Welcome to the June Newsletter!
Wow! Seems like we just read the Winter Newsletter, doesn’t it? That is how fast things are moving at Rex’s Place. We have a lot of news and information to share, so join us as we get you all caught up!
In this issue:
- Customer service: meet our new Ambassador!
- Phone numbers, text numbers: make sure you have our up-to-date contact info!
- Learn about our new day care pricing structure coming this summer!
- An update on our K9 Sports Arena!
- Answering Your Questions
- Important Information About Boarding–picking up, dropping off, confirming your stay: if you board your dog, please read this carefully!
The Ambassador Will Attend You Now…
When Kathy first started Rex’s Place 12 years ago, the phrase “victim of her own success” had no meaning for her then. But, as another saying goes, that was then and this is now. With well over 600 active client accounts, Rex’s Place is no longer the tiny local doggie day care it was then.
When she was first starting out, Kathy and Rex were inseparable, and Kathy was sometimes indistinguishable from Rex’s Place. As a result, Kathy took care of everything pretty singlehandedly back then. But that is no longer manageable. So with growth comes change, and these changes will all make for a much better customer experience — faster response times, and increased safety and services for dogs and their families.
Gingr was an important first step in streamlining the administrative side of Rex’s Place. The more we explore and implement the system’s many features, the easier it becomes to serve clients and speed up business tasks. And now, we come to the next major leap forward:
Meet Our New Client Ambassador, Bailey!
A northern California native, Bailey has been ensconced in the Chicago area for about seven years, engaged with the dog care industry and amazing theater community. In addition to her love of performing arts, Bailey is passionate about “helping dogs get the service and care they need,” as she puts it.
As our Client Ambassador, Bailey is laser focused on servicing our clients — working with reservations, scheduling, billing and collections, making certain that everyone’s vaccination records are current and complete, fielding questions from clients, and supporting Kathy in running Rex’s Place so that Kathy can concentrate on what she needs to do without neglecting other aspects. Bailey works across day care, boarding and (soon) the K9 Sports Arena — more on that in a moment!
If you call Rex’s Place, chances are the voice you hear going forward will be Bailey’s. She will be our frontline phone person going forward (so the day care and boarding staff can concentrate on the dogs!) and she will be handling most of your inquiries.
When she’s not busy with all of this, Bailey can be found hanging out with Thea and Zed, her cats, and enjoying any number of crafting hobbies.
New Points of Contact for Rex’s Place
Going forward, there will be a couple of new contact points to keep in mind when you need to reach Rex’s Place:
For dropping off and picking up at the Day Care, please still call 847-920-8739 or text 847-420-6298. We apologize that some calls had been lost; we had a new phone which wasn’t receiving the forwarded calls. That is now corrected. Please remember that pickup and drop-off times for Boarding are 9 AM to 5 PM.
The general email address remains [email protected]. Please continue to have your vet send vaccination records here.
Billing and reservation questions should go to [email protected]
If you need to reach the day care or the boarding house in an emergency, call 847.920.8739
Day Care Packages and Subscriptions: More for Your Money!
EDIT 7/29/22: Transition will NOT occur effective August 1! Fully effective August 1st, Rex’s Place Day Care will transition to a new pricing model . It will still go through gingr, but in addition to the packages you are familiar with, we will be introducing Subscriptions that will simplify your budget!
Just to be clear: our costs have gone up dramatically, as they have for every home and business. We have had to raise our prices across the board to cover higher utilities, wages, and every other aspect of our enterprise. So when we say that subscriptions will save you money, the rates will still be higher than they used to be — that is unavoidable. But for dogs who attend regularly, Subscriptions will definitely be more economical and easier to budget for.
Not everyone brings their dog to day care on a regular schedule. Some of us work under constantly changing schedules, some from home, some back in offices. Working has certainly changed for almost everyone. And for those of us who still have to retain a lot of flexibility, our Day Care Packages are a great option. You can either pay each visit as you go, or you can purchase a package that allows your dog to come multiple times over weeks or months as needed, with a discount for each visit.
For those of you whose schedules are more set, or for those dogs who need more structure and/or more play, if you know you’re going to be coming regularly, Day Care Subscriptions are perfect for you. Subscriptions renew weekly, and when you know your dog will not be attending for a week or more, you can just cancel your Subscription with just a click and re-subscribe when you are ready. A Subscription rewards you with a lower price for regular attendance (and if your dog attends Day Care Plus, that regular attendance is really integral to the success of that activity, so Day Care Plus will be by subscription only) and it allows you to anticipate your costs in advance, helping you to budget your dollars more wisely.
You will find our new prices for Day Care Classic here and Day Care Plus subscriptions here. Please note that Day Care Plus is by subscription only, and requires a three-month commitment.
Packages are available for one or two dogs; there is no two-dog subscription rate.
