If you haven’t noticed, 2020 is really shaking things up. It is splitting our pet service industry into two segments, and whether you realize it or not, you are on one of the sides. Some pet businesses experienced a temporary dip in business and are back up, but others experienced the same dip and haven’t come back up. The segments are more divided than ever, and some will survive and some will not.
The startling part is that I fully believe that you are in charge of what side you are on…if you are aware of what is happening in and around you.
I say in you, because I fully believe that mindset and vision have a lot to do with this.
I say around you, because you really need to understand how society is shifting drastically right now.
Negating these two things leads to being on the side of the shift that will likely be gone for good.
Times Are Changing
People are forming pods and getting closer. They are working from home, learning from home, afraid to travel, or being shamed into thinking that venturing out is taboo.
We are in an election year, and the division of the US is stronger than ever. Human rights and racism is a forefront topic, and our social media feeds just reinforce our self-fulfilling views of the world by algorithms that are supercharged and know us better than our own mamas! (Have you seen the Netflix Docu-Drama The Social Dilemma?)
And news flash: It doesn’t matter how you feel about any of it. There is no room for how you are feeling when it comes to saving your business right now.
I’d actually argue that if you let your feelings get into this, your business will not be on the winning side of this revolution.
It isn’t a time for your feelings right now.
It is time for survival.
You can process it all later, but when it comes to business, if you want to survive, you have to do what you need to do to protect your livelihood.
But some of you aren’t—and I hope this is a wake up call.
Keep reading, but please don’t shoot the messenger…
Society Will Never Be the Same.
In the beginning of this year, people were fighting online learning. It was actually comical. I was reading things like “No, I don’t want to learn Pet First Aid and CPR online” and “Home school is for overprotective granola families”.
The idea of a virtual consultation or virtual meet-and-greet was something that would often be followed by an eye roll. The first time someone didn’t reply to the phase of an interview where it asked for a video recording… the CEO said “It doesn’t work” and “I can’t ask that”.
Fun fact, it actually DOES work. Just listen to how this dog walking business is crushing it with 100% virtual consultations, and last I checked they were back up to 80% of their customer volume!
We had extensive training on it in the Mastermind by one of the world’s leading sales trainers who helped us break it down. We did this back in March and learned what to say, how to say it, and tricks to use on Zoom to be the most effective. The businesses that have implemented this have been winning clients.
There are others out there who I only hear talk about why it won’t work… without even trying it. Our society has changed. People are more comfortable connecting and meeting online than ever before, and many actually prefer it. We are not going back to “normal” or the way it was before.
Not accepting this is the very first nail in a business’s coffin.
COVID has sped up the entire online learning process, and I don’t just mean the formal schooling either. Conferences have been canceled for up to a year. Almost everyone in the world, from CEOs to preschoolers, now learns online.
It isn’t enough to just be online anymore and have a website. You have to have an entire online user experience and a customer experience that give you all the feels, even after the transaction has taken place.
This will Revolutionize the Way You Do Business.
Businesses have no other choice but to shift.
Well, they DO have a choice, some have just have refused. SMH (that means Shake My Head by the way :).
The businesses that haven’t shifted still think that they are solving exactly the same problems before March 2020. They still think that the only reason why a dog needs a walk is that the pet parent is busy working outside of the home, and the dog needs to have a break in the day (mid-day) to get a walk and go potty.
They aren’t acknowledging that the new problem is that the dog won’t stop barking at the increased number of delivery drivers going up and down the street and the added stress, depression, and anxiety of its owner working from home while (some) are also trying to educate the children too. The new problems just aren’t being acknowledged.
Meanwhile, there are lots of changes in our purchasing behavior. We are:
- Buying everything online.
- Waiting in parking lots for their store orders to come out.
- Washing down groceries.
- Staying inside our homes going home-improvement crazy rather than traveling around for the summer.
- Planning ahead for delivery requests and shipments.
- Researching even MORE online now that there is a barrier preventing us from touching and feeling things.
Rightfully so, people are scared to have people they don’t know come into their home. We aren’t just concerned for our own general health, but now about not getting exposed to COVID to protect those children and older family members who we love. The thought of someone coming into our home to walk our dog or take care of our house can actually be seen as a threat in 2020!
But pet business owners aren’t acknowledging this. They aren’t addressing it in their marketing, and it is going to make the dip in business even deeper, possibly to the point of no return.
This is a revolution that is happening. Things are changing and your business must change with it. If it doesn’t, history has shown what could happen.
Think about the businesses that have gone under over the years because they refused to innovate:
- Blockbuster not going digital is a great example.
- Kodak actually had the first digital camera but didn’t go to market with it because they were afraid of killing the film industry.
