Josh White is an artist first, dog groomer second. His palette? The bichon frises, doodles, and poodles of West Hollywood, California. As owner of Dogue Spa—a dog grooming business known for its colorful dye jobs—he creates art worthy of Vogue (or Dogue in dog speak). “Grooming is definitely an art form,” Josh said. “Instead of us painting or sculpting, we’re sculpting dog hair.”
As business owner, Josh also embraces the colorful quirks that make his business unique. Dogue Spa’s social media is full of photos of dogs with highlights and full rainbow dye jobs—even one dog that’s groomed to look like a cheetah. Dogue’s branding may seem a little bold for the average pet owner, but in fact, these eye-catching displays have helped the business earn a loyal customer base.
“I have a pink dog myself. She’s been every color in the book,” Josh said. “And the smile she puts on people’s faces… the excitement people get when they meet her is the same for these people’s dogs.”
For Josh, success looks like creating moments of joy for his customers. Below, he shares three tips for igniting excitement and getting creative in your own business.
1. Make a splash on social media
Social media plays a big role in Dogue Spa’s success. Customers always want to show off their dogs’ new look—and Josh found that he could build a large following by reposting photos and engaging with followers. As of today, nearly 13,000 Instagram users follow Dogue Spa on Instagram for adorable dog content and Josh’s creative stylings.
“I’m a very creative guy, and I love art. I love fashion. I love pop culture. And I just wanted to mix that into what I do with my dogs,” Josh said. “If you want your dog to look like a cheetah, a zebra, a painting, a dinosaur, anything, we’re definitely capable of doing that. It’s just making people feel a little bit more joy with their dog.”
Of course, not every customer wants their dog to look like a dinosaur—but these attention-grabbing images help Josh tell an authentic story about the business and lend credibility to his work. For example, when Yelp reviewer Kayla J. found Dogue Spa on Yelp, she looked at the photos first for proof of quality. As a first-time doodle owner, this was particularly important for visualizing Dogue’s services on her new puppy.
“I wanted to see that they had done other doodles before,” she said. “I liked looking at [Dogue’s Yelp] reviews because there were hundreds of pictures of doodles and poodles. It allowed me to see them do such artistic work, and it’s so creative that I was like, ‘If they can definitely nail that and they can do that well, then I have full confidence that they can give my little guy the perfect haircut.’”
2. Let your personality shine
Dogue Spa’s colorful style may not be for everyone, but that’s exactly why it works. Instead of forcing a certain type of customer service or trying to fit within a pre-existing mold in your industry, infusing your business with your personality attracts customers who are the right fit for you.
One way to do this? Embrace what makes you unique. Dogue Spa has an open floor plan, so everyone who enters the shop can see dogs being groomed. This acts as a subtle word-of-mouth marketing strategy and puts Josh’s creativity on display for any passersby to see—better yet, it helps dogs feel more comfortable during the grooming process.
Josh also differentiates his business with a positive workplace culture, where employees are encouraged to bond with their human and dog clients. “At the end of the day, these dogs become like our dogs as well,” he said. “We see them so often. We’re always hanging out with them. We see these dogs more than a vet will see their dogs. And each person has their favorite dogs and they become like our own and we just treat them as such. So I think the feeling a dog may have is like: ‘This is like my second home.’”
Josh’s passion and pride in the business is contagious, not only for employees, but customers as well. When customers can feel your commitment, they’re more likely to become champions for your business—like Kayla did in her Yelp review of Dogue Spa.
“I definitely think that by having the business owner kind of at the forefront, it shows that they’re invested in their business,” she said. “[As a customer,] it makes it feel like you’re really impacting their life, their baby. The business is their baby. And I can just tell that by the way [Josh] has posted on social media and just his overall involvement—you can really tell that it’s very near and dear to his heart.”
3. Make customers a part of your team
Your employees are the foundation of your business, but customers can be part of your team too. At Dogue Spa, Josh and his staff take time to onboard and educate their clients—both four-legged and two-legged—on how to be a great customer and dog owner.
“It helps us out a lot and will help them out in the long run and for the dog to have a great experience coming to grooming,” Josh said. “We just like to educate them and make sure that it’s fun for the both of us. It’s a team effort. It’s our job to do the cut and groom your dog, but it’s also the owner’s job to keep that up at home. And [this way], you make a mutual respect for it.”
The Dogue team trains dogs to stay still for grooming with treats and affection, and they educate customers on the upkeep required between appointments, which is particularly important for the salon’s poodle and doodle clientele. That personal attention creates an environment where everyone feels equally invested in the business—ultimately turning a business relationship into a personal one.
“Just by talking to the business owner and him getting to know not only me, but also my dog, that helped me have trust,” Kayla said. “That’s really important in this dog grooming relationship. Each time, each interaction, it got better. They got to know us. And by the second time that he even went, they even remembered his name and my name as well.”
Photos from Dogue Spa’s Yelp Page; interviews by Emily Washcovick
These lessons come from an episode of Behind the Review, Yelp & Entrepreneur Media’s weekly podcast. Listen below to hear from Josh and Kayla, or visit the episode page to read more, subscribe to the show, and explore other episodes.
The information above is provided for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice and may not be suitable for your circumstances. Unless stated otherwise, references to third-party links, services, or products do not constitute endorsement by Yelp.