If you follow SportDOG regularly, you know we talk about field testing our products a lot. There are two main reasons for this: 1. It’s fun. Let’s be honest, the chance to get out of the office and into the field in the name of work is our idea of a winning scenario, and 2. It’s just that important. We know that it doesn’t matter how good we make a product look or how many features we add to it, if it doesn’t work it’s not worth it. We spend too much time and energy making our products the best they can possibly be not to put them through the paces before we give them over to you, and put them through the paces we do. Our products experience every real-world scenario we can put them through before they ever reach the shelf.
Our official field testing begins as soon as we build the first prototypes of one of our new products. The first handfuls go to the engineers to put through the rigors of the lab. Fancy machines drop, stomp, throw and otherwise mutilate our newly built models. Provided they stand up to the abuse of the indoors, they’re turned over to the team and we get to take them out and put them through the scenarios even the most high-tech labs could never simulate. Whether hunting individually or as a group on one of our many hunting get-aways, we make sure whatever product we are testing is something we are proud to have our names on. If it passes this portion of the test, it’s on to the real challenge: field testers.
Now, while all of us would like to dedicate days, weeks, even months to solely testing our new prototypes in the field, as of now our paychecks require us to put in at least 40 hours a week in the office making sure all of our projects come together, and you’d be hard pressed to find one of us that isn’t putting in far more than that. When one of us becomes independently wealthy, you can expect to find us in the field judging our products pretty much 24/7, until then, we get by with a little help from our friends. We recruit the likes of Tom Dokken, Rick and Ronnie Smith, Chris Akin, Charlie Jurney and many of our prostaffers to really put our prototypes to the test, and boy do they, and they tell us all about it. We don’t mind telling you that these guys can be brutally honest about what we’ve giving them. Many times their feedback has sent us back to the drawing board.
Generally, we send them prototypes when they are heavy in hunting or training season and basically tell them to try and destroy the system, and to give us open and honest feedback about how it performs. They take this to heart. It’s our general policy that after we send them out, we call them once a week to check in and get feedback. This timing alone tells you right off the bat if the field test is going to go good or bad. If the product’s working, we’ll talk to the guys when we call them for their scheduled check-in. If the testing is going poorly? The phones are ringing off the hook. No one waits around for us to call them when there is something they want off their chest, and that’s what we need. A sanity check. A person that’s not been essentially married to this product for the last 6 months to 3 years to say “this isn’t going to work” or “you nailed it”. We prefer the latter, but it’s the previous that keeps us getting better.
A lot of work goes into our field testing, and most of the time even more work comes out of it, but it’s one of our favorite parts of the job. It’s exciting to see a product come together, and while solving the various problems that can arise in dealing with technology can be a headache, it’s also awesome when we finally get it right. It’s that moment when all of our field testers agree that we’ve done a great job that we start getting excited about getting it out to you. We’re hoping to get one of our tester’s to document his/her field testing time this year, so hopefully you will be able to get a first-hand look at what goes into testing our products, so check back for an inside look into the beginnings of some of our next awesome products.