Don’t Let Anyone Hold the Keys to Your Pet Sitting Business

I was coaching one of my private students the other day, and she was very stressed because her number one employee had left the company. This girl did all the scheduling, the phone calls, and the email. She would do pet sitting. She would plug in, plug herself in wherever they needed somebody. She was her go-to person.

Then, this person’s life changed out of nowhere, and she had to leave the position. So now my student is like, “What am I going to do?”

We have a long discussion about not letting anybody have that much control in the business. You can’t lean so much on one person because if that person were to go, you’d be left holding the bag.

If they decide to stay, there becomes this weird energy exchange where they feel like they are in charge because they’re doing all of this. I have been here myself, I’ve had many managers, and I know you need somebody else who also knows how to do that position.

Don’t Let Anyone Hold the Keys to Your Pet Sitting Business


So we mapped out a plan for what she would do, and she hired two people, a Monday through Friday person who would work mornings until around four, and then she hired an evening and weekend person. They are both trained to know the scheduling systems and all of the business’s operations, and they will plug themselves in as emergency backups if the pet sitters aren’t available. So we got this up and running. She feels really good about it. Out of nowhere, one of these new hires got really, really sick and taken out.

Now she has this other person that’s able to help her. Again, this is a good reminder of why you need two people to fill this position. You never know what life is going to throw at you. You never know who’s going to get sick, who’s going to have to leave, and you can’t put all of your eggs in one basket with one person.

Trust me on this. Have a regular manager for the day-to-day and then a weekend manager or a headset sitter that will be able to fill in. Don’t count on one person. It never ends well.

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How to Create a Magical Management Team for Your Pet Care Business

Bring somebody who can handle the scuffs and issues with running a service-based business.

Today’s business growth video is to hire a manager who is thick-skinned.
What I mean by this is you want to bring somebody onto your team who can handle the scuffs and the issues that come with running a service-based business.

You are going to have a team of people that are going to be going into your clients’ homes. You are dealing with human beings, your sitter team, and your client roster. Things are going to happen.

I, myself, am an extremely emotional person. I get upset, and I’m a people pleaser. When I started hiring, I would bring in people who were just like me, which wasn’t a good fit for the position. I needed someone with a little more like… wasn’t afraid of the confrontation.

How to Create a Magical Management Team for Your Pet Care Business


When I found that person, she’s been with me for 12 years. Her name is Sue, love her dearly. She is soft, warm, kind, and loves our team and clients, but she’s also not going to put up with a lot of BS from either side.
So if we have a client trying to cross boundaries, it will not happen.

If we have a sitter making mistakes, stepping out of line, or not following protocol, uh-uh, she’s not going to put up with them. She’s going to call it out. She has this ability, something that I necessarily when I was in the management position, didn’t have. I was way too nice when I was in that leadership role. She fits in perfectly because she has thicker skin than I do.

Take a test, and you come up with your five biggest strengths.

There’s something called strengthsfinder.com. You should look into it, take a test, and come up with your five biggest strengths. The idea is that when you’re hiring, you’re not looking for people with those same strengths.

You’re looking for people that have strengths that complement your strengths. This is how you create an amazing management team.

Try to fill the holes.

What do you wish you had in terms of disposition, communication skills, and whatever that you would like to see in your counterpart? That is how you make magic happen with your team members.

Don’t hire people that are like you. Hire people that are going to compliment you.

In the managerial position, where you’re going to have hiccups, there will be problems because you’re dealing with human beings. Having someone that has a thicker skin, that isn’t afraid of confrontation, that isn’t afraid to stand up and implement and enforce your policies and procedures, you’re going to have a much nicer experience, I promise you. Learn from my mistakes.

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Can my Independent Contractors Wear Clothes with my Business Name and Logo?

Today, I’m answering a question from the Pet Nanny Coach community Facebook group member, who asked if her independent contractors are allowed to wear clothes with her pet sitting business name and logo on them.

Can my Independent Contractors Wear Clothes with my Business Name and Logo


The answer is absolutely not.

The reason why is because they are not classified as employees. If they were employees, then yes, you could have them wear whatever you want them to in terms of having and showcasing your pet sitting business name. You could have them use card magnets.

But if they’re independent contractors, they are independent of your company. In the eyes of the government, they are their own business and, therefore, should not in any way be affiliated with your company. They are not eligible to wear clothing with your pet sitting business name and logos on it.

I want you to be very careful with this. I do not believe that the benefit of having your sitters wear this type of clothing outweighs the risk. Trust me on this.

I’ve been through two audits. This was a very stressful subject in my life for many years. I won those audits, thankfully, but I know myself when it comes to independent contractors. So please take my advice. Don’t go down this road. The risk to your pet sitting business operations being interrupted is not worth the reward that you may get from your independent contractors wearing clothing with your business name and logo on it.


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The 1st Step You Need to Take When You’re Ready to Hire

Before you build out any part of your hiring system for your pet sitting business, you need to get crystal clear on the type of person you want to attract to your business and the type of person you want to have as a pet sitter.

Grab a pen and a piece of paper and ask yourself this question, “Who do I want to work with?” Then close your eyes and visualize this person.

