Posts

staff stealing clients

How To Make Sure Your Staff Aren’t Stealing Clients In Your Pet Sitting Business

When you lose staff members, it’s always questionable whether or not they are going to take clients with them. It’s just the nature of the business. Your pet sitters are in your client’s homes, building trust and relationship with them. This goes even if you have a team-based model. Unless your clients are having a new pet sitter every day, chances are the client and your pet sitter will connect with each other. This is actually a great thing, because that pet sitter is representing your company, and you want to leave a good impression on the client. Today, let’s talk about how you can ensure that your staff aren’t stealing clients in your pet sitting business.

How To Make Sure Your Staff Aren’t Stealing Clients In Your Pet Sitting Business

staff stealing clients

Communication Styles

One of the biggest reasons why staff may be able to steal pet sitting clients may lie in how you allow them to communicate. Many pet sitting software systems allow staff to send and receive messages through this system. This means that the client will never have access to the pet sitter’s email or phone number – which is a good thing! Allowing pet sitters and clients to communicate freely serves well to build their personal relationship, but bodes badly for building a professional relationship with your company. It causes the client to become loyal to the pet sitter themselves, and not necessarily to your company.

Even using Google Voice in this day and age is not ideal. It does well for hiding the staff member’s number, so it does protect their privacy, but it still allows the client and the staff member to communicate through text messaging. When I had my pet sitting company, it was a rule that staff members were only allowed to send care notes and nothing else. If clients replied with questions, they were to be forwarded to me and I would follow up with them. Not only did this eliminate information slipping through the cracks, but it allowed the client to build rapport with me and my company, rather than the staff member.

Hiring The Right Type Of Person

To make sure that your staff aren’t stealing clients, you have to make sure you’re hiring a certain type of pet sitter. You want pet sitters who are followers and not leaders. Pet sitters that are able to follow directions and who are loyal to you are your ideal. While leaders are admirable people, they are they most prone to leave and start their own company – surely taking your clients with them!

You also want to make sure you are hiring staff who have a high ethical standard, i.e. someone who would have difficulty stealing from others. This isn’t always an easy trait to recognize in pet sitting applicants, so I urge using outside resources. One great resources is the Orion Test. It’s a personality test that you can give to pet sitting applicants that will allow you to find out information about them – like if they’re prone to steal! It is scary accurate and truly a necessity in the pet sitting hiring process.

Keeping Up Morale

Another crucial way to ensure that your staff aren’t stealing clients, lies with you as “the boss.” 🙂 I’m talking about making sure your staff know they are appreciated! Your staff should always feel that you think very highly of them and that you have their back. Having a good relationship with your staff allows them to feel like they would never want to do anything against you. If you constantly clash with your staff, it makes them resentful, and ultimately more apt to take clients on the side – even if they have high ethical standards.

I’m not implying that you should be a push-over, but you should strive to have a a healthy and happy working relationship with your staff that is beneficial to everyone.

Keep in mind that while staff can steal clients, sometimes clients reach out to staff once their gone! The best way to see if this is happening is to track your client’s trend in booking. If you notice that it has decreased or completely stopped after a staff member that serviced them has left, you may have some additional research to do.

employee handbook

bella in your business

Episode 47: Customer Experience With Joey Coleman

On this episode Bella catches up with Joey Coleman, Chief Experience Composer, Design Symphony.  They talk about things you can do as a business owner to create a meaningful customer experience. Ideas include:

  • Sending personalized gifts to your customers seemingly at random
  • Sending handwritten notes thanking them for trusting you with their fur baby
  • Keeping track of simple things like the pet’s birthday and sending acknowledgements
  • Doing a monthly quick check of the pet (for any issues)

    Joey Coleman

    Joey Coleman

  • Giving the pet a bath unexpectedly
  • Sending quick personalized videos of the you and the pet to the client.

For over a decade, Joey has helped organizations retain their best customers and turn them into raving fans via his entertaining and actionable keynotes, workshops, and consulting projects.

His First 100 Days methodology helps fuel successful customer experience endeavors at companies and organizations around the world.

As a recognized expert in customer experience design and an award-winning speaker at national and international conferences, Joey specializes in creating unique, attention- grabbing customer experiences.

He works with companies ranging from small VC-funded start-ups, to large Fortune 500s, with hundreds of mid-size businesses in between.

Joey developed his narrative skills as a criminal defense trial attorney, advised and counseled Fortune 500 companies as a business consultant, honed his communications and messaging skills at the White House, and did things for the U.S. Secret Service and the CIA that he can’t talk about publicly.

His design and artwork has been displayed in museums, featured in juried shows, and graced publications in the U.S. and abroad. When not traveling the world (48 countries and counting) for keynote presentations, client workshops, and quality beach time, Joey enjoys watching magnificent sunsets from his mountain-top home in Colorado with his wife and two young sons.

