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pet business hiring

Recruitment vs. Reactionary Hiring In Your Pet Business

One of my clients called me frantically last week. Two of her dog walkers quit on the same day.

She was freaking out. It was going to cause her to get back into the field and she knew that she wouldn’t have as much time to work on her business.

Ever feel like that before?

I know I have.

You get caught in the conundrum of feeling like you don’t have enough business to hire, yet if you don’t, you feel like you are living on the edge.

You know that if the perfect storm comes (and enough people leave the company at the same time) you will be back in the field just like my client above.

Hiring pet business

 

Today, I am going to help show you how to never be in this position.

How to stop that conundrum and take control over your business so you aren’t living in slavery to your business at the drop of a hat (or a resignation letter).

There is a major shift happening with hiring pet sitters; It is the difference between being reactionary versus responsive.

The ones who are acting responsively are scaling their companies at record times.

Allow me to explain.

Reactionary Hiring Happens Only When You Have To Hire. 

Reactionary Hiring is when you start posting ads because you:

1. Just had someone quit.
2. Want to hire someone to replace a bad apple.
3. You have so much work that you need more help.

This is hiring for a specific reason. You are only trying to fill the funnel when you have a need . . . which makes you already behind the eight ball.

Hiring and Recruitment In Your Pet Business

When you are constantly behind the eight ball, it can lead to a lot of stress in your life.

You don’t get to consistently work through projects because you have to keep stopping to jump in and help get walks and visits covered.

And don’t even think about your social life!

You are the friend or family member who is always rushing off, never there, or too tired to attend.

And, you know what? You just can’t last longterm living like this.

Responsive Hiring Is What You Need To Do To Solve The Hiring Problem

Responsive hiring is when you’re constantly looking for great people to bring on your team.

You are always feeding the funnel by keeping your hiring ads fresh. You are constantly sifting through all the applicants and putting them into warm & hot categories.

How you organize this or keep track of these applicants is hugely important. You want to have a system that can track it all, sort it all, and not distract you in the middle of your regular working day. You don’t want to lose sight of all the good applicants out there- even if you don’t want to hire them today. You don’t know what tomorrow holds.

The important part is being able to recall all of the qualified applicants right when you need to and have the right type of software can help you with just that.

Are You Able To Email A Pool of Qualified Applicants Today?

Which one are you?

Ask yourself this:

Right now, are you able to email a pool of applicants that have already passed the first or second round of vetting for your company?

Are you able to ask them on a “date” (interview) and get them up and hired in the next week?

If the answer is no . . . and you have to start from scratch by posting an ad . . . then you are reactionary hiring.

This causes a lot of sleepless nights.

It causes anxiety that . . . “if one or two people quit on the same day… your business wouldn’t exist”

Feeling of helplessness when your office manager is telling you . .  . “I am posting all the time but not getting any applicants”.

It is like the weight of the world is on your shoulders and you are about to collapse!

This Is Why I Always Say…

This is exactly why I say to “always be hiring” and “hire more than you need,” because you just never know!

I have been there personally with my former company.

I have had the pit in my stomach, the worry, and as a coach I have been dreaming and searching for something I could pass along to you to help take all that fear and anxiety away.

sign up for jazzhr
I have seen vacations be ruined because the business owner had to stay back and take care of the business because they were understaffed. I have also seen business owners look forward to a dream vacation, spend a fortune, count down the days, only to spend the entire time working and putting out fires.

This is not why we started our own business and we must keep that in sight.

Getting ahead of the hiring challenge will help you to grow a business that you desire. It will help take you from solopreuner who really just has a job to someone who is the boss in charge that can multiply themselves for the masses.

To grow, to achieve your goals, you have to get really good at putting yourself out of a job. But in order to do that – you must have someone to replace you.

If you don’t figure out how to hire for your business you will eventually stall out. Don’t let this be you.

 

mastermind pet sitting

You Deserve To Be The Boss In Charge

I want you to think back to when you started this business. Why did you start it and at what point did it start running you? Staffing is 50% of the challenge that you will always have no matter if you are just starting or been around for 15+ years. You must stop trying to save the same problem again and again and start solving it systematically.

So what are you going to do?

Are you going to consider creating a process where you can have QUALIFIED applicants always on hand?

Over 70 pet sitting and dog walking companies have trusted my partner, JazzHr with their hiring needs and have been able to take charge of their business and their life because they now have control over the hiring challenge.

