Tag Archive for: business

Episode 24: Faith-Based Business Networking

In this episode of Bella in Your Business, Bella offers up a recording of talk she gave to a faith-based business networking group in her area. In the talk she discusses approaching networking from a faith-based point of view.

She says that successful networking results from:

  • Listening
  • Caring
  • Taking time to build trust
  • Influence
  • Finding “family” in networking

She offers some quick, but poignant tips:

  • Better to get a card then leave a card
  • Go to a lot of events. Arrive early and leave late
  • Get around people that you like
  • Ask someone out for coffee
  • Don’t be a “promoter” of your company
  • Networking is always about “them” and not you.
  • Don’t be afraid to cast your net or you won’t find those relationships
  • Ask God to be your Holy business partner
  • Shine your light!

    Subscribe To The Show:

    Listen To The Show:

Episode 23: How Do I Know If It Is Legal To Board Dogs In My Home?

bella-pet-sitting-industry-podcast-album-cover


According to Kristy, she is the only properly zoned boarding facility in Philadelphia that is operating out of a private home.

And it didn’t come easy.

In this episode of “Bella In Your Business,” Bella speaks with Kristie Glazer from Philly Pet Care,a family-owned pet sitting and dog walking company in Philadelphia. 

In an unprecedented interview, you learn what it is like when the Zoning Board is knocking on your door telling you to stop your business or they will fine you and board up your home.

You will also learn how you can take the proper steps in being able to operate your dog boarding business legally in your own home.

Kristie talks about the struggles she went through with the boarding aspect of her business and the complicated steps it took to move it from being shut down by the city, to now being the only zoned boarding facility in Philadelphia that is operating out of a private home.

 

 

zoned boarding facility dog boarding

There is great strength and success in this podcast if you are thinking about doing dog boarding in your home. Through a difficult struggle and long process, Kristie was able to get her city to back her business. Unfortunately, Kristie only represents about 1% of in home dog boarders I know about. Many, do not know their city ordinances or know what permit they need to operate legally. Some, choose to ignore and pretend they don’t know they need permits or proper zoning.

It is troublesome because some pet sitters use in home dog boarding as their livelihood. If your business is shut down, because you are operating illegally, your income stops. This could have a grave effect on their life. It is a topic to think seriously about and take into proper consideration.

2:00 – Kristie’s story
7:38 – What made Kristie decide to fight to keep her business
9:24 – How Kristie got her neighbors support
14:35 – What to do if you want to board dogs in your home
15:42 – Fines or penalties for illegal boarding?
16:36 – Where do people go to start boarding legally?
20:12 – Importance of having a strong team
21:40 – Final words of advice
You can find out more about Philly Pet Care and Kristie and her husband Dave athttp://www.MyPhillyPetCare.com.

Subscribe To The Show:

Listen To The Show:

Episode 22: How To Get More PR For Your Pet Business

Susie Timm, President of Knife & Fork Media Group

Susie Timm, President of Knife & Fork Media Group

In this episode of “Bella In Your Business”, Bella spends time with Susie Timm,  President of Knife & Fork Media Group. Susie specializes in comprehensive public relations and marketing strategy in the gourmet food, restaurant and retail industries.

Gaining PR for your pet business can be wildly useful during the upcoming holidays, but if you get copies, you can also use it on your website and social media for months to come!

Bella and Susie discuss:

  • The importance of having a marketing and PR plan.
  • Creating interesting and useful event-based PR that then drive traffic and interest in your business.
  • How the “soft sell” approach works best when trying to get to exposure in mass media.
  • Some great ways to get yourself promoted on mass media.
  • Positioning yourself as an expert.
  • How great content drives traffic to your website.

You can find more information about Knife & Fork Media Group at KnifeAndForkMedia.com.

Subscribe To The Show:

Listen To The Show:

Episode 21: How One Pet Lover Took Her Passion For Pets and United An Entire State with Woofalong

Darcy Graham, creator of WOOFALONG.COM

Darcy Graham, creator of WOOFALONG.COM

In this episode of “Bella In Your Business”, Bella talks with Darcy Graham,  creator of WOOFALONG.com. The site, which shows you the dog-friendly restaurants, stores, parks, trails and events in Colorado, was launched earlier this year and is already looking to expand.

Bella and Darcy discuss:

  • The frustration that was the impetus for the site.
  • How Darcy compiled the list of locations.
  • What types of publicity Darcy has managed to get for the site already and how she did it.
  • The engagements her site has gathered so far and how she has gotten it to grow.
  • Her extensive use of social media.
  • What she has planned for the upcoming version 2 of the site.
  • The plans for expansion to other cities.
  • The potential opportunities on WOOFALONG.COM for business owners.

You can find more information about WOOFALONG.COM at, where else, http://www.woofalong.com.

Subscribe To The Show:

Listen To The Show:

Katrina Kadyszewski

Episode 20: Interview with a Small Business State Auditor

Katrina KadyszewskiIn this episode of “Bella In Your Business”, Bella talks with Katrina Kadyszewski, a former state auditor with the State of Connecticut.  

Katrina has over 16 years experience working in a variety of financial positions. She started in the brokerage industry with a Series 7, 63 and 65 and life and health license, and then transitioned to audit work for the CT Department of Revenue Services before leaving to support small businesses in their efforts to get organized for expansion.

Katrina spent 3 of her almost 8 years with the CT Dept. of Revenue Services in the Business & Employment Tax Audit Unit, focused primarily on payroll tax issues. The last 5 years she worked as a Corporation Tax auditor, traveling across the US auditing largely Fortune 500 companies.

Bella and Katrina first discuss a big controversy in the pet sitting industry which is misclassification of employees as either independent contractors or employees.  Katrina outlines some key indicators that auditors look for in making that determination:

  • Is there an actual contract between you and the contractor?
  • Are your payments to them regular in nature?
  • How much control do you have over them with regards to work hours, uniform, training, etc.?
  • Do they offer the same services to other companies through their own business?
  • Are you providing them all the tools, training and supplies they need?
  • Basically, consider how loose is the relationship?

