Hiring Tips For Your Pet Business During the Holidays

Its that time of the year again when everything turns into all holidays, all the time. The time when every store is confused about what to celebrate first with multiple isles of Halloween, Thanksgiving and the MASSIVE Christmas section.

I think we can all admit that September through December, Holiday preparation takes over. 

What’s wrong with that, right?

Except if you are hiring. Dealing with the stress of hiring during the holidays is intense.

 

Here are my Tips and Mindset Shifts Needed to Hire During the Holidays

  1. Embrace the process
  2. Streamline
  3. Have a Fast System
  4. Delegate
  5. Go Where Your Avatar Hangs Out
  6. Always be Hiring

 

finding staff during the holidays

Embrace the Process

There’s nothing more important than taking over your mindset and truly embracing the hard stuff. In order to be successful in hiring for your pet business during the holidays, it’s going to be necessary to first ensure your thoughts are where they should be.

Are you thinking about how awful it is?

Or are you thinking about how you’re going to completely rock out hiring and get amazing new staff?

Embrace people looking for seasonal help.

Keep in mind, your business will become very busy during this time of the year. From family vacations to people maybe not wanting to walk their dogs in the snow, holidays can be great for business.

 

Streamline

You’ve heard me talk about the importance of streamlining your social media process and with the same importance, you also need to streamline your hiring process.

Everyone’s busy and no one has time to wait around for a two or three-week hiring process. They want to jump in with a four to five day hiring process. Trust me, it’s true!

Not only is this beneficial to the applicant but it’s faster for you to get through more applicants at a time. At the end of the day, being quick will make you look better to the applicant because it appears that you are engaged and serious about hiring.

The easiest way to do this is by using hiring software, like JazzHR, that will allow you to automate and add in hiring phases. Recently, one of the Mastermind group members tested out the new JazzHR text option, where you can text applicants from the software.

Here’s what she had to say:

 

Hiring

 

Fast System

A fast system doesn’t just mean creating a quick work flow through applicants, it also means setting up your system in a way where you’re able to quickly find each applicant, where they are at in the hiring phases, and how they responded to each phase.  I like having about three to five different phases for the applicant.

In the first phase, I will ask them questions to get to know their character. For each question, I score them from one to five.

In the end, I’ll add up their total points and if they meet the score I decided ahead of time that they needed to meet, then I will move them on to the next phase.

I’ll always recommend that at least one of these preliminary phases either be through knock out questions or a video recorded by the applicant.

This gives you the opportunity to weed out people further based on an actual interaction or, for video, their comfort level in getting out there and doing something out of the ordinary.

 

Delegate

Delegation is one of the most underrated methods of self-care. The simple act of allowing others to do the work that you don’t need to do yourself takes some stress off your plate and frees up your schedule to focus on more important things.

If you have phases with scoring involved, delegating the task of hiring can be super easy. All you need to do is ensure that the person in charge of hiring knows what you’re looking for and what your ideal applicant looks like. Make it a mathematical equasion.

Before the final meeting phase, you can review the applicants and schedule them for an in-person interview with yourself. That way, you saved a bunch of time not reviewing all of their answers and you’re ultimately still the person in charge of if they work at your business or not.

 

Go Where Your Avatar Hangs Out

In order to properly set up your hiring process, you need to know who your ideal applicant is. For the holidays, it can be anyone from a snowbird traveling south for the winter or a college student home for the holidays that are looking to pick up some extra cash. I actually did a free 3 hour clas on this that you can take called Jump and Scale.

If you’re open to the idea of temporary workers, make sure that’s known in your hiring posting and advertise directly to that audience.

Imagine this: “Are you home for the holidays and looking to earn some extra Christmas money while loving on pets? This job may be the perfect one for you!”

I actually liked temporary applicants when I had my business becasue they were typically avaialble during the times when my pet sitting company had in influx of clients like the holidays, school vacations, and the summer.

Once you identify your ideal applicant, figure out where they would spend their time. Are they people who would hang out in your local coffee shop in the middle of the day? Maybe people attending pet holiday parties?

Figure out where they are and attract them.

Always Be Hiring

Do you hire for the Holidays or hire for long term employment?

The answer is simple.

Do both.

Don’t limit yourself by looking for employees that are only going to be long term if you’re able to staff for your Holiday rush.

Always be hiring. It’s the best opportunity for your company to ensure there are always going to be enough staff. I like to say to have more staff than what you need. I know the next thing you are thinking is “But what if I don’t have work for them?” and I would say that isn’t your problem. Be honest with them about where you are at, why you are attracted to them, and opportunities for them to help you market for new clients while we wait for their route to build up.

Hiring Doesn’t Have To Be Stressful

Hiring doesn’t have to be a stressful event where you burn yourself out keeping track of every applicant at different stages in the hiring process.   You do not have to waste your time searching through resume after resume and doing endless amounts of interviews that just don’t match up with your company culture.

Embrace the idea of hiring for your pet business during the holidays, streamline your hiring process, make the system fast and apply phases, delegate the task of sorting through applicants, go where your avatar hangs out and always be hiring.

Interested in learning more about JazzHR?
Check out my post Secrets to Success on JazzHR vs. Indeed for Pet Sitters and Dog Walkers. 

You can also get started with JazzHR here.

 

Holiday Pet Events You Can Copy in Your Town

One of the best ways to gain exposure to your pet sitting or dog walking company is to host or participate in a holiday pet event. But oftentimes we have no idea what to do, where to do it, or just feel like it takes way too much energy. When I used to have my company, Bella’s House & Pet Sitting for 14 years, I would participate and host many events.

These events became known in the community and offered me a lot of exposure and reason to walk up to people and talk about my company in a nonsleezy way. The events were successful and through lots of trial and error, I got them running smoothly. We had all sorts of prizes, giveaways, even a celebrity photographer at one event taking pictures of people and their pets. We had alcohol sponsors, rescue groups getting piles of money, and signs prominently hung outside of businesses with my logo on them.

The holidays are the ideal opportunity to host events and I am going to show you just some of the magic that you can create in your hometown area.

Here are 5 Holiday Pet Events you can host in your town:

  1. Yappy Hour
  2. Mutt and Mingle
  3. Dog Walking Club
  4. Dog Hiking Club
  5. Santa Paws

 

Pet Events

Yappy Hour/ Mutt and Mingle

Host the happiest of happy hour events with Yappy Hour or Mutt and Mingle. It’s a lot of fun to go to the local bar with your dog and especially for a holiday pet event. It can be an indoor or outdoor event. This is a great way to get your community together with their pups and strike up conversations about your business.

All you have to do is:

  • Find a local bar or venue to host the event
  • Get a liquor sponsor through the venue (they always have some)
  • Designate a photographer
    • You could either hire one for a couple of hours or have someone assigned to take pictures on their phone.
  • Decorate
  • Chat it up with all the attendees!

To take it a step further, you can add cute decorations like dog treats in shot glasses and host a raffle or giveaway.

 

Dog Walking Club

This great event doesn’t have to be just a holiday pet event, but can be a year-round, once a month event.

Here is how it works: Humans and their dogs walk all together in a pack, creating a community where you can get your brand out there to relevant people. Often times it is a one or two-mile loop.

The dog walking would typically work best in a subdivision or where there are a lot of apartment complexes, anywhere where you could walk a big circle. You may even be able to do a mile loop where you “pick up” and “drop off” people along the way.

The biggest advantage is all the advertising that comes with it at each apartment complex once they agree to it.

 

Holiday Pet Events

Dog Hiking Club

Are you a little more of an “off the beaten path” type of person? If so, a dog hiking club may be a better fit for you and your community than a typical walk around the neighborhood.

To do this, it would be very similar to starting a walking club but you would want to find hiking trails best suited for large packs and pups of all breed and ages.

If you have already created a blog with the best dog walking trails in your area, you might want to start with that. Consider reaching out to hiking clubs and see if they wanted to partner with you on an event with a twist… with the dogs!

 

Dog Park Date

Create a holiday pet event within the community you’ve already established and invite your clients to the dog park for a date!

With this event, it’s up to you to be creative on what the event will entail.

Will you host a raffle?

Will there be a flyball or find the treat contest?

This event is perfect to meet new people.

In doing so, you’ll be reaching out to the happy hour crowd who already goes to the dog park but now you’ll be able to get your name out there. While there, you may even meet people outside of your clientele.

 

Santa Paws

The classic Christmas celebration, taking a picture with Santa. No matter what you celebrate typically this type of holiday pet event attracts all types of people.

Host the event yourself by:

  • Partnering up with a local Pet Store
  • Get a trainer to dress up as Santa
  • Hire a Photographer or do it yourself
  • Order a Christmas backdrop off Amazon
  • Make the pictures available on your Facebook page
  • Invite everyone you know!

The Main Idea of Pet Events

The main idea of these pet events is to bring more exposure to your brand. You have to remember that not everyone is going to be ready to buy your services immediately, but getting to know you and what you stand for will make you memorable when they do need your services or even their friends.

Also, remember that these events are not about how many people show up to the event but all that you get to do to attract them to the event. All the promotions, fliers hung in the elevators or put in the pet store bags. All of this helps to ensure that your community gets to know your brand in a fun way that you are giving back and celebrating their bond with their pets!

 

How Good vs. Bad Graphics Effect Your Business with Annette

Since marketing was invented, the need for graphic design has been ever-growing. However, graphics aren’t used to simply sell your business like they’ve been used in the past, instead, they represent your business.

Graphics are the foundation of your brand.

They not only represent how you present your company but also whether or not potential clients feel a connection with your company, whether your company can be taken seriously to not only clients but possible employees.

Today, I partnered up with Annette Mcdonald, the founder of Easil, an online DIY Graphic Design solution for brands and teams, as well as, MD of Copirite, a leading design, print & digital agency located on the Gold Coast, to teach you a little on what it entails to have Good vs. Bad Graphics. 

Good vs. Bad Graphics

The Importance of How You Portray Your Business

In order to grow your business, it is so important to create a quality design that can live in many different elements. Whether you using graphics for print, on the web, or for social, the most important thing you can do to create a quality design is making sure your graphics are consistent.

While your voice and style may change amongst the platforms, your brand style needs to remain the same. The best way to manage your brand style is through a Brand Style Guide and a Brand Voice Guide.

Brand Style Guide

Your Brand Style Guide is a guide to remain consistent about how you want things to appear in relation to your business.

This includes:

  • Brand Colors
  • Fonts
  • Selection of Imagery
  • Logos
  • Explanation of How You Use All of the Above

Brand Colors

Your brand colors should be 3 or 4 colors that you want to represent your brand. Now, it’s important that you don’t just say “pink and blue” this is where you have to be specific. A pink and blue hue can show up differently in different programs, on different mediums and all together can range from light to dark.

You’ll want to get the exact number from your color wheel and document it in your Brand Style Guide.

Fonts 

The fonts included should be two or three fonts you’ll use to represent the personality of your business.

Selection of Imagery 

Your selection of imagery will be ever-changing but should include things like a variety of headshots you’ll use, or different images you want to be the face of your business.

Logos

I’m sure you know you need a logo for your business but it’s actually a good idea to have a couple of logos drafted up so when making your graphics, you’ll have the perfect logo for all mediums.

How You Use All of the Above

In this section, you’ll want to explain how you use all the other items on your Brand Style Guide. Whether that’s where you position your logos, what colors you like to pair together, when to use a certain font, or any other details that you deem important for creating connections through your graphics.

Voice Guide

Your voice guide should show off the voice of your personality. Are you light-hearted or are you serious? Do you say puuurfect or perfect?

All of the simple things that design your company. 

Emotion in Graphics

Evoking Emotions through Graphics

The way your graphics present to the viewer can evoke so many emotions. Like when you saw the adorable sleeping kitten, you probably felt a small connection to how sweet, simple and cute it is!

When it comes to evoking emotion, you want to make the viewer feel a human connection with your company. For our industry, you’ll want to come off as caring and compassionate in all interactions. Always associate your business with natural emotions. 

We’re lucky! 

Everyone uses pet images to promote that human connection because everyone loves going on social media and commenting on pets.

Play the cards you were dealt and use all the animal-loving to your advantage! 

The Effects of Bad Graphics

When it comes to creating the best graphics that resonate the most with viewers, less is more.

Keep your graphics clear and concise. There is nothing worse than trying to jam-pack your graphic with every element possible.

You know how you feel when you go to work and your desk is cluttered with papers, pens, sticky notes, anything and everything that could be in your way?  That uncomfortable feeling, sometimes even anxiety-inducing feeling, is exactly how it feels to look at a graphic will too much going on.

Take Apple, for example, their design is as simple as it gets yet it evokes so many emotions! When you see Apple, you see the company leading the industry, you may even have a sigh of relief knowing everything will be made simple.

Sometimes we will only remember how something makes us feel rather than what was said. 

The 7 Deadly DIY Design Sins

7 Deadly DIY Design

If you’re struggling to put these concepts into practice, Annette’s article, the 7 Deadly DIY Design Sins, is a great way to further your knowledge on what will make or break your graphics.

Annette and Better Marketing with Bella

Have you loved learning from Annette’s 20 years of graphic and design experience? But are you left feeling like there is just no way you can add creating graphics to your daily tasks?

We’ve got news!

Better Marketing with Bella is stepping up our graphic game for 2020 by partnering up with Annette as our graphic designer! Join us for a six-month contract to get all the graphics, captions, square videos, cover videos, vertical videos, blog/video outlines, emails, individual and group coaching calls, and more.

Conclusion

Corresponding your graphics from social, to print, to the web, is necessary for growing your business and becoming recognized and trusted in your community. You’ll need to create a brand style guide and a voice style guide to really lay the foundation of how you want to be perceived by the public.

So much of your business is portrayed through your graphics, they need to be top-notch.

You want people to recognize your company in your graphics immediately from your use of consistent brand identifiers and be able to feel your compassion and love for your work through your images. 

BMWB

scheduling social media

5 Strategies To Show Up On Social Media When You Don’t Have Time

Today, I am going to explain to five strategies to show up on social media when you just feel like you don’t have the time.

Let’s face it, I’ve never, ever had anyone come to me and say…

“Oh, I have all this time, and I need to do something.”

