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#2 What sets your business apart?

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That’s a great question. Location to start with I guess. At the airport and easily accessible to anyone heading south out of Edmonton.

We started our kennel in 1993 after deciding that it would be a great way to make a living from home while maintaining our lifestyle of training and breeding Labrador Retrievers. To be honest I never looked at any other kennels before I built our first one. I had the typical indoor outdoor style with dog doors. Bad idea. A lot of pets couldn’t figure out how to use the doors because they didn’t have them at home. Also very drafty and downright cold on the dogs. The next kennel was a totally indoor building and we physically moved them outdoors to exercise them. That’s the design we have now in our third building that we’ve built. The dogs are the happiest and well exercised.

I also discovered that I must invest heavily in my outdoor exercise pens with heated concrete and a way to wash them daily. I could have built a home for what I spent on my exercise pens. Any other kinds of pens are a struggle to use in the winter when it snows. The snow and ice builds up and it’s just a mess to deal with. Then in the spring everything melts and makes a disgusting mess. The ongoing smell and unsanitary conditions are not good. Think about your back yard in the spring on steroids. We wash ours every day, all year.

Here’s an interesting fact. When we started in the kennel business, there were no doggie daycares. That idea unfolded after we started. We actually took some heat for being a ‘social’ kennel back then. Boarding just wasn’t done like that…. oh well, we did and became very popular. Also, municipal regulations seemed stricter then. But, the pet industry flourished, people were getting pets, regulations changed, and these ‘doggie daycares’ started popping up all over, mostly in converted warehouse bays.

I never comment or show disdain for my competition who are simply trying to make a living also. As a matter of fact, many of them have a totally different market than us and are not in competition. A daycare feeds off a very local market I suspect and because we are located at the Edmonton International Airport, it’s not on everyone’s way to work. I get that. We do a great deal of pet boarding from not only the local Edmonton area including Leduc, but also from all over the province and Northwest Territories. People regularly drive or fly here, and then fly off for business or holidays down south or wherever. We are practically at the airport just across the highway to the east and our clients love that they can drop off their pet and their car and fly away. Or drop off while heading south.

In 1989, there were no ‘Pet Resorts’ that I know of. My uncle used to call his lake lot Club Mead so with his permission, I shared that name and became the first local pet resort around here. Now it seems a ‘Pet Resort’ is somewhat of a brand name rather than a working name, like a ‘Skidoo’ Is to a snowmobile. As a matter of fact, another business named themselves after a slogan I used to use on my website. That’s all ok. There’s much more to being in business than a name.

That’s my next point. Times have changed. Marketing has left the phone books and arrived on peoples mobile devices. That means if you’re not there, you simply don’t exist. At least that’s what some businesses think. I read everyone’s websites as they are public and they all read mine. I see what they post and offer and the marketing strategies they use. Some are openly disdainful to others and I find that offensive. We never look down on anyone or their businesses. It’s hard to make living out there and people that compare or try to lift themselves up over someone else in a hurtful manner never seem to last. And I don’t mean to us or anyone in particular. There are actually business out there who deny what they are, call them self something else and somehow want you to believe that. It’s a false narrative. They are pet boarding establishments, dog and cat care for money, the definition of a kennel. Check Wikipedia. Digital marketing is kind of cool, because like a dating app, you can be anybody online.

So, while we’ve kept up on all the digital marketing techniques of today, our business remains the same as always. Excellent pet care for ALL who stay here at the same price. Word of mouth still keeps bringing people back and great personal recommendations keep us going. Google reviews are sort of like that but they’re not the same because no one knows the person writing the review. The care of the pets is what matters. We consider feeding, medications and most other unique needs to be part of that care. That’s why we’ve never charged extra for much of anything.

Our price is very competitive. We can do that by having a strategic attitude about boarding. We stay busy. We have a great facility that we can operate efficiently without sacrificing care. I touched on not charging extra for anything. Here’s why. If we are looking after 100 pets in a day or sometimes many more, their individual needs might change. One might need a bit more attention today or that one takes a bit longer to feed because he’s picky and likes someone to stay while he eats. This one might need insulin. Whatever it is, as long as everyone is properly cared for each and every day, that’s what we set our price on as a whole with a reasonable margin.

It matters to us that we publicly show who we are. You are leaving your family member with us and must trust us.

It’s a huge leap of faith to do that.

We understand that and that’s what sets us apart.

Stu Mead


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