As founder and CEO of Scenthound, Tim Vogel also calls himself many things. He is a “growth seeker,” a “possibility purveyor,” and a “process-driven optimist.” He plants seeds for entrepreneurs to grow their business into a successful and profitable venture, and he believes that people working with “their natural genius” always get the best results.
Tim Vogel lives his passion every day. He has amassed a wealth of experience in “starting and running small to mid-sized, early to mid-stage companies.” As his business grows and evolves, so does his role, although he says that his focus “always remains on coaching [my] team.” If you ask him his superpower, he’d say that it would be “asking the right questions, identifying barriers, and offering creative process-driven solutions.”
As an entrepreneur, Tim Vogel combined his passion for business with his love for his pet dog Lucy and his desire to change people’s lives for the better to make a positive difference in the pet sector. For over a decade and a half, he has spent time and effort “building and growing businesses in the pet sector.”
Starting from a small mobile grooming van in 2005, Tim Vogel has turned it in 2015 to Scenthound, a “new concept in dog care designed to improve the lives of dogs and their humans by removing barriers to clean, healthy dogs.” A few years later, Scenthound has become an “innovative franchise enterprise poised to revolutionize the dog grooming industry.”
Jerome Knyszewski: Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Tim Vogel: I started off by opening a mobile pet grooming business in 2005 with big plans to scale and grow, but realized there were barriers that would hold me back from growing my brand the way that I had hoped. Fueled by my love for dogs and my passion to make a difference, I spent 15 years studying the pet industry and figuring out what I had to do to make a big splash in it. That’s what started my journey to Scenthound, which is the only wellness-based grooming franchise in the world. Everything that we do is based on keeping dogs clean and healthy, with the goal of removing barriers between dogs and their humans.
I went from having one grooming van to now opening over 30 locations across the country, and that’s just the beginning for Scenthound. The initial concept was hard to scale because traditional groomers offer breed-specific haircuts, and I knew that we had to simplify things to grow. We radically simplified the grooming process and transitioned our services from focusing on aesthetics to wellness. There was (and still is!) a huge lack of education among pet parents, many of which do not realize that just because your dog may not need a haircut doesn’t mean it doesn’t need grooming. All dogs need grooming to stay clean and healthy. We made the shift to become a wellness groomer, focusing on our services that were catered to all breeds of dogs, while also offering simple one-length haircuts for breeds that do not shed. Now, Scenthound is shaking up the pet industry and teaching pet parents across the country about dog health and wellness.
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
Tim Vogel: In the very beginning, we had just one grooming van and one groomer. We were just getting the business going, and one morning my groomer broke the news that she got into a pretty bad accident in the van. The next day, she quit the job. I was left with a wrecked van and no employee. I had to get the van fixed and step up and groom the dogs myself until I could find a replacement. Another hard time was when we started to grow, and we got up to four vans and hit a plateau. It got too hard to continue growing because it was difficult to find quality groomers and maintain the vans. I knew we didn’t have the right solution to continue scaling the business anymore. In both instances, I never considered giving up. The ultimate motivation was thinking about all of the dogs that I knew I could help if I scaled my business the right way. I understood the huge opportunity I had right in front of me, and that I needed to strategize in order to make it happen.
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
Tim Vogel: I was filling in for a groomer who called in sick, so I went out and did the job. I myself was not the best groomer, but I went and spent about two hours grooming a golden retriever in the van. When he was finished, I brought him back into the house and then let him off the leash. The perfectly clean dog immediately ran through the house, out the back door, and jumped into the lake behind their house. The moral of the story: always ask the owner if you can let the dog off the leash.
Jerome Knyszewski: Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to lead a company from Good to Great? Please share a story or an example for each.
- Culture: We say that culture eats process for breakfast. No matter how strong your process or strategy is, you will not succeed unless you build a culture that propels your goals. I believe that culture is made up of only two things: what you reward and what you tolerate. Setting the tone at the top will build a culture that follows your lead.
- Process: A huge part of Scenthound’s development was creating a clearly defined process for how we wanted to deliver our services and run our company. I learned that a strong process is the only way to create a business that is scalable and able to thrive. We at Scenthound have a specific process at each of our locations (we call them “Scenters”) and every action we take abides by these processes.
- Vision: Every great company has a clear and exciting vision of the future. Looking into my future and identifying tangible goals helped me realize that I needed to make changes if I wanted to see them come to fruition. Having this vision will not only remind you of the success you’re working towards, but keeps you on track with your mission.
- Understanding why you exist: Every great company has a purpose. Like I said earlier, a great company is the best in the world at one thing. What was helpful for me was understanding why people needed that one thing. At Scenthound, we remind ourselves that it’s our job to educate dog parents on the importance of routine grooming and make basic care accessible for all dogs. By doing this, we are removing barriers so that people can love and connect with their dogs every day. This purpose follows us everywhere we go and motivates us to continue growing.
- Feeling connected and passionate about the mission that you’re on: We are proud to be improving the lives of dogs and their people. We are all dog lovers at Scenthound, and I know I am personally fueled by the love for my dog, Lucy. She brings my family and I comfort and unconditional love, and we stay connected to our mission because of that love. The thought of helping other dogs like Lucy and other families like mine is easily one of the biggest motivators to make our business succeed.
Jerome Knyszewski: Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. Can you help articulate for our readers a few reasons why a business should consider becoming a purpose driven business, or consider having a social impact angle?
Tim Vogel: If you don’t have a purpose, you don’t have a reason to keep growing. We know that the work that we do at Scenthound allows dogs and their people to love unconditionally without barriers. That purpose is the sole reason we have built such a passionate community, both internally and externally. Having that purpose gives our team the fuel to create solutions and accomplish what needs to get done. We are excited about our mission because we help people practice love on a daily basis, which is a pretty noble mission to be on.
Jerome Knyszewski: As you know, “conversion” means to convert a visit into a sale. In your experience what are the best strategies a business should use to increase conversion rates?
Tim Vogel: To increase conversion, great businesses should be providing a tremendous value to the customer. At the end of the day, it’s all about the value curve. If you’re providing a great service or product at a reasonable cost, you are going to get a lot of customers.
Jerome Knyszewski: Of course, the main way to increase conversion rates is to create a trusted and beloved brand. Can you share a few ways that a business can earn a reputation as a trusted and beloved brand?
Tim Vogel: One of the most important things is consistency. We have found that our customers trust us because they know that we will deliver on our promises and provide them with reliable and valuable results. This is especially beneficial to Scenthound, as we offer monthly memberships. Offering a reliable service shows the customer why they should continue to keep coming back on a regular basis. Being consistent with our grooming, customer service, and overall experience helps us build positive relationships with each customer (and their dogs!)
Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?
Tim Vogel: You can follow Scenthound on:
Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!