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How to Make Pet Sitting and Dog Walking Applicants Fall in Love With Your Business

One of the most challenging aspects of running any pet sitting business is the hiring process. Not only are you looking for those who align with your values and mission, you are trying to convince people why they should want to work for you! Many business owners forget that hiring is a two-way street. In fact, it’s much like dating: hiring is about people loving you as much as you love them! 

Below are five tips that all employers need to understand.

  1. Update job description wording
  2. Start asking different questions
  3. Create a shorter timeline
  4. Add extra touches
  5. Give visuals

Remember, the hiring process should be exciting for both hirers and applicants. Many hiring managers and employers complain that applicants don’t get back to them– chances are you just need a little help in the application department.

Pet Sitting Applicants

Update Your Dog Walking and Pet Sitting Job Description Wording

When you’re looking to fill a pet sitting position – and any position for that matter! – wording within your job description is crucial.

Remember, looking for a job can be really tedious and depressing for people. It can be exhausting sifting through help wanted ads, especially when so many ads simply list what people should be doing or what they need to have.

Try and make your job titles and descriptions more fun and off the beaten path.

Don’t be afraid to use a more conversational tone, like, ‘hey girl, imagine this!…’. 

Descriptive words paint a visual picture, making prospective hires much more interested in you than the sea of more robotic job descriptions. Looking for pet sitters?

Let them know, ‘this is a job you’ll never want to let go of because you’ll be out in the sunshine with dogs!’

Let the personality of both you and your business really shine through. Don’t know where to start? My advice is to record yourself talking about who you’re looking for and what you want out of a new hire. Then you can write down the words you actually want to convey!

Start Asking Different Questions

During the hiring process, there are tons of questions – from the job application itself to the actual interview.

Of course, you’ll have to address the more standard (boring) questions like, ‘Do you have a car?’, ‘Do you have insurance?’, etc.

But, again, don’t be afraid to have fun with your questions!

Ask applicants why they think your job would be the best job ever, or why they stopped scrolling and made the decision to apply. For a pet sitting gig, you may even ask a fun questions like, ‘What’s your favorite dog breed?’ 

Also, don’t be afraid to break up the interview process into phases.

By the time you get someone in front of you, you should already know a lot about them. But that’s only possible if you ask the right questions beforehand. Of course, you don’t want your job description and application to have five pages of questions– break it up into five interview phases instead!

Create a hierarchy of needs for your business; is it really important that someone is a caretaker? Then ask about responsibility and showing up on time. By now you’re in the third or fourth phase of the interview process and can really dive into the nitty gritty!

Applicants

Create A Shorter Timeline For Applicants

The hiring process can be quite lengthy if you don’t have all your ducks – err, dogs – in a row!

You want to make sure the time it takes you to get applicants through the process is short but along. What I mean by that is you’ll want to have a workflow set-up into phases. But make it simple for someone to move through them – for example, a person can move from phase one to two with just the click of a mouse depending on their responses.

You don’t want to waste time with applicants who aren’t the right fit, so be sure to get them through these phases first. Really think about them ahead of time; it’ll be time consuming but, in the words of author Steve Kamb, “we all start at suck.”

When you meet someone face-to-face, you should be armed with as much knowledge about them as they have about your business– but don’t drag this process out. If it’s more than a week, it’s too long. People are not going to wait around for you and will simply find another pet sitting job.

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Add Extra Touches – Little Things Matter!

If you want to stand out from other employers, you’ll want to make applicants feel special throughout the hiring process.

Whether it’s buying a cup of coffee if you’re meeting face-to-face or using a feature where you send a follow-up text after they’ve submitted an application, there are so many small things that can make a huge difference!

Remember, people are applying to a lot of jobs and you want to think of little things to help applicants along the way to show that you’re an employer who really cares. If you’re meeting via Zoom, something as simple as sending instructions via email beforehand to make sure the applicant is all set can be a game changer. Even the most qualified applicants can get nervous before interviews, so this is a neat way to ease a bit of stress.

Dog Walking Applicant

Give Visuals

Applying for jobs is a bit like blind dating – even with the job description and interviews, you may still be unsure what you’re getting yourself into.

When you think about hiring someone, consider showing them what a pet sit looks like. Instagram stories can be great for this. Create highlight reels for pet sitting, dog walking, cat sitting, etc. and send applicants links to short videos. This will give them much more insight as to what they can expect when working for you. Consider having a staff member speak on camera about why he/she loves working for you. 

