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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hey guys! I'm currently a senior in college doing my thesis project on a potential dog business which was inspired by my own toy poodle Tinkerbell! :p It would be so great to have some survey responses from my target market- dog lovers! Feel free to help me out and follow the link! It's not too long :)

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My inspiration!!! Feel free to comment and just talk, I'm new here. This is Tinkerbell, I found out a few months ago she has a brain tumor. I'm not sure how long I have left with her but any time is special to me. Such an angel.
 

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I think your business idea and survey need a bit more critical thinking and development.

Survey:
- Has to have a broader range of options that more fully encompasses people pet care experiences. E.g. "take for a walk" vs. "take to the park/dog park" --> there is a huge range in there that you're not covering and that is pretty vital information for your business. Somebody who takes their dog for a 10 minute walk around the block on-leash vs. someone who takes their dog to the small park at the end of their street vs. someone who drives their dog to a well-known dog park that is popular with local dog owners vs. someone who takes their dog out conservation land/national parks for long hikes. Nearly all except the third option would click "walk dog everyday" and three of the options would click "take to park/dog park" yet only one is actually a potential customer for your business (i.e. goes to local popular dog park).

There is quite a lot not-good about the survey...but as someone who works a lot with survey design for a living, I'm probably overly critical.

Business Proposal:

You also need to think about the geographical region that you are thinking of setting up. For me, none of the frozen treats appeal because I'm in a mild climate that is more often below 75 F then above.

A key customer segment that you're missing out on is training centers. You're more likely to find owners willing to buy their dog excessive luxury "treats" at agility/obedience/doggy day-care centers. The rationale being that if people are spending the money on dog sports/training or daycare, they're clearly very financially invested in their animals whereas the population at a free local dog park will have greater variance in willingness to spend on their dog. Investigating whether training centers/daycare centers would cooperate with you either in selling some of your goods or permitting you to park outside their centers during high traffic periods would be a way to target customers.

Finally, think carefully about drawing owners over to the truck. Ice cream trucks do great because kids hear the music/see the truck and start pressuring their parents into buying something for them. Dogs won't be customers that apply that pressure -- the desire to go to the truck has to come from the owner. So you're better off having people foods so that owners go over to get something for themselves and while there you up-sell them with a treat for their dog.

Just my thoughts. As you have the business idea structured now, I would say with quite a bit of confidence that the business would fail at being profitable. The profit margins would be so low and the variable costs/fixed costs quite high as it stands now. You need to develop the idea a bit more in order to really know who you're going to target, how you're going to draw customers in, what your product line is going to be, etc.
 

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I think your business idea and survey need a bit more critical thinking and development.

Survey:
- Has to have a broader range of options that more fully encompasses people pet care experiences. E.g. "take for a walk" vs. "take to the park/dog park" --> there is a huge range in there that you're not covering and that is pretty vital information for your business. Somebody who takes their dog for a 10 minute walk around the block on-leash vs. someone who takes their dog to the small park at the end of their street vs. someone who drives their dog to a well-known dog park that is popular with local dog owners vs. someone who takes their dog out conservation land/national parks for long hikes. Nearly all except the third option would click "walk dog everyday" and three of the options would click "take to park/dog park" yet only one is actually a potential customer for your business (i.e. goes to local popular dog park).

- you're trying to get at "willingness to pay" of the owner on a treat. However the way you have it done now ("how much would you spend on something from this truck") is not a great way to do it as people have never made an expenditure like what you are suggesting so the responses will be quite random.

- You ask what toys are played with most often at a park...well you don't have an option for "no toy". My girl loves toys at home, but I definitely do not allow her to bring toys to the park as they're likely to get lost/taken/destroyed. This is probably true for a lot of dog owners (not all, obviously...but many, so you need to have that option available).

- You don't ask about distance from the house that people travel to their park. If you're a mobile van, you want to know the radius that a dog park attracts. If people only go to a dog park that is within 5 minutes walking from their house, that's a lot more places you need to visit (more gas, more difficulty timing "rush hour" peaks) versus people traveling by car to the best dog parks...you're going to have to drive around a lot less as customers come to you.