These tips are going to be quick and dirty because I know how busy you are.

scheduling social media

5 Strategies To Show Up On Social Media

Here they are:

  1. Find time for things that are important
  2. Recycle your posts
  3. Schedule time in your calendar
  4. Use scheduling software
  5. Hire someone for the creative and the strategy

Let’s go over these in a little more depth!

 

1. Find Time For Things That Are Important

If you really want to do something, you’re going to find the time. So let’s just acknowledge that first.

So, if we’re not finding the time, what is the reason why we’re not finding the time?

Do we not really want to do it? Do we not really see the value in what social media can do? And, what are you doing where you could easily be recording?

After you get off the phone, you could write a post.

You could say…

“I just got off the phone with this brand new cat client. She usually never has a pet sitter, but her grandmother passed away and she needs to fly. And, the only thing she’s really concerned about is with her cat. So, we were able to help her by doing x, y and z.”

What I’m saying is, tip number one is to find the time, seize the moment, and figure out the different things that are going on in your life right now that you actually could leverage.

 

2. Recycle or Up Cycle Your Posts

The second tip is to recycle your posts.

You have all this amazing effort and energy that you’ve done. Why waste it?

leveraging technology

by Brian Fanzo

It’s very easy to go into the insights of your Facebook page. And, the charts there will show you what’s performed well.

You can go back to those posts and reshare them or copy and paste them to schedule the post again.

Your insights will show you what your community is actually reacting to.

 

3. Schedule Time In Your Calendar

Schedule time in your schedule like you would have pets.

I know that many of you would never actually miss out on a dog walk.

Let’s make social media a priority.

That can be 10 or 15 minutes a day, every other day, once a week, something, but if you aren’t scheduling it in like something that you absolutely need to do, it’s going to be really hard to show up on social media when you feel like you don’t have any of the time.

via GIPHY

 

4. Use Social Media Scheduling Software

Number four is to use scheduling software.

There are software programs like:

The one that I really love is Agora Pulse because it is like the Lamborghini of social sharing.

One of the best features is social listening, which means anytime anyone says your name, your company’s name, or maybe your area and name, you get an alert for in your Agora Pulse.

Now, I do not suggest that you actually allow Agora pulse to give you notifications in your email, because that can get a little overwhelming.

Sometimes, people say I don’t want to use scheduling software, because it won’t show up on social media. And, that just is not the case.

I have scientific evidence that shows that posting from a third party platform does not actually make it not get seen. I think there was a time like two years ago when that happened, but not now.

If it makes you feel better, you can use Facebook’s native scheduler.

While you can automate the scheduling, you cannot automate engagement. You really do want to just check-in and try to talk with people.

 

5. Hire Someone For The Creative And The Strategy

Now, the fifth and the very last one is going to be to hire someone for the creative and the strategy.

This is a more expensive option, but it ensures that the job gets done.

You can create the graphics and then let the other person schedule them. Sometimes the problem with this is that they don’t know when to post it or what to say.

 

Conclusion

To recap, here are the five strategies to show up on social media we discussed:

  1. Find time for things that are important
  2. Recycle your posts
  3. Schedule time in your calendar
  4. Use scheduling software
  5. Hire someone for the creative and the strategy

But how do you actually come up with the stuff, right? How do you come up with ideas when your brain is just like wants to explode?

You’ve got:

  • So much stuff going on
  • So many different projects
  • Clients calling
  • Employees asking you questions
  • Your kid tugging on you
  • Your husband or wife wondering what’s for dinner tonight,
  • To pick up the kid pick up from school

Right?

Better Marketing with Bella

So the last thing that most of us as business owners have is the ability and the time to be creative.

This is where Better Marketing With Bella comes in.

We only open up the doors twice a year and it’s coming up.

Here’s our process for new people joining:

  1. People already in the program have the option to join again
  2. We ask our waitlist if they’re interested
  3. We open the program up to the public

You can join the waitlist here.

See you inside the program!

How To Use Email Marketing In Your Pet Sitting Business

Email marketing is something that a lot of business owners have an adverse reaction to. I hear a lot of the time they think they are bothering people, no one opens them, and they don’t know what to say. Despite being able to batch them and schedule emails, not many choose this path.

But why?

In a world where Rover is killing it in the inbox by sending emails to the people on their list at least once a week, why can’t professional pet sitters who can surely be even more effective, intimate, and relevant do this?

One thing that I don’t see acknowledged is how much email marketing IS one of the only social platforms that you can still control. Although there are still algorithms involved, it is one of the best-producing ways that you can spend your marketing time.

Some people even feel like the email is interrupting their day or is just always spam.

That, my friend, is stinking thinking.

If you make them interesting, people are going to want to read.

Today, I want to break it down to show you how I use email marketing and how you can, too.

8 Ways I Use Email Marketing In My Business

Here’s a brief summary of the ways:

  1. Give a recap in a weekly email
  2. Directly talk to my readers
  3. Segment my audience
  4. Deliver value
  5. Have you get to know me
  6. Deliver sales
  7. Send videos
  8. Own, not rent

 

If you would rather listen:

 


 

1. Give A Recap In A Weekly Email

There is no way everyone can possibly see or keep up to date on everything you do.

Even if you are lucky, only 15-25% will open your emails.

However, that’s more than you would have normally, so isn’t that a good sign?

At Jump Consulting, I publish a blog every other week, a podcast every week, and sometimes do a Facebook Live. I also always have something cooking on the back burner, too, and the weekly email is how I can do this.

Pet Sitters and dog walkers can do this, too, by telling people the situations they were able to help that week:

  • Cat sitting for someone whose grandmother passed away in another state
  • Walking the puppy that has too much energy
  • Helping to care for a dog during the schedule changes of a divorce

All of these examples help to humanize your business and show people how you are able to help your clients.

If you have any great IG or FB stories, or posts that got lots of interaction, or a local event coming up… these are all great to put into the newsletter too.

2. Directly Talk To My Readers (With A P.S. Section)

At the end of an email, you can always insert a P.S. section.

I do this when I usually ask questions. It is always interesting to see the replies I get. I often call the reader to action by asking them to hit reply and tell me something.

PS email

Because of this, I’m able to get the line of communication open to start chatting.

The P.S. can be powerful because most of the time we are reading on our phones and scanning the email. Not reading word for word. But where does the eye end?

You guessed it, on the P.S.

Another fun way to use the P.S. section is when you have a really long message and you put a short amount of text in the body, have your signature, and then a longer P.S.

For some reason, people are more willing to read the P.S. than the body of the message.

 

3. Segment My Audience

Another quick and fun way you might want to use your email is to segment your audience.

You might have seen me ask you a few times in the emails…

“Are you a starter? Builder? Scaler?”

email segment

 

This question has buttons attached where I ask you to press the one that matches.

My email marketing system then tags these people and we know just where they are in their business. It helps so I can send specific messages that will speak directly to their problems.

The way a pet sitter or dog walking company can do this is simply by asking…

“Do you have dogs and cats in your home? Dogs? Cats?”

Press which applies.

There, you can send dog-specific emails or cat-specific emails. After all, a cat client doesn’t want to hear about how you are looking for two more dogs to walk M-F, am I right?

 

4. Deliver Value

Emails are a great way to break the mold and send a quick message that is out of the ordinary.

How about…

“Meet me at the Fall Festival Sat 2 pm. Bring Fido! Let me know if you will be there” or something short and sweet like “Wondering where to get your Santa Paws pictures this December? Check out this list we made. Tailwags, COMPANY”

Short and sweet. It doesn’t have to be long, drawn-out with text boxes everywhere, and be boring and it shouldn’t talk at all about how great you are.

It should add value to their life.

 

5. Have You Get To Know Me

Emails are a great way to communicate your personality to your current pet sitting clients and your prospective ones.

For example, you may have certain traits or live your life in a certain way that identifies with people.

Maybe it’s your religion, ethnicity, favorite sports team, or favorite dog/cat breed.

The more that you can build a relationship with your audience, the more that they are worth to you. If you spend time getting to know your audience and allowing them to get to know you, then your bond will be strong.

The key is to be as personal as you can. That’s what people identify with.

6. Deliver Sales

Email is one of the best ways to communicate with your audience about the sales that you have.

Maybe you’re running a holiday discount. Or, offering a discount for first-time clients.

You can do that with email.

And, the delivery rate will be much higher than social media can provide.

Most business owners cite an email list as the reason why they’re successful — because the sales come from there.

 

7. Send Videos

Videos are a great way to interact with your audience!

I even have an introduction video in my email signature that explains who I am and why I’m in someone’s inbox.

Videos can be a great personalized touch for welcoming clients into your business. Or, even around the holiday season as a thank you for their business.

The videos don’t need to be perfect or sent to an editor. Simply show your personality and people will appreciate it!

send video in email

8. Own, Not Rent

Let’s have a quick chat about owning vs. renting your audience.

On social media, you don’t own your audience. If Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram decided to shut down, then you wouldn’t be able to retain any of that traffic or exposure.

But, with your email list, you OWN them. 

You could take those people and continue to market to them regardless of what happens.

That’s the power of an email list and why you want to own your audience, not rent them.

 

Conclusion

In this article, we discussed the 8 reasons why I use email marketing in my business:

  1. Give a recap in a weekly email
  2. Directly talk to my readers
  3. Segment my audience
  4. Deliver value
  5. Have you get to know me
  6. Deliver sales
  7. Send videos
  8. Own, not rent

Do you already do some of these with your emails? I’d love to hear it in the comments below.

Tell me how I can help you get more clients in your pet sitting business!

Are You Still Not Sure What To Write?

I get it. I mean after all the admin work, pet sitting work, social media work, who has time to sit down and think about something that would be interesting to your clients? Then write it, format it, get graphics, and send it out. Oie. Not another thing to do Bella!

I know, I know, I get it.

That is why we provide you with two short and fun emails to send to your clients each month in the Better Marketing with Bella program. Rover is doing it weekly – how often are you doing it?

Save your space in line for our next enrollment here:
Better Marketing with Bella

How To Get Your Community To Know About Your Pet Sitting Business

One of the biggest challenges marketers (that’s you!) face is getting their community to know about their pet sitting business.

We don’t need the entire world to know about our services, just a saturation of those geographically the closest to us.  We need to get them so excited that they are the top of the mind when the need arises for themselves or their loved ones.

I specifically say excited because being known typically means that you have a certain emotion that is being evoked, which means people might not always remember exactly what you do, but they will always remember how you made them feel.

This is the secret sauce.

But how exactly can we become known to our community beyond the usual posting on Facebook, having a blog, a website, Instagram, and shaking hands and meeting other pet business professionals in the area?

This phenomenon is what is your brand saying about you when you are not there? Do you know? Or, not saying anything because people don’t know you can be just as bad.

What Do You Want To Be Known For?

Getting known has to do with getting clear on what you want to be known for. What makes your business unique? There are hundreds of businesses in your area that take care of pets and there are a lot of friends and family that can do it, too.

So, what really makes your business unique and different?

Often times this isn’t the facts or what you do, but it is the how you do it all that matters. That leaves the feeling that gets people talking.

Answering this question will be the key to your success.

Your Unique Competitive Advantage

If your brain is coming up blank I want you to take a minute and listen to this podcast episode when I had Jennifer Diepstraten on. She talked about quantum benefits and it was really enlightening to see how our businesses really were different.

I want you to try to think of 3 – 5 things that your competitors can’t say that you can.

Use these questions below to help you fill in the blanks:

Are you memorable for your:

  • Story?
  • Name?
  • Logo?
  • Operations?
  • Cost (high or low)?

Use this in all your marketing.

Talk about it at events. Make it apart of your unique story that no one else can tell. Mark Schafer is really good at this. He is the author of KNOWN — The handbook for building and unleashing your personal brand in the digital age.

He presented in the Mastermind and really pushed our beliefs on how exactly we were accomplishing this in our own marketing…

How we were going to stand out and actually hold space for the pet parents in our community to actually belong.

Check this out:

 

 

Pretty powerful, right?

That is the type of goodness we have in the Mastermind.

It was really eye-opening as to how to stop doing the same things that everyone else does and start doing the unique things in our own business marketing.

So How Can We Stand Out On Social Media To Be Known In Our Community?

Ah!

This is the million-dollar question, isn’t it?

I mean we know that 68% of Americans use Facebook. Oddly enough the same exact percentage also have pets according to the 2017-2018 National Pet Owners Survey

(Side note…I thought that was crazy that they are BOTH 68% when I was writing this article too! LOL) 

There is no doubting the fact that our clients are on Facebook. Instagram is close behind. They are the sister to Facebook and growing just as fast.

Did you know that over 70% of users are under 35 years of age? Do you also realize that the buying power of this segment is major with many waiting until much later in life to start a two-legged family so they are able to pour a lot of their discretionary income into their four-legged loved ones?

We have to know the latest trends in social media.

We have to know how to connect with others, but we also have to know how to get them to:

  • Reshare content
  • Spread it virally in their local community

Even though likes are going away on Instagram, (did you know that?) we can still show the social proof of the engagement of the people who actually stop their scroll long enough because they find us interesting or relevant enough to interact and respond to our posts.

The Value Of Being A Resource In Your Community

Do you want to be a drive-by or a destination in your community for the best pet sitting business?

Imagine being the first thought of pet resource in your community. I am talking about getting all the calls from people saying things like…

“I need something for my pet — I know you don’t provide it, but I thought you would know.”

This basically means they are thinking of you as the thought leader or expert in your town.

This is powerful.

This is top of the mind awareness. But if you have no unique presence, no professional presence online…

Then this is going to be pretty hard to accomplish.

We need to stand out on social media by having professional graphics, captivating captions, and reactive engagement with our communities.