*For customers who have purchased packages under the current system, those packages will be honored. If you wish to convert your package to a subscription, please contact Bailey at [email protected]
And Loyalty Rewards Too!
We will also be launching a points-based loyalty program as well! Our program will allow you to earn points for every dollar spent with Rex’s Place! We’ll have more details on this program soon.
Rex’s K9 Sports Arena: An Update
Construction: Slow and Steady…
One of the many downsides of the pandemic has been the slow progress of many public services. Between lockdowns, quarantines and isolations, people changing jobs and out sick, it’s been really hard to get some things done, including securing permits from the City. The air conditioner is now installed, the floor is leveled, and the turf will soon be laid. It’s been frustrating, but it looks like the long process might soon be coming to an end.
We can’t wait to show you the facility, and we think the wait will be well worth it. It’s a beautiful building and it has proven to be even better suited to our planned use than we anticipated.
Rest assured: as soon as we are ready, we will let everyone know!
New Training Offerings at Rex’s Place
One of the most exciting facets of the Arena will be our ability to offer you superior and expanded training options!
Most of you are already familiar with our Puppy Skillz program and our Play & Train option for Day Care. Puppy Skillz has now been in place for almost a year and we are upgrading it to meet even more puppy needs. One of our first new programs will be Puppy Agilitee! Details to come.
Meanwhile, Kathy’s experience with her latest family member, Jet, has led to another service for our youngest clients: for Puppy Skillz graduates who need a more gradual transition to the day care, we are launching Puppy Transitions! Kathy is just not ready for Jet to go to Day Care 5 days a week. (Honestly, Kathy’s not ready for Jet to grow up!) Even though he is technically ready, Kathy thinks he will benefit more from easing into it.
In Puppy Transitions, we will focus on reinforcing behaviors learned in Puppy Skillz, such as recall with distractions and stay with distractions, building confidence in areas that are key for interactions with other dogs.
Puppy Skillz is a great start but training your dog should be an ongoing interaction between dog and owner. Just as all dogs learn at different levels, puppies have different levels as well. We want to meet them at their learning point to get them ready for their journey to day care and beyond. So with Puppy Transitions, we will have this extra step to support you. Pricing will be announced soon.
We will be offering group obedience and agility as soon as the Arena opens. We are in the process of nailing down what our first classes will be and will share that as soon as it’s all set up. Meanwhile, though…
Many of you will already be familiar with James, who was at Urban Pooch for many years. James will be the Head Trainer at Rex’s K9 Sports Arena, and he has already brought in four other highly successful trainers to work with him. We’ll be introducing them to you soon. James will be teaching and creating the program structures for obedience, agility and more.
James Bahr, CPDT-KA is an agility trainer/coach with almost 30 years of experience training dogs. After early successes in the obedience ring, he expanded his expertise into Flyball, Earthdog, Conformation, and Agility. He has won MACH, AKC and USDAA titles with various breeds, achieving the coveted NAC (National Agility Champion) title together with his dog Pressure in 2014. And he is bringing all this experience, expertise, enthusiasm and passion to Rex’s K9 Sports Arena!
So Many Questions…
Q: It’s been so sunny and nice, why haven’t the dogs been going to the yard to play outside?
A: We are continually working on that. Our main concern, as always, is that the dogs are safe and healthy. As you may already know, there are about 100 human steps between the Day Care facility and the yard. They lead down an alley and across a public street.In the winter, that alley is icy and the street is salted and not with pet friendly ice melt. The snow did major damage to the yard; the landscapers have fixed it just in time for the warm weather, so our yard is up and running and we will all be out there regularly going forward, weather permitting. As a reminder, we will not go out in temperatures over 80º. Also: if you do not want your dog going to the yard or getting wet and/or sandy, please let us know and we will keep your dog in indoor play.
Q: Are you changing any of the Covid prevention policies in your facility?
As you know,we did a survey last year and many of you wanted us to keep the current drop off pickup process in place.We heard you and we agree. So we will continue to allow staff only inside the day care and boarding areas, where we can effectively manage mitigation.
When the K9 Sports Arena opens, human customers will be allowed in with proof of full vaccination and proper masking in accordance with CDC and local guidelines. (It is only fair, after all: the dogs have to be fully vaccinated, why should we humans be any different?). We are going to start weekly afternoon tours on a limited basis as soon as the current wave of Covid abates; we’ll keep you posted.
Q: Can you explain the cancellation policy for Boarding?
A: Yes, we can. When you request a reservation, your deposit is processed to hold that reservation until your dog is checked in. You are then billed in full for your reservation when you check in.
In order to receive a refund on your deposit, you must cancel at least 7 days prior to the start of your reservation, and during peak periods, you must cancel at least 14 days prior to the start.
