10 Ways to Effectively Communicate With Your Pet Sitting and Dog Walking Team

10 Ways to Effectively Communicate With Your Pet Sitting and Dog Walking Team

Finding that sweet spot in communicating with your team is essential to your pet sitting business growth. Building a team of sitters that trust you and that you can trust working with your managerial team is a top goal.

Here are ten tips on how to do this effectively.

#1 Conduct monthly video conferences.

My managers run these meetings for me via Zoom. We discuss what is going on in the business, what worked well, what slipped through the cracks, and what we can improve on. We also take the opportunity to answer any questions and get any feedback.

For those who can not make the meeting, the video is emailed to them and posted in our team Facebook group.

You can use a Facebook group to communicate regularly. You can post tips and tricks, things to remember, policies and procedures, report the need for a last-minute sitter, etc. This Facebook group is proven invaluable for bringing everyone together in one location, and you can quickly get a message out.

#2 Send regular monthly newsletters.

For those sitters that can not make the meeting, you can not trust all of them to watch the video. A newsletter is a great way to get any messages across.

A newsletter can be a letter letting them now, “Hey, this is what’s going on. This is what’s new with you.”

Enumerate all the things you would discuss in the video conference.

#3 Use Slack for internal communications.

Slack is an excellent tool to communicate effectively with your management team. Slack is searchable, so if you’re looking for something you want to discuss, you can use its search bar to find what you are looking for.

#4 Have regular check-in meetings and surveys where you encourage feedback.

Whatever time period you decide, you’re going to want to send out a survey. Ask your sitters, “How is it going? Do you have too many clients? Would you like some more clients? What would you like to be different about the position? How much longer can you see working for the company?”

You’re trying to get ahead of the game. You want to make sure you are keeping in touch with them. The last thing you want is a sitter who’s unhappy, quitting, leaving you with clients who don’t have coverage.

These regular check-in meetings and surveys help you deal with that. Don’t forget to encourage feedback, letting them that you are open to hearing what they have to say and that you’re willing to make changes.

Communicate your boundaries too.

“Hey, I only want to work mid-days, Mondays, and Fridays.”

That’s where you will discuss the job description, and say, “You were hired from Monday through Friday, 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM. So, unfortunately, that is outside of the position that was offered.”

It goes both ways. But being able to communicate about it, especially now, when we have Zoom and don’t have to meet, it’s invaluable.

#5 Celebrate their great work and express your appreciation.

If somebody goes above and beyond for you, show them your appreciation. Send them a card in the mail, or gift cards, or an email.

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#6 Build comfort in talking about what is not working.

There was a time in my business when I was fearful of expressing things that I was unhappy about. I still struggle with that a little bit, but I’ve gotten much better.

You can’t be fearful of expressing things that you want in your business. You are the owner of the business. I’m here to remind you and remind myself that you have every right to express when you are unhappy about something.

#7 Create boundaries with methods and timing of communication.

Having people consistently go to you to fix their problems and communicate with you at all hours of the day is unacceptable.

Nobody should text you at midnight saying, “I am locked out of a house.”

What are you going to do at midnight if they are locked out of a house? They need to be trained and trusted to be able to handle a situation. They should know what your protocol is, to begin with, before they even go out into the field.

So it would be best if you created those boundaries with them, letting them know the best way to communicate with you, how you want to be communicated with, and between what hours.

#8 Respond to every team member’s email within 24 hours.

Letting emails sit in your inbox never has worked out well. Trying to communicate as quickly as possible is a great tip.

#9 Acknowledge special moments in their lives.

When people who for you and are having special moments in their lives, you want to celebrate with them and let them know that you care.

You can use sendoutcards.com, an easy way to send a greeting card and any gifts or gift cards.

#10 Make internal documents and knowledge easily accessible.

Once you have everything broken down into individual SOPs, you can easily share it with your team.

“Colleen, I don’t know how to send an email in Infusionsoft.”

“Okay, this is how you do it.” And you click the link, and you copy and send the link to your team via Slack, maybe.

