Two things that I'm always interested in are quirky businesses and clear marketing messages. Oddball businesses have their appeal, I guess, because I've never worked in one. Quirky companies? Absolutely. Quirky businesses? Absolutely not (unless you consider the likes of B2B software and web hosting quirky). So I like hearing about businesses that are off the obviously well-worn track.
On the clear message front, I've come - over my long commuting years - to the conclusion that the most concise messages are those that are on the backs of vans. (I wrote about this a couple of months ago over on Opinionated Marketers.) Some of this is the nature of the product or service: plumbing is naturally easier to convey and "get" than, say, embeddable programming languages. Still, every time I see a van and know right away what they do (hey, they sell sausages!), I heave a little sigh and hope that someday I work on a product with a message as clear as my all time favorite, 'We clean blinds.'
Well, my interest in quirky businesses and clear messaging collided the other day, when I saw a van for a company called The Dog Scoop. Aha, I said, eee-ew. They must be in the business of picking up dog litter.
Come to find out, I was wrong. They are, instead, a doggie day care business. (When I read the founder's bio, and saw that he'd spent a number of years in software sales, it occurred to me that he's got all the experience he needs to extend his business to the messier side of dog life. Still, as a daycare provider, I'm sure he cleans his share of dog messes.
Although I don't have a dog, I was aware of the doggie day care business, because the "school bus" for one such outfit (Common Dog) picks up and drops off a few doors up from my house. I especially like seeing them drop off the pooches at the end of the day. All the doggies are sitting in bus seats, waiting for their owners to pick them up. The bus, in fact, stops at pretty much the same place as the bus for a swank private school, which may say something about kids as child substitutes. Still, if you have a dog and work all day, it's nice to think that they can be out and about playing with their pals, rather than just lounging around on the living room couch.
But in searching for The Dog Scoop online, I found that there are, in fact, quite a few companies specializing in cleaning up dog messes. They all, of course, have cutesie names: Doody Calls, the Poop Butler, Pooper Scooper,Kanine Kleanup. Which all pretty much pass my screen for a company name that tells us what the company does.
I'm sure they provide a valuable service, but I guess I'm amazed to see that there are that many people out there who let their dog crap in the yard. So much for my romantic fantasy that suburban dogs are allowed to roam free, spending the night padding around the neighborhood knocking over garbage cans and getting into other doggy mischief. It must also mean that harried people have no time to walk the dog anywhere he/she can go au naturel - that little wooded area, perhaps. Or that suburbanites are averse to walking the dog down the road and cleaning up after it on the spot. Which is what city people pretty much do - and do pretty well. I remember when Beacon Hillers were not quite so conscientious about picking up after their dogs. This meant that pedestrians had to be ever vigilant. I used to say that, if you lived on the Hill, your feet had better have eyes.
That's not so true anymore. All the campaigning about picking up after has worked. There are occasional messes to be contended with, but nothing like it used to be. All this picking up after, of course, means that our trash receptacles are full of tied plastic bags that smell to the high heavens, especially during the summer. But it beats the alternative. And services like Doody Calls would be pretty impractical in a city.
Still, it's amazing to me that there are so many companies providing dog cleanup. I guess it's one job that will never get outsourced.