[00:00:00] Hi, everybody. Hey, this is the first podcast for 2024 that we are recording. I’m excited about it. I know we had a couple of episodes that have already played to start off 2024, but 100 percent I’m excited about this podcast today where we get to talk to some of the greatest people in the industry.
On the source, all things working dogs. Right. But I thought it would be appropriate to start off the year in a new direction for this podcast. And as we discussed and do planning, like we always do this year and even the direction of this podcast, I’m excited to see where this is actually going to go. So, I got the four best people that I can think of to come on here and give some perspective because I think. When we get into the weeds of what we do on a day to day basis, we lose perspective of how much goes into what we do on a day to day basis. And I say [00:01:00] this all the time, if you only knew what went on in the background to make this operation happen, it would probably sway you away from being in this industry.
But when you have some great people that you work around every single day that put in the effort that they put in to make it great and really to make it look easy, uh, it’s a blessing to be able to sit back and watch it. So as we jump into this episode, I want to introduce a few people. Hunter Warwick.
Director of operations, Maya Simpson, manager of marketing and marketing manager, Simon Sakaki, what’s your title again? I’m just joking. Head trainer and Debra Clark, kennel master. But these are the guys that make this really look easy. This is the brains behind the operation. You know, a lot of times I sit back and just watch them do their thing.
And it’s just really, [00:02:00] truly amazing to see. So we’re going to discuss some things as. Our listeners going into the new year maybe they’re new at this or they’re looking to get into this. There’s a lot more that goes on in the background that you realize. So I want to talk about some things planning wise, some things that we’ve done wrong.
Everybody likes to present themselves as perfect online. Absolutely not. We all have shortfalls including CCU and there’s always things that we can work on and I think Simon and I were talking about this last night. About how good it is to recognize your shortfalls so that you can work on them and self assessments are very important.
So, uh, although we don’t have a process per se on this podcast on who’s going to talk first or whatnot, I’ll kind of go around the room and post some questions and we’ll discuss, um, and I’ll start off a little bit about kind of what I go [00:03:00] into. Leading into the new year,
about in September, I began to look at and evaluate data, evaluate data on several different fronts, one of which is financial, one of which is from a marketing standpoint and data from that division. Then I began to look at the courses and also dogs. And inventory that we have on stock, how much we sold for the year and began to plan out and map out what some projections may be for the 2024 for the next year coming up.
I then also begin to think about things that we’ve done good this year or the previous year and I begin to process that and then I begin to think about new ideas that I may have seen either, you know, I’m not scared to say it stealing ideas from other people. Or taking ideas and modifying those. And then I get into conversations.
And most [00:04:00] times, most people don’t know I’m having conversations for very specific reasons. I’ll post questions to them just in conversation, so it’s pretty informal. And I begin to compile, I take notes on what they tell me. And I, Begin to write these notes down so that I can go back and reflect them. And then in December, I take all that stuff.
And I began to plan out and look at the upcoming year and new ideas and things that I feel that we need to do, uh, to, I won’t say push us to the next level, but more so things that I want to do differently or things that I think that we have failed at or things that we can do better. And that comes down to processes, that comes down to finances, that comes to every aspect of what we do here, which includes, again, inventory, training, and the kennel and overall operations.
Then I reflect back on what my notes were for the previous year. Did I meet the mark? Where did I [00:05:00] fail? Where did I not stay on a path to, towards success? So that’s kind of what I do in a nutshell. I’ll get , into each topic more deeply as I begin to go around the room and talk to each of you guys so that you guys can also share.
So, as we go into 2024 guys, , Simon, can you give me some challenges that you faced? In the training area in 2023, and maybe some things you want to overcome in 2024 based on those challenges.
Uh, yeah, so, , as far as training division goes, I think our biggest challenge has been, Staffing, , me and you, we’ve lost a lot of staff and as much as I do like working with you AJ and us kind of just being a duo out there. I mean, we, we get it done either way. I want to be able to introduce more people to this field and introduce more people to this team [00:06:00] so we can grow what we have over here.
Gainesville. So, um, we’ve taken some steps towards that. I think, , In December, we kicked off our apprenticeship program, which is, from my understanding, something brand new that we haven’t offered before, which is a two year program to get individuals that are interested in the field, , an opportunity to work with us and also, , learn under us, , and receive the certificates to become kennel masters and, uh, full service trainers.
And After those two years have that opportunity to actually come on, come on board with us as a full time employee. so that’s something we’ve been kind of dealing with as far as our staffing issues, which a lot of it just relates to, you know, there’s not a lot of trainers in our area. And for us to pull trainers.
They got to move [00:07:00] across state lines. And for a lot of them, as much as they want to come here and work with us, you know, they have family and other things, other priorities that they need to tend to, so they can’t make that commitment to us. So being able to recruit from within our own area is going to be a huge, uh.
Game changer for us in the training division and being able to mentor individuals and kind of grow them and mold them into, , the expectations that CCU has for their trainers and what our, , clients, , expect from us. Yeah, absolutely. You know, the hardest thing because we’re in such a niche industry.
And our requirements, even for trainers, it’s hard to find people that meet those standards. And even though you have certified trainers or you have trainers that have some experience, you know, unfortunately we do some things very specific ways here. And [00:08:00] even when we get knowledgeable trainers, we still take six to eight months to train them.
to do the things that we we do here. And it’s not to say that we do things any better than anybody else. We just do things a very specific way that works for us. And that’s a hardship. You know, it’s hardship to find people that fit into the team as well because we Literally enjoy working around each other.
