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choosing pet sitting software

5 Things To Consider When Choosing Pet Sitting Software For Your Business

Choosing pet sitting software is no doubt a daunting task. After all there are a TON of different companies, all with loads of different, innovative features. But how do you know which of those features you truly need? Today we’re going to talk about the 6 things you MUST consider when choosing pet sitting software in order to keep yourself sane and organized.

6 Things To Consider When Choosing Pet Sitting Software For Your Business

choosing pet sitting software

Accounting

When choosing pet sitting software, we have to consider what type of accounting we do. You want to ask yourself if it’s important to you whether or not your accounting is done within the system. By this I mean if you want the software to track invoices, income, give you profit and loss reports, etc.

But, maybe your accountant or CPA prefers you use a software like Quickbooks to do your accounting. Maybe your CPA works with you virtually through Quickbooks where they log in and help you manage business finances. If this is the case, then a software with built-in accounting may not be vital for your business.

 

Customer Service

Another crucial aspect of choosing pet sitting software is customer service. What type of customer service does the software offer? What is there response time like? Do they have 24/7 support? What do other pet business owners think about the company’s customer service? Do they have online Facebook support groups? And are these groups run by community or actual Helpdesk at the company?

All of the above are great questions to ask and research when choosing pet sitting software. As a pet sitter, I know you know as well as I do that things DO go wrong sometimes. And in the event of an emergency or major problem with your software, you want to make sure that someone has your back.

 

How Often Is The Software Updated?

Nowadays, technology and software is constantly changes. There are always new breakthroughs. It’s important to choose pet sitting software that stays on top of the technology industry and is constantly changing with it. This can include things such as increasing loading speeds, GPS, adding new features, and optimizing their software for other devices such as phones or tablets.

Plus, does the company actually listen to their client’s ideas for changes? You definitely want to pick a company that listens to feedback and implements it in a timely manner.

 

Mobile Version or App Version?

It’s really handy for your pet sitters to be able to use the software on their mobile devices. So it’s important to find out when choosing pet sitting software if they at least have mobile friendly version (i.e. a simpler website specifically for a phone). Or, even better, do they have a specific phone application that you can download? And, can the client use the app or just the company?

Being able to use pet sitting software on a mobile device eliminates lots of room for error and can eliminate a paper trail, as in pet sitters won’t have to manually print out client notes or their schedule. There are lots of benefits to having mobile access to your pet sitting software, so this should be a primary deciding factor.

Communication

Every pet sitting company should have a primary form of communication. When communication is spread out between multiple methods (i.e. email, texting, phone calls, voicemail etc.), things get lost in translation. Consider choosing pet sitting software that offers communication within the program. This can be helpful so that you have all client and pet sitter communication within one medium.

Or, if you prefer email (or another method), then choosing pet sitting software with communication built in may not be as important to you.

Credit Cards

Make sure the software you choose doesn’t lock you into just one credit card company. Make sure that you can actually negotiate your credit card prices. More about how credit cards work here.

 

Final Food For Thought

Everything listed above are some of the major things you should consider when trying to choose a software company. You should consider these 5 factors first and determine what’s important to you. Then, you can look at the additional “bells and whistles” that the software companies offer.

Software is there to help you, so you want to find the program that’s right for YOUR business and fits in with your model.

mastermind pet sitting

The Problems With Switching Pet Sitting Software Companies

Thinking of switching pet sitting software companies can be a big pain in the A$%, isn’t it? In fact, all the headache that goes along with switching is the single most important reason why I hear many pet sitters won’t do it.

As a business owner, we already have way too much on our plate. If delegation is the key to success, why don’t we allow our clients to help us out with this process?

Stay with me here…

The Problems With Switching Pet Sitting Software Companies

switch pet sitting software companies

Don’t Make Switching Pet Sitting Software Companies A Solo Project

When switching pet sitting software companies, you will ultimately have your clients log in, update their info as needed, and schedule services with you, right? A common misconception with pet sitters is that they think the burden of updating their client’s information is on THEM – but I’m happy to tell you that this is not the case 🙂

So let’s invite them to “update their information” as we get our new system set up.

[ctt template=”8″ link=”7i813″ via=”no” ]Let your clients update their information by saying, “We want to make sure we have the most current info about Fluffy and Fido” @bellas_pets[/ctt]” This type of phrasing not only shows that you care, but gives the client an incentive to comply. It also alleviates the pain of you having to enter in all the information or pay to have someone do it. Plus, different systems might have different fields for information making it a little difficult. When this happens, we might procrastinate things even more. AKA Not get the task complete!

 

Here Are Two Examples Of What You Can Say To Your Clients:

If you can muster up the positivity and set expectations properly – consider the task of switching pet sitting software systems done!

How do you do that? Well, thankfully, you are reading this now, so here goes a mock letter, that you can copy and paste, right here from my website, for you to use:

 

Sample Letter #1

Dear NAME:

Our tail is wagging in anticipation of this new toy we just bought for XYZ PET SITTING COMPANY. It is an even BETTER scheduling software system that we just know you will absolutely LOVE!

Feel free to scratch and sniff your way around by going HERE and clicking THIS. Once you are in, you can actually create your OWN UN and PW. (I thought it would be better for you to create it rather than making something that you would probably forget, because, let’s face it, you didn’t create it!)

Before we are able to approve your next booking, we just need you to take 5 minutes, enter in the info for your fur babies, your credit card, and then you can be on your way to booking.

EVEN BETTER:

I know it is probably been dog ages since you have updated your babies info, so this will help us all stay on the same page!

HAVE ANY QUESTIONS?
If your paws hurt, you can always watch how easy it is to set up an account by watching this 30 second video HERE

Or, you can give me a howl on the office phone OFFICE HOURS, I am on stand by ready to help!

Tailwags,
YOUR NAME

 

Sample Letter #2

Hello CLIENT,

We are doing some updates to our online profile system and just need for you to update your fur kid(s) info before making your next booking.  Feel free to do it now, if you have the time!

It is as easy as 1-2-3.

1 – Click HERE and create a UN and PW
2 – Fill out all of your info and your pet’s info.
3 – Oh wait, we are all ready done! See how easy that was? 🙂

If you have any questions at all about this new process, I am in the office OFFICE HOURS and ready to help!

Tailwags,
YOUR NAME

Manage Expectations & Solve Problems Before They Come

I have always said, if you can manage someone’s expectations, you will cut the questions down to a minimum. Likewise, if you can expect people’s behavior, you can lessen your frustrations!

Here is what I mean: Anticipate the questions that your clients will have for you and consider making a short video like this one to help show them their answers:

You can easily create videos on Screencast-o-matic for free!

Remember, Questions Do Not Mean Criticism

Don’t fret when clients are asking you questions on the system. It doesn’t mean that the system you just moved to is de-funked. It means that they just simply have questions and they are looking to you for help. Think of it as a way to touch them and open up a conversation about how their services are going or how their pets are doing. Ask them their opinion of what they like and if there is anything you can improve on. Simply ASKING that last question can secure a client for life because they know that you care!

Switching Pet Sitting Software Systems Doesn’t Have To Be Tough

Change is always tough. I am betting that it actually took you a while to take the JUMP towards switching pet sitting software companies, am I right? What you need to do now is hold on tight, anticipate the questions, and know that you don’t need to sit there for hours upon hours to update every single client file.

Nor, is a data transfer going to be seamless. So in my opinion, it is best to have your clients help you do it. 🙂 Not to mention, all of the companies are always there to help you. After all, they want you to LIKE using their software!

Don’t ever let this challenge prevent you from making a switch!

 

Mastermind

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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above and beyond

Out-Of-The-Box Ways To Get More Pet Sitting Clients With This Simple Concept

Question: What would happen if today you didn’t gain any more pet sitting clients because you already have enough? How would you go about keeping the ones that you have?

