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.

mastermind pet sitting

 

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!

 

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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

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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 this 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 inbetween 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?

 

No one will know Bella!

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.

client care notes

 

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.

 

 rover dogvacay insurance

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?

 

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!

 

 

 

pet sitting 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.

 

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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

pet sitting employee manual

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

little dog ask help

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 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, that you still need to write. These documents 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? How do 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. It addresses some policies of your company AND how to do the job. It is like a mini two in one (Two being Employee Handbook and Training Manual)

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. It contains 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, Seperation of Employement, and an Index. It is over 40 pages.

employeehandbookclass-option3

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.

employeehandbookclass-option4

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 And You Will Find Yourself In The Bonus Round:

Buy the Pet Sitting and Dog Walking Employee Handbook and Training Manual together and receive a BONUS!

I wanted to reward those who took the leap and got both documents, so I am offering anyone who purchases BOTH documents, access to the live (If before Oct 26, 2016) or recorded class where I will verbally go through the documents and point out sections of interest and worthy of discussion.

employeehandbookclass-option2

Just click that picture above to buy them both right now!

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 nonclumping 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! 🙂

employee-quick-start-vs-pet-sitting-dog-walking-training-manuals

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

A Blab With The Founder of The National Association of Christian Women Entrepreneurs.

In the past 24 hours something crazy happened. This incredible woman, who I had been personal friends with on Facebook for about two years, posted something about, “I am going to do my first blab.”  I spoke up, we connected, and next thing you know, 12 hours later, we are doing a blab together {below}.

The most interesting part was that we decided to wing it. Just go with it. Dive on in. Not worry about doing it right or wrong and what happened was nothing short of infectious…. a divine meeting even.

Seriously.

Have you ever have one of those moments when things just “work?”  Diane Cunningham and I had a fantastic 40 minutes and I posted the recording below. We covered a LOT of topics in such a short time.

1. How dating and God are interestingly related.
2. Her story and mine.
3. How God has intertwined in our lives.
4. How waiting in patience on God paid off.

… and at the end, …we prayed.

It was seriously awesome and I know I am not doing a good job of explaining here, so do me a favor, press play and go on about working online while you listen to us in the background. I promise, you won’t regret it.

A little on Diane: She is the Founder of the National Association of Christian Women Entrepreneurs. and you can connect with her via all the social links on the site. She is a humble, real, spirit filled, woman of God and I can’t wait to collaborate more with her.

Here is all her contact info:

Diane Cunningham Founder and President
National Association of Christian Women Entrepreneurs
www.nacwe.org
Be my friend:  www.facebook.com/DianeCunningham
Become a FAN: www.facebook.com/NACWE
My mission is to inspire women to dream big, catch on fire, and change the world!

Now, check it out! 🙂

How Pet Sitters Get Through Tough Times In Business

I can honestly say that I just had the most fun I think I have ever had on a video streaming application this morning. Blab the newest “cool kid” thing is taking the world by storm. It is a way to connect people [ pet sitters ] together where there are four “chairs” for people to be on camera and a chat box for the “audience” or standing room only. You can get up from your seat and allow someone else to sit with the exception of the moderator.

I planned one for 830am PST today before I got on with my day and it really started me off motivated! The replay is below and you can press play and then open up other screens and go about your work online while you listen. It is an hour long and  it stars on camera: 

Yenni Desroches from MA with Next Level Pet Care
Britta Harris – Dog’s Best Friend
Katie Westerfield – Homeward Bound Pet Care
Lori Genstein – I’ve Got The Scoop

with many more in the chat room chiming in on the conversation. It was a great group because everyone was at different stages of their business. We even met Sam in the Philippines who wants to start a pet sitting company!  (I love how technology brings the world together)

We talked about a while bunch of things with special guest appearances from Britta’s cat, Lori’s son and cat, and my Rocco. The conversation flowed beautifully and we shared our thoughts on

  • Connecting with our community
  • Managing systems and processes
  • Getting through tough times personally and in our business.
  • Doing free visits for those in need.

Products mentioned during the blab were:
The Fetch Foundation

To learn more about blab go to blab.im  and if you want to learn about it I would google or Youtube it. Or…. if you are really daring, just sign up and stick your nose in. It is super great!!! 🙂

Enjoy!

NOTE: You can not pause, rewind, or fast forward the video.

1st Blab! See Who I Met & What I Learned For You And I!

In this short blab, I met Sanjay. I love the fact that I can meet people from all over the world face to face. It is incredible! Blab is the newest video app where you can bring people in, on camera, or they can hang out in the chat room. It is very different than Google hangout and Periscope. Take a look. What do you think?