We pick at each other. We joke around, we spend time together and you know, we also look for other people that fit into that mold as well, because it’s nothing like hanging out with people you don’t like. And so even finding someone that’s qualified, we then consider the fact that are these people that can get along with all of us as well, for one facet or another, and it’s not being judgmental, but the team works because we all get along and That’s an important thing that we want to make sure that we keep [00:09:00] going because I never want to go to work having bad days and not wanting to be around a certain person.
Because I literally enjoy being around everybody that’s here and to include everybody that’s not on this podcast. I can hang out with everybody and I wouldn’t want somebody to feel like they’re an outcast as well. So on top of finding qualified people and getting them trained and doing all that. It’s also finding people that fit into our team as well and get along with everybody.
And that’s an important facet as well. Now, Deb, in the kennel, you know, having, um, entry level people coming in and being introduced into the industry. I know you have also faced, staffing issues, uh, even from that front, even hiring people, you know, from your perspective , what do you find to be the hardest, I guess, the hardest thing on finding qualified people?
What, what, [00:10:00] um, what dilemmas have you faced in 2023?
Definitely the word quality, um, in our area, unfortunately, you pull from a lot of, , just turned high school students or, you know, just out of high school to maybe first or second year of college. We have successfully pulled from colleges before, , people going into that veterinarian field. , for maybe vet tech or vet assistant, and they’re just looking for some extra exposure or experience.
, but then for the most part, you’re pulling for the kennel tech, which would be the most basic entry level position within the company from online. you know, using different avenues online to pull people in who maybe are just looking for a job, not really. Interested in the career [00:11:00] industry aspect.
And so finding the quality of people who are willing and able to work with, potentially more aggressive working dogs has been extremely hard. and then when they do want to come in and work in that environment they’re eager to, once they see how hard it is or potentially dangerous, then they freak out and don’t want to be here anymore.
especially, and I know, , was probably like that when I first started, because I started really at a young age myself. but again, we’re pulling from younger generation people anywhere from that 18 year old to about 23 years old into this position. And unfortunately, I mean, I don’t think that a lot of them, especially.
Most of them being female, are strong enough to mentally handle working with these types of dogs. So that, that’s probably the hardest quality to [00:12:00] find, , and , we’ve all said it, um, but finding a diamond in the rough. from that group is really hard because they have to make it through a probationary period a set amount of time before you know if they’re actually a diamond in the rough or if they’re just another worker who’s gonna make their way out. Yeah, I remember I’m going back many years but I remember and you probably hear it more than I do Deb now obviously because you’re immersed. And in the hiring process, but also in the training of your employees and your staff. but I used to hear it. I thought I was just gonna be able to hang out and play with dogs.
You can, but there’s a very serious side of what we do, not only from the danger of working or being around working dogs, but also the care and treatment of those dogs, both nutritionally and the standards that you have developed in the [00:13:00] kennel and the sanitation side of it and how Can I say this? How anal you are on how they’re going to take care of that dog, which is exactly what we need and we want, right?
Because there’s nothing worse, even with the standards that we have having to call a client and say, Hey, your dog was scratched in our kennel or, you know, this happened or that happened. But imagine if you didn’t have those standards. of sanitation and the care and treatment of every dog. I mean, I’ve seen you take dogs home because they were injured, you know, picking them up from the owners and the owners wanting you and your staff to care for the dogs because they know how well you’re going to take care of them.
I’ve also seen you Communicate with clients that are like, hey, I want you to do this to take care of my dog while they’re there and you accommodating that that’s difficult and it’s difficult to find people that jump on board to understand how [00:14:00] important that is, not just for the dog, but for the reputation that carries through for everybody else.
Yeah, definitely. I agree with all of that. It’s very hard, , to keep those standards. , as well, when you don’t have the proper staff too, so making sure that people get up to that standard or level once they’ve been hired is also very hard to keep, , because, you know, I’m coming, well, this will be sometime in 2024, I’ll be hitting my six years with the company, and most of these, , new employees, at this level don’t make it to six months or a year, So it’s hard to get them to that same level of wanting them to have the standards and that quality of care.
Um, so the, the training, it seems like a lot, all rushed right there at the beginning, , to get to that level. So that I [00:15:00] can be like, hey, my staff is, you know, as, as good as I am, come take this dog. Yeah, because the other element to this is, is clients are trusting you to have fully trained staff that are taking care of their dogs, right?
They don’t see how much work and effort you put into training these guys and girls that come in the door to ensure that they’re trained properly before they’re putting their hands on client dogs and taking care of them while you trust them to be by theirself. You know, I’ve seen you coming in on your time off or, you know, calling in and checking in, Hey, I’m making sure everything’s going okay.
Or even when you went on vacation you’re checking cameras and you’re like, Hey, is everything okay? And we’re telling you to leave us alone. And we had to block you. Um, because we didn’t want you calling us so you can enjoy your vacation. But yeah, absolutely. Like that’s, that’s the back end stuff that [00:16:00] people don’t see in the difficulty.
You just don’t get somebody off the street and say, Hey, here, come, come clean this kennel, right? It’s, it’s a lot more to it than just that, , to include. You know, people being drug free, right? Because you ran into that as well, right? Yeah, that’s one of the biggest problems, I think, probably with this age range, the 18 to 23, but also this generation, we’ve got the laws changing on what amounts are legal of certain things, and, and different states saying everything’s good, so then you have transplants here, in the area, and they’re like, well, I’m used to doing this, I’m used to that, or at least they have stories to tell on.