 

Here is Exactly What You Can Be Posting Every Month To Be Known (And Shared) In Your Communities:

 

How to get your community to know about your pet sitting business

 

Here are my thoughts on ways to be seen in your local community:

  1. Facebook Lives and Blogs: Write two blogs that are meaningful and follow them up with a Facebook live (record the video to embed in the blog post)
  2. Professional Graphics: Post at least 8-10 professionally made graphics with an interesting description that reflect your branding, logo, and colors. The graphic is there to capture attention and the copy is there to engage the reader.
  3. Videos: Once a week, create a square video for Instagram and be sure to convert it to vertical for Facebook to have the most visibility across platforms. Be sure to keep it to a good time limit and not to overpower the message as an advertisement.
  4. Facebook Video Cover: To give an impression that you keep up with your marketing, are trustworthy, and up to date on all the new things, impress your viewers with a new Facebook video cover each month highlighting something relevant to the time of year.
  5. Email Marketing: Since Rover is sending emails out weekly, I highly suggest that you do yours at least twice a week. Make it about your clients, be relevant, use minimal design elements. The sole purpose of this is to elevate you as a thought leader. Even if they don’t open it.
  6. Instagram and Facebook Stories: The viewership of these two platforms is growing exponentially. Creating stories in real-time WITH professionally produced graphics that link together for a common message is powerful and underutilized. Not to mention, very much reusable as you build an arsenal.
  7. Thought Leaders: Follow social media thought leaders like Mari Smith, the Queen of Facebook and Jenn Herman, the world’s forefront blogger and author on Instagram to stay in the loop. They’re both my friends. 🙂 Follow them. Read every update.

 

Conclusion

If you do all of this, you will be well ahead of your competition and other pet sitting businesses in your area.

You will be perceived as a thought leader, someone who is on top of it all, and someone they can trust.

You will want to connect with other key influencers in your area and prompt them to share your hard work so you can be helpful to them and their brand, their communities, and of course expand your own.

Better Marketing with Bella

If any of this seems overwhelming, you can actually get all that is listed above and more for the lowest price ever offered via Better Marketing with Bella.

Join us for a six-month contract to get all the graphics, captions, square videos, cover videos, vertical videos, blog/video outlines, emails, individual and group coaching calls, and more.

 

Switching ICs to Employees for Pet Sitters and Dog Walkers

Most Common Problems When Switching ICs to Employees

Switching from independent contractors (ICs) to employees can be a challenging process to execute no matter what industry you are in. It is especially tough for the pet sitting and dog walking industry because they are often small businesses, they have limited funds, and little advisement or support from experts.

Luckily for you, that is where I come in. In an earlier blog, I told you about the major shifts in our industry. One of them is businesses switching the classification of workers from ICs to employees in droves. Many are afraid to do it. They don’t know what will happen or how to do it. Stick around until the end and I will help get you through that.

What If All My Staff Leaves?

switching ICs to employees for pet sitters and dog walkers

The first thing many people are terrified about is that their staff will all leave them. Many think that if they tell their staff they are going to be getting taxes taken out and that they will now be able to dictate when people work that the staff will leave them. Perhaps they are true ICs already, running their own business, have many other clients of their own, and don’t want to give that up!

All of this is a valid concern. If your staff leaves, you are left with many clients and no one to help service them. You are only one person. There are certain ways to make sure that this transition happens perfectly and specific things you should not do.

 

What If My Clients Are Unhappy With The Shift?

The only problem that would come up with the clients is if their pet sitter changed. (See above) If your sitter decided to terminate the contract with you and the clients had to get new staff members, that is just about the only reason I see clients getting upset with your decision to switch from independent contractors to employees. In reality, they would have to find another company anyways, so time to step up the “why trust us” game.

 

What If I Have To Raise Rates?

switching from Independent contractors to employees for pet sitters and dog walkers

Ah! This is probably the biggest concern percolating in your head! Most likely, you will have to raise rates. There are countless people I have advised that had to do just this. Basically, they were paying too much (I will discuss below) and charging too little so naturally, they needed to shift their client base and raise their rates.

The numbers don’t lie and a lot of people start out with my pricing structure and strategy class. This class helps you understand what you need to charge and how to have a strategy that ties into your goals. There is a good chance you might have to raise your rates.

That is, unless you want to be a non-profit.  🙂

What If I Have To Lower Pay?

This sounds so scary and it is! What do you do if you already know you would like to pay more and now the numbers are showing you that in order to achieve your goals you need to pay even LESS.

Ahhh that is scary and almost incomprehensible.
I know.
But trust me, it can be done.

I helped one gal switch from ICs to employees. Her clients went down. Her staff went down. Her prices went up and her profit was higher than ever before. In the end, we need to remember that this is not a popularity contest.

What If I Have To Wait For VRSP?

The Voluntary Reclassification Settlement Program is through the US federal government. If you submit a form and pay a small fine they will grant you employee status and not look at your prior years.

Did you know that audits can happen up to two or three years later?!?! So even if you were to switch from ICs to employees today… it doesn’t mean in a year from now you couldn’t get a knock at your door asking to explain your ICs from 2 years ago!

Crazy huh?

We All Need To Be Leaders

With all these problems, it is easy to stick our head in the sand and play ostrich. But guess what? If we want to be the best leader of our life and business – we have to face this fact. Pretending it doesn’t exist isn’t going to get us anywhere and many, many, many states are cracking down and making it impossible to have ICs.

The benefits of having employees are that you can train them, you have more control, you won’t be scared of an audit, and YOU, the business owner, are protected because you are able to have all types of insurance. (Non-owned, worker’s compensation, general liability, etc)

As an established business, switching to employees is possible but you must have a plan.  You must know the steps you need to take and what it is going to cost you. You want to think about the big picture and know why you are doing it so it will help you get through the tough times. This is something that is tougher to accomplish the larger your company gets so if you are thinking about doing it, I would highly suggest that you do it sooner rather than later.

 

ICs to Employees webinar

Register Now – Tuesday May 21st @ 3pm

pet sitting videos

2019 Social Media Strategy: Less Is More from #SMMW19

 

As I get back from Social Media Marketing World 2019 in San Diego, I wanted to bring a little of what I kept hearing the entire time – the importance of using video on Social Media.

It was pretty exciting because it basically validated everything I know and teach . . . but I thought I would use a mashup of what many influential people in the Social Media space were saying and bring it straight to you. Because, hey, that is what I am here for, right?

 

Before I dive deep into explaining what you should now be doing on Social Media, I think it is important to reflect a bit on the past – what I HAVE done… and what I see many of you still do.

I remember back in about 2016 (wasn’t even that long ago) the Facebook “game” was very different. With my coaching company (or even pet sitting company) I would post my blogs on social media and watch the hits to my website skyrocket! I would see them hit almost 500 hits a day and I would get a lot of engagement and interaction.

But, like I said, that was back in 2016.

That’s when posting links on your Facebook page still actually did something for you. It was starting to decline, but not as drastic as it did in 2017 and 2018 where organic reach is now basically on life support.

It was also during the “pre-gold rush” stage of Instagram so most marketers attention was still focused on Facebook.

 

Things have changed.

Things changed drastically when Zuck made the announcement back at the beginning of 2018 addressing the fact that Page engagement was going down. He said that we would start seeing even MORE of a decline in efforts to create “more meaningful engagements on Facebook” and they would only be rewarding those posts that were engaging, being shared, and where people were starting to have conversations with one another.

 

But . . .  what posts match those criteria?

Video.

This is why you have been hearing all about video over and over again.

There is a multitude of ways to do video, some more effective than others . . .  but gone are the days of posting a link to your blog and watching the graph spike that day.

 

Mari Smith said in her 2019 Keynote address at Social Media Marketing World that our posting should be:

70% Video, 20% Images, 10% Links/Status Updates.

Now, marketers (and business owners) have to work for it.

Do you see where I am going with this?

In Jump Consulting, we used to pump out two blogs a week. It was mainly to grow the website, answer questions, and get engagement on Facebook.

And it worked.

We have the most content out there than any other pet sitting or dog walking resource and it is constantly growing. But, I started to learn that a 500-800 word blog just wasn’t going to cut it anymore. I needed less posting and more depth.

What we needed was LESS FREQUENCY of CONTENT and to spread it AROUND more.

What do I mean by that?

 

If you look through the Jump Consulting Page newsfeed you will see a LOT of videos.

We moved to this strategy over a year ago.

You won’t see us sharing as much curated content.

Sometimes, we don’t even post every day.

We have learned what the audience will react to and, more importantly, we know what Facebook will not react to.

 

 

During Andrew and Pete’s keynote at Social Media Marketing World, it was so hilarious as they scrolled through a feed of someone posting and posting . . . but they had no comments on their posts!

They were drawing the conclusion that we needed to observe what is happening and stop the meaningless posting just to do it. ?? It was great advice. Advice that we should all heed.

We took this advice over a year ago. As I mentioned before that instead of twice a week blogs, we moved to twice a month.

However now those blogs now have a Facebook Live, graphics, tweetable, and sometimes even an episode on my podcast.

It’s now taking one piece of content and really getting the most bang for our buck out of it.

And video is a huge part of it.

 

Mari suggests that video has these six elements:

  • Emotional – that is easy with pets, right?
  • Relatable – that means NOT perfect.
  • <30 seconds – short and sweet! People won’t watch long.
  • Designed for sound off – rev.com is great for getting captions.
  • Square – performs well but also fits on IG and FB so you don’t have to resize.
  • Mobile ready – over 50% are scrolling on mobile, NOT on desktop.

 

better marketing with bella

 

Pet Business Marketing

I was excited to hear her confirm everything I had been doing for the students in my Better Marketing with Bella program.

My ear is to the ground.

I am in private groups with people very close to pivotal people.

I stay on top of this stuff so you don’t have to.

You know what we did in 2019 with the Better Marketing with Bella program? We STOPPED giving people blogs . . .  and instead gave them outlines so they could do a FB Live and/or blog.

Then, we gave them MORE videos.

In our monthly calls, I teach heavily on how to keep maximizing their efforts and investment.

The results? Their engagement is through the roof. While others are getting hardly any engagement (likes, comments, shares) the Better Marketing with Bella crew is killing it.

One gal just got an opportunity at an apartment complex with 40 units as a result of her amazing Instagram strategy that we worked on.

Even though video is very easily made through many different apps these days, it takes a lot of time, attention, messaging, and brain power to think months in advance, and it’s exhausting.

Most say they will do it, but fail simply because it takes a lot of time.

Better Marketing with Bella helps and gives our students over 25 assets a month. We are giving assets that work. They are branded, they are relevant to the current social media times, and as a student, you have access to Bella, the expert.

With social media, less is more… which makes knowing WHAT even MORE important…. 🙂

P.S. Did you know that stories are getting seen 15X more than the feed? Yeah, our program helps with that too! 🙂

Apply now: www.jumpconsulting.net/bella-marketing

 

Stand Out In A Noisy World By Knowing Who You (and your brand) Are.

 

When you’re online, knowing your brand is a lot like when a kid grows up and develops into their own. There are those cool kids in one corner doing it all that one way (and being worshiped for it). Then, in the other corner, there are the band kids that are just beating to the beat of their own drum. You have the jobs, the drama kids and the “geeks”. Everyone is trying to fit in and be noticed in the crazy game of life and it’s no different on social media.

In life, some people lurk while others shout loud and make a statement. Some are so loud that we might even mute or unfollow them on Social Media (you know who I’m talking about!) But, this one thing is always for certain:

According to Facebook, there are more than one billion people that are active on Facebook and more than 100 million people use Instagram every month.

There is no denying that social media is WHERE your message will be seen.

We live in a society where everyone is attached to their phones – people take them everywhere! They don’t leave their driveway or go to the bathroom without it.

Yes, I just went there. 🙂

But, honestly – if everyone and their brother is on these platforms, how do YOU stand out? How do you get YOUR brand to stand out in such a noisy news feed?

The Queenies Got Together To Answer This:

My friends and I all got together to talk about this (for the second time) in Denver, Colorado.

Amanda Robinson from The Digital Gal • Bella Vasta from JUMP Consulting and Pet Business Coaching • Jenn Herman from Jenn’s Trends in Social Media • Jessika Phillips from NOW Marketing Group • Julie Riley & Jen Cole from Depict Media • Jennifer Watson from Weather Moms • Kelly Noble Mirabella from Stellar Media Marketing

We are all vastly different but at the very root of it all, we all sort of do the same thing. We help people be good at business online. But, we all do it differently, with focuses on different things, and with very different personalities – which create our individual brands.

One of the first things that our viewers brought up was, “But how do I know what makes me unique?”  It was a great question that we have all struggled with at one point or another. I really do believe it is like that preteen growing into their own personality and trying to make their place in the world.

How Do You Know What Makes You Unique?

It is really that simple! Self-doubt is an enemy that we all deal with, and your friends will reflect back to you the good, bad, and ugly. Ask them, “what is so unique about me and my business?Ask for that outside support.

Embrace Who You Are And Own It.

Think I don’t know that I have a strong personality? That I don’t know it turns some people off, while magnetically appealing to those who I resonate with?

When we are trying to stand out in the noisy social media world, sometimes we want to please everyone. Sometimes, we wonder if we should tone it down or amp it up to be someone that at our core we really are not.

Let me tell you my friends – if you do that, you will be doing this world a disservice. As I say in this video, anyone that really knows me knows that as passionate as I am about steering people in the right direction and holding people accountable, I will also cry with my clients, celebrate with my clients, and spend extra hours off the clock trying to help them find solutions.

Some see abrasiveness… I choose to see passion.

How Do We Stop Comparing Ourselves to Everyone Else?

So with all this soul searching, we end up looking outwardly to look at others for inspiration. But sometimes that gets dangerous. Sometimes, people start comparing themselves to others and that is NOT the right thing to do!

Don’t compare your first chapter to someone’s 10th chapter! 

Comparison is the death of creativity.

Do not try to measure up against anyone else.

You are not them.

You don’t have their hopes, dreams, challenges, talents, living situation . . .

It is a fine line between being inspired by someone and flat out comparing yourself to them.

What happens when people are comparing themselves to someone or something else? They will always fail.

They are chasing something that doesn’t exist and setting themselves up for failure.

This is why knowing what makes you unique is so important.

So Who Should We Compare Ourselves To?

If we aren’t supposed to compare ourselves to others, then how can we gauge if what we do is “good enough”  or if we are on track for success?

Well, that’s simple:

 

So there you have it, my three big points during our live stream:

1. Ask your friends what makes you unique.

2. Embrace who you are.

3. Compare yourself only to yourself.

There have been over 33K views on the live stream at the time I am typing this blog.