They also discuss why they think business owners are so apprehensive about audits, what documents a business owner should have at their disposal if they are being audited, and whether business owners should take their lawyer and accountant to the  audit. Katrina also gives some insight into what triggers an audit.

Some resources they discuss are the IRS’s  20-factor test to help you determine employee or independent contractor, and amnesty programs that exist to help encourage to make the right switch.

Have you ever been audited? Want to hear about pet sitters who have been audited? I have interviewed a handful and reported about it all here.

Subscribe To The Show:

Listen To The Show:

Episode 19: A Look Back at How A Pet Sitting Business Started & Grew with Kristie Glazer

bella-pet-sitting-industry-podcast-album-cover

 

In this episode of “Bella In Your Business”, Bella talks with Kristie Glazer from Philly Pet Care, a family-owned pet-sitting and dog-walking company in Philadelphia. Kristie talks about how she got started and what changes she made that really helped her business grow.

After graduating college, Kristie and her husband moved to Philadelphia which is near where she grew up in South Jersey.  She was a teacher for a little while and then a sales rep for a shipping company. But she wasn’t happy.  She sat down and thought about what would make her happy….the answer….dogs!  She figured she lived in a city now and people probably needed dog walkers. Before her husband got home that day from his job as a chef, she had a full business plan worked out.  She told him she planned to quit her job and start this business. He told her to go ahead and do it!

{Don’t you just love that?}

So Kristie did it. She started a website. She started cold calling and giving people her card.  She would take any job that came along (which she says in retrospect is a mistake many new business owners make). She did start  to grow the business though, which at the time was called “Personal Pet Care by Kristie”, and continued on for four years adding clients as she went.

untitled-5

 

Bella notes that having that moral support from our loved ones really can help catapult our businesses from the start. Maybe not necessarily our business numbers, but it certainly helps us with our tenacity.

Kristie continued by saying that when she first started the business, the ironic thing was that they lived in an apartment where they could not even have pets. So they naturally had to refuse requests for overnights or doggie daycare.  But they eventually moved to a place where they could have pets and started offering both of those services.The business got so busy that they moved to their own home and Dave quit his job as a chef and joined the business!

Kristie said they had some major bumps in the road along the way. In fact, she wishes in retrospect that they had had a “team” (lawyers and accountants) early on as it may have helped them avoid some of the roughest bumps.

One bump, she points out, was a failure to secure all the licenses needed to board dogs in their home. It led to a neighbor calling Licensing and Inspections on them resulting in them having to cease doing the boarding for two years while they worked out all the necessary issues (including getting their home zoned to be a kennel).  

Kristie talked about a point in time when they were working constantly in the business. It was just her and Dave and trying to juggle the business and their three year old son got to be too much.  She came across Bella and Jump Consulting and as a result made some changes.  They rebranded to “Philly Pet Care”.  They revamped  their website and added professional photos and higher quality business cards.

They raised their rates, which caused many customers to go away, but with the higher rates they still made that money back. They cut out the doggie daycare which Kristie said drove her nuts anyway. They made those changes four years ago and Kristie said doing all that gave them back their sanity and the business has been humming along smoothly every since.

Bella says what she is hearing is that they now have a clean system and process and that their business works for them and not them working for the business. Bella paints the analogy of the bow and arrow.  She said that, at that time, Kristie and Dave were like a bow that needs to get pulled back a little bit so that it can get released and send that arrow soaring forward. But notes that it really stinks when you are going through it.

Kristie agreed. She says it is difficult and a lot of work but it is so worth it in the end. She notes that you have to grow though, because if you don’t grow your business will fail.

Bella then asks Kristie about the future of Philly Pet Care.

Kristie says they are still doing the dog walking services in Center City (Philadelphia). They do still do overnights, but only for dogs they have a walking relationship with.  Dave and she hope to remove themselves more and more from the business. Not remove themselves completely because she and Dave like to make sure they personally know each and every client. In fact, she believes that is what really helps set them apart. They have two employees now but hope to have more in the future so they can have more time off.

Kristie also said they are starting to plan for retirement. They are at a point with their business where they are making enough money to really start saving for the future. So that, maybe in 10 years or so, they could be in some form of retirement. But she notes that she doesn’t really see herself ever completely letting go or selling the business.  She has even pictured their son ultimately being the owner of Philly Pet Care.

Bella compares a successful small business to having built your own beautiful home.  You can live in it until the day you die. You build yourself a quality life with the luxury of having options.

Bella wraps the episode by telling  Kristie how proud she is of everything Kristie and Dave have accomplished.

You can find out more about Philly Pet Care and Kristie and Dave at http://www.MyPhillyPetCare.com or to hear about the rebranding experience Kristie had with Bella a few years ago, you can watch the video here.

Subscribe To The Show:

Listen To The Show:

Episode 18: How to Get More Pet Sitting and Dog Walking Clients

bella-pet-sitting-industry-podcast-album-cover

 

In this episode of “Bella In Your Business”, Bella is joined once again by Kate McQuillan from PawsomeMedia. They discuss the timeless question they always get, “How do I get more pet sitting and dog walking clients?”

More-clients-pet-sitting-dog-walking

 

List All The Services You Offer On Your Website:


In order to get more pet sitting and dog walking clients, Bella notes that people search for many different terms. For instance, she says that  if you are dog groomer and you want to groom small dogs or even cats, make sure you list that. Someone looking to get a cat groomed likely won’t search for a dog groomer first. Make sure you are putting all the services you offer, along with descriptions, on your website. Kate notes you should really review your website periodically and make sure what you want out there is very clear.

fb-group

Promote Yourself On Facebook:

Kate mentions that people often get caught up sharing pet pics, memes and news, but should not forget to put out something everyday about what you do. Images, articles you have written and tips are all good ways to do that. Also, make sure you have filled out all the about sections in Facebook, especially the contact information. Also make  sure your banner clearly says what you do. Facebook pages get Googled and so having all of that information in there may actually help you show up more often in Google searches. For those who feel such promotion is too “salesy” Bella recommends you check out “Gary V” (Gary Vaynerchuk ) who has a book called Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to tell your story in a noisy social world. He writes that it is about giving value, value, value, and then a sale. Bella says it’s ok to keep sharing valuable items, but don’t forget the “right hook”!

