Dog Days of Birmingham is the premier dog daycare and boarding facility in the Greater Birmingham area. They brought the “cage-less” daycare and boarding concept to Birmingham. Their services include doggie daycare, boarding, grooming, and training. They have a large customer base outside the downtown area with the thousands of people that drive into Birmingham to work every day. Of course with the tremendous growth in the city center, they are seeing many new faces just blocks away. Many customers drive down I-65 to our state’s wonderful beaches and drop their pups off here to stay while they are gone on vacation, as well as plenty of pups staying while their parents travel all over the country.
Dog Days of Birmingham has been taking care of the city’s puppies for just over 7 years now and love every minute of it.
More on Dog Days in the words of owner Jimmy Johnson.
-How did you get your start?
I was middle management in a software development company that I help start from 1990 to 2009. This was deep in the recession and I was caught up in a reduction in force and found myself without a job. I immediately started looking, but I found myself over qualified for many positions. I started researching opportunities to start up a small business and found that during a recession the pet industry was within the top 5 industries even during a downturn in the economy. My wife, Sue, and I went to REV Birmingham, and told them what we wanted to do and they were very supportive. They gave us the guidance to transverse the city development organization and make our dream come true. The city of Birmingham has been very supportive.
-What has been your biggest challenge or success so far?
Developing good employees is always a challenge. We do a working interview so the applicants know exactly what the job entails. It is not just playing with dogs.
I come from an IT environment and although I was responsible for a capital budget for the IT of the entire company, I was never involved in all the bookkeeping and accounting that is needed to start a company and maintain the day to day operations on that side to the business. I have to learn quickly and I am still learning. That perspective along with the marketing, which I have grown to love, have been my challenges and my successes.
-What does a typical day look like for you?
Up at 6am, open the doors at 7AM and greet all my pups coming in so their parents can go to work. My receptionist comes in at 8AM and I turn that over to her and then will help get the pups to their class room while the other dog handlers feed our boarding dogs and clean up after them. We take in full day dogs until mid-morning and then start seeing our half day dogs, along with grooming dogs. I will then move into paperwork, paying bills, returning phone calls up until lunch. After lunch I will order cleaning supplies, we do a lot of cleaning, dog food, and anything else we may need. Early afternoon is when we start seeing pups go home and I like to see my customers face to face as much as I can. I have taken care of some of my human customers pups for 6 to 7 years and developed a relationship with them and their family. I call many of them friends.
-What do you do for fun when you are not taking care of animals?
Sue and I have a lake house at Smith Lake and love to go their whenever possible. With three dogs of our own and 2 granddaughters that live real close, that is a great getaway for us.
-What is your favorite local vendor?
For me it would be a short walk over to “Sol’s Sandwich Shop and Deli” on 20th Street North.
-Where do you see your business growing in the next couple of years?
I see the close local growth continuing to grow as more and more people and pups move downtown.
Thanks for reading! This has been a Shop Small Bama Feature.
Birmingham, Al. 35203