- Toys ‘R Us took too long to selling online. By then it was too late, and their long time business went under.
- Nokia didn’t realize that the user experience for a phone wasn’t voice but data, and they didn’t shift to software like they should have.
- Borders books failed to adapt to new technologies and just kept books in a store, leading to their demise.
- Sony actually had the software to create a device better than an iPod, but they were afraid to test something new and address illegally downloadable music, so they faded off into the musical distance.
All of these examples and more are powerful when you just think of how ideology can change a business trajectory. There are 45 more examples of big brands you know that have faded off into the sunset because they failed to innovate.
What Happens When A Revolution Is Taking Place?
When there are great trials in humanity, two things happen: People either fall or they rise. The pet services industry isn’t immune. During the 2008 recession, major start-ups grew into a huge business. Ever hear of:
Many of these startups were driven by the consumer’s distrust in both the economy and big brands.
The idea of jumping into someone’s personal car, rather than a taxicab company made people feel good.
Feeling the power of curtailing big banks by using an app to exchange money, excited people.
Saying bye-bye to major telecom companies who were charging an arm and a leg just to talk to far-away friends made people feel like they were taking back their power by enabling communication to happen over an app.
This is the time for innovation. While your competition is still solving old problems, you solve the new ones. While your competition isn’t addressing contactless meet-and-greets or dog walking, you do! This is how you adapt and change to meet the current times.
The year 2020 is forcing you to shift your growth and adopt different ways to think and do business because society is changing at a rapid pace.
Businesses That Will Fail During This Revolution:
If you are one of those people who refuse to accept that the world has changed and that you need to change with it, your business will not make it through COVID. Bold statement? Yes.
I have read so many pet sitting and dog walking business owners type things like “COVID is killing my business”. No, my friend, your stinkin’ thinkin’ mindset is killing your business.
What COVID is doing is it is forcing you to rise like the cream of the crop or die a slow and painful death. As you watch, the years and years of your business that you have sacrificed your life, relationships, health, finances, sanity, vacations, and time with family for are slowly dwindling away.
It is only a matter of time. The revolution is happening. The bubble is bursting in the pet care industry.
A short while ago, everyone and their mother were starting a pet sitting or dog walking business. People were charging poverty wages ($10 to $15 a visit) to do something they loved. Others were refusing to grow out of a job and into a business.
Now it is like watching a bubble burst. Those who have a strong business (sure they are hurting or down), they will survive. And those who were just gluing it together every day are not going to withstand the length of stress that this pandemic is pressuring small businesses with.
According to a study that Proceedings of the National Academy Of Sciences Of The United States (PNAS),
“Our results also highlight the financial fragility of many businesses. The median firm with monthly expenses over $10,000 had only enough cash on hand to last roughly 2 wk. Three-quarters of respondents only had enough cash on hand to last 2 mo or less.* Not surprisingly, firms with more cash on hand were more optimistic that they would remain open by the end of the year.”
I witnessed this when I was on the phone with companies who didn’t know how they were going to make payroll for the upcoming week because of the avalanche of cancellations happening in their business.
It is sad.
It is so sad, and I was crying with them all on the phone thinking that we need to be better than this! That fueled my fire to throw out my 2nd and 3rd quarter content marketing plan, and I buckled down to create 17 pieces of rich content to help support and encourage you all throughout this crisis.
Here it is for your reference:
The Pet Industry Revolution Is Here and Happening Whether You Want to Acknowledge It Or Not.
This wasn’t expected. We didn’t know this was going to happen. You did not do anything to cause it. But SUPRISE!!!! A new way of life IS here and nothing is going back to “normal.”
Some are better off than others having a larger staff that they have had to cut back but their volume was so big that cutting back meant that they were still in business. Meanwhile, others were already struggling to make ends meet and this revolution, if not adapted to well, will end up crushing their business.
Some businesses didn’t do things to build and keep a strong business foundation. Everyone was in shock and bewildered when we went under quarantine and lockdown. Rather than use the gift of time to build their business stronger, they were paralyzed in fear.
But it is all only temporary. This revolution is not only going to change the way we do business but change the landscape of pet sitting and dog walking businesses.
With the exception of places like California and NYC who are seeing a mass exodus of people moving to a different place, we have to remember that the unemployment rate is going down, the economy isn’t doing that badly, and most of the clients that pet sitting and dog walkers help are still working.
Be Honest Have You Revolutionized The Way You Talk To Your Clients Or Do Business?
Even though people are working from home now, pet sitters and dog walkers aren’t selling the reality that working from home is tough.
It isn’t a walk in the park as many fantasize it to be. We must start pulling the curtain back on and asking questions like “how many times are you really walking your dog a week?”