Whatever you choose, know that this is something you will need to address so you can take some of the stress away from running a growing business.

 

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How Does Blogging Help Me Get Pet Sitting Clients?

How Does Blogging Help Me Get Pet Sitting Clients?

On more than one occasion I have gotten the question “How does blogging help me get pet sitting clients?” And while I have been blogging up a storm for years on how to do all of this, I realized I haven’t actually explained on a strategy level how blogging helps customers find you and how it converts them to pet sitting clients.

I have shown you Mark, a dog trainer, who ended up with so much business from blogging that he raised his prices. 

I have brought you the story on my YouTube Channel and on my podcast Bella In Your Business, of a man on the brink of bankruptcy in 2008 who started blogging and not only saved his business, but became a worldwide leader in his industry, which then lead him to make over 2 million dollars speaking all over the world about exactly how he did it. 

I also had the incredible Mike Alton on Bella In Your Business showing you how your local blogging can gain you credibility and expert status in your community. 

I even showed you what you need to do post publishing to make sure the most amount of eyeballs get onto your blog. Post publishing is almost as important as writing the actual blog. 

There have been numerous other instances… as I have over 200 videos, 500 blogs, and 130+ podcasts (at the time of publishing) but I have never actually directly answered “How does blogging get me clients” so let me explain. 

 

We Google Everything.

When you have a question you don’t know the answer to, where do you go?

Google, right? 

People ask google (or Siri or Alexia, etc) everything! We ask them on our phone. We ask them by typing in on our computers, and we even ask them by voice.

Search is something that has changed so much over the years and more and more questions are being asked, and less “search term + city” ENTER.  

People are looking for answers to their questions. Will you be the one answering them? I guarantee most of your competition isn’t doing it. 

There is a huge opportunity up for grabs. Will you take it?

How Does Blogging Help Me Get Pet Sitting Clients?
Girl hugging dog, while dog has it's nose to her cheek.

Content Marketing in 2019 is Like the Gold Rush.

This is still an untapped strategy that many are too lazy to adopt. Or, they lack the planning to actually execute.

In many communities YOU, my friend, can still stand out online. Imagine if you were trying to make a purchase and googling to learn more about the product or service. Typically people want to know the major questions: 

How much does it cost (in the area)?

What are the problems with the product or service?

How does it compare with others?

What are other people saying about it?

People will figure out the answers to their questions somehow and why not it be from you? You can be the one responsible for bringing the information that the people want. For that they will be grateful.

https://www.facebook.com/jumpconsulting/videos/2255916208012225/

When People are Greatful To A Brand It Leads to More Revenue

I want you to imagine the last time a company was super helpful to you. When they educated you or provided value in a way that you felt like you could trust and was unbiased.  

A super example of this is Hubspot. They have endless blogs, downloads, and even free software that you can download now all so you can get comfortable with the knowledge of sales and tracking the things they provide the tools for. They basically let you test drive their brand before making the investment. 

This ability that the consumer has to “kick the tires” is hugely powerful IF they can actually believe what the brand is saying. This will make the decision to reach into their pocket a lot easier and less stressful becasue they feel like they have gotten to know you. 

Repurpose & Upcycling Your Blog

Blogs are super for repurposing, or what my friend Brian Fanzo calls “upcycling”. This is when you take the content and chop it up, we use it and spread it far and wide. We also talked about this on the Bella In Your Business Podcast. 

get more pet sitting clients

Another advantage to repurposing is that different people frequent different channels. Some people might follow you more on one channel than another and by posting your content on more than one platform you can and will expand your reach. 

But I warn you, master one platform before you add another or it can get overwhelming. 

 

How Does Blogging Help Me Get Pet Sitting Clients?

Writing a Blog and Then Chopping it Up Will Help You Upcycle 

For example a simple 1000 word blog might be upcycled like this: 

  1. Create graphics with your major points and share it on Facebook with a link back to your blog. 
  2. Create an infographic and tease it on your instagram feed. 
  3. Talk about it on your IG stories or FB stories and encourage people to go back and look at the article. (This is for your business and personal stories)
  4. Go live on your FB page talking about the article. 
  5. Go live in your Facebook group talking about the article. 
  6. Tweet about it. 
  7. Post it on your business page on Linkedin. 

In this day and age it isn’t about creating more and more content but using the content you do have and spreading it as far as you can. 

Think about spreading out pizza dough. It is the same effect!