So many companies say they go “above and beyond” with their clients, and attribute that to gaining more pet sitting clients. But what does that really mean? How do you go above and beyond with your pet sitting clients when you are sometimes removed from the day to day pet sitting? Your heart might be above and beyond but what actions do you do to show this?

more pet sitting clients

You might try with occasional emails or maybe even gifts… but usually, that is surrounded by you wanting something or it is an obligation to give a gift (holidays, new pet, pet passing).

It is passive.

It is predicted.

Sometimes it is even talking AT them and not with them…

Well now, I want to flip your thinking.

What if you started talking to your clients just like they were your friends? Ever see something that would be valuable to a friend and share it with them on Facebook? I do. All the time and I do it in business too.

 

In fact, since selling my company a few months ago, I feel awkward because there are so many things I read that I think, “Oh wow! I want to share that!” but I don’t have anywhere to do it. So now, you are going to reap the marketing bursts my brain has:

Here is How To REALLY Go Above And Beyond To Gain More Pet Sitting Clients:

 

1. Cincinnati Winning Basketball And Streets Being Clogged

Recently, we had a member in my Facebook Group notify all her clients the about street closures for the parade that Cincinnati was having for their team who won the finals. She let them know so they didn’t get in a traffic jam going to work. Nice way to reach out to everyone in a valuable way, huh? Many thanked her for the heads up.

Simple gestures like these will stick in your client’s mind. It’s a great way to ensure that your current clients will recommend you via word of mouth – ultimately ending up with MORE clients for you!

 

2. TSA Taking Longer And People Missing Flights.

When I had my pet sitting company, I actually emailed all the clients who were leaving town that weekend and reminded them about TSA wait times. It was a big story at the time. Many people were missing their flights. I even included a link to the airport where they listed the current wait times at each terminal location. I got many “Thank you’s!” and even a bunch of, “We were driving but thanks for thinking of us!”  Great way to show that you care and reach out without WANTING something, huh? 🙂

 

3. Major Weather Catastrophes Like A Tornado, Fire, Or Flood

Admittedly, it is horrible when this happens. There is panic among everyone and if you have a client out of town, watching it on the news, they might even get anxious.

Imagine getting an email from your pet sitter while you’re away saying something like “Don’t worry about the weather going on… here is our plan should we ever need it and you can stay up to date on our Facebook page.” And then post updates!

Pet sitting software systems will help you contact a certain group of clients that are away so you can speak directly to them. You could even email everyone a blanket email saying:

To the families who are away: Here is our plan.
To the families that are local: Here are some resources.

As pet sitters we all say we care, but how do we show it to everyone? Imagine the confidence that would our worried traveling pet parents? The alternative is that there is no communication and they are calling you frantically. I can almost promise you, no other pet care company is doing this. Get ahead of the anxiety!

 

4. Snowstorm That Strands People On The East Coast

Even thought I am in warm and sunny AZ, the snowstorms on the east coast during the winter affected by business and my clients. Flights would be canceled, delayed, or worse, people couldn’t get into the airport because of the road closures or airport closures. Acknowledging the stress in your pet parents lives while traveling will make them feel safe and secure. And they will remember you. It is very similar to #3.

 

5. Pet Food Recalls

Hear of a pet food recall happening? A quick email to your client base with a link to the press release on your website will be helpful for them to know you are thinking about them and care about passing along valuable information.

 

above and beyond

There Are More Ways To Gain More Pet Sitting Clients By Going TRULY Above And Beyond

Too many to be listed! For more creative ideas and inspirations, check out these other great tips:

Just keep an open mind the next time you are watching the news or listening to the radio. Think about yourself as a journalist as well as a pet sitting business owner and that will really help shift your mindset.

Now it’s your turn. How do YOU go above and beyond with your clients? How did that help you ultimately gain more pet sitting clients? Let me know in the comments below.

free coaching session

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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Expand Your Pet Sitting Business To A New Area With These 4 Key Steps

Expanding. It’s both a scary and exciting concept, right? And it’s definitely not easy to expand your pet sitting business. You not only have to market to these new areas of town, but also make sure you have the proper amount of staff coverage to expand to your new area.

Today we’re going to take a look at step one, which is marketing to this new area. As much as we wish that business would just start pouring in as soon as we expand our service area, this simply isn’t the case. Expanding is hard work, but there some crucial keys to success that will help you simplify the process.

Expand Your Pet Sitting Business To A New Area With These 4 Key Steps:

expand your business

 

If You’re Not On Page One Of Google, You Don’t Exist

Think about the last time you needed a service, a new restaurant to eat at, or a phone number. Did you pull out your dusty old phone book and look up different businesses one by one? Of course not! You Googled it.

The Internet, Google in particular, is an extremely powerful tool that can make or break your business. One of the first things you should do when you decide to expand is to go to Google, and search the area you want to expand to, followed by pet sitting (or dog walking, pet care, dog walker, pet sitter…)

Essentially you want to check out your competition and see if it’s feasible to get on the coveted first page of Google. If you’re trying to expand into an area with 20 existing pet sitting companies, it is doable but you need to be aggressive with your content marketing strategy. But, if you find a nearby area with only a few pet sitting companies with small online presences, bingo… that should be pretty simple.

Expand Your Online Presence, THEN Your Business

A beginner mistake that I’ve seen lots of pet sitting companies make is allocating way too much time to in-person marketing, and not enough to online. Think about this for a second. You could pay to have a bunch of mailers sent out to homes in your new area,  – and then what? People stare at it for a few seconds before inevitably tossing you into the trash. It hurts, but it’s the truth!

Instead, pour this energy into your online presence. I’m talking blogs, videos, podcasts, the whole nine yards. This content lasts essentially FOREVER. If you can get enough blogs and articles out into cyberspace, pretty much any time anybody googles something pet related, your website will pop up! So much better, right?

But the work doesn’t stop there.

Once you get people onto your website, you want them to stay there. You can do this by having a top-notch, user friendly website. You have only a few seconds to get somebody engaged with your website, so you want to make them count. Do this by having impeccable navigation and solve people’s problems rather than talk about yourself! 🙂

 

Expand Your Pet Sitting Business Presence Within The Community

When you’re trying to expand your pet sitting business, you want to get to know the community and have the community get to know you. One of the best ways to do this is to get an ad in your community newsletters. So many people read these, and if you can get your ad to stand out, this will fare even better for you.

Be certain that this is a newsletter or magazine that goes to a certain number of homes showing home values in the area. This is NOT a newspaper as those tend to only cover a small percentage of your area and your advertsiment will get lost in the sea of text and ads.

True Story:
When I still had my business, my ad would print in the newsletters upside down!  The caption read: “We see things a different way. They are not your pets. They are your kids with fur.” And you know where everybody’s eyes went first? Right to my ad. It got so “bad” that the newsletter eventually started putting “It’s supposed to be upside down” right next to my ad. Imagine how many eyes that drew?

If you can come up with an innovative idea like this, I promise, it will outshine the other ads in the newsletter, this is an extremely effective way to expand your clientele.

Another great way to expand your community presence is to participate in community booth events. But – they have to be done the right way. The day and age where businesses could use gimmicks such as “Write down your email to win this prize” or “Guess how many treats are in the jar” are over.

Consumers are WAY too smart for this kind of stuff now. They know exactly what you’re going to do with their information, and they don’t want any part of it.

So, you have to get creative. You could have people take a picture with their pet in a hat or doing something silly and then email them the picture. I’ve also written a couple blogs already on how to have awesome community events, that you can check out. They explain exactly what to do, and not to do.

9 Must Have Elements To Have a Howling Pet Event In Your Community

What You Need To Have A Successful Pet Sitting Booth At An Event

How To Have The Worst Pet Sitting Booth At A Local Event

Wow – This All Seems Like A Lot!

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was your business. So when you’re trying to expand your business, take it slowly, one step at a time. Start with your online presence as that is key. You have to have your website appearing on Google as much as possible. When you have the time, then go for the community newsletters and events.

