On Launching Our Online Store And Celebrating 15 Years of Business [Update]
This is a follow up story for Furry Fellas Pet Service LLC. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published almost 3 years ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
Hello! My name is Melodi Landi. I am the Founder / Owner of Furry Fellas Pet Service LLC.
Furry Fellas offers a solution for the busy pet parent by providing dog walks, dog exercise services, mid-day let-outs, vacation sitting visits, overnight stays in your home & more…
Our team consists of experienced professionals who have a genuine passion for working with and helping animals. Each employee is certified in pet first aid, insured & bonded AND we are all pet parents who will love your fur kids as one of our own!
Our sitters/walkers have prior professional experience working or volunteering with animals. Prior experience consists of; vet techs, dog trainers, dog groomers, or other various animal care roles.
Furry Fellas has been voted in the TOP 3 Pet Sitting / Dog Walking Company within the RI / MA area for over 8 years in a row.
We are happy to announce that we recently passed a major milestone as we celebrated our 15th anniversary in 2021!
Tell us about what you’ve been up to. Has the business been growing?
In 2019, we experienced a record high in our business! Then, during the latter part of 2020 when the pandemic was in full swing, our business and industry as a whole experienced a major shift.
With most of our clients switching to working from home and with travel bans in place, our business activities decreased by roughly 50% in the latter half of 2020. We found ourselves at a point where our expenses were starting to outweigh our revenue streams so we used this slow down as an opportunity to go through the entire business. We worked to find new, more efficient ways of doing things.
The blessing in disguise with COVID was that it taught us to slow down, enjoy life more, and make more time for ourselves and our loved ones.
Some changes included incorporating a new client management/scheduling/invoicing system as well as a new hiring process which saved us numerous hours of admin work and reduced administrative costs.
During our last interview with Starter Story, we had talked about starting a Cruelty-Free Pet Products Store, which we were able to launch at the end of 2020 as well.
It was a lot of work getting it up and running but we were happy to be able to offer a designated space for cruelty-free pet products!
What have been your biggest challenges in the last year?
In 2020, with more people home from work or working from home than ever before, there was a major increase in pet adoptions during this time. As a result, in 2021, when individuals returned to work and with travel gradually starting back up again, we noticed a large increase in new client requests coming in.
However, also during the pandemic, we went from just under 50 part-time employees to about 25 part-time employees which posed quite the challenge trying to cover all the new incoming service requests.
So, as business picked up again in 2021 and we worked to hire more team members, we began to experience significant staffing shortages and difficulties hiring new sitters/walkers than we had ever experienced before in our previous 15 years of doing business.
Hiring for our remote office positions was never a challenge but hiring for the pet service positions specifically proved to be quite the challenge. We could no longer meet the demand of the incoming requests, so we were forced to refer the majority of new incoming requests out as well as some of our established clients who were further out.
To maintain our quality of service, we had to reduce the number of clients and the number of service areas we could accommodate.
Now, in 2022 we are STILL working to manage these same hiring and staffing shortages. Despite wage increases and other shifts, that continues to be our number one challenge. We are confident that we will once again soon find our happy medium!
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
With the shift in 2020, we are encouraging a healthy work-life balance more than ever. In the past (and from time to time), I have been known to overwork myself and as a result, would notice team members also overworking themselves.
We want all of our team members to be able to have their happy medium, including myself. The blessing in disguise with COVID was that it taught us to slow down, enjoy life more, and make more time for ourselves and our loved ones.
I believe this is one major reason as to why we are experiencing these nationwide staff shortages. For years many of us were part of the hustle and bustle and when things suddenly came to a halt, everyone was forced to slow down and re-evaluate.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
Currently, we are in the process of incorporating business coaching services for pet care business owners and aspiring pet care business owners.
After 22 years of working in this industry, I feel I must share my knowledge and experiences with other inspiring business owners who are either looking to get into the pet care industry or who have already taken the leap and are just getting started.
As a veteran pet sitting/dog walking business owner, I have done it all and when I look back, I wish I had known some of the things I know now when I was first starting out. I could have saved myself a lot of time and trouble! I don’t want others to have to go it alone, so I am now offering my business coaching services.
I am excited and looking forward to helping other small business owners, just like you!
What’s the best thing you read in the last year?
- Start with the WHY by Simon Sinek: I love this book because it makes us think about why we do what we do, not just in business, but in everything that we do in life. I am a strong believer in aligning my life with my beliefs, especially in how it relates to my passion for helping people and animals.
- The Dogs Were Rescued and So was I: I recommend this book to all dog lovers. It is cute, fun, and sad at times. The author tells the story of her and her beagles and her work to help other dogs like hers. The book introduces the Beagle Freedom Project, which works to rescue and rehome animals used in experimental research. Did you know that beagles are the number one dog breed used in experimental research? Visit The Beagle Freedom Projects’ website below to learn more and see what you can do to help reduce the number of animals used in experimental research.
- We Animals by Jo-Anne Mc Arthur: This book sheds light on all the different types of animal industries - educating people on what goes on behind the scenes. While it is not a happy read, it is filled with tons of facts and knowledge that could have a great impact on many lives including yours!
- The Beagle Freedom Project.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
Now more than ever, there is a growing need for pet care professionals! We have witnessed firsthand the increase in demand for this type of service. We are receiving more service requests than ever! While we may not be able to accommodate them all, as we believe in quality over quantity, this is proof that the business is out there!
Suppose you are looking for an experienced professional in the industry to help you grow your business. In that case, I’m happy to help you with that through our business coaching services for pet sitting/dog walking business owners and inspiring pet care business owners. Feel free to reach out here.
Just remember, there is no way to see all the roads and turns along your journey but by taking the first step, the road will become more apparent as you go! Educate yourself, believe in yourself and passion will prosper!
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
Now more than ever, we are looking for passionate, reliable, and experienced animal care professionals to join our team. We have positions available throughout Rhode Island (travel limited to a 10mile radius) and in parts of Bristol County MA (Swansea, Somerset, Fall River, Seekonk, Attleboro).
- Afternoon Dog Walkers (Mon-Fri 10-3 pm)
- Pet Sitters (AMs/PMs/Weekends/Holidays, Flexible Schedules)
- Overnight Pet Sitters (in the client's homes, 8-10 pm through 6-8 am and 7-9 pm through 7-9 am)
Positions start out part-time and grow from there.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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