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bella in your business

Episode 45: Everything You Need To Know About Background Checks With Jason Waggoner

On this episode  Bella spends time with Jason Waggoner, Vice President of Marketing for ACUTRAQ Background Screening Solutions. They discuss the importance of background checks and how ACUTRAQ can help eliminate some of the liabilities around doing it yourself.

Jason Waggoner, VP. Marketing for ACUTRAQ

Jason Waggoner

They discuss:

  • Some of the drawbacks to using the simple background check services you see online
  • How a service like ACUTRAQ can actually reduce some of the liability around background checks
  • How you should proceed when a potential employee has something flagged in their background check
  • Jason’s UMeetU movement and acting/video production activities.

You can find out more about ACUTRAQ at https://www.acutraq.com/.

To find out more about Jason’s UMeetU movement, go to http://www.umeetumovement.com/.

To see a cool music video Jason put together for ACUTRAQ check out https://youtu.be/2giXfjnB0p4.

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Bella in your business pet sitting podcast

Episode 43: Helping Your Clients Deal With Pet Loss Grief With Wendy Van de Poll

In this episode, Bella speaks with Wendy Van de Poll, the founder of The Center for Pet Loss Grief and an international best selling and award-winning author and speaker. They discuss pet loss grief and what pet professionals can say and do to be supportive to their clients in their loss. They also talk about how pet professionals can deal with their own grief.

Topics covered are:

  • What is pet loss grief
  • What you as a pet professional should do when a client gets the news that their pet has a terminal illness
  • How to help your clients when their pets die
  • What you shouldn’t say or do
  • How a pet professional can deal with their own grief over losing an animal client
Wendy Van de Poll

Wendy Van de Poll

Wendy Van de Poll is a pioneering leader in the field of pet loss grief support. She is dedicated to providing a safe place for her clients to express their grief over the loss of their pets. What makes Wendy successful with her clients is that she get’s grief! “Over the years I’ve dealt with my own grief and helping many families communicate and connect with their pets long after their loss. It’s what I’ve done since I was just 5 yrs old!”

She is compassionate and supportive to all who know her. Her passion is to help people when they are grieving over the loss of a pet and her larger than life love for animals has led her to devote her life to the mission of increasing the quality of life between animals and people no matter what stage they are in their cycle of life! She has been called the animal whisperer. She is a Certified End of Life and Pet Grief Support Coach, Certified Pet Funeral Celebrant, Animal Medium and Communicator. She is the founder of The Center for Pet Loss Grief and an international best selling and award-winning author and speaker. She holds a Master’s of Science degree in Wolf Ecology and Behavior and has run with wild wolves in Minnesota, coyotes in Massachusetts and foxes in her backyard. She lives in the woods with her husband, two crazy birds, her rescue dog Addie and all kinds of wildlife.

You can find out more about Wendy and the Center for Pet Loss Grief at https://centerforpetlossgrief.com.

 

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Bella in your business pet sitting podcast

Episode 41: Communication Problems In Pet Sitting Companies With Adam Smith

On this episode Bella speaks with Adam Smith from Precise Petcare. They discuss communication problems pet sitting business owners often have with both the pet sitters who work for them and with customers.  They discuss how the software offered by Precise Petcare addresses many of these challenges.

Adam Smith

Adam & Lynn Smith

Precise Petcare is an online management system that could quickly become the center of your business. The online scheduling, billing and client/staff management are all in one place. With their system you’ll have fluid communication between you, your staff and your clients. Much loved features include Pet Care Journals, the Live Sitter Map and GPS sitter check-ins. Precise Petcare was co-created by a pet sitting business owner and a web developer to combine a perfect blend of knowledge and talents specifically for this industry. Husband and wife team, Adam and Lynn Smith understand first-hand what your needs are as a pet sitting business owner and have built each aspect of the software and continuously update and improve the system – without having to rely on outside talents to delay the process!

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Bella in your business pet sitting podcast

Episode 37: Leadership, Strategic Planning, & Vision With Tarran Deane

On this episode, Bella discusses leadership with Tarran Deane, author of the new book,  “The Alphabet Principle: Your A – Z Guide to Being a Compelling Leader”.

