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

 

Ten Things You Need To Know About Being A Pet Sitting Employees VS. IC

Good help is hard to find, as any business owner knows. With the variety of web-based services which offer Independent Contractor (IC) opportunities for aspiring pet sitters and dog walkers, why would a pet lover choose to work for a traditional business as a pet sitting employee rather than working independently and possibly bringing home more cash?  

Becoming an employee of an established company offers lots benefits for folks who are interested in caring for pets. When considering how to proceed, it’s important that an individual consider several things. Below are the top 10 differences in working for an employer versus working for one’s self.

Ten Things You Need to Know About Being A Pet Sitting Employee VS. IC

pet sitting employee

1. Instant income

Possibly the most obvious benefit of working for someone else is the instant stream of work! Rather than posting a profile all over the internet, handing out business cards and hoping to meet people at the dog park, an established company already has visits lined up and ready to go for employees. There’s no need to hustle.

2. Overhead

All of the marketing and client retention is completed by the company, which takes time (and money!). If a client is unhappy, employees are still paid. If tools or supplies are needed, it’s covered. An IC is financially responsible for all things related to the care they provide during visits they are contracted to complete.

3. Insurance

Beyond covering overhead costs, a professional business will be insured and bonded by a reliable insurance company. Although some of the web-based services offer insurance, there have been several questionable situations where insurance refused to pay out – it can leave an IC open to liability.

4. Personal liability

When working under the umbrella of insurance and bonding provided by a corporation, employees are generally insulated from lawsuits claiming negligence or other civil suits; this is not the case when working as an IC.

5. Workers comp

Did you know many health insurance policies will not cover workplace injuries? Most professional pet care companies carry workers compensation insurance; this means, if an employee is injured while caring for a pet, there isn’t a reliance on private health insurance — or the employee’s personal bank account! Self-insurance for workers comp as an IC is available, but it can be very, very pricey.

6. Safety

With a professional company, clients are screened ahead of time for pet temperament, neighborhood safety and accuracy of information provided in advance of the first visit. Employees won’t go into a job blindly and just hope for the best.

7. Taxes

An employer covers roughly half of taxes owed by an individual, plus they file the employee’s portion automatically each quarter. An IC must pay the full amount of taxes on all monies earned at the end of the year – and that bill can be unexpectedly large.

8. Protocols

Most established companies have specific rules for how to handle uncomfortable and emergency situations. No need to make up a solution on the fly!

9. Education

Beyond having established protocols, many companies teach technical skills on how to best care for pets including body language, avoiding bites, etc.

10. There’s Always A Back-Up

Feeling sick? Have an emergency? By being employed by a company, there will be someone who can pick up the slack when you’re unable to perform your visits.  As an IC, you and your clients may be out of luck.

 

Ultimately, both approaches have their perks. It comes down to what’s most important to an individual when deciding how they would like to pursue a career with pets! By properly presenting the information above, an IC for an internet company may be persuaded to instead join a professional team.

pet sitting

Robin Brown is the owner and founder of Manhattan Mutt Company, LLC in Manhattan, Kansas. She is a Yankee-born, Southern-bred, Midwestern transplant. Her life revolves around her husband’s Army career, a sassy toddler and the dogs who inspired her to launch MMCo.

 

pet sitting beginners guide

pet sitting independent contractors

The Problems With Pet Sitting Independent Contractors

I have to admit that I am not a huge fan of hiring pet sitting independent contractors for your business. Personally, I think investing in employees is a much better decision.  If you have IC’s or are thinking about hiring IC’s, we’re going to draw some attention to some of the challenges there are with hiring pet sitting independent contractors.

The Problems With Hiring Pet Sitting Independent Contractorspet sitting independent contractors

Lack Of Control

To be quite honest, I have yet to meet a business owner who is not a control freak (myself included!). This is easily one of the biggest downfalls of hiring IC’s because you really can’t control what they do.

Seems weird right?

But it’s true.

With IC’s, training is only allowed by the client themselves, not by you or a manager. Yes you can offer suggestions, but you can’t train them on the important aspects of HOW to do pet sits. This could be detrimental in developing your company’s brand, because 10 different IC’s may do pet sits 10 different ways and they should! They are all representing their own business.

Check out this quote from the IRS website that gives a great summation as to what limits IC’s have:

“The general rule is that an individual is an independent contractor if the payer has the right to control or direct only the result of the work and not what will be done and how it will be done.” – IRS.gov

Strict Rules & Regulations

Many times I’ve seen businesses go through more headache and hassle with different government agencies by having IC’s! This goes hand in hand with my previous point that you as the business owner cannot control or manage what the IC does. This makes it very easy for you to inadvertently overstep your bounds, creating a potential problem. I have heard of a lot of business owners emailing instructions to their IC in writing, which is a big no-no!

I’ve found that business owners that have IC’s are frequently “on the defense” so to speak. They’re having to constantly look over their shoulder and avoid putting any communication with the IC in writing to cover themselves. I’ve actually spoken to business owners that have gotten a knock on their door for something they’ve done a year ago.

To me, no matter what benefits IC’s bring, it’s not worth the fear of getting in trouble. None of us, myself included, are legal experts or auditors, making it very easy for us to slip up and get ourselves in trouble or audited.

Insurance Complications

When you have employees, they are covered under your pet sitting insurance policy – plain and simple. This is not the case with IC’s. Sure, an insurance agency will allow them to be covered under your master policy, but then who is absorbing the cost? You are. Therefore, they would be classified as employees!

There is insurance for liability, if you are negligent on the job… but there is also workman’s compensation for if a worker is hurt on a job. Independent Contractors, by definition should have these insurance policies. Most do not.

In your client’s eyes, your IC’s represent your company. It’s really not a good look when a representative of your company is suing your client for an injury. Plus, there is the possibility they could go after you as well. Overall, it’s just a giant headache, and one that can be totally avoided by hiring employees rather than IC’s

While there are still pet sitting business owners that use IC’s, it’s not something I would recommend in today’s business world. If you’re looking to make “the switch,” from ICs to employees be sure to follow these crucial 6 steps and check out my Employee Quickstart Program.

What To Say To The Applicants That Weren't Select For An Interview

Ways To Overcome Problems With Pet Sitting Employees

Many people think that when you have employees, you will always have probelms.

But that isn’t always the case.

There are just a few things you have to accept and understand in order for pet sitting employees to be the best decision of your life.

Ways To Overcome Problems With Pet Sitting Employees
problems with pet sitting employees

Trust

One of the biggest challenges I see with business owners is being able to trust their employees. There really is such a fine line between being an involved business owner and micromanaging. It’s up to you to find your balance and stick with it. So how can you overcome these trust issues?

It lies in your training process. You’ll need to train your pet sitting employees extremely well to give both you and them peace of mind. Most employees WANT to do their job well – you just have to provide them with the resources to be successful. This also makes them feel like a part of the company. When you do a good job of training your employees it shows them that you are invested in their success – it makes them feel good!

But don’t get comfy. It’s imperative that you stick to your rules, but you don’t want to come across as a dictator. It’s all about balance.

pet sitting deal

Cost

Try to see your employees as an investment rather than an expense. If you have the proper pricing structure and strategy, your employees will increase your revenue as well as the value of your business. In fact, every employee can bring you $20,000 to $60,000  in revenue! If you invest in people working for your company, your company will grow and so won’t your paycheck. The typical expenses are insurance, background tests, uniforms, training, etc. Arguably while many think that employees cost more than independent contractors (ICs), ICs end up costing more.

Interviewing/Hiring/Training

The process of hiring, interviewing, and training is one that many business owners find challenging. It’s easily one of the biggest problems with having pet sitting employees. My advice? Wrap your head around the fact that you’re going to be doing this your entire business career.

Become one with it.

Perfect it!

If you’re worried about tackling these processes on your own, consider hiring an HR representative. Having this kind of help can help you overcome the burden of having to figure all of this out on your own.

In the pet sitting businesses, I see so many capable business owners NOT growing their business due to people problems. If you can learn to overcome this, then the sky is the limit! There are so many resources out there for you – you just have to look. 🙂

employee handbook

hiring dog walkers

Review: The Top Websites For Hiring Pet Sitters & Hiring Dog Walkers

When hiring pet sitters or hiring dog walkers, it can be difficult knowing where to start. There are so many different websites out there where you can post job ads – so how do you know which one is the most lucrative? Today we bring you a review of the top sources for hiring for your pet sitting business, so you know which ones to invest your time into.

