Service "going to the dogs" – brilliant!

I’ve been a Farmers Market fan for years. I love eating local and there is nothing like having a direct relationship with the farmer who takes such great pride in what they bring to market.

I’ve been a fan of the Lake Oswego Farmers Market since I moved here a couple of summers ago. It is everything a local market should be – close to home with high-quality and local fruits, veggies, cheese, nuts, meats, flowers, breads, and other assorted goodies.

It didn’t take me long to scope out “my” vendors – the German lady with the excellent lettuce, beans, and potatoes. The “Peaches People” who have the most excellent peaches, nectarines and cherries. Oh, and the mushroom lady! Not only does she have all kinds of different mushrooms, she is savvy enough to have a chef cook up different dishes to highlight all the tasty things possible with mushrooms and a little imagination.

But one of my favorite things about this market is not the food or the friendly vendors. It is seeing all of the happy dogs that are taken care of by the market’s free Doggie Day Care service. 

Located on a tree-lined street just outside the market, each dog gets their own shade tree, their own water bowl (labeled with their names), and plenty of tail-wagging love and attention from volunteers, kids, and market patrons.

Although I am more of a “cat person”, it makes me smile to see all the happy dogs on my way into the market. I can stop on my way in, pet them, and laugh at their doggie-cuteness. Before I even step into the market, I have a smile on my face and am in a good mood.

Unique even for dog-friendly Portland, the Lake Oswego Farmers Market is the only one (of approximately 80 Farmers Markets) to offer its customers free Doggie DayCare service.

How cool is that? Want to go to the market but don’t want to keep Fido cooped up at home? No problem! With their dogs happy and well taken care of, market patrons can leisurely browse the Farmers Market without the distraction of having to maneuver Fido (on a leash) through the crowd. Not only is this great for the dog-loving crowd, it works for everyone.

As cute as dogs are, not everyone appreciates having to mingle with them in crowded places, kids are sometimes scared of them and crowded markets are not so fun for dogs either.

Within the customer service realm, this is a great example of lateral thinking. Rather than go directly to the customer, why not provide excellent service to something or someone the customer cares about (family member, pet, car).

Your customers will perceive you as thoughtful and accommodating – especially when the service is provided for free.

Other examples of winning customers over with this type of lateral thinking include Ikea’s complimentary child care service (drop off the kids while the parents shop) and restaurant valet parking.

In addition, it’s a great strategy to eliminate barriers that prevent your customers from coming to you in the first place.

Normally the phrase “going to the dogs” means that things are sliding downhill. However, in the case of the Lake Oswego Farmers Market, “going to the dogs” is a brilliant customer service move!

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