Do you want to do a “pet sitter happy hour” blab?

 

The Real Story About What Happened To Me This Past Year

Here is what really happened this past year...

I’m about to get real.

Like grab a tissue, or maybe at parts, even a glass of wine. This isn’t for the faint of heart. If you don’t like hearing about God and Jesus Christ, or about hitting rock bottom, or being paralyzed in fear, what you are about to read, isn’t for you.

If you enjoy an inspiring true story, with heart wrenching truths about my personal life and business, and more highs and lows than a Knott’s Berry Farm theme park, then this IS for you. Here’s the real story about what happened to me this year…

I made a decision when this all started happening that I was going to be open and honest about it. Here is me talking about it as if “oh everything is great! I can do this. I will stay strong.”  I was being authentic when I wrote that, but I had no idea the horror that was about to come and how I would balance the personal and the business. I have written about some of the personal side of things in my private family blog, but never really talked about the whole picture publicly and that is what I am about to do here.

Why am I doing this? I don’t even know if there really is a RIGHT answer to that. I just know that this might be the longest post I have ever written. I feel like so many of you are so raw and venerable with me, that I might as well throw it out there for the whole world to see. I accept that if there is any judgement passed on me for what I am about to tell you that it has nothing to do with me and everything about the judger. Truth be told, it is also cathartic and the more you tell your story the more real it becomes (so I have been told) So, here goes…. In no particular order.

In the beginning, like I imagine when any traumatizing life circumstance hits a person, I was shocked. So shocked that I couldn’t pick up my hand to call my mother on the phone. But, I already told you a lot of the story leading up to the birth of my 12oz daughter. The story when EVERYONE told us “it didn’t look good” and that “babies that small don’t survive.”

(Seriously, think the Planned Parenthood babies they are talking about. Olivia was the size of a 22 week baby, even though she was 28 weeks. She is one of the 50 smallest survival female babies on record.)

I didn’t even quite believe it myself at the time, but I stared every one of them in the face and said, “SHE WILL MAKE IT.”
Fake it until you make it, right? That’s what I was doing. Privately scared out of my damn mind. The one thing I ALWAYS wanted more than anything in life, and I mean anything…. was an incredible husband and children. I am on record for saying in interviews that the most important job (in my mind/life) would be being a wife and a Mom. So here I am. I have the man of my dreams that I just married on 1/4/14 and then on 7/21/14 I am giving birth via a classical C-Section (oh yeah, much different than a “normal” one) to a baby that I am told won’t survive. We actually were given the option to abort 4 weeks prior. It was the first time I actually saw my big strong husband cry.

It killed me.

I remember going to sleep that night talking about the WHAT Ifs and a funeral v memorial service if it came to that. We decided to put it in God’s hands and every night I took out the doppler and stuck it on my belly. Still to that day, the sound of the heart beating is my most favorite sound in the entire world.

While the high risk OBGYN was “sewing” all 4 layers of my tummy back together she engaged me in a conversation about Turkish coffee. All the while I was wondering if my daughter was breathing or alive. I didn’t even get to see or touch her for two hours after the pregnancy. The room was sterile and cold. Things were beeping and dinging. A team of at least 20 people were rushing around doing things that I would soon over my 185 stay in NICU understand inside and out.

But that wasn’t even the toughest part.

The toughest part was learning to live life by the minute. Sometimes even second. Being in NICU presented so many life changing situations. First, I had to learn how to keep up with a team of Dr’s all talking about Olivia at a rapid pace in their Dr language. Then, I had to navigate through the joy that she was alive, but EVERY. SINGLE. SOLITARY. DAY. for at least the first three months they would tell me everything that was wrong with her. I will never be able to express how much I LOVE each and every one of those Dr’s and nurses, but NICU is a tough place. Mentally debilitating. I was pumping milk every 2 hours, then 3 hours. For any woman who has ever done that, you understand that each session is 45 min from set up to clean up and it is like a part time job. There are no cell phones allowed in NICU. I couldn’t hold my baby until her 21st day of life because she was too fragile. I mean her skin was translucent and her eyes were still fused SHUT!

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I explain it that we got to see a fetus on the outside of the womb and gloriously lived to tell about it. We kept being told that we had to wait through the “honeymoon” period. (The first 2 weeks) because that is when micro premies can crash. In fact they are known to do WELL at first. So no one would even be happy and we were too scared to be.

Imagine giving birth and having months of a delayed happiness and relief that your child is here and alive? That doesn’t make logical sense. It goes against everything in human nature.

