For the love of dog…
Brandon Power has always been an entrepreneur. He started his first business in high school, albeit a modest car detailing business, but it was his own. He learned how to provide a great service at a fair price, and doing whatever it took to make the customer happy. Even though it was only washing cars, he began to learn that when a customer was more than just satisfied, but truly impressed by the attention to detail and quality of his service, they would become repeat customers. And some would tell others. This is where he learned several things about the power of organic word of mouth advertising– 1) it only came when service was impeccable, 2) people loved giving referrals to a business that they truly believed in (and that they, themselves had discovered), and 3) it was free!
Living his high school years in El Paso, TX, a city where a 2-inch rain storm (one where the drops on the ground were 2-inches apart) was the norm, he realized there were only so many cars he could wash, so he got a second job, two paper routes. He delivered 200+ papers each day after school, and 500 Sunday papers. Before taking this job, his father gave him some valuable words of caution from when he too had a paper route as a kid, he said the toughest part about being a paper boy is that you have to show up every day, no exceptions! This is where he learned another important lesson about business, when customers rely on you for a 365-day per year service, you have to deliver every day!
His modest high school businesses piqued his interest, so he set his sites on going to Business School to learn the ins and outs of building a successful business. As luck and decent grades would have it, he landed at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, where he studied Marketing and Strategic Management. There, he learned the foundations of business, finance, accounting, statistics, and the like. But if there were a couple basic tenets pertaining to starting a new business that stuck with him, they were these: 1) stick to your knitting–pick a few products/services and do them better than your competitors, 2) just because someone else is first to offer a product/service doesn’t make them the best (think Yahoo vs. Google), and 3) if you are lucky enough to find a line of business that you love and are passionate about, you’ll never ‘work’ another day in your life.
After college he worked for a well-established management consulting firm, as well as trying his hand at a handful of startups. His hands on professional experience taught him much about customer service and client relations. Simply put, the goal should always be to “under promise and over deliver”. If you consistently exceed your customer’s expectation, they will never dream of going elsewhere.
So when Brandon set out to open a new business in the Northern Virginia area, he wanted to apply the life/business lessons that he had learned in high school, college, and in his early business career.
Being a dog owner/lover his entire life, and becoming increasingly more interested in their psychology, behavior, evolution, and relationship with humans, he saw a dog day care, boarding/hotel, and training facility as a natural and exciting business concept to explore. So he did his research. He visited nearly every Northern VA dog day care and kennel in Reston, Herndon, Chantilly, Sterling, Ashburn, Dulles, Centreville and beyond. What he saw in the doggie day care and dog-boarding industry, was opportunity: An opportunity to combine canine socialization in a 100% cage-free day care environment, one-on-one and group training, and impeccable service in a facility that was large, clean, and staffed 24×7. These things were not being provided- as he envisioned them- anywhere else.
He also saw an opportunity to make comfort improvements for the dogs, such as regular outdoor potty breaks, oversized kennels with elevated canine cots, cushioned rubber matting throughout the facility, custom playtime and exercise activities, and an on-site Animal Behaviorist to ensure all dogs are safe during their play time. Also, allowing owners to bring their dog’s favorite bed, blanket, toys, treats, and food from home to help them be as comfortable as possible in their hotel stay away from home.
Brandon partnered with a veterinary hospital, Herndon Animal Medical Center (www.herndonamc.com), his personal veterinarian for over 10 years and 4 dogs, in order to provide veterinary support and consultation to ensure dog health and safety measures are followed.
The result is Healthy Hound Playground, a truly unique and innovative approach in Northern VA to doggy day care, boarding, and training.