- You have the question about frequency with which you visit a park (weekdays vs weekends)...well I go out to parks every day but the parks I go to are very different. Weekdays I do the local "urban" park versus weekends I head out to the hiking trails, so I'm off to state/national parks. So understanding who your customer segments are, which are more likely to generate revenue, and where you need to be when to reach them is key.

I could go on about the survey as it's quite rudimentary, but as someone who works a lot with survey design for a living, I'm probably overly critical so I'll leave off there.

Business Proposal:

You also need to think about the geographical region that you are thinking of setting up. For me, none of the frozen treats appeal because I'm in a mild climate that is more often below 75 F then above.

A key customer segment that you're missing out on is training centers. You're more likely to find owners willing to buy their dog excessive luxury "treats" at agility/obedience/doggy day-care centers. The rationale being that if people are spending the money on dog sports/training or daycare, they're clearly very financially invested in their animals whereas the population at a free local dog park will have greater variance in willingness to spend on their dog. Investigating whether training centers/daycare centers would cooperate with you either in selling some of your goods or permitting you to park outside their centers during high traffic periods would be a way to target customers.

Finally, think carefully about drawing owners over to the truck. Ice cream trucks do great because kids hear the music/see the truck and start pressuring their parents into buying something for them. Dogs won't be customers that apply that pressure -- the desire to go to the truck has to come from the owner. So you're better off having people foods so that owners go over to get something for themselves and while there you up-sell them with a treat for their dog.

Just my thoughts. As you have the business idea structured now, I would say with quite a bit of confidence that the business would fail at being profitable. The profit margins would be so low and the variable costs/fixed costs quite high as it stands now. You need to develop the idea a bit more in order to really know who you're going to target, how you're going to draw customers in, what your product line is going to be, etc.



I tried to go back and edit my previous reply as I realized it was quite a rush job and missing a lot of information but my edit window expired...so Im just reposting with the fully edited post. Much of it is repeated from above though.
 

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@travelingswift gave you some really constructive feedback.

I'm not saying it's a bad idea... it could work depending on the area.

I hope this is the beginning stage of your project because it definitely seems like it needs more work and thought.

Personally, if I'm on a walk with my dog, I wouldn't stop at a truck like this...if we're hanging out at a park, MAYBE I would... I'm really careful about what I feed my dog so if I were to stop, it would be once every few months or so...

Good luck!
 

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I also agree with Travelswift.

It seems that your business model will have to be based on cost-plus pricing, meaning that you add up all of your operating costs (the truck, gasoline, insurance, business license, labor, advertising, ingredients for the treats, etc) divided by the number of treats you can produce and then tack on an acceptable profit to each treat (10-20% perhaps). This is how you'll arrive at what price to charge per treat to be profitable.

The problem is this- in all likelihood you will discover that the price will be higher than what most people are willing to pay. However, lowering your price will not be feasible because then you won't generate a profit (in fact, you may find out that what people are willing to pay won't even cover your operating costs).

This is why Travelswift is encouraging you to think about potential customers who have proven their willingness to spend $ on their dogs, moreso than the typical dog owner. That said, even if you target these customers, how likely is it that they will buy treats from you on a regular basis? It strikes me as more of a novelty than a routine purchase.
 

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Finally, think carefully about drawing owners over to the truck. Ice cream trucks do great because kids hear the music/see the truck and start pressuring their parents into buying something for them. Dogs won't be customers that apply that pressure --
Actually you may be on to something. You need a jingle that the dogs will associate with treats like a giant Pavlovian bell that when it sounds will have all the dogs dragging their owners over.

I don't think the food truck / dog food truck is a good idea. I wouldn't exactly be enthused about eating from the same kitchen where my dog's food was prepared. I know intellectually that it's not that bad but it's still kind of icky and I think lots of people share that feeling.

This idea is just unsalvageably bad.
 

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I don't think it is a bad idea at all. I do think there needs to be more thought put into it, but it gets so hot here in the summer that I would definitely buy my dogs a nice cold treat on a brutal day, but probably only if we were at a festival or something. I usually carry a big backpack with cold water, but a special treat on occasion is something I would definitely consider.
 