Review: The Top Websites for Hiring Pet Sitters & Hiring Dog Walkershiring dog walkers

Indeed

Indeed describes itself as the world’s #1 job site. And we can’t blame them. They pull in over 200 million unique visitors to their site every month. One of the main reasons why Indeed is great is because it’s FREE to post jobs. Or if you’re really in a pinch, there is an option to pay for your ads so that they are shown to more applicants. Plus, if you’re feeling extra proactive, you can search through resumes and invite potential applicants to apply for your job.

One of the reasons that Indeed is NOT so great however, is because you’ll get a lot of bogus and spam applicants. I’m talking about people that are just sending out their resume to the masses, with no regard to what the job is. I know some pet sitters that have had to wade through over 100 applicants to find 1 or 2 winners. But the reality is that hiring takes time, and wading through applicants you can automatically disqualify is just part of the process. No matter what, you have to stick with it!

Check out what other business owners have to say about Indeed:

Indeed has been a useful resource for us – drives the most applicants. However, applicants almost never send anything helpful via Indeed. We send back a standard response of ‘Thanks for your interest, please apply via our website.’ That helps narrow down the pool a bit!” -Robin Brown, Manhattan Mutt Company LLC

“Very few of the folks on Indeed bothered to read my posting. The ones who had relevant experience often didn’t bother with the cover letter and very few sent a cover letter at all.” – Annamarie Hessman

Craigslist

Craigslist can be another great source for hiring pet sitters and hiring dog walkers. The website has been around for over 20 years, and has quickly become the premiere website for posting classified ads. Another great thing about Craigslist is that it is totally free to use. It is also is really great about protecting your privacy. When you post an ad, applicants will be able to contact you without seeing your email.

TIP: Try posting your hiring ad in multiple categories such as part time, gigs, domestic, etc. This will allow you to reach more applicants!

But, Craigslist does have some downfalls. There is a lot of spam job ads on Craigslist, which lessens it’s credibility. A lot of people do not consider Craigslist a legitimate source for applying to jobs. It may be harder to reach the demographic you’re aiming for.

Here’s what pet sitters have to say about Craigslist:

“Craigslist has been the biggest success with 3 amazing employees.” – Nicole Brown, Miami Pet Concierge

Hireology

Hireology is a little different than your typical job posting site. Think of it more as a hiring “hub.” According to their website, Hireology allows you to manage all hiring activity from their platform. This includes writing job descriptions, posting to job boards, interview candidates, and running background checks. It allows you to keep all of your information in one place, including applications, resumes, interview notes, etc.

Keep in mind that Hireology is not free! If this sounds like something you’re interested in, you’ll have to request a free demo. If you like the software, there will be an additional cost, which is determined by the size of your business, how many employees you currently have etc. Hireology is also billed on either an annual or multi-year basis. One business owner reported paying $400 for one year.

“Hireology is a portal for CL [Craigslist] and Indeed for me. I do not plan on renewing after this year. My company is not big enough, nor do I hire enough people to justify the elaborate portal.” – Julie Fredrick, The Pet Sitter Of Boise

NextDoor

Nextdoor is also a successful platform for hiring pet sitters or hiring dog walkers. For those of you who don’t know what NextDoor is, think of it as Facebook for your neighborhood. You’ll be able to interact with your neighbors, share reviews of services, post classified ads, etc. It’s the go-to place to find all about what’s happening in your neighborhood.

For pet sitting businesses, it’s a great way to reach local talent and potential clients. You’re able to advertise your business as well as post job postings. But there is a downside – Nextdoor recently partnered with Rover, so they do give preferential treatment to Rover sitters. They have also implemented a pet directory, which is a plus, so you’ll be able to see which of your neighbors have pets. Good information!

“NextDoor is a disaster. I was ostracized for trying to help a neighbor find her missing dog, but when I gave her my email address someone accused me of soliciting business. Apparently, you’re not allowed to advertise your personal business on this site.” – Nicole Brown, Miami Pet Concierge

Facebook

Facebook, the most popular social media outlet in the world, has rapidly become another premiere platform for hiring. Although they have just rolled out their new job posting feature, many pet sitters say it is useless at this point. Not many people are using it yet.

Some business owners say that by posting their ad on their business page, and then boosting the post via a Facebook advertisement has proven very lucrative. Definitely something to consider!

No matter which platform you choose to utilize to post your hiring ads, one thing is for sure: you must always be hiring! Admittedly, there are many problems that can arise when hiring, but it is still so important that you continue to do it, regardless. I preach this time and time again because I still get stories of pet sitters who are stuck. Business owners that have to bend to the whims of their employees because they can’t afford to lose them. I can’t stress enough how important it is that you are in control. After all, a ship can’t sail without it’s captain!

dog walking deal

 

pay staff more

Should I Pay Staff More If I Raise My Rates For My Pet Sitting Company?

If you’re a pet business owner, you know that business is constantly changing. One of the things that constantly changes is the prices of goods and services. There may come a time in your business where you raise your rates, whether it’s because you’re trying to slow down business, make more money, or just make ends meet. But when you raise your business rates, should you pay staff more? Today let’s talk about the answer to this important question.

Should I Pay Staff More If I Raise My Rates For My Pet Sitting Company?

pet sitters' wages

Calculating What To Pay Your Staff

It can be difficult figuring out what to pay your pet sitter. But rest assured, once you find that that number you should never need to alter it, regardless of what your rates are! Yep, I’m giving you permission to keep your staff’s wages the same, even if you raise your rates. Raising your rates should be an opportunity for you to make more money, and if you raise your staff’s wages in the process, you’re kind of defeating the purpose.

To start, you’ll need to find the lowest price you can charge your clients and still make a healthy wage. Think of this number and write it down. Then, figure out what the wage would be for your staff off that number. Keep in mind your staff pay (labor) should be roughly 32 to 35% of your total business revenue (factoring in taxes and raises). That number you come up with is the number you’ll pay your staff whether you’re charging $20 a visit or $200 🙂

You want to have it spelled out in your employee manual what the wage is. Be clear that this wage has no bearing on current client rates and it doesn’t change based on the type of pet sit. If your staff asks about raises, I recommend telling them that raises are yearly based on merit.

Charge More, Make More

When you charge, you and the business make more. Like I said earlier, if you pay staff more when you raise your rates, you’re kind of defeating the purpose. The method above I spoke about is what you should use for piece work – or getting paid per visit. Basically, what you charge clients has NO impact on what you pay your staff. 🙂

Price increases happen constantly in business. It fluctuates. When you don’t have enough staff, you increase your rates for new clients. When you need to get your staff busy, you decrease the rate to the lowest rate you can afford. Having a pricing structure will really allow you this flexibility.

As business owners, it’s easy for us to get caught up in the needs of both our clients and our staff. I encourage you to start thinking more about yourself! In business, we should never think about what clients will “handle” with pricing or what staff will “work” for. This causes you to forget about the most important part of the equation – YOU!

pet sitting pricing structure

hiring dog walkers

The Problems With Creating Your Own Pet Sitting Employee Manual

Developing a pet sitting employee manual may be one of the most overwhelming projects you undergo in your pet sitting company. There are lots of different components involved in order to make the manual complete and well-done. Today we will discuss some of the problems with creating your own employee manual as well as the solution to those problems.

The Problems With Creating Your Own Pet Sitting Employee Manual

pet sitting employee manual

Time

Creating an employee manual takes TIME. A lot of it. Sometimes, it can even take up to a year. This is because you’ll be writing, conducting research, gathering helpful resources, and consulting with experts. These experts may include an HR representative, lawyer, editor, and a typesetter. It takes time to gather all of the necessary information to develop a complete employee manual. Once you have it all put together, you’ll need to have it lawyer reviewed which can also take time.

Ultimately, because this is such a large project, you’ll be spending a large portion of your time working on this document. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but you should be prepared to make a major time commitment!

 

The cost of creating your own pet sitting and dog walking employee handbook

 

Constantly Changing

Business is ALWAYS changing, and as this happens, you’ll need to update your employee manual accordingly. You may decide to change a policy or procedure, so you’ll have to make sure you update your manual as needed. Additionally, state laws can change too regarding time off, jury duty, breaks, etc. You’ll definitely have to remember to update your employee manual to reflect the most current laws. It’s crucial that all of your new hires have the correct information.

It can be difficult to stay on top with all of the changes in your business. It’s good to review your employee manual often so that you can make necessary changes as needed. You don’t want it to become outdated!