But again, work at a pace that is right for you. Everything in business is a process, and as long as you are continually making meaningful strides towards your goal, you will succeed. Just don’t give up and remember to use your team and the tools at your disposal to help you along.

Here is a short video I recorded on one way I would go out and get more clients in a saturated area TODAY… I even provided a download for you to get your own template and script.

social media options

 

Episode 26: How To Get Pet CPR First Aid Certification Online

In this episode of “Bella In Your Business”, Bella speaks with Cara Armour, Product Manager with ProTrainings a 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.

 

Cara Armour

 

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.
  • Being able to use that trained status to attract more clients.

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

  • They are taught by an actual veterinarian using real animals.
  • You can do them at your own pace and anywhere you want.
  • Business owners offering them to their employees can have a dashboard that shows each employee’s progress.
  • You have access to them  for up to two years and can go back and revisit sections as you see fit.

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

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pet sitting staff gifts

5 Holiday Gift Ideas To Give Your Staff

There’s nothing quite like the squeals of excitement when your surprise someone with a gift. It’s even better when you’re rewarding your hard working employees with heartfelt appreciation. Day in and day out our employees put in their effort, energy, and time away from their home and family for our businesses. That’s why these 5 holiday gifts to give your staff are the perfect ideas to really show just how much they mean to you.

 

Think about it: Our employees are the backbones of our business. They are the faces our clients see, they are the ones we trust to show up as scheduled. This holiday season make sure your staff knows that you really care.

We talked with some of our closest pet sitting and dog walking business owners and here are 

pet sitting staff gifts

pet sitting staff gifts

5 Holiday Gifts To Give Your Staff:

 

Take Them Out On The Town

Our friend, Cheryle Meyer Stadler took her 6 Employees to a  VIP party at the Improv. They all enjoyed  dinner, drinks and front row entertainment with a guest of their choice. Even more, they also got a bonus, personalized wine glasses complete with a dog-inspired wine tags, plus a goodie bag full of awesome things like candy, hand sanitizer, flashlights, lanyards, nail polish, & lip stuff.

 

Send Them On a Getaway

Another great idea we got was from Krista Cugno Lofquist. She decided to give her hardworking Office Managers a trip or a cruise. Start searching now for a Groupon or Expedia and give them a much needed vacation. Our office managers work endlessly running the day to day tasks needed for a successful business, that’s why they truly deserve it! Sometimes even a stay-cation would do the trick!

christmas gifts to give your staff

Personalized Gifts

In previous years Krista also got each sitter and groomer a piece of pawprint jewelry, some with a birthstone, others with diamonds. How sweet is that? Try to find a local jeweler to get a great deal on a bulk order. This is such a wonderful idea that Katie Westerfield also gave out personalized jewelry one year. She gave pandora bracelets with the paw print dog bowl charm to her staff of three. Her staff posted about how great their boss was with pictures on Facebook. That’s how much they loved it!

Lindsay Licata likes to make things a bit more personal. She says, “I got one of my girls a beanie hat that has cat ears (Amazon $10), another one new cat dishes for her cat, a soap and cream set, a couple bath and body sets…..” What a great way to let your staff know that you put some personal through into what you got them. 

holiday gifts to give your staff

Bonuses

Sometimes when you have a larger staff it can be hard to do group parties. Pet sitting businesses aren’t set up like normal offices, where we all can break in the lunchroom for cake and punch for the holidays. That’s why Lucy Moore offers her employees cash by way of a bonus through payroll or even a year of membership at Costco. This is a perfect option for larger staffs and tougher schedules to coordinate. Speaking of Costco, they have great client gifts too!

Liz Chancey says  I always give cash. It’s not very creative, but I always loved receiving cash at Christmas. Plus, if they are having a hard time financially it’s helpful to them. I only have 3 employees and I give $50.00 to each.”

Samantha Busser also does cash with a twist: We do a girl’s day out every year (on their)  “workaversary” and Christmas with a nice lunch, a movie, and mani pedis, sometimes an old fashioned sleep over with girly movies and junk food lol, and for Christmas I also do a $50 cash bonus and some kind of gift, which I usually spend $25+ on.

 

Gift Cards

Everyone agrees that gift cards are a great way to go. For some, they can seem a little impersonal, so try to tailor the gift card to each person. Whether it’s a local boutique, pet store, or their favorite cafe, it’s more special when they know you were thinking of them specifically. Costco often sells them for 25% off, so check there first.

 

Even More Ideas… BONUS ROUND:

After I posted this article, I heard of even more awesome ideas that I couldn’t not add to the list. Take a look:

Christmas Lights and A Limo:

Sharon Jones says, “We are going out to eat this year and then a limo is picking us up and we are going to look at Christmas lights. We will have a gift exchange at the restaurant, we make it a game like white elephant but the gifts they bring are really nice. We limit to $25. Then we have for each of our staff members Holly Cook’s book “My End of the Leash”. We are celebrating this Sunday evening, I am excited!”   (BELLA NOTE: I have that book and I highly recommend it!!!)

Once you have picked out the best gifts for your staff let the fun begin!  Watching their eyes light up like twinkling lights and getting a big hug will make your day just as much as theirs. Plus, you’ll know your staff is assured of your appreciation, which is priceless. I always say, keep your staff happy, and they will keep your clients happy!

 

gifts to pet sitting clients

Employee Quick Start

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

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


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

And it didn’t come easy.

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

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

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

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

 

 

zoned boarding facility dog boarding

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

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

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

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is dog boarding in my home legal?

Is Dog Boarding In My Home Legal?

We have so many ways in this new instant economy to make money that businesses like dog boarding are sprouting up everywhere. To be honest and straightforward the answer to this questions isn’t a yes or a no.

The job of watching a pet while their parents are at work or out of town seems to be a job that anyone can do it. I have heard it all. Eight year old neighbor kids walking dogs, the person inbetween jobs, making some quick money to pay their electric bill by letting dogs come stay with her, and even some full blown businesses that have a bunch of hosts homes everywhere where the company sends the dogs to stay overnight.

prices on website

 

There Are Big Responsibilities When Considering Dog Boarding

In home dog boarding comes with some huge responsibilities both before they start their business and after. Although, focusing on the cute and adorable dream of caring for the pets…sometimes it is neglected.  One of the biggest responsibilities is finding out if they are even allowed to have a dog boarding business in their own home. It is almost implied that if you can sign up for one of these easy to use websites like rover.com, care.com, dogvacay.com etc that you very well can make money boarding dogs in your home.

But is it legal?

 

No one will know Bella!

Sometimes I hear, “Aw, no one cares about me Bella. I am just making a little side money. What’s wrong with that?”

Ah! But people DO know. They find out through seeing different dogs and people come to and from your home. They find out by your website advertising and your facebook page that is posting pictures.

Your neighbors can hear the dogs, they can see the dogs, and sometimes… they can SMELL the dogs.

People know.

And what is worse, is some of the people who board dogs in their home might be building a business that isn’t sustainable.

All it takes is for one person to call the zoning board to have them come knocking on your door. They did this to Kristie Glazer in Philadelphia. A neighbor reported her and they literally knocked on her door ready to nail plyboard on her window frames and board up her home.

Can you believe that?!?!  You can hear the full story here

She had to stop that business and ultimately, made a huge dent in her families livelihood.

client care notes

 

You Want To Do The Right Thing, Don’t You?

If you are going to go into business for yourself, don’t you want to know that you are doing the right thing? Don’t you want to go to bed at night knowing that you have proper training, insurance, structures, approvals, contingency plans?

If you don’t, something like what happened at Green Acres could happen and you could have 20+ dead dogs on your hands and criminal charges against you. Or what about these horrible cases that made the news:

  • Dog attacked at in home boarding
  • Dog Attacked and killed at in home dog boarding,no zoning.
  • Dog died sparked zoning investigation.zoning investigation.   The article states: “What we’re now discovering is all these boarding operations opening under the guise of pet-sitting,” said Animal Care and Control Director Dianne Sauve”

Yeah, this stuff is REAL.

