We are really excited to have ‘Back to the Bone’ as our Dealer of the Month for August. We were able to speak with one of the owners, Dan Tutton, where he shared with us his thoughts on the industry and his passion for dogs.
C4: Hi Dan, thanks for your time. You are very passionate about the health of animals and providing animals with healthy food, where does this come from?
DT: We have always had black labs in our lives and roughly 6 years ago one just stopped eating and could not keep food down. Also at this time we were faced with some family health issues and a caregiver at the health institute asked about our situation with our dog. She asked us one core question “What are you feeding your dog?” At the time we were feeding a high end kibble and the caregiver stopped us and told us to change to a raw diet that day. Well within three days there was an instant turnaround in the health of our dog and we were amazed and excited. That motivated us to start learning about raw, and commercial pet food, and also started to get more educated about the physiology of the dog. All that knowledge started moving us to share it and led us to start thinking about a business around raw food and the convenience of raw dog food and help dog owners with the conversion away from traditional pet foods.
We spent 3.5 years learning and getting a handle on raw feeding, pet health and pet nutrition before we opened Back to the Bone.
C4: What do you think the future trends will be in pet food?
DT: That is a good question and based on our experience since we opened the store, we are seeing more and more as people become more in tune with their own nutrition, they get more educated about their pets’ nutrition. It is related to their own life styles and habits. When we developed our business plan, we believed the demographic would be empty nesters with a new pet and higher income, and time to put their efforts towards feeding raw. This demographic is certainly prevalent, but the young professional who is fit and wants the same for his or her dog is just as prevalent as well. So to answer the questions, as more people become conscious of their own nutrition, that desire is getting passed to their pets as well. More and more consumers are more educated about their options, and they are moving towards bio digestible foods for their pets.
C4: What do you think the keys are to being a success in the pet food industry?
DT: One, you better have a passion for what you are doing and you have to totally believe in the products you are recommending to customers. Two, make sure you commit to a high level of customer service, as you help and educate on nutrition and that takes time. Helping people understand the physiology of their dog and cat, what they can digest and portion size. Three, product knowledge is also very valuable, how foods are made, how they can be used with companion foods, etc. We have access to 100s of products and we eliminate all synthetic foods, and we made a conscious decision to only carry a limited product line so we could know them in and out, and have the right combination of food to pet.
C4: What advice would you give new people in the industry?
DT: Firstly is to put together a comprehensive business plan and also connect yourself to other businesses that are doing what you want to do and observe their mistakes. Learn from people who have achieved the success that you want to have. We went into this a little blind, and did some things on belief and the business plan was a little thin. But we did believe we had enough passion for what we wanted to do and we would attract customers and create a good base. Some mistakes might have been avoided if we had aligned our thoughts with some similar minded people, but we learned from our mistakes and got stronger.