It has been awhile since I did a VLOG, but I wanted to be a little more personal. The video is long so you can read the jist of it below.
Time sure flew by, since my last vlog about SR#2, back in 2016. 2019/20 is our last year at this location.
The first 2 years of this current building, was emotionally trying, I hate bringing that up, as a person brought up by tough, hardworking Chinese parents, any sign of weakness, especially emotional, should always be ignored.
Facing this in 2016 helped tremendously, and after facing these facts for 2017 - I soon saw the true financial struggles we, at Sleep Rover faced. I sat down with business minded folk, and of course hired a professional accountant. As noted in the VLOG, the provincial government changes in Employment Wages, took an extra toll on our bottom line. Not only did our wages and stat pays went up almost $25k/year, we also had to not rehire the 3 full time staff whom did not work out. In return, Amanda and I have been overextending our work hours to working, versus creating and improving.
Many have asked recently ‘where has Amanda been’, and although we see her every day, she is working more at the back to help train and elevate our current caregivers.
On top of the increased expenses of Employee Standard changes that all Alberta Small Businesses faced, the gas prices also increased our gas expenses, average $8000/month just in the winter (those huge gaps in the steel doors and high ceilings of this building, really damper our winter bills), to which we spend the summer paying off.
As business has been super busy on the weekdays, our weekends dropped greatly, as noone was travelling as much. We tried doing daycare specials on the weekend, and that did not work out well, as we all, including you all, are trying to save money where you can, due to the economy. At a loss of $5k per weekend, totaling average of $20k a month, these few changes put us more in the red. We took a toll for 2018 into 2019.
In the Spring of 2019, although we had been approached twice in the past to be bought out (HELL NO!), I was so tempted, to sell Sleep Rover, and just pay off all my debts. Being consumed and drowning in debt, is super tough. Borrowing to pay off debt to keep afloat. Where would all our amazing clients go (who will love on your dogs like we do, take all those photos and videos)? What would we do for work?
This is our calling, we must go on, keep going forward.
A majority of Sleep Rover expenses is rent, utility and wages.
As you know, we are a little higher in rates, because you are paying for the convenient location and for the 24/7 staff. You are paying for top quality caregivers.
Recently I have heard that ‘Joyce is mean, Joyce is a nazi boss’ from ex-employees in the industry- haha - and it is true. The girls that stay, and are here, are the best of the best. I have a no excuse rule, which has allowed us to have low vet visits (less than a handful) and altercations at Sleep Rover. The safety and well being of our clients is the most important. That is your ease of mind, that is our standard. Read more.. https://sleeprover.wordpress.com/2018/02/08/why-do-we-do-trial-days-at-sleep-rover-top-3-reasons/
So instead of selling Sleep Rover, and just giving up, I have decided to also take advantage of the poor economy, by finding a new facility, that is more energy efficient (lower ceilings and sealed overhead doors), and of course, a more efficient building in general. A building that allows us to have the pool, separate from the dog daycare, so it can run full time. Have our set up like SR#1, where everything was all in one spot, making it more efficient for our caregivers, and allowing management more time for charitable events, functions, and improvements.
We also have goals to reward those that spend their hard earned money at Sleep Rover. In the video I thank those long time clients, that even without a dog, they still support us by sharing our sales, buying human gear, or those that move far away, and still come in to buy from us (dog food, dog apparel)! Even the clients that live as far as Edmonton, to drive south to use our facility. We thank you. We understand, especially at a time of a tough economy, that your hard earned money means a lot to us.
I also mentioned the phone call I got in July from a long time client Margaret that made my day, that kept me focused. She has used our services since we first started out, firstly with her son’s dog. The call came as a surprise, when she said ‘Joyce, you are not charging me enough. How are you charging me $40/day for daycare and only $65/night for overnight?’ Trust me, I never get those calls. She demanded I charge her for 2 full days, being a retired lady. ‘YOU NEED TO MAKE MONEY’. I just cannot fathom increasing our rates anymore, but reassures me, that our clients, do understand our struggles and value.
After all the years of increasing rates, the gas rates and employee rates just consumed all those goals to be profitable, which gave me huge guilt for all our Sleep Rover clients. The emails out to you all, from 2016 and 2017 that said, ‘oh these rate increases will get us out of the red’ - turned out false with the increase in rent, utilities and government employee changes just like that. It is so hard to smile and say ‘things are great’, to you all, when they are not.
I know all Small Business owners understand, how little changes, can make a huge impact. Even ONE no show, might just be $40 for the one day, for those that say ‘oh sorry, I forgot, but it is just one dog’ - that $40 turns into $1200/month - and that helps pay for utilities. To you, it is just your one dog, to us, it is a portion of our expenses, not paid, putting us further in red. I understand people ‘forget’, or things change, is why we always smile, and say ‘that is okay’. Please do know, your spot, could have been taken, by another client. We just ask, if you wish to last minute cancel, please do not prebook, or be considerate, and pay for that spot. We do not strictly implement the ‘pay ahead of time’ rule, because there is only a handful of clients that cancel last minute.
Our next 5 years, we hope to pay off debt and get ahead. Reducing rent and utility payments and maximizing our current set up potential.
In the meantime, we started July 2019 a reward program on your account via GINGR. Save these rewards, as the point system will be more generous by July 2020. We want to thank all those have chosen to spend their hard earned money on us. The more you spend, the more you get back.
We also want to adjust to our lowered weekend traffic effective September 1st, 2019, by limiting our Front Desk Hours from 7am to 7pm on Saturday and Sunday to 9am to 5pm, till things pick up again on the weekends. Staying open at the Front Desk for 2-3 clients, does not justify our hours.
We appreciate all your support and suggestions over the years, during this up and down SR#2. We hope SR#3 will be the balance we need, as I learn from the mistakes and move forward, versus surrender.
As it is tough to get extra funds with so much debt, we are in the financial approval stages for the potential move to SR#3. We are excited for this journey and want to make you all proud, all together, knowing we will not sacrifice the care of your dog.
Please address any ideas, suggestions or concerns directly to me, at firstname.lastname@example.org.