Tim Vogel is an Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO) member in South Florida where he serves as Chair for the chapter's EO Accelerator program, which empowers entrepreneurs with the tools, community and accountability necessary to aggressively grow and master their businesses. Tim is founder and CEO of Scenthound, a membership-based dog grooming and wellness company. We asked Tim how his experience in a business accelerator program helped pinpoint the unique business model that is disrupting the pet care industry. Here's what he shared:
Tell us about your entrepreneurial journey.
After working for three different companies, I wanted to be in control of how I spent my time and to care deeply about my work--both of which are difficult to accomplish while working for someone else.
After we got married, my wife, Jessica, wanted a dog. Oddly, I was against the idea because of the extra responsibility. Long story short: We got a puppy, and I fell instantly in love with our new family member. Over the years, I learned a lot about the pet industry―and grooming in particular. So having a dog ultimately inspired us to start a business in the pet space.
How did you learn about the business accelerator program?
At the time, I owned a mobile pet grooming business and had just opened our first brick-and-mortar grooming salon. I knew about EO from a previous employer who was a member. While struggling to solve issues around scaling the business, I reached out to the local EO chapter and learned about the Accelerator program. I was excited to find a community of motivated entrepreneurs who understood the challenges I was facing.
What is a Learning Day, and which day provided you with the most significant benefit?
The Accelerator program has four quarterly Learning Days focused on the business fundamentals of strategy, execution, people and cash. In the morning, your coach explains the topic and offers insights, and then since everyone in the room is an entrepreneur trying to grow their company, a lively discussion ensues. In the afternoon, speakers from successful businesses share practical knowledge, and you ask questions and try to absorb as much as possible to benefit your company.
Strategy Day changed my business! I remember the moment very clearly. The lesson had to do with your biggest barrier being the path to success. If you can solve for that bottleneck, then you can solve your scaling problem. My most significant barrier by far was finding and keeping qualified groomers. My Aha! moment was realizing that we needed to get rid of groomers.
This led to an additional realization: Only two of the top ten dog breeds owned in the US need haircuts, but all dogs need preventive care―and the entire grooming industry focuses on haircuts rather than health. From there, I changed the business model to focus on making preventive care fast, easy and affordable. Especially for the 80 percent of dogs that don't need haircuts.
That insight transformed the business model. I changed the name from Pet Groomerie to Scenthound―SCENT stands for skin, coat, ears, nails and teeth. We replaced breed-standard haircuts with a one-length overall "puppy cut." This simplified training and execution so we could scale.
The second massive improvement came after Cash Day when I implemented Labor Efficiency Ratio to increase gross margin with the same labor dollar output, which added 15 percent to the bottom line.
What was the overall impact of your business accelerator participation?
I completely changed the company's brand position, service offering―even the name. I also learned to measure key performance indicators better, lead more effectively and hire based on core values.
During four years in Accelerator, we achieved 185 percent growth in revenue. I spent the first two years trying to scale my former business model and grew roughly 25 percent each year. After my year three Aha! moment, I changed the business to be both wellness-focused and membership-based. We doubled the business in the last two years.
What's next for your company?
In 2018, we built the franchise foundation and are now actively selling franchises. Because we made the service so process-oriented, it's much more scalable. As the only wellness-focused grooming business in the country, we decided franchising was the path to rapid growth. Our goal is to sell 10 franchises this year, 30 next year and 60 the following.
As Accelerator program chair, you now help startup entrepreneurs learn to grow and scale. What's it like being on the other side?
I love the energy of the Accelerator program. It's done much more than just help me learn the systems and processes to create a scalable business. That was how it started, but once I graduated from the program and became an EO member and Accelerator coach, I found an amazing opportunity to become a better leader, coach and mentor. As program chair, I am learning how to be a leader of leaders. Eight years after initially joining, Accelerator is still teaching valuable skills that benefit me in more ways than I would ever have expected. Who knew?