It really is a great motivation and packed with so many ideas on how you can #findyourtiara aka stand out in a noisy social media world.

Watch it in full below.

A full recap of the entire conversation can be found here 
Special thanks to our sponsors, iOgrapher, Camtasia, and Social Media Week Lima. 
Comment below and tell me what makes you or your brand stand out.
Jump & Scale

State of the pet sitting and dog walking industry

State of the Pet Sitting & Dog Walking Industry 2019

State of the pet sitting and dog walking industry

 

Whether you are just entering into the pet sitting and dog walking industry or been here a long time like me (17 years!) I bet you wonder about the state of the industry and where we are headed.

You might wonder if all businesses are like yourself?

What the effect of Rover and Wag will have on the industry as a whole?

I bet you wonder if you are making enough?

Charging enough?

What the “industry standard” is and how you measure up?

Whatever the case might be, I see a major shift happening that no one is really talking about…

 

major shift pet sitting industry

 

I also want to know what you think as you read what I am about to write so please, comment below or on the original post and let’s have a conversation about where YOU think the industry is going and how we can help shape it.

But first… I must put out there that like attracts like.

With everything I will say, my findings MIGHT be skewed only because the type of sitters I have been lucky enough to attract are real go-getters. They are business builders, get knocked down 7 times and get up 8 types of people.

They fail and learn from it.

They aren’t paralyzed in fear and they tend to have a great group of support around them. They are about efficiency, processes, and systems.

So here I tell you – my thoughts and insights are shaped by these incredible business owners and what I have personally witnessed as possible.

They are my inspiration and hope for the pet sitting and dog walking industry’s future.

 

 The Consumers Are Changing From Baby Boomers To Millennials

 

pet sitting software

Tailchasers Inc killing it on their website. (Actual screenshot)

According to Mintel, pet owners are spending 86 BILLION dollars on their pets. When I first started in the industry the surge was from the Baby Boomer segment, now it is transitioning to Millennials. This is a very important change that is necessary for any pet business owner to acknowledge. The buyer habits and behaviors have shifted with technology and the independent pet sitter and dog walker need to take notice.

Did you know that 3/4’s of 30 something-year-olds have pets? While American’s might be holding off longer to have children, as many pet professionals know, pets are often the “first child” before settling down and having two-legged children. The consequence of this is a huge market share that doesn’t like to talk on the phone, wait for responses back, and loves to do everything on the phone. Passive websites are a thing of the past and the buyer journey has to include the buyer as an active participant.

This is a huge point that we need to understand. There is a major shift in the way people research and purchase goods and services and it is something every pet business owner should reflect on how they are shifting to this change.

 

Want to learn more about this change? 

How to Hire Millennials (podcast)
5 Things To Consider When Choosing Software For Your Pet Business (blog)
Cutting Expenses By Getting Pet Sitting Software (blog)

There Are A Lot Of Pet Sitting And Dog Walking Businesses For Sale

 

One quick search on bizbuysell.com and you will see that there are many pet sitting and dog walking businesses all over the country up for grabs. I feel like I have a front-row seat because many investors call me and ask to help them evaluate the business they are interested in purchasing.

I see this trend happening a lot now for (what I believe) to be many reasons: 

1. With Rover and Wag making a splash… I see some companies that are just rolling over and giving up on the business. Believing that it is too hard and that they can’t compete.

(Which couldn’t be further from the truth BTW)

2. Our industry is growing up. No longer are we in the infancy stage like when I started my own company back in 2002. We are all grown up. Some business owners that started 10, 15, 20 years ago are ready to get out and as a result, they are selling.

3. The pet industry is booming and year after year becoming larger and larger. Investors see this and are willing to take $100K or $200K out of their retirement to purchase a business that they know they will make their money back in about 1.5 yrs.

4. Pet sitting and dog walking business owners are looking to scale fast and one of the best ways I see them doing this is acquiring other businesses. It is how Chunsoon Li, Randa Clark, Crystal Hammond, and Mark Shaver are doing it.

 

Want to Learn More About Buying and Selling Your Business?

How To Sell Your Business (podcast)
How To Find The Market Value of Your Pet Business (blog)
Everything You Need To Know About Buying and Selling Your Business (product)

Rover And Wag Have Entered The Room

 

This is one that excites me and here is why.

I know that as a pet sitting and dog walking business owner, you dislike all the irresponsible Rover and Wag pet sitters. It is undeniable the number of accidents and pet deaths they are bringing along in addition to undercutting some pet sitting businesses prices.

Although it is important to remember that not all of them are bad and there are some responsible sitters on those apps. In fact, if I were to start my business today… and not really known where to turn, I just might have listed my services on there too.

But here is why their splash is exciting to me and something for you to think about: 

1. They have raised $310.9M in ten rounds of fundraising. That is insane! What they can do with that money shows in their national print, TV, and social media campaigns. What they have essentially done is educate the entire USA about our profession and that we exist. I feel this is a major reason why our industry has spiked in the past two years. Like it or not, they have educated the market on what a pet sitter does.

2. Rover is a technology company. They have encouraged many professional pet sitters to get software of their own and whether anyone believes it or not, I really think they have helped raise the bar when it comes to the user experience and being able to “go digital” and sign up online.

Study after study shows that the user wants to be involved more and more in the process and Rover is giving that to them every time. Professional pet sitters are increasing this trend by allowing their prospects to sign up with them online and get a leg up on their social media by using video and all the incredible tools we have access to. I see a lot more professional pet sitters and dog walkers really caring about their social media presence and website now and really stepping it up notches!

Gone is the time of a basic Wix website that you create yourself for a top rated and performing digital storefront.

3.  Consumer behavior has developed into asking Google everything. Did you know one of the most popular questions  Google is asked is  “should I text him back?”

From “How much does a pet sitter cost in CITY” to “Pet Sitter reviews in CITY” I believe that Rover and Wag have gotten the public to think about this with their top rankings in most cities. They got the public to wonder about this and then they start researching online. Where I see some professional pet sitting and dog walking companies fall short is by not answering the Big 5 on their website.

Marcus Sheridan explained in great depth on my podcast, Bella In Your Business what the Big 5 are. One of my clients was able to take her brand new website from Barketing Blog and get to to the #1 spot of one of the most competitive markets in just a month because of this strategy I told her to use.

4. More people than ever are starting pet sitting and dog walking businesses.   Initial thoughts by the defensive business could be “Great! This means more competition, Bella.” Although if you realize that 6 out of 10 households have pets… there really is more than enough to go around and it fills the gap of those who need cheap pet care.

In the words of Michelle Obama… “When they go low, you go high.”

Ok, so that might not have been what she meant, but many startups do start very low and don’t have the impeccable customer experience that I know your business already brings. So in essence… this gives you a reason to have the top-notch prices in your area.

You also should keep in mind that only 50% of new businesses last more than 5 years according to the Small Business Administration, which helps add businesses to the selling market and goes to show that you shouldn’t be comparing your well-established business to that of a startup who probably isn’t even charging enough to stay in business in five years.

Everything is relative.

Want To Learn More About This Topic?

What Type of Pet Sitter is Best For Rover Websites? (blog)
What’s The Difference Between Rover Sitters and Professional Pet Sitters? (blog)
What Type of Insurance Does A Rover Sitter Need? (blog)

 

Regulations Are In Full Effect

 

A necessary evil that happens when something gains popularity, like the pet sitting and dog walking industry, is that it draws attention. Regulations are popping up all over the country making it harder and harder to just do whatever you want when it comes to your business.

  1. Minimum wage is going up in many states, therefore, affecting many overnight services.
  2. Accumulated sick day pay is happening in many states causing business owners to factor in this extra pay.
  3. Many cities are putting limits to how many pets can be under one roof.
  4. Some states are being required to pay for cell phone usage like California and Illinois.
  5. A massive tidal wave is happening where business owners are reclassifying their sitters from ICs to Employees. They are realizing that the safest way to grow is with employees, and the only attractive way to sell one day is with employees.

It is because of this interesting shift that we are working hard behind the scenes on a major project for all of you looking to switch from ICs to Employees in 2019.

Sign up to be the first to get the step by step instructions on exactly how to do this:

Get Notified When My IC to Employee Program Launches

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

 

Pet Business Sales

Want To Learn More About This? 

Is Dog Boarding In My Home Legal? (blog)
Should I Switch From Ics to Employees? (blog)
Which Costs More? ICs or Employees?  (blog)
6 Steps To Switch from ICs to Employees (Freebie)

 

Pet Sitting And Dog Walking Businesses Are Growing At The Fastest Rate Ever!

 

I have never seen pet sitting and dog walking businesses scale so fast in the 11 years I have been consulting. It is incredible how many people are acquiring smaller companies or lateral companies to grow their empire. They are accomplishing this a bunch of ways:

  • It is equally exciting to see people hiring multiple people at a time instead of just hiring one person at a time reacting to an open position they have in their company.
  • Another change I see is that when people move out of their territory, they are keeping their old territory and running it remotely while opening up a new one. Or, they don’t relocate but just open up a new territory to expand their kingdom.
  • Some members in the Jump Mastermind have hit their last year revenue by mid-2018 while others have figured out membership modules that are just increasing their profits.

It is really so exciting to see all the ways businesses are flourishing, despite what some naysayers might say about the tech companies.

 

The Use Of Software Is (and Will Continue To Be) at an All-Time High

 

Pet care companies that use software have the benefit of increased productivity, with their time being spent on the money-making aspects of the business instead of performing tedious and repetitive tasks. For larger companies, this can lead to the need for fewer office employees, while for smaller companies you may have more free time. Allowing clients to add their own information and schedule not only saves you time, but it also lowers the frequency of errors as the client immediately sees the same thing that the company sees.

Adam Smith, Co-Creator/Developer, Precise Petcare

 

To be taken seriously online in this industry you really need two things: A great website and that website to be connected to the software.

As millennials come into the largest buying power, they want to do things online. They want to have an experience online that solves their problems and doesn’t take forever.

I am happy to say that I am starting to see pet sitters finally invite the viewer into the process on their site. They aren’t just talking at them or creating an online brochure, but really speaking to their avatars, solving the unique problems, and inviting the viewer to take action that will make them feel like they are able to check “pet sitter” or “dog walker” off their never-ending to-do list.

Some are even starting to show-and-tell. They are finally starting to show the consumer the experience they will have on their cell phone when service is being provided. Whether this is IG stories, FB Stories, showing what the updates look like, sending a GPS map of the walk, only using GPS tracked collars… pet sitters are keeping pace ever-changing technology and it is becoming a real disruptor in their local markets.

 

pet sitting and dog walking industry

My Predictions for 2019:

  1. Companies are going to get even larger and things like benefits will become more and more talked about.
  2. The middle sized businesses will shrink slightly because they will get burnt out, stall out, sell, or on the opposite side… grow bigger.
  3. Companies will start to develop their own software apps specialized to their own companies and going outside the mainstream industry choices.
  4. More regulations coming down the pipeline for the proper classification of workers will be coming as our political climate continues to heat up, causing more companies to switch from ICs to employees.
  5. Online user experience is going to become one of the most popular selling features and is what will really start to set companies apart online. In the past it was a blog, software, or video… but this is all the “norm” so it will be important to have all that AND a great online user experience.

 

 

Pet Industry Dreams

How Can You Achieve All Your Dreams With No Sunlight?

 

We have all seen the experiment online where one plant was ignored and told negative things and another plant was given attention and spoken positive messages too… right? In this experiment, the negative comments plant wilted and the positive comments plant flourished.

Your brain and your business is the same exact way.

In order to achieve what you want for your business… you need to surround yourself with those positive comments. Surrounded yourself with people checking in with you daily and giving you encouragement and there to guide you. The pet sitting and dog walking industry isn’t going to get easier as it grows. It will become more cutting-edge, more innovative and larger. Where many used to strive for a six-figure company… more will be striving for a seven-figure business.

I am already seeing it happen and I am excited to be cheering you on.

Let’s do this together.

 

 

What Do You Think?

Comment below, I would love to hear what you think. Tell me what I might have missed, what your predictions are, or if you think I am off my rocker!  *haha* What has been your experience and where do YOU want to be in 2019 with your business? How do you plan to achieve it all and what changes have you seen in the industry?

facebook changes plan

What The New Facebook Changes Means To Pet Sitters Facebook Pages

Okay, so I am sure you have heard about all the Facebook changes. First thing’s first, we need to all just breathe in and out and quiet ourselves a bit.

Breathe in….
Breathe out….

I have a lot of thoughts on this, and I want to preface it by saying that these are MY THOUGHTS. You can take this advice or leave it, but as someone who runs three very highly successful Facebook groups, a successful Facebook page, used advertising, retargeting Facebook pixels, and MeetEdgar… I am not as worried as everyone seems to be.

Facebook changes

The Shock

I don’t ever remember a time that Facebook rolled out a change that people were “happy” with. But guess what? We all lived through it. We all chose to use this free platform for our personal life and our business and many of us don’t spend money doing so.

These Facebook Changes Are A Long Time Coming

Since last year at Social Media Marketing World, Michael Stelzner and his team predicted this. They said that Facebook was running out of space for the newsfeed because so much content was being produced and shared. They said that organic reach (meaning you just post something on your page and people see it) was dropping and the way to succeed was PAY TO PLAY and be useful and relevant.

What Does That Mean?

It means that when you have a post that is performing well, boost it for $5. It means that when you have a message you really want a lot of eyes on, use it as an advertisement and install a pixel on your website if you are sending people there so you can retarget them.

Want to know more about what retargeting is? This is a great article explaining it in depth. Hint: Pet sitters can 100% use this to find more dog walking clients, overnight clients, or employees. Yes, it is that specific if you use it right.

Sigh, But I Don’t Want to Pay Bella!

Okay, then don’t. But I ask you where else are you paying for advertising in your business? Why NOT pay for advertising on Facebook? You are going to have to put some skin in the game if you want it to happen and even more so, I would encourage you to find a person who can really help you navigate through this or at least teach you. This is a person you need on your team. Personally, I enjoy working with Robert   He is the guy I hand my FB advertising off to. He has gotten me 205 subscribers since October from Facebook leading to just over $6,000.00 in sales since October. He has also been able to get my conversion rates from 5% to 13% since working with him.

conversion rates

So really, it is up to you if you want to pay to play or not but I have first hand experience that you make much more than your investment back.

