Each month, we ask our social media followers to nominate their favorite Utah-owned businesses and select one to feature here. This month we asked fans to tell us their favorite local dog day care. Want us to write about a business you love? Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram @utahbusiness.
Salt Lake City – There are a lot of challenges that come with being a dog owner in a city. That’s the lesson that Susan Butler learned after she adopted her first dog. It was hard balancing long work hours with the needs of her pet, and after a bad experience boarding her dog, she and her husband decided to create what they needed. DogMode is a dog boarding and daycare facility that has been in operation since 1999.
“When we came up with the idea, there wasn’t one here. It took about a year. We wrote a business plan. The only people on the planet that supported us was my family. They came down every weekend and helped us build,” said Susan, co-owner of DogMode. “Everyone thought we were nuts.”
That business plan was based on similar facilities in big cities like San Francisco and Washington D.C., and after acquiring a loan the business was off and running. Susan’s sister in-law Pam Butler and brother-in law Brent Butler have since taken over day-to-day operations, as well as being co-owners.
“Our heart is in it so much and we love dogs so much that we’ll do whatever the dog needs to make sure that dog is healthy, happy and safe,” said Pam Butler. That commitment is visible with the makeup of their facility.
The family- owned business now boasts two big play areas for large dogs, a small dog area designed to look more like the inside of a home, complete with couches and Netflix, and a senior dog area that has floor with extra grip and lower furniture that is easily accessible for aging dogs. All of these areas have access to separate outdoor play areas and are monitored constantly by a well-trained staff and cameras.
“We don’t see our customers as a dollar sign, we see them as a potential relationship,” said Emily Maclin, director of operations. “Every customer that walks in the door, by the second time they come in we know their dog’s name, we know their name, and we know about what time they like to come in.”
Bringing your dog to DogMode is a two-step process that starts with an interview for the dog and owner. The dog is then brought to the “Sniffing Room” to meet four to five dogs of different sizes, breeds and temperaments to see how the new dog reacts. This is followed by the second step, which is a free day care session that lasts between four and six hours. If all goes well, the dog can be admitted to daycare. Unlike a lot of daycare facilities, DogMode doesn’t discriminate by breed; rather, it focuses on individual personality instead of breed reputation.
DogMode is dedicated to continuous improvement. It now offers valet services on weekday mornings, so owners don’t have to get out of their car, and is currently building a state-of-the-art aquatic center. The facility is open seven days a week, 365 days a year.
“People need this service,” said Susan. “This service is personalized, it’s special. It goes beyond the big-box stores. We’re local and we don’t want to franchise. We don’t want it bigger.”
For more information—or even if you just want to watch dogs on their webcams—visit www.dogmode.com.