All the drugs they use. Um, and then even when you’re going through the hiring process, you clearly state to people like, hey, this is some of the training we do here. Yeah, we do work with law enforcement. Because of that, you have to have a drug free area and they say it’s all good. And then we’re spending.[00:17:00]
Test, and test, and test, and test, and people are failing still, , because they forget, you know, certain things stay in your system for quite some time, and that’s unfortunate, but we can’t, we can’t hire them then, and then it’s like, okay, you’ve burned that bridge now, before we’ve even established a working relationship where you’re working for us, where maybe we can say, hey, we’re We can start you when you retest in six months and you’re drug free.
Um, and at that first point, they’ve just initially burned that. So then you go right back into the hiring process again. Only for the same thing to happen the very next person. So, yeah. And I know it’s frustrating. I really do.
Right. With that being said, would you change the standards though? No, I definitely wouldn’t change the standards. Um, personally. I think I, myself, and you know, I won’t get into my [00:18:00] personal problems, but everyone who works with me knows my views on drugs due to my family and that situation, , so I definitely wouldn’t change the standard personally, but just because of the training that we do, I think that you’re going to have to hold even the most basic entry level kennel techs to that level where they have to be drug free.
even if they’re not involved, they’re hearing the training. They’re seeing the training every day when we’re sitting or observing in between walking dogs and things like that. Um, and then even being able to tell someone who’s asking, you know, about the type of training a dog has received, like, Oh yeah, they’ve been an explosives detection dog or a narcotics detection dog.
And because of that type of training, this is why we. You know, have a drug free workplace. So I think it is a standard that has to stay,, or keep being upheld. Well, I appreciate that. You [00:19:00] know, we, we haven’t like literally had this come up as far as me posing that question to you. So it’s refreshing to hear that, you know, you also believe in that, in that standard too, and yes, we know personally on some things, but sometimes I think we get into a bit of a bond and Simon and I have talked about this from the training standpoint, like.
You know, what do we do to get qualified people? And he came up with the idea on the apprenticeship program, right? To kind of groom somebody from ground up that wants to be in this industry, but maybe can’t. Pay out of pocket for their training, but are willing to put in some work. They get a salary or reduced salary in order for us to teach them and train them and mold them and all that.
So there’s benefits to both sides, but coming up with innovative ideas like that to help you find qualified staff, because you just can’t go to your local college and get trained as a kennel tech or a trainer and be ready to hit the workforce, at [00:20:00] least not in. And us and even trainers that we train, it takes us six months to get them operational because it’s, there’s a lot of variables we deal with in this industry that people don’t realize.
And at the end of the day, the clients depend on people being qualified, people that are safe with their dogs and for nothing else, it’s important that we give them that and, and not to mention the, the hazards to somebody that’s intoxicated and one of these dogs. You know, happens to get a hold of them and they’re not in the right frame of mind.
The safety for themselves and for others that are around them is so important. But I can speak from experience. I’ve talked to other business owners. I’ve talked to other managers and everybody in the workforce deals with the same thing. Like from law enforcement to the medical field to it’s just, it’s very difficult right now for all of us to.
[00:21:00] to find quality people that that really want to do this and we would be willing to put in the work and you do. I mean, your training programs phenomenal. What you put these people through like it’s phenomenal and yet you still can’t help them to overcome some of those demons of Just being a good worker and being reliable, you know, it’s crazy show up to work on time That’s it.
And I just Oh They won’t do it. We all know I myself have a problem with being on time. However, I feel like maybe We got that recorded right? Yeah. Yeah, you got that recorded I feel like My years with the company, , have taught me, like, even if I come in a little bit late, that I know I can make up that time, because I am a good worker and a hard worker, and that I don’t just come in and lollygag around like other [00:22:00] workers might.
As we’re saying, it’s not that hard to be on time to help prove yourself, , and prove your worth to the position, um, to the help of the company, or in our case for the kennel. The proper care of the dogs is most important. That’s a thing that as a manager you want to see right off That somebody cares enough not that they’re just like oh now i’ve got the position.
I can just do whatever I want , and then that kind of translates over like if i’m not there To manage you and i’m not micromanaging watching those cameras. Are you still going to be doing? The right thing by the dogs. So, and, and in regards to the training program, yes, that’s why I’m so thorough and so in depth and try not to skimp on that, although not trying to overwhelm at the same time.
To get that training to them so you don’t have an excuse to say oh, well I didn’t learn that or I don’t know [00:23:00] how to do this. You do you’re just choosing not to. Yeah, absolutely So as we look at the marketing division Maya now that you have six months to kind of get your feet underneath you what do you, what are some challenges that you faced this year?
Yeah, so like you said, I joined CCU in the latter half of 2023. So one of the biggest things coming from my previous position, um, it was a completely different industry and I knew really next to nothing about training dogs and definitely nothing about working dogs. , so that was, that, that threw me for a loop.
That was probably the biggest challenge I faced personally was, um, using the right lingo. Not sounding like a fool on Instagram, or social media in general, making sure that the videos and pictures being posted were, um, not necessarily that we only show our best because we have done videos where we show how we could have done something better, but making sure that [00:24:00] the videos being posted were showing the dogs, um, sort of in their, their prime at that, that, you know, if they were doing a bite or detection.
Um, making sure they’re alert for right the bites were one of the issues was like making sure it was a full grip, for example, um, and probably my biggest challenge was asking for help because I’m not really great at that. So, , this position within. The working dog industry really forced me to have to be like, Hey, Simon,
I need help with this. Does this make sense? Um, can you give me information about something that you would not do for a dog or, or concerns you would have for a dog? So those were the biggest challenges that I faced. I don’t have staff. So for me, it’s, it’s just me.
I have just got on a freelancer. So that’s kind of something new to keep up on a person. So if you would consider that staff. I don’t know. Um, so that that really hasn’t been a challenge to this point. I just check in on him, make sure that he’s actually doing what he’s supposed to be doing, but.
