Animal Angels – investing in new IT equipment

Need someone to look after your cat, dog or even horse? Then iwoca customer Animal Angels may be the business for you.

16 March 2020

For pet owners, going on holiday isn’t as simple as booking flights and shutting the door behind you. Instead, finding a home for your furry friends while you’re away poses a problem, and having peace of mind that they’re being well looked after can make or break your holiday.

28 years ago, iwoca customer Stephen Dennis made the leap to become his own boss – opening a pet shop with his wife, Sharman. After discovering a growing demand for pet sitting services, he decided to pivot the business.

“My wife and I both worked for IBM and as part of their downsizing they had to start making people redundant,” says Stephen. “I’d been there 15 years and I decided that perhaps the time was right to go into business myself.”

“We opened a pet shop, but Animal Angels started because our customers were coming in to us and saying, “Do you know anybody that would look after a rabbit, a dog, a cat, even a horse?” It became very clear that there was a need for that sort of care. We named it with some friends over a glass of wine.”

How iwoca helped Animal Angels grow

For Stephen, iwoca has helped him to invest in the longevity of the business. It has helped them to:

  • Invest in new IT equipment
  • Develop their website
  • Help manage cash flow during slow periods

“An awful lot of small businesses in the UK have struggled recently, especially those linked to the travel industry. This year, things have been a lot slower than in the past but iwoca has helped us with our cash flow, enabling us to invest in new IT equipment and the development of a mobile-friendly website. It’s been the most successful way of borrowing money we’ve experienced and I would recommend the process.”

Taking the leap of faith

Stephen was excited by the change from corporate entity to small business. His love of animals drives him to provide a high-quality, nationwide service that allows pets to stay in their own homes while their owners are away.

“Animals get incredibly stressed when they go into catteries and kennels. Although we do earn money out of the business we’re still actually helping the animals which is what it’s all about.”

Trustworthy pet sitters

If you’re a pet owner, then you’ll know that leaving them with strangers isn’t a decision that’s taken lightly. While family and friends are often the first port of call, this luxury isn’t available to everyone. Matching the right sitter and pet is a carefully thought out process designed to meet the needs of all involved.

“All of our sitters have had animals for 20 years of their life,” says Stephen. “They are assigned depending on what sort of animals they’ve had and how experienced they are with them. For example, we wouldn’t match somebody who’s only had cats with a horse client.”

“We have numerous interviews and meetings with clients and sitters, and also get them to provide professional and personal references.”

And it’s clearly a system that works, as Animal Angels have customers who have been with them since the beginning – for over 20 years.

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Dan is part of the content team at iwoca. He writes articles explaining financial topics, as well as guides on the best support for small businesses during coronavirus.

Article updated on: 4 August 2020

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