The Bottom Line: 

At the end of the day, your customers will always have the same questions. They will get their answers, one way or the other.

It is all apart of the buying and decision making process.

What if someone was looking for a veterinarian in the area and they came across your blog about the Top 5 Veterinarian’s in CITY?  That was just one touch you made with a potential customer.

What if someone was thinking about using your services, and when they went to search for things like “how much does dog walking cost in CITY?”

Your blog was the one that kept coming up. It would subconsciously show them that you are showing up online.

That you are a trusted local expert. That you care enough to make your marketing shine, that must be a great indication of your work ethic. The very thing they are hiring you for!

Better Marketing with Bella

Still Not Sure How To Get The Most Out Of Your Blog?

I get it. Many people fall into one of three categories: 

  1. They hate marketing for numerous reasons. 
  2. They love marketing and always intend on doing more but really don’t ever get to it often OR (most importantly) consistently. 
  3. They love marketing and rock it on a daily basis. 

If you are #1 or #2 then I have a solution for you. It is Better Marketing with Bella where we provide you over 25 marketing items each month for six months. We provide videos, content calendars, graphics, emails… It is a six month program and we will be admitting those who apply and meet the criteria very soon. You can apply here.

Episode 57: Lead Through Strengths With Lisa Cummings

Description

On this episode, Bella spends time with Lisa Cummings, Founder of Lead Through Strengths.  Lisa talks about how it is her life’s mission to help people get over their obsession of fixing weaknesses instead of focusing on their strengths, the things that make them happy, give them energy and make them successful.

pet sitter marketing

Lisa Cummings

“Notice what works to get more of what works!” – Lisa Cummings

Pay attention to what is working. Make sure in your customer surveys you aren’t just asking what needs improvement. Ask customers what they loved most about the various parts of the service. You may find that some simple little thing you do, like giving out a little “report card” at the end of a stay, may be the thing that keeps them coming back and gets them referring you. After all, it is easier to replicate what is working for you than to try to figure out the 50 or 60 potential solutions to something one client says they don’t like.

To zero in on your strengths Lisa recommends the book Strengthsfinder 2.0 which gives you a code to take an online strengths survey. It gets away from skills and knowledge and helps you find your natural talents, the way you think, feel and act that feel good to you. It gives a filter for helping figure out the best way for you to approach issues. The book explains the definition of the 34 potential talent themes revealed by the survey.

Another way to zero in on strengths is to look for what brings you ease, energy and enjoyment. If a particular activity causes you to lose track of time, stop and exam just what about it really kept you engaged.

On her website, Lisa  has a list of things you may want “more of” in your daily life. It can give you clues as to what activities you are more attracted to.

Two books that Lisa recommends are First Break All the Rules by Gallup Press and Now Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham. She says that if you read them from the standpoint of managing people and then combine that with a strengthsfinder of those people you manage it is most helpful in managing people.

When you have a business challenge imagine putting it through a funnel.  You drop it in at the top and you filter it through all the top talents and strengths in your business.  Try thinking how to solve it using each of those strengths.  Lisa says is causes your brain to think in ways it normally doesn’t and can lead to some creative solutions.

One first step you can take is to decide what you want your company to remembered for and what you want to be remembered for. Come up with a list of words and phrases around that which will serve as an outline of what is most important to you.  Another is to list out the values that are important to you. Lisa has a list of values on her website you can use as a reference.

Lisa also recommends finding out similar information from your customers.  Casually ask customers what word or words come to mind when they think of you or your business.

Finally, she suggests you make a list of at least 100 responses to “I am good at _________!”. It helps you not only affirm how much you are good at but you can group them into trends and see if you are truly applying them in your business.

About Lisa

Lisa Cummings has delivered training & speaking events to over 9,000 participants in 14 countries. You can see her featured in places like Harvard Business Publishing, Training Magazine, and Forbes. She’s the CEO of a company called Lead Through Strengths. When she’s not out spotting strengths with teams, you’ll find her rescuing stray dogs or playing drums.

Links mentioned in this episode

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Episode 56: Defining Your Brand With Lain Ehmann

Description

On this episode Bella spends time with Lain Ehmann, Marketing Strategist at #FastLain.

communication business

Lain Ehmann

Listen in as they talk about the mistakes small businesses make on their websites, including telling a story that your audience wants to hear vs. telling the story you want the audience to hear. Be mindful of your audience.

