When we say “family-owned and operated,” we mean it in every sense of the word. Julia Hoagland is the 15-year-old manager of Besties Pet Wash, now serving residents in and around Whitehall, MT.
Opening a self-serve pet wash with an automated Evolution Dog Wash machine is an entirely new concept in this small town of just over 1,000 residents. There’s nothing else like it around. “We thought that our community and the travelers throughout Montana would appreciate having a place to wash their pets,” says the high school freshman. “We get customers coming from surrounding cities [like Butte and Anaconda] all the time.”
With their sights set on opening additional locations, Julia and her family wanted a recognizable name for the business. “We thought Besties was perfect for our pet wash because I know my dog is my bestie,” says Julia, speaking of 3-year-old Oakley, the family’s German Shorthaired Pointer. “She is good about taking her baths at Besties!”
Situated right off I-90 in south-west Montana, Besties is located in the parking lot of the A&W restaurant. Julia and her family are friends with the owners of the restaurant. “If you take the exit off the highway, you cannot miss us,” she says. “We are renting the land at a good price and A&W likes the fact that they see more business for them as well. It’s a great location with good traffic all day long!”
In their due diligence, Julia’s family researched other pet wash options. “We looked at several different types of washes and thought the Evolution Dog Wash suited the brand that we were looking for,” Julia explains. “The machine looks better than any other wash and the warranty of three years on parts and 10 years on the tub gave us confidence in our investment. The fact that they are made in the USA was also very important to my Dad and me!”
An all-American teen at heart, Julia spends most of her free time with her horses and doing rodeo. (In addition to her dog and horses, Julia also has a cat, Steve.) “I’m in high school and pretty much do every sport—including track, basketball, and volleyball,” she says. Plus she’s learning the ins and outs of entrepreneurship and running a business—skills that would be valuable for any teenager!
From getting the pet wash started to running the business, it’s a family affair. “My dad built most of the shed and we needed to hook to the city sewer and water,” says Julia explaining the process. “We also had to hook to the power line that was close by. We wanted to build this first class and did not want to have to put any more money into this project other than the time to clean the dog house.”
Julia’s primary responsibility as manager is keeping the pet wash clean and tidy for customers. “It’s very simple to clean, I get all the pet hair out, disinfect the unit, and clean the windows and glass. It only takes about 10 minutes to do the job,” she says. “Sometimes it takes longer depending on the use and if I am doing a more thorough clean and washing the walls and floors, that could be around 30 minutes.” When she needs technical support, she calls in her Dad for backup.
In addition to keeping the wash looking spic and span, Julia handles all social media marketing for the business, sharing updates and photos with their followers. You can find Besties Pet Wash on Facebook and Instagram. They also have plans to partner with their friends at A&W, giving customers the chance to buy tokens for the pet wash with the purchase of a meal. “Our tokens offer $5.00 off our wash and it is a great way to introduce our wash to new customers,” says Julia.
The weather in Montana can certainly be unpredictable, which is why Besties is located in an enclosed building. “As it warms up and the snow starts to melt, it can get quite muddy around here,” says Julia. But Besties provides a nice space for “customers to wash their dogs instead of bringing home a muddy mess.”
When asked about the business model and why customers love Evolution Dog Wash, Julia says, “It’s easy for customers to use and owners to maintain…plus the soap is high-quality and biodegradable, so you are getting a high-quality wash at a low cost. And it’s fun!”
Besties Pet Wash is conveniently located at 3 Commercial Way, Whitehall, MT 59759. Customers may use the self-serve pet wash station daily from 6:00am to 10:00pm.