Tom and Toto, the dog walking and doggy day care provider based in Norwich, recently won Small Business of the Year at the EDP Business Awards 2023

“It means a lot personally,” said owner Sarah Wright, who started the business in 2013 as a solo dog walker. “It’s wonderful to put a marker at 10 years and reflect on how far it’s come.” 

Sarah, who now employs 23 members of staff and offers day care for 33 dogs a day and walks for more than 200 dogs a week, added: “I’m thrilled for my team. They work hard every day to ensure the dogs thrive and their owners receive the best service.”  

How did Sarah go about expanding the business over the last 10 years? 

“When I started out on my own, I would say yes to a wide range of pet care services from overnight pet sitting, to wedding chaperone, even pet visits for some hand-reared meerkats once! 

“As the company grew and I recruited amazing people, we have honed our offering to be the local experts in dog care. 

“We continued our commitment to raising the bar in pet care and to give that ‘extra-special’ feeling to our clients, who in turn began recommending us” she said. 

Expanding the business is still ongoing, and Sarah has many goals. She will be launching Tom and Toto’s first dog grooming salon at the end of January and home boarding services in the second quarter of the year. 

Eastern Daily Press: Tom and Toto offers day care for dogs as well as dog walksTom and Toto offers day care for dogs as well as dog walks (Image: Tom and Toto)

Sarah plans to secure a second daycare centre to the south of the city this year, and open further daycares across East Anglia over the next five years.  

None of the expansion of the business could have happened without her loyal members of staff. “My team are extremely important. My clients love my team and trust them with their dogs,” she said. “It’s really important to me that they work somewhere they love.”  

Sarah ensures everyone stays in touch throughout the day, especially those working by themselves walking dogs. Staff meetings are held once a month and social events take place regularly. 

Sarah’s customers are another reason behind the rise of Tom and Toto. “The relationship with our customers is a huge part to our success,” she said. “We have known some of them for six or seven years. We have a trustful relationship with them, which is essential when caring for their dogs.”  

Word of mouth has also helped grow the business, with many clients recommending Tom and Toto to their friends. 

As well as offering dog walking and day care services, Sarah offers a social club for dog owners. 

They bring their dogs to Tom and Toto every Saturday for their dogs to play in a secure environment. 

Eastern Daily Press: Sarah Wright, owner of Tom and TotoSarah Wright, owner of Tom and Toto (Image: Tom and Toto)

“Something important to me is community,” said Sarah, who also runs free quarterly dog walks for anyone, not just Tom and Toto clients. 

The events are hugely popular, with a Christmas walk at Whitlingham attended by 100 dogs “and their people” said Sarah. 

“It’s a great chance to spend time with the team and dogs can play with their friends,” she added. “New people who would like their dogs to make friends can come along too." 

“I really enjoy organising free local events,” she said. 

Sarah is also behind ‘Dog Friendly Norwich’. Businesses put ‘Dogs welcome’ stickers in their windows and she promotes them to her audience. The Norwich-wide initiative connects dog parents with dog-friendly businesses, making their time in the city easier to navigate. 

“The initiative supports local business owners through this mutually beneficial relationship,” she added. 

It is one of the many ways animal lover Sarah is caring for dogs – and their people. 

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