Retailer Of The Year: The Royal Touch
Royal Pets Market and Resort offers pets a first-class experience and unmatched full-service care.
All photos courtesy of Royal Pets Market and Resort
Dogs and cats regally promenading the aisles of a Royal Pets Market and Resort often fancy themselves aristocracy. In fact, the store maxim, “All pets who enter shall leave as royalty” sums up the philosophy of a business featuring every first-class amenity a furry monarch could wish for.
“We like to say, ‘Everything your pet needs in one castle,’” said Liza Mackey, director of marketing for Royal Pets, Pet Product News International’s 2014-2015 Retailer of the Year for Outstanding Pet Services. “We are all about the health and safety of the pet.”
Indeed, shoppers will discover a spacious retail store stocked with premium pet foods and supplies. Further, luxurious boarding suites, indoor and outdoor day camps, an opulent grooming salon and a spa all stand at the ready to pamper four-legged patrons.
If that’s not enough, the August 2013 launch of a full-service veterinary center in the Carrollwood, Fla., location completes the experience. The second resort, in Palm Harbor, Fla., opened in fall 2014 and presents corresponding services.
The Realm of Retail
A soothing environment of scenic murals, paintings, a soft color palette, stone and warm woods beckons shoppers and pets into the well-organized retail space.
Beyond aesthetics, pet nutrition, safety and comfort are central to the Royal Pets Market and Resort credo. Each store offers premium dog and cat foods and treats, including two freezers of frozen raw offerings. Pet supplies run the gamut of wants and needs, including toys, collars, leashes, beds and grooming supplies.
Nutritional consultations are a key component to the Royal Pets personal touch, as well-educated associates assist pet owners in their quest for sound nutrition. Meanwhile, four-legged foodies on a crusade for gourmet treats sniff their way through a mouthwatering display of goodies at The Barkery.
For pet owners welcoming a new arrival into the family, a puppy package includes discounts on bundled items, such as pee pads, bowls or leashes.
“We want to help them be prepared,” Mackey said.
Members of the Royal Rewards Program receive shopping discounts and other benefits, such as expedited check-in at the resort.
Adoption days are a regular occurrence in both stores, and adoptive pet owners receive a free bag of food along with a waived enrollment fee in the Wellness Plan at the veterinary center.
A Healthful Kingdom
The state-of-the-art veterinary hospitals include doctors and staff committed to familiarizing themselves with the individual requirements of both patient and pet owner. The hospital administers to a variety of pet health issues, including preventive care, dentistry, spaying, neutering and other surgical procedures. Low-cost vaccine clinics take place on a regular basis.
“In striving to become a one-stop shop, we felt veterinary services were missing,” Mackey said. “We want to afford every convenience to the customer, and if something should happen while a pet is boarded here, there is a veterinarian on site.”
The new Palm Harbor location features observation windows into the veterinary surgical area. With pet owner permission, a shade is drawn and customers can monitor an actual surgery and subsequent recovery room activities.
A membership health care plan for cats and dogs, the Royal Wellness Plan, offers several enrollment options. After an initial enrollment fee, a monthly fee provides routine veterinary visits and wellness exams, tests, annual vaccines and blood work as some of the covered perks.
“The plan encompasses the services a pet owner typically would utilize to keep their pet healthy,” Mackey said.
Today’s pet owners are on the go, and pets in need of an interim pied-à-terre can lay a weary head in the stylish Royal Resort. The five-star retreat features spacious suites, several with private play yards, each with a flat-screen television.
“A lot of pet parents leave the television on when they leave; the background noise often is calming to the pet,” Mackey said.
Dogs seeking the ultimate high-end vacation might check into the double-sized Pawsidential Suite.
Peace of mind for pet owners comes via the 24/7 on-site concierge service, while web cams offer the ability to check in while away.
Canine guests longing for a little extra reassurance embrace the Cuddle Package that includes a little one-on-one playtime with an associate and homey snuggles at bedtime. Pet owners are heartened when they are texted a photo capturing the moment.
For the high-energy guest, the Stay and Play package includes a daytime frolic in the Royal Pets Resort Day Camp.
“They play all day and sleep well at night,” Mackey said.
Each location features 90 pristine suites for dogs. In addition, a separate cat hotel presents equally lavish overnight facilities for up to 10 cats.