Play
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.

 

Play
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!

Play
above and beyond

Out-Of-The-Box Ways To Get More Pet Sitting Clients With This Simple Concept

Question: What would happen if today you didn’t gain any more pet sitting clients because you already have enough? How would you go about keeping the ones that you have?

So many companies say they go “above and beyond” with their clients, and attribute that to gaining more pet sitting clients. But what does that really mean? How do you go above and beyond with your pet sitting clients when you are sometimes removed from the day to day pet sitting? Your heart might be above and beyond but what actions do you do to show this?

more pet sitting clients

You might try with occasional emails or maybe even gifts… but usually, that is surrounded by you wanting something or it is an obligation to give a gift (holidays, new pet, pet passing).

It is passive.

It is predicted.

Sometimes it is even talking AT them and not with them…

Well now, I want to flip your thinking.

What if you started talking to your clients just like they were your friends? Ever see something that would be valuable to a friend and share it with them on Facebook? I do. All the time and I do it in business too.

 

In fact, since selling my company a few months ago, I feel awkward because there are so many things I read that I think, “Oh wow! I want to share that!” but I don’t have anywhere to do it. So now, you are going to reap the marketing bursts my brain has:

Here is How To REALLY Go Above And Beyond To Gain More Pet Sitting Clients:

 

1. Cincinnati Winning Basketball And Streets Being Clogged

Recently, we had a member in my Facebook Group notify all her clients the about street closures for the parade that Cincinnati was having for their team who won the finals. She let them know so they didn’t get in a traffic jam going to work. Nice way to reach out to everyone in a valuable way, huh? Many thanked her for the heads up.

Simple gestures like these will stick in your client’s mind. It’s a great way to ensure that your current clients will recommend you via word of mouth – ultimately ending up with MORE clients for you!

 

2. TSA Taking Longer And People Missing Flights.

When I had my pet sitting company, I actually emailed all the clients who were leaving town that weekend and reminded them about TSA wait times. It was a big story at the time. Many people were missing their flights. I even included a link to the airport where they listed the current wait times at each terminal location. I got many “Thank you’s!” and even a bunch of, “We were driving but thanks for thinking of us!”  Great way to show that you care and reach out without WANTING something, huh? 🙂

 

3. Major Weather Catastrophes Like A Tornado, Fire, Or Flood

Admittedly, it is horrible when this happens. There is panic among everyone and if you have a client out of town, watching it on the news, they might even get anxious.

Imagine getting an email from your pet sitter while you’re away saying something like “Don’t worry about the weather going on… here is our plan should we ever need it and you can stay up to date on our Facebook page.” And then post updates!

Pet sitting software systems will help you contact a certain group of clients that are away so you can speak directly to them. You could even email everyone a blanket email saying:

To the families who are away: Here is our plan.
To the families that are local: Here are some resources.

As pet sitters we all say we care, but how do we show it to everyone? Imagine the confidence that would our worried traveling pet parents? The alternative is that there is no communication and they are calling you frantically. I can almost promise you, no other pet care company is doing this. Get ahead of the anxiety!

 

4. Snowstorm That Strands People On The East Coast

Even thought I am in warm and sunny AZ, the snowstorms on the east coast during the winter affected by business and my clients. Flights would be canceled, delayed, or worse, people couldn’t get into the airport because of the road closures or airport closures. Acknowledging the stress in your pet parents lives while traveling will make them feel safe and secure. And they will remember you. It is very similar to #3.

 

5. Pet Food Recalls

Hear of a pet food recall happening? A quick email to your client base with a link to the press release on your website will be helpful for them to know you are thinking about them and care about passing along valuable information.

 

above and beyond

There Are More Ways To Gain More Pet Sitting Clients By Going TRULY Above And Beyond

Too many to be listed! For more creative ideas and inspirations, check out these other great tips:

Just keep an open mind the next time you are watching the news or listening to the radio. Think about yourself as a journalist as well as a pet sitting business owner and that will really help shift your mindset.

Now it’s your turn. How do YOU go above and beyond with your clients? How did that help you ultimately gain more pet sitting clients? Let me know in the comments below.

free coaching session

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

 

 

Play

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.

 

Play

How To See All Your Pet Sitting Client’s Addresses On A Map

If you are anything like me, you love to SEE things. Having excel spreadsheets and relying on your memory and knowledge of where your pet sitting client’s addresses are located is always tough. I always wished I could “see” where my clients are located and now I figured out a way.

So naturally, I am sharing with the world!

Here is how you see your pet sitting client’s addresses on a map if you have Power Pet Sitter. If you have another software company, I am sure the concept is very similar.

(Side note: If you are the owner of a software company and would like to add instructions, email me below and I will add you!) 

How To Plot Your Clients On A Map- (1)

 

…and there you have it!

