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Why My Pet Sitting Business Needs SOP’s

Would you agree to board an airplane knowing that the pilot was simply ‘told’ what to do? Probably not! It’s not enough to TELL our employees what to do- it’s critical that we have clear guidelines and instructions in place to ensure our operations run smoothly and efficiently.

However, not all businesses are the same and not all standard operating procedures (SOPs) are made equal. It’s essential to have an SOP in place that is specific to YOUR business.

Business Women on phone

While you can model your SOP after other businesses, you’ll have to tweak it quite a bit for the pet care industry. If you simply try to copy and paste everything from an unrelated SOP…well, it’s a bit like wearing someone else’s underwear; it’s way better to have a fresh, clean SOP that’s tailored to your unique business!

As the owner of a pet sitting business, I quickly realized that simply telling my employees what to do was not nearly as effective as having a set of written instructions that they could follow step-by-step. Explaining how routine operations should be performed is crucial for any business, no matter the industry.

 

Wait, what exactly IS an SOP?

Standard Operating Procedures are crystal clear instructions created by a business to help employees carry out routine operations. SOPs aim to keep your business organized, increase the quality output, and create uniformity of performance. Remember, anyone in your organization should be able to understand each individual SOP.

Keep the language simple and take the time to explain key terms. SOPs help to significantly reduce miscommunication and boost overall employee confidence.

 

An SOP typically fails for one or more of the following reasons:

  • Lack of clarity
  • Lack of details
  • The SOP isn’t easy to access

 

So, where do I begin?

An SOP can be anything from creating a new blog post to invoicing a new customer to drawing up a sales report and more! No matter what industry you’re in, SOPs can be extremely helpful to keep your team on track.

Think about EVERYTHING you do for your pet sitting business – from hiring and training to onboarding and offboarding clients, there are so many systems that happen each and every day. The key is to document each of these in your SOPs.

For my pet sitting business, my SOPs are alive…okay, they don’t bark or meow at me! But I treat them as living documents that I can make changes to as needed.

As your business grows, you may want to change how you jump into things and that’s great!

 

SOP

 

Whether your business is brand new or one that is quickly growing, be sure to keep all SOPs up-to-date and easily accessible. From printed documents to online sites, let it be known where all of these procedures live.

Asana or Trello are great project management tools, and also great places to store a checklist with your Standard Operating Procedures (SOP). Here, your office staff (or you) can do a brain dump and organize the cards into categories that make sense to you. You can add people to the boards and you can share your thoughts and plans in an easy way.

 

Remember, if your SOP is out of sight, it’s out of mind for your employees

You want to create a space where these procedures live that’s easy to jump to at a moment’s notice.

Once you have clear and accessible Standard Operating Procedures in place, you can let them do the work for you – this ultimately allows you to work on the bigger picture ideas that actually enhance and grow your business!

As a business owner, if you’re looking to scale your business, add employees, and move forward, you’ll want to put together SOPs sooner rather than later. Don’t let everything live in your head – it can get way too chaotic!

Put everything down on paper – real or virtual! Whatever works best for you. Jump into creating SOPs and your future self will thank you– I promise!

 

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About The Author:

Liz Illg Headshot

Liz Illg is the Owner of Puff & Fluff Grooming and Pet Sitting with five locations in the Phoenix area. Not only has Liz turned her passion for animals into a thriving business, but she is also an expert when it comes to creating an environment of growth for your business as well. In fact, as an Operational Strategist, Liz specializes in working with small business owners and entrepreneurs. She can assist with everything from streamlining systems to creating manageable training and operational manuals. Liz received her Bachelor’s in Business from Arizona State University and her Master’s in Education from Northern Arizona University.

How Do You Know If Your Staff Is Retaining The Info In Your Training?

How Do You Know If Your Staff Is Retaining The Info In Your Training?

How Do You Know If Your Staff Is Retaining The Info In Your Training?

 

How Do You Know If Your Staff Is Retaining The Info In Your Training?

 

As business owners, we spend countless hours per day dealing with all things staff. This could range from hiring and training to just answer staff questions through phone calls or text. Managing your staff is a never-ending routine, and I see it leading to burnout all too often. Maybe you’ve even had one of these thoughts cross your mind recently?

 

“Why don’t my staff just know how to do their job?”

“I cannot believe my staff didn’t know how to do XYZ”

“Are they really calling me about such a stupid question?”

“Why don’t my staff have any common sense?”

 

There are a few potential reasons why you and your staff are having this disconnect. First, your staff may not know how to find the information. Or, perhaps maybe they lack the confidence to do what they think is the right course of action. Perhaps they know the answer, but they’re so afraid of upsetting you that they just aren’t 100% sure.

Today we’re going to explore a few proven methods for how you can ensure that your staff is retaining your training materials, which will ultimately build their confidence within their role while freeing up time for you! 🙂

 

Testing & Training

What type of tests do you have for your staff? There are many kinds of tests, but some of the most popular are in-person, written, and on-the-go.

