From the Editors

New from Petco: PetCoach

Strolling the exhibitor aisles at the Colorado Convention Center, I came across the industry heavyweights as well as the small vendors and everyone in between. But what grabbed my attention at the

American Veterinary Medical Association convention was a company I didn’t expect to see occupying a large island booth: Petco.

Petco, like PetSmart, is competing aggressively in the veterinary space as Amazon and other online challengers capture a growing share of the pet supplies market. PetSmart stores host more than 850 Banfield hospitals, and Petco is expanding on a smaller scale with in-store Thrive and The Pet Vet practices and Vetco vaccination clinics.

What was most interesting as I chatted with a recruiter was another logo emblazoned on the Petco signage: PetCoach. What started as a pet advice website has evolved into a digital and brick-and-mortar business. The first PetCoach store opened in July in San Marcos, California, and more are on the way at existing Petco stores. A spokeswoman wouldn’t say how many stores will be converted or where.

What is PetCoach? Imagine a Petco store with less inventory and more space dedicated to services such as grooming, training, day care and bathing. Did I mention veterinary care — wellness checks, diagnostics, outpatient surgeries and mobile house calls?

“Sure,” you might say, “my hospital has it all, too.” But wait, there’s more. For $9 a month, a client — or “member,” as PetCoach phrases it — gets up to five veterinary office visits a year, $2 self-washes, $4.99 phone or online consultations, product discounts, lower-priced training, grooming and day care services, and, to cap it all off, a free monthly toy or treat.

That’s quite a lineup. Add to the equation the Petco name and the company’s marketing prowess and you might be saying, “Yikes!”

My view? First, PetCoach is not a game changer, but the rollout is worth keeping an eye on. Second, practices of all types and sizes can and do thrive in today’s veterinary industry.

Before I finish, I have a surprise for you. Turn to Page 50 for the debut of Legal Lingo, a column written by attorney Nicole Snyder. What do you know about noncompete agreements? Does a potential buyer of your practice want you to sign one? Do you want your prospective associate veterinarian to sign one? Legal Lingo, our 18th column, explains it all.

What do you think about PetCoach? What’s your reaction to the news on Page 7 that Long Island University wants to open a veterinary college a year from now? Email me at [email protected] so I can share your comments about these subjects and other trending topics.








Ken Niedziela, editor Protection Status