Using the slogan”the happiest place in the world” might seem ambitious and a very bold statement, but after our visit to Dogcity Daycare, a daycare centre for dogs in Adelaide, I think it is 100% appropriate. After our Be The Drop interview, we saw first hand a workplace that was brimming with happiness and a passion to deliver awesome service for customer of both the two legged and four legged variety.
Dogcity Daycare owners, Alex and Daniel bought the business three and a half years ago, when they were in their mid 20s. With minimal experience at running a business between them, they have turned their love of dogs into two thriving centres for well-adjusted pups of all shapes and sizes, with a third centre on the way!
In today’s episode of Be The Drop, Daniel and Alex talk about the importance of playtime at work, how to motivate and support your staff, and reveal another piece of the puzzle leading us closer to the key to modern storytelling…
A work family.
Dogcity came into Daniel and Alex’s life because of their dog, Fergus; it was his “happy place”. Then when the business came up for sale, Daniel and Alex, who were 26 and 24 at the time, saw immediately that it was something they could do. Amazingly, Dogcity has retained this close family vibe even though it has doubled in size.
“Fergus is our WHY. We want Dogcity to be the ‘home when they’re not at home’ for our dogs.
We employ 23 of the best young people ever. There’s a lot of love, laughter and play here. This is a family. Dogcity has been around almost as long as we’ve been together, so when I bring our 2 year old daughter here, it’s like she’s visiting her other family.”
Trust is something we do really well; we empower our staff, acknowledging where our skills lie and what are theirs.
Head to our Facebook page for more Be The Drop content and behind the scenes videos! Listen to Daniel + Alex’s podcast episode here:
Benefits to the business.
The benefits of this fun, family-orientated attitude to work are far reaching for the business. The dogs are happy, the staff are happy, the clients are happy, and the wider community is happy.
“We don’t get that Sunday night sinking feeling. We’re thinking, “it’s work tomorrow, that’s the best! Weekends are boring! We feel really at home when we’re at work. Isn’t that what small business is all about?”
“There’s more to running a business than money; we can follow a passion within that and take it a step further to give something back. We’re not just about daycare. There’s a bigger purpose. For us, it’s knowing that we’ve contributed to the overall safety of Adelaide’s canine community.”
Here at Narrative Marketing, we also believe in giving back, so enjoy the insights we’re sharing through Be The Drop and keep an eye out for the free marketing and communications tools we’ll be launching soon! (Connect with us on Facebook and LinkedIn so you don’t miss out; follow Be The Drop on Instagram.)
Trust, learn, grow.
Neither Daniel nor Alex had ever run a business before they took on Dogcity, but their skillsets complement each other really well and after just 3.5 years they are planning the launch of a third location.
“You learn every single day. I liken it to the first 4 months of having our daughter; sleep deprivation, and trying to be the very best at something you’ve never done before.”
Storytelling is a huge part of what they do at Dogcity, and every member of staff is included. Each facility has a mobile phone and staff take photos of the dogs throughout the day to text to their owners. Pictures are also uploaded to Instagram and Facebook in a daily album.
But the only thing they sell, says Alex, is the Dogcity experience, and that includes the people behind the business.
All our staff do Dogcity’s social media. They take ownership and feel part of something.
Plus, it doesn’t become sterile, and it allows the different styles and personalities to come across.
Feel the feels.
Personality is what makes each of us unique; it’s an integral part of what makes us human. Brands that are able to convey personality are likely to see that much more success in their storytelling and communications.
It’s not difficult to see the different personalities of Dogcity’s four legged clients as the staff interact with them. And perhaps this is one of the reasons why pet videos and memes are so popular on the internet. Do dogs convey personality better, digitally?
Whatever it is, the “happiest place on earth” feeling is certainly felt by Dogcity’s online following. Alex says:
“People feel a part of the Dogcity experience. Our Dogcity Pack doesn’t start and end with who’s actually in the building.”
When you love what you do, and you’re passionate about what you’re talking about, people listen.
The transition from drop to waterfall.
Hopefully by now, you’ll be familiar with my all new Be The Drop Manifesto, a five step process for communication that drives action.
It was a challenge for Daniel and Alex transitioning from being “the drop” to “the waterfall”, from being single-minded to community-minded. They admit that in the beginning they didn’t realise they needed a community. They were just “head down, bum up”.
“It was when we decided to open location number 2, increasing our staff by 100% and creating a leadership team that we developed a lot more clarity around the direction we wanted to go in. That’s when we found our direction as more than just a dog daycare, and we needed to show that.”
You’re so motivated in the beginning – blinkered – then you look up and realise there’s a whole world of business opportunity around you that’s untapped.
Daniel and Alex realise now how important their community is to them. “Vets, RSPCA, dog trainers… We have a lot to learn from these people. We’re not experts in those fields so we need those good relationships.”
Like Daniel + Alex, the Be The Drop team loves and values its community; thank you for joining us week in week out to share our investigation into modern storytelling. We’re currently developing the insights we’ve gleaned from our guests into a suite of free marketing and communications tools to help you in your business building. (Connect with us on Facebook and LinkedIn so you don’t miss out; follow Be The Drop on Instagram.)
JOIN ME – HELP REDUCE HOMELESSNESS!
Let’s Be The Drop and create a waterfall together! This year, I’ll be participating in the CEO Sleepout to raise money for Vinnies (click here for the Vinnies SA CEO, David Wark, interview blog post) with hundreds of other CEOs and business owners. Community action like this really embodies the spirit of Be The Drop for me. United, we can make a difference; individually, we’re just single drops, but if we work together, we can create a waterfall. I believe passionately in this philosophy and want to live it wholeheartedly, not just talk about it in my podcast.
So, join me in supporting Vinnies and we can change the lives of hundreds of thousands of homeless Aussies. Homelessness is not a choice, but I’m choosing to experience it for just one uncomfortable winter night to raise money to help those people that desperately need it. You don’t need to join me on the soggy cardboard, but you can support my fundraising efforts >> just follow this link to my fundraising page. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Thank you again for tuning in and listening to the BTD podcast. I can’t wait for the next installment to bring you more inspiring people talking about their strategies for connecting with and building a positive community. And if you want more behind the scenes stuff and bits not included in the show, head over to our Facebook page, Instagram or Twitter.
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