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A Boutique Expands to Include Doggie Daycare Which Prompts Neighbors to Complain About Barking

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Jennifer smiled at the sight of her friend Tina taking the first group of dogs out for a walk. The small dogs bounced and spun around with excitement, and Tina had a hard time untangling their leashes as she walked out the door. The remaining five dogs in the playpen barked as they saw their friends leave, and Jennifer walked over to calm them.

ABOUT REAL DEAL

Real Deal is a fictional scenario designed to read like real-life business events. The businesses and people mentioned in this story should not be confused with actual pet businesses and people.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

LINDA LIEBRAND is a former marketing manager for a successful doggie spa and boutique who is now helping others promote their local pet businesses. She writes about pet biz marketing at mybrandbuddy.com and can be reached at linda@ mybrandbuddy.com

“Hang on guys; it’s your turn soon!”

She beamed as she took in the scene. The play area for the dogs looked just perfect: The walls were a pale shade of pink, and she’d put up Victorian-style doggie portraits framed with just enough sparkle to match the rest of her boutique. The dogs could lounge in luxurious armchairs or play with toys from her shop in the spacious pen.

This was such a great idea, she thought. The customers of her doggie boutique had asked her about doggie daycare for ages, and joining forces with her friend Tina, the dog walker, was the perfect solution.

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Two weeks into their operation, and Jennifer was already seeing an increase in sales, not just from the daycare fees, but the dog parents couldn’t resist buying a treat or toy for their babies on their way out. She knelt down to pet Leo the Dachshund when she heard the doorbell jingle.

A police officer stepped in and walked straight to the checkout counter.

“Are you the owner of this store? A Jennifer ….” He paused and tried to find her name.

Jennifer stood up and met him at the counter. “Yes, I’m Jennifer Williams. How can I help?”

This couldn’t be good news, she thought and met his gaze.

“I’m here to investigate a complaint about nuisance barking,” the officer continued, and as if on cue, the dogs kicked it up one notch. Jennifer tried to shush them, and the man frowned.

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“I guess that’s the noise we’ve been getting calls about,” he said and scribbled a note in his notepad. Jennifer groaned inwardly and wondered who might have called to complain.

Her boutique was near some residential houses, but her closest neighbors were other businesses. Honestly, she hadn’t thought that the small dogs’ barking could even be heard through the thick walls, but apparently, someone had taken enough offense to complain.

The man handed over a serious looking form and explained that she would get some time to sort out the situation before he came back. Jennifer didn’t dare ask what might happen if she didn’t get the barking under control, but assumed it would involve substantial fines and all sorts of trouble.

As soon as he stepped out the door, she picked up her phone and texted Tina. “Come back quick — we need to talk!” As she tapped send, her head was already spinning with questions.

The Big Questions

  • How can Jennifer best solve the immediate problem with the barking?
  • How can she best communicate the problem to her clients?
  • How can Jennifer keep the doggie daycare in her shop so close to a residential area and maintain good neighborhood relations?

Real Deal Responses

Karen C. Delavan WI

This is a problem a few local businesses have come up against in our area. The business was/is required to go before the City Council before any changes to the business were made. Owners were given conditional use as a test run to prove they could minimize the noise from the barking dogs and not intrude on the neighbors in this residential neighborhood. Strict hours of operation were imposed to preempt early morning or late night issues. Business owners should ALWAYS check with the village, town, city they live in before making any big changes, including signage, lighting and services. “I didn’t know” won’t work with most municipalities.

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Nancy G. Fredericksburg, VA

Before I opened my shops, I talked to my neighbors and let them know the type of business I own. I explained that we have adoption suites in our stores and that we have grooming. I explained where I planned on having our adoption suites and where our grooming salon was located in our stores and told them I’d do everything in my power to make sure the barking and noises didn’t effect their business. I asked they to let me know if they ever heard noises coming through the walls that caused a disturbance in their business. We added soundproofing on one side of our second location as it’s next to a chiropractor and we did t want them to hear any barking. Communication is key. There’s nothing worse than an angry neighbor.

Dain H. Ketchum, ID

She could perhaps try to install some soundproofing along her walls in the store. It might also be worth discussing the matter with her immediate neighbors, ask them how much it bothers them and see if a compromise could be reached. Perhaps she just needs to limit the amount of dogs that can be in her daycare at any one time.

Christine D. Harrisburg, NC

Jennifer can address the barking issues immediately by perhaps reconfiguring her shop/boutique layout. By putting the daycare portion at the far end of the shop that does not share a wall with the neighbors, she may be able to cut down what neighboring businesses hear. To continue good relations with neighbors, I would invite them over to boutique, for visits. Ensure our dog daycare hours coincide with when people come home from work. In other words, no daycare after 6 p.m., for example. I would also casually inquire with my business neighbors if they are experiencing anything they may consider a nuisance.Lastly, location, location, location, in Harrisburg, NC a dog daycare has to be located in a light industrial area. So having residences close by is not an issue.

Dawn T. Vero Beach, FL

Jennifer can best solve the immediate problem with the barking by adding additional toys and soothing music and by hiring additional staff to entertain or walk the dogs. She can best communicate the problem to her clients by creating a memo and handing one to each client when they come to pick up their dogs. Jennifer can maintain good neighborhood relations by inviting her neighbors into her store, having an open house and offering a discount for their dogs whether it be on toys or services.

Kristina R. Falls Church, VA

Hire more staff so that pups can be engaged and not bored. Go to each business beside her and ask if they can hear the dogs, if their business is suffering due to the barking, if there is anything else that may be disturbing to them. Many times, just showing you are concerned about how they feel will rectify potential quibbles.

Kristen F. San Antonio, TX

I have read somewhere that someone had a similar situation and what they had done was put noise-reducing things on the wall like thick blankets.

Angela P. Stratford, CT

Jennifer made a huge mistake by expanding her business without checking zoning regulations, consulting her attorney, and asking questions. Simply being motivated by dollars is not the way to approach the pet care business. Of course neighbors are going to complain, and other businesses that have gone through the correct steps for opening up their businesses should be upset too. The barking problem could be for many reasons … anxiety, space issues, excitement, or just the having dog breeds on site that bark a lot. Keeping the dogs quiet is not the answer to this problem, having them in the right environment may. Once consulting with the city or her attorney, she must communicate to her clients a plan to change the structure of the day care/ boutique business if possible or refer clients to her dog walker if the day care is not allowed. Transparency is always the best rule when dealing with clients especially since she will still need good relations with them to continue her boutique business if the daycare doesn’t work out.

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