Blog About What You Do:

Bella says to blog and talk about what you do. Discuss things like “How much does dog grooming cost?”, “Should I get my cat groomed?”, “How do I train my dog?”.  She says to take every question people ask you, use the exact question as the title of your blog post, and then answer it. She says it’s not only good for SEO (getting higher placement  in Google results), but also gives you an “arsenal” to use when people call with questions. Ask them for their email address and send them the blog post that answers that question. Kate points out that you also need to SHARE your blog post (see tip #2)! And don’t forget to reshare things you wrote months and years ago.  Keep sharing it for those who may not have seen it the first time. And revisit them periodically to “tidy” them up and make them more current.

Make Free Downloads For Your Site:

Kate suggests that you offer things on your site like free EBooks you create or checklists (like one on things to do before your next vacation), cleaning tips, etc. It doesn’t always have to be about the services you offer, just things that are useful to your customers.

Create and use “Bark Cards”

When you are out performing mobile services (grooming, pet sitting, dog walking) and you (dog) hear barking at a neighbor’s house, your worker can leave one of these bark cards. Bark cards are small postcards with a picture of a barking dog you get made up that say “BARK, BARK, BARK, BARK, BARK”. On the back leave the top half blank and on the bottom put your branding, list of services, and contact info. In the blank area, take a pen and write something like. “I think I heard a small dog and they were saying ‘Come groom me! Come groom me!’.  I was in the neighborhood and if you call me for more information I would like to offer you….” Bella says these cards are shocking and attention grabbing. They also target your demographic. Personalization in key with these cards.

 

newsletter_image

Email Marketing:

Kate said to make better use of the email addresses you have collected through newsletter sign ups, or people opting in to your free downloads. Send information periodically to ensure people remember who you are and what you offer.  Bella suggests it could be a “drip campaign” where you have a series of say 5 emails go out over a period of time or it could be a short periodic newsletter.  Kate notes that email is important because not everybody is on Facebook or checking out your website, but they may likely be checking email.

classes-vet-referrals

Talk To Vets

Bella says a lot of pet business owners just walk into a vet’s office, drop their cards and leave.  More than likely the cards get dropped in the trash. So Bella recommends that you build a relationship with the vet’s office manager. People rarely ask the vet about pet sitting or grooming services, but they do ask the front office staff or call in with that kind of question.

Start A Facebook Group:

Kate says that you start a private Facebook group not to sell services but to allow customers and members of the group to get to know you personally.  Members get to know each other, build relationships, talk about pets, etc., and build a good community.

 

logo_dog_walking 4

Start A Dog Walking Club!

Bella says that by starting these clubs you will have a micro area of people all interested in the same thing. Do it with your existing customers to build up brand loyalty or expose them to other services you offer. You can encourage them to bring a friend. You could start one at an apartment complex and have the complex promote the club as an activity. Kate suggests you could combine that with the private Facebook group as well.

Create Competition

Kate recommends that you create competition events as they are a good way to get new clients. But do it right! Don’t just do a like and share campaign. Really plan it out.  Kate has more information about doing so in her online marketing academy which Bella says is awesome!

Subscribe To The Show:

Listen To The Show:

Episode 17: Should Pet Sitters Still Offer Overnights If They Have To Pay Per Hour?

In this episode of “Bella In Your Business”, Bella discusses whether you should still offer overnights if you have to pay per hour? This is a hot topic because during this election year many are talking about raising the minimum wage, in some places as high as $15/hour.  In California, not only is the minimum wage being raised but they are mandating sick days and other things which are really going to cost businesses more and more money.

Education is Key to This Decision!

Bella emphasizes that you really need to educate yourself on the legislation in your particular state, what risk that implies for your  business, and what it will cost your business to comply. She says she really wants you to focus on the right team members (bookkeeper, CPA, lawyer) and to reach out to your state’s Department of Labor. Learn as much as you can and then make your own educated decision. Don’t listen to everyone on Facebook or your competitors!  Just because someone else elects to take one action doesn’t mean it’s the right one.

So, should you still offer overnights?  The easy answer for some will be no because they figure if they have to pay someone $15/hour for 8-10 hours, they would have to charge at least $200 for an overnight and they believe their clients would never pay that.  Bella points out, that could mean you are automatically giving up (what is on average) 20% of your revenue. In short, she recommends that you still offer overnights even if you have to pay per hour.

Put it on your website (with or without the price) and make sure you price it according to the 30/30/40 rule (30% for the business, 30% for you, and 40% for wages). Just be aware of what happens when you get to 40 hours (another great question to ask your state’s Department of Labor).

Remember, you don’t get to decide what is too expensive. Your clients do.  If a client does tell you it is too much, simply explain why it is that high.  Then offer them a less expensive alternative like 3 visits a day.  Let them know that it will probably be alright but if they feel that still isn’t enough then they could try the overnight option.

How To Sell Overnights:

Bella points out that if you don’t at least offer the option then visitors coming to your site looking for that option will “bounce” over to another service’s site.  Leave it on there. Keep them on your site. Engage them in a conversation giving them the reasoning and statistics and let them make the decision.

Another question to ask your state’s Department of Labor is whether or not you are exempt from the minimum wage due to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) which states that people who make less than $500,000 don’t have to adhere to it.

Add More Value:

You could also consider additional value for these overnights like perhaps sending video and photos. You might include things like taking out the trash and/or sorting the mail. Add value to the overnights and make them exclusive benefits. Any of these additional values can help make a client feel better about spending the money.

Bella points out that in reality most pets are perfectly fine sleeping by themselves and that the real benefit offered in overnights is making the client feel less guilty about leaving their precious pet.  So let’s appeal to them and keep offering this service. Because if you don’t you have no idea just how much money you might be leaving on the table and walking away.

