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Sugar plums, flip-flops and now MVS


Todd Giatrelis, CEO of MVS Pet Care, was chairman of Sugar Plum Parties and founder of Flip-Flop Shops.

As the owner of two dogs who have the preternatural ability to tell when grabbing the leashes means a scary vet appointment rather than a lovely walk, paying a little extra for the convenience and serenity of an at-home visit makes plenty of sense.

Taking a page from rural America, where veterinarians still come right out to the farm, MVS Pet Care has launched what it calls the world’s first franchised vet service on wheels on the idea that many of us, not just farmers, would enjoy attending to their pets’ canine or feline medical needs from the comfort of home.

Whether the goal is reducing anxiety for vet-phobic pets, bringing doctors to pet owners with limited mobility or just making life easier for busy pet mommas and poppas, Massachusetts-based MVS Pet Care is the brainchild of experienced franchise executive Todd Giatrelis, who is the brand’s CEO, and Dr. Jeremy Gransky, its chief veterinary officer and a long-term provider of mobile pet care.

“There’s so many clients for whom it’s incredibly helpful,” Gransky said of his 13 years doing veterinary house calls. “It’s a really appreciative population.”

Prior to partnering with Gransky to start MVS Pet Care, Giatrelis was chairman at the franchised Sugar Plum Parties and the founder of Flip Flop Shops, which he started nearly 15 years ago.

“I sold my last company in October of 2015 and we were really looking for the next concept we thought would have really broad appeal to the market,” he said. “We didn’t want to open brick and mortar or retail locations, so we were thinking, what do we feel like could really help bring a need to people?”

Talking to veterinarians

Before pulling the trigger and getting started on the franchise disclosure document, Giatrelis spoke with veterinarians across the country to gather their input. That search ultimately put him in touch with Dr. Gransky, who shared how successful his mobile vet service has been over the last decade.

Gransky said such a service hasn’t existed until now, and it provides many benefits to veterinarians looking to own their own business in an industry with an increasingly high bar of entry. Like in many industries, large corporations and chains have been buying up single- and multi-unit practices.

“Especially if you are thinking about taking the plunge into practice ownership, the MVS model is so much less daunting than jumping into setting up a brick-and-mortar practice—not to mention that it’s a fraction of the cost for new franchisees,” he added.

While not every procedure can be handled by its mobile doctors, MVS is able to offer typical exams, preventive care, vaccinations, blood work, fecal screening and disease care.

“We really can do almost everything you can do in a brick-and-mortar setting with the exception of anesthesia procedures,” he said. In such cases, MVS will refer clients to surgical specialists or, in cases where a pet is critically injured, refer them to a nearby facility.

MVS Pet Care officially took the wraps off its new franchise operation at the VMS veterinary conference in February, and both said the concept received a lot of buzz at the annual show that draws more than 17,000 vet-industry attendees.

As it seeks to ink its first franchisees after finishing the brand’s FDD, Giatrelis said he expects to hear from vets who are fresh out of school, those who haven’t been able to scrape together funds to open their own clinic or doctors looking for an easier schedule that includes far less weekend and evening hours.

Asked if the company will offer its doctors health care and retirement benefits, Giatrelis said it will not, but countered it expects its franchisees to “do well enough that they can easily provide healthcare for their families” while also saving for retirement.

While details are still being finalized, the company estimates its all-in investment will range from $45,000 to $75,000, with minimal overhead including basic equipment and supplies, as well as a crossover SUV.

For customers, pricing will range depending on the market, but house calls in its current Boston territory are $110, with procedure pricing “pretty much what you’d find at a typical office.” Speculating about what types of locations might offer the best opportunities for the brand, Giatrelis said having 100,000 households within a 30-minute drive time will likely be its sweet spot.

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