Michele’s Pet Grooming & Boarding

On a normal day at this recently opened doggie daycare and boarding facility, Daisy the “greeter” comes up to customers, happily wagging her tail, when they enter. A groomer might be painting a Saint Bernard’s toenails to match her new collar, while nearby a large Rottweiler lounges on a leather couch, watching the large screen TV, and other dogs wander over to say hi. Such are the dog days of summer (and fall, winter, spring) at Michele’s Pet Grooming & Boarding in Chambersburg.

Michele Gossard grew up on a farm and always loved caring for animals. She worked at Citibank in Hagerstown, Maryland for fourteen years, until her “job left” in 2001. As a single mother with a young daughter she did not wish to put in daycare, Michele made the decision to become her own boss. Though this lifestyle is challenging, Michele says that “it was the best move [that she] ever made.”

Utilizing her severance pay from Citibank, Michele went to grooming school in 2001 and began grooming dogs. She gradually expanded her business by boarding a few clients’ dogs in her home. When small renovations no longer accommodated the demand, Michelle decided to pursue expanding the business with dedicated kennelspace and a boarding facility. Michele contacted the Shippensburg University Small Business Development Center (SBDC) for assistance in developing a business plan to assess the opportunity and secure the necessary financing.

On her rural property Michele now has a beautiful boarding facility where she can keep ten to twelve dogs at a time, and they stay in fine style. Dogs are only in kennels to eat and sleep, and they have access to go out into a secure yard at all times. Michele has also added another groomer, who rents space and works in the facility, as well as a new staff member, who has taken several classes in dog behavior, to supervise the dogs.

When asked about the assistance provided by her SBDC business consultant, Michele replied, “She was instrumental! The bank would not work with me without a business plan. I gave her my information, and she pulled things together, including detailed financial projections.” Michele secured the needed $131,000 in financing. In an email inviting her consultant to the business’s open house, Michele stated, “Thanks for all of your help. You are awesome.”

Michele believes that if she treats both customers and their animals well, then her business will develop a positive reputation: an attitude that has certainly worked for her. Michele recalls that at times she used to consider getting a part-time job at Sheetz but remained determined and committed to building her business. Michele shares this thought with other entrepreneurs who are pursuing their passion: “Be persistent. Don’t give up. And don’t hesitate to contact the SBDC for the expertise and assistance necessary to build your dream!”