And then they’re able to go ahead and follow the SOP. You can also include video links in those SOPs, and you are off to the races.

I hope these tips are helpful to you. You can also go to my YouTube channel where I’ve got tons of videos over there to help you build your pet sitting business. Or you can join our free Facebook group at petnannycoachcommunity.com. Don’t forget to say hi.

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5 Tips To Deal With Grief While Running Your Pet Sitting Business

5 Tips To Deal With Grief While Running Your Pet Sitting Business

Last May, my dad unexpectedly fell ill and ended up passing away in the hospital. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he was in the hospital for 19 days, and I was unable to see him during this process. It was a very tragic experience.

Thus, the reason I haven’t done a video for some time. I’ve taken some time for myself away from my pet sitting business.

But now, I’m back. I still get emotional, and I wanted to do a video for you guys about how to deal with grief while running a business. Regardless of the amount of pain that I was in, a business still had to be taken care of.

I’m sharing with you what I did to help me get through this and still have my business running while I took a little bit of time for myself.

#1 I communicated with my team.

My team knew what was going on. I’ve talked about the importance of having a team to support me in my pet sitting business. From the moment my dad became sick, I kept my team abreast with open communication. You don’t have to burden your team with too many details, but having that line of communication open so they understand what you’re going through and can step up.

#2 I leaned on my support network of family and friends.

I leaned on the people I needed in my life. I probably could have used a little more support if it wasn’t for the COVID. I would have loved some more support in terms of people coming over.

During the funeral, we were only allowed to have ten people. It meant the world to me when I found all my friends standing there when I walked out of the funeral.

#3 I spoke with a counselor regularly via Zoom.

Due to COVID, you can’t see anybody face to face. I was able to speak with her, and she’s helping me through my grief. One of my beloved students gave me a book to read, and my counselor reads it with me. We’re working through it together so she can help me with it.

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#4 I changed my scenery.

This is not possible for everybody and I get it. But in Philadelphia, riots were going on, and it was too much for my brain and heart to handle. So I went to our family beach house to calm and soothe my soul. If possible, I highly suggest this. I think that’s one of the best things that I did to renew my mind and help me through this difficult time.

#5 I delegated as much as I could to my team.

Some people bury themselves in their work to get through their grief. I’m unable to do this. My mind was just not in it, so I gave as much to my team as possible, and they were helpful.

Thus, the importance of building a team and structure around you. You never know when things like this will happen. Having people, you can lean on and delegate to will make a world of difference. I would have never been able to get through this without them.

Lean on the people around you.
Build that support system.
Build that team.

I don’t wish this on anybody. But this is life, and things do happen. Anyone that’s experiencing any grief or tragedy, this is how I got through it.

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What I Learned from the Last Decade

What I’ve Learned This Past Decade

I thought it would be fun to look back at some of the big lessons I’ve learned over the past decade in my pet sitting business.

Truthfully, this list could have been much longer, but these were the things that stood out the most to me.

1. Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. Know when it’s time to pivot.

2. Get help in your pet sitting business before you think you need it.

3. Build a team ASAP to free up your time for revenue-generating activities. In short, stop working IN your business if you want to multiply.

4. Always listen to your gut. If you have a bad feeling about a PIA client or prospect or a sitter on your staff, listen to what your body is telling you. It’s your intuition trying to speak to you. Every time I have ignored that feeling, I have lived to regret it.

5. Success, at its foundation, is generally a sequence of steps followed in order.

6. You’ll never really ever, “feel ready.” Do it anyway.

7. You’ll sometimes need to go through majorly rocky STUFF to get to your loftiest goal – these things happen FOR you. They are lessons to prepare you for bigger and better things.

8. The energy and mindset work is real and has played a massive role in my success.

9. Beware of the people in your life who are energy sucks. Create clear boundaries to protect your energy and well-being.

10. Money is energy. Respect it. Treat it like you’re in a relationship with it. Don’t ignore it.

11. The world you see around you is a reflection of the thoughts you think every day and the belief systems you carry through life. Change your thoughts, change your life.

pet sitting business

 

This practice is difficult and needs to be consistently practiced.