I learned what every single monitor did. I learned about all the systems of the body inside and out. I knew what blood tests were needed and what numbers we were looking for. I knew exactly what my baby was doing my watching a monitor and when I was holding her I wasn’t being told things like watch her expressions! Isn’t she beautiful. Oh she sleeps so peacefully.  I was being told, watch her color. Make sure she doesn’t get dusky. Make sure that the CPAP or ventilator machines don’t get twisted up. There was dings and bings going off all the time for her *AND* you can multiply that my three because we shared a pod with three other babies…. It was always very tense. You didn’t know if it was your baby crashing (needing to be bagged and breathed for while they turn blue and their heart rate drops to the floor) or if it was someone else’s. I lost count of the number of times I had to walk away from her incubator because there were too many Dr’s, Nurses, respiratory therapists all trying to help her. I was in the hall way balling my eyes out. Sometimes while holding her it would happen to the other parents. I knew exactly how they were feeling and would almost go through that horror right there with them all the while trying to stay calm.

They prepared us…
NICU practically kicked Alex and I out for a weekend in Oct to go to San Diego. That was the only day that we didn’t see her but we knew she was in good hands with her primary nurse. Olivia was only 4 lbs then. they were telling us that she will need a ventilator and trach to breathe. For those of you who don’t know (because I sure didn’t before this happened) that is a hole in your throat with tubes coming out of it hooked up to monitors. They were telling us that we can’t just hop in the car and drive with her. Someone needed to be in the back sitting with her. They were telling us that we would have nurses in our house 40-80 hours a week and much more. They told us to go away because when we came back we weren’t going to be able to have a vacation anytime soon. I cried a lot that trip. How can you go be carefree on vacation while a chunk of your heart is laying in a hospital bed?

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But I did. It was recommended by everyone. Including the therapist I was seeing. Yes, I admit that openly, proudly, and freely. It was much needed during that time in my life and I would encourage everyone to do it. You really learn a LOT about yourself and your thinking. I don’t know how I would have gotten through this all without it.

The Dr’s told us that it could be until she was 2 or 3 before she wouldn’t need the ventilator and trach. It was tough to tell. Basically she needed to “grow”

I was always saying, “give her a minute! she started off at 10inches 12 oz for God’s sake”

Let’s switch over for a second and talk business…

The ENTIRE time this was happening, my life was falling apart and I was hanging on by a thread, I still had a pet sitting and coaching company to run. Admittedly, I did almost no coaching. In lieu of that, I did create these “stop light confessionals” that I would film on my way to NICU each morning. It was bursts of motivation and people loved them. I loved doing them. (that reminds me, I should get back into it) See? I made my situation work for ME. See them here

…But the pet sitting, I couldn’t just crumble to the ground. Luckily, I have amazing staff who I was able to rely on. A staff member really stepped up and did whatever was needed in the office. She already was in the “office” on the weekends and she just took over 7 days a week and contacted me when she needed answers to things. That was the biggest blessing of all. I don’t even know if I can ever thank her enough. There was no way I could answer phones in NICU. I tried hiring a VA service and that blew up in my face. Oh, it was horrible. It is one of the reasons why I tell everyone in the Employee Quick Start Program to have your TEAM assembled before you need them. You can’t be doing these things when you are in the trenches and your mind not in the game. We simply told clients who asked that I was on maternity leave… which wasn’t a lie, but not the “maturity leave” I had so fondly dreamed of.

If I had a business that depended on ME, I would have lost all the years since 2002 I had been working so hard…. OR had I chosen to work and not be at NICU I would have missed out on a lot with my baby.

That is an interesting point.

HAVING MY BUSINESS WORK FOR ME ALLOWED ME TO BE BY HER BEDSIDE 6-10 HOURS A DAY. Do you understand that? Oh, I am sure those nurses were sick of me… but as I looked around, other parents had to work. I was there. That is probably the SINGLE most IMPORTANT thing that my companies have allowed me to do. BE THERE FOR MY FAMILY. I will forever be grateful. That is worth more than any paycheck I could EVER pay myself. EVER.

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Can your business do that for you?

Back To NICU….

It was December. My in laws just came from Macedonia for 4 weeks. Oh it was so GLORIOUS to have them here. Never mind that they don’t speak English and I don’t speak Macedonian (yet… I am taking classes) They are the most fun, loving, understanding, nurturing, people I have ever met. They just left and Olivia was making WILD progress on the oxygen. She finally got off the ventelator and stayed off it…. she was weening down in her oxygen supply. She was up to 9 lbs and we were “cleared” to try the bottle.

ALL THE DOCTORS SAID SHE WOULD NEED A G TUBE BECAUSE SHE WOULD HAVE AN ORAL AVERSION. (…and we could have done this in Oct and just gone home then. But we didn’t. We gave her time. We waited. We were patient. We believed

She took that bottle like a CHAMP. She sucked, swallowed, and breathed all on her own. I was crying (again, I know.) The nurse was crying. The nurse who was filming us (everything is documented) was crying…. we were all so proud of her.