Subscribe To The Show:

Listen To The Show:

Episode 16: Getting Rid of Toxic Relationships

Bella In Your Business

In this episode of “Bella In Your Business”, Bella discusses getting rid of “bad apples” otherwise known as bad relationships.  At some point in your personal or professional life you have had that person who is a vampire of your time or energy.  And they can be very influential in your life.

You need to constantly take inventory because it is said you are the sum of the 5 closest people in your life. Bella says she sees a lot of pet business owners not “trimming the fat”  of these toxic relationships when it is really necessary and they end up with “tummy aches”.

Bella Has Dealt With Bad Apples…

Bella confesses that she has had to deal with “bad apples” over the years.  She reminds us that some “bad apples” may not have started that way.  Life can change people.  And sometimes it is even harder to get rid of someone if your relationship with them started out great.

Consequences To Keeping Negative People Around:

There are many negative things that can result from keeping “bad apples” in your company.  For one, it could put you in a bad mood and that might spill out in the next conversation you have with a client or another employee.  You may be disappointed in yourself because you know that you are being walked all over.  Or you might feel stressed or scared over what retaliation might happen if you do dissolve or walk away from that relationship.

These types of toxic relationships are like a disease.  They can continue to grow and take over more and more of your life and spoil a lot of things.  We need to protect ourselves, our business, and our employees.

Are YOU The Bad Apple?

Of course, it doesn’t always have to be a bad worker.  Sometimes YOU can be the “bad apple” as sometimes it is a bad boss.  Are you the one creating bad relationships? For instance, if  instead of helping and building up employees who seem to ask the same questions all the time, you lose your patience and yell at them.  Bella references a recent article that points to bad bosses as being among the chief reason people leave their jobs.

But whether you or one of your employees is the bad apple, not addressing it can have consequences on your business.  It can affect morale if employees see you treating another employee badly or if you accept bad behavior from another.  If you allow a “bad apple” to stick around it takes the power away from you for running your business.  For instance,  if someone has a lot of job responsibilities and they develop a chip on their shoulder it could bring about a negative attitude that will multiply when you bring in others to start taking on some of that person’s responsibilities.

So when people have a “bad apple”, why don’t they take care of it right away? Fear.  They might be afraid that by getting rid of that person there is some service or benefit that person still supplies that they will lose.

Don’t Fear The Break Up Of The Bad Relationships:

It could be fear of retaliation or of getting sued.  For that fear Bella suggests that you have a good team of legal and HR professionals you use who can help guide you through the correct process.  She points out that fear is just not understanding information.  Bella says that if you have more information and knowledge you are more able to make better decisions in life.  Do not let fear hold you back!

There is also a fear of who you will get to replace the “bad apple”.  To that, Bella says always be hiring.  Even when you think you don’t really have the business to support a new hire, still consider it.  Because, if you find the right candidate and you have the right pricing structure and strategies in place, you can be instantly boosting business and getting the new person some work.

Another fear is that  of the unemployment rate going up.  Many business owners are afraid that the terminated employee will file for unemployment potentially causing their unemployment rate to go up.  Bella says, once again,  the best way to overcome that fear is to educate yourself.  Call up your state’s Department of Labor and find out what it would mean if the terminated employee filed. But, don’t be afraid to fire them even if your unemployment is going up.  Just compare that increase to what it may cost you by  maybe ticking off some of your best clients or missing out on opportunities or not having your sanity day to day.

Is It Really Them, Or You?

One final important point that Bella stresses is that once you realize that an employee is a “Bad Apple”, and you choose to keep them on staff, they are no longer the problem. You are!  You are the problem.  Holding on to “bad apples”, in addition to giving you headaches, will hold your business back from becoming everything you dreamed it would be.  You have every right to build the team you want, with great relationships, and people that work well with you!  

Just remember, you are going to get back what you give.  If you show people that you appreciate them and that you care, they will give that back to you tenfold.   But if you are constantly struggling with hiring and finding the right people for you business, or you are having trouble with people respecting your business, or there is a constant struggle with your team, you might just want to take a deep look inside yourself.  It’s just possible that you might just be the “bad apple”!

Subscribe To The Show:

Listen To The Show:

Episode 15: How to Get Rid of the Fear of Delegation

bella-pet-sitting-industry-podcast-album-cover

In this episode of “Bella In Your Business”, Bella is joined by Kate McQuillan from Pawsome Media. They dismantle the myths surrounding the fear of delegation in pet sitting businesses and discuss the profitable advantages of it.

Bella leads off by talking about her first delegation experience with the website Fancy Hands , a website that for a small fee will perform a few simple tasks for you. But she warns that your instructions need to be clear to ensure the task is done as you expect.  She says it’s like “the bootcamp for learning how to delegate.” Doing this, will decrease your fear of delegation.

Bella then talks about how she moved up to getting a virtual assistant (VA) and how with that she learned that prioritizing tasks for the VA  is key. She realized that she also needed to communicate how many hours she expected to be spent on the task as it better clarified the expectations and led to both her and the VA  feeling a sense of control over the task.  Kate pointed out that setting expectations on both sides is a very important step.

Kate then says that she feels that if you are going to delegate a task, make it one that needs to be repeated periodically. Doing so means that the time you spend setting up the expectations for the task the first time, will in essence, be training the assistant to do it in the future. As you set up expectations and outline the process for each task, you are essentially at the same time building an employee handbook. It becomes time well spent!

Kate also points out that you need to make sure you are putting a task in the hands of the right person. For instance, more complicated repetitive tasks are best done by someone like a VA who is consistently the same person, rather than using FancyHands or Fiverr ) where you may not be getting the same person each time.  Bella points out that mindless one-off tasks are better suited for those sites.

At this point Kate manages to blow Bella’s mind by suggesting that you have your VA document the process while they are doing the task. As Bella puts it, “Delegating the Delegation!”  

Bella then tells the listeners not to get discouraged when finding the right VA. She points out that just like hiring, sometimes a person does not work out.  Or, even when you find the right VA, they may have to leave for personal or family reasons.  She reinforces this by relating an experience she had. Kate adds that sometimes you or your needs change and that you should not be afraid to change your VA if things stop working out.