Legal Jargon

Employee manuals are not just all about your business practices and procedures. There’s lots of legal mumbo-jumbo that has to be in there too. This includes portions such as jury duty and equal opportunity employment. This part will be very research-heavy. Consider the fact that you will have to spend time not only researching the law, but interpreting what you’re reading. Then you’ll have to finally narrow down exactly what to include in the document. This is where having a lawyer on your team becomes VERY helpful!

pet sitting handbook

Including A Training Manual

When creating your pet sitting employee manual, you’ll have to decide if you want to include your training manual as well. What’s even the difference?

While I personally think they should be two separate documents, some pet sitting companies choose to include it. If you decide to include the training manual, you’ll want to be sure that your document presents all of the relevant information in an order that makes sense. Or if you decide not to include the manual, you’ll want to decide which information you want to include in each document.

Professional Writing

The writing used in an employee manual or training manual is not nearly as fun as writing blogs! Sometimes it can be difficult to write professionally so that your document is well-respected. Again this is where having a lawyer and an editor on your team comes in handy. Remember that this document will be given to your new hires, and they will have a perception of your company after reading it. You want to make sure that it puts you and your company in the best light!

So I know this sounds like a lot, and you may be wondering when you’re ever going to have the time to undergo this overwhelming project. If you just simply don’t have the time to create your own pet sitting employee manual, consider outsourcing the task. We currently offer a fully customizable pet sitting employee manual where you can input your information and be DONE. You won’t have to worry about missing anything, as our document is already lawyer reviewed! Learn more here: http://jumpconsulting.net/pet-sitting-employee-manual-handbook/

 


If you do want to continue with creating your own pet sitting employee manual, more power to you! Just be sure to consider the costs of creating your own employee manual here.

staff stealing clients

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

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

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

staff stealing clients

Communication Styles

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

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

Hiring The Right Type Of Person

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

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

Keeping Up Morale

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

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

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

dog walking handbook

How Much Will It Cost To Create My Pet Sitting Employee Manual?

An essential to component for any pet sitting business with staff is an employee manual. Creating one is definitely a daunting task, and the cost of making one comes in many forms. Developing a pet sitting employee manual is going to cost you time, money, and resources. Today let’s break down exactly the cost of creating an employee manual.

How Much Will It Cost To Create My Pet Sitting Employee Manual?

Pet Sitting Employee Manual

Time

One of the biggest costs of creating a pet sitting employee manual is easily your TIME. Before deciding to make your own manual, consider how many hours of your time it will take. Then, think about how you much your time is worth per hour. If you find that after considering these factors, it isn’t worth your personal time to create one, you may want to think about outsourcing.

As business owners, it’s easy to get into the mindset that others cannot perform tasks as well as we can. We always want to do everything ourselves to make sure it’s done right! And while creating an employee manual is definitely important for your business, it’s critical to prioritize. You don’t want to stretch yourself too thin. It’s important to not only dedicate the necessary time to your clients and staff, but also to yourself.

Answer this question:

My Time Is Worth $_______ Per Hour.

Money

Creating your own pet sitting employee manual can be expensive. Even if you decide to make your own, it is not a one-man or one-woman show. You’ll need multiple individuals on your team to ensure it is complete with all necessary information and looks professional.  Some examples of people you’ll need to work with are:

  • A lawyer
  • An HR representative
  • A technical editor
  • A typesetter

While these individuals will all be able to provide you with crucial information to create your manual, it comes at a financial cost.  In fact, the lawyer alone would likely be around $500 to review. This team is easily a few thousands of dollars.

Resources

I can tell you first-hand that gathering and securing your resources in place can be difficult. Finding the right people to help work for you is HARD because there are a lot of flakes. Putting together the perfect team to assist you in crafting your employee manual will take a lot of time and effort. While this isn’t necessarily a reason to give up altogether, it is absolutely something you must keep in mind before starting the process.

Also keep in mind that for every moment you spend trying to compile your team, another moment goes by where you do not have an employee manual and are potentially creating bigger problems for yourself.

Overall, adding up all of the time, money, and resources spent easily comes out to a few thousand dollars. It is clear that creating your own pet sitting employee manual is a massive project, but one that can be done given you have the correct mindset and outlook. If you feel that creating your own manual isn’t the right choice for you after considering all of these factors, consider taking a look at outsourcing the task or purchasing a pre-made employee manual. In the long run, it might end up being the better choice for your business.

pet sitting business handbook

 

hiring pet sitters

The Problems With Hiring Pet Sitters For Your Pet Sitting Company

Hiring is something we talk about A LOT in the pet sitting industry, because it can be one of the most difficult parts of running a business. When hiring pet sitters, there are a number of problems that usually arise that make it difficult to make sure that you and the applicant are on the same page. Today, let’s break those problems down and discuss real life solutions to make sure that you are making the best choice for your pet sitting company.

The Problems With Hiring Pet Sitters For Your Pet Sitting Company

hiring pet sitters

The Basic Criteria

Finding quality pet sitting applicants starts with YOU. Yep, I’m talking about your hiring process. It’s important that you are properly screening applicants to make sure that they fit the vision of your company. A big problem when hiring pet sitters is that business owners are forgetting to ask instrumental questions that are extremely important to the business. You want to ensure applicants meet basic criteria such as:

  • How far away do they live from your service area?
  • Did they follow the instructions in your job posting? (i.e. send a resume AND cover letter)
  • What does their availability look like, and does it coincide with your company’s pet sitting schedule?
  • Do they have a valid driver’s license, proof of insurance, and own their own car?

Testing The Applicant

Once you get past the basic criteria, it’s then up to you to “test” the applicant to see just how badly they want your job. This is another problem business owners have when hiring pet sitters, because sometimes they are so desperate for new staff, they let applicants off easy! This is why I recommend conducting multiple interviews and requiring the applicant to jump through a series of hoops. Not only does it demonstrate to you how serious they are about being a pet sitter, but it tests their ability to follow directions (an important quality to have in the pet sitting world!).

That being said, you do have to make sure your job posting is appealing and not overly-technical. This is the only way to weed out applicants that aren’t serious. You have to be selective!

So how can you do this? Here’s a few tips:

  • Conduct multiple interviews. The first interview should have nothing to do with pet sitting at all. It is simply an opportunity for you to learn more about the applicant, and to gauge their personality and professionalism. If you decide to move forward, interview #2 is where you’ll discuss everything else. This can include asking the applicant about relevant experience and discussing some of the finer details of the job such as pay, scheduling, a typical pet sitting visit, etc.
  • Make the applicant jump through hoops. Your job posting should have specific instructions like “Send an email to bella@petsitting.com saying who you are, what your major cross-streets are, and how much money you’re looking to make per month. Attach your resume and cover letter.” Then before the first interview, you can create another hoop by having them take the Orion Hiring Assessment. See where I’m going with this? 🙂
  • Follow these tips when you receive unqualified pet sitting applicants.

Last but not least, are you looking for applicants in the right places? Check out this video where I tell you how to get more pet sitting applicants!

Getting To Know The Applicant – Interview #1

Another problem that comes up when hiring pet sitters is figuring out how to trust what they’re saying to you in an interview. People are usually really good about talking themselves up, so it’s up to you to find out if they’re the real deal. For example, is the person just telling you what you want to hear? Here’s a couple ways you can break down that barrier:

  • Use the Orion Hiring Assessment. If you don’t know what that is, Google it immediately! Essentially it is an assessment you can give to all potential applicants. The results will tell you more about the person’s personality like if they are a risk for theft or if they are likely to not be long-term, etc. It is scary accurate!
  • Call the applicant’s references. Not enough people do this, but it is a great way to glean some more information on the person.
  • Make sure you ask the right questions.
  • Don’t do all the talking! You don’t want to come out of the interview feeling you still have no idea who the applicant is. Have a drink ready to go before the interview, and make it your goal to finish it by the time it’s over. It works!

Retaining Your New Employee

Okay so you’ve made it through the interview phase, and your applicant is now officially an employee! Hooray! But now comes the hardest part of all when hiring pet sitters: Ensuring your new employee stays with you long term.  During or before training, have your employee agree to these basic guidelines.

While you want to keep your new employee happy, at the same time you have to make sure that they are following the rules set in place. You want to figure out how to keep your new employee happy to do their job, as well as empowering them. Your employees should feel like they have an important role in your company.

