Create Systems from Your Mistakes

Create Systems from Your Mistakes

One of my dear students had a horrible thing happen to her this week. She was house-sitting for a current client that had an aggressive dog. She knew the dog was aggressive, but she had been house-sitting for the dog for two-plus years.

The dog loved her. She got a little too comfortable. She was playing with the dog and hugging the dog, and rolling around with the dog. Out of nowhere, this dog bit her horribly. I saw the picture, I about died. I immediately called her to make sure she was okay, and we had a discussion.

She was like, “This was my fault. I let down my guard. I knew this dog had aggressive tendencies. However, I just got too comfortable.”

Use the incident as a learning lesson.

My suggestion was to, one, really help yourself emotionally, obviously, to get over the pain of the incident. But then to use it as a learning lesson for herself and her team and create a system through mistakes and accidents. So what do I mean by this? When something terrible happens in your business, it’s awful. It feels like a punch in the gut, but you need to get into the practice of creating a system from what you learned from the incident.

Create a system from what you learned. Have a meeting with your team and present the protocol.

In this case, I would have a meeting with my team. I would explain in detail what happened. I would show them the picture of my injury, and I would say, “Okay, here is the protocol. Here is a reminder that this is how we deal with dogs that we have that are aggressive.”

Now, in my case with my business, I would no longer service the dog. Okay? To me, it’s too much of a liability with my pet sitters to have them in a home with a dog that could hurt them. That might be something that you might change.

You might have a new policy in place where you’re going to say, “Okay, no aggressive dogs whatsoever are going to be on our client roster.”

In this case, I know this pet sitter well, and this business owner, and I know she’s probably not going to give up this dog, so she will likely have the policy where she’s going to be the one that’s going to take care of it. But then she’s going to know our boundaries, and she’s going to be reminded, “Okay, this is what you do when you go into a client’s home with a dog that has aggressive tendencies.”

Turn the things that happen in your business into systems.

Create Systems from Your Mistakes


It’s taking any simple thing that happens in your business and turning it into a system, turning it into a policy, turning it into a procedure to make your business better, to make your team better. Having regular team meetings to discuss the mistakes or the accidents and the new streamlined system in place is imperative for you to grow your business. I do this in my life in general, not even in my business.

When something happens, what’s the system?

How can I make this reasonable moving forward, too, so it doesn’t happen again? That is my advice for you today, guys. Create a system policy or procedure out of a mistake or an accident, and your business is going to be better off.

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4 Tips for Hiring Pet Sitters During the Pandemic

4 Tips for Hiring Pet Sitters During the Pandemic

I have four tips for hiring pet sitters to represent your business during/after this pandemic.

I’ve received a flood of questions from you guys saying, “Colleen, oh my gosh, I have more clients than I know what to do with,” as probably you’re experiencing. You’re seeing that people want to go away. They want to vacation, and they need their pet sitter.

The problem is with companies like myself that employ a staff of sitters, many people are being paid not to work by the government. So people don’t want to come back to work. They’re going to make more money on unemployment than they are than coming to work.

So it’s been challenging. And part of this problem too is that part of the process for them to stay on unemployment is that they have to apply for X amount of jobs. So I’m sure you’re receiving a ton of applications through Indeed or Craigslist because that’s part of the process of being able to keep their unemployment. So you think you have all these excellent prospects, and then none of them pan out.

So I decided to get creative and think about ways outside of the box for hiring pet sitters for my business.

1. I reached out to all of my friends, family, and current pet sitters and asked them to post for me inside their Nextdoor apps.

We have a large service area. So as you know, if you have the Nextdoor app, you can only utilize the app if you live in that area. So, my friends and my family all offered to go in there and post for hiring pet sitters for me. Awesome.

2. Reach out to past pet sitters and inquire if they want to come back.

I reached out to all of the past sitters that I loved working with and said, “Hey guys, we are hiring pet sitters. Do you have any interest in coming back?” We got a few interested parties from that one email.

Reach out to the current customer base and inform them you’re hiring.

All the clients that have come to work for me have always panned out to be the best pet sitters on my staff.