Please understand that it is only one part of the funnel. Allow me to show you mine. I hand drew it quick so you could see:

Facebook advertising Sequence

If at any point the user doesn’t make it to the purchase product segment, they are retargeted for the advertisement. I am showing this to you to give an overview of how this can work for pet sitters. As I mentioned in my Facebook Live starting at the 20minute mark you can use this to find employees or clients and put it all on a system. I tell you exactly how you can make this funnel above your OWN using an actual example of a pet sitting business. I would suggest you use someone to help you set it all up and then you can forget about it (sorta). I promise that if you do it right, tweak it to perfection… you will still get a flow of people. But you have to pay to play!

Start listening at the 20 minute mark to see what I am saying. Facebook is STILL the largest database in the world and they still want you to use them for that.

 

So here are my thoughts to you on the Facebook changes:

Most Pet Sitters and Dog Walkers Don’t Have Reach To Begin With:

So many pet sitting Facebook pages barely have any reach to begin with. They are correlating other people’s content that people just don’t care about. There is no engagement (meaning likes, comments, or share) and if you were to scroll their feed it looks like a ghost town. So you can’t be upset about something you never had to begin with.

Stop Asking Other Pet Sitters to Like Your Page!

You are not going to trick Facebook unless all of those people are constantly engaging with your page on a daily basis. All you are doing is making your engagement ratio tougher to reach. What I WOULD be asking for is more relevant REVIEWS on your page.

Episodic Video Is Great

Although they are saying that video views will go down, the future of Facebook is a TV station and this can only help you. In addition, entertaining and episodic content will be favored so why not (finally) start going live on a certain day? Not sure what to talk about? How about that content you were blindly sharing and posting to your wall? Talk about it! In fact, Facebook just sent me this last week showing how to knock it out of the park with  short video on facebook.   

I have been preaching about this for a long time.

Educate Yourself as a Business Owner and Always be Learning.

Consider your Facebook strategy based off the actual experts and thought leaders. Don’t just go blindly following with others are doing in a Facebook group because that is what everyone is doing. Social Media Examiner is having a conference that I am attending Feb 28-March 2nd in San Diego with 8 other pet sitters. Consider meeting us at Social Media Marketing World   I was able to learn and meet so many incredible people last year that I can 100% recommend this is the conference to be at!

Another great resource and one that will be on my podcast soon is the Queen of Facebook. When Facebook needs help explaining Facebook, they headhunted and hired Mari Smith! Go follow her and learn!

Facebook marketing

Facebook Groups Are Your Saving Grace!

One thing I don’t see being too affected is Facebook groups. You know, the ones that you always LOVE to be in, check in to see what is going on, and care about the most? Where there has always been the MOST engagement? I have seen pet sitters like Crystal Hammond and Maureen Dunn McCarthy really take this to the next level increasing their business and networking in their communities by thousands of dollars a month. Want to learn how? Maureen spilled all her secret’s in this podcast interview. 

Be careful of what you can’t can and can’t happen in your brain. The strong make things happen. The weak allow, “it can’t happen” to take residence in their brain.

If you haven’t done a facebook group in your community (and the RIGHT WAY) I highly suggest you start making that your personal development. Google it, learn about it, do it right. That can REALLy help you in numerous ways.

Website SEO Matters More Than Ever If You Used Facebook To Drive Clicks To Your Site.

Yet again, there is that three letter word that many have become numb to. But understanding how these Facebook changes relate to it will be crucial. Strategies will need to change. Those who were using Facebook to drive traffic back to their website via their pages are predicted to see a dramatic decrease. I am one of those who will be affected as FB has been a leading driver of readers for my previous pet sitting company and Jump Consulting. But there is a saying that says if you know what you are fighting, you can plan your attack. Folks, we know what we are “fighting.”

Best you have yoast installed on your wordpress website and make sure that every page and post on your site is properly SEOed. A resource I love for this is Barketing Blog. They provide done-for-you pet sitter websites for 93% off. They are so good I have people writing me thank you letters for referring them. In their options, you can actually hand them your blogs each month and they will post them and make sure they are properly SEOed.

This matters because the organic google search that is favoring mobile sites first… is huge. I hope you understand the magnitude of what can happen to your pet sitting business this year if your Facebook strategy and your website strategy are not on point. If you do what you have been doing in the past months and years, you will see a dramatic decrease in organic search results. My expert for this is Erika Godwin and you can learn more about her here

Train Your Audience Like You Would a Dog!

Simply put, ASK your audience to put your page on a “see first.”  Facebook has made this so easy where you can do a Facebook live video showing your screen and exactly how to do that. Make it a point to start and end every video asking for this. When you ask people to do these things, it works and I am pretty sure you will start to see a LOT of people doing this.

facebook changes plan

Your Plan With Your Facebook Page:

I am wondering…. right now, how many clients have you attracted from ONLY seeing you on Facebook in the past month? I am guessing none. Am I right? I have hardly ever see the majority of pet sitters tell me “They found me on Facebook” and if they did… it was because someone (a client) was engaged with their page and sharing their content.

It wasn’t organic.

So I want to encourage you to think – are you really missing out on anything?

I also want to encourage you to think that when people are looking for dog walkers and pet sitters, they aren’t passive about it. It isn’t some silly magnetic eye lashes sold in China that we click on in the news feed and buy for $9.99 on an impulse. This is pet sitting and dog walking. These people need to trust us. They have asked their friends. They have asked their vet and you can bet – they have googled.

So put your focus back to google. How is your website performing? Are you coming up in the search? Are you being relevant? Are you constantly adding content? Are you helpful? Or are you just shooting for PET SITTER YOUR CITY and leaving out the Big 5 blog titles that every business owner needs to be doing?

The strategy needs to change for many of you, but mindset also. This really isn’t new news. You need to be engaging, relevant, and make it a two-way conversation. Don’t be too worried if you weren’t getting that much engagement to begin with, this should just REALLY make you want to change your strategy. How often do you even look at your stats? Please… keep learning but understand that it isn’t the end of the world. Facebook wants to keep the integrity of the platform. They want to keep people engaged. They will focus on the people and make the businesses pay. It is as simple as that. When Facebook is the largest database in the universe…. They know who the cat lady living in Nowhere, ND making $55k a year and who only travels to see family out of state a few times a year is and they can help you reach her. That is powerful and worth paying for.

And PS – If you are one of the dozen pet sitters in Better Marketing with Bella…. as always, I got your back! We will talk all about you can rock this and adapt to the change on our monthly coaching calls!

credit card rates

How Are Credit Card Rates Calculated For My Pet Sitting Company?

Since my last post on credit card processing and pet sitting software companies, I have gotten lots of questions about how credit card rates are determined. I know it is a taboo topic we don’t often talk about. The purpose of writing this is to be able to use it as a resource again and again.

I take personal responsibility for everything I publish, and genuinely want to help every business become educated on a messy and confusing topic.

That’s why I haven’t written this alone.

I am not the authority on merchant services, also known as “credit cards” in our Facebook forums, so I decided to go straight to the experts I know, like, and trust.

credit card rates

Tiered Pricing vs Interchange Plus Pricing?

Since the post of my recent blog where I shed some light on what was happening with credit cards and one pet sitting software, I was asked a few questions. The most popular was, “Do the people I work with offered a tiered pricing program or do they use the Interchange Plus Pricing model?”  This pet sitter was hearing that the Tiered Pricing Model wasn’t the best choice.

I thought it was a great question so I reached out to my contacts and spent 20 minutes on the phone learning about what determines credit card rates and taking notes for this article.

I am going to tell you what I discovered, but first, I am going to explain the two. If you are like me, I didn’t know and I really didn’t care as long as I was in love with my rate (which I am, of course!)

Tiered Pricing
This is when a company creates buckets and all cards fall into one of the buckets. Each bucket has its own percentage and that is what the card will be charged. Some buckets make the credit card company more money and some buckets make the company less money. The customer who is charging the cards will only see as many rates on their bill as how many buckets their cards fell into.

Interchange Plus Pricing
This is a system where it acknowledges that there are thousands of cards out there. On your statement, you will see a different fee for all cards including the upcharge that the company decided to add onto it. This statement might be a little harder and confusing to look at as the customer but allows cards not to be grouped together.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both models.

To answer the question I received: The company I work with uses both. 

It is why looking at people’s statements is so important to see what cards they are already currently charging and then find the plan that best fits them. They gave me an example that a donut shop might have different types of transactions than a hotel and that made perfect sense. Different volumes, amounts, and probably types of cards.

You actually might remember that person who I just helped save $8700!  She would have saved some by taking the flat 2.9% offer but ended up double because she had the negotiating power with many companies and chose against the software that would lock her into a higher rate of 2.9% causing her thousands of dollars.

You Could End Up Paying a Lot More In Your Credit Card Rates Than What They Courted You For:

What a certain software system is trying to claim “you could end up paying a lot more than what they courted you for” is actually true! Many merchant services operate like this. They bait you with a great rate and then switch or raise you as time goes on. In fact, the one you are with right now, might actually have raised your rates already and you have been too busy to even notice. After all, your payments are probably on auto-deduct, right?

What this software company says is true….. if you don’t know where to go.

credit card rates

How Do You Know Which Is Best For You?

Different businesses will have different trends like the hotel and donut shop I mentioned earlier.

It all depends and this is why it is SO important to have someone that you can know, like, and trust walking side by side with you. They should be able to explain credit card rates and fees and even re-evaluate things with you as your business grows. I can easily see how a dog walking company would vary differently than a pet sitting company simply because of the spending habits of their different clients.

What’s My Motive?

It is to help you. I have spent ten years in this industry looking through your profit and loss statements, looking where you could increase profits and cut costs. We have agonized on how to pick the best rate to charge so you can achieve your personal financial dreams. We have celebrated and cried together. A business coach with no successful clients isn’t a good business coach at all. So what I am trying to do here is make you successful. Make you keep some of your hard-earned money. I am trying to encourage you to not procrastinate a horribly stressful and confusing task that every business owner needs to pay attention to at least once a year and let you know that there is help.

I am begging you to not just say OK when someone gives you a flat rate without fully understanding the implications of what that really means. It might be good. It might be bad. My motive is to arm you with an education so you can make the best choice for you and that you can literally take to the bank.

pet sitting package deal

pet sitting software credit cards

The Truth About Credit Card Processing And Pet Sitting Software Companies

I couldn’t understand when a handful of clients came to me and said they couldn’t use more than one credit card processor in their pet sitting software system. (They all had the same one.)

It bugged me, as their coach, looking out for their bottom line…. so I reached out to their software company.

The pet sitting software company is very popular, newer, and always improving. Admittedly, they even have a lot of great bells and whistles including a feature that only one other company has.

They are cutting edge.
Always making improvements.
Quick to send and reply to emails.

Overall, they appear to be pretty darn awesome!

So I asked them, “Why can’t my clients use another processor other than the one you are encouraging?” and their reply was basically that they had problems when they had multiple credit card processing companies and they had to only choose one to support.

They said that many were using one processor in particular, so it is the one they decided to “support” on their app.

It didn’t really make sense to me, as they are so cutting edge… but I accepted their response.

Credit Card Processing

Wait….This Pet Sitting Software Company Does Offer Multiple Processors to Accept Credit Cards?!?

 

A few days later, I had a conversation with another client of mine. She was using this same pet sitting software company AND using a credit card processor who was different than what they said they could support. So I went back to this company and they said some people were “grandfathered” in.

So now, I was really confused. Can you not support it or do you choose NOT to support it, and why?

 

Something Didn’t Add Up.

 

What DID add up was the dollars it was going to cost my client in credit card fees and the pet sitting software services. The pet sitting software company she wanted to switch to was double as expensive as what she was currently using.   By switching software companies, she would have to switch credit card processors and it would be a fixed rate for processing.

That sounds stress free, right?

Maybe even a good thing?

In a world where there are thousands of credit card rates… knowing that you can count on being charged one percentage and one fee per transaction is pretty darn awesome…..right?

Wrong.

Or at least not all the time.

So I encouraged her to do the math.

Here is an example for those of you reading this:

This breakdown is Credit Card Fee/Total Revenue per Year/Cost of Credit Cards
2% of $500,000 is $10,000
3% of $500,000 is $15,000
4% of $500,000 is $20,000

Or, another example:

2% of $200,000 is $4,000
3% of $200,000 is $6,000
4% of $200,000 is $8,000

 

This Pet Sitter Did The Math.

She realized that switching pet sitting software companies would double her cost in software  (from around $200 a month to $400). Although, this new software company COULD save her some money in her credit card fees… so it sounded enticing.

And that is where many pet sitting companies stop their research and education.

But this pet sitter didn’t.

She asked another credit card company what her fees would be and because of her yearly volume, they could give her an even BETTER deal.

When all was said and done, if this pet sitter didn’t switch software companies and lowered her rate to the competitive company, she could save a lot of money in a year. In fact,

 

Switching Her Pet Sitting Software Company Would Cost An Extra $8,700.00 A Year!

Over $8,000 difference!

You could buy a small car for that price!

Or 4 MacBook Pro’s!

Or even 4 brand new websites!

That is a ton of money, and for this pet sitter, it was too much money.

She decided to stay with her current software company and switch credit card processing companies to save those thousands of dollars. 

Learning About Kick Backs

Kickbacks are something that when a person recommends a product or service, they get something in return. Sometimes they are called referrals. This day in age the big buzzword is affiliate marketing. I earn kickbacks for some things I recommend… but not all. For example, when someone signs up for credit card processing through my contact, I get a referral fee.

So this idea really got me thinking.

How can a company that advertises that they are always making improvements not make THIS improvement and how can their software be so robust that it GPS’s walkers, but they can’t take more than one payment processor?

Yet, I know they can because I have clients doing it?

pet sitter credit cards

So… I Called Up WePay.