I hate to say it, but some pet sitting business owners don’t know how to manage. They are either too strict, like a dictator, or are a push-over, where the staff runs the show. Don’t be either of these extremes – find your balance and run with it!

pet sitting facebook group

 

fire a pet sitting employee

How Do I Fire A Pet Sitting Employee?

fire a pet sitting employeeThere comes a time in every pet sitting business where an employee or employees is just NOT performing up to standards, even after several warnings. Then you’re faced with a dilemma: Do I fire this person? If you feel like it’s the right thing to do, then YES! I am officially giving you permission. But keep in mind that choosing fire a pet sitting employee is a specific process that you want to follow in order to cover yourself. Brought to you today by HR expert Niki Ramirez, let’s discuss the steps that pet sitting business owners should follow when you fire a pet sitting employee.

How Do I Fire A Pet Sitting Employee?

 

Question:

“I have a pet sitter who said she was available the shifts I needed but has increasingly become less and less available. She is always making excuses why she can’t work, asking for certain clients, and really bad at communication. I know I am a right to work state, but can I just fire her? She isn’t performing what I hired her for and honestly, I don’t want her representing me anymore. I feel like I am trapped. Help!”

Answer by Niki Ramirez, MBA/PHR/SHRM-CP

From time to time we have all had that employee who seems to be more trouble than they are worth, so to speak. Issues can really pile up, and may affect your relationship with your employee. This is pretty common. Before you decide to fire a pet sitting employee, employee relations best-practice is to provide them with verbal and/or written performance feedback so that they have an opportunity to fix the problems. Surprisingly, sometimes employees don’t know that what they are doing is causing a problem.

First of all, it is important to handle each issue one at a time. Also, in order to limit liability to the company, as well as create a culture at your organization where employees trust you to deliver feedback when it matters most, consider laying it all out for your employee before you decide to separate employment (“fire them”).

Be Straightforward About It. 

Pull your employee aside (in a private location where you will not be interrupted) at a time that is convenient for both of you. Now, approach each issue separately.

You can open the conversation like this: “Thanks for taking time to speak with me today. What I need to talk about is very important. I am going to share feedback on your performance in a few key areas including: attendance, client service and communication.”

Attendance…

Whether you employ 1 person or 100 people, you’re going to run into attendance problems at some point. To get results, consider something like this:

“Let’s start out with attendance. I count on you to be on time for every scheduled shift. When you are not available at the times that we have previously agreed upon, we cannot service clients and we let our team members down. Is there something that is preventing you from following through with your schedule that I can help with?”

Wanting to Cherry Pick Clients…

“We are so grateful for all of our clients. I understand that you have your favorite clients. I do too. However, I’m sure that you can understand that for the success of the business, we need to be ready and willing to jump in and service whichever clients need us when they need us. In order for me to keep you on the team, I need to know that you’re willing to work with all of clients that are assigned to you. If there is ever an issue with a client, please let me know. Aside from that, can I count on you to help out any client assigned to you for services?”

Poor Communication…

Addressing poor communication is important to preserve the image of your company. Communication skills include: verbal communication, written communication (email, letters, memos, text messages, etc.) and listening.

Depending on the particular communication issue that you’re having with your employee, you may say something like:

  • “The way that we communicate with our clients can make or break the success of our relationship with them. We want to maintain excellent relationships with all of our clients. In order to ensure great communication with clients, I need you to please: ___________________________. Can you agree to that?”

Close The Meeting With A Strong Message

In order to ensure you and your employee are on the same page, consider closing the conversation like this, “Thank you for taking time to discuss these concerns with me. I know it can be tough to receive constructive feedback, and I’m sure you understand that I’m sharing with you hoping that you understand clearly what your job expectations are. I need you to understand that if I do not see improvement in the areas we discussed, your job is in jeopardy. What can I do to help you be successful?”

Regardless Of The Issue, Always Follow Up In Writing

Your employee discipline program may be loosely organized or might be more regimented.  Either way, follow up in writing – a quick email or typed note to say: “I appreciate your openness during our conversation about your attendance today.  Please let me know if you have any questions about our attendance and punctuality policy; or we can assist you in any way so that you can make it to work on time, every time.”  If you made any verbal agreements, for example, modified an employee’s schedule so that they could come in later or leave earlier on a regular basis, outline that in the written summary of the conversation. Try to end the meeting on a positive note, offering to help them as much as possible.

Follow Through With Progressive Discipline

If the employee understands what is expected of them but continues to fail to meet your expectations, formalize the counseling process with a “written warning” or something of that nature.

Remember to outline what happens next: if they indeed continue with the poor behavior or performance.  Put them on notice when it is their final warning; and only do this when you will absolutely follow through the “next time” – for example: “if you are absent or tardy again in the week, you will be terminated immediately.”  However, only make that statement if you know you have the willpower to follow through.

If They Aren’t A Keeper, Don’t Keep Them

You know when you think and employee is a “good fit”, and if they aren’t working out, you know that too!  Only keep employees who want to be on the team, and who can meet your minimum expectations.  If employees are allowed to continue working but exhibit behavior or performance problems, they can disrupt the good work and commitment of other employees. I know that choosing to fire a pet sitting employee is tough, but be reassured that there is someone even better waiting just around the corner!

Compliance Note

All termination decisions should only be made after carefully considering your employees’ rights under various rules and regulations like anti-discrimination laws, including the American’s With Disabilities Act, which protects employees who have qualifying medical conditions. This is a really important step when choosing to fire a pet sitting employee. If you’re unsure, be sure to contact your HR representative.

What’s Next?

As you navigate the employee coaching, discipline, guidance and termination process, you will develop a style and process that is right for you and your company. We reviewed just a few important considerations when moving toward involuntarily terminating an employee – there is a lot to consider each and every time you decide to fire a pet sitting employee – and how you approach it can either create or limit liability for your company. We hope you contact us if you have additional or specific questions that we can address!

Fire A Pet Sitting EmployeeToday’s blog is brought to you today by HR expert, Niki Ramirez. She is the Founder and Principal Consultant at HRAnswers.org a firm dedicated to providing impactful yet practical human resources advice and organizational development support to businesses of all sizes. Niki is a dual-certified HR professional with experience spanning over 20 years, including: serving in operational leadership roles, adjunct business faculty member, and as a human resources executive. Niki carries with her a strong desire to educate and empower employees and their leaders to work in partnership to design and implement meaningful human resources programs that drive the success of their organizations.

Be sure to connect with Niki at https://www.facebook.com/hranswers.org/

pet sitting training manual

hiring staff switching from IC's

Hiring Staff Or Switching From IC’s Without Losing Your Mind!

One of the scariest things to do as a pet sitting business owner is hiring staff or switching from IC’s to staff. I mean think about it – you’re literally changing the structure of your business. You’re going from hiring people who have their own company, who know how to do a job to someone who doesn’t have their own company, who wants to be trained, who you get to control & check up on. Those personalities are two totally different things.

Today I bring you 6 steps to successfully make the jump from IC’s to staff, designed personally by myself and Kate McQuillan from Pawsome Media. If you don’t know Kate, she helps pet business owners around the world with their social media and marketing in their business. Be sure to check her out here.

Hiring Staff Or Switching From IC’s Without Losing Your Mind!

hiring staff switching from IC's

Step 1: The IRS Blessing

Little known fact: There’s this awesome government program called the Voluntary Classification Settlement Program (VCSP) that can serve as a HUGE help when making the switch from IC’s to employees.

To simplify it down from the legal mumbo-jumbo, your business pays a small fee and in return you NEVER have to worry about being audited for employment tax again. Consider this as a safety net and an investment for your business. Read more about it on the IRS website, or check out this detailed article I wrote breaking it down for you. 🙂

Step 2: Pricing

You HAVE to figure out your margins.  You deserve to make money – you’re dedicating so much time and energy to your business, that you deserve a handsome paycheck 🙂 If you’re not, let me help you get on track.

People fear when switching from IC’s to staff that there’s going to be all these extra costs, but the reality is you can RAISE your prices and see an increase in business. Seriously! I have NEVER seen a person say “OMG I raised my prices and my business crashed. Never.”

Not everyone has to raise their rates, but that’s when the numbers don’t lie. You have to pay yourself, pay the business, and pay for the labor.

If you’re still unsure how to price your services/figure out your margins to get ready for hiring staff or switching from IC’s, I have an entire guide dedicated to this. Take a look at my Pricing Guide Structure & Strategy, and never be confused again!

Step 3: Building A Team

Gather people you can trust to advise you on payroll, laws, operations, websites, hiring, and cash flow. Without a team in place, you will not be able to efficiently and professionally accomplish everything you need to. The art of delegation will be learned during this step!

You have to evaluate your business and find what your needs are. Picture the perfect demographic of what you’re looking for, and then FIND THEM! You don’t want to compromise – you have to stick to what you need and what you’re looking for. If you do this, finding the right people is as easy as checking off boxes.

