Part of your Family

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-By Jen Hocken

PETstock is a large franchise that services all pets and their owners. It has expanded so thoroughly that virtually all pet needs can be met in the store. PETstock has evolved by constantly innovating and listening to its customers, offering the many benefits of its Member’s club, and providing a wonderful store experience. This year marks the tenth anniversary of PETstock, a milestone it has achieved due to its high quality products, competitive prices, top customer service and strong relationships with local suppliers. It started out as a small business, yet PETstock has grown to be a market leader in the pet and produce industry.

It all began with a dream the Young family had. According to General Manager of Retail Operations Andrew Gibbs, in 1991 the Young family took ownership of Ballarat Produce and after a short time realised that the business needed to diversify. The family started with the traditional stock and produce products, but expanded to incorporate more domestic pet lines since there was incredible growth potential in that industry. After the move was made, the business suddenly attracted a brand new group of customers because Ballarat was able to meet the needs of all different animals. Inspired by this success, in 1997 the Young family purchased another produce store in Horsham and used the same concept, and over the next four years the stores continued to grow until reaching the point where the domestic pet section was the main attraction. In 2001, a third store opened in Warrnambool, which is when the decision to start franchising was made. This was the time to begin building a strong brand image, as well as sound policies and procedures and logistical infrastructure, in order to be more successful than competitor pet supply operations. Rod McGregor, a staff member at Ballarat, is the one who came up with the PETstock name; he felt that PETstock captured everything about the business in one, easy to remember word.

The business was then broken down into six different groups; equine, canine, feline, bird & poultry, fish & reptile and small animal. To create the logo, the P E T was capitalised and bold-ed to illustrate the main focus of the business, and the word ‘stock’ was added because it represents the history of the company and the large range of products. The colourful vertical bands reflect the six different segments of the business. The next step was to recruit others to join the franchise. PETstock was inaugurated in September 2002 with these stores: Ballarat, Horsham, Castlemaine, Albion Park Rail, Wollongong, Newcastle, Stawell, Gisborne, Belmont and Coffs Harbour, and it has grown to be a market leader today.

PETstock is known for having good relationships with its local suppliers and their staff members. Shane and David Young, the founders of PETstock, have always had strong relationships with their business partners. Open and honest discussion quickly built trust and confidence in the company’s commercial relationships. With the mantra, “PETstock is part of your family”, the company is based on loyalty, trust and fun. These values have been maintained for ten years because of the good people throughout the entire company, who work together to listen to franchisees and remain involved in daily operational challenges, local events and assisting with individual and team goals. 2012 marks the 10th anniversary of PETstock, and this accomplishment will be celebrated by all the staff, franchisees and members. According to Andrew Gibbs, “These occasions are a great way to reflect on our journey and thank our customers for all their support.” At present, there are 74 stores within Australia, and 750 cumulative staff members in the PETstock franchise.

A truly modern company, PETstock maintains a comprehensive and user-friendly website, with information on the large range of store services available including pet training, ID engraving, pet grooming, veterinary consultations and services, aquarium testing service, do-it-yourself dog wash, and the pet adoption program. These services can all be found in-store, which differentiates PETstock from other competitors and gives people even more reasons to shop at PETstock. The pet training, for example, is an extensive training program with highly qualified staff. There is also information available on pet care for all different animals, directly from PETstock veterinarian Dr Rod Sharpin. Another bonus of shopping at PETstock is the Member club. Members are provided with tips and advice on caring for pets, plus exclusive catalogue offers, events and promotions. Members also get access to the frequent feeders program where every eleventh bag of premium food is free. PETstock has always been a leader in terms of the quality of the products offered on the shelf, but to be mindful of the current economic environment, prices are very competitive and there are some incredible sales. Since people are more selective with their spending now, the Member club has become very popular, with over 720,000 members at present. It should be noted that stores do not sell puppies or kittens in store.

The Pet of the Month is another interesting element of the PETstock website. There are past photos to look through and enjoy, and visitors can submit photos directly on the website, from whence they are then uploaded onto the PETstock Facebook page for the 18,000-strong community to vote on.

The company’s online store can ship products to addresses within Australia, and PETstock anticipates that this tool will only grow as consumers continue to test all shopping mediums. The in-store experience, however, remains the preferred option for many customers because of the friendly staff and special events. For instance, PETstock has an “Up To 100% Off Sale”, where customers have the chance to receive their entire purchase for free. In store, customers get to engage more with the staff and benefit from their experience and high levels of training. These are just some of the benefits to in-store shopping, because there is always something exciting to do at PETstock.

There is, of course, a lot of competition for customer attention; therefore marketing methods are very important. PETstock understands this and chooses to access the public in as many ways as possible. Most marketing is done through above the line media including TV, Radio, Press and catalogue drops for sales events. The PETstock Facebook page is really all about the community, used as a forum to celebrate pets and keep fans engaged with what is happening at the store. This includes competitions and giveaways, Q & A’s with industry experts, and customers are also asked for their feedback on products and promotions, which the company then takes to heart.

The future of PETstock promises to be bright. The four divisions of Marketing, Supply, Retail Operations and Accounting & IT are always looking for new projects to set the company apart. PETstock is now focusing on reviewing the brand to ensure it stays as relevant as possible to its main customers and to continue creating connections with them. There are also plans to ensure that PETstock is positioned to service as many Australian families as possible.

It is obvious, with the large amount of different services, that pets are more than just a business idea to the PETstock company. It is very clear that the staff themselves are animal lovers and they do whatever they can to help customers and their pets. The company’s generosity is illustrated through the PETstock Foundation, which is a charity arm of the business that aims to strengthen the bond between humans and pets through support to relevant organisations. According to Andrew Gibbs, PETstock has to date raised over $360,000 for beneficiaries including Assistance Dogs Australia, flood and bushfire relief programs, and Monash University’s “Animals as Therapists” program.

All aspects of caring for pets are taken care of by PETstock, and it is easy to trust the advice and high quality products on offer. To save more money and have access to fun events and promotions, join the Member club, or bring your dog when going shopping and visit the do-it-yourself dog wash. According to Mr Gibbs, the dog wash is, “Just like washing your car – only more fun and you can put an extra wag in their tail with a treat or toy.”

Making Sense of Management

Management is the art, or science, of getting things done through people. Sounds fairly straightforward – except for the fact that people are not robots waiting to do our bidding. People have their own minds, motivations, and goals. So how do managers keep operations – and the people behind them – running as planned?

September 20, 2018, 5:29 AM AEST