Bella mentions that some VAs can be more expensive than others but may bring a bigger skill set that can ultimately make you more productive.  She points out how critical a VA was in helping her organize and publish the first ever comprehensive chart of all the software companies in the pet sitting field. Kate says to think of it as an investment rather than a cost as it may help you and your business make more money.

Kate then discusses how one of the biggest hurdles people have in moving to delegating is the fear of letting go. They are afraid that someone else can’t do it as well as they can do it. She says rather than fear it, use it as an opportunity to examine and streamline the process.  You just may make it more efficient!

Kate mentions that one online tool she has found very helpful for delegation is Trello. It’s a free tool for putting up lists of tasks (which can be shared with others like your VA) and setting up a project timeline. Bella notes that visually it reminds her of Pinterest.

Since they have gotten on the topic of technology tools, Bella points out that most of us probably only use about 20% of the functionality of the tools we use. So she encourages the listeners to take the time to look at the tools website or seek out tutorials in order to really learn how to the get the most out of each tool!  Kate adds that she has tried to take the time this year to do just that.

Bella says that business owners should always make sure that their business is healthy and you always have enough money set aside to pour back into the business.  You can then use the “business” money to invest in these tools and processes that will ultimately help you grow your business.

They wrap up by stressing the importance of streamlining the processes and delegating the tasks. Kate also points out that there are some tasks, like contracts, that ABSOLUTELY should be delegated to the appropriate professionals, like lawyers. Bella agrees as she has had other business owners come and ask her for her service contract or her employee manual to use in their businesses, prompting her to ask “Do you want my underwear too?”  A perfect way to end an episode.

Subscribe To The Show:

Listen To The Show:

Episode 14: Discount Daily Dog Walks

In this episode of “Bella In Your Business”, Bella discusses whether or not you should offer a discount daily dog walks. She covers points on both sides of the issue.

bella-pet-sitting-industry-podcast-album-cover

Bella starts by stressing that before even considering a discount for daily dog walks, you really should know just how much profit you make off of a dog walk or pet visit. She points out that many company owners aren’t fully cognizant of that number or even understand how the costs and profits are divided. Bella points out that some of the money goes to the employee who walked the dog (usually a fixed amount) and some of that money should go to your business to cover expenses and business profit.  Finally, some money needs to go directly to you the owner, so that you are paying your salary.

Pricing-Guide - Discount Daily Dog Walks

Can You Even Afford it?

When offering a discount on a daily dog walk you have to decide out of which of these pots that discount will be taken.  You can’t really pay your employee less, so it will need to come out of either your pot or the business’.  If your business has stabilized costs, you may be able to find some money in the business pot to support the discount.  But if you are in a period of steadily increasing expenses, then you may not have it there.  Bella advises you to be careful about taking discounts out of your own pot as many business owners hurt themselves by not paying themselves enough to sustain themselves, and the business.

Discounting Can Be Good!

On the pro-discount side, Bella talks about how even “rich people” like discounts and

you should not be offended if someone asks you to discount daily dog walks.  

She even suggests that you set a higher “standard” rate and that the “discount” you offer be actually in the range of what you need to keep the business growing.  This could also be couched as a “Friends and Family” discount, or be given through package plans that encourage clients to use your services more often.

When You Should Never Discount

On the anti-discount side, Bella suggests that discounts on daily dog walks are not likely appropriate if your rates are currently low, especially if they barely cover costs.  In those cases, it is best to gradually increase your rates to a level where you can offer discounts.

Subscribe To The Show:

Listen To The Show:

Episode 13: Should I Pet Sit for an Out of Control Dog?

bella-pet-sitting-industry-podcast-album-cover

In this episode of “Bella In Your Business”, Bella discusses whether you should agree to pet sit for an out of control dog.  The discussion is based on a post from the discussion pages of her private Facebook group found at https://www.facebook.com/groups/jumpersnetwork/.

The writer of the post said that she had a “Meet and Greet” the previous night with an “out of control dog.” She said the dog was jumping on her and very unruly. It was putting its paws on her shoulders and its parents just seemed to dismiss the behavior.

out of control dog

Bella says that you as a pet sitter need to recognize that this situation could be a potential liability. First, for you individually, because this dog could cause you to injure yourself (like twisting your ankle) and that could result in your inability to serve your other clients. Doing so could even cost you your business.

This situation could also be a danger to your employees. If one of them gets injured not only is it a loss of a dependable member of your team, but it could open you up to liability.

Bella reminds you that as a pet sitter, it is not your job to train the dog and break bad habits.  In that type of situation, it may often be best to politely decline working with that dog. If you have a trainer you have a relationship with, use the opportunity to give a referral.

Bella also suggests that you ideally decline the job via email. This gives the parents a chance to absorb and digest your reasonings.  Those reasonings should include honesty about your concerns and how you feel you are not the best fit to serve that dog’s particular needs.

You can find more great information from Bella, additional podcast episodes, and  Bella’s blog at http://jumpconsulting.net/.

Subscribe To The Show:

Listen To The Show:

7 Problems With Starting A Pet Sitting Business


In this day in age, people have started to realize how easy it is to start a pet sitting business. They think that you get some business cards, tell some vets your accepting clients, and throw up a website via Wix or some other free website builder, and list their services on care.com Within a few weeks they are off and running. Checks are coming in and they think “Wow. That was easy!”

But not so fast….

 

I applaud the ambition, but there is a bunch of fine tuning that needs to happen. Most of the time, the way pet sitting businesses start, isn’t something that can be maintained over the years.  At least not if they plan on still seeing their friends, family, going on vacation, and saving some money.

{Which, lets’ face it, you could 100% get if you go work for someone else. So why not yourself?}

I see these problems over and over again.

Sometimes the pet sitter has started their business, but never really addressed the elephant in the room. This leads to a snowball effect. The changes they need to create feel even bigger of a burden than if they had they started “right” in the first place.

So let me save you the trouble. Here are the

7 Problems {and solutions} When Starting A Pet Sitting Business.

 

#1 Pet Sitters Get Burned Out When Starting a Pet Sitting Business:

A lot of people start out because they love the pets. But they love the pets so much that they care more about the pets than themselves and their business. Too much of this imbalance could put you out of business.