How old are they? Where do they live? What is their skill level? What’s their practical experience level? What is their education level? Do you want a person that’s going to do this full-time with you, or are you looking for a person who will do this part-time and has another supplemental income?

The 1st Step You Need to Take When You're Ready to Hire

 

What are their communication skills? What tools are they going to need? If you don’t live in an urban area, they’re probably going to need a car, a smartphone, and a computer. Will this person submit a background check? Will they submit professional references?

How do they present themselves to you? When you first meet them and they come to the door, how do they present themselves physically? What are their personality traits?

Get clear on the type of person you want, warm, friendly, detail-oriented, organized. So crystal clear in your brain and down onto papers that you know exactly who you’re looking for.

Now, you might say to yourself, “Colleen, I’ve never hired before. I don’t know who I’m looking for.” Well, if you are a pet sitter, I want you to think about all of the things that make you a wonderful pet sitter.

Why do your clients love working with you? If you are brand new and have no idea, even that, you can ask yourself, “Who would I want to come into my home to care for my pets?”

Who would you like to be your pet sitter? If you have hired before, think about your A players. What made them special? What made you love to work with them? Write it down. At Pet Nanny Coach, we call this building out your ideal pet sitter profile, and it is absolutely the first step you can implement to build your dream team. Don’t skip this part, and it’s way too important.

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What to do When You Get Burned by a Pet Sitter on Your Team

I spoke with a pet sitter last week, and she was just distraught about the previous three hires she had made to her pet sitting business. This is what I see happen so many times with pet sitting business owners trying the hiring process. They make the wrong choices, and then they say, “Oh, nope, this isn’t for me. I’m going to stay small, and the business does not multiply.”

So I said to this sitter, “You are learning something, this is a new process, but you need to get better at it.”

Let’s look back and identify the red flags.

Starting with the application, look at what they submitted. Look at the spelling, look at the grammar. Sometimes when I go back, and I’m like, oh, that was not a good hire.

If a pet sitter is going to apply to your company and they cannot take the time to capitalize or use correct punctuation, they’re not going to be a good fit.

Look back and see how they followed the process that you have laid out.

What steps did you have in place for them through the hiring process, and how did they follow it? Did they follow it correctly? Did they have to ask lots of questions? Did they do it incorrectly? Did you have to ask them repeatedly to submit their background check or to submit their references, et cetera? Did they follow the steps?

How do they communicate with you? Go back and read their emails and or text messages to you. It goes back to that application. Are they writing well thought out detailed emails or text messages? Or are they kind of a mess and all over the place? Are they just trying to throw the buck back at you, saying, here you fix this, so on and so forth? Communication is huge.

How do they present themselves at the interview? Sometimes I see people people that show up for a pet sitter interview, and they look an absolute mess. If somebody’s coming to interview for a job position, the least they can do is pull their hair back and put on clean clothes. Suppose they can’t present themselves cleanly and professionally to you at an interview. In that case, they’re not going to present themselves well to your human clients when they go to do registration meetings. Were they on time for the interview? What kind of questions did they ask you during the interview and onboarding process? If the answer’s none, that is a red flag.

QUOTE - What to do When You Get Burned by a Pet Sitter on Your Team


Reflect on how you could have missed the red flag.

Did you ignore the red flags? A lot of times, you ignore them. You think this person seems like they’re going to be a really good fit. I’m going to pretend like that email they just sent me wasn’t unprofessional. Or all right, I can get past how they looked, or they were 15 minutes late to the interview.

What could you put in place so that you don’t miss the red flags?

At Pet Nanny Coach, I teach my Multiply Framework, and we have three steps to the hiring process. We have the Attraction System. So we’re attracting the right people. We have the Assessment System; we have all types of hoops to jump through to see if they can make it to the other side. So look at that process. What do you have in place to see how they’re going to be as a pet sitter before you hire them? And finally, what does your Onboarding System look like?

Look at your onboarding process.

One I see a lot is the availability. They tell me they’re available here, and then they get started, and then all of a sudden, their availability changes. Is there any way to improve and have prepared this person more so that they could have done a better job for you?

We must go over this ten times before somebody starts working with my company and have them sign an availability sheet. This is what you are signing off on. Then we also go over the long-term relationship that we’re looking for. We’re not looking to work with pet sitters who will use my company as a pit stop. And if you join my team, you are committing to a long-term relationship of working together.

We’re going over it again and again. During the interview process, during the assessment phase, during the onboarding process. It’s setting those expectations right upfront so that they know what to expect.

Be kind to yourselves during this process.

You are going to get better at it, I promise, but it will take a little bit of a learning curve. I’m telling you if you put my processes into place, creating that attraction system, that assessment system, and that onboarding system that all work in conjunction with each other, you are going to create such an amazing team of people that you love working with that are going to take such fantastic care of your clients, both furry and human.

Still, you got to put the work in on the front end. And when you do that, it’s going to take so much of the stress level out of this.

When you get burned, I want you to take the time to go back and look. What were the red flags? How did I miss the flags? What could I put in place the next time I hire to avoid the red flags? Look at the onboarding process. How can you prepare these people so that you know that they are going to do such a great job working for your company at the end of that onboarding process? Take the time and look. I’m telling you 9.9 times out of 10, there were red flags, and we got to figure out how to get better at not missing those.

 

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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

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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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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