 

WePay is much like Stripe, Square, etc. They are an interface that allows businesses to accept credit cards for a low cost without using a gateway. The way the credit card industry works is with lots and lots of numbers and rates. It is a volume based business because the more processing that happens, typically, the better rate businesses can be offered.

This works many ways.

I talked to WePay and you know what they told me? If I was a software company, I could offer 2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction to my customers who were using my software.

Once my clients reached a total of $250,000.00 in charges a month, then I could start making money on the back end. I could negotiate with WePay for a larger personal cut. I was told that the more money my clients charge each month, the more “wiggle” room I could have. So it would go something like this:

2.9% charged to my software users (they are all business owners)
I negotiate 2.5% behind the scenes with WePay and they still charge my customers 2.9%
That extra .4% will go directly to me on the back end as a profit share.

Let me use actual numbers:
$500,000 in revenue a month.
multiplied by .4%
=$2,000 a month

Another example:
If you are a software company and have at LEAST 100 clients charging at least $10,000 a month…. that is $1,000,000 in revenue a month. That could be $4,000 a month they are making off credit card processing if they were only earning .4%

There are so many variations, and it is hard to estimate anything, but it is safe to say that a software company could make a LOT of money off the charges that my customers make.

While discussing the possibilities with WePay, and telling them I was in the pet industry, they actually named the software company that does this exact type of deal with them and how great it works out.

 

And Now It All Makes Sense

 

Listen, I want to be super clear – this is the way that credit card processing works and I am not against it. I am not even against this software company having another revenue stream.

What I am against is the feeling of YUCKY that sits with my clients and I when we asked this software company a direct question and got (what we feel) smoke and mirrors.

Essentially they have the most expensive software (all the power to them!) and they seem to hide the fact that they make money off of that too. I just don’t like that it appears like they are not telling the whole truth or being upfront. Not to mention they are leading their clients to think that they are getting a great deal.

In a world where transparency and authenticity is golden online, I would really encourage them (because I know they will eventually read this) to come clean. So many people would have so much more respect for them.

We aren’t against them making money. We all have choices and business decisions to make. It is more about their refusal to disclose it.

I find it challenging to encourage my clients, whose best interest I serve, to tell them to use a software that is the most expensive, and then they have no negotiating power with their credit card fees on. For that reason, I can never recommend this software.

pet sitting software

Know Your Rights With Credit Card Processing:

These are all according to me and what I have learned. Nothing legal about what I am about to share *wink*

  1. Shop rates like you would your home mortgage.
  2. Ask your current company to reduce your rate. If they can’t, see #1.
  3. Go with the company with the best customer service and rates.
  4. Know that you have the right to have your own personal contact at the credit card company. You should be able to call or email them and they know about you and your business.
  5. Understand that rates change based off what is going on in the world, your volume, and a bunch of other reasons that make my head spin.
  6. Get someone on your business team (a rep) that you can know and trust!
  7. If you get an 800 number and are just a fish in the sea, run!
  8. Online reviews will ALWAYS be bad. They are full of people upset, especially when it comes to credit card processing. It shouldn’t hold much weight.

 

My Final Advice:

  1. You have to be an advocate for your business. You need to know your numbers on a global scale. You need to know projections, if you are up or down, the average price of a visit/walk, how much it costs you, how much you’re spending in labor, how much you want to make, and HOW MUCH you are spending! If you have no clue, my Pricing Structure & Strategy Guide can set you straight.
  2. You can’t stick your head in the sand. It is one of the most important responsibilities as a business owner. Know your numbers or at least know how to recall them in reports that are up to date and at your fingertips.
  3. When choosing a pet sitting software company decide on the features that are most important to you and see what company can serve you the best. My top three would be customer service, ability to negotiate credit cards rates, and how they will help improve my processes. My top three, might not be your top three.

 

 

credit card rates

 

Best Practices To Prepare Your Business For Tax Season

If you don’t prepare your business for tax season, it will usually end up stressful at the last minute.  I know many pet business owners moaning and groaning wishing they hired that bookkeeper or kept better records. Personally, for quite a few years it was opening a bottle of wine, printing out every bank statement, and recording a year’s worth of expenses in about 5 hours of time.

Ok, so it might have been more than one bottle of wine… 🙂

In the process, I am sure I missed a lot, classified in the wrong categories, and “forgot” a lot of other items. Doing an entire year in one session is never recommended.

So how do we not fall into this trap and how can we prevent this from happening ever again? Here are some

Prepare Your Pet Business For Tax Season
Best Practices To Prepare Your Business For Tax Season

Start Early

By “starting early” I mean doing it as the year goes on. Every single month, as soon as that bank account statement is ready, reconcile it with your Quickbooks or Freshbooks account. Keep on top of it while the expense page is fresh in your mind. Was the Amazon delivery for groceries or new business card holders? Doing this will eliminate another step of having to go research it in Amazon. It will help you prepare your business for tax season little by little.

Get The Right Categories Set Up

Each business will differ, with no two the exact same but getting the typical categories set up early will help you prepare your business for tax season. Examples: Meals and Entertainment can be broken down into: personal, staff meetings, interviews. Or taxes: FICA, SUTA, etc  Having the right categories will help you do projections for your business and potentially let you know where you might be bleeding money. Was all that money you spent with one company on advertising really profitable?

Consider Getting A Bookkeeper

If you don’t have a background in accounting, my best piece of advice would be to contact a local bookkeeper that you can trust to keep things checked and balanced. If you are a cash and check business this is HUGELY important because sometimes payments fall through the cracks. You are so busy running your business, you don’t realize that you missed collecting a $60 check from Mrs. Green. A bookkeeper can help you project, predict, and strategize your cash flow. When tax time comes he/she will already have a lot of your books taken care of so there will be no scramble as you prepare your business for tax season!

Find An Accountant You Can Trust

Most people only see their CPA once a year. Sometimes they just work virtually. As a small business, it is important to see your CPA a few times a year, especially for tax planning purposes. When your business grows, there are different types of corporations that you can file as that would help keep your tax bill lower than if you didn’t. A good CPA will give you options, if there are any, and be able to strategize with you. I would recommend asking your local networking groups and other small business owners who you trust who they use to get a recommendation.

 

Wrap Up

So to sum it all up, you can wipe away the crazy tax prep planning in March and replace it with a steady plan that works for your business throughout the year. Doing so, you will have less stress, ease of planning, and potentially less of a tax bill to pay because you have accounted for all your expenses and collected all your accounts receivable! Do just a little every month and you can always be preparing your business for tax season!

 

 

Mastermind

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!

 

 

Happy New Year From My Kitchen Table…

Happy New Year! ….as I start writing, it is 8:23 here in Arizona. I felt compelled to just write but realizing this was much longer than a Facebook status, I thought to post this here… I am talking to you.

The business owner who is stressed, worried, overwhelmed, unbalanced, and willing to be vulnerable.  Here is an excerpt from an email I received this morning,

 

Hello, I am just feeling very overwhelmed in my business. Even if I just continue onward myself and don’t hire an employee I still need to figure out how to say no without being afraid I’m going to lose a client. Setting boundaries for my clients and how to handle that without offending anyone….

 

And don’t I get it!!!

I have felt that exact way. In fact, sometimes I STILL feel that way. It is called self-doubt, stinking thinking, a decrease in self-confidence, and lack of boundaries.

But as I sit here, at my kitchen table writing to you tonight, while my husband is at work, and Olivia is asleep in her bed- I am reminded (Thank you Facebook TimeHop) of where I used to be.

My story IS your story

In order to drive home a point about this New Year (skip to the bottom of this if you are antsy)…. I feel like I need to take you on a trip down my own personal memory lane.

 

  • This year… In January, my husband became a Nurse. Something he has worked SO HARD for and it is just (seriously) in his PORES he is so good at it. It also gave him an incredible schedule where he works all weekend and Monday afternoons and then off the rest of the week. We are both able to be home and with Olivia and I am able to work when I need. =balance
  • Easter Sunday 2016 is when I knew I wanted to move on from my pet sitting business of 14 years and in a few days, I found a broker and had it on the market. The decision was easy for me. My goal was always to sell once I had a family and my real passion is helping others achieve their goals through coaching.
  • In May, on Mother’s Day (I can’t make this stuff up) Olivia started walking.
  • The end of May, we took our first family trip over Memorial Day to Cape Cod. I had so much anxiety about this one. To all you Mom’s who have traveled with little ones… my GOSH they have a lot of GEAR! Then, add into it Olivia’s medicine that needs to be refrigerated, and her feeding challenges…. I was terrified of being that Mom with the screaming kid on the airplane. Although in all honesty, Olivia isn’t a screamer, she is an explorer. She doesn’t sit still. Taking a red eye with her own seat proved to be great and she slept the 5 and 6 hour flights. (Yay!) It also proved to us that we don’t always need to be a on a strict schedule with her. It was empowering.
  • The end of May, my pet sitting business was officially sold too. (record time at top dollar!)
  • Then came July where in FIVE DAYS we sold our house and bought a new one… and let me tell you, this was total randomness. We weren’t even planning on it. The opportunity just presented itself and rather than think of all the things that could go wrong, we JUMPED.  And it was the best decision of our lives…. aside from getting married, of course! 🙂
  • In July was also Olivia and I’s bday’s. Mine is the 18th and her’s is the 21st. There are certain times of the year that are major triggers for me….. her birthday is one of them. Being a Mom stuck in NICU for 6 months…. wondering (first) if she was going to live, (then) the quality of life she was going to have… was such a battle. I do have PTSD from it and learning to manage it is a challenge when the triggers appear. This year, we kept it a low key birthday for her. It was fun, intimate, and perfect for us. 🙂
  • Around this time, I decided to revamp Jump Consulting. I started working on a complete rebrand of the company and a new business plan. Now that I was down to one company, I could really dream big and figure out my visions and set goals. And that is exactly what I did. I formulated a terrific team, and admittedly kissed a bunch of frogs to get there. But now, I have such a solid support team that I am so grateful for!
  • In August we got into our new home, and wouldn’t you know, Olivia started eating SO MUCH BETTER! It was insane the progress she has finally been making. Not to mention our incredible renown feeding therapist that occasionally comes to our home to do some private sessions with us. Her name is Marsha and she has changed our LIVES. (If you have feeding issues with your kids, let’s talk!)


And now, since then…. I really feel like my family and I have been finding our groove. For those of you just getting to know me, here is my life the past few years before that:

Oct 2012 – Met Alex, my hubby
June 23 2103 – Engaged
Jan 4th 2014 – Married in Scottsdale, AZ
Jan 11th 2014 – Married in Skopje, Macedonia then honeymoon in Rome.
Jan 28th 2014 – found out I was pregnant
May 25th 2014 – found out it was going to be a tough pregnancy and on bed rest.
July 21st 2014 – Olivia was born at 0lb. 12oz. 10 inches long. (One of the 50 smallest surviving babies on record!)

Jan 10 2015 – hubby started school for fast track to be a Nurse (gone working or studying all the time)
Jan 19 2015 – after 185 days I took her home from the hospital with Oxygen and NG feeding tube. 80 hours a week of nursing in my home day and night for the next 6 months…
2015 – I was in survival and processing what happened in NICU. (Our bodies have an incredible ability to fight or flight. I fought, then months later I comprehended it all) Lots of tears, grieve, anger, frustration….and some days, there still is. 2015 was a decompressing and starting to heal year…. I was so tense too…. just waiting for the other shoe to drop because I was conditioned that way with NICU. We would get calls in the middle of the night, “Olivia stopped breathing…..” or something else equally as crazy. 🙁

Are you tired yet? I am!

It feels like my husband and I have been on the run for the past few years. If you told me that we would have all this in front of us, I would have sabotaged it.

But I have learned from it.

I am stronger because of it. I have that as EVIDENCE that I can make it through things and that, sometimes, God has to carry me through it because stuff just gets that real.

When business owners tell me they are tired. They don’t have time. They can’t be out doing pet sits every single day and need to learn better systems and processes. I 100% get it because I was right there too and I proved how to make it work time and time again.

So Now It Is New Years Eve….

…I don’t know what the future holds, and you know what? I don’t even really WANT to know…

I want to have goals and plans… but I also understand that it is okay if they don’t come true.

I don’t believe in New Years Resolutions. I don’t think that a day on the calendar can change things. We are always making these resolutions.. but never really reflecting on what they were the last time we promised ourselves something. Did we win? loose? Knock it out of the park? Fall short? I feel like these promises to ourselves can be made on ANY DAY.

I just know that I want balance.

And I want balance for everyone that my light shines out to. (Notice I didn’t say who I coach?) I want balance for everyone around me. That’s a tough thing to achieve. I believe it comes with having priorities in life and then making plans to accentuate the priorities.

For example, I really wanted to be there for Alex and Olivia. I wanted to be present. I didn’t want to have a bigger company or take it to the next level. I totally could, but it wasn’t in my heart. So I made the choice to get out. At the time, I was terrified. I was taking a big pay cut. But I was committed to my priorities in life, being my family. Olivia taught me what’s really important. Much like I am sure your own children have done?

Side note – It really is amazing how these tiny little humans can do that for us, isn’t it? 

Saying NO is easy, if you have priorities.

Back To The Email

Getting back to the except that I showed you above. The email in my inbox… that gal is buried by her company. She is making decisions based off of fear and not her priorities in life. My advice to her is this:

If you want balance in your life, you have to fight for it.

Are you are worried about your income yet are overbooked? Raise your rates if it is only one of you or hire people. The second rule when I coach people is “who cares about the competition”  The writer has a fear of missing out that is dragging her down. Not everyone who calls is a client. It is mathematically impossible. I would encourage her to figure out who she wants as a client. Define them.

 

All About Balance

But friends, it is all about balance in life. Balance in your time, relationships, carbs (lol!), money, etc.

I want to encourage you ALL to seek balance in your life. I feel like if you can achieve balance in your life, everything else will (more easily) fall into place.

My rule #1 is “You are your own worst enemy.” And you are! Here is the thing… there is no secret to pet sitting and dog walking. It seems like everyone is doing it these days.

Here is the thing… there is no secret to pet sitting and dog walking. It seems like everyone is doing it these days.