I think we are all telling ourselves a lie. It is like saying “I will go to the gym” but then you never actually do. How often are people really walking their dog from home?
I bet it isn’t as much as they think.
But no one is talking about this.
Recently, I challenged my Mastermind members to post about this and the results were off the charts with engagement. I showed them how to work magic and get conversations going that they normally wouldn’t have had. Have you done anything like this?
Why or why not? Seriously, I want to know. Write me below in the comments for this blog!
How Window World Is Doing It Right
I am editing this blog to bring you this incredible example that just came across my desk. I am shopping for new windows for my home and received this video as a confirmation for an estimate that is happening next week. I want you to watch this short video. Pay attention to how you feel and contrast why this message is so much more impactful on video than if it were just written out. This is so simple. It is so easy, and every single one of you reading this article, right now, can do this.
The Way You Respond To The Revolution Happening Will Determine Your Business Future
Let me remind you that your clients are just working from home.
Most of them still have a job. In fact, most of the people who pet sitting and dog walking companies service are not the sector that is out of work. They aren’t blue-collared workers. They are the affluent white-collared workers.
In other words, the money is still there.
Maybe even more money is there because not as many people are traveling. I mean, just look at the earnings for Home Depot these days!
What are you doing to convince your community that they need their dog walked or to inspire them to take local road trips if they don’t want to fly?
It is critical to remember that you sell peace of mind, trust, and security; that you exchange guilt for money, not hours for dollars.
If you stay in the mindset that you exchange hours/minutes for dollars it will be a hard struggle. You will be the business that doesn’t survive this year, and you will not survive this dip. You will be the one lacking excitement in your business, dreaming about selling, or switching careers because you have come to despise entrepreneurship.
So what do you do? If you want to be on the survival side, how can you accomplish this? How can you revive your business, and make it so that it is in a strong position for years to come and maybe even in the position to take over the market share of those that didn’t come through this alive?
I have some ideas for you… but it is going to take work. It isn’t going to be easy. You probably will try to resist some of it. I know these work because as a coach I get to see a huge variety of business owners all around the world. There are some keen traits of every successful business, and I am going to walk you through them now.
Five Areas You Need to Focus on Right Now to Survive:
- Customer Experience
If you want to believe that the sky is falling and that everything is going to crap then I can’t help you.
If you are one of those people who say things like, “Why is this happening to me?” and you aren’t open to changing that mindset to “What is this trying to teach me?” then you should just stop reading now because this will be a waste of time.
But if you are fighting to see the good, and if you want this to work, then please keep reading. I have been sitting here fighting alone with you since March and what I am about to share with you is WORKING for my clients all over the USA and Canada!
Let’s rise above it all. Let’s fight this together.
What does that look like?
- Read or listen to books.
- Get a morning routine.
- Get a pack of comrades around you all in the same position (Mastermind).
- Feed your brain by listening to others’ successes and struggles.
- Do some affirmations.
- Live in a state of gratitude.
- Humble yourself to ASK for help when you are feeling down or weak.
- Tell people what you are going through so you don’t drown alone and others can help pull you out.
- Take charge of those gosh darn voices inside your head!
This is hard. This is just about the only thing you can’t control, and if you are in places like NYC or the Bay area where there are droves of people moving out of your area, I don’t have any life-changing advice. HOLD ON TIGHT, and try your best to wait it out.
But one thing I can say is that shelters have never been so empty. So please focus on the fact that although people might be staying home, there have never been so many pets at home. It is our job to figure out how to become relevant to help service these pets. What can you do? What problem can you solve? Are you asking for the sale? Are you attempting to bring on new clients?
If the trend in your area is that people are moving out, or your clients just aren’t coming back, then it is time to go back to Marketing 101 and start making connections, collaborating with your community, and getting your name out there.
It is time to start setting goals of getting X clients by DATE. We are doing that weekly and monthly in the Mastermind right now.
How many clients do you need to get today in order to get your revenue back to where it was? Do you know that number?
You need to start tilling the land in your location. Connect with people. Grow with them, and see how you can come together to get through this together. There are a LOT of ways that you can do this and there are many of my clients who have been successfully doing this with the right strategy.
I think by this point we all know someone (if not ourselves or family) who has had COVID-19 or died from it. It’s sad, but true. There is an enormous social responsibility right now that is leading to fear of being judged for going to Costco or getting on an airplane for a trip. The secrecy surrounding normal activities is real.
As a society, we are riddled with an uprise in mental health issues from anxiety, depression, and even domestic violence. We are NOT okay, and as a business it is important to be sensitive to this.