Step 4: Creating A Manual

First you need to decide if you’re going to have one big fat employee manual, or are you going to have an employee manual AND a training manual? What’s even the difference between the two? Are you going to have a training manual for each position (i.e. pet sitter, dog walker, office manager etc.)

Ensure that your new staff will understand the rules and regulations of your company. Outline your exact operations and the philosophy of your business so each member can work harmoniously as a team with consistent service time and time again

These are all important questions you have to figure out before you even pick up that pen & paper. When hiring staff or switching from IC’s, you want to have all of your processes and procedures in place beforehand. This will create a successful work environment for everybody.

Hire for attitude, train for skill.[ctt template=”8″ link=”iK3nf” via=”no” ]Hire for attitude, train for skill.[/ctt]

Step 5: Interviewing

You need to learn how to ask the same question in many different ways to see if their answer changes. But most importantly, if you get it wrong: correct and continue.

Learn how to determine the right type of person for your business to grow with. Determine what interview questions, screening, and hiring processes will bring you the best candidates. This is the toughest part of the 6 steps!

Don’t use the all too common excuses of “I can’t hire” or “Nobody can do it as good as me” Hiring staff  or switching from IC’s to staff is an ON-GOING problem. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: You always need to be hiring!

Step 6: Operations

Basically, you have to figure out how to make everything run smoothly. Nobody will want to work for you if they have to ask you questions for every single client they go and see. Communication has to flow through you, the clients, the pet sitter, and even other pet sitters.

You’ll want to have your client feel like you’re at the home and you know exactly what’s going on. That they’re hiring a COMPANY and not just the pet sitter. That nothing’s going to slip through the cracks.

Bottom Line: Operations can make or break you.

Now, I want you to take a deep breath. Is this a lot of information? YES. Does it mean that you can’t do it? NO. I believe in you – which is why I have SO many resources to help you achieve your goals and fit different learning styles.

Download My 6 Steps To Switching To Employees Infographic – FREE!

Employee QuickStart 1:1 With Bella

BOSSES IN CHARGE: The Employee Quick Start Challenge!

employee quick start mastermind

pet sitting employee meetings

How To Have Pet Sitting Employee Meetings That Don’t Suck!

When anybody thinks about having to go to a “meeting,” their first reaction is usually to groan and complain. To the average person, business meetings usually mean a overly-long discussion about things nobody really cares about. So how can YOU, as the successful pet sitting business owner break that stigma? How can you have pet sitting employee meetings that are engaging, fun and productive? Today we’re going to address these questions to ensure that your next employee meetings doesn’t turn out to be a flop.

How To Have Pet Sitting Employee Meetings That Don’t Suck!

Pet Sitting Employee Meetings

#1 – The Fun Route

Having a “fun” employee meeting usually means that you and your employees go out and do a fun activity together. This can be things such as a pottery class, mini golf, painting classes, etc. You might be thinking, well what’s the benefit to this? Think about it from the employee’s perspective. Their boss is taking them out for a day of fun! This will show them that you not only care about getting to know them better, but their happiness as well.

This also offers an opportunity for the employees to bond with one another and with you. Overall this will create a stronger team atmosphere, and serves well to keeping your employees happy 🙂

#2 – The Educational Route

An educational meeting is exactly what it sounds like – educating your employees about things pertaining to the company. This can involve going through the training handbook or employee manual. Or, for an extra special treat you could bring in a dog trainer or veterinarian. Your sitters will learn valuable information about caring for the animals.

You might be worried that your employees will find this boring. But, I promise you, they won’t. They will feel like you are invested in them. That you want them to be a better person and a better pet sitter. Everyone will feel loved, important, and like they’re an integral part of the business – which they absolutely are!

#3 – The Team Building Route

This is NOT the same as the fun route. The difference here is that team building events involve everyone having to work together to accomplish a common goal. Team building activities include things such as Escape The Room, Scavenger Hunts, or a group volunteering event.

Team building events break down barriers. They promote people to work together, ultimately getting to know each other better. People will go outside their comfort zones, and accomplish something as a unit rather than an individual.

Employee meetings don’t have to be boring. They can and SHOULD be fun and engaging. Using any one of he above three methods will ensure that your next pet sitting employee meetings boost morale and making your sitters love working for you even more than they already do 🙂

Do you not have employees, but WANT to? Check out my new program, Bosses In Charge, below:

employee quick start mastermind

Selected for an interview

What To Say To The Applicants That Weren’t Select For An Interview {Letter Included}

 

Recruiting and hiring the right employees is likely high on your list of priorities. Making the right hiring decision the first time provides long-lasting benefits to your organization.

Communicating with job applicants and keeping them informed of their status, relative to your search, is a key step in managing a successful recruitment cycle. When considering if or how to communicate with job applicants, keep in mind that how you treat job candidates may be seen as a reflection of how you treat your customers. In this age of online (and anonymous) company reviews, it is important to treat everyone who is in communication with your company respectfully and keep job candidates informed.

selected for an interview

Best Practice

Everyone that responds to a job posting with your company should be contacted during the appropriate phase of recruitment to inform them of their status. In order to address the question, I’ll provide a couple of common scenarios. to address today’s question.

 

Scenario 1

An applicant applies and has not contacted you to find out if they will have an interview.

[ctt template=”8″ link=”TO6B7″ via=”yes” ]Candidates who submit an application and are not selected to interview should be provided with an email or letter to update them as to their status. #petsitter[/ctt]Here is a sample communication that you can tailor to meet your needs:

 

Dear [Candidate’s Name],

Thank you for taking time to apply for our open [JOB TITLE] position. Competition for jobs is always strong, and it was tough to select the group to invite for interviews. Unfortunately, you were not selected for further consideration for this position.

Thank you for your interest in joining the [COMPANY NAME] team. Please feel free to apply for other open positions in the future. Best of luck with your job search.

Respectfully,

[Name of Hiring Manager]

[Job Title]

 

Scenario 2

An applicant contacts you and asks about their status; and/or wants to know why they have not been selected for an interview.

When a job applicant reaches out to discuss their candidacy and wants to know why they were not selected for an interview this can put you in an uncomfortable situation. However, in this pre-interview, screening phase, it is fairly easy and rather common to provide specific feedback to candidates who request it.

Most often, candidates who are not selected for an interview do not meet the basic job qualifications or possesses skills outlined in the selection criteria (for example, years of experience, specific required skills, education, certification or training requirement). If this is the case, you can let the applicant know the main reason why they were “screened out” and invite them to apply for open positions again in the future. However, if they met all of the basic requirements of the job and were still not selected, it may be best to stay quiet on the issue and not provide specific feedback. Applicants who met the basic requirements may not understand the underlying reasons that they were not selected for an interview; for example, an equally qualified candidate who was asked to interview was referred by one of your current employees.

Also consider that in order to simplify the process and to reduce potential liability, it is ok to adopt a “no information provided” policy. In this case, regardless of the reason an applicant is not selected, they would be provided with a polite general statement, such as:

“It is our company’s policy that we do not provide specific or detailed feedback to job applicants who are not selected for an interview. However, we encourage you to apply again in the future with our company as you see fit. We wish you the best in your job search.”  

 

BONUS

To notify candidates who have interviewed for an open position, but were not selected, you can consider using the following phone script to inform them of their status:

Hello, [Candidate’s Name]. This is [YOUR NAME] from [COMPANY NAME]. I’m calling today to thank you again for your interest in the [JOB TITLE] position. We appreciate the time that you’ve spent with us during this recruitment process. I’m calling today to let you know that you were not selected for the position. We were impressed with your background and wish you the best in the future.”

Selected for an interview

Compliance Note

Note that there are federal, state and sometimes local non-discrimination laws that must be considered when managing the recruitment and hiring process. For example, federally, if your company employs more than 15 people, employers are never permitted to make hiring decisions based on a candidate’s: race and color, as well as national origin, sex, religion or disability status.

 

What’s Next:

As you navigate the recruitment and hiring process, you will find a communication style that is right for you and your company. We reviewed just a few important considerations when managing the recruitment communication process, specifically what to say when a candidate is not selected for an open position. We hope you contact us if you have additional or specific questions that we can address!

 

– – – – – – – – –

 

About the author: Niki Ramirez is a seasoned professional consultant, speaker and coach with a knack for engaging business leaders. She is the Founder & Managing Partner at HRAnswers.org. Niki has a successful track record partnering with a wide variety of businesses to analyze human resources and business operations with the objective of collaborating to design cost-effective training, employee relations programs, develop employment policies and procedures, and help business leaders exceed their goals.

