Do you love animals and plan to open a pet store? Here are some tips to make your ambition a reality: from market research to creating a pet store business plan, we guide you through the main steps to develop your business.

#1. Carry out a market study to open a pet store

What is the first step in creating a pet store? First and foremost, you need to do market research. The goal is simple: analyze the current demand of the sector and the offer proposed by your direct competitors (other pet stores) and indirect (supermarkets, e-commerce).

Thus, this knowledge of the market will guide you in your choice at several levels: additional services to offer, location, budget, and customer expectations.

The French and The animals

The French pet market is not experiencing a crisis. According to a FACCO / TNS SOFRES survey carried out in 2015, nearly one in two households owns a pet.

Also, according to this study, nearly 63 million domestic animals are counted in France. Unsurprisingly, fish come out on top, followed by 12.7 million cats and 7.3 million dogs.

In terms of food practices, the French take the party to pamper their pets: nearly 60% of dog owners and 80% of cat owners use prepared foods such as boxes, kibbles, etc.

Focus on the sector and its growth

The turnover of the animal sector is constantly increasing: from 3.3 billion in 2006 to 4.9 billion in 2015.

But, what position for pet stores?

Unfortunately, the latter suffer from the presence of supermarkets. In fact, with nearly 50% of the shares, they largely dominate the market, particularly in the food products and accessories segment, representing 84% ​​of the market in terms of value.

Pet stores only arrive after garden centers or even veterinarians; however, these are also less numerous.

pet store

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Market trends

To complete your pet store market research, you should focus on the trends in the sector; here are some of them.

The market remains buoyant and favorable to the development of activities related to companion animals. However, today you have to be innovative to attract customers.

Currently, e-commerce sites are developing rapidly (33% growth in 2015) and are creating a certain revival, while garden centers are expanding to offer a pet store.

As you can see, to be successful, you will have to differentiate yourself from your competitors and modernize yourself!

For example, you can choose to specialize in a segment such as terrariums (sale of lizards, snakes, etc.).

Although still small in size (less than 1% of the market), this segment is growing strongly and saw its turnover increase from € 8m in 2008 to € 38m in 2015 (an average of 23% growth per year). Year).

It is also a less competitive segment: all major food stores offer dog and cat food, but almost none sell frozen mice.

Animal facility regulations

To open a pet store, you must comply with the regulations in force.

Unfortunately, many regulatory constraints make the procedures for entrepreneurs more difficult.

Thus, according to the decree of February 4, 2016, relating to the training action and updating of the knowledge necessary for people carrying out activities related to pets, you will have to:

  • Obtain an opening authorization
  • Justify a certificate of competence.
  • Receive training

In addition, there are constraints related to animal welfare, the hygiene of the premises, and cumbersome administrative obligations.

#2. Open a pet store: With or without deductible?

Once you have completed your market research, you should look into the issue of franchising.

Would you like to remain independent or be supported in your efforts by joining a network?

Pet store franchises are still not very widespread. However, some franchises such as Tom & Co have proven their worth: with nearly 150 points, more than two-thirds of which are franchisees, this brand is now established in Belgium, Luxembourg, and France. According to Les Echos de la franchise, in 2013, their turnover crossed the 20 million euros mark.

Opening a franchised pet store offers many advantages:

  • You benefit from brand awareness
  • You follow a profitable concept
  • You adopt an already developed marketing strategy
  • You are followed and trained

Be careful; however, you will have to pay entrance fees and an annual fee in exchange for these many services.

Beyond the financial cost, the price to pay to become a franchisee is that of giving up your independence.

If you want to remain independent, opening an independent pet shop remains the most suitable solution. 

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#3. Find a place to open a pet store

The third step and not the least: the choice of the premises.

This choice will probably be decisive for the profitability of your business. You have two options:

  • You choose a place with a lot of traffic that will bring you customers easily, but you incur a significant rent.
  • You select an off-center location, you save on rent, but you have to deploy more marketing means to attract your future customers.

In all cases, you should opt for an area that is easily accessible by car, ideally with private parking, so that your customers can easily transport their purchases.

At the level of the room itself, you will have to make sure that it has sufficient space to display the animals and to store the accessories and food.

#4. What legal structure to open a pet store?

After you have chosen your location and assessed the cost of rent and rental charges, it is now time to focus on the legal aspect of your pet store.

Please note that the choice of status will directly impact the administrative formalities, taxation method, and your colonial regime as a manager.

Micro-entrepreneur, EURL, or SARL in case of several partners, the options are multiple.

#5. The personal and substantial needs to open a pet store

You will soon reach the end! You should now list your personal and substantial needs.

On the substantial side, in addition to the stock, animals, and cash registers, you will need to think of several arrangements for the room:

  • The layout of the room for animals
  • Adequate decoration: furniturestore fixtures, window displays.
  • Application of health and safety standards

You will also need to provide a truck if you offer deliveries and computer equipment for management.

On the personnel side, it is advisable to favor commercial-type employees with particular ease in the presence of animals.

The latter, recognized as endowed with sensitivity by the Civil Code, is adopted by more than 50% of French people out of a need for affection or to satisfy a passion. Choosing a passionate staff, like its customers, seems necessary to establish a relationship of trust between seller and buyer.

You will also need someone to take care of marketing and administration (inventory management, schedule management, payroll, accounting, etc.).

#6. Build a marketing plan to open a pet store

Build a marketing plan, what for?

Implementing a marketing and commercial strategy adapted to the choice of your location and the concept will allow you to attract and retain your customers.

You might want to consider the following actions:

  • Create an e-commerce-type website to build customer loyalty (orders for accessories or specialized food after purchasing the animal, for example)
  • Develop an internet community: regularly publish advice, buying guides, or simply photos on a blog or social networks.
  • Set up loyalty cards, and regular promotions
  • Create advertising campaigns on the internet or in the media (newspapers, local radio, etc.)

There is no miracle recipe, and all means must be studied and exploited. However, remember to carefully assess the cost and the potential return on investment of each action.

#7. Establish a pet store business plan

The most critical part is, without a doubt that of creating your pet store business plan.

The business plan has two objectives:

  • allow you to ensure the financial viability of the project
  • serve as a reference document when looking for funding

The business plan consists of two parts: a written part aimed at presenting the project, its assets, and the risks associated with its implementation, and a financial forecast highlighting the need for financing and the potential for profitability.

#8. Finding funding to open a pet store

Once your pet store business plan has been completed, you will be able to go in search of financing.

Where to start? Generally, it is advisable to begin your research with credit institutions and banks.

However, in case of refusal, do not be discouraged: there are other solutions!

Think of equity investments (private investors, love money) or crowdfunding, which can be effective alternatives for successfully setting up a business.

Also, remember to find out about business creation assistance that you may be able to benefit from.

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