What lockdown means for rural businesses?

May 05, 2020
Shih Tzu Puppy on a sofa

I’m not entirely sure what day it is or in which week are in of lockdown, but what I do know is that I’m busier than ever.

An awful lot of people have said ‘I bet you’re glad for some time off’ but when you actually explain that you’re still working hard behind the scenes, it’s apparent that very few people understand what goes into running and keeping a small rural business afloat.

Whilst our pocket has been hit hard we aren’t a business that stands still.  It’s been tough, it’s been emotional but we intend to be here for years to come.

It’s been a weird transition for us and we never thought we could take anything dog grooming related online but in the words of Missy Elliot (albeit slightly doctored words)

Is it worth it? Can we work it?
Put my scissors down, flip it and reverse it

The answer is yes we can!

We have put lots of work into online resources, we’ve grown our audience and helped dog owners in places that we would never expect, as far north as Newcastle and as far south as Jersey!

For us this is just the beginning but will hopefully be something we can develop and continue as we become more tech savvy.  We’ve been rather thrown in the deep end.

So here’s a bit of a round up of what we have been able to do to help our clients throughout this time.

Blue Blueberries Food Fact Facebook Post

We have invested in our learning

Getting out to seminars hasn’t really been a high priority for us.  It eats into time that we could be grooming in the salon and it can be a costly investment for both of us to take a day or weekend out.  Lockdown has really made this an awful lot easier for us.  There’s been so many talented groomers and trainers doing online courses and we’ve been able to actually sit and watch and improve our learning from home.

Not only have we invested in the practical side of grooming, we’ve also invested in our marketing and online offering.  We have somewhat pushed this to the side in the passed and just knuckling down with the grooming.  However, as lockdown has taught us, that isn’t going to keep our business afloat for when all our lovely clients come back.  We have remodelled and restructured, we have a clearer and more definitive plan of where our business is going.

We have missed our clients

Considering we’re such doggy people, we have really missed the human interaction.   However we’ve been able to reach out to our clients through live social media videos, video calls and webinars catching up with people and most importantly how our little fur friends are getting on.  We’ve kept all of our clients up to date with the goings on and we really have such a special loyal tribe who have stuck by us.  I feel that we know all of our clients so much better now than I would have before lockdown.

Shih Tzu Puppy on a sofa

We’ve gained new clients

Who’d have thunk we’d have got so techy, our waiting list is ever growing and we’ve had a number of new puppy clients wanting to do virtual consultations to help them with a little puppy maintenance at home as they’re missing the important socialisation stage for their salon visits.

We’ve connected with new people who have come into our world via our Facebook challenge.  People who will never bring their dogs to us as it’s a logistical nightmare.  They know about us though, they’re keen to buy our book when it’s out and they know where we are for help and advice.

Puppy grooming in lockdown

We have an eBook

Yes you read that right!  We’ve created an eBook as a road map for owners struggling with curly coats.  We even have an actual book in the pipeline too.  This was in our plan but lockdown bought the challenge to our door sooner than anticipated.

So in all, our humble little salon out in the sticks will be back up an running as soon a humanly possible.  Although we’ve been knocked sideways by the global pandemic, we’ve got up and dusted ourselves off.  We’ve been able to react far quicker than we’d ever have imagined.

We have had to get creative and that is what makes small businesses so unique.  There’s no big bosses or shareholders telling you what you can and can’t do.  It’s a passion and a dream that has created so many small businesses.  It is still that passion and dream that’ll get them out of this crisis.  It’s the grit and determination that comes from not giving up.  Just in our rural community you can see the endless work going into businesses and it’s unreal.  We’re surrounded by amazing people totally smashing their goals.

So when this is all over and we create our new normal, don’t forget the small businesses that were there to help you when you needed them.  From farm shops to your local pub, hair dressers to dog groomers.  Small businesses rock!

The Dog House was established in 2017 by Anna Pollard and Selina West.

After meeting via a training salon and a few tipsy nights out it seem that going into business together was inevitable!

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