My Client Payment System

My Client Payment System

Today’s business growth video is a question that comes from a member of our Pet Nanny Coach community Facebook group. Kate writes, “How do you all accept payment? I’m so tired of the scattered methods. Cash, check, Venmo, Zelie. It’s everything. I’m a mess. Any suggestions? I know I should have done this a while ago.”

I can identify with what you’re going through because there was nobody worse than me when it came to tracking money. I would find checks in my coat pockets and the back of my jeans and my roommate used to borrow my clothes, and she’d find checks all the time. She’d say, “Wow, you must be wealthy not to have to deposit these checks.”

I would feel guilty if I lost a check, and I wouldn’t want to ask the client. So I would miss out on $600. It was just a nightmare. Then we had other people that wouldn’t pay, but I wasn’t treating my money or the energy around my money with respect. So, therefore, my clients weren’t treating me with respect for money, and it was a vicious circle.

I made this change probably about 13 years ago, and I’ve never looked back.

Get Scheduling Software.

I now bill the clients and create a service order. Then, four days before their scheduled service, I charge the credit card that we keep on file in my pet-sitting software. So that is how we do it.

I get a little bit of pushback from other members of the community. Well, what about the clients that don’t want to do that? Well, then they’re not my ideal client, and they can find service somewhere else.

Billing information is collected at onboarding.

There are two things that a client needs to do before we will schedule a registration meeting. First, they need to complete their welcome packet. It’s all their client and pet care information, sign their service agreement, and then need to give us their billing information.

If they don’t want to do that, Pet Nanny Pet Sitters of the Main Line is not the service for them. No judgment. Everybody has the right to make their own decisions, but that is how I run my business. It now runs seamlessly with me not having to worry about missed payments or tracking payments. It’s all right in there. It’s so easy.

The software keeps track of the credit card expiration.

The software system lets us know when the cards expire, and the client gets an automatic reminder email, “Hey, the credit card that you have on file with Pet Nanny has expired. Please update it.”

There has never been an issue since then. So think about it. Maybe that’s not the right system for you. This is your business, your rules.

What systems can be put into place to minimize time spent?

Consider what the pain points of your money management systems are and what systems can you put into place to minimize the time spent and make it easy for your clients to buy from you and make it easy for you to keep track of your books and your finances.

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Amazing Customer Experiences

Amazing Pet Sitting Customer Experiences

Please think about your pet sitting customer journey from start to finish. And I want you to think about it from the moment that the customer makes contact with you. It could be the moment they land on your website, or this could be when they call the office.

Create the know, like, trust factor through video on your homepage.

First, let’s talk about the website. Are you creating the know, like, and trust factor through video on your homepage so that if a prospect hits your website and they say, “Oh, let me click play. Oh, wow. This is great.” And you talk about your services; you talk about the value you provide, talk about the benefits, talk about how you are the solution to their problems.

That right away is going to give you a step up above the pet sitting competition. Is your messaging clear? Do your contact forms work? Is your number clickable? Everybody’s on mobile these days. They need to go boop and touch the phone number and have the phone call.

I know that seems so simple, but how many times have you been to a website, and you’re like, “I can’t call the person.” Very simple. Make sure the phone number is clickable.

Load your pet sitting website with social proof from happy customers.

Social proof is free, and it, again, creates that know, like, and trust factor, and it’s going to portray to your prospect that you are the person they want to do business with.

Make sure every website link is going to the right place.

If I sign up for your free offer on your website, is the email being sent? I can’t tell you how many companies I’ve worked with that have that opt-in offer on their website, but then nothing happens on the back end. That’s not a good first impression, especially when they leave you in the trust with their animals and their homes.

Make sure someone answers the phone.

That is a big one, and I have a manager, my client happiness manager, and she is supposed to answer the phone, and if she doesn’t answer the phone, she’s to call back within five minutes. That’s the deal.

If you’re not answering the phone, if you’re the admin and you’re out walking dogs, how long is it taking you to get back to your customer prospects? This is part of the journey. Every five minutes that you let lapse before calling a new customer prospect back, your chances of signing them on as a client drops significantly, so keep that in mind.