4 Tips for Hiring Pet Sitters During the Pandemic

 

So I reached out to the current customer base saying, “Hey guys, we’re hiring. This is why we’re so awesome. This is why you would love to join our team.” And we got some interested parties that way.

Go to local Facebook groups to post for pet sitters.

This is one of the easiest ways to find people. I found a girl in my neighborhood that’s going to do house sitting during August.

Go to Facebook, type in your service area, look under groups and all the different groups that have your service area name in them. Join them and ask the admins if you can post for pet sitters.

Some will say no, and that’s okay, but there will be some that will say yes. And then make that a regular part of your recruiting plan—a great, great way to find sitters.

I also want to let you know this is coming to an end. All of this unemployment stuff will be coming to an end shortly. I know in Pennsylvania, it’s going to happen in September. I can’t wait. So just so you know, it’s coming to an end, but in the meantime, try to get creative, try to think outside the box, try these four strategies. And I wish you the best of luck.

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The Business Vacation Test

Take the Vacation Test Challenge

Can you take the vacation test in your business?

When you first start your pet sitting business it can be overwhelming.  It takes a huge amount of your time and energy. You probably can’t imagine taking a vacation and leaving the business to run successfully without you.

But I’m here to tell you that it is possible to create a successful and profitable business and still spend quality time with your family and friends and do the things you love. If you can’t step away from your business and have it continue to run without your everyday presence then you have a job, not a business.

Now you might not be there yet in your pet sitting business, but I have a three-step plan which can help you create the balance between the day-to-day work you love and the need for quality time for yourself.

Step One: Build a team

The first step is to build a team of pet care professionals to take care of the client work. One of the students from my Multiply Mastermind program hadn’t taken a vacation in 10 years, so one of her business goals was to create a small team to be able to spend more time with her grandchildren and take a vacation. Within just four months, she hired a small group of sitters to take care of all the client work and she was able to go away and have an amazing, beautiful vacation with her family. See her beautiful vacation photo below.

 

Step Two: Hire a manager

Even with a team of sitters in place, you will still not be totally unplugged on your vacation if you have to check in each day and handle all the admin and scheduling work. The next step is to hire a manager you can trust to run the business in your absence. Having a manager means you will have someone to answer the phones, do all the scheduling, take care of any new client inquiries, and deal with any issues that happen with your clients or your team.

Step Three: Create systems and processes

The third step is creating systems and processes so that your manager and your team of pet sitters know exactly what is expected of them, what their job role entails, and every single last task is documented from start to finish. This will allow you to relax while you are away, confident in the knowledge that your pet sitting business is being run exactly the way it would be if you were there.

Build a team, hire a manager, and document your systems and processes so that the system runs the business and the person runs the system.

Take the Vacation Test. One, are you able to get away? And two, are you able to get away completely unplugged?

 

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How to Hire the Right People for Your Pet Sitting Business

How to Hire the Right People for Your Pet Sitting Business

I work with many petpreneurs looking to scale and multiply their pet sitting business to six figures and beyond. One of the steps in the multiply formula is to hire a team of heart-centered pet care professionals to take stellar care of your pet sitting clients.

Hire a team of heart-centered, pet care professionals.

Now there is something really important about that step, and it’s the heart-centered pet care professionals that are going to take stellar care of your pet sitting clients. You do not want to hire people who will go out and take poor care of the clients obviously or miss visits, but guess what? This happens all the time because you are not hiring the right people, and you don’t have the right systems in place so that you’re attracting and onboarding the right people to your pet sitting business.

Years and years ago, before I had all of this thought out, I had some real losers on my team. I could bore you for hours with some stories. I seriously should write a book about some of the things that have happened on my watch by people I employed.

I’m not saying that I’m absolved of all sin when it comes to this, but I do want you guys to learn from my mistakes. It would be best if you started with mapping out a system where you’re going first to attract the right people to your business.

Map out a system to attract the right people to your business.

Think about your attraction system. What are you putting out there to get people to apply to work with you? Do you even have an ideal sitter profile where you have written down all of the attributes you are looking for in a pet sitter?

If you already have a roster of sitters, think about your A+ ones. Who do you love, and what makes them great? Write it down; this is a manifestation tool.

