By offering a wide range of services and going the extra mile, The Paw Stop lives up to its name as the only stop necessary for its community’s pet owners.
By Lizett Bond
|A large, well-stocked retail area can fulfill most customers’ pet-product needs.|
For as long as he can remember, Daniel Rubenstein of The Paw Stop in New York City has had a passion for training dogs and a goal of self-employment. The former technology consultant was living in Chicago when heartbreaking circumstances presented a path that allowed him to merge both dreams.
After negligence on the part of a dog daycare service caused his beloved dog Sydney to succumb to heat stroke, Rubenstein recognized the need for an establishment that functioned on a more professional level. Turning tragedy into opportunity, in 2000, he opened his first dog daycare business in Chicago. He sold that business in 2003, and after a pause to create Pawtracker—boarding kennel management software for the industry—he made his way to Manhattan. In May 2006, The Paw Stop opened in the Tribeca district.
|Providing compassionate, professional care ensures dogs and their owners are happy.|
The entrepreneur found word-of-mouth to be the most effective advertising method when he launched his business.
“We really hit the streets with fliers, went to dog parks, handed out business cards and did promotions with local businesses,” Rubenstein said.
The Paw Stop now offers myriad services for pet parents and their charges. Housed in a 5,000-square-foot facility, clientele can take advantage of overnight boarding, training, retail, transportation, grooming and on-site veterinary services for their pets. With 1,000-plus square feet devoted to retail space, The Paw Stop is able to present a large product selection that includes dog and cat food with a wide array of merchandise beyond leashes and collars.
AT A GLANCE
The Paw Stop
Location: 21 Murray St., New York, N.Y.
Owners: Dan Rubenstein and Anisha Khanna
Size: 5,000 square feet
Years in Business: 3
Products and Services Offered: Dog and cat supplies, dog daycare, overnight boarding, grooming, training, transportation, dog walking, pet sitting, veterinary care and an online store, www.thepawstop.com
“Starting out with dog daycare, we pretty much added most of the retail store over time,” he continued. “About three months in, we hired a retail manager who now has built the store up into a significant portion of our business. We sell well more than 4,000 SKUs here.”
Rubenstein stated that the main objective of his business is to combine exceptional customer service with an impeccable facility and a staff that is professional, compassionate and fun. He believes these attributes allow The Paw Stop to stand out and continue its steady growth.
“A lot of people get into this business because they are dog people, not necessarily business people,” Rubenstein said. “When you are compassionate about dog care while treating your customers in a professional manner, it separates you from the guy who is just making it.”
An inviting storefront welcomes customers into the reception and upstairs retail area, and there is additional shopping downstairs, along with lounge chairs and wireless Internet service. If time is a factor, an extensive website allows customers to shop online and view a detailed listing of services provided. Live webcams of the daycare facility provide owners a chance to watch their pets at play from their own computers.
Featuring rubberized flooring, an air filtration and ventilation system, as well as a fresh watering system, the daycare facility is immaculate. Security cameras double as the webcams. There is a diverse selection of ancillary services, including medication administration, relief walks and treats. With a veterinarian on-site, clients can obtain necessary vaccinations for boarding as well as routine examinations.
|Canine guests can spend their daytime hours in an open-access play space.|
Canine guests have access to an open play space during the day but eat and sleep in separate enclosures. Overnight supervision ensures that the needs of the dogs are always met. Dog lovers who do not wish to board their pets can take advantage of in-home pet sitting.
“We have the capacity for up to 85 dogs a day for daycare or overnight boarding,” Rubenstein noted.
Customers unable to transport their pets can take advantage of The Paw Stop’s Honda Element “dog mover.” Capable of holding two to three dogs at one time, there is also seating for owners to ride along.
Further fulfilling his dream, Rubenstein teaches classes and private lessons. “Doggie Boot Camp,” training seminars, purchase or adoption counseling and puppy socialization are some of the classes he offers.
“I have been officially training dogs for 10 years and have won competitions for obedience and agility. In my estimation, I have trained more than 2,000 dogs in 10 years,” Rubenstein said.
Keeping in mind that pet ownership should be fun, The Paw Stop offers “Paw Parties,” which include party favors and cakes for dogs, as well as human food and drinks; photos of the event are also available. A pet supervisor is on hand to maintain order and cleanliness. The party area also features an entertainment system with a plasma television for movies or videos.
“I think what makes us stand out is our customer service. I call it a three-prong approach: great facilities, a knowledgeable, helpful and engaging staff, and a healthy, safe environment where the dogs are happy and having a good time,” he reported.
Rubenstein feels that, in the current economic situation, customers are cautious with their money and so tend to be much more inquisitive and demanding with their requirements.
“Every business like mine is competing for those dollars, and I think it is a testament that we have not seen the falloff that our competitors may have experienced,” Rubenstein said.
To keep those dollars (and customers) coming, The Paw Stop focuses more on non-traditional advertising methods. Rubenstein prefers to stick to local community advertising, including advertising in a local movie theater.
“Those are our customers enjoying those films,” Rubenstein explained.
As president of The Dog Owners of Tribeca, (a dog owners association) Rubenstein is able to meet and establish relationships with his neighbors.
“Because of proximity, it is a tight-knit community by nature,” he said. “If you get to know your neighbors and do things well, people spread the word, and if you do things poorly, they really spread the word.”
The Paw Stop works closely with the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals and rescue organizations, and assists in fostering and finding homes for rescued dogs. Rubenstein sees this as an opportunity to help the animals and for further community involvement.
“We also partner with Whole Foods to provide education about nutrition and exercise for pet parents in the local area,” he said.
Rubenstein believes another key to success is in trusting managers to handle their department.
“The dog-walking/pet-sitting coordinator has been with me here for more than two years,” Rubenstein said. “He began training with me and is now to the level that he understands what is necessary for the dogs, not only from a health perspective but also from one of safety and training. We started out doing just a few walks a day and now we are doing 20 to 30 walks a day.”
All of The Paw Stop’s trained dog-walking professionals are licensed, bonded and insured.
With 23 employees, staff training plays an important role at The Paw Stop. A new employee will study protocols and procedures and shadow a manager during the training period. Cross training allows for the possibility of taking on different responsibilities.
The Paw Stop offers just about every service a pet lover could ask for. By going the extra mile, it lives up to its name by providing one stop for services, products and needs for its local pet community and beyond. <HOME>
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