And Hunter, as we go into 2024, I [00:25:00] know we had a conversation a couple weeks ago about putting you, I mean, I think I said this, you’re a waste where you sit right now. Um, and that’s not being, saying anything bad. I just feel like we waste you a lot of times. Not just your education, but your commitment and, you know, looking forward to 2024, what are some changes that you see coming about just in your role and in your approach coming into 2024 from the operation side of things?
I think that some of the biggest things may be just continuing to learn. that’s something no matter what you do in life, whether it’s a job or anything else, something I always have enjoyed is learning more about what I can do better, what I don’t do well currently. Um, And just how to improve on those things.
so I think that’ll be the biggest thing for me is picking your brain through different things and saying, okay, well, why don’t you do things [00:26:00] this way when you could do it this way? And, um, then either choose them on path for that, whether that’s, okay, maybe I can improve upon things that you haven’t thought of a certain way, or to say, okay, wow, I never thought of it that way.
That’s exactly why I should have thought of it this way and, and go from there. So I think, . The whole process, it’ll obviously be something that some things will be trial and error for me. I’ll make mistakes, but to learn and to grow, the thing that I’m looking to most in 2024 is, the growth and the education that comes with experience and getting to do things, uh, maybe I haven’t done in the past.
And then, you know, even the things that since I’ve been around CCU so long now also. I would say cleaning up some of the processes that we already do on a daily basis and just making those more efficient and trying to find ways to do those things, whether it’s in the store or anything else.
Like, what can we [00:27:00] use to make sure that they’re understanding? From my perspective, both in the store or being here on a day to day basis on site, whether it’s a salesperson that’s offsite or whatever, or anything like that is how do we, how do we merge everything that we do and married up to make it easy on them and easy on us that are here and not make it, you know, Check so many processes and so many boxes and this and that, but to make it as simple and efficient every single day is possible.
The daily operation and how we do things. I think that’s something that I’m looking forward to is the opportunity to grow that. To fine tune it, so to speak, and to make it as efficient as possible and all of the learning and education that comes along the way. Yeah, that’s great. You know, again, I think each of you guys have touched into a realm that most people don’t understand, and that’s the [00:28:00] depth of what goes into making this operate.
I could not do it on my own. I had a dream and I carried out that dream through great people like you guys and, you know, getting different perspectives. It’s very important. I have to admit early on it was my way or or the highway. It was my thinking and through some good mentorship through a lot of prayer and self reflection, I realized that I can’t do it alone.
There’s no way possible. And although there’s a lot of ideas, mine is not always the best idea and having great people like you guys to bring that to light. And I hope that’s something that we can push on to even the people that we train is the fact that we’re always open to listen to you. We will consider them to make things better because ultimately it doesn’t matter what I think.
about the kennel per se. It matters [00:29:00] what makes Debra’s job easier, more efficient, and easier for her. The same thing with Maya, and the same thing with Simon. Like it’s our job to support what you do, not to make your life harder, but to make it easier, as easy as possible, whether it’s through getting you the tools you need, or the staff you need.
Yeah, there’s some financial commitments that have to be made that I have to look at. And things of that nature. But at the end of the day, how do we figure out a way together to make this all work? And we’ve evolved. Deb’s been here a while. Hunter’s been here a long time. Like, I’m sure you can think back to when you first started and how we’ve evolved.
Um, probably 360 degrees. Is it 360 or 365? It’s a 180 or 360. Okay. Yeah, I think 360 means you have to go back to where you started. I think you mean 180. 180, there we go. [00:30:00] See, that’s why. We know we’re inferable if we’re taking math lessons from Salvi. That’s right.
Alright, but, there we go. We’re 180 there again, we’re not back where we started. We’re moving forward either way, good or bad. But the great thing is that we learn from our mistakes. Like, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not stuck on anything. I am. Maya mentioned this the other day. She said how. Well, how did you put it, how emotionally are you attached to the website?
And I said, I’m not emotionally attached to anything as long as we’re producing, like I can care less, but if we hit the standards and we can do that in your way, I’m happy to support that. So, and that’s for anything in training. Simon mentioned this, um, Simon about the question I asked you about, , you know, about doing something in training [00:31:00] and you brought it up and you said, you’re the first person that ever asked me, well, how would you do it?
Like it ain’t my way, only my way, there are some things I’m going to, you know, take the high road and say, yeah, this is the way we’re doing it, but that’s also some of my experience or maybe talking to our insurance carrier that says, Hey, you can’t do that, right? I got to consider all those things. Or I look at the budget and I’m like, we don’t have the finances to do that right now, but that’s put it off.
That’s work towards and I heard a great quote one time that said, you should never tell people you won’t do it. Instead, think of it this way. How can we reach the goal to be able to do it? Instead of saying, no, we don’t have the budget. Let’s say, how do we find the budget to be able to do this? And I think that’s a great way of thinking because I’m so quick to say, no, we don’t have the budget to do it.
Versus, how do we find a way to do this? Because it’s important to you, let’s figure out a way to, to, to do it.[00:32:00] so, As we look at 2024, and moving forward throughout the rest of the year, we have 12 months to get back to our Christmas party so that I can beat everybody in all the games we play.
And I know there’s several of you guys that are still mad at me about that. I get that, but I can’t help it. I’m an athlete. And, and, and I am a person that’s a competitor at heart. So when you show up to an event and you want to play me and you get beat, you can’t hold that against me for the next 12 months.
So there’s only 12 months left to get back to the Christmas party, but that’s through all these other months. And you notice I keep my mic on, so you guys can’t talk. Until I lead into the next question. Hold on a second. Now, Hunter’s a sore loser, and I think Hunter might have brought up a good, pretty good point about that basketball rim.
