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Bella in your business pet sitting podcast

Episode 40: Positive Attitude & Opportunity With Tracie Hotchner

On this episode Bella spends time talking with Tracie Hotchner, author of The Dog Bible: Everything your dog wants you to know and The Cat Bible: Everything your cat expects you to know.

Tracie Hotchner

Tracie Hotchner

Tracie is the host of 10 pet talk radio podcast shows on her own Radio Pet Lady network, including her NPR show “Dog Talk (and Kitties, too)”. She is also the founder of the NY Dog Film Festival which she travels with around the country after an annual premiere in NYC in November.

Bella and Tracie discuss how Tracie’s successes came about and the importance of positive attitude and a willingness to step through open doors.

You can find out more about Tracie and listen to her shows at RadioPetLady.com.

You can find out more at the NY Dog Film Festival, including a list of cities it is coming to, at DogFilmFestival.com.

 

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Episode 28: How To Pet Sit for Aggressive Dogs

In this episode, Bella speaks with Jennifer Taylor, the Founder and owner of JenLovesPets, an award-winning San Diego pet sitting and dog walking company.

After sitting down with Jennifer in her home town of San Diego, Bella was so impressed with the vast knowledge and stories that Jen has that she immediately knew she had to be on a podcast with the intent to help elevate the pet industry when it comes to approaching and accepting clients who are aggressive or fearful.

 

In This Episode:

 

aggressive dogs

Jennifer Taylor, JenLovesPets.com

Bella and Jen talk about “aggressive” dogs and how people often lump fearful dogs into the same category. Jennifer discusses some of the causes of aggression and ways to overcome it.

Listen in as they discuss:

1. What is the difference between fearful and aggressive dogs?

2. What advice would you have for a sitter who encounters a fearful or aggressive dog during a consultation? What steps should they take to ensure their safety?

3. What if that situation was that pet sitter’s staff member? How can one train their staff to acknowledge these types of pets and alert management?

4. Tell me a success story with a two and four legged client and how you were able to create a happy environment for that pet (the one you told me)

5. Where can sitters go to get more education on this topic for themselves and their staff?

They also discuss how a pet sitter would go about working with a fearful dog by including dog behavioralists and trainers on the team. Jen also lists some great resources for those who want to work with fearful dogs.

Mentioned In The Episode:
The Pet Professional Guild – http://www.petprofessionalguild.com/

pet first aid training online

 

 

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Episode 27:The Great Debate: DogVacay, Rover, Wag, and Zingy versus Professional Small Business Owners –

In this episode of “Bella In Your Business”, Bella speaks with Britt Alwerud from Handlr.  They discuss  DogVacay, Rover, Wag, and Zingy versus Professional Small Business Owners.

In this episode they discuss:

  • Why do you think so many small business owners are intimidated by the large powerhouses that have entered the market in the last few years?
  • How have the changed the industry? Are they really “disrupting” the industry?
  • What are the pros and cons of the huge companies versus the more personal professional businesses?
  • Are customers flocking to on-demand apps? Are they demanding an on-demand experience?
  • Are small business owners going to get screwed or what can they do to protect themselves?
  • If someone is a Rover or DogVacay user, but they want to become a legitimate small business with people working for them, could they use Handlr? What are their first steps for becoming a legit business?

Britt Alwerud

Britt Alwerud lives in Los Angeles, CA with her menagerie of furbabies – two Goldens, Daisy and Taj, two cats, Tiger and Monkey, two horses named Gracie and Moo, and a chameleon named Larry. Britt owns DogZenergy in San Diego, CA. Now she’s the full-time Founder and CEO of Handlr. Handlr is the ultimate business app for busy pet sitters who are looking to automate and grow their business. Learn more about Handlr by clicking here or email her at britt@myhandlr.com. You can also find Britt on Instagram @doggonetechgirl or follow Handlr on Twitter @myhandlr for weekly business tips.