It’s also totally worth it.

Now, what about YOU?


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How I Raised My Family While Growing My Pet Sitting Business

How I Raised My Family While Growing My Pet Sitting Business

Growing my pet sitting business while growing a family

As a business owner who is also a Mom, I get asked the question so many times, “Colleen, how did you build the business you did at the same time you were raising the kids?”

So I thought I would share my experience of growing my pet sitting business while raising a family and dealing with all the hundreds of tasks and responsibilities which come with both those jobs.

It almost started by accident when I was pregnant with my first baby, Lucy.

I really wanted to spend the first three months with her completely and not work at all in my business doing any pet sitting or managerial duties.

Working while the baby sleeps

So I hired my first manager with the plan that she was going to leave after three months, but I fell so much in love with my daughter and with mothering that I decided to make the manager permanent.

Having someone to take care of the day-to-day running of the pet sitting business freed me up, during the quiet times when the baby was napping, to work on business growth strategies and marketing the business.

The result: I ended up increasing the revenue by $53,000.

And that was when I realized just what a powerful tool it was hiring someone to manage the pet sitting team.  The more time that you take to work on your business and stop working in your business, the more quickly you’re going to be able to scale your businesses.

How I Raised my Family While Growing My Pet Sitting Business

 

Then, when our family grew to include my two boys, I still made business growth a priority.

The kids would go to a babysitter for a few hours a day so that I could still continue to work on the business. But that also meant that during the second half of the day I could completely focus on them.

And now, everyone’s at school until 4 PM, so unless I’m doing a coaching call at night that’s when I stop work.

I get to work from home, so whenever they’re sick, they get to stay home with me. We never have to worry about that. I’m at every school function, and I get to be with them during school vacations.

Hiring a team let me focus on my priorities

My pet sitting business has given me the freedom and flexibility to enjoy my family.

So that’s how I did it, guys. I had already hired my team of sitters before starting a family, but hiring a manager really made the difference in allowing me to focus my time and energy where the business, and my family, needed it the most.

That’s my advice to you,  you need a team to do the client work and a manager to do the administrative work so that you can have the time to grow and multiply your business.

With that strategy, I raised these three little kids (see video above) all the while growing a company that I love.

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Hiring Pet Sitters For Your Business

The Struggle of Hiring Pet Sitters

Why is hiring pet sitters a problem for some business owners?

One of the most common problems discussed by my students or in my Facebook group is the struggle of hiring pet sitters to grow their business. Sometimes even the thought of hiring a team is too scary and so they decide to stay small, stay working for themselves, being a sole proprietorship.

Then some people take the leap and try to find good people, but they run into issues getting reliable sitters which leads them to give up and go back to running a one-person show.

As we know, there are only so many hours for dollars that you can trade in a single day. So, you’re automatically putting a ceiling over your head with how much revenue you can build in your pet sitting business.

To make a substantial income in this industry, you need to leverage yourself through a team of heart-centered pet care professionals that are going to take stellar care of your client’s pets.

Hiring Pet Sitters

Now, hiring is difficult. It is hard. I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that something’s easy when it’s not.

Finding good people is something that we work on daily at Pet Nanny-Pet Sitters of The Main Line. We have a system for hiring and we’ve used it consistently to grow the team and the business.

There are two steps I want you to take if you want to get serious and grow an amazing team of pet care professionals.

1. Create an attraction system

First,  you need to create a system where you are continuously attracting potential sitters so that you can pick the best candidates for your business.

Your time is precious which means you want to make sure you weed out the applicants who will not work before you even have your first initial interview with them.

2. Test potential sitters at the interview stage

Then you need to have a second system for the interview process to see how your new sitter would perform in different situations.

Their work is going to be a direct reflection on your pet sitting business, therefore, you need to be happy with how they work before you hire them for your company.