When it comes to cavorting and mingling, the day camp is fit for nobility. Each location features an air-conditioned indoor area and an outdoor yard.
“The outdoor park is set up with misters for hot days,” Mackey said.
Dogs frolic on padded, synthetic turf that absorbs the routine shock on a dog’s joints. A state of the art drainage system keeps the “grass” clean and dry.
At either location, the outdoor play area is visible to customers, providing a little extra entertainment for shoppers.
“The indoor play yard is visible, too; it’s right there in our store behind a glass partition,” Mackey said.
The Dapper and The Dashing
Pets looking for a little majestic pampering can enjoy a spa day at the grooming salon. Beyond a bath and hair styling, cucumber facials, ear cleaning, nail trimming, medicated baths and moisture-therapy wraps are among the services. The bathing system combines water and oxygen with specially formulated shampoo.
Each certified groomer also takes part in Royal Pets’ own training program for quality and safety. Moreover, groomers often notice health issues that might be caused by diet.
“We really try to tie all our services together,” Mackey said. “For instance, if a pet is overweight, a groomer might give a free day of doggie day care to encourage more exercise.”
It’s All About “New-Trition”
With pet well-being and nutrition such a strong focus, the Royal Pets New-Trition Challenge is a natural to spotlight this objective.
A quarterly event launched in spring 2015, participating pet owners complete a New-Trition questionnaire, and the information is presented to a Royal Pets nutrition expert for a free, in-store consultation. Recommendations are based on written information and further determined during the discussion. Entrants post their pet’s Challenge Pawgress on the Royal Pets Facebook page.
“We want to see and read about the progress and to reward them for improving their pet’s health,” Mackey said.
Winners are chosen based on level of participation and overall progress toward their pet’s New-Trition goals.
“Four winners will be chosen each quarter to receive six months of premium pet food,” Mackey said. “A grand-prize winner will receive six months’ [worth] of pet food and a free Wellness Plan.
“Our theme is always overall pet health, safety and happiness,” she added. “It’s all connected; it’s rarely just as simple as changing a food.”
Along these lines, the first Royal Pets Wellness Fair, inaugurated in spring 2015, tied into the New-Trition Challenge. To highlight the entire range of services, attendees took part in facility tours by following a map. Designated stops included hotel suites, the veterinary hospital, the day camp and the spa. Staff members, on hand at each station, described services, offered educational tips and passed out coupons.
“It was a great way to show off what we have,” Mackey said.
In addition to special offers, visitors received samples and gift bags, and they took part in nutritional seminars. Pets savored free frozen yogurt and expressed their artistic side with a little paw painting. Vendors and rescue agencies were on site to answer questions and provide information.
Several large events take place each year. For example, the holiday season Winter Wonderland features photos with Santa, entertaining activities and a celebratory atmosphere. Halloween festivities include a costume contest, treats and vendor participation.
“We are in this business because we are pet lovers,” Mackey said. “It’s our passion, and that’s why we include a lot of the activities in our events. We usually do one large event per quarter.”
This conviction requires exceptional staff members, and Mackey said the ideal candidate is career-oriented with a passion for pets.
“That’s the No. 1 thing—a strong love and passion—and the willingness to put the time into our training,” Mackey said.
The extensive training program focuses on nutrition and includes cross training in all services.
“We definitely promote a team spirit, and we strive to keep our staff as happy as our pet parents,” Mackey said.
That aspiration encompasses a less corporate, more personalized experience for all.
“We greet our customers as they walk in,” Mackey said. “We know the names of their pets; it’s very warm, like family. We want our customers to feel like they are leaving their baby with Grandma.”
At a Glance
Royal Pets Market and Resort
Locations: 16010 Maplewood Blvd., Carrollwood, FL 33624; 33550 U.S. 19, Palm Harbor, FL 34864
Co-owners: Joseph Gore, Denise Wolin-Gore, Dr. Bryan McGoldrick
Size: 18,000 average square feet
Years in business: 4
Products and Services: Premium dog and cat food, treats, supplements and supplies; The Barkery; gifts; adoptions days; grooming spa; dog and cat boarding and day care; veterinary center; wellness plan; New-Trition Challenge
This article originally appeared in the May 2015 issue of Pet Product News