By Michael Hill
A huge award from the Small Business Administration.
“She’s an incredible story, started with a mini-van and some stuff in the back of the mini-van,” said SBA Acting Regional Director Al Titone.
Dr. Lisa Aumiller is the SBA New Jersey Small Business Person of the Year. She founded HousePaws Mobile Veterinary Service.
“If you love something in your community you 100 percent should be supporting small businesses,” she said.
A vet and team of vets who make house calls within 30 miles of their clinics in Mount Laurel, Atcho and Morrisville, Pa.
“We pretty much have everything we need to do like I said, 80 to 90 percent of most emergencies in the home,” Aumiller said.
Here, Aumiller demonstrates the kind of service HousePaws delivers in customers’ homes, businesses or where pets feel comfortable. Jessica Marter’s family is a long-time customer. She’s also the administrator of HousePaws Hospital.
“I enjoy the convenience of it because I do have two young children,” Marter said.
“The pet never leaves its own environment, which honestly makes assessment much better. It makes the comfort level for both the owner and the pet much better,” Aumiller said. “I like to say we’re like the Starbucks of the veterinary hospital, but people do what good service. People want Chick Fil-A, Disney, Starbucks sort of service. you don’t get treated like some places treat you in many situations. This is one of those situations where a normal person can have a service that feels like a luxury service when it’s really not a luxury service.”
HousePaws includes a hospital and clinic offers surgery and basic services.
The doctor says James Herriot’s books inspired her to become a vet. A philosophical disagreement with an employer inspired her to create HousePaws.
“I think he said, ‘You’re going to do what I say because I’m the boss’ and I said, ‘You’re not my boss. The client’s our boss,’ If the client’s not happy neither one of us are making out,” Aumiller said.
Aumiller says that’s what drives her business — listening to her clientele and her employees. It’s led to — among other things — a memorial garden where she pets “Sponge Bob.”
Aumiller says there are no hidden charges for mobile service, just $25 for each pet on top of the charge for care.
“I would say 80 percent of what we do is mobile,” she said.
In seven years, HousePaws has grown to nine vans, nearly 60 employees and now three locations come June but with no paid advertising.
“I say where did you hear of us? In the bar and I’m like, ‘Bar talk! That’s cool!’ I had a lady tell us she was at the gynecologist’s office and there were talking during her gynecological exam. That’s cool!,” Aumiller said.
The doctor says she started the business with no money and her marketing director simply walked the street telling the public. Now this small business is big business in veterinary care.
“If great customer service makes us a great business, then I hope all businesses see that and that’s what they strive for,” she said.