Connect
To Top

Meet Courtney DeDi of DiOGi Pet Services in Virginia Highland

Today we’d like to introduce you to Courtney DeDi.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
DiOGi Pet Services was born in 2010. Our mission is, “Sustaining the happiness and well-being of Atlanta’s pets while their humans are at work and play within the comfort of their own home and surroundings.”

The concept of specializing in caring for pets with behavioral issues and special needs came from personal experience in not finding adequate care for my own “special” fur babies. I knew there had to be other pet parents out there who struggled to take vacations or felt guilty for leaving their furkids at home for long hours while they were at work simply because they had some quirks or required some extra special care and attention. I set out to create a sustainable pet services company that ran as a professional business while offering our clientele a warm, family feeling.

For the first 1.5 years, it was myself and one other person caring for friends’ pets progressing to friends of friends, then word spread like wildfire. Fast forward almost 7 years to 2017 – DiOGi has 18 employees, and we care for more than 1600 pets in Atlanta!

In 2015, DiOGi branched out and added dog training to their list of services. Having two CPDT-KA certified trainers on staff not only allowed our team to become stronger by having peers to talk to about dog behavior as well as attend dog behavior workshops with our trainers, but our clients have also been taking advantage of having the trainers as a resource to address behavioral issues and incorporate the reinforcement of the training techniques during the regular walks with our walkers to offer consistency on all fronts.

Over the time DiOGi has been in business, the DiOGi Team has rescued countless animals off the street. Few times we were able to locate their owners, but more often than not, no one stepped up to claim them. Because I saw this as a recurring issue in our city, I decided to create a non-profit in 2016 to give back to the community who has so lovingly supported and helped DiOGi grow. The non-profit is called DiOGi CARES, and our main focus is shelter intervention. What that means is helping people keep their pets by offering free community dog training classes, providing food and supplies as well as veterinary care/spay/neuter services at no or low cost to people who have a desire to keep their pets and simply don’t have the means to do so.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
As with all growing businesses, DiOGi experienced growing pains beginning with the very first hire. Bringing on team members when the demand for services began to exceed the number of hours in the day was probably one of the most challenging times for me emotionally. It was like giving away a child and trusting a stranger to care for him/her the same way I would. I soon realized that I had a knack for hiring and and weeding through applications, so that fear became less and less as time went on. I consider myself incredibly lucky in attracting talented, loving, responsible, honest, and reliable people throughout the years.

In 2016, the biggest struggle for the business was the transition from contractors to employees. The pet care industry is moving in that direction, and I wanted to be on the forefront of that here in Atlanta. This change was not only incredibly expensive, but it was emotionally taxing. However, now that we are coming up to our 1 year anniversary of the transition, I couldn’t be happier. By having employees rather than contractors, I am able to increasingly value my team by offering benefits and coverage under worker’s compensation in addition to providing training and developmental opportunities. In turn, our clients are receiving the same quality and level of service from each of our team members which also creates sustainability for business growth. There are many risks that I was unaware of by hiring contractors, and now I am able to sleep soundly at night knowing that I am operating with integrity and within the law.

There are many “on demand” dog walking and pet sitting apps out there which are super convenient, and certainly there is a market for that. Especially in this day in age where we want everything at our fingertips and we want it NOW! The problem is there is no client loyalty or trust because you just get whoever is available. This inherently creates risk for the client and their pet as the people who work for these companies cannot be trained or adhere to any standard of service. They also are at liberty to subcontract the work if they choose to do so. I, for one, want to know who is in my home and caring for my fur children. DiOGi is committed to offering consistency that only comes from having a team of employees, and our focus will continue to be on developing intimate and trusting client relationships.

DiOGi Pet Services & Training – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
DiOGi Pet Services & Training offers a menu of services which includes dog walking, pet sitting, dog training, sleepovers, taxi service, pet food delivery, poop scooping and much more. Our specialty is caring for pets with behavioral issues and special needs. I am a PetTECH Pet First Aid and CPR instructor, so I train my entire team to offer the safest pet sitting experience possible. Our dog trainers are an excellent resource to our team of dog walkers and pet sitters, and they often work hand in hand with each other to be sure we are reinforcing training on all fronts for the best results possible. And, our director of operations has 10+ years working in veterinary day practice and ICU. We truly have a team of pet care professionals who dedicate their lives to our clients and their pets’ happiness and well-being.

We are best known for our customer service, reliability and exceeding our clients’ expectations. I am most proud of being able to sustain this as the business continues to grow.

What sets us apart from other companies is:
Our ability to adapt and customize our services to our clients’ needs
Team is comprised of employees rather than contractors
Rigorous training program including becoming trained in pet first aid and cpr
CPDT-KA certified dog trainers
DiOGi is a certified professional pet sitting company through Pet Sitters International

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
There are 3 moments that stand out to me as the proudest moments of my career. In 2016, DiOGi was nominated for the AGLCC Small Business of the year, and I was also nominated for the AGLCC rising star award. It was an honor to be nominated next to four other incredible companies and young entrepreneurs that I admire greatly. At the end of 2016, I applied for and was recently chosen to participate in the 10,000 Small Business Program by Goldman Sachs. I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to attend this program to help me create an even better business for my team and clients.

Pricing:

  • 30 minute walks begin at $20
  • 60 minute walks begin at $30
  • Vacation packages begin at $34/day
  • Sleepovers begin at $115/night – includes 8 hours of sleep over time, breakfast and dinner. More packages are available.
  • The entire menu of services and prices are listed on our website www.di-o-gi.com

Contact Info:

5 Comments

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    More in