Wednesday, July 23

The doggie daycare business.

I feel like I have updated this so much in the past couple of weeks. Probably because I'm pissed off about a lot of things, and this is an outlet for me to vent. A lot of my anger comes out in here, and I suppose that is something that this can be used for, so here goes...yet again.

I have worked with dogs almost all my life. I worked at a vet's office when I was 15 up until I moved to college when I was 18, and I've been working for one of Atlanta's first and best dog daycares since I was 19. More often than not, the job offers flexible hours and scheduling which always was important when I was in school; plus I love dogs, the laid back environment, and (usually) the people I work with. Well, I'm not in school anymore, and being stuck catering to dogs and their horrible parents pretty much sucks. So much so that I can't even think of a better word besides "sucks" to describe what it is like to work there. It sucks. Sucks. SUCKS.

I'd like to give a big shoutout to all the dogs' parents who think I have no human emotion or feeling. Because of you, I usually go home in a surly mood and generally pissed off at the world. Now, I've worked up front now for two years, answering phones, selling retail, working at the computer, and dealing with customers that I never thought could top each other in terms of rudeness; lo and behold, they never fail to prove me wrong. Granted, there are a handful that certainly make my day every time they come in. However, the case seems to be that more and more people take pleasure in ruining my day than do in improving it.

Let it be said that there is a very particular demographic for "doggie daycares". Our biggest customers are singles and young couples without children who have a disposable income or older people who have retired well. Every now and then we get a typical Decatur family who brings the family dog in to play once every couple of days. Those usually are the best customers, the nicest ones, the ones who always smile at you, look you in the eye, make it a point to NOT be chatting away on their cell phones. Unfortunately for us, those are not our main customers. Anyways, it is glaringly obvious that the kind of people who, in a crumbling economy, will pay $22 for their dog to come run around with other dogs for a couple of hours really aren't struggling for money. How ironic that I see these people every day stroll in every day giving me their dog with one hand and balancing their Kate Spade purse with the other without so much as a "thanks". God knows I'm struggling, and if I had an extra $20 on hand, it sure as hell would not go for my dog to go play. It's called walking your dog...or even a dog park...these are not new concepts.

Anyways, I don't know what it is about the company that makes people think that it is totally A-OK for them to be utter and complete assholes to the staff. Maybe it's because it is a fairly relaxed environment; we all wear matching t-shirts and jeans, no one is in full makeup, and I'll be the first to admit, sometimes I come in with a small case of bedhead. Does that mean it is cool with me if you treat me like I'm the neighborhood kid, coming to walk your dog for $5 and a piece of candy? Nope. It's not. I'm working full time just like you are, and while I may not be in corporate America, it is still my job, and I have to go if I want to survive, even if it means dealing with people like you.

And you know what? I'm friendly to you when you walk in. I greet you in a friendly manner, ask you if I can help you with anything, greet your dog by name, show you how to work our nifty little Starbucks machine. I let your brat-ass kids pick up the dog toys and throw them across the store, and I make sure to go back when you leave and re-organize every little thing they fucked up. I go out of my way to try and find a way to squeeze you in even if we are completely booked for boarding or grooming. Sometimes I nearly trip myself trying to get to a ringing phone, just so your call won't go to voicemail. Even when I'm having a horrible, no good, very bad day, I make sure to put a smile on, just so you can feel welcome and like we appreciate your business.

And what is the thanks that I get in return? You being a total pretentious, stuck-up asshole. I have a life too and -gasp- feelings just like a real person. Do you think I like getting up at 6 every morning, just so I can come open the store so you can bring your dogs in right at 7 o'clock? Do you think I enjoy being underpaid, strolling into work with a degree that I am very proud of under my belt, only to not even crack $11/hour? Do you think I like it when you bitch at me about daycare/boarding/grooming prices even though I have no control over what you are being charged for? No. I don't. In fact, I hate it. A whole hell of a lot. But I'm too uncoordinated to be a stripper and not slick enough to be a drug dealer, so looks like in the interim, this will have to do.

Now, like I have said, we do have some regular customers that, especially around holidays, will go out of their way to make it known how much they appreciate us. Whether it be bringing us all lunch or tipping well when they pick up, these people do make all those horrible days better (much appresh, Scout's mom). They make sure they know your name which, in a company where about 75% of the customers don't know who you are, makes a huge difference (hi, Bongo's mom). Some even make sure they know your dog's name; those are my favorite (thanks, Tucker's dad and Phoebe's mom). And then there are some that come in (hello, Gozer's dad) that are just nice to look at. Unfortunately, these people are few and far between.