Be friendly on the phone.

I had a student once, and we were doing a coaching call, and she just sounded miserable. And people would call her office, and she wasn’t signing clients. I said, “Is this the tone of voice that you’re using when you’re speaking with your clients?” She said, “Yeah. What’s wrong with my tone of voice?”

I’m like, “Well, it’s not very welcoming or friendly.” I was scared to death. It was just a cold feeling. Remember, they are trusting us with their homes and their pets. They want to feel that you are warm, and friendly, and approachable and that they can trust you.

Listen and take good notes.

We all know that everybody loves to talk about their pets. It would be best if you sat back, listen to your customers, write down notes so that you have a clear understanding of precisely what they’re looking for. And say it back to them. Let them know that, “Yes, I am listening to you. I hear what you are saying.” That’s going to go a long way.

Have an easy system or process for customers to get started.

They say, “Okay. This is great. How do I get started?” Is it easy? Always want to make it easy for them to buy from you.

Set clear expectations of what is to happen next.

“Okay, we have you all signed up. This is what’s going to happen next. Your assigned pet care professional will be reaching out to you within” enter the time period.

“You’re also going to be receiving an email that’s going to tell you all about them. X, Y, and Z. You’re also going to receive a welcome packet in your inbox. There are two sets in that welcome packet. Number one. Please fill out the forms. Number two. Update your billing information.” So on and so forth.

They know exactly what their responsibility is and what they can expect on your side.

Reach out to your customers before they depart.

If you are reaching out, how is that? Is it an automated process through an email autoresponder? Are you picking up the phone or calling them?

Regardless, you do want to make that touchpoint. This is going to give them peace of mind, “Okay, this company is on it.” 

Do you have prepared information on how they can prepare for their pet sitting, dog walker, or house sitter? With a simple checklist PDF that they can go, “Oh, this is great information.” They can put it on the counter and make sure they have everything ready.

You’re taking the pressure off of them because you’re giving them exactly what they need to do to prepare for their sitter.

Keep in touch with your customers while they’re away.

If so, how? Do they request how? Did you ask how they want to be kept in touch with? Do they want text messages? Do they want videos? Do they want emails? Do they want phone calls?

You need to set that expectation that you need to ask them first and then follow through with how they want to be communicated with. We had a client once who the sitter was texting every visit with cute pictures, and he was like, “Stop texting me. I am on the beach trying to relax. I do not need to be texted.”

Right there, I went to their onboarding form, and I said, “How do you like to be kept in touch with?” I give them the options. I don’t want to bother my customers who don’t want to be bothered, but if they do want to be bothered, I want to be sending those messages. Make sense?

When a client returns, make sure they were happy with the service.

When they return, what is left for them at the final visit? What are they walking into? Do you reach out or send a survey to make sure they were pleased?

Every time a client ends service with me, they are receiving a survey because I want to make sure they were happy with their pet sitter. And if anything was out of the ordinary or anything went wrong, I want to know so that I can make it better.

What are you doing to Wow them?

Are you sending them a card? Is the sitter leaving a handwritten thank you note for allowing him or her to take care of their pets? Are they leaving a little bag of homemade biscuits? There are a million different things that you can do to really wow your customers.

Stay in touch when they are not actively using your service.

Are you keeping in touch with them? Are you providing value to them with interesting or helpful content? Are you checking in with their furry pals? Are you making quick phone calls, or sending short text messages, or sending a send-out card, “Hey, it’s Colleen from Pet Nanny. I haven’t heard from you guys in a while. I just wanted to see how doctor Watson’s doing. We miss him so much. Let us know if you need anything; we’re always here to help. With warm wags, Colleen.” Something like that. You can do that so easily through sendoutcards.com.

Are you reminding them about upcoming holidays when they may need service?

This is the whole journey. From the time they hit the website, they call the office, how they sign up, is it easy to buy from you? Before they depart, while they’re away, when they return, and while they’re not actively using your service.