You Be You, Boo!

There are so many ways you can make pet sitting and dog walking applicants fall in love with your business.

Remember, there is no exact formula you need to follow – stay true to your business and your brand when writing job descriptions.

Keep your tone more conversational and be quick to respond to any prospective hire’s questions, comments, or concerns. If they know you truly care, they’ll be that much more eager to accept a position at your company!

 

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Marketing Problems

What Should I Do When I Get Unqualified Pet Sitting Applicants?

Recently I received a question asking:

“How can I find qualified people? Most who apply are not qualified”

Marketing Problems

I asked the pet sitter to tell me what they mean by not qualified and they told me what they meant below.

Hiring is Tough

Hiring is tough. Especially for our industry. I mean we are not looking for someone to work 9-5 and just be a cashier, right? We are looking for specific people to do specific things and someone who we can trust, that can be professional, and of course understand the people and pet bond. Not to mention, almost on call.

This topic is so mighty that I actually wrote 60 pages and recorded two hours of audio to walk you through the entire process step by step so that you could have the only robust guide on the pet sitting market!

Although as I am helping pet sitters coaching on the phone and in our private facebook groups, I see people eliminating people prematurely sometimes without giving them a chance.

I always compare hiring to dating, and this is the same thing. You could be out there dating and have a perfect list of what you are looking for, but if you are looking for perfection, you may never find it. So… I challenge everyone reading this – what are your must have’s and negotiable?

Let’s take a look at this pet sitter’s “unqualified applicants”

The Unqualified:

(From the pet sitter who wrote me this question)
Here are the common ones I disqualify immediately:
1.  Those that can’t follow the instructions in the job posting.  (ie:  send me your zip code, resume, why you are interested etc).  If all you can do is reply with your resume with no cover email, I’m not interested in you.  If you can’t follow these instructions to get my attention, you are likely not going to follow the clients!
Yes. I agree. To a point. Although depending on what they send you, you could reply and say “I think you forgot to attach your cover letter? (Or resume?)” and see their response. Maybe they did forget. I can’t tell you how many times I have sent an email and forgot the attachment. Now, if they wrote you one sentence and didn’t seem interested, I would just press delete. 
2.  Those that are available between 6am and 7am, or only after 6pm. etc.  I don’t want  a client to have more than 2 pet sitters and me as a second back up, and they need to be flexible enough in their schedule to provide coverage.
Personally, I totally understand what you are saying, and normally I would tell you that you are 100% correct. But there is a thing I call and “insurance policy” pet sitter. Those are the ones, that if a great enough type of personality can really help your business if you are ever in a bind. Generally, though, you are right on with deleting them. You are looking for someone looking for a LIFESTYLE, not a JOB. 
3.   College students.  Their schedules are to erratic and I don’t have time to manage it, and I don’t want to have to introduce clients every 5-6 months to their “new” sitter.
Your systems might be working against you and you are striving for perfection in your company in a way that may not be attainable. Unless you are willing to wait 6 months for someone. In my personal experience, college students are great! They need the money, love the flex schedule, and are usually responsible. I would not disqualify them and again, tell your clients that you work as a TEAM. Unless you are willing to wait up to six months or so to find someone w open availability. What we ask for really is a LOT. This is assuming you do more pet sitting than daily dog walks. 
JazzHr for pet sitters
4.  Those with horrible grammar, spelling, don’t respond in full sentences.
I agree. Delete them.
5.  They had a pet 15 years ago when they were 7.  I feel the best service is provided by those that have current experience in particular with dogs.
I don’t agree. Maybe their situation doesn’t allow for them to have pets? Maybe they have a family member that is allergic? Maybe their pet died and they didn’t want to go through that trauma again? Just having a pet in your home, doesn’t qualify you for this job at all. 
6.  Those under 21 years old (they have to be able to enter a contract on behalf of my company).
Are you looking for ICs? That would be a whole other ball game then and I will tell you to RUN to the employee route. You are too much of a control freak. I can tell that by this list 🙂 I mean that with a happy heart! By your comment, are you saying that you can not enter in a contract with someone under 21? They have to be 18. Again, in my experience, age doesn’t mean a thing. I had a 17 yr old working for me that was stellar! Not to mention, age discrimination is illegal. 
7.  Those that have any dependence on the income earned from pet sitting.
I don’t agree. Do you have any idea if their family helps? If their spouse helps? That is part of the pre qualifications that you can get past when you email them back, “How much do you need to make a month?” How much money will the person make in the job you are offering? Your craigslist add you sent does not tell me anything other than $10-$19 a visit. Which, by the way, would ONLY make sense if you were charging clients $35-$40 a visit. Otherwise paying that much will either put you under or NOT make you any money. 
8.  Those that are willing to drive 25 miles one way for pet sitting jobs! (or anything along that line)
I agree. Delete. Qualifying their area is important and one of the reasons why we seek a resume. If you accept that many will apply who are outside the area, you won’t be as disappointed. In a way, you can’t blame them. They do not really understand what this job entails like we do. So don’t be offended or discouraged. 
I think our (my business peers and I) problem is getting qualified candidates (or in some cases ANY response at all).  One of my friendly competitors says he gets hundreds of applicants a year, but a vast majority of them are highly unqualified.
I couldn’t agree more with this statement. If you realize that you are only looking for 1 out of 100 and expect them to be bad, you won’t get as discouraged. You will also learn that you never stop hiring. You should always be looking. Even when you don’t think you are. There are 12 more places you can be looking for qualified pet sitting applicants other than craigslist. 
So for us, its finding sources outside of Craigslist to find sitters.  It is THE single most frustrating aspect of my business and preventing me from growing it.
I completely understand. Know that you are not alone and it is my belief that every pet sitter with staff feels the same way. So, you just need to know all of the places to look. I can tell you 12 resources you can look for pet sitters and dog walkers outside of Craigslist, but you need to keep an open mind. 