You want to confidently tell your clients that your insurance covers you 100% for anything that happens.

You want to know how to properly introduce new dogs to your pack to avoid anyone getting bit in the face or have one of them injure another four legged client at your home. You want to know what happens if one gets out of an enclosure and damages your home or themselves while you are at the grocery store.

This is a very serious business.

 

 rover dogvacay insurance

Let’s Start With The First Check Mark You Need In Order To Be Up And Running:

Before you can even THINK of inviting dogs and cats into your home in exchange for money, you must look to see if it is even legal OR what you need to do to BE legal.

pet sitting employee manual

DO THIS: Contact City hall and ask if a special zoning license is needed to have a dog kennel in your residential house.

 

To show you what I mean, I took 30 minutes and googled for you. Here is what I came up with for some locations.

Los Angeles: You need a permit

San Diego –  7 or more pets

Ft Wayne Tx
Residential Kennel Permit $300
Commercial Kennel/Cattery Permit – (Requires Zoning Approval)
* 6-15 dogs/cats $150
* 16-25 dogs/cats $200
* 26 or more $250
* Omnibus Permit $200

Seattle/King County
4 + dogs or cats
Need permit

Minnesota Cities –Very long, you should read through it.

South Bend Indiana – Read Section 5-60

Maricopa County – $328 for a permit.

Utah – no more than 3 dogs in one home.

Louisville, KY – any boarding facility needs permit.

Fairfax County, VA – Depends on square footage

A great resource for looking up your local laws and ordinances is www.municode.com.

In the end, don’t you want to know that you are operating a legal business? Don’t you want to know that you have the proper insurance? That you won’t be fined? For some, it is a risk they are willing to take, but how moral is it to be operating (knowingly) and illegal business?

 

No One Said It Is Easy.

In some places, you will do your best attempt and call City Hall but the person on the phone might not know. Or they might not have any laws. Some that do require laws and permits hardly ever have inspections so then all you see are the bad cases in the news when things go wrong.

As a professional pet care provider, let’s do all that we can to bring the integrity of our industry up by doing everything we need to do to operate legal businesses.

If you would like to help the integrity of this article and you locate the statute in your town or county, feel free to add it to the comments section and I will add it to the list above!

 

 

 

pet sitting facebook group

An Amazing Customer Service Idea That Will Knock Your Pet Sitting Clients Socks Off!

Recently, my family and I just went to San Diego. It is a popular destination for us Arizonan’s… or you could call it a long drive to the beach. It was our second time renting an AirBnb and after this experience, and the amazing customer service we experienced, I don’t think we will ever travel again without using them!

pet sitter customer service

Before we even left on our trip, I was ecstatic to arrive. Our host, Scott, provided me a LIST of attractions in the area, how far they were, how much time it would take, and if they were kid friendly or not. His condo came with 6 bikes, for Adults, kids, even training wheels, and the smaller cart that you can pull toddlers, like Olivia, behind in!

customer service

My husband and daughter!

Although, upon arrival, there was a small basket of goodies for us, including a bottle of wine! I was impressed. But out of all the incredible amenities provided and carefully thought out, the one I was the most impressed with was this note:

customer service pet sitting

There is wine in there! See the hand written note? 🙂

This note told me that Scott, really cared about his property, his guest’s experiences, and was always looking to improve. It was a way to disarm the customer, get them to give valuable feedback, and always be improving his service. It also made me feel like I could ask him anything I needed and it would be welcomed. {Even though we didn’t need anything!}

Customer service


Using Customer Service To Knock Your Pet Sitting Client’s Socks Off!

How many times have you sent your clients something before their service starts? Maybe something like “What To Expect With Your Pet Sitting Booking” and describing the types of communication updates they will get and a check list of things you will be going through each visit to their home.

How many of you have followed up with a “What Can I Improve On” type survey? As opposed to a “Satisfaction Survey” which is cold and corporate sounding, or… nothing at all.

Whether or not your clients had anything good or bad to say, the fact that you allow the opportunity for that open communication to happen can make the customer feel incredibly special. It is no secret that consumers buy from people they know, like, and trust. So why not implement those things in your business?

I have already told 1 friend before I even stayed at Scott’s condo and three more after. Now, I am telling you all…

Here is the link to his AirBnB listing. =)

11 Unique Gifts To Give To Your Pet Sitting Clients

The holidays are a great time to let your clients know just how much you appreciate them by giving gifts to your pet sitting clients. Whether you choose to do it for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or even New Years, they are sure to appreciate it. Many pet sitters take to the Facebook Groups to ask what others have given to come up with new ideas. So I thought I would compile an awesome list of 11 Holiday Gifts to give your pet sitting clients, so you didn’t have to struggle through the process! 

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11 Gifts You Can Give To Your Pet Sitting Clients For the Holidays:

 

BarkBox

Send your dog or cat a fun box each month full of quality toys and treats. Prices start as low as $20 a box depending on the length of your subscription. With this gift idea, you don’t have to do the buying or wrapping, just purchase this box and have it shipped. Use this link to get a month for free! 

 

 

Dollar Store Galore!

Squeakers, chews, balls, and wands oh my! If you have a lot of people on your list, the dollar store is a perfect place to get holiday gifts. Be cautious of the treats, but most of the cat toys are fabulous to give as gifts. What cat doesn’t love balls with bells and fake mice? 🙂 

Big Store Stock Up 

Stores like Costco, Home Goods (one of my FAV places!), or PetSmart are a smart go-to tactic for holiday shopping throughout the year. Look for sales and stock up on items like medium to large-sized stuffed toys, pull & chew toys. And it’s great not only for the holidays but also as appreciation gifts for those without religious holiday affiliations, or “just because” throughout the year. Costco always has some great tough pet toys, candles, candies, even Starbucks gift sets sold in multiples. Might just be the perfect thing for the top 10% clients, eh? 🙂 

 

Classic Holiday Picture Card 

Sometimes a great gift is as simple as a company picture thanking them for their business. Gather all your employees for a sweet group picture and add business-friendly holiday message. Have an employee party where they all sign the cards while you are listening to festive music and enjoying each other’s company while sharing stories! Your clients will love the personal touch!

 

Gift Certificate 

This is great if you have a good relationship with a pet shop or groomer looking fo a new business that is willing to donate or discount gift certificates to your patrons. This way both business benefits, as well as your clients!  This is a great idea that you can use throughout the year as well during your networking efforts around town!

 

Make a Donation In Their Name

Go to the humane society or other local shelter or pet charity in your area and make a donation in your client’s name. Not only will you be giving your clients a token of appreciation, you’ll be helping animals in need too. You can do this either as individual donations or as a lump sum for “Clients of XYZ Pet Sitting Company.” It is the best gift that can keep on giving!  

my dog eats first

This charity was started by a pet sitter to help the pets who belong to the homeless have food to eat.

Free or Discounted Services

When you’re strapped for time or extra money, some pet sitters and dog walkers still want to give their clients something but can’t afford to. So they give a gift that they can provide. Services for free or a discounted rate. Think something like 10% of off monthly services or a free walk some have done. (I would only recommend this option if your profit margin can afford it!) 

 

Throw Holiday “Pawty” 

Take the tricks you learned from the How To Have A Howling Pet Event In Your Area and make it happen in real life. Add even more fun by having someone dress up as Santa so that clients can take pictures with their pets. Provide homemade dog treats and snacks for the humans. It’s sure to be the hit of the season.

 

Unique Gifts from Etsy (in bulk)  

Trinkets and homemade items from an Etsy store is always a thoughtful idea when showing your clients how grateful you are. Take a look at this unique wood carving that is a Christmas Ornament with your pet’s name on it. Pretty unique, huh? 🙂

 

pet sitter holiday gift ideas

 

Pet Rocks 

I have to admit, when Carol Preuett first told me that it is what she has done for her clients, I got a good chuckle. Then, she showed me a picture!  Find a local artist that can paint a rock in the likeness of your client’s pet. This one can be a little pricey, so it’s best to limit it to your top 5-10 clients. 

