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A Business to Bark About

Jacqueline Foisey and Penny Puls hope to draw plenty of pups – and their owners – to their new self-serve dog wash.



MOST PEOPLE WOULDN’T want to say their business was going to the dogs. But that’s all right with Jacqueline Foisey and Penny Puls, because that’s their target market. The two recently opened Wash n’ Wag, a self-serve dog wash that also offers grooming services and doggie treats in Cape Coral.

It’s been drawing in lots of local dog owners, who often want to chat about and show off pictures of their furry friends. “We’re very focused on customer service, so when someone comes in we make sure we have the time to talk to them,” says Puls. “It’s not, ‘Here’s your shampoo; go wash your dog.’ We speak to every person who comes in, and every person has a story about their dog.”

THE IDEA

A few years ago, a friend visiting Puls wanted to find a self-serve dog wash in the area, but an online search turned up nothing. “I had never heard of such a thing,” says Puls. “But I researched it and thought what an awesome idea, because there was nothing like this in Southwest Florida.”

Already experienced pet sitters, Puls and Foisey continued researching the business, traveling to Central Florida to visit and learn from several dog washes there. “We took away a lot of knowledge and decided we want to do this,” says Puls. They gained further insight on equipment and techniques at a pet fair in Atlanta.

But finding a location for their untested venture proved challenging. Several landlords and a commercial Realtor they contacted couldn’t grasp their idea’s potential. A friend with a pack-and-mail business in Cape Coral suggested the unit next door, and the landlord was willing to give them a chance. “It’s an awesome location, because Cape Coral is very dog friendly,” says Puls.

THE LAUNCH

Thanks to their research, Puls and Foisey found products and equipment to meet their high standards, including their dog bakery items made in Casselberry, Florida, and their tubs that are custom made in Oregon. “It was very important to us to get those white tubs, which are just beautiful, in order to make a more appealing, nice, clean place for someone to come into,” says Puls.

Wash n’ Wag opened on July 2 and hasn’t done much advertising aside from a “now open” sign in the parking lot. But that’s been drawing people in. And the business partners have recently started working with a marketing firm to get the word out.

WHAT'S NEXT

Puls and Foisey plan to get involved with local chambers of commerce and pet-rescue organizations and events. They’ll spend the next year working to build their customer base.

“We don’t want to be a one-time business; we want to be a place people can come to every four weeks,” says Foisey. “By next year we will have that customer base.”

To encourage repeat visits, they plan to share their insights on the importance of regular dog washing and grooming. “The animals that come in are loved so much by their owners,” says Foisey. “And even though we call our dog wash self-service, we’re right there with the customers educating them on how to wash their dog.”

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