How to Hire The Right People for Your Pet Sitting Business


Then in all of your marketing, your Facebook ads, your online ads, or anything you’re using to get the word out about the opportunity to work with your company, this is the language you want to use to attract the right people to your company business.

Prepare questions & expectations to know if they are a good fit for your company.

Then is the hiring system. The whole process of when you meet and interview them. What kind of questions are you asking them to find out if they will be a good fit for this company? And are you setting expectations about what you’re looking for in the people?

It’s not just about, “Are they going to be a great fit for the company?” It’s also about, “This is how we do business around here. Are you okay with this?”

For example, you are setting the expectation of availability. Yes, this is a great job, yes it’s flexible hours. Yes, if you’re an IC, you create your schedule. However, we do expect availability. If you take off every single weekend and every single holiday, this isn’t going to be worth your time or mine.

If you tell me that you’re available 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Monday through Friday to do mid-day walks and then two weeks after starting, you tell me you’re not available or only available for an hour of that time, you’ve now just wasted my time. I could have passed up an excellent candidate.

So right from the start, this is what is expected. This is the position that you’re applying for; this is the expectation of availability. Plus other expectations of what you’re looking for.

Then if they go onto the onboarding stage, what’s the process? You need to have a system in place where you’re evaluating them. Does it take them two days to return an email? That isn’t going to change after you hire them. They’re going to show you right from the get-go how they communicate. Trust me, it’s not going to get any better.

So map out a system. What are you going to have set up in place that will allow you to evaluate how they’re going to be as pet sitters when you hire them?

Have a system in place to evaluate them.

Finally, when they are hired, how are you going to manage them? How are you going to see if they’re happy? Do they have too many visits, or do they not have enough visits? What is your stay in touch system that warns you if they have one foot out the door?

Nothing is worse than a sitter calling and saying, “I’m giving you no notice, and I’m leaving tomorrow.”

Keep in touch with your sitters. Make sure you have a communication system in place, so you know and are evaluating, “Is this person happy? Are they happy with the position?” Because if they’re not, you want to make sure that you have your eyes out and look for another great person to replace them.

I’ve had some real doozies in my pet sitting business over the last 18 years, but I can tell you now, since I have learned all of this and I have created an attraction system, a hiring system, an onboarding system, and a management system, I have a fantastic team of pet sitters. I’m not even kidding.

Yes, here and there, some less than stellar people have slipped through the cracks. I have about 40 pet sitters on staff, so that will happen from time to time. But I would say, for the most part, I have an amazing, stellar team of pet sitters.

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How Marketing and Hiring Work Together

How Marketing  and Hiring Work Together

My mission in 2021 is to help as many business owners get their pet sitting clients back after COVID and multiply them to consistent five-figure months. I will be coming here to share some tips, tricks, strategies, mindset stuff because 2020 was a rough year. I want to give back, which is how I’m going to go ahead and do it.

Yesterday, we had an excellent question in the group from Jen Smith. Jen said asked, “Age-old question, do you hire or contract first, or get the new pet sitting clients first? Due to COVID-19, I’m personally working extra jobs by necessity, my kids and bills don’t pay for themselves… what do you do?”

Evaluate where you are in the business.

If right now you were at the Build-up Bill or Build-up Betty stage, the Launch and Grow stage, your focus needs to be on marketing and getting clients.

If you’ve lost a ton of pet sitting clients due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you want to get the marketing back up and focus on filling your client book, and then you want to switch the focus over to the hiring.

Now, when you’re at the Multiply stage, which is there are no more hours to trade for dollars, you are the bottleneck in your business, you’re the one that’s doing everything, you want always to be focused now on hiring and marketing at the same time. They work hand-in-hand.

If you don’t have pet sitting clients and marketing systems in place, don’t focus on hiring all the time.

You need to get to a certain point. You need to get all of these marketing systems and sales systems in place to have the work to give over to your sitters.

You need to have your sales, systems, and support in place.

Refer back to the video at the top of this blog post. You will find there my Multiply Formula. That’s my framework. I teach my students how to multiply their businesses to $10,000 or more a month in revenue.