Carol says she has a local artist who paints these for her. The painter bases the portrait on pics Carol provide her for $35 medium rock & $40 large rock. “There’s no way a pet parent wouldn’t love one of these adorable pet rocks,” says Carol. I agree! 

 

dog walker client gift ideas

 

Photo book from Shutterfly, Simpleprints, or Photobook America 

Snap a few adorable pics of your pet clients and compile a cute little picture book. Be on the lookout for deals, sometimes you can even score one for free. You can also get great deals for these companies from time to time on Groupon. This is a truly thoughtful way to show your appreciation and love for your clients.

 

No matter what it is you decide to do for your clients, it is important to give back and it doesn’t have to always be at the holiday season. The world is full of options and they’ve chosen you to provide care for their loved ones. It’s always good to let them know that you are someone who truly cares and values their patronage.

pet sitting marketing yard sale

The Most Unique Pet Sitting Marketing Tip That Costs Hardly Anything and Builds Strong Relationships

DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE TEMPLATE & SCRIPT HERE.

 

Here I am explaining it JUST AS this idea came to mind:

I am writing this post out of the norm. I am not putting it into my publishing schedule, I am not going to make a long list. I am just going to tell you this very brilliant idea I just had as I was just out yard sailing. You see, you get the pleasure of all these marketing ideas I now have, that I can no longer do anything with, because I sold my pet sitting business.

Twice a year, a local planned community of 4400 homes has a yard sale twice a year. Once in the Spring and the other in the Fall. They do this to drum up shoppers and because it is against Home Association rules to put YARD SALE signs up everywhere in the community.

I always love these mornings because like Forrest Gump said, “You never know what you’re going to get!”

pet sitter marketing

How This Amazing Idea Came About:

So I was chatting with an older gentleman telling me that he had just remodeled and trying to sell me on his stove and microwave. “Look!,” he said, “It’s like new. You can see yourself in it still!” I wasn’t even in the market, but he was trying to hard sell me on the idea of getting rid of his “problem” which was this stove he no longer wanted. His wife was even mumbling about dragging it back in the garage and taking up space.

Can you picture it? 🙂

Recently, I learned that Habitat for Humanity would come out and pick up items you didn’t need, especially things like stoves, windows, doors, etc. so I mentioned it to him.

As I walked back in the car, the lightbulb over my head came on!

How To Help Saturate Your Pet Sitting Market Area

As pet sitters and dog walkers we are always driving around and passing by yard sales and garage sales, right?  What if you had a one page flier in your car that was a list of  valuable resources?  Something like:

What You Need To Know After Your Garage Sale Is Over

How To Avoid Lugging Everything Back In Your Home After Your Garage Sale

The Feel Good and Monetary Benefits Available After Your Yard Sale

On this flyer, you would list out places to drop off items in a 5 miles radius and places that you can call to schedule a pick up. The key to this is leaving the companies name and phone number.

Further, if you have a pet shelter in the area, many of them would love to receive the endless dog cages and cat carriers that almost every yard sale has. Why not be a resource to your community by helping give them ways to take care of their “problem” and give back?

pet sitting marketing yard sale

How Does This Come Back To Your Business?

At the bottom of the flier, you can have your business name, info, and a special offer. Even if they don’t become a client, it just gave you a reason to break the ice, talk to these people, tell them about your company and that you are a community leader helping to solve problems.

Great conversation starters, “If you don’t sell this (dog crate, cat carrier, dog carriage, pet steps to the bed) what are you going to do with it?”

Another way you can get even more creative is thinking of specific things… like:

Baby clothes to a shelter.
Scrap book pages to a local NICU.
Quilting or sewing materials to the local charity who makes baby blankets?

There are so many charities other than just “Goodwill” Get creative and make an interesting list!

Side note – The Community Yard Sale I went to hands out maps and a list of all the homes that are selling something. If I still had my company, I would totally contact the community director and find out if I could help “sponsor” the day by adding donuts at the checkin stand (where sellers get their balloon to mark their sales) *AND* including this one page sheet to the end of the list of homes selling goods!

Getting excited yet?

You Can Take It Online Too!

This list, could also be a blog online. There are so many Swip Swap CITY sites, where it is like a virtual online yard sale. How about any pet products being sold, you post a link saying, “I know what you can do with this here.” Inside would be an article about how the local shelter takes donations or (maybe?) they have a resell shop where they resell things to make money to keep the rescue open?  We always see people selling things online. Just make sure the Title is good click-bate! 🙂

 

Spread The Word

This is good-will, solving problems, and getting your brand out in the community. You can easily give them to your staff to hand out and offer incentives if the people call. Over half the yard sales I just went to either had a pet sitting next to the seller or the seller had pet items. Let’s use our incredibly warm and fuzzy industry to break the ice, build relationships, and be a solution to people’s problems!

Need a pet sitting Employee Manual and Training Handbook already written for your pet sitting or dog walking company? Now I have it all for you. Yours in just 60 seconds after purchase! 

pet sitting employee manual

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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What’s The Deal Between Rover.com and Professional Pet Sitters Anyways?

So if you go to the professional pet sitters, sometimes they don’t have the most glowing things to say about the Rover.com folks and if you take a gander into the rover.com groups… sometimes they don’t have too many nice things to say about the Professional Pet Sitters.

Can’t we just all get along?

Why the divide?

Both groups have two things in common, they have a business that loves on pets and they both make money off doing something they love.

So what is it about these two groups that have them disliking each other like cats and dogs?

 

love-pets-charge-the-right-price-and-make-a-business-out-of-doing-what-you-love

Our Economy is Shifting.

Since the invention and popularity of Uber, Lyft, AirBnB, and Handlr, our economy is shifting. We are entering a whole new era of anyone can make some side money and consumers can literally have things on demand, at their fingertips.

Britt Alwerud from Founder of Handlr and app that makes it easy for pet sitting clients to book and chat with their sitter says,”On-demand service apps not only give customers what they want right away, it also gives them peace of mind. With trust-based service businesses, people want to see ratings, see exactly whose coming to their house and be able to track their food order, dog or driver.”

So why is this a good thing?

Well, it is obviously great for those looking to make a little extra side cash. Those who want to save for their wedding, add to their retirement, or just have a little more spending money.

It is also great for the professional pet sitting companies that want to take on the world, make themselves different, and stand apart.

I am never quite sure why professional pet sitters get their feathers ruffled when they see the likes of the rover.com pet sitters starting up in their area. If you ask me, if their potential clients are comparing the two of them, the professional pet sitters haven’t done enough through their marketing and branding to make themselves stand apart.

 

rover.com

All Professional Pet Sitters Used to be Rover.com Sitters.

No, really!   At one point, we were all hobby sitters. Doing it all on our own.

I will use my own story as an example. Before I had a 14 year long business that was nationally and locally award-winning, I was in college. Trying to get out of my parents house, by sleeping at someone else’s house for $25 a night. At that point, I would have paid HER to stay at her house. It was a great gig and serviced my personal needs at the time. I enjoyed it so much, I attracted more and more clients by placing classified advertisements in community newsletters. If rover.com were around back then, you bet your bottom dollar I would have been all over it!

It’s just at that time, there wasn’t an app for that! *smile*

Think about it – most of these rover.com pet sitters are doing it for their love for animals. Sure there is a bad story every now and again, but there are also some bad stories about professional pet sitters that I can recall as well!