Maybe most importantly, Niki is the proud momma to three strikingly gorgeous, intelligent, fun-loving kids. She volunteers for organizations that support education access for children, as well as foster care support organizations. She loves to garden, play with her dogs, horseback ride and get outside to hike and explore the world every spare minute that she has.

 

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!

 

 

care note examples

Hilarious Care Note Examples: What To Say (And What NOT To Say)

Ah, client notes.  (aka care notes, journal, updates, etc) It can be tough deciding what to say (and not say) in your client care notes.

Ever stare at that paper or screen wondering, “Just how do I make this visit sound more interesting than it really was?”  or “How I do make it sound like it wasn’t as bad as it was?” 

Another pain point us pet sitters and dog walkers often have is just how exactly do we explain to our staff how to say things,

what to say,

and the appropriate length?

Yeah, the struggle is REAL my friends! Today we’re going to take a look at how exactly to structure the perfect care note, as well as some care note examples for inspiration.

care notes

Anatomy of a Great Care Note:

Great care notes should have a beginning, middle, and end. They should have the facts but heavy on the warm and fuzzy. They should never have shorthand because it doesn’t make you look professional.

Like ur for you’re or u instead of you.

Limited emojis and the method the message is sent or given should be appropriate with the length of the care note.

Pictures and videos are optional but always appreciated.

What Types Of Methods Can You Send Care Notes?

Care notes can come via text message, email, notes written on the counter. Sometimes they come on a private blog, on Facebook, or through a client management system through a journal of sorts (pretty neat, huh?) Sometimes companies give options and some companies only have one preferred method.

Just look for the tiniest of inspiration… and go with it!  One care note example could be that sometimes just marking every bush could turn into “Fido expanded his kingdom to a greater area today.”  Or another care note example might be that perhaps it was a beautiful day out, you can say that “Fido enjoyed sniffing all the smells in the air”

A little insight into the pet sitting world. We leave our clients notes or text updates so they know how their babies are. Sometimes for the sake of the client’s peace of mind we have to “fluff” our updates a bit.

client care notes

Care Note Examples of What To Say (And Not Say):

Sometimes it is hard to know what to say and not to say. We want to stay positive but sometimes this proves pretty challenging when we care for certain pets. The following is from Sarah, a fellow pet sitter. She wrote this on her Facebook page and it is what sparked this blog. It is hilarious and something that all pet sitters and dog walkers could relate to! Here are some care note examples:

Client gets:
Fido had fun chasing a squirrel today!
What I actually meant:
Your dog went ape s&#t and lost his mind when we saw a squirrel 100 yards away and about dragged me down trying to go after it.

Client gets: Fluffy threw up on the carpet but no worries! I was able to clean it up with no stain!
What I actually mean: I spent 20 minutes on my hands and knees scrubbing the cat puke out of your weird, clearly expensive rug praying to sweet baby Jesus that I can get the stain up for you.

Clients gets: We worked on Fido’s leash manners today! He’s really coming along!
What I actually mean: Your dog makes me wish I carried around Vodka in my water bottle.

Client gets: Fluffy preferred not to come out today and visit but I did find her under the bed!
What I actually mean: I think your cat wants me to die.

Pet sitting and dog walking isn’t always warm and fuzzy. The pets don’t always cooperate and we don’t always have the best time. Tell me about a time where you had to get creative. How do you deal with these challenging communication moments in business?

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

How Should I Pay My Pet Sitting Employees?

how should I pay my pet sitting employees

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

how much should I pay my pet sitting employee

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

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

 

classes-pricing-guide

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

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

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

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

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

prices on website

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

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

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

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

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

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

pet sitting employee manual

Common Claims

15 Most Common Pet Sitting Insurance Claims {Ep. 10}

Let’s discuss the 15 most common claims found with Pet Sitting Insurance.

Ever wonder “Why do I need business insurance?” Ever hem and haw over if you should turn in a claim or if you should just pay it out of pocket?

I know I have in the 13 years I have had my pet sitting company.

Join and David Pearsall from Business Insurers of the Carolina’s and myself as we discuss what the 15 Most Common Claims with Pet Sitting Insurance. Listen live as we break it down into:

  • Top 5 Liability claims
    • Dog bites another dog ($200-$13000)
    • Dog bites to people like a jogger, biker, or someone breaking up a dog fight or a child petting a dog.
    • Water damage claims.
    • Dog jumps or runs under someone.
    • Damage to a client’s home.Important to be noted: General liability is someone else other than you. Worksman’s compensation kicks in when it is YOU or an EMPLOYEE.Also, it is important to know what your insurance covers. Real property is the actual home and structure of the home. Most non association policies only cover the structure of the home. Personal property: is the care, custody, and control. The things inside the home.
  • Top 5 Pet Injury claims
    • Dog eating foreign objects (meds, balls, toys)
    • Dog bit by another dog from a 3rd party. Happens a lot.
    • Dog bitten by another dog in pet sitter’s care. (ex. in your home boarding and pack dog walks)
    • Cuts, scratches, and injuries by stepping on things. (cactus, glass, etc)
    • Damages to the contents of a home. (ex pet urinates on a mattress)
  • Top 5 Workers compensation claims.
    • Dog or cat scratch or bite to hands or arm.
    • Slips and falls. typically on walks if the dog pulls on a leash.
    • Slips and falls on stairs.
    • Dog bites to another body part.
    • Dogs that play and odd injuries. (ex. dog jumps up to knock the ball out of hands and knocks out teeth. Retractable leashes)

This interview was fabulous because it really broken all the things that DO HAPPEN into real time examples that we could picture in our minds. How can you help create better procedures in your company to help reduce the risk of injury?

David and I also broke down the steps you should take if you ever need to file a liability or workman’s compensation claim so you know what to do.

We have done some of our own research in the industry discovering the common claims pet sitters have had to use for Worksmans Compensation

We will be doing more of these interviews in the future. Do you have any specific insurance topic that you would like to hear about? We would love to hear from you.

Screen Shot 2015-10-29 at 2.54.26 PMTo contact David:

David Pearsall, CIC, CWCA
Business Insurers of the Carolinas
PO Box 2536, Chapel Hill, NC 27515
1-800-962-4611 x214
DP@Business-Insurers.com

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

pet sitting business

Episode 8: How To Break Through From A $40K to $100K Pet Sitting Business.

BELLA IN YOUR BUSINESS

Matt asks the question:

Hi Bella, I guess [my question]  would be some actionable best practices for breaking thru that wall in business. IE. Going from a 40,000 pet sitting business to a 100,000 + business.

 Without further ado, here is your answer all laid out:

Your Pet Sitting Business Is Like A Car Engine

You have to think of a car with an engine. In order to get up to those higher speeds the engine needs to be efficient. The way a business works when making 40K typically isn’t going to be the same way when it is making 100K
In Order To Have a Breakthrough, You Must Control Areas Of Your Business So It Doesn’t Controlpet sitting business You.
Control is a big part of it. It rarely every happens just because. You have to be intentional about it. You have to control every
aspect of your business and make decisions that line up with your 100K goal. Each decision that comes into your business you have to ask yourself, “Will this help me get closer or further away from it?”
Here are some areas where you can control the outcome and put in place systems that will help you achieve the system that it takes to take it to a six figure business.
As a warning, I want to say that the biggest difference between a 40K business and 100K business is that the more volume that comes in, the less of EVERYTHING a business owner can do. They can’t possibly do it all anymore because there is too much to do. Those that attempt end up being burnt out of not good at a lot because they are stretched too thin. This, is where creating systems comes into play and learning how to control them. Here are areas that you can control and create systems for:
Control the marketing.
Control the leads and sales process
Control the follow up.
Control the sitters schedules
Control the quality
Learn to delegate more. small and big tasks. website, graphics, social media,
It is like that car that is coasting along the freeway. You can let your foot off the gas. Someone else can take the steering wheel.

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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!

IMG_9103

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?

IMG_8606

 

 

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.

7 Pet Sitting Businesses Who Turned In Workman’s Compensation Claims

Claim form for an injury at work

Claim form for an injury at work

So many times, it is workman’s compensation that I hear people sigh about when they say that “employees cost so much”  Which in reality, is a big fat lie, but that isn’t the direction I am going today.

Workman’s compensation is an insurance that businesses with employees pay into. The individual rate varies from state to state and it is based off your total payroll. You can read about all the ins and outs in a previous article I wrote about workmans compensation. I actually went as far as interviewed an actual insurance agent.