A week later, on Dec 31st (Happy New Year) Dad was feeding her the bottle when the Dr came in and said we needed to stop and he needed to see us in the office. (I called this the principal’s office because nothing good ever happened in there) I was crying, again, telling my husband that I didn’t want to go in there. I didn’t want to hear what they were going to say. I knew it was going to be bad but I just didn’t have any more strength in me. For ONCE since JULY I was actually hopeful about Olivia’s progress… I was looking towards the future and BAM!!!!!!

Like a friken Mac Truck. I kid you not. All I hear: lung and heart…. collapse…. 100% need vent and trach…. Phoenix Childresn Hospital. And before I know it my husband and I are rushing over to PCH to meet a social worker to “show us around” before she left for the New Year holiday. She showed us a room and all I can remember thinking is, “Do these people think I am choosing a God damn hotel room?!??!” We couldn’t speak to any Dr. I just knew that PCH was the best option for these procedures and that is what we wanted for her. We didn’t have any other info other than she was going to be transferred on January 4th.

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NOT how I pictured leaving the hospital for the first time. Another dream shattered.

Do you remember that date? I wrote about it at the beginning. My husband and I’s first wedding anniversary. The gift? Take my daughter outside for the first time in her life in an ambulance to the local children hospital.

Joy.

I don’t even know how I made it through. It was like we were on another roller coaster. A bigger one. One day we were happy weening off oxygen and the next day we are on 100% vent support in an ambulance being told that the time had come for a vent and trach. That was what our life was like for 6 months. A drug addict probably had less highs and lows in their normal weeks!

…..and then God stepped in.

All that stuff I just wrote?

It was wrong.

Olivia was fine. They read the ultrasound of her chest wrong. She needed a valve plugged up and she would be “fine.”

Shock again. Afraid to be happy. Can this really be it? Can this really be all?

Guess what? It was. And 15 days later on Jan 19th, we were driving home with our daughter.

Even 6 months later, I wanted the full experience of being wheeled out with my baby in my arms.

Even 6 months later, I wanted the full experience of being wheeled out with my baby in my arms.

A day we had been praying for since July 2014.

You guys… there is so much to tell you. There are so many lessons. I can’t even begin to type the shock and horror I went through on a daily basis. We came home and she was on a feeding tube because she wasn’t taking full feedings yet. You have to remember she had JUST started to take the bottle and needed to work up to 4oz at once. It was like asking a newborn baby to drink at a 6month old baby level. It was going to take a minute. But not enough to keep us living at the hospital.

When we arrived home, we listened to the Dr’s. Until my inner Mama Bear came out. I started going against the GI Dr’s at the hospital and sought out my own professionals. The GI Dr’s wanted to put Olivia on a conveyor belt and treat her like every other kid they see and pop a GTube in her. We had a consultation with the surgeon for it. It was on the calendar. Insurance approved it,  and WE CANCELED IT.

God came through again. I am fully convinced that the hands of God touched my daughter and healed her. There is no other medical explanation. Fast forward to today. We have no oxygen. We have no feeding tube. Olivia is taking her full feeds by bottle. Every day she is getting stronger. Physically she is like a 6 month old, which in my mind is exactly where she should be. She just “got out of bed” six months ago.

 

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I had to tell you all of that (the short version) to tell you this:

The past year of my life has been the most excruciating I have ever had.

 

The Hard Reflections I Have Made:

1 – The systems and processes in my business allowed me to be full time at the hospital for six months, all the while still collecting my regular paychecks. Invaluable to me and my family.
2 – I know understand and respect the here and now. “Problems” aren’t problems anymore. I have perspective and I don’t borrow problems I do not yet have. Just remember, the SUN is always behind those clouds.

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3 – My shoulders aren’t big enough for any of this. God’s are. He held us in his arms throughout this and He still is. I will always give Him the glory and I will always accept and respect motherhood as the #1 priority in my life. Everything (work) will work FOR that. It will work AROUND that. I have work so I can have a better Motherhood and opportunities for my family. It either matches up with that, or it doesn’t. A GREAT example of this is my private Facebook group. It is CLOSED on Sunday’s. Know why? Because I don’t want to deal with it on Sunday’s. I need one day to be “off” Could I get someone else to moderate? Sure. Would that promote what I believe? Nope. So guess what? It is closed on Sunday’s and I will delete people’s posts if they post. I know that everyone won’t stay off of FB but if I can keep one person from burring themselves online rather than connecting with people face to face or even themselves, then it is worth it. I believe in truly walking the walk. Leading my example. It is right for some and wonky to others. That’s ok by me.