 

I tell you, if you do improve it, this is where you are going to set yourself apart from the rest. I see in so many pet sitting groups there are so many pet sitters, “How am I going to make a living doing this?” This is how.

You’re going to attract amazing customers; you’re going to provide genuinely stellar service; they are going to use you over and over again. They’re going to refer you all over town, and this is when business becomes easy.

Howdy, Pet Lover! Are you struggling with attracting new clients to your pet sitting business? Would you like to have a consistent pipeline of new clients coming to your business? Well, wait no longer, my friend. Grab my FREE report, 125 Ways To Get More Pet Sitting Clients. This resource is 100% FREE and is my gift to you. Enjoy!
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The 5 House Marketing Strategy

The 5 House Rule Marketing Strategy

The 5 House Rule or the Forced Referral Marketing Strategy

The name of this strategy is called the five house rule or the forced referral marketing strategy. The idea is if you get pet sitting clients in a neighborhood. Let’s say the client’s names are Paul and Claire.

The 5 House Rule Marketing Strategy


You’re going to say how nice Paul and Claire are and how much you love taking care of their pets. It is customary for the business owner to offer a discount to all of the neighbors as a token of courtesy for your wonderful clients.

The idea is they’re going to then talk to Paul and Claire because they probably know Paul and Claire, since their neighbors, ask them about you, Paul and Claire are going to give you a review, and then you should be getting at least one out of the five sign up as pet sitting clients.

From there, you have five more houses to market to, so on and so forth. Instead of saying, “Hey, Paul and Claire, do you think you could spread the word about my business and give me a referral, tell your neighbors”, they might, they might not.

When you do this, you’re forcing the referral. You’re writing the sales letter, and then the neighbor will then ask your client about you and then give you pet sitting clients referrals that way.

Send a sales and discount letter to the neighbors left and right, and 3 across the street.

Offer them an awesome discount or some incentive to sign up for service. Usually, one out of the five will sign up, and then you’re going to have five more houses, so on and so forth.

It’s personalized.

It’s not just like a mass mailing. “Hey, check out my pet sitting business.” There are some great campaigns and strategies for that too. But this one is a personalized neighborhood, five-house rule marketing strategy.

Howdy, Pet Lover! Are you struggling with attracting new clients to your pet sitting business? Would you like to have a consistent pipeline of new clients coming to your business? Well, wait no longer, my friend. Grab my FREE report, 125 Ways To Get More Pet Sitting Clients. This resource is 100% FREE and is my gift to you. Enjoy!
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1 Super Simple & Free Marketing Strategy

1 Super Simple & Free Marketing Strategy

Most people forget about their email signature. Number one, email is free. Every time you send an email to either a client or a client prospect in a marketing funnel, you can optimize your email signature with a call to action.

If you’re emailing your customer, you could finish with your name.

“If you were happy with your pet sitting service, please click here to leave a Google review,” or “please click here to leave a Yelp review,” or “please click here to schedule your next service.”

If you’re sending it to a prospect, you can have something like “Click here to follow us on Facebook,” or “follow us on Twitter,” or “follow us on Instagram,” or LinkedIn, or whatever other social media that you’re on.

1 Super Simple & Free Marketing Strategy 2

 

You can send them to a piece of content to warm them up. You can have a call to action to send your customers to a landing page where they’re giving you their name and email address for a coupon, which will then drop them in a follow-up sequence to incentivize them to schedule service with you.

You can have a link for whatever call to action you want. It’s free. And one of the most overlooked marketing strategies there is. Go check out your email signature in your email client and your email autoresponder and have some fun with this.

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My No-Jerk Policy

My “No-Jerk Policy”

Rewind to 20 years ago, when I was building my pet sitting business, I accepted any client that would come down the pike. It didn’t matter how disgusting their houses were; it didn’t matter how rude they were; it didn’t matter if I had to chase down payment. I would work for pretty much anybody, anytime, because I just wanted to build my client list and make money.