You might read a common magazine for the pet sitting industry that talks basic liability about insurance claims.  You know, a sitter breaks a glass vase, leaves the water running, damages a wooden table, etc. These are all claims for when the business was negligent.

What you don’t see much of is workman’s compensation claims. I feel like if this was promoted more, more businesses would realize how costly things can get and how quickly a business that isn’t properly protected could be put out of business.

“Not having workman’s compensation and having and accident could seriously put a business OUT of business. ” – Bella

I don’t want you to take my word for it. I want you to read what actual claims pet siting business owners across the country have had to put it. You could be the most careful pet sitter in the world. You could train your staff the best in the country. But there is ALWAYS an X factor. It is the ANIMALS that we care for. Cats can be vicious. Ever come across an attack kitty? I have. Dogs, when they get old, can have moments where they snap.  It happens my friends!

I want you to read the below ACTUAL incidents and I want you to ask yourself, if you have ICs, how in the HECK can you recover from something like this? What would happen? Your contract where you demote all liability probably won’t stand up in court. If it did, it will cost you money to defend yourself. How will your name not be tarnished? All of a sudden your worker will be trying to go after the homeowner because they need someone to pay their bills and then the homeowner is going to look towards YOU the company they hired. Truth be told the WC will eventually talk to the homeowners insurance and determine percentages of liability to split the cost of the overall claim. Claims aren’t cheap. Read below:

This one happened during a meet and greet. A dog bite on the face!

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Or this incident that proves you can be vigilant, but can’t always control the circumstances.

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This one, we were all surprised that this wasn’t an auto claim, but it was on the job and he was hurt (and covered under the policy as an employee) Could you imagine paying $50,000? That would put many of us out of business. We don’t just have that kind of money laying around for a rainy day!

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This shows how long term some injuries can be. Of course, in most cases, your worker is injured in some way, but it also usually means that the company is one person “down.” With worksmans compensation, they still pay a portion of what the sitter would have been paid.  The policy pays. You don’t. Would your business survive if someone was taken out of the game today?

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First, Marcia is far from a dumb owner. She is one of the most exciting people to work with. Funny too! 🙂 This is an important story that I wanted to include because often we, as owners, think we are invincible. The general public discredits cats and small dogs for “not being able to hurt us. Which we all know is false. I love how Marcia was changed from her experience and automatically started to include behavior training in her staff training.  This is a business owner who learns from her mistakes! I love how she is strict with who she accepts as clients. I think we all should be!

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This is a great example on how it is important to report everything. You never, ever, know what something that “feels fine” will turn into.

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This one could have been REALLY bad. When it happened, I remember Julie calling me up for advice. It was beyond stressful and scary.

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What Do You Do?

All this being said, do you have a protocol established if there was every an accident? Does your staff know what to do? Where to go? how to report it? For you: Do you know who you call? What your policy or plan covers? Do you know if you need to report it to the city? When to report it to the insurance? Will there be a drug test?

Please, if you don’t already, establish a protocal for if and when this ever happens in your company. You don’t want to be figuring out the HOW in the middle of the trauma.

 

bella in your business

Episode 7: Get your Pet Sitting Business to 7 Figures By Renewing Your Vows!

From time to time, I come across people that just inspire me. Joette White of Park Cities Pet Sitter Inc has been one of them and I just had to interview her for the show. It was about two months ago we first connected on this and I am finally able to bring it to you today. In this 30 min interview, you will learn a lot about your pet sitting business. I know I did! Although not only will you learn, I am betting you will be inspired too. Here are some of the things you will hear about in this short 30 min interview:

  • Everything has a season. The ups and downs of the natural business cycle.
  • Renewing your business vows. How a recommitment is always necessary.
  • All about the audit that was appealed twice. You won’t believe the ludicrous things that the auditor tried to get Joette’s company for!
  • I bet you won’t guess how many staff it takes Joette to run a seven figure business! You will be shocked.

If you would like to contact Joette, she requests that you email her at Joette at pcpsi.com  You can view her website at http://www.pcpsi.com I would like to publicly THANK Joette for her time with me and for donating so much of her time to help promote and better our industry. She is a true advocate and role model!

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How A Smaller Pet Sitting Staff Can Save You Thousands Of Dollars!

Many business owners are under the impression that the bigger the staff, the better.  This is simply NOT true.  In fact, it’s the complete opposite.  Running with a lean (small) staff is more beneficial to you and your staff.  Running with a lean staff will not only save you money but it will also boost staff morale and reduce your level of stress as you operate your business.

Sure, you can say “But what if someone quits?” Then keep one “insurance policy” worker on your staff. Someone who doesn’t need/want to work a lot, but will temporarily if you need it.

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Federal Unemployment Tax Act

Have you heard of the Federal Unemployment Tax Act?  As an astute business owner you may have but, do you really understand how it impacts you as a business owner? It takes money out of your checks every single pay period. Well, almost. Let me explain…

The Federal Unemployment Tax Act, FUTA, essentially imposes a tax on employers.  This tax helps to fund state agencies, particularly workforce agencies.  The tax is imposed on the first $7,000 that EACH of your employees earns. So, for arguments sake, let’s say you have 10 employees on staff and each of those employees earns $7,000.  You will be paying about $560 under FUTA for each of those ten employees. That equates to a whopping $5,600.  On the other hand, if you only had five employees doing the same amount of work, you would only be paying out $2,800 under FUTA.

Do you see how less really is more?

Scheduling Software

Many scheduling software companies charge you per user.  For example, Pet Sitter Plus scheduling software charges $49.95 a month for 2 – 5 sitters, $89.95 a month for 6 -10 sitters, and $149.95 for 11 – 20 sitters.  Referring back to our initial example of hiring 5 sitters versus 10 sitters, you would save $40 per month on your scheduling software alone. You see how running your company with a lean staff is already saving you money?

Time is Money

pet sitting staffWhat do you want to spend most of your work day doing?  Interacting with your staff is an integral part of a successful business but again, less is more. Quality versus quantity. Think about the time it takes you to lead each staff member.  Texts, phone calls, training, staff meetings… you get the drift? Time is of the essence – especially when you’re paying for it.

Think about each staff meeting that you hold.  How long is it?  Probably two hours, am I right?  Ten employees, two hours at whatever their hourly rate may be.  That adds up.  Again, if you have a staff of ten employees, then that’s twenty billable
hours right there as opposed to ten billable hours if you only had a staff of five employees.

Not to mention food for the staff meeting or a location to actually hold it at.  What about first aid training and other professional development that you wish to provide your employees with?

Investing in your employees is imperative to the success of your business too but wouldn’t it make more sense to provide solid professional development to a staff of five as opposed to loosely training a staff of ten?

Staff Morale

One sure-fire way to boost your business is by boosting staff morale.  Think of this, everyone wants to be part of something.  Your organization is a community and you want it to feel that way to your employees.  Your employees will feel valued, like they belong if you keep them fully involved.  They need to feel like you value their existence and the work that they do for you is important.  Employees that FEEL like they are an integral part of your business will behave like they are part of your business.  Fully vested employees are more eager to help you make your business succeed.

pet sitting employeeWill your ten employees feel like they are important if they only work a handful of hours a week? Again, do you have what it takes to make ten people feel like they matter? AND will those ten people do enough pet sits to really feel like they’re part of your team?

Another way we, as business owners, make our employees feel valued is showing our appreciation towards them.  Holiday bonuses and parties, employee appreciation day/week, birthdays.  You get the idea?  Wouldn’t you rather give a great holiday bonus to five people and make them feel really appreciated as opposed to giving a slim holiday bonus to ten staff members?

Running with a lean staff really IS the way to go.  It saves you time and quite a bit of money, allows you to fully invest in your employees, thereby boosting staff morale and will save you a few headaches along the way.

Back To You…

How does this all sound? Makes sense doesn’t it? That is how I have chosen to run my company and how I teach people to run theirs. I believe it is more efficient.

But I want to hear what you have to say…

Sound off below and tell me if you agree or disagree with me and how you have chosen to run your company. Has it been a strategic move? Or has it just evolved as you hired people who could help you here and there?

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bella in your business

Episode 4: Employees, Blogs, & Daily Operations!

bella in your business

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Hi Jumpers!

In this podcast you will hear about how you can adapt your business to match your lifestyle. In this episode I answer the questions you submitted such as:

When you should hire on employees and who to get your clients to start using them.
How you can stay afloat and handle daily operations while working in the business.
How to get your blog to actually WORK for you. Including 8 tips on what to do after you post a blog!