In the pet industry, we get to care for and represent the most innocent and unconditionally loving creatures—our pets—and this is an emotional experience. Those who are negating this are missing the mark.
Now, more than ever, it is time to be emotional on our websites.
Before March 2020, I said that you are missing the mark if I can copy and paste your website onto another pet sitting or dog walking company website.
Now I am upping the ante. If you are not showing masks on faces, showing how you are using your personal protective equipment (PPE), doing contactless pick ups and drop offs, promoting virtual consultations, and THEN the online scheduling and back-up plans, showing that you are established, carfeful, and connected in your community, then you can not cry when people aren’t contacting you.
The world is afraid right now.
Social media messaging
What are you doing to control the narrative that you are using PPE, that your clients are protected, that you have contactless pick up and drop off, etc.? All the things we mentioned about your website above, should be talked about, shown, and told on your social media postings and in your stories.
Sixty percent of a buying decision is made before a potential client ever contacts you. What is your social media saying about you? If I go there, are you just sharing videos of viral pet videos? Or is each post establishing your personality and showing me that you are sensitive and considerate of the current climate?
Plan out your content. Make videos. Appeal to people’s emotions. It is not a time for you to stick your head in the sand. Now, more than ever, you need to be a superior marketer to save your business. Or, you can get on the wait-list for Better Marketing with Bella.
Shortly, we will open for two weeks to accept people into our program for January through June, 2021.
4. Customer Experience
This is the feeling that someone has when they are doing business with you. It is meeting them where they are in their life journey, whether feeling scared, excited, remorseful, or curious and everything in between.
You must take charge. Let people know what to expect. Answer their questions before they even know they have them. Be a leader in your business and community.
Now people are looking for leadership and confidence. They might still have their job, but they might be scared of the future and feel like they need to hold on to their money a little longer than they normally would. They might be hesitant to spend because they don’t know what’s happening in the world.
Your customer experience is an entire sector of your business that makes people happy to interact and patronize your business. This isn’t something that can be overlooked—especially now.
There are businesses that are thriving. I am proud to call many of them JUMPERS. They are in my programs, they have been listening to my suggestions since March, and I will bet you $100 they have been doing it scared.
But it is working.
There are businesses whose customers or profits were decimated to 20% and are back up to 80% now. They ASKED all their clients to come back… 10 a week, calling them up on the phone to come back to them.
They don’t just “keep in touch”. They ask for the sale. There is a difference.
They have taken my guerrilla marketing ideas and done them. And they worked!
They have put their head down when they had to be closed and tightened their foundations by focusing on customer experience, SOPS, and the long list of things they have been wanting to do. They realized that despite the world falling apart that they were given the gift of TIME and they weren’t going to discard it.
They kept focused and worked hard.
They changed the problems they were solving.
They changed up the stories they were telling, the videos they were doing on FB live, the local connections and collaborations they were doing.
They leveraged relationships both internally in their business and in their community. They tested methods.
They kept hiring through the pandemic, they upped their educational game, and they sharpened their mindset.
They showed up on our coaching calls through Better Marketing with Bella and started doing Instagram stories and woke up with four new client inquires because of it. (True story!)
Gosh dang I am so proud of them.
Was it easy? Hell to the no!
Were they scared? Hell to the yes.
Did they think about throwing in the towel? Uh huh. Almost every one of them.
But they rose above it!
They relied on the positive community that they chose to be a member of. They decided to do it scared, try new things, and test theories as they were zigging and zagging with current events.
The Future Is Very Bright
Imagine a world where more pets are adopted into loving homes, where affluent clients still have their jobs, and business competition has been drastically decreased. Imagine a world in which your messaging, marketing, and unique value propositions are completely unique and where your foundation, systems, and processes are solid.
This is what I believe the future will be for those who want it. There is nothing stopping you from embracing this reality. If your business is slow, pick yourself up, and start fixing and improving your foundation. Get everything checked off your to-do list, and align yourself with your crystal clear vision so you can take the next decade by storm and make all your wildest dreams come true.
The sad truth is that not everyone will still have a business after this.
You will. If you are a Jumper, if you let me help you, and if you show up for me and do it scared.
I know it might feel awkward. I know you might even feel bad for doing well, a feeling called survivors guilt.
But I don’t want you to focus on that. I want you to focus on getting through this, because in the end, the only thing that is going to determine your outcome is your own mindset.
Here is what one of my clients, Amberly from Pawfect Pet and House Sitter posted this week in my Mastermind:
Tell Me Below How I Can Help You
I am here for you. I want to help you fight through this. Let me know below what you thought of this article and what questions you have about moving forward. Are you going to ride it out? Are you giving up? Are you fighting through it? Where are you at in this journey?
I want to know.
Write me below.