Franchise PhilanthropyJanuary/February 2023Previous Issues

Giving Back: Companions for Change

Franchisees play a key role in Pet Valu’s charitable initiatives

By Andrew Schopp

With more than 7.9 million dogs and 8.5 million cats in Canada, it’s easy to see why investing in a pet care franchise is an attractive proposition. For franchisees of Pet Valu, Canada’s largest pet specialty retailer of pet food and pet-related supplies, the rewards of franchise ownership go beyond the profit margins.

When it comes to Pet Valu’s dedication to the well-being of pets, the proof is in the pudding: millions of dollars raised by various fundraising programs and tens of thousands of pets finding their forever homes across Canada.

These results wouldn’t be possible without Pet Valu’s strong network of caring franchisees, explains Tanbir Grover, chief marketing and digital officer at Pet Valu.

“We have something called our Four Paws Service Model. Our first paw is always about safety and our second paw is compassion,” Grover says of the Pet Valu franchise model. “We strive to act from the heart, with genuine care and courtesy. Our franchisees want their customers and neighbours to know that they are bringing people together and making an impact locally that makes a difference.”

The bedrock of Pet Valu’s charitable efforts is the franchise’s work with the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides, a national charity that provides Dog Guides to Canadians with disabilities. The charity pairs Canadians who are blind, visually impaired, deaf, or hard of hearing with Dog Guides, and helps increase the independence of individuals with other disabilities, such as epilepsy, type 1 diabetes, and autism. Service dogs are also employed to help individuals whose movement is impaired.

Pet Valu’s partnership with Dog Guides has grown into, among other things, the annual Pet Valu Walk for Dog Guides, its biggest fundraiser of the year. In September 2022, Pet Valu announced the launch of AutoShip, a subscription-based service enabling devoted pet lovers to automatically receive the pet essentials they need on a recurring schedule of their choice.

Using the new AutoShip program to add to Pet Valu’s support of Dog Guides was an obvious choice, says Grover. The brand was happy to blend the AutoShip program into its charitable arm, Companions for Change.

Since 2010, Companions for Change has raised over $24 million for animal-related charities across Canada. Grover adds that Companions for Change has helped more than 42,000 homeless animals find their forever families. Most recently, Pet Valu donated $250,000 to the North Bay and District Humane Society, which aided in the construction of a new animal adoption and wellness centre.

“The AutoShip program gives our devoted pet lovers a level of convenience in terms of getting their staple items, either picked up in-store or sent to them without having to worry. And then, one of the things that we wanted to lean into was our ‘compassion paw,’ as we call it,” Grover says of the AutoShip program.

“We wanted to make sure that we did something a little bit different that catered to our Companions for Change program. And that was donating $20 worth of Performatrin dog food back to the Dog Guides for every item added to AutoShip subscriptions. We wanted to do something a little bit different that’s collectively better for our community
and would have a better impact from the customer perspective, too.”

Looking ahead, Grover says Pet Valu will continue to look to its franchisees to make giving back to the community a key part of the franchise system’s core values. He adds that one of the great things about the franchise business model is the ability to spread charitable efforts across a vast network of dedicated franchisees.

“Our franchisees are deeply committed to our Companions for Change program. They think it’s a great product differentiator and message differentiator. They see this as value added versus just impacting their margins per se. It gives them the ability to craft their story a little bit more and it gives them more of a personal interest in being able to share the impact that they make.”