Now there’s a contender for oddest blog post title of the year, wouldn’t you say? Trust me, you don’t need to be a voice artist OR a dog-lover to hopefully glean a little something out of this…
As some of you might now, if you follow me on Facebook, my family and I welcomed a new member of the family to our home this past weekend. Rosie, a 6-month-old Great Pyrenees-Boxer, walked into the house and within hours was acting like she had lived here all of her short life. She’s a sweetheart, too; very friendly, very loving, very playful, very…big. Forty-five pounds already, and we’ve still got 6 more months to go before she’s a grown-up!
We love her.
But we almost didn’t find out about her. My wife, who is the most ‘dog person-y’ person you could ever meet, is actually allergic to them, so we had considered buying a purebred Standard Poodle. Standard Poodles don’t shed, are hypo-allergenic, are great with children, and – despite the frou-frou connotations they carry – can almost look manly when their fur isn’t trimmed to look like they just walked through a styrofoam ball factory.
The fastest way to lose a customer
The reason I’m telling you this is because of the attitude we received from the Standard Poodle breeder. Now, we are conscientious, loving people who have had cats and dogs our entire lives, and who care for them as if they’re family – because they ARE family. We’re also the types of folks who consistently bring home strays or shelter-pets; however, we felt that due to my wife’s allergy, we could justify spending the hundreds of dollars it might require to purchase a purebred.
Imagine, then, our surprise when my wife emailed the breeder to get more information – and was basically told in a reply email that the breeder was too busy to talk, that she had all the information on her website (which we had already viewed), and suggested we ‘Friend’ her on Facebook – which my wife had already done. But, of course, a person that busy probably doesn’t have time to sweat little details like that.
Wow, great way to entice customers, huh?
So this got me thinking how preposterous it would be, if people in other industries treated their potential customers and clients the way this woman does. The following are actual excerpts from the breeder’s email (slightly edited for punctuation and grammar – she might make thousands of dollars with every litter of pups, but she ain’t no Rhodes scholar) along with my imagined version of a voiceover artist saying the same thing. Really, though, anyone saying these things in any industry is preposterous; perhaps you’ll see a parallel within your own industry.
It began when my wife askedif we can speak with the breeder to learn a bit more about her & her dogs:
Breeder: “Right now, time to just chat on the phone is not usually possible… My life and the work of taking good care of my poodles and their pups limits any telephone time severely.”
Voice artist: “Right now, time to just chat on the phone is not usually possible… My life and work of reading scripts limits time to engage in human contact severely.”
Breeder: “I love email, which I can fit into an over-scheduled, hectic life.”
Voice artist: “I love email, which helps me avoid having to speak directly to people who want to give me money. Because, you know, my life is over-scheduled and hectic, unlike the boring, humdrum existence you lead.”
Breeder: “I would suggest you check out our website and read all the text pages. Also go over our Face Book page (Ed. note: yes, she spelled it as TWO SEPARATE WORDS) and check out all the pictures, albums and posts from puppy owners.”
Voice artist: “Here’s what you do: stop bugging me and go visit my website. And don’t just visit the home page – read all the text pages and listen to all the demos, like a good little customer. That way you don’t keep asking me questions I’ve already answered on my website. I mean, GAWD – the whole reason I set up the website in the first place was so I wouldn’t have to interact with you.”
Breeder: “I will have some open days in early December if you would like to visit. We do have to go by appointments. Because of the work load here, I can see just one family per day at 1pm.
Voice artist: “Let’s see…it’s mid-November now, so how about we deal with each other a month from now? Your Christmas Sale commercial script can wait, right? Of course, it’ll have to – did I mention how agonizingly busy I am?? Why don’t we plan to meet December 27th at 1:35pm. That’s not a suggestion.”
Breeder: “In lieu of an application, I love to see an email telling me all about you, your family, your home and most importantly, who will be at home and available to raise a new baby?? Poodles just do not develop well left home all alone…they need to be raised by someone’s side, much like you would do with a human child.”
Voice artist: “You want to sign a contract? Hold on, there, Sparky – what makes you think I even want to voice your script? In addition to the homework I’ve already assigned (visiting my website, reading all the text and listening to all the demos, viewing my Face Book page), I’d like you to write an essay explaining why you think you deserve the privilege of working with me. Tell me about yourself, your company, and most importantly, what your commercial is about. I don’t voice commercials for just anyone you know, so I really need to know if you’re worth my time.”
When my wife very politely emailed the breeder back to say she wanted to speak with her directly because of her concern about the quality of care the dogs were receiving at the breeder’s, to get a sense of the personality of the breeder, and to be sure the place was not just a “puppy mill”…she never received a reply. We figure there are three possible reasons. Either: a) my wife insulted the breeder by insinuating that it was a puppy mill (which she was not); b) she insulted the breeder because the breeder IS a puppy mill; or c) the breeder is just so damn busy, remember?
Can you imagine telling a prospective customer or client these things? I understand it’s a farm and they’re busy and all of that. But we’re all busy. If we don’t take care to pay attention to what we say to others and how we say it – customers or not – our smug, negative attitudes will cost us. And I don’t just mean monetarily.
Remember, whether you’re selling dogs, doing voiceowork, or waiting tables…a little friendliness and consideration can go a long way. Haughtiness and impatience can go a long way, too – but in the wrong direction.
Rosie, courtesy Lonestar Pyrs & Paws-North
My wife and I know not all dog breeders are like this woman; there are some fine, wonderful places raising and selling purebred dogs. It definitely pays to do your homework, though. (Although it shouldn’t be assigned by the other person) Thanks to this breeder’s arrogance, we did some more searching and found out about a terrific organization called Lone Star Pyrs & Paws Rescue, a non-profit rescue group dedicated to Great Pyrenees dogs. Our Rosie, the only one in the litter without her breed’s trademark long fur, was the runt of the litter and the last to be adopted.
We’re glad she waited for us.
We’re tremendously grateful to the group for getting us in touch with our new family member. We’re also so grateful to the poodle breeder for turning us away, I’m thinking of thanking her personally.
By email, of course.