4 – I have zero control of anything. All I have is my Faith, prayers, and inner strength. (which comes from God)  I totally could have rolled over. I could have accepted the drugs to “get me through that tough time” but I know I needed to go THROUGH IT and not mask it. Let me talk about that for a minute:

When we got home: 
I was petrified. I was militant with feedings, meds, everything. Being in the hospital for 6 months everything has to be exact. I WISH I had the Mommy problems of running up to my baby to see if they were still breathing because they were sleeping so nicely. I was truing to figure out how to be a mommy to a medically needy child. At one point I was giving her meds SIXTEEN times a day. I even had to put that NG tube down her nose, through her throat, to her belly, then check to make sure it was in the right place with a stethoscope, and then secure everything with the tape. All the while she is screaming in pain.

WHAT KIND OF MOTHER HAS TO INFLICT PAIN ON THEIR CHILD LIKE THAT? I was a crying mess ball many days… I felt so guilty that she was in this situation. I was grieving the loss of a 1/3 of my pregnancy. you know, the part where you gush about it all, have a baby shower, get pregnancy pictures, and tour the hospital? I was ANGRY that it was happening to me. I felt so sorry for my husband who felt helpless but so PROUD to say that the people that go through what we are going through have 90% failed marriages. Ours is the strongest ever. Every day I tell him “I would marry you again if I could” I have the very best man on the planet for me. I know why it took until I was 31 to get hitched. I know why everyone else didn’t work out and this year has proven that again and again.

5 – Support. I learned that there is no way I could make it through anything without support. Both personally from my extended family and friends and in business. I learned how to let go and delegate better than ever because I literally couldn’t be physically present for some of the things I needed. A great example is www.meetegar.com  That man has saved my social media and helped my website rankings soar to an average of 300-500 visitors a day on the pet sitting website. I have listened to others, because that is sometimes the only thing you can do out of desperation. Sure, I made mistakes but as one of my friends say, I corrected and continued because that is all you can do. I hope that the next time something knocks you down that you bounce back up. It doesn’t matter how many times you are knocked down, what matters is how fast you get back up. Got it? LET PEOPLE HELP YOU.

6 – Be real and release. I cry a LOT. Practically daily. Today, it is moreso because I am so dang happy. But it is a release. You know what else I like to do? Sing! Although I am terrible and I am convinced that Olivia will be tone deaf listening to me but I am talking about belting out those FIGARO!!!!!!!!!!!!’s haha. Seriously. No joke. It releases so much stress. Sometimes Rocco joins in. (I am that good ha!)

7 – I am not strong. I wish people would stop telling me that. What I am is a decision maker. I refuse not make a decision and be paralyzed in fear which means to sit in murky, bacteria growing, gross waters. I want to be a river. Sure, I might run over a rock here or there. Sometimes I might even go off a cliff, but even that turns into a beautiful waterfall and then it keeps going… Do you catch my drift?

My 3 Stages:

I had shock and horror – That was until Jan 21st. Not knowing when I could breathe. What was “wrong” what tomorrow held. Being woken up at night with emergency calls.

Processing and fog lifting- That was Jan to about July. I experienced PTSD. There is no way around saying that. it is the truth. Only once we were home was I able to process the horrors of what had just happened.

“New Normal” – My new daily challenges are that she is cutting her molars and is starting to get into things. I WILL TAKE IT! I am feeling better. I am working out every other day. I am cooking dinners again. Doing the little things that make me feel like a good wife and mom (my own standards) I am CHOOSING to think of the past year as a BLESSING that I got to SEE God up close and personal. I am accepting that my husband and I were strong enough to HAVE Olivia and I shiver thinking if another pair of parents who wouldn’t be able to handle it all “got her” So I thank God for giving her to us all all aspects. The good, the bad…. but as a parent, that is what you do, right? Whatever it takes. I am choosing to get through it. Be real about the good days and bad days. I still get triggered. Movies are a great example. But I have my coping strategies that I learned because I opened myself up to that help. I chose to mentally work though it and not medicate and (personally) I am so thankful that I did and had the support of my family on that one. I feel like I was able to go through the dark times, feel it, process it, and then put it “behind me”  I hope that makes sense?

 

I Clung To What Made Me Happy.

You guys, I have had so many emotions. COACHING has helped me feel normal. In a world where everything is spinning out of control, COACHING has allowed me the opportunity to make positive impacts on businesses. You see it online and in the FB group. People are making positive changes because of the guides, classes, and 1:1 coaching. That is my true calling. That is where my heart is. It isn’t so much about “selling” stuff. Yikes, why would I sit here typing for the past hour, pouring my heart out to you, if it was about that. I actually care about you. I believe SO MUCH in being transparent. Because I expect that from those I coach with. It isn’t a one way street. I have my faults.