 

Reasons why having this map is helpful:

  1. It can show you where clients are clustered so you know an area to hire for.
  2. It can show you areas where you are lacking and you can market more.
  3. If you are looking to hire someone for an area, you can easily show them exactly where you have clients so it isn’t some arbitrary thought.
  4. You can see where your money making spots are by pulling reports only for the highest grossing clients. (and the same for the lowest)
  5. You can plan schedules and territories for your staff easily.

So go ahead and give it a try yourself. Tell me how it went in the comments below. Was it helpful?

 

 

Don’t have a software program or trying to decide between them all? I created a comparison chart so you can see them all side by side. Sign up for it below!
2

5 Ways To Get More Pet Sitting Clients On Nextdoor.com

If I told you that right now, for free, you could get in front of your target audience and gain more pet sitting clients, for FREE, with the click of a button, would you be interested?

Well now you can.

 

more pet sitting clients

 

Nextdoor.com is a website/app that verifies the user based off their address (think, micro-facebook). You must prove you live where you do and then it grants you free membership to the site. Think of it as a type of facebook. Their website describes it as a “private network for your neighbors” It is gaining popularity all over the USA at a fast rate. They have gotten press on CNN, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and more. They are the real deal.

What one will find at first look is that people really TRUST the postings of others. People are asking about things going on in the community like heavy trash pick up, wildlife spottings, vandalism, community events, and…you guessed it, even “can you watch my dog?” postings.

 

So how might one join in the conversation without sounding too salesy and gain more pet sitting clients you wonder? 

Well you are in the right place my friend. Here are 5 ways you can execute TODAY to make an impact on your pet sitting sales:

 

1 – Register & complete your profile to get more pet sitting clients.

Well, this seems obvious but there is sometimes a two tier process you have to go through. One you are in, make sure that you complete your profile as thoroughly as possible. People will click on you and want to know more about you. Especially if you are talking about going into their homes. You can even add your pets on your profile section.

 

2- Start conversations on Nextdoor.com to get more pet sitting clients

Consider adding helpful information to your area. Here is a whole list for you to get started on:

– A list of pet-friendly patios?
– Or maybe the local vet clinic just was AHHA certified and you want to congratulate them and tell people what that means?
– Local pet-friendly event coming up? Will you be attending? Ask to meet up with them there. Will you have a booth? Ask them to visit you, mention nextdoor.com and get a free gift!
– Ask for people’s HELP in voting for their favorite <insert something cool related to pets here>
– Post a blog a month before major holidays about something useful like “Why you shouldn’t use the neighborhood kid to pet sit” or “How much do pet sitters cost?”  or “What is the difference between pet sitting v dog boarding?”

pet sitting clients

Lauren visited me at a local event after seeing me post on Nextdoor.com

3 – Help people to get more pet sitting clients!

If you are on nextdoor.com, you will see people posting LOST PET plee’s or FOUND PETs. Why not take their info, ask them for a picture, throw it into Canva.com to make a quick graphic and put it on Facebook? Or…. maybe someone wrote something about a dangerous wild animal spotted in the area? You can take that info and post it to Facebook. The sky is the limit!

PSA announcement I made from info on Next-door

PSA announcement I made from info on Nextdoor.com

 

4 – Post your help wanted adds on their board.

Are you looking for the next member of your staff? What better micro advertising spot that your actual community that you serve? This could be a gold mine. (I am thinking of all of those who receive out of area resumes…. catch my drift?)

 

5 – Throw your name into the hat to get more pet sitting clients! 

People will ask for people who provide pet care. Don’t get discouraged if there are lots of neighborhood kids that are being mentioned. Sometimes it is what people DONT post that gets you the gig!

Real example: I had a lady call and become a reoccurring client because she was impressed with the type of response we were giving others on nextdoor. Remember, your writing isn’t just to the poster, it is to everyone who can see it.

So as you can see, there are many ways that you can become active, known as the local pet expert, and provide value to a community that is looking to connect, learn and grow. You just need to use your own resources and offer them to help your community virtually! Make nextdoor.com your friend!

 

Update: July 2016:

Now you can add your business to your Nextdoor neighborhood. They explain how to do it here.

Jamie, from Paw Prints Pet Services was the one who alerted me to this new tip!  She says,

“I just added my business information to Nextdoor.com. It’s easy! You have to be on the Nextdoor network. You’ll see on your Nextdoor home page a “recommendations” link. On my desktop it’s on my left margin. Then on the right side you’ll see “Are you a business, sign up here”. Yay! When you are entering the business category there is actually a section for “pet services” (just keep scrolling down until you find it). Unfortunately, you can only pick one. It’s awesome to make it easier for neighbors to find you and more importantly recommend you! And it’s free!”

 

For nextdoor.com guidelines on this topic check out:
Can I recommend my own business to my neighbors?
Can businesses join nextdoor.com?

5-ways-to-get-more-pet-sitting-clients-on-nextdoor