On Saturday the 16th of April, we held our annual conference to celebrate 4 years of Digs for Dogs and all the hard work we have put in as a team. Debbie, Lisa and all their Franchisees enjoyed a lovely meal, presentation, award ceremony, guest speaker and lots of wine at the Bolholt Country Park Hotel in Bury.
The conference kicked off with a huge, warm welcome to the new Franchisees that have joined Digs for Dogs this year: Helen Coogan (Dog-Walking in Heaton Park, Sunnybank, Pilsworth & Heywood), Alison Ellis (Dog-Walking in Ramsbottom, Greenmount & Hawkshaw), Helen Fairclough (Dog-Walking in Haslingden, Helmshore & Rawtenstall) and Lisa Rose (Home-Boarding in Wigan).
It was then time to celebrate how far the business has come in the past four years. We now have over 1500 registered customers, 16 territories covered around the Greater Manchester and Lancashire area and the Grooming Spa in Tottington is going from strength to strength. This year we have invested capital in setting up a Head office base in Tottington Village to centralize the business and to provide a training and meeting facility plus to offer an open house so that anyone can call in if they have any problems or they just want a chat and a coffee.
There are also a lot of new projects and ideas we have up and coming that were introduced at the Conference. For instance, we are in the process of launching the ‘Digs for Dogs Family Challenge’ for this summer which centres around the idea of encouraging families to leave the electronics at home and spend some quality time together out in the fresh air, whilst learning responsibility through caring for a family-friendly dog in their home whilst the owners are away on holiday. Another project in the pipeline is developing an online, personalised, pet product range offering products such as dog beds, sofa savers, dog coats and even luxury sofas all personalised with their dogs names – watch this space!
Possibly the highlight of the night was our guest-speaker Steve and celebrity sniffer dog Boris who work for Search And Rescue Dogs Association (SARDA) Wales. The pair recently appeared on the BBC’s “Cats vs Dogs: Which is Best?” programme (available to watch on Iplayer here: http://bbc.in/1WHoQTg). In the programme TV presenter Chris Packham walked around Manchester laying a scent trail for Boris to follow in order to demonstrate his trailing skills. Boris (and Steve) avoided the tricks set by Chris, including doubling back to lay a false trail, “washing” away the scent, and walking around a block to confuse the trail, and quickly found Chris. Steve gave an extremely interesting and inspiring talk about SARDA and the rescue work they do. He spoke about how having a sniffer dog on the team means they can find people missing in rural or mountainous environments much quicker than a team made up of only people could do, often saving lives! We think this only goes to settle the debate of the “Cats vs Dogs” programme and proves that dogs definitely come out on top!
A Digs for Dogs conference would not be complete without our annual Awards Ceremony! Top of the list was the Woof Award, which was given to gorgeous black Labrador, Cooper for looking after his pack whilst our walking with mum, Bev Lewis. Not only is he a very handsome boy, he is also a very brave boy rescuing Molly the miniature Snauzer from being attacked last week. He also helped his other pal working cocker spaniel, Bella to recover and gain her confidence back after being attacked whilst out with her owner. Cooper is the perfect guest when he comes to stay on holiday with us and a star on our website home page.
The Franchisee of the Year Award went to Emma Croft who owns the Dog-Homeboarding Franchise for Rochdale and Oldham. Emma has been a part of the Digs for Dogs Family for years now, starting off as a customer, quickly becoming a host and then taking on her own Franchise. She has an amazing enthusiasm for her job and always has a huge smile on her face. She was chosen for this award due to her hard work, amazing attitude and tireless commitment and support to the Digs for Dogs team and brand. Well done Emma!
Overall, we had a wonderful evening filled with celebration and we cannot wait to see what next year’s conference will hold as the business continues to flourish!