A Day in the Life of a Dog Café Owner

A Day in the Life of a Dog Café Owner

If I would have written this blog post 9 months ago, you would undoubtedly be reading a completely different blog post right now.

Starting any new business is no easy feat, the workload is large, the team is small, the hours are longggg but there’s still never enough of them!

I’m sure all small business owners will be able to resonate, on some level, with the reality that when you start a business you feel like you are doing the role of about 5 different people: you’re the owner, the designer, the customer service assistant, the salesperson, the accountant, the stock-taker, the HR department etc!

16 months into business and I feel like I’m starting to somewhat get a-bit more of a balance now, though I would bet my business on the fact that I’m going to regret saying the word ‘balance’ almost instantly after posting this. Claiming you have ‘balance’ is like saying the words "it’s quiet"; those types of words attract the exact opposite and make you immediately want to retract them.

Unfortunately for me I can’t retract them now, they are out there for you to read. My only consolation is the fact that if it all goes tits paws up after this blog post, at least my next blog post will be an amusing failure post.

Interestingly, when I say balance the ‘b’ word, I’m not even referring to the classic work-life balance conundrum. In true small business owner style, I’m genuinely referring to getting a better work-work balance.

My definition of a perfect "work-work" balance would be almost having enough time to do everything the important things you need to get done that day/week, whilst also getting enough time to do the parts of the work that you actually enjoy doing.

If we could also limit the dramas to say… one manageable drama per week that would pretty much hit 'balance' for me!

Currently my days/weeks look like this:

I get to spend a few days per week working at the shop. Being at the shop is where I love to be; chatting with customers, making coffee, taking photos of the dogs, seeing customers enjoy their experiences etc.
An image of two flat white coffees and a puppuccino on a tray
An image of a tray of puppucinos for dogs
An image of a white Pomeranian dog enjoying a puppucino
An image of a dog at Charlie + Co

The other days I’m working from home doing the boring essential business stuff like ordering stock, looking for new suppliers, sorting out payments for existing suppliers or utilities etc, staff rosta, payroll, customer emails and enquiries, supplier emails and enquiries..

And then a smaller portion of the time getting to do the creative bits that I love, like designing, planning and advertising events, this blog, social media posts and engagement activities, researching new products.

An image of a new colour way design for a Charlie + Co product
An image of some colour-way material swatches
A mock up image of retail packaging examples
An image of some mock up coffee carrier holders

I don’t think people believe me when I say there’s not a single day that goes by where I don’t do something for the business; if you would call that daily something ‘work’ depends entirely on what your idea of ‘work’ is. My Dad, for example, would not think making a TikTok is "work" but then people make TikTok’s for their full-time income so, it really does depend on whether you're my Dad or not.

However, what I’m failing trying to say is.. my brain doesn’t take a day off from our business, even if my body does. I could be in Sainsbury's doing a food shop and see a colour or pattern that I like, so I’ll take a photo for inspiration for the next harness design. I could be re-telling a story to my Mum on the phone and think about how I will try and capture that in a blog-post. It's become abit of a thing between Paul and I, that whenever we go anywhere new I say "Do you know what would go well here...Charlie + Co" so far we've mentally got Charlie + Co Cornwall, Cotswolds and Bali! In reality, we only have Charlie + Co Nantwich and that's more than enough to handle for the time being!

A day at the shop, typical starts early with the morning set up taking around 30 minutes and involving turning on equipment such as the coffee machine, the Merry Chef oven, emptying the dishwasher, setting up the cake display, then a quick walk round the café to make sure all the tables and chairs are clean and safe before opening.

Once we’re open, it is non-stop action.

The café is often filled with all shapes and sizes of dogs that have dragged their owners in popped in for a puppuccino. You can hear the sounds of barking pooches, excited tippy toes and the swishes of wagging tails OR just the sound of "monotonous music" as the lovely Roger once described in a 3-star Google review!

A screen shot of a Google Review
In addition to our montoonous music choices serving food and drinks, we also offer dog grooming services at The Dog House Spa, located above the coffee shop. All day long we get to see amazing transfurmations happening!

An image of a white West Highland Terrier (Westie) after a groom at Charlie + Co
An image of a Chihuahua dog being dried after a bath at Charlie + Co Dog Grooming Salon
An image of a Cockapoo having a scissor cut at the grooming salon at Charlie + Co
An image of a black and white dog having a face trim at the dog grooming salon at Charlie + Co
An image of a King Charles Cavalier having it's ears brushed and trimmed at the grooming salon at Charlie + Co
An image of a Collie-Poo having a bath at the grooming salon at Charlie + Co

As the day goes on, the shop begins to wind down and unless we’re hosting one of our popular evening events (see events here) then we close, clean up and prepare for the next day. This closing process can take anywhere from 30mins-1hour depending on how much of busy day we’ve had.

There’s so much more to running Charlie + Co than meets the eye. Every day, customers will say “you must have the best job ever” and I genuinely believe I do but that doesn’t mean that it is always easy. There are however some things that make it easier like having a good, hard-working reliable team, a supportive partner who mostly stays behind the scenes but is responsible for so much of the running of the business and of course, the most adorable customer base you could ever ask for, for example:
An image of a little cockapoo enjoying their time at Charlie + Co Dog Cafe in Nantwich
An image of a Golden Retreiver enjoying their time at Charlie + Co Dog Cafe in Nantwich
An image of a Bassett Hound enjoying it's time at Charlie + Co Dog Cafe in Nantwich
An image of a Dalmatian puppy outside of Charlie + Co Dog Cafe in Nantwich

Running Charlie + Co can be challenging, but the rewards are endless. The love and appreciation shown by our customers, the joy of watching dogs and their owners enjoy themselves and socialise, the pride of seeing dogs come in and getting fitted for their new harnesses and the satisfaction of providing a safe and comfortable environment for them makes it all worth it.

Being a dog cafe owner is a unique and fulfilling experience that I wouldn't trade for anything!
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