But what is really important is those who are successful – they went for it. They have failed MORE TIMES than the ones who are struggling. Do you know why they are successful?
[ctt template=”8″ link=”H7Zbw” via=”yes” ]”See problems as challenges!” #petsitters #petsitting @bellaspets #jumpmotivation @Bellas_pets[/ctt]

And when I say successful, it could really mean anything. I am not saying the company with the most money, staff, profit margin. Successful according to their own desires.

Anyways…. did I mention that I am also sick right now? My nose is really telling me, “Get off the computer and go lay down” So I am going to wrap this up now….

Ever notice how kids are SO happy and carefree? 🙂 Giddy up!

My Wish and Prayer for you in 2017

I pray that the person reading this is able to be true to themselves. Find and stand up for their priorities by creating balance in all areas of their life. I pray that we all understand that being a workaholic and too busy do not lead to a healthy and balanced life (despite what society tells us) and that in the end, you and those you love are happy and healthy.

Happy New Year. From my family to yours!
Bella

(PS) Now it is 9:12 and I have to edit, format, add some pictures, and post! 🙂

know-marketing-working

How Do I Know If My Marketing Is Working?

Marketing is tricky. Some people love it, and some people hate it, but I think we can all agree that it can be tough. Think about it. You’ve just come up with a fantastic marketing plan, and you’ve started implementing it.

Good to go right? Well, not exactly. Step two is figuring out if it’s actually working, and learning to adapt if you decide that it isn’t. Today we’re going to look a couple of easy ways that you can measure whether or not your marketing is actually working.

Marketing: How Do I Know If It’s Working?

know-marketing-working

How Long Has Your Marketing Cycle Been Up?

A rookie mistake that I see a lot of business owners make is not leaving their marketing cycle up long enough. Don’t be that person! Marketing cycles, like anything worthwhile, need time to grow and prosper. You have to give it an opportunity to reach its full potential.

For example, if you had a newsletter that comes out every other month, you have to keep it going for a substantial amount of time. This will allow you to get through a couple of cycles so you can accurately see whether or not it’s working.

If you want to look more generally, I recommend a bare minimum of 6 months for something that comes out every month. Again, this healthy amount of time will set a nice foundation where you can analyze your progress.

 

What Does “My Marketing’s Working!” Mean To You?

Saying that something “is working” is a broad, subjective term. Something that’s working for someone else may not satisfy what you’re personally looking for. This is why it’s important to define your objective before starting a new marketing cycle.

Is your goal to get new clients?

Or is it to gain exposure in new areas?

Or maybe it is something else?

These types of questions are what you should be asking yourself when deciding whether or not if it’s working. You have to set your own goals and then simply look at the metrics to see if you reach them.

If your goal is gain new clients and you don’t, well then your marketing isn’t working! Time to try something new. While it’s important to stick to a strategy for a healthy amount of time, don’t be afraid to change it up now again if you’re not getting desired results. In the end, you have to choose something that meets and exceeds your goals!

Tracking Your Marketing is KEY

In order for you to accurately know if your marketing is meeting your goals, you absolutely have to track your it with numbers.

Knowing figures such as how many new clients you’ve gained or how many website hits you’ve gotten are important. If you don’t track your marketing, you may not know what you should attribute any changes in your business to.

A great way to track is to do an A/B Split Test. For example, try a strategy one way, then change it up a bit and do it slightly differently. Then compare and contrast! You’ll be able to fine tune your strategies and really see what works and what doesn’t. After doing this a couple times, you’ll have your technique nailed.

You can also use online programs such as Hootsuite to track your social media analytics. They also offer a 30 day free trial so you can see if it’s for you. Or, if you want to track your email marketing, try AWeber. They’ll help you keep track of your email clicks, subscribers and more.

What Does It All Mean?

Overall, only you will know if your marketing is working. You can definitely get lots of helpful feedback from a variety of resources – but in the end you have to do what you feel is right. With most things in business, you have to go with your gut. Don’t be afraid to step out of the box and completely scrap an idea if it’s not working – but at the same token, make sure you are giving it a chance to work!

Even more importantly – define your goals so you know whether or not you’re achieving what you want to achieve. Use the tools at your disposal like the online programs listed above as well as the people in your life. So there you have it. Yes, marketing can be tough, but there are so many ways in addition to what I’ve listed here that can help you simplify and expedite the process.

So, what are you waiting for? Let’s get creative!

 

options-to-post-for-your-social-media-1

not-sure-what-to-charge-1

does your pet sitter job posting have these 3 key ingredients to success?

Does Your Pet Sitter Job Posting Have These 3 Key Ingredients for Success?

Imagine this. You are the owner of a successful pet sitting company that is booming with business. So much so that you’re ready to take on some new staff. So you create a job posting, upload it, and …. no responses. Sound familiar?

Well I’m here to tell you that it’s not you, it’s your job posting. Let’s take a look at a few key ingredients that every pet sitter job posting needs to be successful and engaging.

Beautiful young businesswoman conducting a job interview seated at her desk in her office holding a folder and smiling at the potential female candidate

Beautiful young businesswoman conducting a job interview seated at her desk in her office holding a folder and smiling at the potential female candidate

An Engaging Pet Sitter Job Posting Is Just Like Marketing

When you’re creating your pet sitter job posting, it is very easy to fall into the trap of making it about yourself. You know, the endless list of “Musts.” Not only is this type of job posting daunting to a potential applicant, but it’s boring and it doesn’t stand out.

Writing your pet sitter job posting is NO DIFFERENT than writing your marketing and promotion material. Think about it. When marketing to clients we don’t say things like “Must have a clean house, must have a lot of money, must follow all my policies,” etc. We would have no clients!

Instead, try to list out the many benefits and bonuses of being a pet sitter in your job posting just like you would with your clients. Things such as, “Your bosses will always greet you with tail-wags and kisses” or “You won’t have to do your hair and makeup.” are eye-catching.

do-you-like-to-walk-with-dogs-your-boss-is-always-wagging-its-tail-excited-to-see-youno-more-having-to-do-your-hair-and-makeu

 

Enticing statements like these gets people excited to read your job posting and ultimately apply, which in turn gives you a large pool of applicants to choose from. It’s a win-win!

 

Consider the Audience Who is Reading Your Job Posting

When someone is looking for a job, they’re looking at a ton of difference sources and websites. This means that they could be sifting through hundreds of job postings a day. Bottom line? You’re not only fish in the sea!

Try to consider how the potential applicant is feeling. They are probably feeling depressed because every other job posting they have come across is filled with “musts,” requirements, and stipulations. This might make them feel inadequate. It’s a depressing experience.

So when they come across your dog walker or pet sitter job posting,  it needs to be happy, exciting, and stand out. Now you may be thinking, “But Bella, I want people to know what I’m looking for!”

You have to understand that even if you include a bunch of “must” statements, nobody is even reading them!

I hate to say it, but you are still going to get applicants who should have disqualified themselves. So it truly is a better approach to make your pet sitter job posting happy and upbeat if for no other purpose than to get those applications flowing. You can sift through the good, and the bad later.

Your Pet Sitter Job Posting Should Be Up and Active All The Time

It is easy to get into a mindset of only hiring when we need to be. This is actually not ideal, as applicants and employees can be fickle. As a business owner, you have to be ready for whatever comes your way.

Basically, we need to be looking for people all the time. You need to find people even when you might not have work for them. Why? Because if you’re only hiring when you need them, this can lead to bad hiring decisions.

It’s the same thing for any member of your business team. For example, you don’t want to be finding a lawyer or an accountant when you need them. You will be scrambling and stressed out. You want them to be ready to go and standing by.

The Bottom Line

Sometimes getting successful applicants is just as hard as securing long-term clients. But the way you attract them both should be the same. It’s important to consider the audience you’re writing for and tailor your pet sitter job posting accordingly.

Pet sitting is a great job with so many benefits. So, make sure you spell them out for your applicants to get the best response. And remember – always be hiring!

 

Employee Quick Start

options-to-post-for-your-social-media

4 Ways To Post For Your Social Media Accounts

We all know that being a pet business owner isn’t only just about loving puppies and kitties. You have to fill so many different roles day in and day out. So when it comes to marketing and posting to your social media accounts, you’re thinking to yourself,

“how am I ever going to have time for this?”

Lucky for you, there a number of resources that can help you. They provide you with ways to schedule your marketing so that you’re not tied to your computer 24/7 waiting to post at those prime-time posting hours.

social media options

4 Ways to Post to Your Social Media Accounts

You Could Purchase Scheduling Software:


MeetEdgar and Hootsuite are two online programs that are in the business of granting you the gift of time. MeetEdgar’s basic plan is $79.00 a month and gives you all the tools to connect your social media accounts and schedule publishing. HootSuite’s set up gives you these same tools, but ranges from $9.99 to $99.00 a month. The final cost depends on the amount of  features you want, and the number of users on the account. HootSuite also offers a 30 day free trial here.

NOTE: You still need to come up with the content to post all of this!

 

You Could Hire a Company:


But what if you’re looking for something a little more hands on that helps you actually create the content? Another option is that you could hire a marketing firm, such as The Marketeering Group, that will manage your accounts and create content for you. But, you’re looking at a $400 price tag plus a $450 set up. Yikes!

 

You Could Hire An Individual:


What if you’re looking for a little more of one-on-one type of help? You could hire an individual marketing consultant, like Sandy Rowley, who will optimize all of your social media accounts. But again, we’re looking a premium fee of $399 a month.

Maybe now you’re saying to yourself, forget it! I’ll just do it myself, or hire a blogger to write for me. While that definitely helps your pocketbook, you have to consider the time it takes to produce effective content. It’s also important to think about that you may have to micromanage this blogger to make sure they give you what you want.

Social media marketing

 

The Pro’s and Con’s of Hiring Someone


PROS: Your social media is always current, up-to-date, and you don’t have to worry about it anymore. Awesome!

CONS: None of these programs, people, or companies have experience in the pet business industry. They are costly. They are relying on you for a lot of what to say and the meat of the content. 

For marketing to be successful, you must have four key ingredients: consistency, knowing the brand, understanding the industry, and relating to the consumer.

 


Better Marketing With Bella

15168845_1780693458863655_3036103147698174800_o
Better Marketing With Bella was created to solve all of these problems. Not only do you get access to an industry expert with a fresh marketing mind, your wallet will be practically thanking you! This program is the only one of its kind in the industry. made by a pet business owner, for pet business owners.

Only 7 businesses will be accepted into the program in order to ensure quality service. If you want to be apart of the action, make sure you go to here to get your name on the list before space fills up.

 

is dog boarding in my home legal?

Is Dog Boarding In My Home Legal?

We have so many ways in this new instant economy to make money that businesses like dog boarding are sprouting up everywhere. To be honest and straightforward the answer to these questions isn’t a yes or a no.

The job of watching a pet while their parents are at work or out of town seems to be a job that anyone can do it. I have heard it all. Eight-year-old neighbor kids walking dogs, the person in between jobs, making some quick money to pay their electric bill by letting dogs come stay with her, and even some full blown businesses that have a bunch of hosts homes everywhere where the company sends the dogs to stay overnight.

prices on website

 

There Are Big Responsibilities When Considering Dog Boarding

In home dog boarding comes with some huge responsibilities both before they start their business and after. Although focusing on the cute and adorable dream of caring for the pets…sometimes it is neglected.  One of the biggest responsibilities is finding out if they are even allowed to have a dog boarding business in their own home. It is almost implied that if you can sign up for one of these easy to use websites like rover.com, care.com, dogvacay.com, etc that you very well can make money boarding dogs in your home.

But is it legal?

Think No One Will Find Out?

Sometimes I hear, “Aw, no one cares about me Bella. I am just making a little side money. What’s wrong with that?”

Ah! But people DO know. They find out through seeing different dogs and people come to and from your home. They find out by your website advertising and your facebook page that is posting pictures.

Your neighbors can hear the dogs, they can see the dogs, and sometimes… they can SMELL the dogs.

People know.

And what is worse, is some of the people who board dogs in their home might be building a business that isn’t sustainable.

All it takes is for one person to call the zoning board to have them come knocking on your door. They did this to Kristie Glazer in Philadelphia. A neighbor reported her and they literally knocked on her door ready to nail plyboard on her window frames and board up her home.

Can you believe that?!?!  You can hear the full story here

She had to stop that business and ultimately, made a huge dent in her families livelihood.

Facebook group

 

You Want To Do The Right Thing, Don’t You?

If you are going to go into business for yourself, don’t you want to know that you are doing the right thing? Don’t you want to go to bed at night knowing that you have proper training, insurance, structures, approvals, contingency plans?

If you don’t, something like what happened at Green Acres could happen and you could have 20+ dead dogs on your hands and criminal charges against you. Or what about these horrible cases that made the news:

  • Dog attacked at in home boarding
  • Dog Attacked and killed at in home dog boarding,no zoning.
  • Dog died sparked zoning investigation.zoning investigation.   The article states: “What we’re now discovering is all these boarding operations opening under the guise of pet-sitting,” said Animal Care and Control Director Dianne Sauve”

Yeah, this stuff is REAL.

You want to confidently tell your clients that your insurance covers you 100% for anything that happens.

You want to know how to properly introduce new dogs to your pack to avoid anyone getting bit in the face or have one of them injure another four legged client at your home. You want to know what happens if one gets out of an enclosure and damages your home or themselves while you are at the grocery store.

This is a very serious business.

Let’s Start With The First Check Mark You Need In Order To Be Up And Running:

Before you can even THINK of inviting dogs and cats into your home in exchange for money, you must look to see if it is even legal OR what you need to do to BE legal.

pet sitting employee manual

DO THIS: Contact City hall and ask if a special zoning license is needed to have a dog kennel in your residential house.

To show you what I mean, I took 30 minutes and googled for you. Here is what I came up with for some locations.

Los Angeles: You need a permit

San Diego –  7 or more pets

Ft Wayne Tx
Residential Kennel Permit $300
Commercial Kennel/Cattery Permit – (Requires Zoning Approval)
* 6-15 dogs/cats $150
* 16-25 dogs/cats $200
* 26 or more $250
* Omnibus Permit $200

Seattle/King County
4 + dogs or cats
Need permit

Minnesota Cities –Very long, you should read through it.