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I don't think the food truck / dog food truck is a good idea. I wouldn't exactly be enthused about eating from the same kitchen where my dog's food was prepared. I know intellectually that it's not that bad but it's still kind of icky and I think lots of people share that feeling.
I totally missed this... I didn't realize there would be people food too. I thought it was only dog treats... I would NEVER buy food off a truck that also made dog food.... I don't even know if the Board of Health would allow that.
 

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I don't think it is a bad idea at all. I do think there needs to be more thought put into it, but it gets so hot here in the summer that I would definitely buy my dogs a nice cold treat on a brutal day, but probably only if we were at a festival or something. I usually carry a big backpack with cold water, but a special treat on occasion is something I would definitely consider.
This is something the OP should do more research on... traveling to dog shows, agility trials, pet expos, etc instead of dog parks and random neighborhood walks. Also, 86 the people food...
 

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This is something the OP should do more research on... traveling to dog shows, agility trials, pet expos, etc instead of dog parks and random neighborhood walks. Also, 86 the people food...
Agreed - no people food, yucky. And weekend dogs shows, agility trials, or pet festivals are where I eat a little junky, so my dogs can too. ;)
 

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Shandula, you have illustrated my point precisely.

The entire market is dog owners.

Then, within that market there is a limited pool of dog owners who would even be willing to purchase this kind of product/service.

Then, even those that purchase would only purchase occasionally as a "special treat," not on a routine basis.
 

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Yeah when I suggested that people food be sold, it was as a means of attracting customers and envisioned it much more as human food prepared in the truck and pre-made/pre-wrapped dog options are also available.

But if I was buying myself a (normal) ice cream on a hot day and the vendor said "Would you like to also purchase a dog-friendly frozen treat for your hot pup? We keep them in a separate freezer box from our regular items" then I'd be perfectly comfortable ordering both something for me and something for my dog.

I think your advantage would come with hot climates and cold offerings and hitting up competitions/outdoor events that are dog-focused. I don't think you could earn a living off of it...but you could probably do a small side business?

ETA: Based on the survey, my understanding of the frozen dog treats are that they are basically all human-ingredients just made into dog-safe recipes? But if I'm wrong in that then count me out on the shared truck :)
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
@travelingswift @Aspen726

It wouldn't have people food to the person who mentioned that being unappealing and to the very critical points on the business side - The reason the survey is so general is because I'm a graphic design major not a business student. The thesis is mostly going to be visual. I'm designing what the truck would look like...packaging..that sort of thing. It's all hypothetical.

I also could only use a free website for the survey so thats why it's so basic. I'm concerned about some of these things to write in my paper but profits are not a huge deal. It's more about if it were real how I would implement good design.

The reason there was no no toy option was because I just need data for what toys to brand with my logo.

But I appreciate your feedback.
 

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@travelingswift @Aspen726

It wouldn't have people food to the person who mentioned that being unappealing and to the very critical points on the business side - The reason the survey is so general is because I'm a graphic design major not a business student. The thesis is mostly going to be visual. I'm designing what the truck would look like...packaging..that sort of thing. It's all hypothetical.

I also could only use a free website for the survey so thats why it's so basic. I'm concerned about some of these things to write in my paper but profits are not a huge deal. It's more about if it were real how I would implement good design.

The reason there was no no toy option was because I just need data for what toys to brand with my logo.

But I appreciate your feedback.
Ohh! That makes a lot of sense! Well, to design it would be lots of fun! :) good luck!
 

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It wouldn't have people food to the person who mentioned that being unappealing and to the very critical points on the business side - The reason the survey is so general is because I'm a graphic design major not a business student. The thesis is mostly going to be visual. I'm designing what the truck would look like...packaging..that sort of thing. It's all hypothetical.

I also could only use a free website for the survey so thats why it's so basic. I'm concerned about some of these things to write in my paper but profits are not a huge deal. It's more about if it were real how I would implement good design.

The reason there was no no toy option was because I just need data for what toys to brand with my logo.

But I appreciate your feedback.
That makes a lot more sense as to why all the business side of it wasn't thought through very clearly -- thanks for clarifying.

I have zero visual design background so can't help out at all on that front! Sorry! I'm much better at the business proposal side of things :D:D
 
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