 

We ALL HAVE CHOICES!

Aug 2015 13 months & 17 lbs later.

But this past year…. I had a choice. Roll over and die or stand up the best way I knew how and put one foot in front of another even though sometimes I couldn’t see where I was stepping and it literally was stepping forward in Faith. I could write so so so much more, but now I am over 3000 words and I hope you are still reading. I’ve been wanting to talk to you. I have been wanting to tell you all of this. It’s real. I am STILL going through it.. but EVERY DAY is getting better and better. Every single day I am bursting with JOY, AND LOVE, AND AMAZEMENT, at the medical miracle of my child.

Thank you for sticking with me through this long story. You can see my personal FB page to see current pictures and day to day Olivia progress. It really is amazing. Go ahead and request me. Be my “friend” 🙂

I will leave you with the biggest lesson my 12oz baby girl has taught me:

ALWAYS HAVE HOPE.
ALWAYS BELIEVE IN MIRACLES.

My Baby Girl....You are worth it all!

Customer Service Is Dead. What Are You Going To Do About It?

My Baby Girl….You are worth it all!

I spend my days on the phone and in medical offices these days. I counted the other day and my daughter has 23 possible people or companies that I have to call for her. Each one has their own way of doing things. Some of them their own “portal” that I have to log into. They all call back at the end of the day, five minutes before closing time, from a blocked number, leaving a message with no information on it. They don’t call back if it is less than 5 days. You never get to speak to the same person twice. There are gate keepers and message takers for everything. Actual call I just had:

Yes, I need to speak to the Doctor and waiting for a appointment until September will not be ok. Who can I talk to that can help me with this? Mame, I have 8 callers waiting to be helped, I don’t have time to sit here and try to figure this out. (She actually said that)

Well give me someone who can.

No response.

Just hold music.

I guess I was transferred to someone who can help. But no, wait, I just got a voicemail. No idea who or why but I have no other choice. Oh boy… here we go.

Fast forward to when I am on the phone. UNKNOWN is calling. Before I had Olivia I just wouldn’t answer, now I do. Now I answer with such fury that I practically hang up on the person I am talking to and answer the phone with a pen in hand.

(I learned a long time ago to write down every single person’s name, the time, date, and what was discussed)

This lady listens to my song and dance and then says, “Ok well the Dr is on vacation from June 18th to the 30th so I don’t know if we can squeeze you in.”

Really lady?

*unleashing Mama Bear mode* because any other mode doesn’t seem to get my point across. I re explain to her what and why I need it. She says she will pass the message along to the doctor.

I can tell that she is just trying to get me off the phone and really doesn’t even care about me.

Sigh. Fine. I say, “Can you please tell me what message that you are giving the Dr?”

She says “That you want a earlier appointment”  

I am so disappointed. I restate the reason WHY we need a different appointment. All the while feeling trapped. This ding dong is going to be appealing to the Dr for me to squeeze us in and she doesn’t even have the right message?

No joke. We go through this twice more until I talk slow, and she types the short, direct sentences I tell her to type in the message.

I’m so fed up, that I just sit here, eat this Cheesecake (seriously) and take my anger and create a blog out of it.

 

This cheesecake stood no chance.

This cheesecake stood no chance.

No One Cares Anymore!

I am serious. It is a day when pigs fly that we actually ever get anyone who is WANTING to help us. I have these conversations at least three times a week. It isn’t just the medical field. I have realized that so many people are working like their customer is an inconvience to their life.

When did “How can I help you?” go out the window and the birdy that says “How can I NOT help you?” fly in?

I keep telling my husband – If this was a business I would fire them. I would switch companies. But unfortunately it isn’t that easy. It is even more work switching companies and I have learned that it is all the same.

We had this one incident where our home warrantee sent out a plumber and they said they fixed it. They didn’t. It was still leaking. They refused to come back out. So we disputed the charge. I just don’t understand people these days.

Be Nice To Your Customers

Look, I get it. Things happen. You can’t always solve the problems. But you don’t have to pour salt on the wounds of your customer either. How can this apply to your business?

If you have to say no, show that you care by emphasizing with their feelings. I don’t mean re stating the problem like the TMoble representative does either. People can tell when you are being real or fake.

Give people options of what you CAN DO instead of telling them what you CAN’T do.

Come from a place of yes!

When people have a problem, for God’s sake, let them get it off their chest. If they don’t, they will find a place like a online review site to get it off their chest.