What happened over time, I’d built this client list with many wonderful people, but with a lot of non-ideal heartsick clients is what I call them, and people that I would not wish on anybody.

My “No-Jerk” policy came around due to one specific client. This client lived in this big, beautiful house, they had these three big, giant beautiful dogs, and I had adopted their Great Dane from them because they had internal fighting amongst their dogs.

They were never necessarily rude, but they were very cold, but they were very generous too. This client would leave me nice tips, which made me have these mixed feelings about them. I didn’t feel like the best feelings, but nothing ever overtly necessarily happened with them.

Then the nanny started taking walks with me with the dogs, and she would tell me these insane stories about how mean these people were to her.

Then I have a sitter that’s spending the night there. The sitter got locked out of the house. This woman (client) called me and was cursing and screaming at me in a way that you would not even believe. And I was like, “I’ll drive over; I have a spare key and let her in. Chill.”

So I hung up, I went over, I got the sitter in, I came back, and thought, “You know what? I’m not letting this happen person talk to me like this. I don’t need this. I’ve had enough of these types of people.”

I remember going to my dad and saying, “Dad, what would you do in this situation?” He thought about it, and he was like, “You know, you don’t owe them any explanation. Write them a letter, put the key in the envelope, drop it off in their mailbox, and be done with them.”

Looking back, that would not be what I would suggest to any pet sitting business owner. But again, I was newer in business. I was a young girl.

So that’s what I did, and then I got this scathing email from this lady. They’re just awful, awful people. I clicked delete, never responded, and from there, my “No-Jerk” policy came into play, which has now changed my life, changed my business because I do not put up with any of this anymore.

From that moment moving forward, if any clients were rude to me, my managers, or my sitters, they were tagged as a “jerk” inside of Infusionsoft, my email marketing software, and we were no longer doing business with them.

Build a system to gracefully unleash these “jerk” clients.

Since then, I have built the most wonderful client base.

My No-Jerk Policy


Here and there, a few will drop in, and then the no-jerk policy comes into play.

Remember, many pet sitting clients will love and respect you and your business.

Many clients have pets that will love your service, will respect you, will tip you, will tip your sitters, and you can have fantastic relationships with them. You do not need toxic, awful people in your life, and you certainly don’t deserve to be spoken rudely.

Go with your gut.

In my Pet Nanny Coach business, I had one that slipped through the cracks last year. She had been a student many years ago, and she was a nightmare. She came back to me, begging to go back and work with me. Against my better judgment, I let her through, and it was even worse the second time.

When people show you their true colors, believe your gut and focus on the extraordinary people who don’t give you any problems. Sometimes we forget about those people. These people aren’t hounding or are rude to you. Those are the people that deserve your attention and your extra love and support if you will.

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Direction & Control if Using ICs as Pet Sitters

Direction & Control if Using ICs as Pet Sitters

People have strong feelings about using pet sitting independent contractors as employees. I have much information on this subject that I want to share about this as long as nobody emails me or posts crazy things.

I successfully built a high six-figure business, using independent contractors for 17 years. I switched to employees in 2018 because I kept getting audited. They kept coming for me, and I kept winning the audits.

The last time they came for me, they said just one year after I’d already won the previous audit that no record of that audit and that they were going to do it again. It was an exhausting situation, and I didn’t feel like fighting it anymore. I just wanted the monkey off my back. Thus, I let this win, and I switched to employees.

And it’s been great.

There hasn’t been a big difference. I do team meetings, they do marketing for me, and they can have car magnets (not that I use car magnets. If I wanted to, I could have them do that). Employees get the perk of getting benefits now, which they appreciate.

Direction & Control if Using ICs as Pet Sitters


Understanding the direction and control aspect of using pet sitting independent contractors and ensuring you create the correct framework will help you when you get audited.

Your clients direct and control your pet sitting independent contractors.

Your clients ask them to be there at a specific time and have outlined the pet care plan for the independent contractor to fulfill. You are simply the connector between the IC and your client.

