Pet grooming

Lawyer Aims To Build ‘The Starbucks Of The Pet Grooming Industry’

Since the onset of the pandemic, Gerard Marrone has pursued an accelerated journey of pet spa acquisitions with a more ambitious goal in mind: to become the Starbucks of the pet grooming industry.

From April to December, Marrone, a lawyer whose law firm was closed because COVID closed the courts, purchased seven pet spas and has locations in Port Washington, Wantagh and Howard Beach, Queens, which were closed when he bought them but have since reopened; a New Hyde Park store; and stores in Huntington, Syosset and Bethpage.

Depending on its region and 2020 volume, Marrone paid between $ 50,000 and $ 150,000 for stores, although the prices for the three closed operations are based on their regions and gross revenues for 2019.

Currently, his business grooms 6,000 dogs per month and since April 2020 it has generated around $ 1.5 million in revenue, he said.

In the companion animal market, grooming, training and other non-medical services represented a market of $ 10.3 billion last year, according to an industry study, and are expected to grow in part. due to the resumption of pet adoptions.

The Marrone operation employs 50 full-time and part-time workers, including groomers and bathers. He has two associates: Seann Sackett, a groomer and former owner of two locations that Marrone bought; and Dr. Steven Weinstein, a veterinarian, who joined Marrone two years ago to acquire an animal hospital in Astoria which is now called Dr. Pet MD.

Dr. Weinstein is President, Marrone is Founder and CEO, and Sackett is COO of Universal Pet Holdings LLC, the umbrella company of the mini-conglomerate; its subsidiaries are Dr. Pet MD and Lucky Pet Grooming Inc., which encompasses the stores. Plans are underway to redefine grooming locations as Lucky Paws Pet Grooming.

And in the spring, Marrone plans to launch the Long Island Grooming Academy to train groomers. Tuition will be $ 5,000 for 300 hours of on-site learning, with financial assistance available, he said.

Newsday spoke to Marrone about his pet grooming chain and his long-term business plans.

Why did you get into pet grooming businesses?

I love animals and I think we have a duty to protect them. When animals are left untreated for a while, their fur becomes tangled and it is very painful for them to have their tangled hair combed and cut. I also saw an opportunity, given my experience with the pet hospital and business closures.

What was your rationale for acquiring stores during the pandemic?

I knew New York would come out on the other side eventually and we would have better days. And that has been my philosophy.

How did you finance your shopping spree?

I have used my personal savings, including refinancing my house, and the sellers hold the note for the balance of payments.

How are the stores doing?

Since the second wave of the pandemic hit, which was a challenge, we have bounced back and are doing well. We are now entering our busy season and there are actually two week waiting lists.

What steps are you taking to protect workers from COVID?

We are following CDC guidelines, requiring clients to wear masks, providing hand sanitizers everywhere, and marking the ground so people stay six feet from each other. At the end of the day, everything is disinfected.

What is your marketing approach?

Besides a website for all locations, we use social media and text messaging for existing customers.

What is your long term business plan?

My vision is to be the Starbucks of the pet grooming industry, with at least 25 stores. But they will always retain that boutique neighborhood feel. It is a model that I will never change. I am planning a private placement and am offering a total of 20% of the company to private investors to develop the business. And I run Lucky Paws Pet Rescue, which saves abandoned, abused and other unwanted animals, [and] pay for their care and place them in foster care until they are finally adopted.

do you have a pet?

Our dog, Tito, passed away about 18 months ago. It was a mini rescue pitbull, and we will be picking up a new dog thanks to the rescue.