 

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Episode 25: Compassion Fatigue

Holly Cook, author of My End of the Leash

Holly Cook, author of My End of the Leash

In this episode of “Bella In Your Business”, Bella speaks with Holly Cook, author of My End of the Leash: Compassion Fatigue From a Pet Sitter’s Perspective.

She started pet sitting in 1994, and won the Pet Sitters International,  Pet Sitter of the Year award in 2004;  She has been serving the pet sitting industry by becoming a state Ambassador for PSI in 2005. She has also authored several articles presented at many pet sitting conferences. She has developed donation drives for communities devastated by disaster (From Missouri floods in 1993, 9/11, Hurricane Katrina to Hurricane Sandy.). 

Holly also became a certified Compassion Fatigue Educator through the University of Tennessee School Of  Veterinary Social Work in 2016. To say she is an advocate for the pets and the people who care for them is an understatement. 

Bella and Holly discuss what compassion fatigue is and how it differs from “burn out”  Holly discloses traits common among those susceptible to compassion fatigue including:

  • Being a highly dedicated professional
  • Always expecting positive feedback about work
  • High demand for personal competence
  • A personal history of exhaustion
  • A large workload
  • Lack of trauma training
  • Identification with those in their care
  • Those is a non-supportive work environment or unsupportive friends and family

Holly then details some of the symptoms of compassion fatigue:

  • Bone-tired exhaustionpet sitter compassion fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Persistent physical ailments
  • Apprehension
  • Over exaggerated startle reflex
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Abnormal anger
  • Rumination or excessive thoughts about an incident
  • Clumsiness
  • Nightmares and flashbacks
  • Difficulty concentrating and forgetfulness
  • Tendency to isolate from other people
  • Inability to make a decision
  • Intrusive imagery
  • Reduced ability to feel sympathy or empathy toward other people or animals
  • Denial of any of the above symptoms

Grab her book here: My End of the Leash: Compassion Fatigue From a Pet Sitter’s Perspective

 

If you feel like this might be you, Holly encourages you to take the quiz on her website

Learn more about Holly and her book in a previous article we wrote back in June when her book originally came out.

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Episode 21: How One Pet Lover Took Her Passion For Pets and United An Entire State with Woofalong

Darcy Graham, creator of WOOFALONG.COM

Darcy Graham, creator of WOOFALONG.COM

In this episode of “Bella In Your Business”, Bella talks with Darcy Graham,  creator of WOOFALONG.com. The site, which shows you the dog-friendly restaurants, stores, parks, trails and events in Colorado, was launched earlier this year and is already looking to expand.

Bella and Darcy discuss:

  • The frustration that was the impetus for the site.
  • How Darcy compiled the list of locations.
  • What types of publicity Darcy has managed to get for the site already and how she did it.
  • The engagements her site has gathered so far and how she has gotten it to grow.
  • Her extensive use of social media.
  • What she has planned for the upcoming version 2 of the site.
  • The plans for expansion to other cities.
  • The potential opportunities on WOOFALONG.COM for business owners.

You can find more information about WOOFALONG.COM at, where else, http://www.woofalong.com.

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Episode 19: A Look Back at How A Pet Sitting Business Started & Grew with Kristie Glazer

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In this episode of “Bella In Your Business”, Bella talks with Kristie Glazer from Philly Pet Care, a family-owned pet-sitting and dog-walking company in Philadelphia. Kristie talks about how she got started and what changes she made that really helped her business grow.

After graduating college, Kristie and her husband moved to Philadelphia which is near where she grew up in South Jersey.  She was a teacher for a little while and then a sales rep for a shipping company. But she wasn’t happy.  She sat down and thought about what would make her happy….the answer….dogs!  She figured she lived in a city now and people probably needed dog walkers. Before her husband got home that day from his job as a chef, she had a full business plan worked out.  She told him she planned to quit her job and start this business. He told her to go ahead and do it!