You will also learn how to make that message different between the mediums. In particular, be conscious of the frame of mind people are in when they are reaching out to you vs. when you are reaching out to them. Give them something they wouldn’t expect. Don’t sell them.

Messaging, which is “communications branding”, is critical to success. It is the message you are going to consistently send out to your audience that also helps you distinguish yourself from others in your niche. As a bonus, doing so may even allow you to charge more.

“Messaging is a tool to do that by defining who you are, what the value is that you provide, and the audience you provide that to.” – Lain Ehmann

The next logical step in the process is helping customers see that you can solve the problems they have.  You can drive customer motivation by tapping into their “pain points”. Bella recommends that you include the benefits of your online scheduling as part of your messaging.  Lain says that playing up your “secret sauce”, that unique niche that  you have identified, will help you reach those who need that service and even build your standing among those who don’t because they see how much you care.

They  also recommend doubling up on your marketing. For instance, doing a Facebook live with tips about dog walking and then putting a link to that under your services page.

Another common mistake Lain points out is that often business owners speak from their point of view and assume that the audience knows everything that they know. In fact, educating the audience should be an important part of your efforts. Make sure they understand the terminology and services you are offering. Lead them through your site to the call to action.

About Lain

Lain is a bestselling author and communications strategist, who specializes in helping six- and seven- figure entrepreneurs uncover hidden profits and potential – FAST.  Her superpower is saying what your customers and clients really need to hear, to get the results you want as quickly as possible.

Links mentioned in this episode

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Episode 55: Financial Planning in Your Business With Paul Adams

On this episode of Bella in Your Business, Bella spends time with Paul Adams, President and Founder of Sound Financial Group.

business coaching

Paul Adams, President and Found of Sound Financial Group

They discuss:

  •  The roles finances play in our business
  • Why it is so hard for the self-employed to pay themselves
  • What happens when we don’t focus on being financially fit
  • Steps you should take to get yourself financially fit
  •  How Luke 16:10 pertains to building business & wealth.

Paul Adams is President and founder of Sound Financial Group where he and his team help clients maintain healthy balance sheets, stop forfeiting money unnecessarily to the IRS, and to build and protect their plans for the future. The cornerstone of his advice relies on the belief that people should always make their financial decisions based upon indisputable math and independent scholarship, not based on media hype, hearsay, or trend.

Paul is also an accomplished speaker and the of author two essential financial guides – Stop Burning Your Money and Sound Financial Advice – 
and in 2016 was interviewed by Forbes, Entrepreneur and Inc. magazines.

Links

Also, Paul has made available a PDF copy of his book Sound Financial Advice.  E-mail Bella at bella@jumpconsulting.net for more information.

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Episode 54: The Power Of Telling Your Story

On this episode Bella spends time with Andrew O’Brien, Founder and CEO of The Publicity Guy.

public relations

Andrew O’Brien

They discuss:

  • Andrew’s compelling story.
  • How crucial it is for you to tell your story.
  • How to get your story out there.

Andrew is the founder and CEO of the Publicity Guy. They are on a mission to change the world of publicity. They don’t just want to get media exposure…they want their clients to be known across continents as authorities in their fields. Leveraging the limelight is the backbone of their strategy. Media exposure can be so much more than “social proof,” and their team can show you how.

ThePublicityGuy.com

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Episode 53: Everything You Need To Know About Vetting With Justin Recla

On this episode Bella speaks with Justin Recla, Operations Officer for The Clear Business Directory Due Diligence and Vetting Solutions.

pet sitting business

Justin Recla

They discuss:

  • The importance of vetting your potential business partners, employees, and service providers
  • How best to go about vetting
  • How Justin and Tonya’s background in Counterintelligence translated over to the business world.
  • Does having a due diligence process tells others that you do not trust them?
  • How business owners can use their vetting process when marketing themselves.

Justin and Tonya Dawn Recla are Army veterans and former government agents who bring over 20 years of combined counterintelligence experience to the business world. They established The Clear Business DirectoryTM and have forever changed the way business gets done. For the first time, consumers and business owners alike can make sure potential partners, investors, and service providers are who they say they are and can do what they say they can do.

You can find out more at ClearBusinessDirectory.com.

