the puppy down, walked away and the puppy was on my heal. I thought this was awesome and after we had this instant bond. Then, the idea of starting a mobile pet grooming business was born with a vision of scaling it. My family and I moved to Jupiter, Florida in 2005 where I bought my first van, went to grooming school, hired my first groomer and we were off to the races. Looking back, I see my trajectory as moving from a large company to a mid-sized company to a small company. I always wanted to be an entrepreneur, I always saw myself that way, but I did not have the confidence and my degree was in psychology, so I really did not have many skills in that arena either. Through all my previous jobs of gathering the skills to become entrepreneurial and getting the confidence to do my own thing.
What value does your company bring your customers?
We started this mobile pet grooming business with a big vision of building the infrastructure, brand, systems, and franchises and I quickly realized I did not know what the heck I was doing. There was still a huge learning curve, but there still was an ah-ha moment for me. I was out in my neighborhood walking our dog, and someone had just moved in with their golden retriever. We started chatting and he asked what I did. I shared I owned a dog grooming business, and his response was, “That’s cool! We’re lucky, my dog doesn’t need grooming.” When I looked at this dog though, I could see the dog’s knuckles were disfigured because they had not been cut and I could even smell the dog’s ear infection.
It dawned on me that he probably thinks he’s a great dog parent and wants to be a great dog parent but has no idea what he should be doing to be one. That is when everything in the business shifted. In 2015, after having a deep understanding of the industry, I realized that not all dogs don’t need haircuts but all dogs need care and I went in a new direction. If you look at the top 10 owned dog breeds in the country, only one of them needs a haircut which is what the entire grooming industry is about. The industry is really about stylists, and it is moving more and more in the direction of having better stylists but no one is thinking about the ultimate health of these dogs. We completely pivoted and changed our business model to focus on overall health, not only on haircuts to serve all dogs.
What is it like working at Scenthound?
We are very clear on why we exist and our north star. Our why is that we remove barriers so people can love and connect with their dogs every day. I fundamentally believe that culture eats the process for breakfast. If you care about what you do, you’re going to get a much better result for your employees and your customers versus if you try to legislate how people should behave. The mission we’re on is to help people practice love every day. We believe that your dog is the perfect representation of unconditional love and when you connect with your dog, you’re practicing that same unconditional love. Every day our employees get up to help dogs live happier lives and we believe we’re making the world a better place in our own way through the dogs. Everything is surrounded by our why. We do daily huddles each morning, we talk about our north stare, share stories about a dog we helped and what dogs mean to us. We talk about our values – dog first, one pack, bring love, seek growth, make a difference – and we’ve always been a very culture-focused team. The ripple effects from that are sustainability for your employees, more engagement, better employee satisfaction, and better customer service.
What is your company’s competitive advantage?
We have two competitive advantages. One, we have a service offering that you cannot find anywhere else and is very appealing. You can get your dog cared for in 15 to 20 minutes, in and out the door with all the essential care they need. We also give an educational component to our customers as well. Scenthound is an acronym that stands for skin, coat, ears, nails, and teeth; the five core areas that every dog needs care. Every time a customer comes in, they get a report card that gives them a rating on their dog’s health in all 5 of those areas and give recommendations on preventative health for the dog.
The value is fast, easy, affordable, and educational, and solutions-based. We also offer a membership model, so for members, it is only $25 once per month for a bath, nails, ears, and teeth. Then for $45 a month they could have unlimited services and come in every day if they wanted. That membership component makes it much for affordable and keeps accountability for owners to keep their dog on the path to wellness.
What are some challenges you have found in growing your business?
A big challenge for us was during the big pivots we have made – we went from mobile to retail to retail to Scenthound. Doing those pivots while maintaining enough revenue to pay for that change was difficult. That growth takes capital. Being very deliberate about what your objective is and being able to afford that objective while making the changes.
A big learning curve for us was moving to a franchising company a few years ago. Right now, we are investing heavily in technology because we believe that is the future of this. We are trying to be deliberate as we are rapidly scaling our franchise business, to spend the money to support that infrastructure and our franchisees, but also invest on the technology side of things.
What are some goals for the next three to five years?
We just started franchising in earnest this year and have sold thirty essentially this year, we just opened our first three in the last 30 days and have another eight planned to open in the next 45. We are at this rapid expansion point in our business, and we have a very aggressive growth strategy. We are expanding this year into 10 to 15 additional states and are already developing into Georgia, North Carolina, New Jersey, Nevada. The other part of the strategy is the technology and data part and using technology to provide better feedback to create more personalized solutions for our customers.
What has been your proudest moment as CEO?
There has been a lot of moments, but I think the entrepreneurial journey is one of personal evolution. I believe as the individual grows, so does the company. The CEO can ultimately be the limiting factor in the business. The moment, for me, that I am probably most proud of was my own personal evolution. I was always looking for people to help solve my problems or I always wanted to bring in an expert on things for their advice. But, a very wise person once told me, if you are going to bet on someone, bet on yourself. At that moment, that is when I decided, I got this, and I am going to bet on myself. That mindset transition was probably my proudest moment.
What does it mean to you and your team to be selected as GrowFL Florida Companies to Watch Honoree?
I think it is a validation of all the hard work we have done on a personal level. I think it is also public recognition that people are starting to see who we are. Everyone in the organization feels good about the validation, but it is great for the company because it creates visibility. People are saying, ‘Look, these guys are doing something pretty cool. They’re supporting the community, making the world a better place, helping people make their lives better,’ and that feels pretty good.