I think both sides should just bark less and wag more. It is more fun that way anyways, right?

rover.com pet sitters

To The Rover.com Pet Sitters

I encourage you to seek out the answers to your questions. Know that you can get seriously hurt on the job and know what a “redirect bite” is. Do everything to make your business legit by getting your own bonding, insurance, and registering with your state. In fact, if you really want to work more in the industry, if you do that, you are the glowing definition of an independent contractor and you can not only list yourself on rover.com and the likes of others, but find out which professional pet sitting companies in your area hire ICs and apply!

whats-the-deal-between-rover-and-professional-pet-sitters

To The Professional Pet Sitters

Make some room! Move over and allow the rover.com to come into the world. It is only going to give you the chance to develop your brand and shine brighter becasue there are more options for consumers in the marketplace now. The more “competition” or “options” for consumers, the stronger of an opportunity you have to set yourself a part. Branding, websites, policies, procedures, customer experience and customer service… it is all your time to shine now that you have all the professional pillars to make you strong. You have dedicated your livelihood to your business, now make it shine!

My fellow colleague agrees.  Cara Armour  Product Manager at ProPetHero says this:

“As pet ownership increases year after year, so does the demand for care for them when we can’t be there. While a professional pet sitter may look down upon a rover.com sitter, step back and think, maybe that rover sitter is looking up to that professional?

As a professional pet sitter I can’t make the industry better if I don’t set an example. Set aside your animosity and help make the industry better for the pets, there’s room for both types of businesses.”

We all need to start getting along and fostering relationships. We all have to start somewhere.

NOTE: For sake of this article, when you see rover.com I also mean dogvacay.com, care.com, wag.com, and all the other instant, at your service, pet care apps. 🙂

 

Start A Pet Sitting Business

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

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

 

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

More-clients-pet-sitting-dog-walking

 

List All The Services You Offer On Your Website:


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

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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 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 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?

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

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

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

out of control dog

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

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

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

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

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

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Common Claims

Episode 10: Top 15 Most Common Pet Sitting Insurance Claims

BELLA IN YOUR BUSINESS-itunes

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

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


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

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

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

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

There sure are a lot of pet sitting insurance claims!

Then, David covers the

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here the Top 5 lists:

Top 5 Pet Related Claims

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

Top 5 Third-Party Claims

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

Top 5 Workman’s Comp Claims

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

Here is David’s contact information:
David Pearsall, CIC, CWCA
Business Insurers of the Carolinas
PO Box 2536, Chapel Hill, NC 27515
1-800-962-4611 x214
dp@Business-Insurers.com

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The LONG Pet Sitting Problem I SOLVED For You.

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You might want to start a pet sitting business but know know where to start.

You wonder: Should you see what others are charging or figure out your own pricing structure and strategy?

background check

 

You make the decision on which way you want to go. So the next step starts with your  colors, and logo.

When you choose your branding you name will say a lot, without the proper diligence, your business could end up in the pot.

You will want to keep things running with systems and processes that will help you along the way. You learn ways to find dog walking clients and when the phone rings, you will know  what to say.

phone pet sitting

 

Creating ways to knock clients socks off at consultations will become clear.

Along the way your motivation might dry up;
but thats when you need to become a river and not a reservoir and not get stuck!

During these trying times it is always good to consider renewing your business vows. And on occasion there will be that one person you just can’t please so you might get a bad review. But don’t dear, you are going to be a warrior and focus your goals higher.

praying

 

One day, as your old friend burnout appears, you’ve had enough all the way up to here. You basically feeling like you are hanging out of a tree. It’s staring you in the face that you are only one person but you really need… three!

hanging tree

 

You hum and haw about employees or ICs. You read what happens in the audits and hear and myths about employees. After realizing your inner control freak, you decide {wrong} to go along with ICs.

You think its good and your are doing everything right, but then one day you have a tiny dog bite. {oops!} You immediately realize you had the wrong idea and wrote the IRS to switch and get their blessing to put you in the clear! But you have all sorts of questions like:

Should I switch?
How Do I Switch?
What Should I Know Before I Hire?
Are There Real Reasons With Facts To Back It Up?
What Is Workmans Compensation?
Which Costs More? Ics or Employees?
Do I Have To Get My Staff Phones?
How Much Do Payroll Taxes Cost?
Is Pet Sitting With Employees Even Profitable?
How Much Is The Average Pet Sit Visit With Employees?
How Do I Get My Clients Ok With My Staff and Not Me?
How Do I Pay For Overnights?

…and lots more!  {Which of course I have answered or interviewed the experts for you!}

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It was overwhelming to navigate the process but through the employee quick start program you were able to fire on all cylinders. Learning about taxes and book keepers and software systems and websites you revamped it all and tripled your bottom line.

After all that hard work you decide to take a vacation and turn off your business life. As you lay on the beach and look up at the clouds you soon begin to realize that you have finally made it and you go fly a kite!

Senior Portraits

You return with a fresh and clear mind.  You realize it is time to take another step back from the business and train your staff to do the consultations. You want to have the freedom in your life to be with your friends and family, so the final step (if you haven’t already) is to hire ME… so I can help you jump!

 

I don’t consider myself a Dr. Seuss or anything, but I did try my best. I wanted to show you, in one place, all the research that I have done for you… this industry.

Why? One reason, I care.

So I ask you, IF YOU ARE GOING TO CREATE YOUR BUSINESS TO HAVE EMPLOYEES WHY NOT COME TO THE #1 SOURCE IN THE PET SITTING INDUSTRY WHO HAS FOUGHT LONG (2+ YEARS) AND HARD RESEARCHING IT ALL FOR YOU?

Take a look my friends, no where else, will you get all this information. Grab the Employee Quick Start Program today to see how to put it all together! Just click below!

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What You Need To Know Before You Redo Your Pet Sitting Website

Have you ever had a really horrible experience with trying to build a website?

I have.

For example: You sort of know what you want but are trusting the person you hired to help you create this vision of miracles?  You expect it to sing your businesses brand and makes people fall over themselves with an incredible impression of who your business is resulting in lots of sales?

This fairy tail doesn’t exist. That isn’t the way it works. It isn’t reality.

So How Do You Get A New Pet Sitting Website?

Most of the time it isn’t as simple as just plugging in some colors and words to a template either. I mean, your business is different and unique, right? So why have a template that isn’t responsive and looks like so many others out there? You need someone to customize a template to make it your own. Not to mention, so many websites are lead with graphics now so having a designer on your team is essential!

It used to be (even just two years ago) you could hire someone to slap up a template and then be finished. There was minimal graphics with a few pictures, maybe a slider at the most. You would write in what you wanted to say and BOOM! You are done.

Somewhere between then and now it has evolved into needing a developer, designer, and graphic artist.

Throughout this evolution, I feel like we (as business owners who want a new website) have forgotten two things:

1. We need to know what we don’t want.

2. A designer isn’t a developer.

Here Is What I Mean:

Let’s take a look at #1 first. Knowing what you don’t want is as important as knowing what you want. Why? So that you steer clear of those things. For those of us who “don’t know what we want” knowing what we don’t want does help to narrow the field down.

But it is overwhelming, right? You want someone to just hold your hand and walk you through the entire process. Telling you what looks good, taking care of the technical side of things, etc. But that is like finding Price Charming. There aren’t many of them out there and you have to kiss a lot of toads first.

So what is a pet sitting business owner to do? 

Often times, myself included, we just throw our hands up in the air and say “The heck with it” and stop the project in its tracks.

Well that does us no good in getting us to our goal.

A Designer Isn’t A Developer

There is a major difference between someone who can throw up a template and insert things into it and then someone that can customize that template, make it your own. Understand that you have certain colors in your logo and use them throughout the website theme, as well as the font. Things need to be uniformed don’t forget!

There is one type of person who can write the code and there is another person that can design the site. Rarely is it the same person that can successfully do both. They can try but….. ?

 

 It is like asking your home builder to tell you how to feng shui your home.

That rarely works out. 

