Building a close community
And what about customers? Does Marcus see the same owners and pups each year? He says it’s a mix but he’s enjoyed building the brand and seeing the business grow organically over the years.
“I’d say around 50% of people come back after their first visit.” He tells us, grinning “We have a really nice community now. We’re based in Devon but we’ve made friends with so many dogs and owners from all over the country over the years. A few of them have even come to stay at our house, so it’s like we’ve created our own little community.”
“We chat to a lot of the owners on a regular basis and let them know if we’re planning on hosting an event near them.” He adds.
And what’s the best part of being part of such a tight knit community? Marcus says seeing owners make friends with each other and build strong relationships that develop outside the events is always great to see.
“The community aspect is really nice, we have lots of owners who used to come on their own with their dogs but have now made friends at our events, so they now come together as a big group. They’ll meet up separately and go on dog walks. It’s so nice to encourage things like that.” He tells us. “Or we have people who used to come to events without dogs but now have their own that they bring along.”
Bionic was keen to understand if Marcus was facing roadblocks due to the cost-of-living crisis, has he noticed it affecting event sales this year? He agreed that he has seen changes, but he’s now more mindful about supplier costs.
“Except for Covid, we’ve seen pretty steady growth since we started.” He tells us “Obviously with the cost of living increasing this year, we’ve seen a slight drop in people coming to events. I think experiences are always one of the first things to go, which is sad because it’s great for people to go and do something they enjoy to get away from their stresses. But bills come first.”
“But we’ve definitely had to change a few things over the last year” He says “We now have to really think about supplier costs, because if they put their prices up then we have to as well.”
He adds “We always have to work hard to save as much as possible. We had to change the supplier we’d been using for our puppuccinos recently because they’d raised their prices. It’s sad because we’d been using them for years, but it really just comes down to cost.”
And finally, what does Marcus think is the best thing about Christmas for the pups in our lives? Is it the special treats, the fuss from family or just getting into mischief tearing apart all the discarded wrapping paper?
“I’d say for our dog it’s seeing everyone in one room.” Marcus decides “Christmas is the only time the whole family really gets together for more than a couple of hours. So, he’s in his element, seeing all his favourite people all at once.”
You can check out The Pup Up Café and see where your local event is by heading to their website or visiting their Facebook or Instagram page. They are touring throughout November and December, finishing on December 18 in Leeds.