Listen to your customers. Care about them. Don’t avoid conflict. Learn how to go through it nicely.

Remember,  you only have to be a little bit better than everyone else to knock someone’s socks off. Hopefully you are better than just a little bit. *wink*

 

I Will Pay More To Get Better Service

Do you hear what I am saying? I will pay for peace of mind. Do you know we had three therapist helping my daughter and none of them made the types of improvements that one did that we drove two hours to see? I will spend the time, energy, and money (entire day) driving two hours one way to see this specialist. I will pay out of pocket if I have to. She is a solution to my problem. She literally said to me, “here is the problem…. but don’t worry, we will find a solution!” And I believed her. Holy Heaven, I almost dropped to my knees and praised Jesus right in her office because someone was FINALLY there to HELP us… out of the 23 people on our “team.”

There are other people out there like me. Think of that client who was burned that time that she let her best friend’s daughter pet sit for her and she threw a party? Or that person who took their dog to the kennel and they got so sick they had to take them to the vet?

Be The Solution To The Problem. Not The Problem.

I know that we all have clients that drive us crazy. I am positive that I drive these medical people crazy. But I have to get to a level of crazy to get them to even call me back. Don’t make your clients crazy. Focus on what you can do. Come from a place of yes. Tell them you love and appreciate them. Thank them for allowing you to do your life’s dream of owning a business or working with pets. Celebrate their crucial role in your business and life.

 

How Does This Look?

Dear Client, 

I understand that you need XYZ and I totally get it! I would too. However, due to our policies I can’t exactly do that, but here is what I CAN do. Tell me which you would prefer: 
1. 
2. 
3. 

Again, we want to do the best we can to help find solutions for all your pet care needs. I am interested in hearing your thoughts of these options and welcome your thoughts. If you think it is better, feel free to ring me at the office at: XXXXXXX   I will be there during office hours between XXXXX

Sometimes it is as easy as just letting them know expectations BEFORE it happens. Perhaps your welcome email before the consultation happens?

.
“Ok, so here is what you can expect during the consultation. We will XYZ.

When we are done, I will approve your appointment and send you a confirmation via email.

We do almost everything via email because we know that you are busy and we don’t want to be bothering you all the time with phone calls interrupting your day.  

Our pawsome online scheduling system is there to help you as well, so after you book your airline ticket, you can bop on over to our website and book your pet sitting service as well…… etc etc etc.” 

.

Talk with people. Not at people.  Don’t be so focused on how we can’t help them, or what we can’t do. It is our job as business owners to educate them. Show them what we need them to do to have the best results together. We need to LISTEN and ACKNOWLEDGE. It’s pretty interesting how much one can accomplish by doing those two things.

Learning How To Sell Ice To Eskimos: “Our Nightmare Is Your Dream!”

sell pet sitting“Our nightmare is your dream” Kyle Waring tweeted two days ago.

Ain’t that the truth? He has so much snow after record breaking snowfall in Boston that he decided to start selling it to people for $89!  Can you believe it? He even has plans to sell fall foliage in the Fall! As a past New Englander now living in the desert, I must admit it does have some nostalgic appeal! Check out his website

This is a whole new take on the “selling ice to eskimos” saying that we constantly hear.

Someone is actually selling something that arguably has no tangible value, but he is making shipments and making money on the snow in his own back yard. How outlandish is this idea?

If this one person can do this, and even land a 2 min segment on the Today Show, then you surly can sell your pet sitting business and services to potential clients.

It all comes down to salesmanship (or woman). Do you know how to sell? Can you connect with people on the phone? Canyou tell a cat client that the absolutely need overnights and two day visits for their cats? Can you turn dailydog walkingclients into vacation clients and vacation clients into daily dog walking clients

Don’t sell yourself short. We need to celebrate the relationship our clients have with their pets more and keep the stinking Pet Sitter Phone Scriptthinking out in the cold. Maybe send it to Boston? 🙂

This man had an idea, found the target market (corporations) and is actually selling snow. Come on now, sell your pet sitting services!

Need more help with selling on the phone? Check out the wildly popular Phone Script Class. Over 200 pet sitters have taken
this course! With purchase, you will have two, one hour recorded sessions with questions and rebuttals at the end. Never stumble over your words or have anxiety when the phone rings. Answer the phone, land sales, meet your business financial goals!

Learning How To Sell Ice To Eskimos: "Our Nightmare Is Your Dream!"

“Our nightmare is your dream” Kyle Waring tweeted two days ago.