 

Tarran Deane

Tarran Deane

Tarran Deane is Australia’s Corporate Cinderella a Leadership Development Company. Tarran works with executives, entrepreneurs, experts and emerging leaders to increase their personal effectiveness, capability, communication and commercial savviness. Bringing a maverick edge, and entrepreneurial trends to established businesses and organizations, Tarran boldly challenges, honors and equips people to shift the performance of their organization’s people, practice, and profit.  Tarran intentionally cuts through the whispered frustrations of workplaces today, equipping you to lead strategically and tactically in the fast pace of real life @ work, so you and your team can get the job done and love the company you’re in. A sought-after international keynote speaker, Tarran’s warmth, humor and 43,000 hours in leadership have helped more than 26,000 audience members to hit the shift key and lead like they mean it with boldness and humility.

Tarran DeaneBella and Tarran discuss:

  • How as a woman to be taken seriously in the corporate world
  • Dealing with problem generators in the workplace
  • Why vision and strategic planning matter.
  • Her “Signature 7 Leadership Framework” for planning out your work week. (Infographic can be gotten at https://www.tarrandeane.com/signature7leadershipinfographic/)

 

 

You can find out more about Tarran on her website at http://tarrandeane.com.
Connect with her on facebook
Get her book here

 

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2 Of The Most Important Requirements To Establish With New Pet Sitting Employees

How exciting! You just hired a new pet sitting employee for your company and now comes the training period. But how exactly do you teach someone and ensure that they not only understand but will agree to all the policies and procedures you have created for your business? How do you make sure they respect the boundaries that they are working in and your position as their boss?

Every day you’ll fight an uphill battle if the rules and boundaries of your pet sitting company aren’t properly set up. That means having a training program that teaches your staff members the employee handbook and training manual.

If you don’t have these things, prepare for your foot to hurt a lot – and often –  as you’re basically shooting at it as soon as you pop out of bed.

Just having rules isn’t enough, though.

They need to be clear, constantly updated and taught in a way that ensures employees
A) understand and
B) agree

 

 

Requirement #1 When Employees Understand:

For new pet sitting employees to understand rules, you’ll need a few different things during training such as:

  • Funny videos, pictures, and good personal stories stressing the importance of certain policies.
  • Handbook and policies are written in language that is simple, easy to read, and to the point.
  • An effective shadowing process to tie up loose ends at the culmination of training.
  • A process of about 1-2 weeks. It should be drawn out over a few days (and up to a few weeks) and may include shadowing in the field too.
  • Ultimately, the best way to make sure they’ve satisfied your company’s “understanding” requirement is that you could administer an employee-exam covering important policies and things employees frequently mess with.


Requirement #2 When New Pet Sitting Employees Agree:

When it comes to agreeing, we aren’t just talking about signing on the dotted line. When your employees don’t just know the policy, but truly agree with it, you’ll have an easier time offering them constructive criticism and giving out consequences.  It’s your job to make sure they agree. You’ll want to go out of your way for this one.

 

Include Your New Pet Sitting Employee To Get Them To Agree

During training, let them engage with you about policy and keep open the possibility of you tweaking or changing the rules based on their advice. Verbalize to them that you’d truly do something like that.

Create multiple opportunities like this to give them skin in the game. Hear their concerns and make them feel as comfortable as humanly possible to offer such wisdom back. Stay strong when you must.  

Be ready to defend and explain the reasons why certain policies mean so much to you. If you write policy with a strong moral and safety background, you’ll have little to debate.

new pet sitting employees

Create and Discuss Hypothetical Scenarios To Get Your New Pet Sitting Employees To Agree:

You should make sure that you go out of your way to ensure they agree with all the policies. Help your new pet sitting employees come up with issues they might experience.

Come up with separate hypothetical examples of employees where mistakes were met with constructive criticism,  

A) getting a strike

B) being suspended

C) getting fired

Show them how, in each example, you didn’t get upset, but simply gave the consequence. Ask them if this type of system they can be happy operating under. Get them, beyond all doubt, to say “I 100% agree to how this company runs.” Then, you can finally have them sign on the dotted line of your company’s employment agreement (that was looked at by your employment lawyer!).

 

The Business (You) Will Come Out The Good Guy:

When you get your new pet sitting employees to understand and agree, you preserve the relationship; the system does the consequence giving, not you.  Giving consequences are already awkward enough.

