Keeping them organised…
Another of the Directors at VIPPIES is Jake Chapman, Sheena’s son and Jade’s older brother. Just like his sister Jake has been involved in the business from school days getting out and about on dogs walks. Sheena explained “Fresh air is great for young people and walking dogs makes it all the more fun. Some of the dogs would love it when Jake was home and would let them play football with him – as long as they didn’t puncture the ball!” He also learned from a young age to answer the telephone in a professional manner “The home phone line was the only number for the business so it was important whoever answered, whether they were expecting a personal call or not, should answer it so people knew they had got through to a well-run business.”.
Jake was also interested in the other part of the family business and used to help out with organising the delivery of The Works round the villages including working out the best routes to follow. He also got some work experience at a local restaurant to help learn about customer care before joining the team fulltime.
It is in Jake’s nature to be very organised and methodical, he brings a quiet authority to his role in the business which balances perfectly his Mum and Sister who are more ebullient! He is often found working behind the scenes setting up at the dog shows, handling maintenance and organising the stock rotation and sales for the Natural Instinct dog food. This includes making sure all of the regular customers have their food available to collect each week or month.
But he is never happier than when he is with the animals and enjoys looking after a wide range including reptiles and some of the bigger dogs, he has learned some skills from a Police dog handler. “I am much happier with the animals and particularly enjoy working with the dogs who are unsure of themselves or their surroundings, gently gaining their trust and watching them relax,” he said, “I don’t mind what kind of animal I am called to look after – big or small, just recently I was left in charge of a customer’s owl and that was really interesting”.
Now Jake is a director of VIPPIES he is back up to all of the team, he is the one person who knows almost every job the team covers. VIPPIES offer emergency cover for clients and hold keys for the homes so that Jake can step in to most jobs at short notice providing back up to the main walker/carer so that they can go to cover the emergency. It is only the customers who specify a female walker or carer that he can’t cover, some of the elderly ladies or dogs feel uncomfortable with men and that is always respected.
However, Jake has charmed one of the dogs who was not so keen on fellas – the infamous Archduke Ralph really trusts Jake these days after gradually getting to know him at VIPPIES HQ. They are now good friends, especially after Jake rescued Ralph when his family had a car accident, collecting him from the scene so he was safe away from the commotion that is part of such an event. It is this ability to develop a trusting relationship with animals that leads to Jake being the specialist walker for the dogs with those extra special needs – be they reactive, over enthusiastic or just incredibly big and strong!
As well as all the things you would expect from one of the Directors of the company such as meet and greet sessions and back up for the team Jake often takes on the ‘live ins’ when owners go away and want both pets and house cared for together. He recognises that pet visits and general walking have to be something the customer can rely on – it is a premium service and so expectations are high. “But it really is quite something when someone trusts you not just with their pets but their whole house, one customer even trusted me with her new litter of puppies. It is quite a responsibility but one that I get a lot of satisfaction from doing well,” he ended.