I think it was an inch shorter than the rest of ours, so you’re just pretty much throwing in layups on that, so. [00:33:00] Hey, it’s all about choices, and don’t hate me because I made the right choice to pick the right rim and set myself up for success. I think that’s a lesson to learn, right? Don’t set yourself up for failure.
By trying to, trying to do something, find the best way possible to set yourself up for success so that you win. So that’s a great point, Simon. I’m glad you brought that up. At the end of the day, I’m still the winner.
So like everything else, now Simon is trying to process that and trying to figure out a way to beat me yet again. Um, but I want everybody listening to understand. I’m doing math equations right here. I’m trying to figure it out. I wrote that up.
So Debra, what does 2024 bring you in the kennel? What, what new ideas, what new processes, what’s your thoughts when you think about what you want to improve in the kennel? If [00:34:00] I gave you a blank check and I said, do what you need to do. I gave you free reign to hire who you wanted to hire, which I don’t really even hinder you on that.
But in the sense of what do you see new coming for 2024? What do you want to improve on personally in the account? Yeah, so definitely if it was a blank check, I’d be crazy all over the place. Obviously we’ve already talked about the. Need for, different kennel set up, just to make it a bit more efficient and to have more space for dogs, , which currently isn’t, isn’t a huge problem, but we can always expand that area.
So if it was something where I had the money to do that, it is something I would definitely do because the more space we have, obviously just marketing would have to bring in the clients and the dogs. And then we have the space to do that. [00:35:00] Yeah. Just looking at you, Maya, but
let’s figure out a way to do it, Maya. Exactly. Um, so that would definitely be something that, I would look at, for people who have never had a kennel license. you know, it goes in groups of okay, you can go up to 20 dogs, up to 40 dogs, up to 60 dogs, up to 100. And then it’s like, okay, call our, our inspectors and our agents if you’re going to be having over 100 dogs.
I’d love to be at that point where I’m like, we’re averaging like 85 to 100 dogs. And that’s a lot of staff. That’s a lot of space, but I want to be like up there where I’m like, hey, we have to call about special permissions for these things, at least in the state of Georgia. you know, in order to get to that, that level where we’re in taking that many dogs, that many new clients, I think that would [00:36:00] just be
obviously amazing and very fruitful for the kennel environment in general. Um, but the second thing, , kind of going back to, not the kennel setup, but revamping some of the current, I want to say legalities, but policies and procedures. To follow with, , legalities across the U. S. right now. So we only have to adhere to Georgia Department of Agriculture for our rules and regulations for Georgia.
but there are a lot of other great Requirements and policies in different states that we don’t adhere to because we don’t need to, but, you know, adding in new classes or new protocols that might be, , beneficial to have here, , and set, you know, an even higher standard, which. Again, without the staff is hard to do, but to set that higher standard, um, but you’d have to have the proper [00:37:00] staff.
So I’d have the time to do that research, um, because that research does take quite a lot of time to put all those things together to make it a smooth, , procedure and entry into, a new kennel setting. So that would be something that I would love to do if, you know, if I had the time and the money to do that, .
But then, you know, it just comes down to, we don’t have the need to have 100 dogs in our kennel right now. and we don’t have the, well, we do have the need to revamp new things, maybe to update for.
Georgia’s 2024 policies that have been renewed or updated, , but we don’t really have to add in the extra stuff from other states that might be beneficial, but unnecessary, but that would be something that I would be very interested in doing this year if I had the time and money for that. Yeah, excellent.
I mean, I think that we always have to [00:38:00] have a vision of growth and, you know, not being in the kennel every day, you know, not seeing the day to day operations like I used to see, I rely very heavily on you to advise us on what we need to do both care treatment standards of what, what the baseline dog that we sell out of that kennel, what does that look like?
Both from a medical standpoint, a health and nutrition standpoint, pricing, so forth and so on, and that’s very important. , Hunter, I want to talk to you a little bit about just, you’re in a unique position per se, but the amount of even calls that you get, and I know Simon always says you don’t do anything.
Um, I fight for you, brother. I I’m, I’m telling you right now, I fight to change that outlook. but how do you feel when you’re getting calls from all of us, whether it be me, I sent you a text today, Hey, I need you to do this, this and this to handle a client of [00:39:00] ours, , Deb’s calling you. Can you do this?
Can you get uniforms ready? Can you sit in on this interview with me? Maya’s asking you to get pricing and this other stuff. And then Simon’s calling you to, you know, Hey man, can you order some drinks and some coffee for me? and can you, you know, meet with me after work to work on my jump shot? But how do you manage all that and keep all that straight?
And how do you keep all that organized or even or do you? Um, well, so usually Simon, I think, doesn’t necessarily ask for the coffee or the drinks. He’s trying to get the gambling advice on. You know, what sports he needs to bet on and everything for me. and I try to stay out of that because I don’t want to get involved with Simon losing money.
If I give it to him, he’s, he’s going to lose either way. It don’t matter if it was the right advice or not. So but I think I at least try to keep it straight. Sometimes I may not always do that. Um, but to try and at least [00:40:00] keep things moving and knock it out when I, when I have the opportunity and everything, I think, Maya would Say that I didn’t get the stuff for her that she asked for the other day.
She had to go to you, but then she said, look, see, my notes don’t work and pulled it up immediately. And she had exactly what I sent her hours before that. So it did not pull up when I pulled it up. So, Hey. I think someone said take it to the wood line today. So maybe you guys need to take it to the wood line to, to work it out.
