SBA-guaranteed loan helps Mount Vernon couple honor dog’s legacy by caring for others’ pups
After the tragic loss of their dog Jagger, Randy and Connie Olson started Jagger’s Doggie Daycare in May 2015. Jagger suffered from separation anxiety and destroyed an iPad while home alone, ingesting shards of broken glass, leather, and circuitry. His injuries proved fatal, but the Olsons believed if a facility existed where he could have spent a few days a week socializing, he would likely still be alive and thriving.
They had no previous experience in the pet industry but had run a children’s in-home daycare and a radio station and understood marketing. They did research, visited many other dog facilities in other states, and put together a good business plan.
This was a complete start-up, and the Olsons decided to start small to test the waters and see if the market would support a dog day care, since the concept was new to the area. They started in a 1,200 square-foot space rented with their own money. When they saw early growth, they got approval from the city council for dog boarding and found a bigger location to move into. However, they needed financial assistance.
As they expanded, the Olsons needed funds to purchase kennel suites, artificial pet turf, fencing, gates, doggie playground equipment, an alarm system, security cameras, TV monitors, cleaning supplies, a refrigerator, microwave, flooring, shelves, a computer, and retail inventory.
The Olsons visited the same lender they already had a home mortgage and checking account with, and the familiarity helped expedite the process. They also developed a business plan and got zoning approved by the city.
They secured an SBA-guaranteed loan for $29,000 and supplemented with their own money as well as a zero percent interest business credit card. They paid off the credit card before interest could accrue. They also paid off their four-year loan, scheduled to mature in May 2020, 11 months early. Their success allowed them to secure a line of credit a few years into business to use as needed for expansion and inventory.
Jagger’s currently has 16 employees. The 10 who are part-time all work more than 20 hours a week and make well above the minimum wage. Gross revenue last year was just over $450,000, and they are on track to surpass that in 2019. Their customers come from a 40-mile radius, so nearby restaurants, gas stations, and retail shops also see the benefits.
“While we used a lot of our own money in the beginning, the SBA loan allowed us to expand the business and move into a bigger location, expand our services, add jobs, and increase revenue,” co-owner Randy Olson said. “We are now in a 5,600 square-foot building, which is a far cry from the 1,200 square-foot building where we started. We went from three employees to 16 employees and revenue has more than quadrupled from the first year to the fourth year. The SBA loan helped to make all of that a reality.”
Jagger’s hopes to continue to offer top-notch dog boarding, daycare, grooming and training services for dog owners in southern Illinois. They expect to add more employees as needed, while expanding retail items. Recently, Jagger’s has begun offering CBD oil for dogs, upgraded flooring, and added a dog bakery, bone-shaped swimming pools and sun shades. “We have consistently put money ‘back into the business,’ and most people realize that when they tour our facility,” Randall said.
Accomplishments include receiving an award for Best Dog Groomers in Jefferson County by the local newspaper, as well as awards for “best color” and “best overall transformation” among dog grooming entries at PawFest 2019 in Mt. Vernon. Their trainer has helped to establish a dog obedience training program for inmates at the Vandalia Correctional Center. The program, known as TAILS, is done in conjunction with a local animal rescue shelter that enables dogs to get training while they await adoption. Several dogs have also been trained at Jagger’s as therapy dogs to assist local hospital and nursing home patients.
Randall and Connie also mentor and provide advice to people entering this business in other states.
Jagger’s has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, and the Olsons are active in the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce, the International Boarding & Pet Services Association (IBPSA), as well as the National Dog Groomer’s Association of America.
“Starting this business to honor and remember our dog, Jagger, has been a blessing to us, and so very helpful to many dog owners in the area, who needed a safe, clean, and quality facility to take their dog for boarding, daycare, grooming, and training,” Randall said.