For Holly and Josh Allen, co-owners of Dee-O-Gee, it was a regular day until it changed the rest of their life. The Montana natives had rescued Jericho, an abandoned puppy-mill papillon, who was suffering from a range of health problems. And the searches for holistic remedies for his skin issues, food allergies, and Atkins disease led the couple to notice a gap in their local marketplace. “The holistic approach to Jericho’s treatments (and, the way we live our own lives) has become the centerpiece of the products and services we offer at Dee-O-Gee,” shares Josh. Eventually, this turned into a passion and led to the brainstorming and business plans for Dee-O-Gee. “The more we looked into it, the more we liked the reliable growth (even in slower economic times) and the “making a difference” factor that is involved when helping people with their pets,” says Josh. “We truly feel like we are impacting people’s lives by helping their pets feel better and live longer/happier.”
Further, Holly’s background in veterinary medicine (she was a lead Vet Tech a regional animal surgery center) together with Josh’s career in healthcare field creates a unique recipe for success for Dee-O-Gee in the thriving pet industry.
The original Dee-O-Gee location opened in the fall of 2008 and Josh & Holly are currently expanding Dee-O-Gee through franchising since 2017. They currently have 3 operating franchise units and the 4th is on the way–opening in August 2019.
"We value a "handshake" approach to doing business - in that, we look one another in the eye and trust each other."
Dee-O-Gee’s tagline is ‘where EVERY day is a d-o-g day’ and exists to serve local pet lovers and help them aid their family pets to thrive. Their award-winning business model of unique pet products plus top-notch pet services creates a local “hub” of pet lovers. Since many of the common “ailments” pets experience — dry skin, dull coats, allergies (itching and licking), gassy stomachs — are related to substandard food and inconsistent formulas. Dee-O-Gee offers holistic pet nutrition for dogs & cats, all-natural treats & supplements, fun toys and unique gear for furry family members. They also serve the local pet community by offering boutique services such as professional pet grooming, dog daycare, and a DIY dog wash.
The retail product offerings coupled with high-end pet services makes Dee-O-Gee’s business model unique and very strong. In fact, the model is now starting to be replicated by national chains and box stores. One thing the box stores haven’t replicated is Dee-O-Gee’s giant fire hydrant, which is featured in each Dee-O-Gee location.
But what sets Dee-O-Gee apart from others in the world of pet services? The culture, exclaims Josh. “The culture at each Dee-O-Gee is welcoming, empowering and rallies around our collective love for animals and the joy they bring to our lives,” says Josh. “We really love that each Dee-O-Gee location turns into the local “hub” for pet lovers.” The same echoes in the way they operate their business. “We are both native Montanans and we value a “handshake” approach to doing business – in that, we look one another in the eye and trust each other. We value integrity and a team-minded approach,” says Josh. Both Holly and Josh stress the importance of getting the right people in the team while growing the business. They argue that choosing good partners who believe in your business is essential. Consequently, instead of going into the traditional corporately owned stores, the Allens decided to pursue the franchise model of business expansion so that they could partner with other like-minded “pet lovers” that wanted to bring their brand and business model to their town. “Instead of trying to find a passionate “manager” for each corporately owned Dee-O-Gee location, we instead chose to focus on finding the right partners that can lock arms with us and operate their own business, using our award-winning model,” shares Josh. Moreover, Dee-O-Gee works well in towns of 50,000 – 250,000 people, towns that are “college towns” with higher educated residents that appreciate the service and quality that Dee-O-Gee represents, which gives it a huge potential market in local communities.
You and your best friends love this place!
The ideal candidate to own and operate a Dee-O-Gee should first and foremost have a passion to help pets (and, their people) live healthier and happier lives. “This person/couple would not be afraid of hard work and want to be physically active in the business on at least a part-time basis,” adds Josh. “The pet industry is a lot of fun and we are in search of some fun-loving hard-working “dog people” to join our pack.” Other criteria on which each potential franchisee is evaluated are the financial capacity to acquire funding and support the business, desired physical location/market, like-minded personality and business expectations and competencies. Based on the above criteria, each franchisee is expected to own and operate a successful Dee-O-Gee location that excels in the following areas: business operations, high-quality animal care and services, customer service, product selection, profitability, high employee retention, community involvement, and cleanliness.
Don't wait, do it now.
In order to help its franchise owners succeed, in addition to basic initial training the following is provided: prior to opening, SBA approved business plan and national financing approval for SBA loans through Wells Fargo; national “platinum level” purchasing discounts that each franchisee is able to leverage from Day 1 of operations; monthly social media content for each location that is uniquely branded for each location; finally a local “micro-site” that is a full e-commerce site for local delivery and in-store pick up – also features a blog and events calendar to engage local customers.
Doing it right
While Holly and Josh don’t desire Dee-O-Gee to be the next national “mega brand”, their approach might get them there. They are looking for like-minded pet-loving entrepreneurs that can partner with them (especially in the Western US) to open their own pet supply boutique and add real value to the communities. “We are on to something special!” says Josh excitedly. “We’ve been doing it for over a decade and our model is dialed in, for others to leverage in their town.” They are well on their way.