I don’t know, but sounds like something’s going on, some friction between you two. But go ahead, Hunter. I believe you Hunter. Yeah. I try and knock them out as they come a lot of times, just so that I don’t forget certain things, or at least try to keep things moving, um, and get it to a point where now it’s.
Okay, if I need something in return from you, you’re asking me for something like Deb, for example, and sitting on the interviews or hiring or whatever. Like, try [00:41:00] and get it back to a point where now, okay, I can leave it with Deb and say, okay, let me know when they do this part of the hiring process. And once you know, they get a drug test or background check or whatever, then I can push them along , in the hiring process with documents and get them on employee portal and things like that.
So I’ll try and get it back to a point, at least to where I can kind of wait on that person. So it’s a kind of a reminder in and of itself, because now they’ll tell me when, when it’s time to go again. so that’s, I guess. Something that I try and use you guys as much as possible to make sure that I don’t forget things. If you asked me to do something and like, look, if I don’t do it right now, Then remind me again in a couple of hours because it’ll be gone again because someone will come in the store and ask for something else or whatever.
So I always try and do that or always try and keep emails that I haven’t answered. That I read, but then I didn’t do anything about right in that moment cause something else was going on. Try and keep those unread [00:42:00] so that I get those notifications as well to go back and click on those and everything.
So it’s, it’s small things like that. I think that I try and do and it doesn’t always work because I mean, there’s only so many hours in the day.
If it’s been something that’s failed in the past, then I’m not going to continue to try and do that unless I haven’t thought of a way to fix it. And then even that sometimes I’ll pick people’s brains about how they do certain things just to say, okay, well, is it, is there something I can take from them that, that makes it a little bit easier on me in the process?
Yeah, that’s what’s what’s crazy is keeping everything organized. I think that’s the biggest thing that we all work on as managers is how do we keep everything in line to get everything done and not let deadlines pass or let something slip through the cracks. And we use a couple of tools that help us to do that.
And, and again, as we all are always looking for better ways to do things, but We [00:43:00] have to use platforms to help us to keep stuff organized and we begin to become dependent on those things because if not, it’s so easy for things to get forgotten or, you know, we want everybody to feel at least each of our clients to feel like they’re our only client.
Uh, but sometimes that’s hard because you got 20 other dogs coming in, you got dogs going home, you need to wash and bathe this dog, you need to cut this dog’s nails, or, you know, I have this student that I got to worry about , I got this student that’s testing today and I have, you know, this Instagram post to go up, I got this article to write, I got this contractor doing this, I got this freelancer doing that, and Yeah, it’s always something moving and keeping all that stuff organized can be difficult if you don’t use tools and become organized in that sense.
Now, Simon, looking back at 2023, you touched on losing staffing . Is there one thing that sticks out in your mind that you won’t do in [00:44:00] 2024 that you did in 2023?
Uh, yeah, I mean, one of those is asking AJ for advice. But, you know, I mean, I guess let me word it another way, but I guess one thing that I kind of relied on was I relied on AJ a lot and AJ’s got a lot of other stuff going on. And, I think one of my focuses in 2024 is to just take care of things on my own and not really, um, rely on AJ because, you know, hopefully AJ just doesn’t show up to work anymore and he stays at home.
And Does his movies and podcasts and, you know, we don’t see him on campus anymore. So, you know, things are going to have to come down to me and I’m going to be the person that, , others are going to have to rely on. So, um. I think just going out there, figuring things out on my own sometimes, especially when it gets tough.
I Appreciate AJ’s [00:45:00] advice. Um, it’s really helpful. It’s helped me grown as a trainer, but now it’s time for me to kind of take the tools that I’ve been given and start to really put them in motion. going forward in 2024, but I think that’s probably one of the biggest ones.
Um, I mean, if I could add one more, I don’t know if I get two on this one. Head nod. Yeah. You get another one. Go ahead. I’d say too. Okay. Yeah. I mean, another one, definitely. Um, documenting stuff, , as far as, , You know, within my classes documentation, , especially as we had more staff and, , there’s things that I let slide in the past and then they kind of snowballed and then at that point, it was just, beyond my control at that point.
So I think a lot of documentations, I focus a lot on documenting the dogs, but sometimes I document other people. [00:46:00] So I think that’s, . One of the big things that I’m definitely going to do in 2024, and really stick to it. So, well, you know, you always think back right and go, man, I wish I would have, you know, I’ve counseled this person or went through here.
If you want to look at the world’s best in documentation, you need to take a class from Deb. If you see , her staff notes and the things she does with her staff, like it’s, it’s pretty remarkable, um, that she, that in what she documents and how she does it, , that it, that is a standard, right?
We have to take progressive steps of discipline in every sense of the word. Right. And it’s hard sometimes. And I kind of get your perspective, Simon, because I came up in an area where, Hey man, we can talk about this, straighten up. And let’s move forward because you hate to just sit there and just, you know, put paper on people but it’s very important in managing staff that you do [00:47:00] document because for the good and the bad, especially when it comes to reviews and yearly reviews and things of that nature, because that’s where your, your substance comes from in.
You know, validating their their reviews every year. So that’s very important. But it’s also important, I think, to employees to see that because you evaluate them on them, not on your personal feelings, not on, you know, the most recent events that have happened. Because think about it. You do a review in the last month they’ve been screwing up.
Oh, they’re gonna fill it on that review. Right. But then you look at the other 11 months and they actually been a good employee. Something’s going on and so it’s always good to have that that year and review on on that documentation. So that’s a great point that you bring up. And I think people can learn from that as well, in the sense that, you know, understanding that employee management is is very important as well.
Along with all the other [00:48:00] dogs you’re training and all the other things that you’re doing. you still got to take time to do that as well. Absolutely.