A popular method that I’ve always recommended (and used in my own business!) is to give newly hired pet sitters a written test during their orientation. My pet sitting employee handbook and training manual used to be 60+ pages long, so it really wouldn’t be fair or reasonable to expect them to remember every piece of information on every page. That’s where my 10-question written test came in – to help hone in on those key areas I really wanted my staff to remember.

 

Employee Handbook and Training Manual

 

Another type of test, the in-person test, is perfect to use during training and ride-along. Having a newly-hired pet sitter aimlessly shadowing can be overwhelming without a clear sense of direction. It’s important to be realistic and understand that the human brain is really good at retaining a few pieces of key information, but isn’t always so good at remembering all of the tiny, minute details.

One way to really drive home those important hitters is to come up with a “10 Point Visit Checklist” or something similar that you can demonstrate and walkthrough during your training visits.

Last but not least – testing is not only reserved for new hires! A great method to use for seasoned employees is testing-on-the-go. When you’re asked questions, try to refrain from just feeding them the answer.

I know that can sound a little strange, but always answering every single question point-blank can hurt your staff more than it’s helping them. You want to encourage them to think critically and teach them how to find the answer themselves, instead of reinforcing the idea that you’ll serve as an open-book of information.

 

Check out this example:

Pet Sitter: I need some help – I’m currently at a client’s home and I don’t see one of their cats. What should I do?

You: That’s a great question. What do you think you should do?

Pet Sitter: Well, first I think I should fully search the house, including all potential hiding spaces. Maybe then I can bring out some treats to try and entice the kitty to come out.

You: Perfect – give that a try first and let’s see how it goes 🙂 

 

See how much more fruitful that is for your staff? You allowed the employee to think through the problem and come up with the solution themselves, instead of you telling them outright.

 

Onboarding

Here comes the big question – how often within 3 months are you reusing your training materials? That’s right – I’m looking at all of the people who whip out their employee handbook/training manual for orientation, only for it never to be looked at again by your staff.

I get it – being a business owner is busy.

However, it’s really important to get away from the mindset that training is “one-and-done.” Training is an ongoing, never-ending learning process, so we want to make sure you are consistently reintegrating your training materials into your staff’s routine.

Let’s take a step back and do some thinking.

How many staff meetings do you have per month, quarter, or year? Of these meetings, how big/small are they? Are they mandatory, expected, or optional? What kind of meetings are they? Are they meetings over a meal, or a group Zoom call? How do you communicate with your staff? Do you use email, texting, or Slack?

Take some time to really think about these questions and determine what you’ve found to work and what you’ve found not to work.

To help with this, Liz Illg, pet business powerhouse, and myself are coming out soon with a brand-new series of 12 professionally-shot videos that you can reuse again and again for staff meetings. Stay tuned for more information on this project 🙂

 

Ways To Learn Your Training Info

It’s also important to recognize that people learn in all different kinds of ways. A one-size-fits-all approach is just simply not effective for ensuring your staff retaining your training information. In fact, research shows that there are 7 different learning styles:

  • Visual/Spatial: Using images or visual cues to process information.
    • Examples: Pictures, videos, and demonstrations.
  • Auditory/Musical: Responding primarily to sound
    • Examples: Audio recordings or audiobooks
  • Verbal/Linguistic: Learns under both verbal instruction and through writing.
    • Examples: Handbooks, training manuals, and tests.
  • Physical/Kinesthetic: Going through the motions of what is being learned.
    • Examples: Hands-on training, ridealongs
  • Logical/Mathematical: Learns through understanding the reasoning behind content and skills.
    • Examples: Dog/Cat behavior guides
  • Social/Interpersonal: Natual group workers that are engaged with others and love working within teams.
    • Examples: Group training sessions and activities.
  • Solitary/Intrapersonal: Individuals who prefer to learn on their own and keep to themselves.
    • Examples: Employee Handbook/Training Manual self-study

It’s important to understand and keep these different learning styles in mind so that you have training content that can meet the needs of any type of learner. A great start is to implement video training within your pet sitting business.  and to develop an employee handbook/training manual.

 

Ask Clients

Another way that we can make sure your staff is retaining information is to simply ask your clients! Here are a few questions that can help:

  • How clean was your house when you returned?
  • Would you recommend us to your neighbors?
  • Was your dog visibly tired after his/her walk?
  • On a scale of 1-10, how safe do you feel with us coming and going from your home?

On one hand, it makes clients feel good that their opinion matters and on the other hand, you are obtaining valuable feedback. Don’t feel pushy asking for feedback! If you do it on a regular basis, it will come to be expected and your clients won’t mind at all 🙂

Overall, pouring into your staff and a fun and resourceful way, not in a dominating way, can go a long way towards training retention. It’s important to recognize that training is not just a 2-hour orientation, but an ongoing process that’s implemented into your long term plan with employees.

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How Should I Pay My Pet Sitting Employees?

how should I pay my pet sitting employees

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

how much should I pay my pet sitting employee

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

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

 

classes-pricing-guide

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

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

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

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

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

prices on website

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

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

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

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

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

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

pet sitting employee manual