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Episode 47: Customer Experience With Joey Coleman

On this episode Bella catches up with Joey Coleman, Chief Experience Composer, Design Symphony.  They talk about things you can do as a business owner to create a meaningful customer experience. Ideas include:

  • Sending personalized gifts to your customers seemingly at random
  • Sending handwritten notes thanking them for trusting you with their fur baby
  • Keeping track of simple things like the pet’s birthday and sending acknowledgements
  • Doing a monthly quick check of the pet (for any issues)

    Pet Sitting Customer Experience

    Joey Coleman

  • Giving the pet a bath unexpectedly
  • Sending quick personalized videos of the you and the pet to the client.

For over a decade, Joey has helped organizations retain their best customers and turn them into raving fans via his entertaining and actionable keynotes, workshops, and consulting projects.

His First 100 Days methodology helps fuel successful customer experience endeavors at companies and organizations around the world.

As a recognized expert in customer experience design and an award-winning speaker at national and international conferences, Joey specializes in creating unique, attention- grabbing customer experiences.

He works with companies ranging from small VC-funded start-ups, to large Fortune 500s, with hundreds of mid-size businesses in between.

Joey developed his narrative skills as a criminal defense trial attorney, advised and counseled Fortune 500 companies as a business consultant, honed his communications and messaging skills at the White House, and did things for the U.S. Secret Service and the CIA that he can’t talk about publicly.

His design and artwork has been displayed in museums, featured in juried shows, and graced publications in the U.S. and abroad. When not traveling the world (48 countries and counting) for keynote presentations, client workshops, and quality beach time, Joey enjoys watching magnificent sunsets from his mountain-top home in Colorado with his wife and two young sons.

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Episode 46: Website Copy, SEO, Blogging, & FB Live With Jen Phillips April

On this episode of “Bella in your Business” Bella speaks with Jen Phillips April, an SEO copywriter and social media trainer. They discuss different ways of impacting the traffic you get from search engines.

blogging SEO pet sitting business

Jen Phillips April

Specifically they discuss:

  • Website copy (the words on your website) and how you need to rewrite so people can find your page more easily when searching
  • The wide range of searches user are doing these days
  • How consistent blogging can affect your SEO
  • The importance of Facebook Live to attract customers.

Jen Phillips April’s online marketing journey started way back in 2005 with a dog treat recipe site. Using content and the best practices of SEO, she grew that site to 87, 500 visitors/month. These days, she works with clients like pet sitters and dog trainers. She writes their website copy so it gets found by Google (and their target market) and she also offers training on social media and SEO. When she is not working with her clients, she is usually reading a novel, practicing her Down Dog or cooking up a delicious meal.

Check out Jen’s free 5 day email course on “How To Gain MASSIVE Visibility with Facebook Live in Only 5 Minutes a Day — Even if You’ve Never “Done” Video Before.” 

You can find out more at www.jenphillipsapril.com

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Episode 44: Why Your Business Needs Pet CPR Training With Cara Armour

In this episode of “Bella In Your Business”, Bella speaks with Cara Armour, Product Manager and Marketing Manager for ProPetHeroa pet CPR and first aid online training program for pet business owners.

In 2003 Cara Armour co-founded Active Paws Inc., in the Boston, MA area. In 2009, Cara won Pet Sitter of the Year. She is decorated in many accolades and even expanded to opening a grooming and holistic pet supply store.

Pet CPR Training

Since 2003, Cara has been trained by the American Red Cross as well as several veterinarians in Pet First Aid and CPR. In 2011 she completed an instructor training course and became a certified Pet First Aid and CPR instructor. In 2015 she co-founded an online Pet First Aid academy and now works as a product and marketing manager for ProPetHero, the Pet First Aid and CPR division of ProTrainings.

She is also a volunteer and foster home for The Boxer Rescue Inc, a health conscious breeder of Boxers.

Bella and Cara talk about Pet First Aid and how to go about training you and your staff.

They discuss the benefits of being trained which are:

  • Being able to save the lives of your pets or pet clients.
  • Learning to recognize potential issues with a pet and bring that to the owner’s attention.
  • Using that trained status to stand out from your competition and create greater security among your clients.

They talk about how an online training course, such as the ones available through ProPetHero are more useful than in-person training because:

  • You can do them at your own pace and anywhere you want.
  • The cost is significantly low compared to sending staff to an in-person training course
  • You can monitor staff’s progress and comprehension of the material.