It is jam packed and sure to keep you on your toes and your mind running.

URls mentioned:
www.facebook.com/bellainyourbusiness
www.facebook.com/jumpconsulting
Email me at danielle@jumpconsulting.net for links to Noelle

Don’t forget to post below and let me know what you thought and to ask your questions for upcoming podcasts! You might just hear your name being mentioned!

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Philly pet sitting

What Affect Can Branding Have On Your Pet Sitting Company?

Philly pet sitting

When I first met Kristie, she had a website. She had a business name. But NONE of it matched up with what she said her vision was for her business. It was a very simple and limited template. Using stock photos, no call to action. It didn’t feel warm and fuzzy. It felt very generic. (You will see it in the short video below)

Kristie expressed to me that she had the dreams of one day having employees and managing her staff rather than working like a dog every day in the business. Her brand didn’t reflect this at all.

It was exciting for me to work with her and her business partner and husband, Dave. I watched and listened to their hesitation, thinking I was crazy and how dare I come into their “house” and tell them they needed a redesign. But through reflection they decided to JUMP onboard and take the leap of Faith.

What it resulted in is pure genius on their part. Make no mistake, they are the ones who made the decision. Did the research. Hired the support team to make it happen. They recreated the look of their entire business to reflect and attract their dreams. Listen in as Kristie Glazer and I walk you through this amazing transformation she made in her business.

 

In This Video:

– See their old brand v their new brand.

– Hear how their business tripled after the rebrand.

– Learn about the emotional journey they went on to achieve this accomplishment!

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[Case Study] Audit: A $60K Mistake That Rattled This Pet Sitting Businesses Structure.

michelleA note from Michelle Cohn
“I wanted to share with you a story, related to the employee versus contractor debate and related to an audit I underwent, but grew into so much more over the last few years. I do think it is important for the group to hear and truly understand what I am communicating. It is, however, long, so I thought I would send you the e-mail and let you link it whatever way you would like.”
When I first started my business five years ago, I did an accurate and concise amount of research, specifically around having employees versus contractors. I researched the topic with both nationally-recognized pet sitting associations, researched 50 local companies, spoke with two accountants, and read the Department of Labor standards for an employee. The advice of all and from what I read and researched, the topic, although already starting to become controversial, was that I should be fine with contractors, but to make certain I did whatever I could to cement the relationship.
In 2011, I was sent a letter, from the State of Maryland Department of Labor. It stated that they believed my independent contractors are improperly classified and should, in fact, be employees. As with most people that would be concerned when they received a letter like this, I went immediately to seek the advice of attorneys and accountants. All told me the same thing “You cannot win this fight. It will cost you a lot of money. In the end, you will end up converting to employees anyway”.
I read the information the state auditor had provided me as to why my workers should be classified as employees. The information he provided me, although I had never seen it written quite that way, showed the criterion of classification of either employees or contractors. To be honest, I couldn’t argue it when I read it myself. After reading it, I really feel there is almost no scenario where a contractor is properly classified. The only scenario where it made sense was if they were truly running their own business, had many other clients, and were not performing a duty that is a primary duty of your business. For example, if you contract an HR professional to write your policies, that makes sense as a contractor. If they provide your primary service, i.e. pet sitting, not so.
In the end, I switched to employees, almost immediately. I would like to mention that my accountant and lawyer, that I consulted, basically just told me to comply and they did NOT stand by what they said to me that I was covered or that their advice protected me, in any way. Ultimately, it is just advice and they are not the decision-makers. If you think just because your accountant or attorney told you you were fine, that you are, you are lying to yourself.

“Ultimately, it is just advice and they [attorney and accountant] are not the decision-makers. If you think just because your accountant or attorney told you you were fine…you are lying to yourself.”

 

* Even though I switched to employees right away, the state came after me for back taxes. I then went to see another accountant that assured me he could negotiate, on my behalf, and hopefully get them to drop the request for back taxes, interest, and fines. At the time, I only grossed $100,000 a year for the business. I only had five Independent Contractors at the time. That isn’t that much money. I say this to point out that many of the people who “decide” they “don’t want” employees and think they are small enough that it won’t matter.
NOTE FROM BELLA: If you find yourself in a similar situation, with ICs and wanting to switch, but are NOT under and audit, there is a program through the IRS that will grant you the privilege of switching without the risk of being audited. 
This isn’t even where the story ends, unfortunately. At this point, the state then classified me as a new business owner and my unemployment rate, since I now owed taxes to them and was a new employer, started at 13.5% and I now had to get Workers’ Compensation insurance, also as a new employer, was 7%. Can you imagine now adding 20% cost to your bottom line?
All the while, my new accountant, who promised me the world, did absolutely nothing about negotiating with the state. In the end, he said he didn’t get anywhere and that was that. I never got any copies of letters that he attempted to get them to consider or anything. Now I had nine more months of interest and penalties and the total amount due was now $19,000.
I was not making much of a profit, as it was, because I suddenly had this huge increase in my monthly costs to have employees. But it doesn’t end there because now that I have employees, I needed to make sure I knew what I was doing with payroll, an employee handbook, and enforcing policies, procedures, and managing unemployment claims. I couldn’t afford to keep the unemployment rate that high. The cost to put all of these in place is expensive, particularly when you are trying to do it fast, so that you can be in compliance. If I had been able to prepare for this structure ahead of time, as I had done for the other aspects of the business, it would not have been as expensive to prepare. Proactive planning is always less costly than “Monday-morning quarterbacking” or having to react to a change/request immediately.
Ultimately, how this played out is that I could not afford to take a single paycheck out of my business for over twelve months. This was only two years into the business so I had already depleted my savings account and had a second job, all planned based on my carefully planned and executed business plan. I had not, however, planned on this structural catastrophe. Consequently, I went into personal debt $60,000 just trying to stay afloat.
Fast forward two more years, I am employing 22 people, finally able to pay myself somewhat of a regular salary, still paying back unemployment, personal debt, and trying not to get into more debt. The sad part about that is I have a very successful business but the cost to repair this one, initially small, issue was significant.
Carefully, I worked to get my unemployment rate down, markedly. I just unfortunately, though, had a huge set back with my Workers’ Compensation insurance, skyrocketing my rate again. It was a very expensive lesson. I will not be out of this financial hole for at least another two years. That is tough pill to swallow, considering I work long days and have, for the most part, always done the right things with my business.
I am telling this story because I really want everyone to understand that I am now grossing a considerable amount more than when I was first contacted by the state. However, just having this one issue with the state, has significantly affected me personally, professionally, and financially. Even though I am a “successful” business, which is honestly pretty hard to do for small businesses, I am struggling significantly.

Michelle’s Reflection:

You may feel the decision to have employees or contractors is up to you and that your attorney or accountant advised you, so you are fine, but that simply isn’t true. You may feel you don’t “want” the control over your employees. Likely, that argument won’t hold up either. You may feel you cannot afford to have employees and so you go the route of contractors. You may feel you have done everything in your power to show a contractor relationship. In the end, it is simply not up to you. 
Many of you are using the argument that you have decided that this what is best for you and you are choosing to run your business that way. It doesn’t mean anything, though, because you are not in the position of power to make that decision. It isn’t up to you, it is up to the auditors at the state and federal levels. You can do what you can to demonstrate the relationship, but honestly it is a much harder battle to prove, when it is all said an done, than to just go the route of employees. The IRS and the state do NOT want contractors. In the end, the thought is that the workers suffer because they are not protected in the many ways that these government agencies would like them to be protected. Had I really understood those facts, I would have started with employees right from the start.

“Many of you are using the argument that you have decided that this what is best for you and you are choosing to run your business that way. It doesn’t mean anything, though, because you are not in the position of power to make that decision. It isn’t up to you, it is up to the auditors…”

I would like to point out, too, that when your attorneys and accountants advised you, they likely will never give you a guarantee that if they are wrong, they will pay the back taxes, fines, and interest. Just ask them. You may change your mind about taking that advice once you realize they will not stand behind that one. They will likely do that for a return they prepare for you, but nothing else. Why? Because they know they are not the governing body. They don’t have the power to make that decision.
I wanted to share this story because I think many people feel that they are smaller and that they can wait to make these decisions or invest in this change down the road. Waiting can be extremely expensive. What I demonstrated, in this example, is only for two years of not having employees. There are many people, in our group, in business at least that long, that are probably as big as I was at that time. If they are in business longer or have grossed much more than that, they can extrapolate that potential cost.

 

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