It is imperative for a business owner to set business hours and take scheduled time off at least once or twice a year. After all, if you had a “regular” job you would get an average of two weeks vacation, right? A lot of pet sitters are working all around the clock by doing overnights and then early morning visits at 6am and visits as late as 10pm.

pet sitter burnout

 

It makes a person tried, unmotivated, hungry… so you end up choosing bad options like drive thru. It is also isolating because you are always running away from your friends and family to “go do a pet sit.”

Solution: Set strict working hours and schedule two vacations a year to recharge your batteries. 

 

#2 Pet Sitters Don’t Consider The Importance Of
Money Flow:

This can be the biggest headache for most. Do you send paypal invoices? Do you use Square, Swipe, have the clients enter it in online, or accept cash or checks?

 

A business will need to streamline this process. Not paying close enough attention could cost hours of the business owners time each week and be very confusing and almost a chore for the client who is trying to spend money. You don’t want to be chasing people down for money or having to sit in front of the computer creating invoices and applying payment to the invoices so your balance sheet is in check.

Falling golden coin - isolated on white

Solution: I suggest taking credit cards and have a method that will take less than 15 minutes each week. Here are all the ins and outs of CC processing. I have a great virtual book keeper if you are interested! 

 

Limited time offer. Apply now.

#3  Pet Sitters Do Not Have Unique Branding When They Start A Pet Sitting Business.

One of the biggest mistakes new pet sitters make is trying to be like everyone else. Or, they grab the industry standards on “Benefits to a professional pet sitter” and use them on their own website. All that does is sell the industry. The majority of the start up pet sitters say the same exact thing on their website. When you don’t have a strong brand, your value isn’t high. Think about the branding for a Walmart Vs. Sak’s 5th Ave or Barney’s. Different, eh?

Some pet sitting businesses also have the same looking logo made from a stock image and a plain or cutesy name that no one can spell. This is a problem becasue their business won’t stand out from all the others and no one will know how to spell their business name when they go to search for it on Google!

Solution: Take the time to create a great pet sitting logo, choose the right colors on your website, and formulate your unique message and value proposition. 

Personal example below: My own pet sitting company has a saying “We see things a different way” and our advertisement is run UPSIDE DOWN in publications. Everyone see’s it!   = Be Different!

7 problems with starting a pet sitting business

 

#4  Pet Sitters Don’t Charge The Right Price When Start A Pet Sitting Business:

Not charging the right amount is heavily associated with burn out. A lot of the time pet sitters charge what they “feel” is right but that mentality alone could cost you your business. Looking around at what everyone else is charging and basing your pricing structure off of that is the worst thing that you could do for your business. You are not strategic about it.

Will you have pricing tiers?
What is the lowest you will go?
Will you “discount”?
How many visits do you need to do a day in order to make your personal salary goal for the year?
Do you charge enough to pay someone enough?
Do you know how much you should be paying them?
The business? Yourself?
Will you charge/pay by time or by service?
Are there things you will or will not charge extra for?
What will your cancelation policy be?
Will you list your prices on your pet sitting website? 
These are all things that a business owner must give serious consideration to. A lack of thought in this area will eventually limit the potential of the business.

Solution: Answer all of the questions above and if you need more help consider taking the Pricing Structure and Strategy class. If you need more, hear what one of my clients said about this class: 

 

 

#5. Pet Sitters Forget The Important Legal and Screen Shot 2015-10-29 at 2.54.26 PMInsurance Considerations


I find that when pet sitters start a pet sitting company they download forms, purchase the cheapest insurance and just go on with life. Many times things like properly classifying your business entity for tax saving purposes isn’t even a thought. Or things like protection of your current or future assets with different classifications like LLC, S-Corp, etc. It is vitally important to every pet sitters present and future to have a CPA and Lawyer on their team from Day 1. Do not be giving our service contracts that might not even be valid in your state! (It really happens)

Your business insurance could be your saving grace or what puts you out of business. It is important to know that you are covered properly for when pet sitting business insurance claims happen.

Solution: Find a CPA and Lawyer you can trust. Or, save yourself the hassle and call David with Business Insurers of the Carolina’s! Thats who I trust!

 

 

#6 Pet Sitters Will Miss A Pet Sit or Overbooking Themselves

It happens.

You are trying to keep track of all your new clients on your iPhone’s calendar and before you know it you forget to enter in someone or you promise one too many clients the same time slot and BOOM. You are overbooked. Or worse, you miss a visit.

Clients are constantly changing their travel arrangements and work schedules. It is very easy for a pet sitter to become a professional scheduler. Do not make this mistake when you start your pet sitting business. You are setting yourself up for failure by accepting reservations via phone, text, email, and pigeon carrier! You will mess up. You will overbook. You will miss a visit.

Solution: Get a Client Management System and require that all clients register and book inside of your software system.

 

#7  When Pet Sitters Don’t Set Good Boundaries

This problem is two fold. First, the pet sitter accepts clients in a large service area thinking that the more clients they can get the better. No matter where they are located. “It is only 10 minutes outside my service area.” becomes a frequent thought.

The second is they let their business run their life. They don’t consider that they need to do simple things like eat, sleep, and visit with their family from time to time.  I have seen people get divorces, have relatives upset at them over the holidays because they aren’t at the celebrations, and more. When I finally get to help them, they are already at the end of their rope. They even start despising this business that they so fondly started because the people who matter most in their life are upset at them for not being present.

Having a business should eventually give you more options in life to do the things you like with those you love. – Bella

Solution: Set strict office hours. Set strict boundaries no more than a 10 mile radius from your home.

In the end, the toughest boundary you need to establish is between you and the business. By having clear goals, objectives, the right people surrounding you, well thought out policies and systems, you will be successful. It is when people try to sacrifice their lives for their business. When they are working for less than they would make working at McDonalds and so tired and burnt out that they start resenting the life they are trying to build.

It is not a pretty place to be. Please take these suggestions very seriously so you don’t become victim to your own business. Start a business so you can work on it. Not under it. If you are going to be under it, why not get a J.O.B. working for someone else and let them have all the headache?

