Founder Stories: Melodi Landi On Building Furry Fellas Pet Service LLC

In today’s Founder Story we feature Melodi Landi, the Founder of Furry Fellas Pet Service LLC!

Read on for lessons she’s learned from launching and marketing her dog walking & pet sitting company.

1. Please introduce your business and share your role. 

Hi. My name is Melodi and I own Furry Fellas Pet Service LLC (a.k.a Furry Fellas Dog Walking & Pet Sitting Service). 

Furry Fellas is a professional Dog Walking & Pet Sitting Company. We have been in business since 2006. All of our team members are animal lovers who are pet parents themselves, have prior experience working or volunteering with animals, and are certified in Pet First Aid.

We offer dog walking/exercise services, pet sitting visits, overnight pet sitting in clients’ homes, pet wedding attendants & more. Recently we have incorporated free community pet-related events such as group dog hikes and fundraising events to support local nonprofit animal-related organizations. Example: Howl-o-ween Hike N Treat event, etc.

Our free community events are typically for both dogs and their humans to participate in together and they are quite popular!

2. What’s your backstory, what kind of challenges did you face, and how did you come up with your business idea?

I started pet sitting and dog walking on the side while working as a veterinary nurse at an animal hospital. During this time, I was also studying Animal Veterinary Science at the University of Rhode Island working towards a pre-vet degree.

While I loved working with animals, I decided after working in the animal hospital that I wanted to work with animals in a different environment.

The biggest challenge at first was building up a route that made sense. I was a sole proprietor with no team members so I would travel around the entire state of Rhode Island to get clients covered which would sometimes call for longer than ideal commutes. Once there was a decent amount of clients established in each area, it then warranted hiring other more local sitters/walkers to cover their needs.

3. How did you prepare for, and go about your launch? 

The first 50 clients were all word of mouth but once I got to the point where I couldn’t take on any more myself,  I started referring to the other vet techs that I worked with, and then I thought, hey, there is a big demand for this type of service, so I switched my major to business with a concentration on Animal Veterinary Science. During my senior year in college, I put together a plan to start hiring others to help with pet sitting and dog walking. 

At that time, the business name was changed from Melodi’s Pet Sitting to Furry Fellas Pet Service. While in college, I had taken a couple of web design courses and learned about SEO and was able to put together a website on my own using now, old-school methods (writing up code in notepad). This allowed us to reach more pet parents. I then began hiring and setting up the official business.

4. Since launching, what types of marketing campaigns and designs have worked best to attract and retain customers?

Word of mouth is a very popular referral method for us. We have clients, family, friends, and other pet professionals who we network with, and that works well. And we have a website with SEO where new clients can easily find us. We focus more on building relationships, keeping pets and pet parents happy, and following up with our clients to make sure all requests are being met.

5. What have been the most influential brands for your business? Whose branding and marketing do you aspire to and why?

Pet Sitters International is a great resource for anyone who owns a pet sitting/dog walking business or who is looking to start a pet sitting business. Their book, Pet Sitting For Profit, contains a lot of valuable suggestions.

6. What are your favorite marketing platforms/tools?

We use Mailchimp, Google Business, Facebook, and Instagram, Time to Pet Scheduling Software, Quickbooks Online.

7. Who or what inspires and motivates you?

I am inspired to make a difference in the lives of others, especially animals. Animals have been my passion since I was a teenager. I enjoy bringing people together to share that common love for animals and creating a community around it. My compassion for animals extends beyond just pets. 

When I was 16, I made the connection between cats and dogs and other animals, such as cows, pigs, turkeys, and chickens which most consider “food animals”. After doing a lot of research, watching multiple documentaries, and visiting farm sanctuaries, I learned that the only difference between cats and dogs and “food animals” is our perception. They all live and breathe, want to be happy, want to provide for their family, and want to avoid pain. So, I went vegan when I was in my late teens to fully align myself with my purpose to help animals and now have been vegan for 25 years. 

Furry Fellas is a Food for Thought Policy leader. We help to promote compassionate food choices within the pet care and animal welfare industry. One way we do this is by including only animal-friendly foods, and food that is free of animal products at our fundraisers to help promote true compassion and create alignment with our goal of helping animals. We are equipped to provide literature and resources to other pet care businesses and animal shelters that are interested in doing the same.

8. What are some lessons you’ve learned along the way that you would share with entrepreneurs hoping to launch or who have just launched? 

The biggest lesson I have learned is that you cannot do everything by yourself. This was a hard one for me since I did not like to ask for help. Running a business requires a team who shares your vision. If there are things that you are not good at or don’t like to do (such as bookkeeping), you can hire someone who is good at those things and who enjoys doing them.

9. What do you believe are the qualities of a good entrepreneur? And what makes a team successful?

I believe that in order to be a successful entrepreneur, you must always be learning, improving, listening, and open to others’ ideas and perspectives. Nobody has it figured all out right off the bat. You are going to make mistakes along the way but you will learn from those mistakes and improve as you go. I recommend networking with other professionals where you can learn from others who have “been there, done that”. I also recommend looking into coaches, for any particular areas that you struggle with.

In order to have a successful team, you must ensure that everyone is on the same page, working towards the same goal and that there is some type of central communication channel to keep everyone informed and up to date.

10. Let us know where we can go to learn more!