DEAR GURU: I like dogs and all, but the barking and howling that comes from the doggie daycare that opened next to my café is driving me crazy. And that’s not as bad as the presents they leave near our patio. What are my options?
YOUR ANSWER: I would advise against fighting fire with fire in this scenario. It’s just going to get messy. And stinky. But your anger is completely justified. The lines of good neighbourliness, good business ownership and responsible poop disposal have all been crossed and, frankly, you don’t have to take this crap.
I don’t know much about dogs, but David Campbell, owner of City-Dog, a pet centre in Vancouver, suggests a little puppy love. What can I say? Dog people are big on puppy love. “It’s best to approach them and just explain the situation,” he says. “Hopefully, the person will take steps to resolve the issue.”
Noise from barking dogs can usually be controlled with some acoustic padding, Campbell says. And there’s no excuse for leaving “presents,” as you so adorably call them, lying around. Your neighbour knows this and should be willing to oblige.
In the meantime, why don’t you make an overture? A bowl of water and some Milk-Bones will go a long way to winning over the dog owners themselves. Not only might they encourage their dogs to squat elsewhere, they might even stop in for a coffee.
But if they ignore your friendly entreaties, feel free to unleash your inner pit bull. Most cities have strict business licensing rules that would prohibit a doggie daycare from not picking up after its animals. Sic a bylaw officer on your neighbour and your problem will be licked.
DEAR GURU: My sister keeps pressuring me to hire her husband to take care of my books. He was recently let go from his accounting firm and I feel for the guy, but is it wise to hire someone that I can’t fire?
YOUR ANSWER: I think you know that hiring anyone other than your brother-in-law is only going to sour relations with your sister — and most likely the rest of your family — for years to come. At family dinners, no one wants to pass the gravy to the selfish guy who puts accounting before kin. “Why don’t you get your new accountant to pass you the gravy,” your sister will say. Siblings have a special knack for making your life miserable.
First off, you need to find out why your brother-in-law was canned. Can the guy not work a calculator, or was he simply downsized? Let’s assume he’s entirely competent. In that case, great! You’ve got yourself a new accountant.
But don’t forget: While hiring family members can often be beneficial — they’re loyal to the business and generally pretty trustworthy — it can also lead to thorny entanglements, both personal and professional. “It can get messy,” says Becky Reuber, a professor of strategic management at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. If you really are reluctant to hire your brother-in-law, and it sounds like you are, Reuber says you should tell your sister you have “a strict policy of not hiring family members.”
You need not tell her that the policy only extends to this family member. You could also sidestep the problem entirely by finding a short-term project for him. “If he does a fantastic job and you love working with him, it might be that your doubts are wrong,” she says. This way, you might just get that new accountant and the gravy when you ask for it.
This feature originally appeared in the September issue of Your Business magazine. Send Guru questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.