123Pet customers are passionate business owners leveraging software to bring their business ideas to life. Take Johnelle Ciano, founder, and owner of Emma Marie’s Grooming & Daycare L.L.C. in Massachusetts. Over the past 11 years, Johnelle has grown her company from just herself and two part-time employees to a full-time team of 20 (plus six part-time) across two locations.
We recently spoke with Johnelle to learn about how she’s built a company that boasts a 15% growth rate year over year—and how 123Pet has helped her manage business operations along the way.
Q: To start, we’d love to learn a little more about your business. What inspired you to start your own company, and what sets it apart from others?
A: I grew up in my mother’s grooming shop—that’s where I learned about pet grooming, animal behavior, and business skills. When I was older, I suggested my mom expand her business into daycare and boarding because those were growing opportunities in the industry that she wasn’t capitalizing on, but she’d been grooming for 25 years and was comfortable with her small shop. I wanted to do more, though, so she gave me her blessing and I opened my own business.
Emma Marie’s—named after my Australian Shepherd—specializes in complete care for your dog. We offer grooming, socialization training, a retail store, and boarding. Our goal is to make our clients’ lives easier by providing a one-stop-shop; that’s what sets us apart from the others. Not too many facilities have four departments in one space and excel at all of them.
Q: How long have you been using 123Pet? What inspired you to start using it?
A: I have been using 123Pet since 2008. When I was working at my mom’s shop, I remember working a full day grooming and then dreading the following two hours of making reminder calls for the next day’s appointments. Back then, texting wasn’t an option so when you got a client on the phone, they would talk your ear off, often forgetting what time you just reminded them about and calling back later to ask again! It felt pointless, and so I did the research for a program that would resolve that portion of the business. 123Pet’s system was so easy to set up and truly changed my world. I’m able to groom two extra dogs per day and save hundreds of hours each year by allowing technology to fill in for me with those behind-the-scenes activities.
My favorite 123Pet feature is its ability to create pop-up notes in clients’ profiles so that you have no choice but to read them. Is the dog allergic to a certain treat? Pop up! The owners’ husband just passed away? Pop up! I’m able to be aware of everything that’s important to know to make the care I provide better. It’s a game-changer.
Q: How has the pandemic impacted your business?
A: The pandemic caused business to come to a halt—but it no sooner flipped a switch and is now busier than ever before. In my professional opinion, I believe that due to the average person adopting an additional dog or adopting one for the first time, the volume of pet industry sales will increase by as much as 20% over the next year. The industry is flooded and it’s going to get even crazier as people return to the workplace and have less time to spend on or with their pet.
Q: What steps have you taken over the past year to keep your business moving amid disruption?
A: When the pandemic first hit, we went into survival mode. I used 123Pet’s marketing campaigns to keep all 4,000 of my clients up to date with pandemic hours, restrictions, fees, etc. I was so grateful to have the software already in place so that all I had to do was draft a new email campaign and hit send. We have some new protocols in place, but for the most part, we’re trying to make life feel as normal and reassuring as possible for people.
Q: Are there any changes you’ve made to how you run your business that you intend to uphold once business returns to normal?
A: Normal? What’s normal? In my opinion, there is no such thing as normal anymore. I think there are always going to be challenges going forward, but one thing that makes me feel confident in knowing that I have the support from my software to help me keep up with the times, loyal clients, and a team that truly cares for the pets we’re serving.