Ain’t that the truth? He has so much snow after record breaking snowfall in Boston that he decided to start selling it to people for $89!  Can you believe it? He even has plans to sell fall foliage in the Fall! As a past New Englander now living in the desert, I must admit it does have some nostalgic appeal! Check out his website

This is a whole new take on the “selling ice to eskimos” saying that we constantly hear.

Someone is actually selling something that arguably has no tangible value, but he is making shipments and making money on the snow in his own back yard. How outlandish is this idea?

If this one person can do this, and even land a 2 min segment on the Today Show, then you surly can sell your pet sitting business and services to potential clients.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

It all comes down to salesmanship (or woman). Do you know how to sell? Can you connect with people on the phone? Canyou tell a cat client that the absolutely need overnights and two day visits for their cats? Can you turn dailydog walkingclients into vacation clients and vacation clients into daily dog walking clients

Don’t sell yourself short. We need to celebrate the relationship our clients have with their pets more and keep the stinking Pet Sitter Phone Scriptthinking out in the cold. Maybe send it to Boston? 🙂

This man had an idea, found the target market (corporations) and is actually selling snow. Come on now, sell your pet sitting services!

Need more help with selling on the phone? Check out the wildly popular Phone Script Class. Over 200 pet sitters have taken
this course! With purchase, you will have two, one hour recorded sessions with questions and rebuttals at the end. Never stumble over your words or have anxiety when the phone rings. Answer the phone, land sales, meet your business financial goals!

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What Should I Do When I Arrive To An Overnight With No Supplies and Lots of Poop?

I have a question for you: I recently took my first pet sitting gig. It included 7 days, staying over night, feeding an elderly dog, the cat, changing the litter box, and cleaning up any messes the dog might make. Though I took him out every day, it was clear he suffers from dementia and ended up doing his business in the kitchen, OFTEN. The people were very nice, but when I went to stay, there was nothing there for me, no towel, or food…I didn’t really expect food, but thought that there would be at least a towel for me. So my question is, What should a pet sitter expect when they go to a house sitting gig like this? They also didn’t provide rubber gloves. I know now that I am going to have my own kit and go prepared. The other thing is that the price negotiated, really did NOT include cleaning up all the mess that I had to clean up. I did not try to renegotiate anything. I did let them know that the dog missed them and was confused, and pooped 3x’s a day on their floor. Would you try to ask for a clean up fee after the fact? Or would you have it in part of your agreement as an add on if the animal made messes frequently? Thanks

Here are my thoughts as it pertains to the question. First, congratulations on your first pet sitting gig! That is very exciting and you will always not only remember this day, but the first of many in your business 🙂 Just like a child!

Let’s first address the accommodations. When you are doing overnights, usually it is industry standard for the pet sitters to bring all their own belongings. It isn’t like going to a hotel where the provide you everything. A lot of pet sitters I know bring their own bedding, towels, and food. Perhaps creating a more thorough expectation of what you require for your overnight service might help both parties? Or even if you send the client something like this?

Pet sitting supplies: You will find numerous times throughout your pet sitting career that supplies are a luxury! I can’t tell you how many times I have had to bring my own Spot Bot (including the cleaning liquid) or paper towels etc to a home to clean up messes.

money2You mentioned “negotiated price” I do not come from the school of thought that your price should be negotiated. Unless of course your pricing strategy has that built in. Does it? For example you state a high price but then, “give people a deal” and it goes lower. Is that what you mean? Or did you have a firm price that you believed your services we worth and this client haggled you down? In any case, if it wasn’t a calculated move on your behalf, chances are high that you will end up feeling unappreciated. I see it happen all the time to pet sitters.

Communication: You mentioned that you “let them know.” I would encourage you to be a little more direct like: “Oh! Fido seems to be thinking he can potty on the floor. I wanted to let you know incase there was something medically wrong with him and I should bring him to the vet?”  In other words, this isn’t normal behavior, nor is it acceptable. By you playing “dumb” you open the door for the client to potentially say, “Oh he does that sometimes” and then you can take it any direction you may. For example, “Oh I didn’t realize this. I don’t have any cleaning supplies. Do you have X,Y,Z hidden somewhere in the house or shall I go out and purchase them for $X trip charge plus the cost of the supplies?”  Obviously, you say it/ type it in a nicer way.

To answer your question, cleaning would not be an add on for my company. Reason is, I don’t charge by time. I would just do it and include it in their rate. Although my rates account for this. If it was excessive, we would not accept further bookings from the client. Personally, it doesn’t sound like the type of client I would want for my business if they have that much going on with no support and trying to bargain you down. But…. just because they wouldn’t be the type of client I am looking for, doesn’t mean that others wouldn’t love to have them. It is a personal decision. Do you like granny panties or thongs? 🙂 haha. Hope you smiled!