Sunday, October 31, 2010

Why this AKC show sucked -OR- What is wrong with the business model for agility trials

I attended my second AKC agility trial this weekend with my two Canine Partners (aka non-purebred dogs). This trial offered Standard, Jumpers with weaves, and FAST. Quite a few people do not enter FAST because it is NOT a titling requirement for a MACH/PAX. I did not enter it.

My issue is holding competitors hostage for free labor.

I ran both dogs by 9:30am on Saturday, and waited around until 5:30pm for their second run. It's extremely painful, especially since I have always heard about how terrific AKC is. Yes, it was my choice to be held hostage, but is it reasonable and fair to treat competitors, your customers this way? No. I'm tempted to NEVER enter another AKC agility trial based on this one.

I know why the host club did this: to coerce competitors into "volunteering",uh, I mean working. This is my biggest issue, not just with this incident, but agility trials in general.

I am a software engineer. I interviewed and landed a good job. I provide my company my services in exchange for a paycheck. If I need a plumber, I call one, he comes to my house and fixes something in exchange for a check. See where I am headed?

At agility trials, a club offers a service - a trial - and I write a check to pay for those services. However, I am also expected to provide free labor to the club to make it a "success".


A plumber doesn't come to my house and hand me a plunger to unclog my own toilet, and then expect me to pay for it. Why do clubs expect the same? I do not have an MBA, but it seems to be a crappy business model for the consumer.

Dangling a carrot, like, "Hey! We have a crappy raffle that you don't have a snowball's chance in hell to win!" is not sufficient. Neither is, "We provide a salmonella-laced hot dog from our questionable vendor". Unless your organization is tax exempt, and can prove it to me, I am not donating my time without payment. If you want me to get off my arse and set bars, pay me. It's not like I am asking for $100k a year, medical benefits, and a 401k or pension. Give a worker coupon, maybe worth $4/hour. It's a win-win situation - you staff your trial AND you have someone who will enter your shows again.