Getting Personal

It took me forever and a day to try and find someone to give my Bella’s website a facelift. Finally one day I just “went for it”  But there was a lot of work on my end required. I needed to figure out what template I wanted. I needed to figure out what pages I wanted to keep and add. I had to find the plug ins and have the creative idea in my head. I needed to remind the person that my colors all needed to reflect my brand as well as the font type and more. It was wonderful working with her. She took direction incredibly well, but I was clearly in control. It still isn’t exactly where I want it to be. A huge overhaul is still in the making. But for now, there is a facelift. Truth be told, I am about to embark on that same journey with the Jump Consulting page.

The only real time in my life I have experienced someone who is great at both the technical and design aspect of websites has been Jake from Precision Graphics. While you may have to get on a wait list to start working with him and he won’t be the least expensive person… you will get both the design and technical mind when you work with him. I have always been a fan of him but finding people like him is like finding a Prince Charming. Jake and I actually met on odesk years ago.

Turning It Onto You

Who do you use for your website? Would you recommend them? Give them a shout out below. Or perhaps you have a horror story that you can share the lesson below? What did you learn from it?

In any case – it is important to know that not all web designers are created equal.

How Do I Explain Un-Timed Visits To Pet Sitting Clients?

Pet sitters around the world typically do two things when they charge for their services.

They either charge by time or by un-timed visits.

Personally, I don’t believe in charging by time and I think every single pet sitter could do the same, if they wanted to. Here, we will focus on the in’s and out’s of un-timed visits as well as how to get over the mental roadblock of many automatic questions it comes along with.

price of pet sitting

How Will My Clients Still Know That They Are Getting A Good Value For Their Money?

How do they know that 30 minutes equals great pet sitting services?

They don’t.

They have been conditioned to think that.

So is it safe to assume that we can condition them to think a different way? Couldn’t a pet sitter sit there doing nothing for 15 minutes because a cat won’t come out for them? Every client (two and four-legged) is different. Some want you to try and sing and hang out to get the cat to come out, others don’t want you to. Plus, what an amazing marketing technique that could be in your area. “No Time Limit!” When all of your “competition” is charging by time! This is precisely what un-timed visits are all about!

How Can I Find Employees That Won’t Think It Is A Good Way To Go Fast And Not Do A Bad job?

If an employee does a good job or not, it has nothing to do with the amount of time on the clock. Some are lazy. Some are superstars. Some will walk back to the kitchen 5 different times for 5 different things. Others will anticipate what they will need and bring it all at once.  Sometimes they are there for 45-50 minutes. Sometimes they are there for 15. It all depends on the client. Every client is different.

What Do I Tell The Clients Who Ask How Long I Will Be There?

(This is my fav)

Before they even have a chance to say anything…. you tell THEM that you have un-timed visits. Trust me, this really breaks up the momentum of it all. It is like tires screeching and, “Wait…. what?!?”

Then you can explain to them that “This means if Fluffy is scared, we will take the time to try to form a bond. If Fido is sad because Mom is away, we will sit on the floor and hand feed him. Or, if it is a beautiful day and they are really enjoying their walk, we might take an extra lap. Alternativelyif they decide to “redecorate your house” or have an accident and we need to wash materials… we will be there to get it done. We are more concerned about you and your pets happiness and less about the ticking on the clock! I usually tell them that if any emergencies arise, we deal with that 100% with no extra charge for our time. Un-timed visits mean we are there for a quality time… not a quantity!” 

Another benefit to this type of thinking, and what always makes the client feel great is when you say, “If we charged by time, you would come home to an extra bill for extra time spent. With us, you will never have an extra bill. We provide a full service, quality service, guaranteed!”

This is almost verbatim what I say to people on the phone.

If they ask you again, how much time (which by this time, since I brought up the objection myself….AND showed them the value they hardly ever ask) I tell them average visits for households like yours are…. (insert time span here. 20-30 min 25-35 min 25-45 min) It all depends on their situation.

What About Dog Walks?

“Our average dog walk is between 20-30 minutes. Just depends on the day and the dog!” See? That is un-timed too!

What If They Insist on A Certain Time?

If clients are demanding an exact time and that isn’t what you provide you can do two things. One, tell them you don’t have a service that will fit their needs. Two, offer then another service like pet sitting by the hour. Which, in my company, is not a visit. It is like baby sitting. It is by the hour.

It Is A Frame Of Mind

Are you a rigid business owner? Do you have a micro or macro management style? How are your marketing skills? How do you set yourself aside from the rest? Not charging by time doesn’t mean that a business owner is a rip-off or being evasive. It just simply means they like to do things different than the normal. Sometimes it could really offer the business a way to stand out above the rest. It is all in the way that the business owner views and manages this situation. A pet sitting business owner could “not charge by time” but then say that every visit is typically between 20-40 minutes. Is that charging by time? Nope. That is a range and not specific. If a pet sitting business owner charges by time and says $20 for 30 minutes, I firmly believe the client should be charged for 10 or 15 minutes extra if the pet sitter is there. After all, that WOULD be charging by time, right? But many do not. (Sorry, I know I am repeating myself but I think it is a huge point to make!)

Why Is This The Way I Choose To Do Business?

  • My staff isn’t watching the clock and “waiting” for time to pass on those houses that just are low maintenance.
  • When you have a saturated area, (clients on the same street/building) sometimes you can do 3 -4 visits in an hour or hour and fifteen minutes. It all depends on the situations. This is great for your staff and for your business. Although this is more connected to your marketing plan.
  • My clients are more concerned about the quality of the work. The warm and fuzzies. The intangible feeling and understanding that we “get” their pet like they do.
  • My staff LOVES it. They feel like they are always on the move and they have the freedom to do a great job. Honestly, more often than not they spend more time than I think they should but they have the option to do that and make a difference.
  • It offers me a HUGE way to differentiate my business from the other 40 pet sitting companies in my area. Saying off the bat, “No Time Limit!”  People do a double take because for all the other websites they were searching everything is 30 minutes for $X. Now, truth be told, there is one “competitor” who recently just followed my lead… 🙂 It helps our brand message be quite different!

Who Isn’t This Method Good For?

As with all things in life, everything isn’t for everyone. Just like timed visits aren’t for me. Un timed visits aren’t for others. The business owners that think this method wouldn’t be good for are those who run a rigid ship where everything is defined. I am not sure of the best way to say it, but “structured” seems like the best description. There is an exact exchange of $20 for 30 minutes. You know exactly what you are getting (time) and it is measurable. When you don’t charge by time, it is less measurable. Although, what is being cared for is almost immeasurable. I mean, when was the last time you rated your happiness on a number scale?

 

Still Don’t Believe Me?

That’s okay. You don’t have to.  Believe Becki:

untimed visits pet sitting

Your Turn:

How do you charge your clients? Do you charge by time or no time and WHY? Do you think I am right with what I just wrote to you above or do you disagree? I would love to hear your thoughts and how you do things!

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How Should I Tell My Clients I’m Changing Pet Sitting Rates?

Following one of my last posts of Should I Put My Prices On My Website? the next question that I have been been asked the money2most is:

“How Should I Tell My Clients I Am Changing My Pet Sitting Rates?”

There is a number of ways that you can do this and it really all depends on where you are currently at and how you feel about it. Here are the 3 ways you can “announce” it:

Send A Letter:
You can send a short and sweet letter to your clients via email or mail telling them that you are changing your pet sitting rates.  Many pet sitters do this because they feel that their clients should know ahead of time. They feel that it would give them the “passive” choice to decide whether to book again. They also probably do not want a conflict, or to be in an uncomfortable position of telling them when they book so they chose this option. Problem is, not everyone reads OR thinks that it applies to them.  If done by good old USPS (how often do you even check your mailbox these days?) chances are they will never read it!