When you do that, you will have more money, impact, and freedom in your life, but you need to have the three main components all working together. You need to have your sales, systems, and your support. Support is not only a team of pet sitters, but also your admin support and tech support.

How Marketing and Hiring Work Together

 

Have your marketing plan on autopilot.

With your sales systems, you need to have your marketing plan on autopilot, so every week, you have it mapped out, your marketing plan on your marketing calendar, and how you will attract new clients to your business. You always want a pipeline of new clients signing up for your service. You want it systematized, and you want it scheduled, and you want it planned out.

Then you want to wow your customers when they come to your business, really knock their socks off to show them that you are the most outstanding company that they’re going to write great testimonials for and refer you all over town.

Nurture the pet sitting clients already in your client list.

Let them know how much you love and appreciate them and incentivizing them to book service more frequently, and increasing their transaction amount for each invoice by offering different, amazing add-ons and such.

When you have your sales system going, and it’s on autopilot, you go on your networking meetings, meet with your strategic alliances, have your email campaigns going, and have your direct mail campaigns going, etc. You have all of the plans and mapped out; there’s always going to be business coming, there’s always going to be bookings.

Have your recruiting, assessment and onboarding systems in place.

Then you’re also going to have to have the sitters that will be able to handle all of the business. You need to have your recruiting systems in place and attract high-level talent to your business.

You want to have your assessment systems in place. A way to assess these people coming into the pipeline that you’re recruiting, how they will be as sitters once they get started, and then a fantastic onboarding system, which also the assessment kind of goes into the onboarding.

It doesn’t stop after the assessment, but having these unique onboarding systems in place so that by the time they are finished, your sitters are going to go out into the field and do a fantastic job.

You need to define and document your systems and build business hubs to delegate easily.

The idea is the system runs the business, and the person runs the system. You should not be the system in your business.

That’s the problem with most entrepreneurs and pet sitters. They are the system. Their business is in their head. If anything were to happen to them, the business and systems would disappear. You need all three of these pieces working in conjunction for you to be able to consistently create five-figure months, $10,000 or more a month.

Getting back to Jen’s question, you need to build up the client list. When you get to that point where there are no more hours to trade for dollars, we need to focus on the Multiply Framework, which is where your sales system and your support systems will work hand in hand. You have to do the sales part to hire the sitters. You don’t want to bring on many sitters and then not have the work for them.

Manage new pet sitter expectations.

Let them know this is not an overnight thing. This is a slow process. We’re going to bring you on. We’re going to see how you do. We’re going to do this very slowly. We’re going to get feedback from customers, but we will build your book of business within eight to 12 weeks. That is the expectation.

Then also makes you put skin in the game. If you bring these people onto your roster, you need to do your job as the marketer and CEO, as the person that’s meant to get clients for this business to fill your sitters’ schedules.

I used to have all these same concerns. I was like, “Oh, when do I hire? I don’t want to have people sitting on the list.”

When you do all of this, you do not have to worry about it. It all works beautifully together. Market your business consistently, hire consistently, build out your systems, which is my answer to Jen’s question.

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The Importance of Having a Powerhouse Team

The Importance of Having a Powerhouse Team

We are now in 2021. I was very excited to close the books on 2020 because it was the worst year of my life as it was for so many. I was excited for 2021 to hit the ground running and start with a bang and throw myself back into my pet sitting business because business building makes me happy.

When out of nowhere, I received a positive diagnosis for COVID, completely unexpected. A family friend accidentally gave it to my entire family. We’re all fine. I had a horrific headache and exhaustion for two weeks—nothing where I had to be hospitalized or anything.

The reason I’m telling you this is that something unexpected happened to me. And I was once again reminded about the importance of having a powerhouse team to help with your business.

The system runs the business, the person runs the system.

My business could entirely run without me because I had everything from soup to nuts systematized, and then I have a team of amazing people who implement the system. So, therefore, I am not the bottleneck.

So I’m not even just talking about having a pet sitter team as the business owner. It would be best if you had somebody helping you on the administrative side because you might have people who can go out and do the walks but if you were sick like I was, I was pretty much narcoleptic fallen asleep every hour, I needed somebody to be able to manage things on the backend.