Giving consequences in a, non-confrontational manner, with as little words and interaction from your part, is how it’s done right. Do, however, tell them to please voice their concerns if they have any – and hear them with unconditional empathy and a refusal to argue.

Don’t offer any more than you must on your end though – let the system do the talking.  When you do it this way, you simultaneously preserve your relationship and boundaries. Then, the only thing you’ll have to focus on is giving the rewards – something that is much more powerful and wayyy more fun anyhow.

 

*****
David Steinberg is the owner of David’s Pet Services (DPS) – a Dog Walking & Pet Sitting Co. based out of West Hartford, CT. In his last profession, he was a certified psychotherapist where he worked 1-on-1 with children and young adults and provided psychoeducation to adults on parenting.

David feels the transition from therapist to dog trainer and business owner was seamless – with lesson learned including conflict resolution, positive reinforcement, and relationship building, he now feels equipped to ensure obedient doggy-clients, satisfied human-clients, happy employees, and a healthy business.

If you love adorable pictures of puppies, check out his Instagram Also, here’s his website, facebook page, twitter!

 

 

5 Holiday Gift Ideas To Give Your Staff

There’s nothing quite like the squeals of excitement when your surprise someone with a gift. It’s even better when you’re rewarding your hard working employees with heartfelt appreciation. Day in and day out our employees put in their effort, energy, and time away from their home and family for our businesses. That’s why these 5 holiday gifts to give your staff are the perfect ideas to really show just how much they mean to you.

holiday gifts to give your staff

Think about it: Our employees are the backbones of our business. They are the faces our clients see, they are the ones we trust to show up as scheduled. This holiday season make sure your staff knows that you really care.

We talked with some of our closest pet sitting and dog walking business owners and here are 

5 Holiday Gifts To Give Your Staff:

 

Take Them Out On The Town

Our friend, Cheryle Meyer Stadler took her 6 Employees to a  VIP party at the Improv. They all enjoyed  dinner, drinks and front row entertainment with a guest of their choice. Even more, they also got a bonus, personalized wine glasses complete with a dog-inspired wine tags, plus a goodie bag full of awesome things like candy, hand sanitizer, flashlights, lanyards, nail polish, & lip stuff.

 

Send Them On a Getaway

Another great idea we got was from Krista Cugno Lofquist. She decided to give her hardworking Office Managers a trip or a cruise. Start searching now for a Groupon or Expedia and give them a much needed vacation. Our office managers work endlessly running the day to day tasks needed for a successful business, that’s why they truly deserve it! Sometimes even a stay-cation would do the trick!

christmas gifts to give your staff

Personalized Gifts

In previous years Krista also got each sitter and groomer a piece of pawprint jewelry, some with birthstone, others with diamonds. How sweet is that? Try to find a local jeweler to get a great deal on a bulk order. This is such a wonderful idea that Katie Westerfield also gave out personalized jewelry one year. She gave pandora bracelets with the paw print dog bowl charm to her staff of three. He staff posted about how great their boss was with pictures on Facebook. That’s how much they loved it!

Lindsay Licata likes to make things a bit more personal. She says, “I got one of my girls a beanie hat that has cat ears (amazon $10), another one new cat dishes for her cat, a soap and cream set, a couple bath and body sets…..” What a great way to let your staff know that you put some personal through into what you got them. 

 

Bonuses

Sometimes when you have a larger staff it can be hard to do group parties. Pet sitting businesses aren’t set up like normal offices, where we all can break in the lunchroom for cake and punch for the holidays. That’s why Lucy Moore offers her employees cash by way of a bonus through payroll or even a year of membership at Costco. This is a perfect option for larger staffs and tougher schedules to coordinate. Speaking of Costco, they have great client gifts too!

Liz Chancey says  I always give cash. It’s not very creative, but I always loved receiving cash at Christmas. Plus, if they are having a hard time financially it’s helpful to them. I only have 3 employees and I give $50.00 to each.”

Samantha Busser also does cash with a twist: We do a girl’s day out every year (on their)  “workaversary” and Christmas with a nice lunch, a movie, and mani pedis, sometimes an old fashioned sleep over with girly movies and junk food lol, and for Christmas I also do a $50 cash bonus and some kind of gift, which I usually spend $25+ on.

 

Gift Cards

Everyone agrees that gift cards are a great way to go. For some, they can seem a little impersonal, so try to tailor the gift card to each person. Whether it’s a local boutique, pet store, or their favorite cafe, it’s more special when they know you were thinking of them specifically. Costco often sells them for 25% off, so check there first.