We talk about it, you know, but that’s just one more thing we put on our list. I’m a firm believer in organization. Some of the biggest killers of my pet peeves are not being organized. And. You know, forgetting things or that now again, I’m guilty as anybody else.
But as I self assess, I go, man, I really need to get this in order. I need to organize this. And, you know, it’s, it’s one of those things I have to train myself to do. And it becomes habit the more you do it. And the same thing for each of people listening to us and each of our managers has to learn organization, because if not, it’s so easy to forget stuff.
So let’s talk about outsourcing. Maya, you mentioned earlier that you outsourced some additional work when it comes to marketing. And I think you’ve come to the realization that you can’t do it all by [00:49:00] yourself, even though you want to. Yeah, so kind of going back to what I mentioned before, you know, I have an issue with asking for help because I do like to think that I can do it all and I can do it all right, which is simply not true.
so this year, or I guess the last couple of weeks, I’ve really made an effort to look at what we can outsource that makes sense financially for the company based on the return. And based off of that, we did decide to start outsourcing, search engine optimization with someone who that’s their sole focus, but they also have decades of experience, whereas I really just got into, the deepest parts of marketing back in July.
So this kind of allows me to spend more time on other things that I either haven’t had enough time to properly dedicate or it allows me to kind of grow my knowledge in SEO without. Relying solely on that
Obviously there’s going to be, um, tests both for the SEO freelancer and myself as a manager over the freelancer, to make sure that he’s actually doing his work, but if he’s doing it efficiently [00:50:00] and then, stepping up to address those inadequacies if needed.
But, you know, to this point. He’s proven himself. It’s sort of like I said, it really comes down to what’s gonna free up enough of my time to accomplish things like being on this call with deb and hearing her goals for the year and what she would like to see happen That kind of tells me where to direct some of my marketing and really push forward which i’m allowed to do now because I do have one less thing on my plate So we’re seeing.
Yeah, you know, it’s important. I asked hunter about, how does he feel about, getting all these people pulling at him in every sense of the word. And I once heard a statistic that we can’t supervise more than six people or we shouldn’t statistically because it is hard, right? I have you guys.
And I purposely stay out of the kennel text business or other people’s business because you can get consumed with worrying about things that don’t really need to worry about. I need to worry about [00:51:00] you four. And that’s really where my focus is, is to give you the tools that you need to be successful, support you, give you training.
You know, I’m not always the best at doing that. I’ll be the first to admit that. You know, but it’s important that we support those that we supervise, but not to get overloaded by the people we have under our control because it will overwhelm you. It will take your focus away. But Deb and I also talked about working on the kennel versus in the kennel.
And if we sit back and think about that, don’t work in marketing, work on the marketing, don’t work in training, work on training. Don’t work in operations, work on operations. That’s the only way we can grow. That’s the only way that we can get the bandwidth necessary to pull the numbers or to pull the goals that each of you guys have.
And when we look at Growing in, in, you know, new year’s resolutions, whatever you want to call [00:52:00] it, right? But at the end of the day, I think it’s refreshing to flip over to a new year to go, okay, what are we going to do different? And it kind of resets us, kind of puts us at a thought and in an area where we go, okay, what can we do better?
What have I failed at that I can do better, but really, where do I want to go? And if, if we don’t have goals, guess what, where are we heading? We’re leaving the house with no direction. And I used to joke about this in law enforcement when people used to stop us and ask us for direction. And I used to always say, how do you leave the house and not know where the heck you’re going?
Well, how can we operate every single day without having a clear vision of where we’re going? We started supervisor meetings. A couple of weeks ago, because again, when I assess, we don’t get together enough. We really don’t think about it. We’re all caught up doing our own thing, and we don’t get time to sit down and [00:53:00] discuss at a round table and go, Hey, Deb, what do you need?
Hunter? What do you need? A. J. What do you need? Maya, what do you need? Simon, what do you need? What can we do to support each other in the visions that we’re heading towards? But if we don’t know that and we’re not one cohesive unit and we’re all working in different areas and working and pulling in different directions, the team can’t work that way.
And it’s important that we all work together. So it’s, it’s refreshing to get on a podcast together with you guys because, you know, oftentimes throughout the day, Deb, I said yesterday. I haven’t even seen you all day. And we’re like in close proximity to each other all the time. And it’s like we’re so caught up in what we’re doing.
We don’t even see the people around us oftentimes. And to take some time to, you know, let loose a little bit, let me beat you guys at a few games, but then sit down and discuss how we, [00:54:00] how do we do this as a team to grow, to make your life easier, to make. Your division, something that you’re proud of because that’s really a reflection of you if you think about it.
So I’m going to give it one last, one last hoorah to Simon and let him shine a little bit because he needs the likes. His light count is, is really down right now. I’ll say, um, and it’s for several reasons, you know, for one, he had a rat tail for two days, running around, he was running around the kennel with a rat tail.
He didn’t even know he had. And, , you know, so nobody told me my wife didn’t tell me it’s my wife’s fault. I blame her. So, you know, looking at, you know, all that hunters had a rough December and part of January with Georgia, you know, falling off. Uh, like we knew they would. I mean, I get that. Deb, been sick, been battling the flu and other stuff, yet she’s still chipping away.
And [00:55:00] Maya, trying to get people to answer her emails. You know, we’ve all been having struggles, right? But I wouldn’t have it any other way with any other people. And I say that with all sincerity, but I’m going to give Simon a chance to close us out. I’m gonna give you five minutes, Simon, and I know you’re going to ask for 10.