This morning I had a woman accuse me of sitting on my ass all day because I did not answer her phone call at 7:40 this morning in which she was going to tell - not ask, tell - me that her dog was coming in for grooming today. Well, lady, our groomer is off today, and if you would have been patient and called back one more time, maybe you would have saved yourself the trip and inconvenience of driving to our store and discovering that we would not be able to give your ugly little dog a complete groom until next week. And no, I was not sitting on my ass doing nothing. I was making sure all the dogs had filtered water because, hey, funny thing, lightning struck a water purification plant last night, and all the water in Dekalb County was contaminated until about two o'clock this afternoon. You're right, I should be so sorry that I was not rushing to answer the phone. And guess what? Don't tell me you are a "great customer and a good tipper" because I know for a fact the past three times you have come in for a groom, you have refused to pay full price because you think it is too much; our groomer works on commission, so I'm pretty damn sure she isn't jumping at the bit to squeeze you in.

Also, a note to people who call the day before a holiday and expect us to have room for their dog to board: I don't care if you are one of our best customers, although I guarantee you aren't. I don't care if you have been coming to us for years because I'm pretty sure by "years", you actually mean off-and-on for a handful of months. And I really don't care if it is "unacceptable" to you that we don't have room for your dog because, to me, it is pretty unacceptable that you are calling the day before a major holiday to make arrangements that you should have been making weeks ago.

And to every customer that feels the need to point out the fact that a new dog daycare has opened up about a mile away from us and that we now have "competition" - yes, I am fully aware of this new store. I am also fully aware that I do not give a shit where you take your business, especially if you are a complete and utter jackass to the staff every time you come in. Please, I implore you to go take your business there. It would make my life a lot easier.

I wish I could hand this post out to every customer that comes in because then they would know how less inclined I am to help them when they are belittling me either on the phone or in front of me. However, I probably would be fired, so in the meantime, I will just keep biting my tongue and growing more passive-aggressive by the day, all for the sake of keeping a job in a country where they are falling off by the day.



Sean said...

Inconsiderate customers make you wonder how much love their dogs receive at home, huh?

We're at Reynoldstown or Midtown every Thursday. We don't frequent the Decatur location very often, but if you see Otto with his dad, be sure to say hi.

I hope you have a better day today.

Anonymous said...

That was great! Have you considered making a living writing?

I own a doggie daycare so, maybe it was just me laughing out loud.



Anonymous said...

Hi! I own a dog daycare...I can sympathize! I feel really grateful to have good, caring customers. But then again, they are talking to the owner every time they come in. It will be very interesting to see how they start treating my younger employees. Don't you wish you could wear a shirt that says, "I have a such-and-such degree" ? I post the bios including degrees and such for all of our staff, including myself. I think it helps to brag a bit so that people won't begin to think they are above you... ;)

Hang in there and just remember that you are giving a bunch of innocent dogs a much better life.


Anonymous said...

I manage a daycare/boarding and I feel your pain and I actually dread going to work.It's not the dogs it's the owners and the owners of my business.Bravo! for telling the truth behind the scenes.

IfYoureFeelingSinister said...

Omg, you have pretty much described my own workplace. Because it is part of a corporate chain, I cannot disclose where..but know someone out there feels your pain and fustration.

Anonymous said...

Here's a thought - quit your job. If I owned that facility, I would HOPE to find this post & fire you. It's hard enough to run a small business without ungrateful employees who don't give a shit about the business working for you & NOT knowing it. I feel sorry for unknowing owners of this facility, for the well-meaning customers who spend their money there & especially for you. Quit. Save us all the drama.

meghanyea said...

To everyone above, thank you all. Words of encouragement, even if they are just splayed on a small computer screen, always are helpful, and I take them all to heart.

To the last comment, I would not be surprised if you were one of the customers I'm referring to.

If you didn't catch the part where I said I love the dogs, love the environment, love who I work with...go back and read it. Thoroughly, please.

I do give a shit about my job; obviously, that's why I'm still there even after numerous horrible experiences with so-called "well-meaning" customers.

The owner of my facility is great. He knows our frustration with customers, and he goes out of his way to deal with them personally when they are jerks. Obviously, this doesn't stop them from being complete assholes to the staff who deal with them on an everyday basis. However, I am proud to work for him and for what he stands for.

It is people just like you who don't get it. The people we cater to make this business, which has potential to be so fun and rewarding, stressful and miserable instead.

Look above and read all the comments from dog daycare customers, owners, and workers alike. Treat people like they are human, like they are just like you, just trying to make a living taking any job we can in a horrible economy. That's all we are asking, and if that makes us ungrateful, so be it.

Anonymous said...

I'm thinking about opening a doggy daycare and boarding facility in my area, and I came across your blog post. Thank you - it gives a different perspective of what CAN be expected from the customer base. Of course, there can and will be asshole customers in any business or field, and as a potential business owner and employer, I feel like I can anticipate what might happen, and can come up with a plan as to how to deal with it before it becomes an issue.