 

Even More Ideas… BONUS ROUND:

After I posted this article, I heard of even more awesome ideas that I couldn’t not add to the list. Take a look:

Christmas Lights and A Limo:

Sharon Jones says, “We are going out to eat this year and then a limo is picking us up and we are going to look at Christmas lights. We will have a gift exchange at the restaurant, we make it a game like white elephant but the gifts they bring are really nice. We limit to $25. Then we have for each of our staff members Holly Cook’s book “My End of the Leash”. We are celebrating this Sunday evening, I am excited!”   (BELLA NOTE: I have that book and I highly recommend it!!!)

Once you have picked out the best gifts for your staff let the fun begin!  Watching their eyes light up like twinkling lights and getting a big hug will make your day just as much as theirs. Plus, you’ll know your staff is assured of your appreciation, which is priceless. I always say, keep your staff happy, and they will keep your clients happy!

 

gifts to pet sitting clients

Employee Quick Start

Katrina Kadyszewski

Episode 20: Interview with a Small Business State Auditor

Katrina KadyszewskiIn this episode of “Bella In Your Business”, Bella talks with Katrina Kadyszewski, a former state auditor with the State of Connecticut.  

Katrina has over 16 years experience working in a variety of financial positions. She started in the brokerage industry with a Series 7, 63 and 65 and life and health license, and then transitioned to audit work for the CT Department of Revenue Services before leaving to support small businesses in their efforts to get organized for expansion.

Katrina spent 3 of her almost 8 years with the CT Dept. of Revenue Services in the Business & Employment Tax Audit Unit, focused primarily on payroll tax issues. The last 5 years she worked as a Corporation Tax auditor, traveling across the US auditing largely Fortune 500 companies.

Bella and Katrina first discuss a big controversy in the pet sitting industry which is misclassification of employees as either independent contractors or employees.  Katrina outlines some key indicators that auditors look for in making that determination:

  • Is there an actual contract between you and the contractor?
  • Are your payments to them regular in nature?
  • How much control do you have over them with regards to work hours, uniform, training, etc.?
  • Do they offer the same services to other companies through their own business?
  • Are you providing them all the tools, training and supplies they need?
  • Basically, consider how loose is the relationship?

They also discuss why they think business owners are so apprehensive about audits, what documents a business owner should have at their disposal if they are being audited, and whether business owners should take their lawyer and accountant to the  audit. Katrina also gives some insight into what triggers an audit.

Some resources they discuss are the IRS’s  20-factor test to help you determine employee or independent contractor, and amnesty programs that exist to help encourage to make the right switch.

Have you ever been audited? Want to hear about pet sitters who have been audited? I have interviewed a handful and reported about it all here.

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How Should I Pay My Pet Sitting Employees?

how should I pay my pet sitting employees

 

If you are reading this, statistics show me it is because you did a google search. This is one of THE most asked questions amongst pet sitters and dog walkers. How should I pay my pet sitting employees is such a loaded question, that the answer is gray. Here’s what I mean:

How Much To Pay Your Pet Sitting Employees Has Nothing To Do With Your Competition.

The first thing that any pet sitting and dog walking business owner does is ask on Facebook what others are paying their staff. They seem to think that if they pay what others are paying, that it can be justified. It is very common for business owners to look outward to see what everyone else is doing

Illustration depicting a roadsign with ahow much concept. Abstract background.

How Much to Pay Your Pet Sitting and Dog Walking Employees Has Nothing To Do With What You Feel Either

Another common reasoning I hear a lot of is “I feel bad if I don’t pay my employees a lot”  I would want more money if I was working for me. “I want them to feel happy that they are working for me and they will be happy if they get a lot of money.” I’m sorry, but wrong reasoning again.

how much should I pay my pet sitting employee

How Much You Should Pay Your Pet Sitting and Dog Walking Employees Should Depend On What You Can Afford.

In the Pet Sitting Pricing and Strategy Guide I walk pet sitters step by step how to come up with their own perfect price based off of facts and then matched with their personal fiscal goals. I also show how to apply a principal where you always have enough money for you, the owner, your staff, and the business. This results in a well funded business, employees that are always paid, and a business owner with a regular paycheck. The numbers tell you exactly how much you can afford to pay your pet sitting and dog walking employees so you can feel confident when hiring.