There is even a special discount for “Bella in your Business” fans. You can get 10% off by going to here.
Coupon code: CPR-petsitter

Pet CPR Training

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Episode 43: Helping Your Clients Deal With Pet Loss Grief With Wendy Van de Poll

In this episode, Bella speaks with Wendy Van de Poll, the founder of The Center for Pet Loss Grief and an international best selling and award-winning author and speaker. They discuss pet loss grief and what pet professionals can say and do to be supportive to their clients in their loss. They also talk about how pet professionals can deal with their own grief.

Topics covered are:

  • What is pet loss grief
  • What you as a pet professional should do when a client gets the news that their pet has a terminal illness
  • How to help your clients when their pets die
  • What you shouldn’t say or do
  • How a pet professional can deal with their own grief over losing an animal client

Pet Loss Grief

Wendy Van de Poll

Wendy Van de Poll is a pioneering leader in the field of pet loss grief support. She is dedicated to providing a safe place for her clients to express their grief over the loss of their pets. What makes Wendy successful with her clients is that she get’s grief! “Over the years I’ve dealt with my own grief and helping many families communicate and connect with their pets long after their loss. It’s what I’ve done since I was just 5 yrs old!”

She is compassionate and supportive to all who know her. Her passion is to help people when they are grieving over the loss of a pet and her larger than life love for animals has led her to devote her life to the mission of increasing the quality of life between animals and people no matter what stage they are in their cycle of life! She has been called the animal whisperer. She is a Certified End of Life and Pet Grief Support Coach, Certified Pet Funeral Celebrant, Animal Medium and Communicator. She is the founder of The Center for Pet Loss Grief and an international best selling and award-winning author and speaker. She holds a Master’s of Science degree in Wolf Ecology and Behavior and has run with wild wolves in Minnesota, coyotes in Massachusetts and foxes in her backyard. She lives in the woods with her husband, two crazy birds, her rescue dog Addie and all kinds of wildlife.

You can find out more about Wendy and the Center for Pet Loss Grief at https://centerforpetlossgrief.com.

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Episode 42: How To Use Facebook Groups and Video In Your Pet Sitting Business

On this episode Bella speaks with Maureen McCarthy, owner of Love and Kisses Pet Sitting. Bella has found Maureen’s use of Facebook groups, social media, and video to be an awesome example of how to market.  Bella gets the scoop from Maureen, about how Facebook groups can be a great way to connect and expand your reach as a business. Maureen started a group for her own community called What’s Up Indiana Trail and it has grown like wild fire. Through it, she has been able to get more people engaged on her own facebook page and grown her business.

They also discuss Facebook Live videos – which if you’ve been listening to me for awhile, you know that I consider video as a MUST HAVE in your business. Maureen discusses with Bella how exactly she started doing Facebook Live videos with both her and her staff and the direct effect they’ve had on her business revenue.

She talks with Maureen about:

Facebook Groups In Your Pet Sitting Business

Maureen McCarthy

  • The Facebook group she started.
  • Why she started the group
  • How much work is involved
  • How successful it has been
  • How she got into doing videos

Her facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/IndianTrailPetSitter/

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Episode 41: Communication Problems In Pet Sitting Companies With Adam Smith

On this episode Bella speaks with Adam Smith from Precise Petcare. They discuss communication problems pet sitting business owners often have with both the pet sitters who work for them and with customers.  They discuss how the software offered by Precise Petcare addresses many of these challenges.

Communication Problems In Pet Sitting Companies

Adam & Lynn Smith

Precise Petcare is an online management system that could quickly become the center of your business. The online scheduling, billing and client/staff management are all in one place. With their system you’ll have fluid communication between you, your staff and your clients. Much loved features include Pet Care Journals, the Live Sitter Map and GPS sitter check-ins. Precise Petcare was co-created by a pet sitting business owner and a web developer to combine a perfect blend of knowledge and talents specifically for this industry. Husband and wife team, Adam and Lynn Smith understand first-hand what your needs are as a pet sitting business owner and have built each aspect of the software and continuously update and improve the system – without having to rely on outside talents to delay the process!

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Episode 35: Identifying and Overcoming Challenges As A Small Business Owner

On this episode of “Bella in Your Business” Bella spends time with Heather Dopson, Community Builder at GoDaddy.

Pet Sitters Overcoming Challenges

Heather Dopson, Community Builder at GoDaddy

Heather has a passion for digital trends and innovation along with a deep understanding of social networks, consumers and branding. As a Community Builder at GoDaddy, she leverages her skills as a connector and her drive to help small businesses succeed. Her mission in life is to help people lose their J-O-B and find their J-O-Y.