{Don’t you just love that?}

So Kristie did it. She started a website. She started cold calling and giving people her card.  She would take any job that came along (which she says in retrospect is a mistake many new business owners make). She did start  to grow the business though, which at the time was called “Personal Pet Care by Kristie”, and continued on for four years adding clients as she went.

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Bella notes that having that moral support from our loved ones really can help catapult our businesses from the start. Maybe not necessarily our business numbers, but it certainly helps us with our tenacity.

Kristie continued by saying that when she first started the business, the ironic thing was that they lived in an apartment where they could not even have pets. So they naturally had to refuse requests for overnights or doggie daycare.  But they eventually moved to a place where they could have pets and started offering both of those services.The business got so busy that they moved to their own home and Dave quit his job as a chef and joined the business!

Kristie said they had some major bumps in the road along the way. In fact, she wishes in retrospect that they had had a “team” (lawyers and accountants) early on as it may have helped them avoid some of the roughest bumps.

One bump, she points out, was a failure to secure all the licenses needed to board dogs in their home. It led to a neighbor calling Licensing and Inspections on them resulting in them having to cease doing the boarding for two years while they worked out all the necessary issues (including getting their home zoned to be a kennel).  

Kristie talked about a point in time when they were working constantly in the business. It was just her and Dave and trying to juggle the business and their three year old son got to be too much.  She came across Bella and Jump Consulting and as a result made some changes.  They rebranded to “Philly Pet Care”.  They revamped  their website and added professional photos and higher quality business cards.

They raised their rates, which caused many customers to go away, but with the higher rates they still made that money back. They cut out the doggie daycare which Kristie said drove her nuts anyway. They made those changes four years ago and Kristie said doing all that gave them back their sanity and the business has been humming along smoothly every since.

Bella says what she is hearing is that they now have a clean system and process and that their business works for them and not them working for the business. Bella paints the analogy of the bow and arrow.  She said that, at that time, Kristie and Dave were like a bow that needs to get pulled back a little bit so that it can get released and send that arrow soaring forward. But notes that it really stinks when you are going through it.

Kristie agreed. She says it is difficult and a lot of work but it is so worth it in the end. She notes that you have to grow though, because if you don’t grow your business will fail.

Bella then asks Kristie about the future of Philly Pet Care.

Kristie says they are still doing the dog walking services in Center City (Philadelphia). They do still do overnights, but only for dogs they have a walking relationship with.  Dave and she hope to remove themselves more and more from the business. Not remove themselves completely because she and Dave like to make sure they personally know each and every client. In fact, she believes that is what really helps set them apart. They have two employees now but hope to have more in the future so they can have more time off.

Kristie also said they are starting to plan for retirement. They are at a point with their business where they are making enough money to really start saving for the future. So that, maybe in 10 years or so, they could be in some form of retirement. But she notes that she doesn’t really see herself ever completely letting go or selling the business.  She has even pictured their son ultimately being the owner of Philly Pet Care.

Bella compares a successful small business to having built your own beautiful home.  You can live in it until the day you die. You build yourself a quality life with the luxury of having options.

Bella wraps the episode by telling  Kristie how proud she is of everything Kristie and Dave have accomplished.

You can find out more about Philly Pet Care and Kristie and Dave at http://www.MyPhillyPetCare.com or to hear about the rebranding experience Kristie had with Bella a few years ago, you can watch the video here.

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Episode 18: How to Get More Pet Sitting and Dog Walking Clients

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In this episode of “Bella In Your Business”, Bella is joined once again by Kate McQuillan from PawsomeMedia. They discuss the timeless question they always get, “How do I get more pet sitting and dog walking clients?”

More-clients-pet-sitting-dog-walking

 

List All The Services You Offer On Your Website:


In order to get more pet sitting and dog walking clients, Bella notes that people search for many different terms. For instance, she says that  if you are dog groomer and you want to groom small dogs or even cats, make sure you list that. Someone looking to get a cat groomed likely won’t search for a dog groomer first. Make sure you are putting all the services you offer, along with descriptions, on your website. Kate notes you should really review your website periodically and make sure what you want out there is very clear.

