This year at Dog Quality we are going through considerable change as we continue to grow and pursue more ways to help a greater number of senior (and physically challenged) dogs around the world. If you have known us for a while then it's probably no secret that we sell out of our products quite often and for the longest time, no matter how much we increased our production size, we often would sell out well ahead of receiving our shipments due to the long production cycles. We are confident that the changes we are implementing will allow us to get ahead of demand once and for all so we can help you take care of your four-legged family.
I get asked quite often what it's like to run a business and I can honestly tell you that while there is stress, for me the hardest part is letting down our customers. I use our products with my own dogs so I see first hand the difference they can make in the lives of older dogs. When we sell out and we have to tell dog parents that we won't have the item they so urgently need for several weeks and sometimes even months, I feel like we have not only let our customers down, but that we have let their dogs down as well and this is what keeps me up some nights.
My goal has been to make changes to help ensure that we can address the inventory issues while continuing to improve the overall quality, and I wanted to share these changes with all of you.
One of the biggest changes, which had been many months in the making, is to bring 100% of the assembly of our Dogger stroller in-house to create our first Made in Canada product. In order to do this we have had to buy rivet machines and special equipment as well as hire new people to make this possible.
I believe this change is necessary for two big reasons: 1) When we were receiving completed units we could only fit around 400 Doggers in the shipping container, but by having everything shipped to us as parts, we can fit more than double the number of parts in the same shipping container which will help us to better manage the volume.
2) While we have always tested each and every Dogger ourselves before shipping, we will now be able to control the quality even more since we will be the ones looking at every single part from as small as a washer, to as big as the frame pieces, to ensure that every component inspected and assembled by us, meets our quality standards otherwise it does not get used.
The downside of making such a big change is the short term pain, which in our case has happened in the form of a longer than usual production cycle and I expect a longer than usual assembly cycle while we refine our process and become production experts.
I know how difficult it has been for those of you that have been waiting months for our Doggers to arrive and I thank you so much for your patience while we work through these changes.
The other big change we are in the midst of making involves our Washable Wonders dog diapers, bands and pads. We are very proud of this product line which continues to reach more and more parents coping with dog incontinence. We have increased every production to try and accommodate the growing volume, but again long production cycles have made it very challenging to keep everything fully stocked, so we are bringing some of the sewing in-house.
We will continue to work with our manufacturer to produce an increased volume of our incontinence products, but we will soon have the ability to manufacture a portion of our inventory under our own roof. This will give us more flexibility allowing us to make more of whichever item is running low while we await larger production shipments to arrive, so that we will hopefully never run out again. In other words, we will have an additional source for creating our Washable Wonders here in Canada to better support you in managing your dog's incontinence. Same great quality, just more of it!
I am super excited for these changes to be put into action which is just around the corner. Our Dogger parts are now here and we have begun the assembly. There will be a period of time while we adjust and refine, but the finish line is just ahead. Our shipment of Washable Wonders has arrived and we will begin sewing in-house starting in early August. Every change feels like a whole lot of baby steps towards a bigger goal, so it has been tough in the short term and even tougher on our customers, but I know it will all be so worth it in the long run.
I have to admit that i've also found the challenges around these changes that much more difficult because of losing my sweet Paige quite suddenly in February to a rare form of lymphoma. She was a big motivation for me personally and with Dog Quality, since our products helped to make her life so much easier and happier. She should still be here with me working towards these goals together, but she's not and that is still something I have trouble getting my head and heart around, but thanks to my amazing four-legged family (Lily, Milo & Winnie), the wonderful support from all of you and the overwhelming desire to help as many dogs as possible globally, I continue to love what I do and wake up anxious to do more.
So this post is one part an update on what we have been working on, but it is also an opportunity to thank you so much for your patience, for your support and for loving your dogs the way I love mine.
Ann-Marie Fleming is the Founder & CEO of Dog Quality, a provider of products focused on improving the quality of life for older dogs.