Who Let the Dogs Out?

Who Let the Dogs Out?

Like many other start-ups, Wag has been overwhelmed by its own success.

Wag is a dog-walking service that, like Uber, links pet owners and a network of walkers online. Launched in 2015, it seemed poised for rapid growth, especially after benefiting from an enormous injection of capital. However, growing pains started hurting the company, and it lost market share. Former employees put some of the blame on new management for failing to understand the company and develop a sound strategy.


Video Spotlight: Wag Dog Walking Review


This post is based on the CNN.com article, Dog-Walking Startup Wag Raised $300 million to Unleash Growth. Then Things Got Messy, by S.A. O’Brien, September 27, 2019, and the YouTube video, Wag Dog Walking Review – Wag App Reviewby Red Pill Vegan, June 8, 2018. Image source: Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

Discussion Questions:

1. What is Wag’s core business? Is the direction taken by top management consistent with the core business?

Guidance: Wag’s core business is taking the best care of people’s pets. Top management’s primary concerns seem to have shifted from a love for dogs to market growth with more walkers, centralized operations, and cost reductions. The direction taken by top management might make sense if quality problems had been resolved. However, as they tried to grow the business, the quality issues grew as well. Compounding these problems are human resource issues which lead to poor training of walkers, turnover, job dissatisfaction, lack of commitment, and eventually, worse quality.

2. What quality problems has Wag experienced? Are they serious for this type of business?

Guidance: The quality problems include lost dogs, injuries, and even deaths. The costs associated with these external failures, i.e. detected by customers, are the highest and most damaging to a company’s reputation. Poor customer service exacerbated the problems. Imagine customers’ reactions when calling a customer service representative in the Philippines if their dog was lost. People love their pets and pay a significant amount for their care. They expect outstanding quality and rapid problem resolution from caring individuals.

3. What quality tools and metrics should the company use?

Guidance: Students will propose different tools and metrics. Examples of tools include check sheets to identify all problems and their frequencies, cause-and-effect diagrams to find the root causes of the quality problems, and Pareto diagrams to prioritize the causes or errors by location. Examples of metrics include number of complaints per 1,000 dog walks, daily call volume at customer service center, average time to resolve a complaint, number of runaway incidents per 1,000 walks, and number of deaths per 1,000 walks. Process control charts could be used to monitor performance on these metrics.

It seems that employees have ideas on how to improve the business. Quality circles should be formed, some of the members’ proposed solutions should be implemented, and rewards should be given when improvements are made.

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