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Promote Yourself On Facebook:

Kate mentions that people often get caught up sharing pet pics, memes and news, but should not forget to put out something everyday about what you do. Images, articles you have written and tips are all good ways to do that. Also, make sure you have filled out all the about sections in Facebook, especially the contact information. Also make  sure your banner clearly says what you do. Facebook pages get Googled and so having all of that information in there may actually help you show up more often in Google searches. For those who feel such promotion is too “salesy” Bella recommends you check out “Gary V” (Gary Vaynerchuk ) who has a book called Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to tell your story in a noisy social world. He writes that it is about giving value, value, value, and then a sale. Bella says it’s ok to keep sharing valuable items, but don’t forget the “right hook”!

 

Blog About What You Do:

 

Bella says to blog and talk about what you do. Discuss things like “How much does dog grooming cost?”, “Should I get my cat groomed?”, “How do I train my dog?”.  She says to take every question people ask you, use the exact question as the title of your blog post, and then answer it. She says it’s not only good for SEO (getting higher placement  in Google results), but also gives you an “arsenal” to use when people call with questions. Ask them for their email address and send them the blog post that answers that question. Kate points out that you also need to SHARE your blog post (see tip #2)! And don’t forget to reshare things you wrote months and years ago.  Keep sharing it for those who may not have seen it the first time. And revisit them periodically to “tidy” them up and make them more current.

 

 

Make Free Downloads For Your Site:

Kate suggests that you offer things on your site like free EBooks you create or checklists (like one on things to do before your next vacation), cleaning tips, etc. It doesn’t always have to be about the services you offer, just things that are useful to your customers.

 

 

Create and use “Bark Cards”

When you are out performing mobile services (grooming, pet sitting, dog walking) and you (dog) hear barking at a neighbor’s house, your worker can leave one of these bark cards. Bark cards are small postcards with a picture of a barking dog you get made up that say “BARK, BARK, BARK, BARK, BARK”. On the back leave the top half blank and on the bottom put your branding, list of services, and contact info. In the blank area, take a pen and write something like. “I think I heard a small dog and they were saying ‘Come groom me! Come groom me!’.  I was in the neighborhood and if you call me for more information I would like to offer you….” Bella says these cards are shocking and attention grabbing. They also target your demographic. Personalization in key with these cards.

 

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Email Marketing:

Kate said to make better use of the email addresses you have collected through newsletter sign ups, or people opting in to your free downloads. Send information periodically to ensure people remember who you are and what you offer.  Bella suggests it could be a “drip campaign” where you have a series of say 5 emails go out over a period of time or it could be a short periodic newsletter.  Kate notes that email is important because not everybody is on Facebook or checking out your website, but they may likely be checking email.

classes-vet-referrals

 

Talk To Vets

Bella says a lot of pet business owners just walk into a vet’s office, drop their cards and leave.  More than likely the cards get dropped in the trash. So Bella recommends that you build a relationship with the vet’s office manager. People rarely ask the vet about pet sitting or grooming services, but they do ask the front office staff or call in with that kind of question.

 

 

Start A Facebook Group:

Kate says that you start a private Facebook group not to sell services but to allow customers and members of the group to get to know you personally.  Members get to know each other, build relationships, talk about pets, etc., and build a good community.

 

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Start A Dog Walking Club!

Bella says that by starting these clubs you will have a micro area of people all interested in the same thing. Do it with your existing customers to build up brand loyalty or expose them to other services you offer. You can encourage them to bring a friend. You could start one at an apartment complex and have the complex promote the club as an activity. Kate suggests you could combine that with the private Facebook group as well.

 

 

Create Competition

 

Kate recommends that you create competition events as they are a good way to get new clients. But do it right! Don’t just do a like and share campaign. Really plan it out.  Kate has more information about doing so in her online marketing academy which Bella says is awesome!

 

Listen To The Full Podcast Below and Don’t Forget To Subscribe!

