Ernie and Theo had both arrived early at their favourite meeting place.
It had been a hot Easter weekend. They sat in the shade of a blooming cherry blossom tree.
They’d not met since their special board meeting where they’d drawn up the plan to take back control of Ernie and Theo after learning their pet-humans had won a deal with Summerseat Garden Centre without their approval.
Theo had arranged a lovely venue for the board meeting. He’d also produced an agenda and supporting papers.
However, the meeting got off to a bad start. Ernie arrived an hour late. When Theo asked why, Ernie mumbled unconvincingly about having his ear chewed off by his brother Erik. Theo asked why Ernie hadn’t just walked away and come to the meeting.
“You don’t know Erik,” Ernie had replied - a flicker of fear fleetingly flashing across his face.
Erik chews brother Ernie’s ears off
Theo had then distributed the agenda for the meeting. Ernie saw that Theo had organised a lunch break and had lots of questions about when I was and what they’d be eating.
Theo started the meeting with a review of recent business performance. Ernie, however, was far more interested in the bowls of treats on the boardroom table.
Despite all these hiccoughs, they had decided how to seize back control of their business.
“I’ve taking a close look at the whole operation,” a stern-looking Theo explained at one point. “We need to be in complete control of our product range. We know better than the pet-humans what our customers want – we are the same species as them after all!!”
Ernie didn’t know what a “species” was but decided it was a bad time to ask. He loved all Ernie and Theo’s products, from their bandanas and bowties to their collars and leads. However, he knew it was unwise to disagree with Theo when he was in this kind of mood.
“And, another thing,” Theo continued, “our marketing and customer relations strategies need a complete overhaul. We need to get out there more. We’ve become far too complacent Ernie!!”
Ernie hadn’t caught everything Theo said. He’d been distracted by trying to catch some falling cherry blossom in his mouth. Consequently, he nodded his agreement with Theo’s assertions. Better that than asking questions and Theo finding out he hadn’t been listening!
As a result, they’d agreed a new strategy. Ernie would focus on the customer and marketing side of things whilst Theo would get a grip of product development and financial control.
“I want to see you really fronting this show, Ernie,” Theo explained. “Between us, we can really up our game my friend,” he added.
Ernie thought about asking Theo how to “up a game” but, again, felt it wasn’t the right time.
They were meeting this evening, under the falling blossom, to review how their plan to take back control was going.
“Well, I’ll start Ernie,” Theo said, “I have reviewed our product range.”
“Oh, that’s good Theo. What have you decided then?” Ernie asked rather nervously.
“We need to expand it,” Theo replied.
“Well, we already do large-size bandanas and leads Theo, how much more do you need to expand them?!” Ernie asked.
“No!! I mean expand the number of products we offer,” Theo said exasperatedly, “not make our existing products bigger!!”
“Oh, I’ve got you,” Ernie replied sheepishly, “what new products are you thinking of?”
“I think we should look at doing harnesses and our own range of toys” Theo pronounced.
Ernie’s ears pricked up at the sound of toys.
“Ernie and Theo toys?! I like that Theo,” Ernie said enthusiastically. “I’ll be able to try them out,” he added.
“Well, we’d need to do some customer research Ernie,” Theo explained, “that’s where you’d come in!”
Ernie’s tail started wagging and he got up and walked about to contain his excitement.
“Ooh, I can’t wait,” he replied.
“Talking of customers, how’ve you been getting on with your bits of our plan?” Theo asked.
“Well I’ve been so busy Theo, I don’t know where to begin,” Ernie answered.
“At the start?” Theo suggested.
“Well, firstly I went to look at our display at Summerseat Garden Centre,” Ernie explained excitedly. “It looks really good.” he went on, “Then we went into their café for some lunch. I always find something nice to eat on the floor there and it doesn’t cost me a penny.”
“I’m still not happy the pet-humans didn’t get our approval before making that deal,” Theo said, “how many more times do I have to tell them it’s our name over the door?”
“Well, it’s our names over the display at Summerseat and the lady we work with there, Gill, said they’ve already sold some of our things,” Ernie explained.
“I noticed we’d had a bit of a jump in sales, that might explain way,” Theo said cheerfully. “That is good news. I always said we should aim at the garden centre market,” he added.
Ernie couldn’t recall Theo talking about garden centres. Then he remembered that he was always forgetting things so he didn’t say anything. Theo asked him what else he had been doing on the marketing front.
“Well, I have been to a few of our new markets,” Ernie explained. “I’ve been clocking up the miles going to Ramsbottom, the Lowry, Cheadle and the Northern Quarter in Manchester,” he went on, “I met lots of lovely people and some of my mates popped down to say hello”
Ernie keeps an eye on things at the Manchester’s Northern Quarter Makers Market
Theo began to think Ernie wasn’t taking his role as their marketing maestro very seriously. His doubts were confirmed when he asked Ernie which market he thought was the best.
“The Northern Quarter,” Ernie answered unhesitatingly.
“Why? Did we get good sales figures there?” Theo asked.
“I don’t know, but Diane was there from Millie & Ruby Dog Bakery and I got some free treats,” Ernie innocently replied.
Theo lay down and rubbed his head with his paws. The plan was not going to plan, or at least Ernie’s bit of it wasn’t. Ernie hadn’t finished though….
“Anyway, I got talking to Diane and she mentioned ‘Postman Pooch’. They do gift boxes for dogs, and she thought they might like some of our products,” he went on, “so, I got in touch with them and we are having a meeting to see if we can help!!”
“Yes, I always knew supplying the pet gift box industry was a possible growth opportunity for us,” Theo said, brightening up.
Ernie tried to recall when Theo had talked about supplying the pet gift box industry. But before he got chance to ask him when that was, Theo had another question for him.
“And what have you done about raising our public profile?”.
“Well, my friend Dolly and her human Jackie at ‘Pooch Pix’ invited me to their opening ceremony,” Ernie replied. “We had our photo taken with some mates and Jimmy Cricket!!”
“With Jimmy Cricket?.... The comedian?” Theo asked dubiously.
Ernie and friends with Jimmy and Jackie at Pooch Pix opening
“Yes, and there’s more!!” Ernie said excitedly.
“There’s more?” Theo asked, “what more is there?”
“Well, the rumour is that our photo might appear in a magazine,” Ernie said trying hard not to sound too blasé about rubbing shoulders with the famous. “How about that getting our name out there then?” he asked his wise friend.
“Ernie, if I had a hat like Jimmy’s I’d take it off to you,” Theo replied. “I never doubted that between us we could take back control. What’s next then?”
Ernie knew exactly what was next. It wasn’t what Theo had in mind though. Amidst the falling blossom he’d spotted some squirrels scuttling around for food. By the time Theo had finished asking his question, Ernie was flying in their direction.
“Yeo Theo,” he cried, “I’ve got to go, see you soon!”
“Yes Ernie, it’s well past teatime, I’m going home too. Keep up the good work Ernie!!” Theo shouted and he trotted off towards home.