South Bend Indiana – Read Section 5-60

Maricopa County – $328 for a permit.

Utah – no more than 3 dogs in one home.

Louisville, KY – any boarding facility needs permit.

Fairfax County, VA – Depends on square footage

A great resource for looking up your local laws and ordinances is www.municode.com.

In the end, don’t you want to know that you are operating a legal business? Don’t you want to know that you have the proper insurance? That you won’t be fined? For some, it is a risk they are willing to take, but how moral is it to be operating (knowingly) and illegal business?

 

rover dogvacay insurance

No One Said It Is Easy.

In some places, you will do your best attempt and call City Hall but the person on the phone might not know. Or they might not have any laws. Some that do require laws and permits hardly ever have inspections so then all you see are the bad cases in the news when things go wrong.

As a professional pet care provider, let’s do all that we can to bring the integrity of our industry up by doing everything we need to do to operate legal businesses.

If you would like to help the integrity of this article and you locate the statute in your town or county, feel free to add it to the comments section and I will add it to the list above!

 

Facebook group

items at costco for your holiday gifts to clients

Items At Costco For Your Holiday Gifts To Clients

You might remember that in a previous blog, I gave pet business owners 11 unique holiday gift ideas to give to your clients. Today, while at the #costcomomhour, I was inspired!  I realized just how much items there are at Costco for holiday gifts to give your clients so I made a video to show you.

Costco Mom Hour:

Costco Mom Hour happens once a year (I think?) when Costco teams up with the local City Mom’s Blog all over the country. If you haven’t visited the blog in your town, you should. You can look it up here. It is an incredible blog hosted my local mom bloggers aimed at bringing local tips, hacks, recipes, and SO MUCH MORE.

It is a high-quality blog and I you should personally check it out or look into how you can advertise your pet business with them.   Maybe, exchange a few blogs. I have done that in the past and it was a great success.

costco mom hour
I found out on FB about the event last night and thought, “Well, Costco is sorta my fav store, so what the heck!”   Alex was nice enough to watch Olivia so I went solo.

What started out as a personal mission, shortly turned into an inspirational moment that I thought was worthy of the 90 minutes it takes to produce and publish a blog for you. Below, is a SnapChat story of my adventures. (PS – You can friend me at Bellamaria30)

Items you can find at Costco for holiday gifts:

If I didn’t sell my pet sitting company in May, I totally would have bought all of these things at Costco for holiday gifts. I just love the high quality that Costco provides and the bulk pricing. Watch my Snapchat below, to see what I would have bought…. and more importantly what you could go buy now at Costco for holiday gifts.

I suggest starting the video at the 50 second mark 🙂


Cat Calendar $8.99
Candles $9.99 or $19.99
Starbucks gift set $19.99
Gift Cards 25% off
Dog Toys $10.99

It Doesn’t Have To Be For Holidays

Because of the high quality products and bulk pricing, these items and more can always make great gifts to pull out of the closet when you need them. Maybe you want to start giving all new clients a free gift? Maybe you need some raffle prizes for your next pet event in your community? Maybe you just need to offer some great pick me ups for your staff with the 25% off gift cards Costco always has?

Gifts Can Help With Marketing Your Business

On Nov 16th at 6pm EST I will be hosting the 2017 Pet Business Marketing Plan class. In it, you will be able to create a plan that will help market your business on and offline.  I will show you how to put it on auto pilot, and how it can build on top of itself year after year. Consider checking it out and see what you can learn to enhance your pet business in 2017!

2017 Marketing Plan For Your Pet Business

pet sitting marketing yard sale

The Most Unique Pet Sitting Marketing Tip That Costs Hardly Anything and Builds Strong Relationships

DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE TEMPLATE & SCRIPT HERE.

 

Here I am explaining it JUST AS this idea came to mind:

I am writing this post out of the norm. I am not putting it into my publishing schedule, I am not going to make a long list. I am just going to tell you this very brilliant idea I just had as I was just out yard sailing. You see, you get the pleasure of all these marketing ideas I now have, that I can no longer do anything with, because I sold my pet sitting business.

Twice a year, a local planned community of 4400 homes has a yard sale twice a year. Once in the Spring and the other in the Fall. They do this to drum up shoppers and because it is against Home Association rules to put YARD SALE signs up everywhere in the community.

I always love these mornings because like Forrest Gump said, “You never know what you’re going to get!”

pet sitter marketing

How This Amazing Idea Came About:

So I was chatting with an older gentleman telling me that he had just remodeled and trying to sell me on his stove and microwave. “Look!,” he said, “It’s like new. You can see yourself in it still!” I wasn’t even in the market, but he was trying to hard sell me on the idea of getting rid of his “problem” which was this stove he no longer wanted. His wife was even mumbling about dragging it back in the garage and taking up space.

Can you picture it? 🙂

Recently, I learned that Habitat for Humanity would come out and pick up items you didn’t need, especially things like stoves, windows, doors, etc. so I mentioned it to him.

As I walked back in the car, the lightbulb over my head came on!

How To Help Saturate Your Pet Sitting Market Area

As pet sitters and dog walkers we are always driving around and passing by yard sales and garage sales, right?  What if you had a one page flier in your car that was a list of  valuable resources?  Something like:

What You Need To Know After Your Garage Sale Is Over

How To Avoid Lugging Everything Back In Your Home After Your Garage Sale

The Feel Good and Monetary Benefits Available After Your Yard Sale

On this flyer, you would list out places to drop off items in a 5 miles radius and places that you can call to schedule a pick up. The key to this is leaving the companies name and phone number.

Further, if you have a pet shelter in the area, many of them would love to receive the endless dog cages and cat carriers that almost every yard sale has. Why not be a resource to your community by helping give them ways to take care of their “problem” and give back?

pet sitting marketing yard sale

How Does This Come Back To Your Business?

At the bottom of the flier, you can have your business name, info, and a special offer. Even if they don’t become a client, it just gave you a reason to break the ice, talk to these people, tell them about your company and that you are a community leader helping to solve problems.

Great conversation starters, “If you don’t sell this (dog crate, cat carrier, dog carriage, pet steps to the bed) what are you going to do with it?”

Another way you can get even more creative is thinking of specific things… like:

Baby clothes to a shelter.
Scrap book pages to a local NICU.
Quilting or sewing materials to the local charity who makes baby blankets?

There are so many charities other than just “Goodwill” Get creative and make an interesting list!

Side note – The Community Yard Sale I went to hands out maps and a list of all the homes that are selling something. If I still had my company, I would totally contact the community director and find out if I could help “sponsor” the day by adding donuts at the checkin stand (where sellers get their balloon to mark their sales) *AND* including this one page sheet to the end of the list of homes selling goods!

Getting excited yet?

You Can Take It Online Too!

This list, could also be a blog online. There are so many Swip Swap CITY sites, where it is like a virtual online yard sale. How about any pet products being sold, you post a link saying, “I know what you can do with this here.” Inside would be an article about how the local shelter takes donations or (maybe?) they have a resell shop where they resell things to make money to keep the rescue open?  We always see people selling things online. Just make sure the Title is good click-bate! 🙂

 

Spread The Word

This is good-will, solving problems, and getting your brand out in the community. You can easily give them to your staff to hand out and offer incentives if the people call. Over half the yard sales I just went to either had a pet sitting next to the seller or the seller had pet items. Let’s use our incredibly warm and fuzzy industry to break the ice, build relationships, and be a solution to people’s problems!

Need a pet sitting Employee Manual and Training Handbook already written for your pet sitting or dog walking company? Now I have it all for you. Yours in just 60 seconds after purchase! 

pet sitting employee manual

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

Employee Manuals

Employee Quick Start Program vs. Pet Sitting and Dog Walking Employee Handbook and Training Manual

employees

The most natural question I get when talking about these products I have is, “Bella, what is the difference between the Employee Quick Start program vs the Pet Sitting and Dog Walking Employee Handbook and Training Manual?”

And it is a pretty good question too!

So here, I will do my best to break it down into an easily digestible explanation. I understand these documents can be confusing by themselves.

But out of the gate, let me make this clear: It isn’t one or the other like the title of this article might suggest.

In fact, if you have the Employee Quick Start, the Pet Sitting and Dog Walking Employee Handbook and Training Manual will only enhance what you already have. The Employee Quick Start has a manual that is an outline but you still need to write. The handbook and training manual are already written FOR you. 🙂

It is perfect solution for the business owner who just doesn’t have the time to think and research what needs to be included, write it all out, and then produce the documents.

The Employee Quick Start:

Often times, when a pet sitting or dog walking business owner is ready to take the JUMP and bring on employees, it is a confusing and monumental project. There is confusion on things like, how much do employees cost? How much should I pay? Do I have to pay by the hour? How do I train them? How do I conduct or know what to ask on an interview? Where can I get an employee manual? How do I monitor the employees, and a lot, lot, more.

The Employee Quick Start was created with all this and more in mind. It has everything from A to Z that a pet sitter or dog walker would need to consider as they venture into having employees. Topics like: Pricing structure, building a team, employee manual outline, interview process with questions and an application, ways to transition your clients from you being their pet sitter, to your staff, and how to become a manager of your business instead of a worker are all explained in a step-by-step fashion.

The Employee Quick Start does contain an employee manual outline, with thought-provoking questions designed to get the reader thinking so they can start writing. It is like a handbook and manual in one, addressing some policies of your company AND how to do the job.

It is also offered in downloadable format or 1:1 on the phone. 

Employee Quick Start

 

Pet Sitting and Dog Walking Employee Handbook and Training Manual:

The Employee Handbook is extensive – covering all the most important things that a handbook needs. It is very “legal” and “corporate” addressing everything from your mission to whistleblower policies, while containing definitions, Workplace, Hiring, and Continued Employment Policies, Code of Conducts, Employment Duties, Work and Compensation Policies, Employee Information, Leave Policies, Workplace Safety, Disciplinary Policies and Procedures, Separation of Employment, and an Index. With over 40 pages.

Employee Handbook

The Training Manual explains things such as how to scoop litter, different types of leads and how to walk dogs, and specific tasks that need to be done at visits and a lot more. It tells you HOW to do the job of a pet sitter and dog walker. Some sections include: Pet Visits, client communication, keys, pet sitting for a cat, walking dogs, and more. It is also over 40 pages.

Training Manual

Wondering About The Quality of Writing?

This document was also revised by a technical writer and edited over and over again through many months of creation. The purchase of one or both these documents come with explicit instructions on how and where to easily insert your company information throughout the pages.

Get Both Documents at Once

I offer a special discount when purchasing both documents at once! Just click the picture below to buy them both right now.

Employee Manuals

A Common Problem With These Documents and Solution:

If you are like me, sometimes when you receive a document and try to edit it, the margins get all wonky and no matter what tricks you try, things just don’t line up looking all “pretty.”

I anticipated that you might have this problem and solved it for you before you even knew you had it. I have landed an incredible deal with someone who can typeset the entire document for you when you are done adding your logo, company information, and anything else you might want to add to it.  This is the same person that I have used for this project and they are offering an incredibly affordable rate of $25 for 30 minutes of typesetting your documents.

Ready To Exhale?

There aren’t many options out there that will knock these two tough topics off your to-do list out there. I mean, the pet sitting and dog walking industry is pretty unique, right? No HR company is going to understand how or what to tell people about the nuances of our businesses like how to scoop non-clumping litter and where it goes. (Just thinking of that makes me chuckle). So take it from me, someone who had a pet sitting company for 14 years… I know the anxiety you are feeling. I know that cursor just antagonizing you blinking on your screen… Let Jump Consulting help!

If you have any more questions, just post them in the comments below. Chances are, if you have a question, someone else did too! 🙂

 

What Can I Do When Someone Gives Me A Bad Review?

Young Lady with a computerAs small business owners, from time to time, we get a bad online review. Whether it is warranted or not, it is something we need to take seriously and have options when responding.

Recently, there has been national news about a pet sitter from Dallas who sued a ex-client for over $6,000 for writing a bad review of their company on Yelp. There are many different ways to look at this situation, but the one we will focus on today:

 

Is it Actually Legal to Sue Over a Bad Review?

Listen to this interview with an Arizona attorney, Brent Kleinman who helps us understand what this means on a state and national level.

I asked Brent what he thought about the case? He explained that it is unprecedented and that recently (Dec 2015) the Senate just passed a bill barring companies from using “gag clauses” to block negative reviews saying that a business can not have this type of clause in their contract. Next, it has to pass the House and President has to sign.

Apparently, there was even a hotel who said they would charge customers an extra $500 if they wrote a negative review.

As you can see, things can get out of hand. Brent stresses the importance of actually working with a small business lawyer in your state to construct a contract that protects the business owner while being respectful of the consumer rights as well.

Brent is from Just in Time Consulting as my business. I am using legal knowledge and marketing background to help businesses make a smart decision in creating and operating their business. The email is justintimeconsultingaz@gmail.com and the phone number is 602-291-2227.

 

Take The Journey: Sink, Swim, or Fly A Tedx Speech

“I’m not going to sink or swim, I am going to fly”  And fly is what she did….

A few weeks ago, I had the sincere pleasure to witness a fellow business owner in my community simply knock it out of the park at her first ever TedxFountainHills speech. I say first, because after you watch/listen to this, you will understand why I know she will be doing more.

Her story is compelling, her reflection is remarkable, and her spirit is something that inspires me. I am sure you can relate too. Ever say these things?

“I am just not a good employee.”
“I didn’t want to be constrained…”

As Gelie talks about her journey as a young girl from Russia to the USA, you hear her love for life and business shine through. You hear about the struggles, but you hear about the successes. You hear about the sheer determination… and I want you to listen to this.

{Pet Sitting Industry mention at 13:50}

 

Gelie Akhenblit is the co founder of Networkingphonenix.com It is an incredible resource for the community that tells viewers what networking meetings are going on and where all by the criteria that they seek. It’s simply brilliant. She has grown to over 32,000 members and received countless awards.
Gelie, you are a superb story teller, funny as you inspire, and most importantly, relatable. Keep flying. Keep pushing. I will always support you!!!

P.S. I agree, boys are stupid. *wink*

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