Mission, Vision, Values
At Marie’s Family Pets, we strive to better connect all patrons to the fish keeping hobby, encouraging a love for the natural world while upholding the required standards of integrity and customer service.
By 2025, if not sooner, we anticipate us being among the top performing online fish stores, known for providing the best customer service and support during the experience, along with assisting with conservation efforts for our oceans.
At Marie’s Family Pets, we expect our customer service to be known for its high standards of respect and integrity, along with the willingness to work to solve problems regarding purchases in a timely and professional manner, while providing higher quality, healthy livestock at a lower price.
Goals and Strategy
The company will stand out from its competitors by building a name based on customer-focused positive experiences and lower prices. High quality customer service and lower prices often draw people towards companies. The competitors, other online fish sellers, lack the resources to provide personalized customer service. For instance, they do not have the time to send personalized thank-you notes. Along with that, they focus on finding “rare” livestock which may not fit most fish-keepers’ needs. This company will focus on selling livestock that all hobbyists can keep in their homes at lower prices that will suit most consumer’ spending power.
Within there the business there are several strengths that will work to its advantage. As a smaller company, this business will be able to give more personalized customer service. Rather than having a FAQ page that works for most situations, the business will be able to directly answer customer questions and complaints. There will be a direct line for questions, improving customer service. Another strength is of this company is that it will focus on lowering the price of high-quality fish. The company will look to buy livestock from wholesalers who have lower prices, all the while having healthy livestock, lowering the price of sale.
However, there are also several weaknesses that could plague this business. As a small company without a warehouse, livestock will be limited in the beginning. Without an extra building, the number of tanks with livestock to sell will be limited. Directly with this, as a one-person company to lower costs at this time, it will be difficult to keep up with a lot of livestock, further limiting the products. Along with that, to save money the company will not have boxes that list the company’s name, potentially running into risks with losing the package during shipping as people may not know that it contains live animals.
Within the business, there are several opportunities. Many hobbyists seek out lower prices as local fish stores and online fish stores are normally priced highly. By giving a name of selling lower-priced high quality livestock, it could draw customers in to purchase from the business. One of the strengths of the business is the personalized customer service. Many consumers seek out positive customer service and the potential to build a customer-focused name will help to draw customers to the company. Finally, the fish hobby has started to gain traction recently with the success of fish-keeping blogs and magazines rising.
There are several threats to the success of this company. The main issue is that the competitors have created bigger names and own advertisements on bigger search engines. This ensures that potential customers will click on their website before looking towards others. Along with that, they have PR merchandise that has helped them to gain word-of-mouth advertising. Another threat is that the price of shipping could potentially ruin the company’s reputation for selling lower priced fish. Finally, this is a niche market, meaning that the company will have to spend additional resources on marketing to have a higher chance of obtaining the market.
Marketing and Sales
The first strategy I will implement is by building a social media profile for the business. This is essential as my competitors’ use similar strategies and often showcases livestock to draw people to their websites. By earning a following online, I will create free, repeat marketing for my business. This will also allow for a potential word-o-mouth advertising.
I will also implement the use of magazine advertising. CORAL magazine is a saltwater magazine that would be hitting my target demographic directly. I would be able to easily have access to my target audience as the people reading the magazine will likely own fish tanks. They will be more likely to look for other places to buy fish from, especially if I include that I will be having lower prices than my competitors.
Finally, I will use pay-per-click internet advertisement. This will lead people directly to my website, potentially allowing for more sales. I will choose to showcase high-quality fish and other livestock on the front page so that the click leads has a lower chance of being ignored. I will also invest in having pay-per-click ads on forums regarding fish-keeping so that I reach my target audience more easily.
Using a spare room, I will provide temporary housing for livestock bought from wholesalers. I will also buy dry goods to sell and potentially provide sales (i.e. buy one fish, get sample of fish food, etc.) The fish will be listed individually, so that each customer sees exactly what they are buying. Sales will occur through a secure and well-tracked website, while allowing for customers’ private credit card to remain secure, as cash and checks will not be accepted in the early stages of the business.
Products and Services
The main two categories that the company will sell will be fish (livestock) and dry goods. Within the former category of livestock, there will be two main types: freshwater and saltwater. The freshwater livestock will try to feature lesser-known captive breed specimens that may be expensive and hard to find. The saltwater livestock will feature captive-breed mainstays of the aquarium, such as clownfish, and other sustainably captured wild-caught fish that are marked at a lower price than other companies. Within the latter category of dry goods, I will see essential filtration devices such as protein skimmers and filters for both fresh and saltwater tanks. I will then sell dry foods and frozen foods, along with medications and other necessities.
One feature of my livestock is that all livestock will be carefully observed and monitored for potential diseases and parasites, allowing for customers to ensure they are receiving a healthy specimen. One feature of my dry good supply is that I will try to only sell brands that are reputable and willing to back up their products.
One benefit of my livestock is that fish have been shown to reduce stress (McCormack, 2018), so by providing higher quality and more healthy livestock, I could potentially help to reduce stress within my customers.. One benefit of my dry goods is that the higher-quality filtration has been shown to improve to quality of life and ensure that fish will survive (‘Best Aquarium Filter: Complete Guide of 2020’, 2020). Filtration is known for being necessary to keep fish alive and healthy due to the waste produced (‘Best Aquarium Filter: Complete Guide of 2020’, 2020).
The company’s products will be shipped directly to the customer using overnight shipping for livestock and one to two day shipping for dry goods. I will have free shipping given when a certain amount of money is met, so that it will cover the cost of shipping. Since sales are over the internet, I will provide a receipt in the package with the goods.
I will be the only owner with no employees.
I will work to establish the company’s future and its current success. I will monitor the livestock and dry goods, deciding when to bring in more or less. I will also be shipping out products to customers and answering questions whenever I can. I will also work to establish a social media presence and design the marketing strategies. I will hire an accountant to work on the taxes yearly, along with helping with bimonthly reports to monitor the progress of the company.
To keep opening costs low, I will not be hiring employees at this time, therefore I will not be paying anyone other than myself. In the first few months of opening, I would like to hit the break-even point and then be able to take home at least five hundred dollars. I will then hope to extend my salary as the number of sales increase.
This business will be located in my house. I will convert a spare room in my house to house several tanks and racks of dry goods to send out. I plan to have at least eight 40-gallon breeders (four with saltwater and four with freshwater) to start selling livestock. The sales will be online only through a website that I will monitor on a daily basis. Along with that, instead of using my personal address for returns, I will invest in a P.O. box.
To start this company, I will need $5,000. I plan on using eight forty-gallon breeder tanks to house livestock for sale. Four of the tanks will cost about $100 to hold freshwater fish and the other four will cost about $200 to hold saltwater fish (Wolf, 2019). I will then spend around $200 for shelving for dry goods inventory. I will then allocate around $2,000 for buying livestock and dry goods. This will allow me to buy a varied amount of livestock and reputable dry goods. I will then use the remaining funds to pay for licensing and the upkeep of livestock until being sold. Any excess will be used to cover for operating costs before the profit margin is met.