Take a stroll around Central Park, New York, and you won’t see dogs being taken for a walk, you’ll see pampered pooches ranked above children as they’re pushed around in little doggy strollers wearing little doggy sunglasses.
In fact with doggy daycare, walkers, bakeries, boutiques, spas and even dance classes, it’s clear that the furry friends’ day has arrived and the canine economy is growing in leaps and bounds.
More than pets
But the latest trend in this sector is one pups might appreciate more than an organic, glutenfree treat: Agility classes. This is not a new concept by any means, but Zoom Room, doggy agility and training franchise founded by husband and wife team, Mark and Jaime van Wye, has set tails wagging.
It offers a whole new level of obedience training and play time as dogs get to have parties in the canine event centre (complete with laser lights for them to chase);burn off excess energy in the indoor gym with climate control, toys, music and obstacle courses;or participate in enrichment classes like urban herding — that’s pushing exercise balls into soccer goals — or scent hunting.
And we all know that our four-legged friends have got different temperaments, so there are obedience classes tailored to suit your pooch’s feelings, from ‘Shy Dog’, for skittish rescue dogs, to ‘Calm Down!’ aimed at the more rambunctious, teenage pups who need a lesson in focus and self-control. (We’re still talking about dogs here, right?)
Something for the humans too
The Van Wyes also know there are humans on the other end of the leash, so each unit is kitted out with creature comforts for them too, like coffee, cool tunes, and free WiFi.
But agility classes are not the type of thing you find on every block, so the Van Wyes have set themselves apart by not only making it a cool place to hang out with your best friend, but by making the business very, very easy to run.
No previous dog-training experience is required, and the business has been designed to run off an iPad. Staff members use tablets to ring up sales, check in dogs for classes, shoot videos to send to customers and much more.
“As far as I know, we were the first franchise to integrate the iPad into our business from the start,” Mark says.
“When we go off-site to teach a class, we can do everything we do in-store with the iPad.”
This allows franchisees to be as responsive and agile as their furry clients. “I can be at home, in the store, or on the phone and can look up information on a customer or class on the fly,” Mark says.
“Clients can also register online — sometimes you see classes registered at 2am, and without the online option, you would have missed that client.”