Meredith DeNoon has a penchant for pups.
The Johnson County resident got her first pooch in kindergarten and has had them ever since. But DeNoon never thought she would own a business that was focused on pups.
In June, DeNoon bought U-Wash Puppy in Shawnee.
Q: What is U-Wash Puppy?
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“We are a self-service dog wash,” DeNoon said. “We provide elevated tubs and we have shampoo, towels, brushes and blow dryers at each station.”
Located in a 1,300-square-foot space in a strip mall, U-Wash Puppy includes eight full-size tubs for owners to bathe their dogs of almost any size.
“We have had dogs that are up to 200 pounds in these tubs.” DeNoon said. “We have big wooden stairs that roll around that can get those big dogs into the tub.”
U-Wash Puppy also provides aprons for owners to stay dry and clippers for self-service nail trims. There is also a part-time groomer on staff.
“They can leave their dog off to be groomed,” starting at $25, she said.
Baths are charged by the dog’s weight— it’s an honor system — ranging from $11 to $18 with cleansing products included. Groomer nail trims are $10 extra.
U-Wash Puppy also sells dog treats.
Q: How did you get into this business?
A lifetime dog owner, DeNoon used U-Wash Puppy for her own canines Rascal, a 5-year-old Catahoula, and Tucker, a 14-year-old Jack Russell Terrier.
When she started volunteering with Unleashed Pet Rescue, DeNoon helped bathe rescue dogs at U-Wash Puppy as a free service. However, it was through a work connection that she got to know U-Wash Puppy’s owner.
“Pat Hurley had it for 11 years and he was ready for a change,” DeNoon said. “He didn’t want to sell it to anybody but to someone who would take care of it as he had.”
DeNoon lost her father to cancer earlier this year and wanted to make a change.
“I decided I wanted to do something that made me happy,” she said. “I have always loved animals and fostering and this seemed a perfect fit.”
DeNoon used some of the funds her father left her and acquired financing for the remainder of the purchase. A lawyer drew up a formal contract Hurley and DeNoon signed. She obtained a business license from Shawnee and insurance on her space and took over.
“It was probably a year from our first conversation to here are the keys,” DeNoon said.
Q: What’s your prior business experience?
DeNoon wasn’t new to business ownership.
“I owned a business, cleaning in newly constructed homes.” DeNoon said. Later she worked for an insurance tracking company doing data entry for eight years. DeNoon said her previous experience, plus her volunteer work with dogs, prepared her to take over U-Wash Puppy.
“It is a pretty a self-explanatory business and the client washes the dog,” she said.
DeNoon handles all aspects of the business, from cleanup detail to handling the financials. She hired the part-time groomer through her rescue group connections. She uses QuickBooks, and confesses there is a learning curve.
“I do have a good friend who does accounting and is helping me out,” she said. DeNoon is in the process of building a web site for the business, as well.
Q: How do you market your business?
Word of mouth has been has brought a lot of customers in, and U-Wash Puppy also has a high rate of repeat customers. Social media has played a significant role in reaching customers.
“I use Facebook and I post a lot on our page and any time we have an event or special I post there,” she said. U-Wash Puppy also runs a monthly newspaper advertisement.
DeNoon has expanded on the relationship with area pet shelters allowing their volunteers to bathe some of the dogs for free every other week.
So far, DeNoon said business has been good.
“Weekends are really busy,” she said. “Saturdays and Sundays are the busiest days of the week….”One day we had 44 dogs come through.”
She anticipates the winter months will get very busy, as people who normally bathe their own dogs outside will bring them in.
Q: What’s sets U-Wash Puppy aside from other groomers?
“It provides a unique bonding experience for the owners with their dogs,” DeNoon said. “You’re spending that time with your dog and it’s a lot less expensive than going to a pet groomer…and you’re leaving the mess here with us, the hair and dirt.”
Q: What’s ahead for your business?
“I would love to expand at some point and have a bigger space to allow for more dogs and allow for a retail space to sell food or collars,” DeNoon said.
“I don’t think it will ever be something with a big staff … (but) maybe a second location that is close to where I am now,” she said.
In a nutshell
COMPANY: U-Wash Puppy
ADDRESS: 7418 Nieman Road, Shawnee
TELEPHONE: 913 268-3939
WEBSITE: under construction