Lisa Baxter, Maggie’s Dog Café

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Hi Lisa. How’d you come to call the Coffs Coast home? 

Stephen and I moved to Coffs in 2012 as I was offered a job here, so we made the move from North Berwick, Scotland to Coffs. We fell in love straight away and have now been here for over six years. It’s vastly different to our hometown, but we just love the casual coastal feel and the weather!

Your business, Maggie’s Dog Café is quite unique. Can you share with us how this concept came about? 

I was working as a dog groomer in a small salon in Coffs and I soon realised that there was a need for a quality dog grooming service, where people knew their pups would be safe and well looked after. We had also always talked about opening a dog friendly café, as we found Australia very unfriendly to dogs compared to Scotland. This started our search for a location to lease, and that’s when we found our spot at Moonee Marketplace with the team from Gowings. It’s been a fun journey so far.  

We wanted to create somewhere that would provide a relaxing, welcoming environment for people to enjoy some time with their pets, but also make sure the dogs felt special too! Our dog, Maggie, is the brand ambassador and is featured in our logo and on several artworks in the café. She’s also the resident dog and personally meets and greets all the doggy clientele.

What services does your business provide its customers, being dogs and their owners? 

Firstly, we are a café, and as such we have fantastic coffee, sweets and snacks for both dogs and their pawrents. We also welcome customers who don’t have dogs too. Our café is a nice and welcoming clean space, so non-dog owners quite often frequent it too. You can take your dog into the café with you, where your pup can enjoy a, doggie beer, a puppicino or even a pie, whilst their adoring owners can sit back and relax, enjoy a cup of coffee and something to eat. 

We have “Doggy Play Dates” on the weekends, which are always popular. Plus, everything your pup would need, from stylish apparel to grooming products and healthy raw dog food and treats. 

Recently, we launched our “Doggy Day Care” service, where dogs (not unlike kids) can be dropped off and cared for throughout the day in an air-conditioned beach shack room. And of course, we have our very popular dog grooming salon, where dogs can enjoy not only grooming, but also doggy facials and pamper treatments.

How did you build awareness of your business in the beginning? 

In the beginning we started by word of mouth, letting all of my current customers know that my salon would be closing, and that Maggie’s would be opening. We were also very fortunate to be featured on the front page of our local newspaper and social media as well, mostly due to the uniqueness of our offering. This early exposure really helped to build our clientele. Since then we have heavily utilised social media, email marketing and word of mouth to grow our customer base. We’re really happy with how things are tracking. There are always new locals coming to visit the salon, plus we have seen an influx of tourists recently, with many popping in for a visit or taking up our doggy day care service.

What trends are you seeing in your industry? 

I believe the mindset towards pets has really changed, which is nice to see. People really now see their pets as very much a part of the family. People only want the best for their pets, and as such, they like to spend their money on them. 

There has especially been a big trend moving away from preservative filled dry kibble to fresh and raw food diets, with the truth about kibble being exposed a lot in the media in recent times. We believe in good nutrition for pets, as it’s the base to help them live a happy and long life. 

We are delighted to stock the Proudi raw pet food in our store, which provides dogs with a really good balanced diet. Many of our customers have jumped on board, to feed their fur babies the best diet possible. Plus, Stephen, my partner, also makes many of the café stocked dog treats, such as jerky and pies.

What marketing activities do you find most beneficial? 

Social media is definitely our strongest marketing tool at the moment. We can upload live videos and stay up to date with our customers and their dogs. And because people love photos of pets, especially theirs in salon, we find that the engagement is really high. We also love interacting with your customers and their doggies. 

Word of mouth is still very powerful for us, because of the unique offering, being the first of its kind, we are getting discovered by new dog owners and regular customers each and every day. We also utilise email marketing for bookings in our salon, as well as, an online booking platform in our website, which everyone uses to book grooming and pamper treatments for their dogs.

What do you love about your work? 

I love seeing happy well looked after dogs; when they come into the café and have great fun playing with other dogs and enjoy eating our delicious treats, it brings a smile to my face. It’s a pleasure being the groomer for many dogs, who are almost like an extension of family.

Finally, being from Scotland originally, what do you love about the Coffs Coast? 

We are so lucky to live on the Coffs Coast; it must be one of the most beautiful places in the world! We love the beaches, especially Emerald Beach, and how there’s still so much life here, with lots of bushland and native animals around. My partner, Steve absolutely loves the surf. As you can imagine, Scotland isn’t known for beaches, surf and warm weather – so we are absolutely loving calling the Coffs Coast home! 

Thanks Lisa.

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