Janelle Russell’s pet grooming business happened to be on the right side of history during the COVID-19 pandemic. Twenty-three million American households adopted dogs during the first year of the pandemic, according to an ASPCA survey — and that meant some of those pups came to Chateau 4 Paws. Janelle’s business doubled. Today, she and her team work on hundreds of canine clients each week, and she’s eyeing a second location to keep up with demand from customers who want their pups looking posh.
Janelle Russell loves dogs, but she never thought her passion would become her job until two unrelated events took place. In 2005, her then-boyfriend got her a toy poodle and she was let go from her corporate job. That inspired her to open her pet grooming salon Chateau 4 Paws in 2010. To fund the new business, she used her 401(k) and asked her parents and her uncle to match the funds. “That’s how I started my business,” she says. “I basically jumped head-in, not knowing anything about grooming. I didn’t have a business plan. All I knew is that I love animals, and I love dogs.”
A friend told her there were no small, independent pet grooming shops in Fayetteville, Georgia, so Janelle set up shop there thinking there’d be no competition. But when she went down to city hall to get her business license, she learned that three other grooming salons were opening in the same area around the same time. A little nervous, Janelle confided in her dad, who offered sage advice: “Just concentrate on your brand, concentrate on providing great service and the clients are going to come.”
Her father’s words proved to be prophetic. Eleven years later, Chateau 4 Paws is still in business, offering everything from basic baths and nail trims to nail painting, blueberry facials, and fur coloring for all dog breeds.
In the beginning, Chateau 4 Paws processed credit card payments on a dial-up line. Customers would spend minutes waiting for their receipts to print. A client who worked for Clover convinced Janelle to upgrade her POS system and switch to Clover.
That was seven years ago. Chateau 4 Paws now processes credit card transactions on a Clover Mini, which is much, much faster than dial-up, and customers can choose to get a receipt via text message or paper. “[With the old system], it took longer for us to run the credit cards, but with Clover, it was just so easy,” Janelle says. “I was like, ‘where has Clover been?’ My customers love it.” She adds that customers feel comfortable running their credit card information through Clover, because they know and trust the brand.
Janelle now has a 5-year old daughter and spending time together, whether on a quick trip to Florida or a West Coast vacation, is important. Clover helps her balance family time with the business. “Clover Mini is such a powerful machine,” she says. “It gives me the flexibility to enjoy time off with my family, because I know the sales transactions will flow with no hiccups.” Clover also allows her to check sales whenever she’s away from the office, helping juggle her family and her business. She can even run reports or check sales while vacationing with her daughter to ensure things are running smoothly.
Recently, Janelle set up a customer rewards program through Clover, offering customers 30% off services on their 10th visit. “The program was ready in less than a minute,” she says. “It’s an easy and fun way to reward customers with money off their next service!”
When Chateau 4 Paws first opened, they were grooming about 10 to 20 dogs per day. Business doubled during the pandemic, when “everybody was home, and nobody wanted to smell their dog,” Janelle explains. At peak times, they would groom between 300 and 400 dogs per week. The company’s four bathers and three groomers work long hours to keep up with demand.
Since business is booming, Janelle hopes to open a second location. “The next spot I would like to do boarding, daycare, grooming, and have a self-wash area for customers to be able to come in and wash their own dog,” she says “We’ll have a cat area, so it will allow me to do more things. And of course, Clover will be there as well.”