Tell Them The Next Time They Book:
Client: “Hi! Can you watch Max Fri, Sat and Sun?”
Sitter: “Sure, it will be $100.00”
Client: “Oh, shouldn’t it be $80?”
Sitter: Left in a weird space to tell them:
a. Prices went up that is the new price.
b. Prices went up and they will honor the old one this time (Sitter is disappointed bc they lost their back bone and knows they deserve more money)

Just Up Your Rates In Your Booking System:
By now, I am going to assume that you have gotten serious about your business whether you are working by yourself or with staff. You have some sort of scheduling software for your company. If you are changing rates, you can simply change them across the board that way. So when someone books and they get confirmation in their email the monkey is on their back. They are to look at the invoice and if they have a problem with it, they can contact you. Otherwise, there is no uncomfortable silence or that “I didn’t get your letter” scenario.

In addition, if someone says something, you can give them the line of, “Ok I will honor it this time, but next time it will be the new rate” and then you send an updated invoice showing a discount. So there is no miss communication. Alternatively, those that you are keeping at a lower rate (dailies maybe?) you can show then how much they are saving.

Now Who Do You Tell First?

Just because you are increasing your rates doesn’t mean that it has to be for old and new clients. Maybe you just figured out your pricing structure  and realized that you were not charging enough to survive. In that case, you will want to do it to everyone all at once. Although, if what you are charging is getting you by and it is just an annual rate increase then by all means, tell all the new clients (new callers) the new rate and once you have enough on at that rate, you can start telling your old clients in any of the methods listed above that their rate is going to increase.

So you see, it really isn’t rocket science. It is just pricing structure and pet sitting!

Now tell me below… how do you usually do your price increases? Do you agree or disagree?

8 Simple Ways To Get More Dog Walking Clients For My Pet Sitting Business.

 

more dog walking clients

Getting more dog walking clients can be the bread and butter to a pet sitting company. When your vacation clients are not on vacation or your business clients are not traveling, you know that you can always count on those daily dog walking clients. They are a great revenue stream to have in your business because they are predictable and easy to hire for. They require less back and forth to their home and it is typically Monday through Friday in the middle of the day.

Let me show you 8 simple ways can promote your daily dog walking service. I use the word simple because many of them don’t take that much effort but their rewards can last years after you do them. Understand that this, like anything else in your business, needs to have a plan and your messaging needs to be the same across all platforms. If you want daily dog walks, then talk about gaining daily dog walks.

 

1. Talk About Dog Walking On Your Website

The first thing I do when someone asks me for advice to get more dog walking clients is go straight to their website and to their Facebook page. If I don’t see anything front and center talking about it then that is exactly why. You must ask for what you want. You have only seconds to capture people’s attention. The messaging that you are leaving on your website and Facebook page will help or hurt you tremendously.  It is obvious that talking about it on your website and even having pages devoted to it will gain you favor with google, but I encourage my clients to take it a step further. Go deeper. Talk about the problems that your company solves for its dog walking clients. If you are unsure about what I mean, I have a 30-minute interview with the incredible Lain Ehman who gets paid thousands of dollars to make her clients multiple six figures through their messaging.

2. Blog About Dog Walking

The word blog has almost become white noise these days but I imagine that I am jumping up and down in front of you right now saying LISTEN TO ME!!! Blogging (or inbound marketing) can really help your business. I have done it myself for both of my companies and I have seen pet sitting companies that I help coach just grow tremendously by blogging the right way. Key word stuffing will not get you anywhere, you have to do it right. To do it right, that will take a bit of learning and training on your part but nothing that you can’t get your feet wet on in just one day. The person I learned everything from is Marcus Sheridan. He is an incredible teacher whose philosophy about blogging about the Big 5 will work every time if you do it. That is where I suggest you start.

3.  Bark Cards

Consider yourself lucky being here with me because I am about to tell you about an incredible idea that I had years ago and used successfully in my own pet sitting business. It hasn’t only worked for me, but many I coach with and now I am going to share my secret.

Bark card

bark card

 

Have you ever been visiting a client and the dogs that live next door are just barking their heads off. It is clear that no one is home and they are just so excited that you are in their neighborhood? This is where the bark cards come in. Every dog walker would love to have clients on the same street. It is more efficient and easier money! So why not invite the neighors of your clients to use your services in a way that is attention grabbing? Create your own bark cards and you will get responses. On the front of the card you can have a picture of an obnoxious dog barking and on the back side you can write something like Sounds like a medium-sized dog? Pretty sure they were saying, “Let *your business name* come visit me to Mom!” Let us know if we can help break up your dog’s day!

4 – Get Endorsed By A Veterinarian.

Being endorsed by a well-respected person of influence in your community can give you enormous credibility. If you don’t already, try to create a friendship with a veterinarian in your area. You could even do this with a dog trainer or a popular pet store in your town. Get to know them. Help them. Blog about them. Notice how I didn’t say drop business cards off at the front desk and run? I want you to build a relationship. Once you do, or if you already have… ask them to go on camera and offer an endorsement of your services. This could be huge in your phone script, on your website and in all your marketing materials.

5 – Create Marketing Material That Says Dog Walking. 

It isn’t enough to have “pet sitting” on everything. You need to create fliers, post cards, rack cards (whatever you do) that specifically say dog walking and talk about the benefits pets receive from having them. Perhaps you are creating rack cards to leave in the waiting room at the veterinarian’s office? The top of them could say “dog walking” and three examples of clients you serve to help with their dog walking needs. Just because you might be a pet sitting company, doesn’t mean you can’t create marketing materials that specifically talk about dog walking.

6 – Discounted Rates That Are Enticing!

Discounts will work beautifully!  Now hear me out. There is something that happens psychologically when we hear a comparison of price. We have all heard it before, “Typically this is $100, but today only… you can get it for $33.00!”  Well gee, now $33 doesn’t sound that expensive, does it? If you can understand your pricing strategy enough, this can really work to your advantage. Although I see many pet businesses paint themselves into a corner with this because they publish their rates and they only talk about the cost on the phone, rather than the investment. Here is an example:

The cost would be $33.00 a walk.
The investment would be going to lunch with your bosses and landing that promotion because you were able to chum around with them! Or…. save time, gas, and stress from not having to rush home every day to walk or let out the dog.

If you embrace the fact that you are not only a dog walker but also a sales person…. yes, whether you like it or not, you are… then you can really go far with a pricing strategy utilizes discounts. If it is sone the right way 🙂

Wondering more about how to create your strategy? I have an entire class on this here

7 – Start A Dog Walking or Hiking Club or a Social Media Campaign

Make it cute! Create an event. Looking for 5 dogs who need daily dog walking. Is this your dog? With a bunch of examples of what happens when they are not exercised. Tell about all the dogs you do walk and why their parents need you to walk them. Your viewers will start to see themselves as your clients because they can relate to the problems you are solving.

Alternatively, you can start a club. Gather people up to walk their dogs every 1st Saturday of the month. Once they see how great it is, they will want you to walk their dog every day! Take it a step further and ask the pet store you have a relationship with if they would give you a discount on bulk toys or donate a small doggie bag that all your dog walking club members get at the end of the walk.

logo_dog_walking 4

 

8- Ask Your Existing Clients

What better way than to access your existing client base? Send them your blogs on daily dog walks and your discounted pricing. Ask them if they would like to sign up for once a week dog walks and up sell them from their typical pet sitting appointments with you. They already know and love your business, so why not use these hot leads you already have?

Daily dog walks can be a great service to maintain a pet sitting business cash flow. They are important for any business to have in order to maintain a steady business. There is so much that can be done to attract the daily dog walking customers. You can’t simply think that people will know that a pet sitter will do this or can do this.

Let me know how your results turn out!

 

Feel like this is all too much to do?

I get it. This is a lot of effort to build your business and who has time for all of that when you are busy doing all the pet sits and dog walks, right? I know exactly how it feels because I used to be just like you. In fact, after I sold my company I missed doing the marketing so much that I decided to do it for 12 pet sitting companies at a time for a six month period. It is called Better Marketing with Bella and I provide all my marketers with blogs, emails, statuses, graphics, and photos on the 1st of every month.

 

 

 

 

 

 

8-unique-ways-to-get-more-pet-sitting-clients