For my coaching business and my pet-sitting business, the managers were able to take care of everything. I was able to sleep and heal, and everything ran seamlessly.

Start thinking about the systems in your business.

Every single thing that you do needs to be documented with point by point outlined instructions so that you can easily delegate it to a team member and they can implement the system. I will repeat it.

The Importance of Having a Powerhouse Team

 

When you have a business that can run without you, you truly have a business.

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TITLE - How to Manage Your Pet Sitter's Lack of Response Time

How to Manage Your Pet Sitter’s Lack of Response Time

I’m doing a follow-up to a video I did a few weeks ago, wherein I gave a tip to include due dates when requesting things from your team of pet sitters or customers.

I received a follow-up question from a community member.

“Colleen, I loved that video. I implemented it immediately. However, I still heard crickets from my staff of pet sitters. What would be your next step? Or what consequences would you institute if this happened to you?”

I would call a meeting with the said sitter and say, “I sent you this email on this date. I gave you this due date. Number one, I never received an acknowledgment. Number two, you did not turn in the video by said date. Why is that?”

Then you listen to their response.

QUOTE - How to Manage Your Pet Sitter's Lack of Response Time


You don’t want to be that person, just the talking head. Take time and listen to what they have to say.

Then I’d say, “Okay. A requirement for this position is I need this video to create a trust factor for our customer prospects. I also need you to respond to me when I request something from you. I’m going to ask you, is this still a position you are interested in doing?”

If they say, “Yes, absolutely,” say,

“Okay, wonderful. But moving forward, I’m setting this boundary, which is the personal responsibility that I’m requesting from you. This is how we do business around here. You ignoring my emails is no longer going to fly.”

If they say, “No, this isn’t actually for me,” you are better off.

Think of it this way. Let’s say your customer left a last-minute note. They’re running out the door, and they said, “Oh shoot, there are two new plants by the slider. I need to have the sitter water them.”

Do you want a sitter to be like, “I don’t know if I’m going to do that today. I don’t feel like it.”?

No, of course not. That is pretty much what that sitter did to your professional email, requesting a video from them and giving them a duty. They blatantly ignored you.

Now, it may have fallen through the cracks. There may be a reason. With this specific situation, people are often nervous in front of the camera, and instead of telling you that, they may have just tried to ignore it.

This isn’t a total deal-breaker. It would be best if you instituted what you’re going to allow and set the stage for what you expect from your team of pet sitters.

If they explain, “I’m just really nervous about being in the camera,” give them helpful tips and tricks.

If they say, “No, this position isn’t for me,” you’re better off. That is how I would personally handle it. It doesn’t have to be a contentious conversation.

It could be a friendly conversation. “You’re amazing. I love how my customers love you, and the pets love you. But here’s the deal. I am the owner of this company, and I need to know when I send you a request for something that you, one, acknowledge and, two, get back to me in a timely fashion. If that’s not going to work, then this business relationship isn’t going to work.

I hope that makes sense and you find that helpful.

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TITLE - Quick Tip on How to Increase Response Time From Your Pet Sitters

Quick Tip on How to Increase Response Time From Your Pet Sitters

I had a weekly private coaching call with one of my students when she let me know that she had sent an email to her pet sitters requesting a video from them. She will use the videos on her website and marketing materials to create the know, like, and trust factor with her prospective customers.

The sitters didn’t respond or acknowledge the email.

QUOTE - Quick Tip on How to Increase Response Time From Your Pet Sitters


So I suggested the following.

(1) Rewrite the copy of the email.

Start with:

Dear First Name,

Last week, I had requested a video. This is why I am requesting it.

(2) Then, explain the importance of the request and include instructions on how to do it

For example:

Don’t stress out about it. It’s easy, peasy. Grab your iPhone, introduce yourself, let them know what your pet care values are, and that you’re super excited to meet them and their furry pals.

(3) Always include a due date

Anytime you are requesting anything from your staff or requesting a testimonial from your clients, always include a due date. People respond to due dates. Otherwise, it just sits in their inbox as something to do when they get to it.

I hope this helps.

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