So I cut it short on purpose so you can get more time if you need it. But if you had some advice for somebody, right, that is moving into a new chapter in their business, in their training. And they want to look at holistically things to change because some people have changes of year in the middle of the year, right?
Their fiscal years end and in the middle of the year where ours ends at the end of the year. Um, so now you want to turn over a new leaf. You want to refresh everything. And sometimes you see these signs where people say under new management. Well, it ain’t under new management. They’re just coming out with a new flip, [00:56:00] right?
Talk a little bit about some things that you would recommend on, on an approach on change, how does somebody go through change or if you’re looking at just revamping in general, what are some processes and some things they can think about and pushing themselves forward?
As far as pushing themselves forward. I mean, I think to accomplish some change, you got to do some review. one big thing is definitely looking over everything you got and trying to analyze, sit down and analyzing and saying, Hey, Which of these aspects can I make better, whether it’s within, I mean, as far as the training division, um, looking over just our textbooks and saying, Hey, are there maybe some areas that we can kind of revamp for students to make it more palatable to them?
So is there maybe something that I can make clear for them? because [00:57:00] I have that end goal at mind of, you know, I want. To enhance the educational experience for these students. So, you know, taking a review at some of our material and seeing where we can make some of these changes to improve what we already have, not necessarily throw it all away, but.
, just enhancing, enhancing some of those elements. But then that’s the other thing, just having that clear goal in mind. Um, you know, what do you want to accomplish? at the end of the day, how do you want to grow and where have your shortfalls been and how can I accomplish those goals and devising and it goes back to training, make a training plan for what do I have to do step by step.
One thing I’ve always heard is, you know, writing stuff down that you want to accomplish putting it out there in the universe. So that you can make it a reality, [00:58:00] you know, at one point in time, I’d see Hunter, sitting right there at that desk with a t shirt machine behind him.
And when I asked Hunter if he could make a t shirt for a student, Hunter told me He never worked the t shirt machine before and he refused to work the t shirt machine. So that’s where I got a lot of these preconceived notions that this guy doesn’t really do anything at all whatsoever You know, so I ended up speaking it into existence and I said hunter you need to learn how to work that t shirt machine It’s it’s right behind you buddy, you know, like you should really learn how to do it and sure enough I think it was earlier this week.
I saw hunter You know, making t shirts. So I think that’s that’s an awesome accomplishment by hunter. And, you know, I looked forward to seeing more of that. You know, I knew where that was going. As soon as you mentioned the machine, I don’t think he’s [00:59:00] reached his five minutes, right? No, I actually have a question for him, you know, is we’re kind of entering the food for thought, which is really, I think he specifically mentioned reviewing things to make them better.
So I guess my question to him would be. When you spend a year gambling and then you lose it all because Pennex doesn’t pass for 300 yards Do you take that as a thing to say maybe I shouldn’t gamble anymore because I’m a born loser or do you just say? Oh, well, maybe next year’s my year in 2024 I’m trying to figure out because I never knew rock bottom could have a basement That’s a great question.
Actually, Hunter, and I’m glad you brought that up. See, you know, when things get tough, like say when I was playing football, you know, I had some tough practices. I didn’t go to the coach. I didn’t go to tell the coach that, Hey, you know what? This isn’t for me. I’m going to quit like someone did at East Hall a few years ago.
they ended up quitting the football program. [01:00:00] team after playing, I don’t know, split end or whatever, you said you’re a wide receiver, but, you know, , me personally, that’s something I kind of deviate from because I’m not a quitter. I find that sometimes it’s better to get through those tough aspects and improve yourself and take those things head on rather than just completely walking away from them, , that’s my advice on that, Hunter.
But thank you for bringing that up. That was an awesome question. Good job. So would you say the moral of the story is you will continue to lose money then in 2024? Is that what we heard? That Vegas is alive and well? Uh, yeah, no, I think I’m just gonna come in with a new strategy. You know, it’s been pretty rough towards the end of this year.
I started off pretty hot, ended up losing it all. But I think, now it’s not about looking at the team. It’s kind of figuring out what, uh, what Vegas is thinking. Because ultimately, as we all know, Vegas runs those, you know, they run all the sports. , they got their hands in the ref’s pockets.
[01:01:00] They’re controlling all the aspects. You know, there was two holding calls that if they were called, Uh, Michigan would have never scored, and Washington would have ended up winning that game. But, you know, Vegas decided that Michigan was gonna win, so I gotta figure out what Vegas wants to happen, right?
Alright, great advice there. continue down the path of destruction, is what I’m hearing from Simon. But, um, yeah, that won’t be happening in the training division. I’ll be keeping a close eye on his decisions moving forward. Thank you for bringing that to light, Simon, because now I’m really going to have to micromanage what you’re doing.
So I appreciate that. And that’s why sometimes we got to sit down and talk because you don’t ever get to hear these perspectives if you don’t. So that’s important. I Know there’s going to be people that hear this are going to learn from it and I know that they’re going to look back and go, man, you know, sometimes I got to take some [01:02:00] advice and maybe that’s going to open someone else’s eyes to, to do things better, to self evaluate I would also say never be scared for change changes. Okay. And it’s okay not to do everything right, because we can also learn from our mistakes as well, as much of us have expressed throughout this call.
We appreciate everybody that listens to us and, you know, takes our, our stuff and applies it in some form or fashion. If you learn one thing from the source, it’s worth, it’s all worth it. And, uh, so I appreciate everybody. From 2023. Now we’re into 2024 and I’m excited to see where the source brings us. The content that we’re able to release the impact that we’re able to have in our industry is so important.
I appreciate each one of you guys joining us and pouring into those that, you know, can learn one thing from what we teach them. And I really appreciate your guys’s time.