A Bunch of April Fools
Greetings, AKC Friends,
We send this letter to mark a little over a year since everything started shutting down in earnest, particularly our beloved dog events, and we took draconian cost-containment efforts to stop the bleeding and attempt to preserve our bonuses.
Since that time, we have had many revelations and witnessed just how resilient we are. Perhaps it’s because we have leaned on the wisdom of the Bible, Churchill and pop music. Perhaps it’s because we made up pithy new tag lines. Perhaps it’s because the heavy lifting in our world is actually done by our breeders and our clubs and other organizations, and we really weren’t doing much of substance (although claiming credit for everything), so having to roll back from not much was not a strain.
Regardless, COVID has revealed something to us that we can no longer deny: We could stand in the middle of Park Avenue and tell the truth, and we wouldn’t lose any of you.
It’s, like, incredible.
So, going forward, no more smoke-blowing, no more marketing-speak, no more platitudes.
Just the unvarnished truth.
It’s liberating, actually.
And another cost-containment measure, when you think about it.
Oops, there we go with the euphemisms. Old habits are hard to break.
Cost containment means fired. Laid-off. Jettisoned. As in people and programs. Some were temporarily superfluous with the significant shutdown of events, some we’d had our eyes on for years, and we seized an opportunity. It only lowered staff costs by 6%, resulting in a $2.1M savings, but so what? Never mind we saved more by cutting promotion and public relations ($2.2M) and almost as much by being forced to shut down travel ($1.8M) for awhile.
And we have no shame that Take the Lead stepped in and covered the cost of those employees’ health insurance. Whatever, chumps. We held some no-cost, online gimmick, named them the beneficiary, tossed a few bucks their way, and everyone thinks we’re the good guys.
Speaking of, all that mileage we get out of supporting charity? Seriously? Do you think we align ourselves with the likes of AKC Reunite, AKC Canine Health Foundation and AKC Humane Fund, not to mention that museum, out of the goodness of our hearts? What’s the first thing in their names? Every dollar we give them is a dollar out of our pockets. We gotta make it up somehow.
Speaking of making it up, you note that despite events getting crushed this past year, we made a double-digit net profit. How’d that happen?
Our cash cow. Always our money-making heartbeat. Our happens overnight, online, with so little effort, it’s like magic beans. You’d think, as a result, we’d be really grateful for you breeders. And do something significant to thank you.
You’d be wrong.
Do you really think all of those registrations of all of those puppies come from you folks in the fancy? Seriously, where do you think those puppies are coming from? And who’s hooking us up with those registrations?
Speaking of the fancy, you know we don’t really care about shows, right? Why should we? Perpetual loss-leader. Oh, don’t get us wrong, we know who to suck up to. There are certain key people who have shows or pet projects that we will indulge. We’re not stupid.
But as a whole, it’s a pain to deal with. We can sell low cost “fun” events to ESPN; dog shows, not so much. Expensive to send a rep. Time consuming to approve plans. And then there’s the issue of you people not being able to get along.
Do you really expect us to administer discipline of exhibitors or judges in a rational and even-handed way? Come on. It’s totally a function of who complains about whom. Sometimes it’s a matter of taking an action (or not) to distract from something we’ve done. Sometimes it is just completely arbitrary. Deal with it.
And lastly, thank you for showing us that we can still have your loyalty without having to feed you. In-person meetings are so pre-COVID. We saved $278,000 on Board expenses last year, didn’t have to see them in person, and they still did exactly what we told them to do. And you, Delegates? No more rubber chicken!
Thank you for indulging us in this confessional. We feel so free.
Now we can focus on what we love to do — make money — and abandon that whole “mission statement” nonsense we’ve all engaged in for years. The regulators might have an issue with the fact that a not-for-profit has abandoned its stated mission, but we know you will vouch for us.
“To whom much is entrusted, it is necessary to keep calm and swing bravely for the high road and the barking dogs!” Oh, wait, we said we would quit spewing gibberish ….
If it barks, we can make money off of it,
Your Great American Kennel Club