They discuss:

  • How Heather got to this position of Community Builder
  • Some challenges she sees happen in small businesses and freelance communities
  • How small business should owners determine what they work on themselves or what they outsource/delegate
  • The biggest opportunities she sees people overlook when it comes to driving awareness and driving revenue
  • “Beyond the Domain” a Facebook live series of videos she is doing for GoDaddy.

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Episode 34: “Click Here To Agree” Contracts, Sharing Client Photos, And Privacy Policies On Your Website.

On this episode Bella speaks with Sara F. Hawkins, an attorney who specializes in working with startups, entrepreneurs, marketing and advertising agencies, as well as major corporations where she regularly counsels clients on all aspects of federal and state marketing, advertising, sweepstakes and contests; international promotions; social media and internet law; copyright, trademark, and digital rights; as well as general business matters.

small business social media

Sara F. Hawkins

With a background in consumer product marketing compliance, Sara has worked with clients to create policies and procedures for engagement with agencies, celebrities, and influencers. Sara frequently speaks on legal topics related to influencer marketing; sweepstakes and contest promotions; as well as a host of digital, native, and mobile advertising and marketing topics. Since 1998, Sara has maintained her own firm in Phoenix, Arizona.

Bella and Sara discuss:

  • Where business owners can get photos from
  • Photo licenses and what they are
  • Who regulates photos and copyrights
  • How business owners can get clients to agree to share photos
  • Privacy policies
  • “Click to agree” agreements.

Here is the resource for my Deposit Photo deal 🙂
Sara can be reached at her website or Facebook

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Episode 32: Amy Schmittauer Explains Video In Her New Book VLog Like A Boss

In this episode of “Bella In Your Business”, Bella speaks with Amy Schmittauer from the popular YouTube series Savvy Sexy Social

In this episode they discuss what a Vlog is, and how and why Amy got into it.  They also talk about how pet sitters can use video to enhance their business and marketing and some tips on how to overcome that fear of being on camera.

Amy’s newly released book Vlog Like a Boss: How to Kill It Online with Video Blogging just launched on Jan 31st and just by listening to this episode, you might win a free copy.

Want to join our book club?

The Jumpers in my FB group voted for Amy’s book as our next book club read. If you would like to join us, we start the middle of February. You can get a copy of her book here and join our FB book club group here

 

Amy Schmittauer

Amy Schmittauer

Amy Schmittauer  is the Vlog Boss. As a new media triple threat —YouTuber, Keynote Speaker and Author—she coaches people to go after what they want in life and leverage online video to make it happen.

Creator of the popular YouTube series Savvy Sexy Social, her channel boasts a global community and millions of views.  And let’s not forget she is Mama to an adorable Beagle named LUCY.

In Amy’s first book Vlog Like a Boss: How to Kill It Online with Video Blogging, she shares her collection of strategies and tactics to help you create video that gets the attention you deserve.

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Britt Alwerud

Episode 31: Types of Apps

In this episode of “Bella In Your Business”, Bella speaks with Britt Alwerud from Handlr.  They discuss  the top 9 apps they think are great for the Pet Sitting business.

The apps they discuss are:

Britt Alwerud

Britt Alwerud lives in Los Angeles, CA with her menagerie of furbabies – two Goldens, Daisy and Taj, two cats, Tiger and Monkey, two horses named Gracie and Moo, and a chameleon named Larry. Britt owns DogZenergy in San Diego, CA. Now she’s the full-time Founder and CEO of Handlr. Handlr is the ultimate business app for busy pet sitters who are looking to automate and grow their business. Learn more about Handlr by clicking here or email her at britt@myhandlr.com. You can also find Britt on Instagram @doggonetechgirl or follow Handlr on Twitter @myhandlr for weekly business tips.

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Episode 30: Proven Social Media Marketing Methods

Britney Young, Social Media Marketing Manager

Britney Young, Social Media Marketing Manager

In this episode, Bella talks to Britney Young. Britney is a digital marketing professional and social media enthusiast. Her day-to-day life as a social media marketing manager includes: finding/curating relevant content to post to social channels, analyzing post data and post performance to see key trends or spikes in engagement, looking for relevant industry influencers to connect with, and responding to customer inquires, etc.

