Dogfooding At The Organizational Level

At last, a post 2 months later! Well life happened, work happened, yadda yadda. Personal update: Baby due in 3 months! Panic! At home.

Eating your own dog food, also called dogfooding, occurs when an organization uses its own product. This can be a way for an organization to test its products in real-world usage. Hence dogfooding can act as quality control, and eventually a kind of testimonial advertising. more

If you work in the tech industry (heck, any industry that designs something for an end user), you may have heard of the term user empathy. You may even have written user stories -- ones where you have to assume the role of a user of the product you're trying to make and sell -- when you're not actually the user. At least, you will be if you eat your own dog food. (The term is easy to say and remember but it doesn't make sense to me... How are humans supposed to be good judges of how dog food should taste?)

Better than any NPS, any analytics report, or any user research -- dogfooding is the ultimate "putting yourself in the users' shoes" move. If you're a company that says "Built by x for x", you best be dogfooding at an organizational level. Every single person of every department should involve themselves in the act.

I'll go through the steps of possible dogfooding within my organization and the potential benefits for each person or department involved. Disclaimer, the terms and jargons used may not make sense to you. To do dogfooding at HostAStay, this is what it would look like, the activity and how it helps us improve the solutions provided:

  1. We need to even emulate the problems that made our customers our customers in the first place.

Have vacant properties that generate a loss.

Find around 3-5 vacant properties nearby and start paying deposit on the rental, maintenance and so on. These properties should be accessible to the HQ and where most of us are. 3-5 is a good number because it means it's more than 1, and it allows for at least 2 room types (for hotel inventory-type scenarios) with unique designs or to emulate the parent-child unit scenario. 3-5 is small enough to a company as a risk, yet also a formidable enough number of units to keep running with ~50 team members.

This is also the stage where the owners/investors negotiations happen. This is where we decide and sign-off on the revenue share, service package and how we provide payout to the owners. Doing this gives us a better view of current market needs and keeps our feelers and radars up to date.

  1. Then it's time to get the properties ready for business. That means short-stay ready renovation.

Why stop there? Consult DesignAStay for the interiors and get the properties up to a short stay ready state.

~ Get into trouble - have units. (Find owners, negotiate terms, decide how to do payout.) Get them ready for business. Renovate, supply the stays. Setup basic accounts, OTA users. Photography, marketing, setup the listings, content-write. Setup and get on-boarded on channel manager. Start hosting and check-in check-out. Get reviews, cleaning, resupply units. Set up hosting SOP, system SOP. Optimize revenue and occupancy, play with rates, seasons, discounts, custom rules... Manage owners and reporting. Do payout for owners. ~

In short, it means that we have to host (again), and involve everyone within the company in a rotation or roster that makes sense. This allows every one of us to dogfood the whole suite of our solutions. It provides an opportunity for us to keep our own supplies, renovation, cleaning, software and management up to our highest expectations. It can even be our unique organizational habit that organically gains our customers' (and our own) trust.

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Janson Chah
I write about personal stories, tech stuff, leadership, and life in general. Expect pointless ramblings, random thoughts. Minimum 1 post per week. (Edit: LIAR) Quality not guaranteed.