This setup is how I won all the audits that I went through. I went through the 20 point checklist as well, had everything set up correctly, etc. You can ask employees to use car magnets, wear clothes with your logo, etc.

If people are using IC’s, I believe it’s their choice and great if you’re using employees.

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TITLE - What To Do When a Pet Sitter Services a Client Without Your Knowledge

What To Do When a Pet Sitter Services a Client Without Your Knowledge

One of the downsides of building a team of pet sitters is when one of your sitters provides service for one of your clients behind your back. I can’t tell you it is not going to happen. It’s more of when it will happen. Here are ways to handle it.

First, evaluate how you feel about the pet sitter.

If this sitter is a good hire, who you enjoy working with, provides fabulous service to your clients, and you don’t want to lose them, I suggest having an in-person meeting.

If they’re an independent contractor, make sure you have their independent contractor agreement. If they’re an employee, make sure you have their signed employee handbook.

Then have a sit-down and go over their job description, expectations from them, and how they breached the contract, what lengths you can go if you decide to pursue this, whatever is mentioned in the contract. Mention you love working with them, and you didn’t want to do this, and that you must come to an understanding.

If this person is not someone you trust and don’t want to work again, have a meeting via Zoom or in-person and let them know what is in the contract, what they breached, and what you’re going to do because of it. At this point, you can decide whether you want to take legal action or not.

QUOTE - What To Do When a Pet Sitter Services a Client Without Your Knowledge_ver03


Don’t go to the client.

You might want to let the client know, in a nice way, “Listen, this is how my business works. It is against our company policy for clients to subcontract pet sitters.”

Thus, you need to decide if this client an ideal client? Is this somebody that you want to continue working with? It’s all about the decisions that you need to make about the people they are.

I wouldn’t like to work with this client again. If this is a client that you usually wanted, maybe you were out of town, maybe there was a reason and extenuating circumstance. They contacted the sitter outside of the company, outside of you, perhaps then you’ll have a different decision. Take note of it on their client record inside your pet-sitting software, and be aware.

Communicate expectations with the sitter.

Tell the sitter what is expected of them, what they signed, and what lengths you can legally go to if you decided. Remind the client kindly about your policies and leave it at that.

Have a system.

What are you going to do when you find out that someone on your team breaches their contract? Have it all mapped out to know exactly what to do, and you don’t have to guess. You’re just following the company protocol.

All right, guys, I hope this helps.

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TITLE - Create a Key System for Your Pet Sitting Business that Works for you

Create a Key System for Your Pet Sitting Business that Works for you

I posted in the Pet Nanny Coach community group a tip of the day: Have your clients stay in control of their keys. This topic gained a lot of passionate responses on both sides. Some people were ‘absolutely no way.’ Others say, ‘Yes, I’ve done this in my pet sitting business, and it works amazingly well.’ While others ask, ‘What do you mean?’

I tried every single key system known to man to keep my client’s keys organized. I’m an extremely organized person, but I didn’t feel safe, and it felt stressful being responsible for 2,000 plus keys every day. It gets worse when sitters are out with the keys, and some even misplacing them. That’s when I decided to create a system for myself and for my business that worked for me.

My clients have three options:

Option 1: Use a lockbox. The kind that realtors use.

Option 2: Use a hide-a-key with a garage code.

Option 3: Schedule a key pickup and drop off service.

Most of the clients opt for number one or number two. Some prefer key pick up and drop off.

QUOTE - Create a Key System for Your Pet Sitting Business that Works for you


The idea behind is the keys are always returned to the client, and they are not housed in my home office.

Whatever tips I offer for you for your business, do what feels right. Do what feels good. Your business, your rules. You can take my advice, or you can leave it. I’m just here to help and give you some tips on what I do, and what’s worked for me.

 

Howdy, Pet Lover! Are you struggling with attracting new clients to your pet sitting business? Would you like to have a consistent pipeline of new clients coming to your business? Well, wait no longer, my friend. Grab my FREE report, 125 Ways To Get More Pet Sitting Clients. This resource is 100% FREE and is my gift to you. Enjoy!
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