When dogs eat better than people do
“Unbelievable, people and their pets,” says Bernie Brozek, president of Pet Wants, with a furry friend. He’s counting on that passion to fuel growth at his pet food delivery franchise.
Now that everything we humans require can be shipped right to our houses—sometimes within the hour—it’s time somebody took canine and feline needs into account. Based in Cincinnati and franchised since March of 2015, Pet Wants is answering that call with ultra-high-quality dog and cat foods delivered to your door.
Hanging its slightly chewed hat on the freshness of its food and convenience of a subscription-based delivery model, Pet Wants aims to become the next Netflix or Pandora—siphoning your funds on a monthly basis without hassle or recurring effort.
From his experience at United Growth Brands, Home Depot’s N-Hance Wood Renewal and Sport Clips, Pet Wants President Bernie Brozek is used to steering brands through aggressive growth spurts. This brand is different, as Brozek says.
“I’ve run a lot of brands, but this is probably the one I’ve had the most fun with,” he said, adding that the franchise industry’s market seems to reflect the enthusiasm they see from attentive pet owners. “As an old franchise guy, I’ve never seen such interest in a brand.”
Originally founded in 2010, Pet Wants was purchased and became part of the Strategic Franchising Systems group last July. The group’s other, non-shedding brands include Home Helpers, Caring Transitions, Fresh Coat, The Growth Coach, TruBlue and Franchise Funding Group.
With low startup costs and minimal overhead, Brozek sees the brand extending its growth spurt far beyond its current roster of 40 units. He compared it to pizza delivery, where there is continuous production and delivery time throughout the day. The beauty of Pet Wants, he countered, is operators can concentrate deliveries into preordained days or times, meaning the total hours spent working can be much less than other delivery-centric businesses.
“I have 20 open now, and another 20 getting ready to open—unbelievable, people and their pets,” he said, referencing the unbridled enthusiasm in the $22-billion American pet industry.
Making that kibble worth the price and proprietary shipment, Pet Wants’ food is made fresh every month and immediately sent out to the franchisees, avoiding the typical months or years large-scale pet food typically sits in warehouses.
Pricing varies depending on the market, but its dog food typically sells for $2.50/pound, which is in line with other premium brands. Delivery is free.
In its marketing materials, Pet Wants claims its food is so much fresher and made with such higher quality ingredients that it can add years to dogs’ lives, while also eliminating a variety of common ailments like itching and paw chewing.
“Just in my dog, I’ve seen a huge difference in energy, and it does not eat its paws anymore,” he said, referencing variants that include the typical chicken and rice, salmon, and even gluten- or grain-free options that have been surprisingly popular. “That dog of ours eats better than I do.”
Locations are available with or without an actual storefront, with startup costs at $31,500 for delivery-only units.
Originally expecting an older, more established customer base that can afford boutique pet food, Brozek said millennials make up the bulk of his customers, including tough-looking, mustachioed millennials toting toy dogs in more urban locations. He gets a kick out of that visual.
“Why not just use Amazon Prime?” is a question Brozek has heard before, and one I posed about the company’s business model. He replied that a large part of the appeal is the communication between franchisees and their customers.
“They call to make sure Fluffy is doing well, to make sure they have enough food, to ask about transitioning the food—they love their pets” he said. “They call if they want beef jerky, and the jerky is so good I eat it.”
Enticing helicopter-style pet parents into switching their pet’s food is a barrier to entry for the brand, which is why the brand gives away free samples at in-person events. It also connects to its customers through its social media channels, where things like competitive pet food recalls are blasted out to followers, as well as holiday pictures and “awwww” photos that make the world go round.
“We don’t coupon, we do a ton of social media instead,” he said. “Just put a cat picture up and it’s over.”