Q: Why is boarding more expensive during Peak Periods?
A: Because our costs are higher during peak periods. By law, we have to pay our staff double time on official holidays. Demand on our facility is higher. It costs us more to operate during peak periods. We cannot staff the facility adequately and we can’t serve our guests properly without charging accordingly.
Speaking of Boarding…
As you surely know by now, Kathy and the staff are so grateful to every one of you for your continued patronage and support of Rex’s Place. We have built Rex’s Place from the very outset on the basis of creating “a safe and happy alternative to staying home”.
You will note that our slogan puts the word safe at the very front. It is that safety that is paramount. And for that reason, we are sharing with you some lessons that we have learned and the changes we need to make going forward.
Working with dogs requires that we take appropriate precautions to keep the dogs safe, to keep the staff safe, and to keep you, their humans, safe. This is the basis for everything we do. And it is for that reason that we absolutely need your understanding and cooperation in the following matters:
* When you are dropping your dog off,
(a) we will not cross the street to pick up your dog;
(b) if you are walking your dog to our door, please stand back until it is your turn; and
(c) please put your dog’s name on their food.
The city has built us a drive through so that we can avoid crossing an increasingly busy street. Traffic is fast and unpredictable and we don’t want dogs running across the street. When we get them inside, we often have to put a dog’s name on the bag or container so that we know whom to feed. Since we feed about 30 dogs a day, it helps if we know who we’re feeding.
*Please don’t approach us while we are bringing a dog in to ask about anything.
We almost had an incident one morning when we were approached by a client wanting to ask a question. It was not pretty and it was dangerous for the client and, quite frankly for Kathy, as she was trying to get the dog focused. Between 6:30 and 9:00 when Kathy leaves, she logs over 2.5 miles just running the dogs in from the curb to the gate. She has told her trainer that she really doesn’t need him. That is how busy we are during morning drop off. We try to work as quickly as we can — we know you need to be going — and we need your help with these matters to make things easier and safer.
*We cannot accept drop offs for cage-free boarding on the weekends. They must check in before 5 PM on a weekday.
If your dog is not dropped off by Friday at 5 PM for cage-free boarding, we cannot board your dog over the weekend, regardless of your reservation.
Dogs in cage-free boarding need time to establish their social order, and once they do, they are OK when dogs leave but NOT when new dogs arrive. It leads to fights, and it increases the chance of injury and escape. The only escape we have ever had came during such a moment. If cage-free boarders are not checked in by 5 PM on Friday, they cannot be checked in until Monday.
*Drop Off and Pickup Time Windows for Boarding are as follows:
Weekdays: Drop-offs between 9:00 AM and 5 PM —no drop-offs past 5 PM
Pickups between 9:00 AM and 6:30 PM
Weekends: Kennel Boarding can drop off or pick up between 8 and 11 AM and between 4 and 6 PM.
No drop-offs for Cage-Free Boarding on the weekends.
Cage Free Boarding dogs can be picked up on weekends between 9 AM and 5 PM.
Again: this is for the safety and well-being of both dogs and staff. When we are working to ensure safe movement of dogs into Day Care, it is not safe to interrupt that process and stop everything to bring another dog out, especially when dogs in Boarding are getting breakfast. It is just not safe.
* We cannot follow instructions that you don’t give us. Include instructions with food and medicine.
With over 600 active clients now, and with over 80 dogs in our boarding facility alone during peak periods, simply telling a staff member at drop off will not work. We cannot be expected to remember oral instructions with dozens of dogs around who absolutely require our full attention to have a safe experience. We’ll be blunt: the responsibility for providing meal portions and clear instructions is yours alone. And if you do not portion your dog’s food or bring it in an airtight container, we must charge you for storage. Again: to keep your dog safe, we have to stop bugs and rodents from entering the facility. The time we spend securing your dog’s food is time not spent keeping your dog safe.
*Please check your gingr page for your confirmation.
It seems like we were inundated with calls from people prior to spring break saying they just wanted to confirm their reservation. When that happens, we need to stop what we are doing and go to the customer’s page in gingr and check. Please use your gingr page to check. The information you see is exactly the same as what we see.
While you may honestly believe that it’s just you asking just this one favor, it is not. We have been dealing with dozens of “just this favor” expectations every day. And while we truly, deeply appreciate your business, we cannot run our business if we are endangering dogs and staff over “just this favor”. So we must draw and hold these lines.
If it were your dog who got bit, or underfed, you wouldn’t come back, and rightly so. We want you to keep coming back. So please understand we must say no to any exceptions, effective immediately.
We have already had numerous reservation requests for Thanksgiving 2022 and Christmas/New Year 2022/2023! Be sure to plan ahead!
That’s it for now, everyone! We hope you found this newsletter helpful, and we look forward to your questions and feedback!