Exclusive Q&A: Woof Gang continues growing its store 'pawprint'

Zachary Russell
Digital Editor
Zachary Russell profile picture
Woof Gang has expand its presence to 26 states.

Fueled by pet ownership increasing at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, pet retailers are growing their footprints.

One brand, Woof Gang Bakery & Grooming, has achieved growth as a result of the pet trend, and recently hit the milestone of opening its 300th location last month. At Woof Gang stores, customers can find luxury grooming and spa services with a variety of packages available, as well as gourmet treats and premium pet food and nutrition options.

Woof Gang has grown its footprint in the past year, increasing from 17 states to 26, including Arizona, California, Indiana, Illinois, Idaho and Washington. It's also expanding in existing markets such as South Florida, where it's on track to open additional locations.

The brand is also growing north of the border, in the Greater Toronto Area, with three new stores currently under development and one slated to open in Oakville, Ontario in December 2023.

Amid its success, Woof Gang was recently ranked in Entrepreneur’s 44th annual Franchise 500 Ranking for the first time and in the Franchise Times Top 400 Ranking for the second consecutive year. 

In an interview with Chain Store Age, Ricardo Azevedo, CEO of Woof Gang Bakery & Grooming, outlined the company’s growth and how it differentiates itself by creating a unique experience for pets and their parents.

Woof Gang has reached a new milestone with its 300th store. What has the overall strategy been when it comes to growth, and how might it differ from other pet franchises?

Woof Gang’s approach to growth is truly distinctive, driven by our fusion of services and products. Notably, a significant 66% of our focus is on pet grooming, a source of immense pride for us. Our premium grooming services are delivered by expertly trained groomers who provide a top-tier experience. In addition to grooming, we offer a wide array of high-end retail products, ranging from nutritious pet food to delectable gourmet treats and even specialized healthcare items such as CBD.

What truly sets us apart from competitors in the pet franchise industry is our holistic approach, allowing us to cater comprehensively to the diverse needs of pet owners and their beloved companions. Our growth strategy encompasses more than just expansion. It’s about creating pet destinations in local communities, owned by local business owners who are in their store and interact with their customers.

Each of our stores is designed to be the neighborhood pet store, spreading love and joy within the pet communities they serve. This distinctive local approach is a key driver of our brand’s flourishing growth and success.

The interior of a Woof Gang store.

What goes into choosing a new location for a new store?

Choosing a new location is a critical step in our expansion strategy. We collaborate closely with our franchisees to identify and select the ideal markets for our stores. Our team diligently researches and analyzes available markets to identify pet-loving communities that will benefit from our services. 

To provide potential franchisees with a comprehensive understanding of their local territory, we offer the option of a Woof Gang Bakery market visit. During these visits, individuals get a firsthand look at our franchise store operations and have the opportunity to engage with current franchisees. This in-depth approach helps us ensure that each new location is thoughtfully chosen and tailored to meet the needs of the community it serves.

Given high inflation and labor challenges, have there been challenges to Woof Gang’s growth? How have these potential roadblocks been avoided?

Like many businesses, we’ve certainly felt the impact of challenges such as inflation and labor constraints. However, our commitment to providing exceptional pet care services and high-quality products have allowed us to navigate these challenges effectively. We continuously evaluate and adapt our business model to ensure we can maintain the high standards we set for ourselves. 

By working closely with our franchisees and keeping a keen eye on the ever-changing market, we’ve managed to mitigate potential roadblocks and sustain our growth trajectory.

How does the experience at Woof Gang differ from other grooming chains?

The Woof Gang experience is truly one of a kind. Our brand was born out of the frustration pet owners often feel when faced with the lack of expertise, service and a caring environment at typical big box stores. What sets us apart from other grooming and pet store chains is our commitment to providing a personal, neighborhood pet store feel that genuinely cares for every dog and pet parent who walks through our doors.

We prioritize the well-being and happiness of pets, going beyond one-size-fits-all solutions. Our expert groomers take pride in delivering a pampering experience throughout the grooming process, ensuring that pets feel comfortable and loved. Each Woof Gang franchise is locally owned and operated by community members, adding an extra layer of uniqueness. 

This community-focused approach sets us apart from competitors, and it’s what allows each of our stores to become a hub for spreading love and joy within the pet communities they serve. At Woof Gang, love and joy are the cornerstone of every store’s presence in the pet community.