Story by Lindsey McClain, Chamber Intern
Young professional Micheala Gardner has been working with animals all her life. From her first job at a pet boarding facility in high school to her time spent as a practicing vet technician, she has some experience behind her. Following in the footsteps of her parents, Michaela knew she wanted to own her own business. After just a few years of doing the books for her parents’ construction company, Michaela found the perfect property to make her dreams a reality. 7650 North, US-27, in Williamsburg is the location of Hank’s Pet Lodge, a unique and well-equipped pet boarding and grooming facility. She named her business after her first dog, a border collie named Hank. Throughout this whole process Michaela said her parents were her biggest support and often pushed her to achieve her goals. Since Hank’s opening in December of 2019, they have enjoyed immense success, with bookings often months out. However, this does not stop Michaela from continuing to improve her business and satisfy her customers.
A major cause for the success at Hank’s is the range of offerings that are available. With boarding, grooming, and day camps they offer much more than a typical facility. All three are equally popular and widely sought-after services. Michaela said, “Since our opening just two years ago, we have stayed consistently busy.” This means growing from just a staff of herself and a groomer to now having 3 full time employees and some part time staff that help with the boarding and day camp processes. Another unique quality of Hanks is how customizable the customer experience truly is. They offer a variety of kennel packages from regular
“Cozy Cabin” lodges to the “Grand Lodge”, separate from other boarders with a tv and movies playing for the entertainment of your dog. There is also a “Kitty Cabin” for feline boarders and a number of add-ons that can be purchased. These include things like outdoor playtime, treats, and even joining the day camp dogs for extra enrichment and exercise. The Day Camp is just one other service that Hank’s Pet Lodge offers its clients. Customers pay a daily fee or a package fee to have their dog experience camp for the day. The dogs get morning and afternoon group play, enrichment time, and naps.
Grooming is another popular service at Hank’s. There are three groomers who use their skills and expertise to satisfy customers and make sure that the grooming process goes smoothly. Although Michaela and a lot of her staff are young, she is committed to the satisfaction of her customers, and this also means the growth of her employees. Education is at the forefront of Michaela’s business. She is constantly researching new grooming and behavioral techniques and finding new ways to improve. Part of this is increasing the education of herself and her staff. Currently she has multiple groomers furthering their education with the help of Hank’s. It is Michaela’s belief that this adds to the overall quality and professionalism of her business.
Michaela is not shy of education as her time as a registered vet tech means she takes extreme care to guarantee the health and safety of the pets at Hank’s. With the help of her parents she
designed the building in the most functional way possible with fresh air exchangers and UV purification systems to ensure better air quality and less germs. She’s also not afraid to take pets with special needs, often administering insulin to diabetic cats or ensuring the wellbeing of even the most aggressive dogs. She is happy to accommodate animals who need medications or injections as well and she does not shy away from exotic pets. She us happy to try and accommodate them.
Through a short conversation it is easy to see the love Michaela has for her business and her customers. She says, “The customer experience is super important to me.” This is seen in all aspects of her business from the range of drop off and pick up times available to the convenience of a new app for appointments and information. Through this, clients can update their pets vaccination status, find appointments, and book even when the building is closed. It’s no wonder customers continue to return to Hank’s for their boarding and grooming needs. Not only do they offer the experience of a registered vet technician on site, but also the experience of educated groomers and animal lovers. Hank’s Pet Lodge ensures pets receive the care they need and the convenience and variety the owners want.
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