Also, this needs to be part of your regular daily business practices. You can’t say, “Okay, I really need sitters,” and then just hope and pray that a resume lands in your inbox.

You need to constantly have a system on autopilot where you are getting the message out that you’re hiring and you’re looking for great people. This leads to interviewing on a weekly basis and putting people through your systems on a weekly basis. That is how you build an amazing team. Yes, it is challenging, but don’t let that stop you from growing.

Currently, we have 40 pet sitters at Pet Nanny-Pet Sitters of The Main Line and we still have weekly meetings discussing where we’re going to find people. In this way, we have grown the most amazing team and the most amazing business.

So, if this is what you want to do, don’t let fear hold you back from hiring pet sitters. Create the attraction system, create the hiring system, make it part of your daily business practices, and you will be able to do it.

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The 3 Biggest Pet Sitting Hiring Mistakes

Hiring new pet sitters to take care of the clients you worked so hard to gain can be a scary proposition. Here are 3 Pet Sitting Hiring Mistakes to avoid.

Pet Sitting Hiring Mistake #1

Hiring in a reactive way

What this means is that you start looking to hire a new pet sitter when you absolutely need someone. I know you’re probably thinking, “well, of course that’s the way I hire, dummy!” I get that would be the logical way, but it’s not a good strategy and I’ll tell you why… If you start the search for hiring a new pet sitter when you are in desperate need of someone; for example, your plate is entirely too full, or a sitter quits without notice, or you need to fire someone and you need to fill their slot asap. You then post your ads, start interviewing and hope and pray that you find a good person. This is being reactive to your current situation and you will make poor choices with whom you ask to join your team because you are in dire need to fill the position. This is not a smart, proactive way to fill your sitter roster with qualified individuals.

My suggestion would be to bring on back-up sitters for your current sitters, who would have the ability to move into the primary sitters slots if the need arises. These sitters will also be the people who absorb the new business that is coming in.

Pet Sitting Hiring Mistake #2

Not managing the expectations of your new sitters.

Managing expectations is the single most important concept to understand and implement when you start to expand your team. Good people who have the availability and positive traits to become a pet sitter are certainly hard to come by. This is why I have made interviewing a regular part of my work week. Pet Sitting is just not going to be a good fit for everyone and you need to clearly spell out the job description right from the get go. Don’t bring people on under false expectations. Be clear and concise with exactly how it will work and what you need from them and what they need to do to be successful in the position.

So, for Pet Nanny this means explaining to your sitter prospects that they shouldn’t expect a full roster of visits or walks for the first couple of months after they join the team. It takes time to build their client base, but if they’re available and if we receive rave reviews from their clients, we will continue to send them assignments and build their book of business.

Pet Sitting Hiring Mistake #3

Hiring individuals who are using your business as a pit stop.

As the interviewer, it’s your job to figure out what it is that the sitter prospect wants to get out of the position. Are they looking for some extra cash to pay for a shore house? If the answer is yes, then why would you hire a person who will be heading out of town during the busy summer months?

Was the person recently laid off from their full-time job? Are they looking to fill their time while they search for their new full-time job? If so, then they are using your company as a pit stop until a better opportunity comes along. I may use this person for back-up pet sitting or house sitting assignments, but I would never give them regular midday clients because what happens when they get a new job and they give you 1 weeks’ notice? You’re going to need to hire in a reactive way, which is NEVER a good thing as explained above. You’ll most likely end up hiring someone that, again, is not a good fit and is using your company as a pit stop. Are you seeing the vicious cycle?

Then there’s the person who says that they’re not looking for other employment, but they live alone and have no other means of income. This always sets off sirens in my head. How are they going to afford to pay their bills if this is their full-time gig? Hello?! They’re not! They’re just telling you what you want to hear. I know it sounds enticing… a person with complete open availability to take on as many assignments as needed. JACKPOT! Here’s your wake-up call. If it sounds too good to be true, it most likely is. In 100% of these hires that I’ve done, about 1 to 2 months down the road I receive the email (they never call to tell me,) that they’re not making enough money and they’ve found something more financially stable. At this point I usually smack myself on the head and say, “of course they did, dum dum!” Then it’s time to do damage control with their customers and to hire again in a reactive way. Ugh!