 

classes-pricing-guide

How Should I Pay My Pet Sitting and Dog Walking Employees?

Depending on which way your CPA and lawyer advise you on your State Labor laws there are a few ways you can do this:

1. You can pay by the hour. You would track the time they start and stop work and you would have to pay at least minimum wage over time.
2. You could pay piece work. That means $x/per each visit or walk. This is very popular amongst the industry.

3. You could pay a commission based off how much the client is charged.

At any rate, I would highly recommend calling your State Department of Labor and ask them about the Labor Laws in your area and what your responsibilities are as a business owner in your state. 🙂 They are there to happily answer your questions!

prices on website

How You Should Pay Your Pet Sitting and Dog Walking Employees Isn’t A One Size Fits All Answer.

All businesses are operated differently and have very different goals so the answer of what to pay and how to pay will vary from business to business. The very best answer you can get is from your team. People that know your business the best, and the laws of the land in which you live! 🙂 But my best advice? Know exactly how much YOU want to make and how to make your business work for YOU!

You can download my step-by-step worksheet download my class so you can come up with your own numbers!

how-should-i-pay-my-pet-siting-employees

Let Your Employees Know When They Will Be Paid And How In Your Employee Handbook.

Your employee handbook should explain everything your employees need to know about the policies and procedures of your company. Above, we discussed ways in which you can compensate them. In your employee handbook you will outline exactly what their job is that they get paid for, how to submit payroll and when. If you do not have a handbook yet, I have an Employee Handbook and Training Manual that are completely written for you here

pet sitting employee manual

Episode 17: Should Pet Sitters Still Offer Overnights If They Have To Pay Per Hour?

In this episode of “Bella In Your Business”, Bella discusses whether you should still offer overnights if you have to pay per hour? This is a hot topic because during this election year many are talking about raising the minimum wage, in some places as high as $15/hour.  In California, not only is the minimum wage being raised but they are mandating sick days and other things which are really going to cost businesses more and more money.

 

Education is Key to This Decision!

Bella emphasizes that you really need to educate yourself on the legislation in your particular state, what risk that implies for your  business, and what it will cost your business to comply. She says she really wants you to focus on the right team members (bookkeeper, CPA, lawyer) and to reach out to your state’s Department of Labor. Learn as much as you can and then make your own educated decision. Don’t listen to everyone on Facebook or your competitors!  Just because someone else elects to take one action doesn’t mean it’s the right one.

So, should you still offer overnights?  The easy answer for some will be no because they figure if they have to pay someone $15/hour for 8-10 hours, they would have to charge at least $200 for an overnight and they believe their clients would never pay that.  Bella points out, that could mean you are automatically giving up (what is on average) 20% of your revenue. In short, she recommends that you still offer overnights even if you have to pay per hour.

Put it on your website (with or without the price) and make sure you price it according to the 30/30/40 rule (30% for the business, 30% for you, and 40% for wages). Just be aware of what happens when you get to 40 hours (another great question to ask your state’s Department of Labor).

Remember, you don’t get to decide what is too expensive. Your clients do.  If a client does tell you it is too much, simply explain why it is that high.  Then offer them a less expensive alternative like 3 visits a day.  Let them know that it will probably be alright but if they feel that still isn’t enough then they could try the overnight option.

 

How To Sell Overnights:

Bella points out that if you don’t at least offer the option then visitors coming to your site looking for that option will “bounce” over to another service’s site.  Leave it on there. Keep them on your site. Engage them in a conversation giving them the reasoning and statistics and let them make the decision.

Another question to ask your state’s Department of Labor is whether or not you are exempt from the minimum wage due to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) which states that people who make less than $500,000 don’t have to adhere to it.

Add More Value:

You could also consider additional value for these overnights like perhaps sending video and photos. You might include things like taking out the trash and/or sorting the mail. Add value to the overnights and make them exclusive benefits. Any of these additional values can help make a client feel better about spending the money.

Bella points out that in reality most pets are perfectly fine sleeping by themselves and that the real benefit offered in overnights is making the client feel less guilty about leaving their precious pet.  So let’s appeal to them and keep offering this service. Because if you don’t you have no idea just how much money you might be leaving on the table and walking away.

 

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