Love of dogs and passion for business – the perfect fit

Dan Spooner and Alex Argenio’s Dogcity Daycare is one of the winners of ANZ’s $5,000 radio advertising competition, a radio advertising package that’s part of ANZ’s $2 Billion Lending Pledge to support new small businesses. We caught up with them to find out what’s contributed to their success, and their plans for future expansion.

When Dan and Alex realised that Dogcity Daycare was up for sale, a combination of love for dogs and the desire to run their own business meant they pursued it relentlessly. “We fell in love with Dogcity,” says Dan. “We did everything in our power to make it our own. We’d always wanted the challenge of running our own business, and our love for animals and working with them meant it was the perfect fit.”

The popularity of doggy daycare was clear, but Dan and Alex have expanded their range of services to include everything from grooming and exercise to rehabilitation and pet photography. Factor in a large retail area supplying dog food and accessories, and their clients never have to look anywhere else for all their dog needs.

In addition to the wide range of services, Dogcity’s location and well-trained staff have added to their success. “We’ve evolved from a playful concept to an important role in the safe socialisation of dogs in the community,” says Dan. “We’ve drastically increased the daytime activities the dogs participate in, as well as offering grooming and rehabilitation services.”

Dogcity’s impressive and comprehensive website not only outlines all their services on offer, but is a reflection of their business and how Dan and Alex view their clients – both the canine and human varieties!

“Our website is a reflection of the centre itself – fun and playful!” says Dan. “It plays an important role in giving information to potential and existing clients. The majority of our digital strategy is driven through social media but our website is the foundation of everything we do.”

Although growing in popularity, Dan says that the concept of doggy daycare is still relatively unknown. It doesn’t often occur to people that there’s an alternative to leaving their dog at home during the day when at work, so when they saw the radio advertising competition on Facebook they decided to enter.

“Our marketing budget would never allow for $5,000 worth of radio advertising,” Dan explains. “This radio package will help make dog owners more aware of the benefits of doggy daycare. Our message is simple – doggy daycare is fun!”

The advertising campaign has proved a great success for Dogcity. “We’ve noticed a spike in interest and enrolments,” Dan confirms. “We’ve averaged 3 new enrolments a week, and the message conveyed through the advertisement has meant more people are becoming aware of doggy daycare and its importance.”

Dogcity owes its success to a number of factors. With those in mind, Dan has some tips for anyone starting or growing a business:

  • Work hard and take nothing for granted – be willing to work as hard as you can. Be prepared to put in long hours, and always look for opportunities to improve and increase the satisfaction of your customers and your staff.
  • Don’t become complacent – “Complacency has no place in business,” says Dan. Continually look for ways to motivate yourself and your staff. For the staff of Dogcity, watching their clients being quite literally pulled through the doors by their dogs is invigorating and is confirmation of the success of their hard work.
  • Don’t be afraid to take a risk – this can be especially true if you’re thinking of taking over a business. It’s important to identify what aspects of the business work, and what needs to be changed – in other words, make sure the risks are calculated.
  • Be patient – whether you’re starting a new business or making changes to an existing one, it takes time. You can’t do everything at once, and some changes will take longer to implement than others.

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