They discuss:

  • What a social marketing manager does
  • The pros and cons of using automatic republishers like Meet Edgar
  • How often should you post
  • What should you be posting
  • What you should be doing with all of those pet pictures you post
  • Their favorite apps for doctoring up pictures
  • The differences in the social media channels and a good workflow for pushing one post through many of them.
  • Focusing your efforts on a few selected channels.
  • Knowing your audience and finding out what channel works best for them.Apps mentioned:
    – Canva
    – Abobe Spark
    – Pixaby

For more information about Britney Young, you can find her on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/britneynyoung/

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Episode 29: What Type of Pet Sitter is Best for Rover Type Websites?

In this Episode Bella talks with Walt Galvin, an independent contractor working for Rover.  They discuss how sites like Rover can be a viable option for some pet sitters and walkers who are just starting out or want to keep it simple.

Walt Gavin, independent contractor with Rover.

Walt Galvin, independent contractor with Rover.

Some of the advantages include:

  • Not having to handle payments from clients
  • Saving  time and money but not having to handle marketing
  • Not having to deal with all kinds of administrative headaches and paperwork.
  • Ability to set your own work schedule

For Walt it has turned into a substantial retirement income and he points out that it is also a good option for those who don’t have the desire to hire other sitters and walkers as staff.  Walt also recommends that you pay close attention to the service agreements, particularly in regards to what insurance covers and you may need to purchase additional insurance to cover yourself.

Many of these online websites do not provide adequate coverage for the pet sitters. Only the clients.

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Episode 28: How To Pet Sit for Aggressive Dogs

In this episode, Bella speaks with Jennifer Taylor, the Founder and owner of JenLovesPets, an award-winning San Diego pet sitting and dog walking company.

After sitting down with Jennifer in her home town of San Diego, Bella was so impressed with the vast knowledge and stories that Jen has that she immediately knew she had to be on a podcast with the intent to help elevate the pet industry when it comes to approaching and accepting clients who are aggressive or fearful.

In This Episode:

aggressive dogs

Jennifer Taylor, JenLovesPets.com

Bella and Jen talk about “aggressive” dogs and how people often lump fearful dogs into the same category. Jennifer discusses some of the causes of aggression and ways to overcome it.

Listen in as they discuss:

1. What is the difference between fearful and aggressive dogs?

2. What advice would you have for a sitter who encounters a fearful or aggressive dog during a consultation? What steps should they take to ensure their safety?

3. What if that situation was that pet sitter’s staff member? How can one train their staff to acknowledge these types of pets and alert management?

4. Tell me a success story with a two and four legged client and how you were able to create a happy environment for that pet (the one you told me)

5. Where can sitters go to get more education on this topic for themselves and their staff?

They also discuss how a pet sitter would go about working with a fearful dog by including dog behavioralists and trainers on the team. Jen also lists some great resources for those who want to work with fearful dogs.

Mentioned In The Episode:
The Pet Professional Guild – http://www.petprofessionalguild.com/

pet first aid training online

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Episode 27:The Great Debate: DogVacay, Rover, Wag, and Zingy versus Professional Small Business Owners –

In this episode of “Bella In Your Business”, Bella speaks with Britt Alwerud from Handlr.  They discuss  DogVacay, Rover, Wag, and Zingy versus Professional Small Business Owners.

In this episode they discuss:

  • Why do you think so many small business owners are intimidated by the large powerhouses that have entered the market in the last few years?
  • How have the changed the industry? Are they really “disrupting” the industry?
  • What are the pros and cons of the huge companies versus the more personal professional businesses?
  • Are customers flocking to on-demand apps? Are they demanding an on-demand experience?
  • Are small business owners going to get screwed or what can they do to protect themselves?
  • If someone is a Rover or DogVacay user, but they want to become a legitimate small business with people working for them, could they use Handlr? What are their first steps for becoming a legit business?

Britt Alwerud

Britt Alwerud lives in Los Angeles, CA with her menagerie of furbabies – two Goldens, Daisy and Taj, two cats, Tiger and Monkey, two horses named Gracie and Moo, and a chameleon named Larry. Britt owns DogZenergy in San Diego, CA. Now she’s the full-time Founder and CEO of Handlr. Handlr is the ultimate business app for busy pet sitters who are looking to automate and grow their business. Learn more about Handlr by clicking here or email her at britt@myhandlr.com. You can also find Britt on Instagram @doggonetechgirl or follow Handlr on Twitter @myhandlr for weekly business tips.

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

 

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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!

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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.

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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”!

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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/.

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