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Episode 13: Should I Pet Sit for an Out of Control Dog?

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In this episode of “Bella In Your Business”, Bella discusses whether you should agree to pet sit for an out of control dog.  The discussion is based on a post from the discussion pages of her private Facebook group found at https://www.facebook.com/groups/jumpersnetwork/.

The writer of the post said that she had a “Meet and Greet” the previous night with an “out of control dog.” She said the dog was jumping on her and very unruly. It was putting its paws on her shoulders and its parents just seemed to dismiss the behavior.

out of control dog

Bella says that you as a pet sitter need to recognize that this situation could be a potential liability. First, for you individually, because this dog could cause you to injure yourself (like twisting your ankle) and that could result in your inability to serve your other clients. Doing so could even cost you your business.

This situation could also be a danger to your employees. If one of them gets injured not only is it a loss of a dependable member of your team, but it could open you up to liability.

Bella reminds you that as a pet sitter, it is not your job to train the dog and break bad habits.  In that type of situation, it may often be best to politely decline working with that dog. If you have a trainer you have a relationship with, use the opportunity to give a referral.

Bella also suggests that you ideally decline the job via email. This gives the parents a chance to absorb and digest your reasonings.  Those reasonings should include honesty about your concerns and how you feel you are not the best fit to serve that dog’s particular needs.

You can find more great information from Bella, additional podcast episodes, and  Bella’s blog at http://jumpconsulting.net/.

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What Happens When A Pet Sitter Is Bit? Workmans Compensation. Dog Behavior


Vinny Olito, is a dog behavior consultant with Camp Ruff Ruff and he does dog boarding and training in Staten Island NY 

Jena Howard is the owner at Muddy Paws in Woburn Ma

Lori, works for Jena and was the person who was bit.

 

Often times we discuss incidents happening or even WHAT IF scenarios.

As someone who has been through two workman’s compensation claims over the past 13 years of business,

 I understand what it is like as a business owners going through it all. 

Today, we are going to examine an actual dog bite that happened just two weeks ago. 

Jena posted in my pet sitting group when it happened, and Vinny quickly jumped in to explore the different ways to look at the situation via dog behavior. 

It is one of the reasons why I love the private coaching group so much. So many have a variety of background and resources and this was an example of something I didn’t just want to leave as a discussion on the thread that got buried as time went by. 

I am honored to have Jena, Lori, and Vinny here today with us to discuss what happened. Lori, the pet sitter will take us through the facts of the dog bite, as she lived them. Jena will tell us what motions were put into action and what she learned as a business owner. Then Vinny will round us out with his thoughts as it relates with dog behavior to this situation. 

We are doing this to help you and your staff!

We do this to reflect and help the industry. Never before (to my knowledge) has an incident been documented and publicized for all to learn from. It is all our hopes that you hear what happened, store it in your long term memory, so if you ever find yourself in this position, you will know what to do. 

It is important to say that Jena has employees. She does not have Independent Contractors. If she did, this would be an entirely different discussion.

It should also be noted that Lori said that Jena was a “awesome boss” and that she really looks out fir her staff and backs them up. 🙂

What sort of questions should pet sitters ask to help avoid this happening in their business?

Some top questions to set human canine relationships up for success before meet and greets.

1. Does your dog have a bite history?
2. Has your dog ever shown any observable behaviors related to aggression?
3.How does your dog act around unfamiliar humans on leash and off?
4.How does your dog cope when an unfamiliar person walks into your home off leash? On leash?
5. How many humans does your dog fully trust (human network) ? Do you meet unfamiliar humans on walks…”get an idea of how many humans an individual dog trust” I would love to hear things like so many, loves everyone. Red flags for me would be immediate family and or a few friends…red flags, skittish, fearful, leary examples.

Looking for questions to raise red flags to avoid bites and set everyone up for success. These are some questions to ask during your initial phone consult that will get you some red flags and a better feel for a dogs temperament. Of course this is not solution or all possible questing but some good ones…

pet sitter bite