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2020 Dog Walking Wrap Up - Thank You

March, which arrives again in only 3 months, feels like yesterday. I remember our former dog walking Manager calling to tell me about the stay at home order. I thought she was surely mistaken. It was 2 weeks into what was supposed to be a 2 month paternity leave for me. Instead, during one of the most challenging events of my personal life, I worked harder than ever before to secure my staff's positions by initiating work from home - for a group of dog walkers.

We got creative, we worked to improve the business, increased everyone's training, stayed prepared, and secured financial assistance - most unexpectedly from client contributions. Though everyone was forced to use up all existing paid leave, not a soul missed a paycheck. It is my proudest achievement in 2020, and one of the best of the last decade. But it wouldn't have been possible without the support of some amazing dog walking clients.

Our mission statement, which we actually do train from and reference regularly, states that we are in the relationship business. And in moments like that we can see it so clearly. To everyone who supported us during that difficult time and the many months that followed, thank you. We'll never forget it. And thank you to your dogs as well. Every staff member couldn't wait to get back to work. Our work can be so rewarding and healing, and everyone wanted that sense of normalcy back. The first week was filled with excitement and big greetings.

At the height of our troubles we lost over 1/3 of our clients. That's years of blood, sweat and tears wiped out in a few months. We lost 3 out of 12 staff positions through natural attrition that we couldn't combat. But through commitment, dedication, hard work, and stamina, we have regained much of those losses, adding a record number of new clients for that timespan, and trying our damndest to give them the high level of service we normally would, despite everything going on.

While I was able to maintain steady hours for the staff, outside care like pet sitting has dropped significantly with less travel, especially around the holidays. This year we pet sat two dogs in all of December, where we would normally sell out to dozens. Despite that loss in income the staff has held on, and been buoyed by generosity around the holidays from kind hearted client bonuses. Looking ahead, all of the pros on the dog walking staff feel secure in their jobs, happy to be here, and prepared. It feels like most major new challenges might actually be behind us, or at least we've built up resilience to whatever comes next.

I'd like to applaud my staff that were with me through the last year, during our internal Ready For More campaign. Molly Goldman, who is a natural born leader, Erick Perez, who flew up to the top our our organization when we needed it, Justin Hill, who's always been a rock, Lauri Green, who's worked harder than anyone before her outside of work to perfect her craft and become a trainer, Stephanie Birdsell, who is always eager to help and who fills the workplace with positivity daily, Becky Stanton, a consummate professional who's been marvelous from day 1, and Shannon Greene, our newest member, who despite a year of experience elsewhere has worked each day to learn and progress wonderfully in line with our value of continuous improvement. Thank you to all of you, and well done.

We look forward to serving all our new professional dog walking clients in 2021.


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