You can do it. It is pet sitting. There aren’t many unknowns. Especially for someone like me who has seen all types of businesses nationally and internationally.

If you are thinking about starting a business, or just feel completely out of control in your business consider hiring Bella to help you avoid all the pitfalls that starting a pet sitting business comes with.

 

Episode 11: How To Do A #PetSitting Background Check Without Getting Sued

HOW TO DO A BACKGROUND CHECK WITHOUT GETTING SUED
In this episode of “Bella In Your Business”, Bella is joined by Jason Waggoner, Vice President of Acutraq Background Screening. They discuss background checks and how important it is to get the right kind of background check when hiring an employee.

Jason starts off by explaining background checks and why using the quick, inexpensive background checks are ineffective. He emphasizes that these are good tools and a nice place to start but not reliable enough to base your decisions on, as affecting a person’s well being (by hiring or not hiring someone) based on inaccurate information can lead to costly lawsuits.

Jason explains how good professional background check companies like his follow up on hits from “multi-state” databases with checks in the local county for that given hit. This ensures that you have the most up-to-date record from the most accurate source.

Jason also covers the background check application you give to potential employees.  There are strict Federal guidelines (via the Federal Credit Reporting Act) on how that information is presented and what information must be included to ensure that applicants know exactly what they are agreeing to and how it will be used.  He cautions that failure to do so can be costly as some lawyers have been known to search websites, find non-compliant applications, and attempt to organize class-action suits against the company.

If you would like to contact Jason at ACUTRAQ, he can be reached at 281-727-0019 or at an email address which is mentioned in the podcast.

Subscribe To The Show:

Listen To The Show:

Common Claims

Episode 10: Top 15 Most Common Pet Sitting Insurance Claims

BELLA IN YOUR BUSINESS-itunes

In this episode of “Bella In Your Business”, we are joined by David Pearsall, Vice President at Business Insurers of the Carolinas, which specializes in commercial insurance, including businesses providing pet services.  David joins Bella for the first of what will be many episodes dealing with insurance for those in the pet sitting industry. This episode focuses on the the 15 most common pet sitting insurance claims.

Bella asks the age old question of how to know when you should or should not put in a pet sitting insurance claim?


David discusses the factors insurance companies look at when deciding on writing or renewing your policy and how you can use those factors to make that call.  Though, he emphasizes that you should also keep in mind that what may appear to be a small claim may eventually turn out to be a big one.

Yikes!Screen Shot 2015-10-29 at 2.54.26 PM

David kicks off the Top 15 by discussing the Top 5 most frequent pet sitting insurance claims (see below).  As part of it, he discusses the differences between Animal Care, Custody, and Control policies.

David also mentions that the contents of the client’s home are usually excluded from most general liability policies, but some policies, like the one offered by the association, may have endorsements covering that.

If you, your employee, or one of the animals in your care is attacked by a third-party animal, try to get the information about that animal’s owner.  More than likely, they will be liable for the incident. 

There sure are a lot of pet sitting insurance claims!

Then, David covers the

Top 5 most frequent third-party claims (also below).

He mentions how often people are injured when two dogs are fighting.  He stresses that you should NEVER try to get between two fighting dogs. It will more than likely end badly. He suggests using methods such as loud noises or water hoses to break it up.

Bites to children is big on the list as well. David recommends that you emphasize to your employees or independent contractors that it is their responsibility to keep other people, especially children, away from the dogs in their care as even the most well-tempered dog may bite if it is spooked or the child provokes it.

Another big claim on the list is property damage to clients’ homes.  David recommends sitters be cognizant of things like water faucets and running toilets.  He also suggests that sitters really know their cleaning supplies as there have been many claims related to sitters using a cleaner on a floor that ultimately ruins the finish.

David then talks about the Top 5 Workman’s Comp pet sitting insurance claims (also below).

He says the key thing is to get your employee taken care of and back to work as quickly as possible.   David says that if you or your employee has an accident or is injured, call the workman’s comp insurer as soon as possible!  The sooner they are involved the better your overall outcome is likely to be. He also suggests that you should have a relationship with a clinic where you send employees with non-life threatening emergencies as they are much less expensive and patients are often seen much more quickly there than in a hospital  emergency room.

Here the Top 5 lists:

Top 5 Pet Related Claims

  1. Ingesting  something foreign. (Example: medicine, toys)
  2. Dog bitten by another dog owned by third party
  3. Dog bitten by another dog in the sitter’s care
  4. Scratches and injuries (to animal) due to running into or stepping on things.
  5. Pet damages to the contents of homes.

Top 5 Third-Party Claims

  1. Dog in a sitter’s care attacks or bites another dog
  2. Dog bites a person (other than you or your employee)
  3. Water damage. (Example: Sitter leaving the water on in a client’s home)
  4. Dog runs into or undercuts a person (other than you or your employee)
  5. Damages to the client’s home. (Example: Sitter causes a fire in a client’s home)

Top 5 Workman’s Comp Claims

  1. Dog or cat bite to hands or arms
  2. Slips, trips, and falls
  3. Slips and falls on stairs
  4. Dog bites to other body parts
  5. Dogs at play..odd injuries. (Example:  Dog jumps up and knocks out a sitter’s tooth)

Here is David’s contact information:
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

Subscribe To The Show:

Listen To The Show:

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!

Subscribe To The Show:

Listen To The Show:

Pricing Strategy & Formula: A Teleconference for Pet Sitters With Worksheet Included

Pet Sitting Business Price


Do you know that the most asked question I get is “How much should I charge for….?”  You would be surprised if you saw how many times this question comes across my computer! Pet sitters are constantly looking outward for the answers they should be looking inward.

If you don’t charge the right price, you won’t be able to have the life that you want to live.

 

“At the end of the day, we are in business to make money!”

 

We are in business to see our business be sustainable for years to come and afford us to do what we love in life. Whether that be work ourselves to the grave, or work when we want to and spend the rest of our time with friends and family, it is a choice that every single of one you have as a business owner.

best price pet sitting business

If you feel like you don’t have a choice at this point in your business, then you are doing something wrong and you CAN fix it. You just need a little guidance.

