Young entrepreneurs achieve success with Fetch n’ Catch

Being young does not mean you can’t launch a successful business. Just ask cousins Dan and Mallory Poirier, owners of Fetch n’ Catch, a dog daycare center located in Bowmansville. Their business has grown substantially since its launch in 2011, now employing more than 30, and is highly recommended by veterinarians and clients alike. In addition, the Poiriers were the first professionally certified animal care providers in New York state, and their business was named Buffalo’s Best Groomer in 2016.

All of this before either business owner hit the age of 30.

After graduating from West Seneca West in 2009, Dan attended the University of Akron in Ohio, where he majored in sales and marketing and minored in entrepreneurship. Mallory, who graduated from West Seneca East in 2007, moved to Michigan after high school for a change of pace, working in a veterinarian office. Two years later, she found herself back in Buffalo, working as a vet assistant.

Mallory loved working with dogs and their owners, but realized she didn’t enjoy being in a veterinarian office. “It was kind of a bummer having dogs come in and not really look forward to seeing you,” she said. As she talked to her clients at the office, she became aware that there was a need for “doggy daycare facilities,” she said.

One day in early 2011, she mentioned this to her cousin, and the pair began talking about opening up their own business. Dan, who was trying to select a topic for his capstone project at this time, decided to use their collective thoughts and observations as his final project to see if it was something they could truly pursue when he completed his degree.

The cousins shared many long phone calls in the weeks and months to follow, and met up while Dan was home from college on break to further discuss ideas and options. They also surveyed as many dog owners as possible to see what needs existed in Western New York.

“We did a lot of research on what people were willing to pay for something, what services they wanted, what they would look for in staff qualifications and training, hours of operation, things like that,” said Dan, who looked to his professors for further advice.

Their business plan was set a year later, and the pair began looking for funding. “It was hilarious,” Dan said. “I just turned 21, so I was just legal to drink beer and was trying to take out a loan. We needed almost $250,000.”

But the two had no collateral and worked only minimum-wage jobs. In addition, Dan had student loans to pay off. All of the banks said no.

They weren’t ready to throw in the towel, however; they began to talk to private investors about their business plan. Out of the 15 they met with, three agreed to loan them the money they needed to start their business.

While Dan was in Akron finishing his degree, Mallory was scoping out business locations. They signed a lease in Bowmansville and moved into the space two days after Dan moved back to Buffalo.

Things were looking up…or so they thought.

“The first month, I didn’t think it was going to work,” Dan recalled. “We sat on the couches in the lobby and had no customers. The door was open, but we had no activity. I remember checking the phone (to make) sure we had a dial tone.”

“I’ll never forget that first month,” Mallory added. “It would have been scarier on my own. Finding somebody to share the same pride and passion helped push me along, and I think vice versa.”

Eventually, potential clients began to stop in. Before they knew it, those clients were referring new clients, and people were coming in with their furry friends faster and faster.

“The referrals, the people who used us regularly and referred family and friends to us, were the best compliment anyone could give us,” Mallory said.

“Once we hit 40 dogs a day after a year, I realized this was going to really work,” Dan said.

Early on, they learned about business-related items such as labor costs and taxes, and how they would need to change their services as their clientele grew, even if it deviated from their original plan.

“We opened with a pool for the dogs, and that worked really well for three years,” Dan said. But when the day care got full and they had to turn clients away, they decided to remove the pool so that they could take another 40 to 50 dogs per day. .

“The pool was there, and I assumed it was going to stay there,” Mallory added. “You realize you need to make alterations along the way, and that’s okay.”

Now, six years later, Fetch n’ Catch offers doggy day care, full-service grooming, and overnight boarding and training in their recently opened training center. And this success indirectly led to a second business opportunity for the cousins.

Dan and Mallory gave a presentation about the various aspects of running a business at a conference in Nashville last year. After the presentation, they were approached by numerous people in the audience who wanted their advice on these topics. This led to the launch of the cousins’ second business, Core Culture Consulting Group.

“I thought I opened Fetch n’ Catch business because I like dogs,” Mallory reflected. “If you asked me six years ago, I had no idea this business would have taken us in this direction. It was a natural fit, the best of both worlds.”

Two successful businesses are not the only reasons Dan and Malloy have to celebrate. As of June, all of their loans to start this journey together have been paid off.

"The vision we had worked, and the people who invested in us are paid back,” Mallory said. “That’s really rewarding.”

Read more articles by Lauren Kirchmyer.

Lauren Kirchmyer is a young woman who wears many hats: writer, coordinator, dancer, choreographer, teacher. She studied communication studies and dance while attending Buffalo State College and is fortunate to work for multiple companies in both fields.
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