Consider changing your help wanted advertisement.


Here is an actual advertisement I found on Craigslist: 

  • People and pet friendly personality
  • Current experience with dogs, whether volunteer, professional or with personal pets
  • Excellent customer service skills
  • Mature and extremely reliable
  • Flexible and consistent schedule.
  • Quick learner, detail oriented, able to follow instructions, natural drive to exceed expectations
  • Stable work history which demonstrates ability to work unsupervised
  • Cell phone (with text and/or email preferred)
  • Internet connected computer with printer
  • Neat in appearance
  • Reliable personal vehicle with valid driver’s license and auto insurance
  • Able to make a one year commitment
  • Age: Unfortunately, due to insurance and other requirements we must fulfill, this position is not appropriate for those under 21.

If you meet these qualifications, please email the following information: (Due to time constraints we can only respond to those who do)

  • A brief description of yourself and your pets
  • Why you are interested in the position and what skills/experience you have to offer
  • What days and times of the week you are available
  • Your zip code and nearest major cross streets
  • Your resume or work history for the last 5 years if no resume is available

General Responsibilities:

Typical pet sitter responsibilities: Walk dogs, pet waste pick up and disposal, refresh water, feed pets, clean litter boxes, play with cats/dogs, rotate lights and blinds, bring in mail/newspaper. Some pets may require medication. Most visits occur between 7am and 8:30pm, some weekends and holidays. Number of visits/week 0-25.

Typical dog walker responsibilities: Walk/play with dogs, pet waste pick up and disposal, refresh water. Some may require a meal and/or medication. These occur primarily Monday-Friday between 11am to 3pm, sometimes weekends. We prefer candidates be available all weekdays during this time. Number of visits/week 0-25.

This advertisement is so detailed it could be for some job with a PHD. I think the writer totally missed the boat on this. What is reliable? What is quick learner? What is neat in appearance? Mature and reliable? Assuming that someone has pets? I think the entire thing is a turn off and a drag to read!

So What Should You Do?

You want this to be an advertisement! It is your job to qualify them. How about appealing to the readers emotions? Narrow down the type of person you would like (Like a stay at home mom?) and talk to HER. (Is that is who you want)
Try mixing it up a few times. If you are dropping a flier off at the vet or groomer than make it specific to the audience reading it. Make it sound like the best job in the WORLD! Your only job here is to get as many people as interested to contact you. YOU qualify them. Not some advertisement.I think that is where many pet sitting business owners miss the boat. They try to let their job description do the qualifying for them when in all honesty the most qualifications should be:
1 – Area applicant lives
2 – Hours of availability
3- Amount of money needed a month.
I talk a lot about this in Lesson 3 of the Employee Quick Start Program. 
Everything else is subjective and that is what you have interviews for. I have said it before, and I will say it again.
It is pet sitting, not rocket science. So, this defiantly is one of my longest blogs, but hopefully you got a lot out of it. Sound off below. What do you think? What are your tactics?