When I hear that pet sitters are basing their price off  what “other pet sitters charging”   The answer to that question matters just as much as what type of underwear are they wearing! WHO CARES! I want to show you what does matter in this decision. They do not have your mortgage, car payment, expenses, or financial goals.

 

Here Is What Pet Sitters Are Already Asking:


pricing pet sitting

pricing pet sitting

pricing pet sitting pricing pet sitting pricing pet sitting pricing pet sitting pricing pet sitting pricing pet sitting pricing pet sitting pricing pet sitting pricing pet sitting pricing pet sitting pricing pet sitting pricing pet sitting pricing pet sitting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

:

 

 

 

 

Who Is This Course For?

This course, is for any pet sitter who has been in business for a long time, short time, just starting out, or who has ever raised their prices.

This course, is for YOU!  

 

Over the years, this course has evolved to what it is today. I started out just talking about a formula. Then it evolved into a presentation, and now… it is a force to be reckoned with. You can take this course knowing that it isn’t just the first version. I have tweaked and perfected it over the years, anticipating just about every question you may have all the while forcing you to get out of your own stinking thinking and get that lightbulb to turn ON!

Although, I strongly believe we can’t talk about the right price, without talking about the strategy and structure of the cost of your services too.

What Can I Learn If I Get This Course?

Sign up for this live call and leave being so confident in your decisions on pricing that you are never asking questions like the above again. During this class, I promise to teach you:

  • How your strategy or lack there of can help or hurt your business.
  • How pricing applies to businesses with and without staff.
  • How your perceived value or lack there of increases or decrease the price clients will pay.
  • Where pricing absolutely does NOT come from.
  • What impact supply and demand has on your services.
  • The actual mathematical formula that you can use for every single service you provide to keep you floating! (not just your head above water)

If any of this sounded interesting to you, please sign up for this course. It will be a teleconference and at the end, I will open it up for questions. It will be recorded so you can listen to it again and again. Although, in order to really get the most bang for your buck, I strongly encourage you to be on the call.

Just click the buy now link below and you will be off and running with access to this life changing course!

 

Only $79  for LIFETIME access

to the “Bella-inar” and worksheet!

Pet Sitting Business Price

bloggig small business

Why Should I Blog For My Pet Sitting Business?

Having a blog for my pet sitting business is so important for my SEO. Without re-posting the content, I would be dead.

bloggig small business

Where I am writing you from at the Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale

I have been able to have my website dominate in many key words in my area. This is important because it leads to phone calls and ultimately clients. I only pay to advertise in one place. The rest of our advertising comes from my blog.

First, lets look at a few MYTHS:

MYTH: I don’t have time to start a blog for my pet sitting business.
FACT: If you have time to be on Facebook, you have time for blogging. Plus you can write a few blogs and schedule them to come out once a week.

MYTH: I don’t have anything to say.
FACT: You have inspiration all around you in your job. Different leashes, litters, “How To’s” etc.

MYTH: I am not a good writer.
FACT: You don’t have to be. Write in your own voice that is what blogging is about.

Ways I can benefit with a blog for my pet sitting business:

1-      Search Engine Optimization. You are creating pages on the internet to direct traffic and key words to your website. Do this tens or hundreds of times and you will dominate over your competition.

2-      You are able to position yourself as an expert. Write down all your knowledge and people will read, share, and interview you for more.

3-      You are able to offer rebuttals when selling a client on the phone by sending them you “My cat is too shy and won’t come out for you” blog that shows the techniques you used to alleviate this problem.

4-      You become an information source that others look at for valuable information. Through breaking important pet news stories (that you can often find out about on Bella In Your Business) you can write a short commentary about it with a link to the article or organization hosting it. It builds your credibility.

5-      You are hijacking the search engines. So you don’t do dog boarding or dog kenneling, but you have a post that talks about “Why pet sitting in (your town) is better than dog boarding” Well guess who is going to come up when someone googles (your town) and dog boarding?

Blogging is something that is FREE that I think no business owner can afford NOT to do.  We consider spending money on passive advertising like Yellow pages or relocation magazines or welcome wagons, but never once consider saving our money and creating our own welcome wagon. Why not create a blog post about ARE YOU NEW TO (YOUR TOWN)?

Do you blog or not? Why or why not? If you do blog list your blog below and tell me what you blog about that gets the most comments, reaction, or hits on your website and why you think that is.

If the Bumble Bee Can Do It, You Can Too!

So I am sitting in church this morning and Pastor Travis starts talking about the Bumble Bee. Did you know this silly little creature anatomically isn’t meant to fly? In other words its body is so darn big that it’s itty bitty wings isn’t supposed to be able to lift its body!

But it does!

Hmm, got me thinking.

So many times I hear business owners thinking THEY can’t do things. They can’t do the impossible. They are right. They can’t. Although if you have certain things in your life, you can do anything. Just like the Bumble Bee!

Three things you need to fly and sting like a Bee!

(1.) FAITH:  You need to believe in SOMETHING. I think we have all acknowledged that you can’t do it on your own. If you put the weight of the world on your shoulders, be sure to have a good chiropractor. If you have faith in God, then let Him direct and guide your ways.

Works without faith are dead!

(2.) HELP: You can’t start of expand your business on your own. Knowing how and when to ask for help is going to be critical. You will not always have the right answers or tools to help you overcome or conqueror the road blocks that will come your way. Humble yourself and know when you need help.

(3.) PEOPLE: Birds of a feather, flock together. Ever heard that saying? It is true!  You need to take an active role in surrounding yourself with people you want to be like. People that lift you up, give you sound advice, someone you can rely on.  What do your 5 closest friends say about you? [2 Corinthians 6:14 ]

If a Bumble Bee can do it, you can too. You just need to take control, believe, have faith, ask for help, and surround yourself with people who believe you can and want to be like.

Tell me below… what are some things that you are struggling with accomplishing right now. Why do you feel like it is so impossible? I want to know!