Trust me, I’ve made all the pet sitting hiring mistakes you can possibly make, but most of the troubles have stemmed from the 3 mistakes listed above. This is what causes the massive amount of turnover, which I hear so many of you complain about. You need to think ahead and make smart, strategic, decisions about who you’re going to hire.

pet sitting hiring mistakes

Your Homework Assignment: Create your avatar. Think of the best sitter you’ve ever had and then jot down all the things that made them great. Next, add any other traits that you would love to have in a team member to the list. Booya! You’ve just created your Ideal Sitter Profile. Be sure to review it every time before you start your interviews to remind yourself of who exactly it is you’re looking for, and to avoid the 3 biggest pet sitting hiring mistakes.

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Pet Sitting Hiring Tips

Last week I wrote about the 3 Biggest Pet Sitting Hiring Mistakes. This week I’m going to give you a couple more helpful pet sitting hiring tips.

Pet Sitting Hiring Tip #1. Listen to your gut!

There have been times when I’ve met a pet sitting prospect and they’ve done all the right things. They’ve presented themselves well, answered my questions clearly and with enthusiasm. They also have the availability I’m looking for, but for some reason, which I can’t explain, something is off. It’s that thing we call our “gut feeling.” My advice to you is to listen to your gut. In my experience, it very rarely steers me the wrong way. When you get that feeling it’s usually due to the energy the person may be exuding and your subconscious is picking up on it. That feeling is there to tip you off. Trust yourself and listen to it! It can save you a lot of trouble in the long run.

I realize that this is much easier said than done, but it’s a skill you need to practice if you want to substantially grow your pet sitting business. Here is a good article on how to follow your intuition.

Pet Sitting Hiring Tip #2. Create a test or assessment to evaluate new sitters.

When I hire a new pet sitter to join the Pet Nanny Team, I email them a Sitter Welcome Packet. I explain to the new sitter that all of the items in the packet must be completed before we can start giving them assignments. How the sitter completes the packet is a tell-all, if they are actually going to work out. Those individuals who hop quickly to completing the packet in an orderly fashion without many questions or issues usually end up being my best sitters. Why?

  1. They have made getting started with Pet Nanny a priority.
  2. They have displayed their sense of urgency.
  3. They can follow directions.
  4. They can communicate effectively.

Those who sit on the packet for a week or more before starting the tasks, 9 times out of 10 do not work out well. I have now made it our policy that if a new sitter lets more than 7 days pass without submitting the completed takes, the offer to join our team is rescinded. I already know that if it takes them this long to complete a basic task, that they lack any sense of urgency and don’t consider Pet Nanny to be a priority. In the pet sitting industry, you need to have the ability to communicate effectively by returning phone calls, emails and texts promptly. In this case they have failed my test.

If the prospect clearly communicates with you that she is going out of town or has something else going on at that exact moment, I absolutely take that into consideration because they COMMUNICATED clearly with me. It’s all about the ability to communicate effectively!

pet sitting hiring tips

Your Homework Assignment:

  1. Start listening to your gut! Follow these pet sitting hiring tips.
  2. Create a test for your own new hires. Think about how you can evaluate a new hire before actually sending them out into the field.

Hiring is one of the scariest things for us pet sitting business owners to conquer. You may be asking yourself, “Will they do as good of a job as I do? Can I trust them? How do I pay them? Will my clients like them?” I get it! It’s a tough transition.

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Hire Slowly and Fire Quickly

How to Run a Pet Sitting Business – Valuable Advice

Hire slowly and fire quickly. This is the advice that was given to me by my mentor many years ago. It is a line that is always in the back of my mind whenever I coach on how to run a pet sitting business. It is advice that has kept me safe for many years, but recently I went against my better judgement and did the exact opposite.

A Story To Illustrate This Point

Rewind to about a year ago. I unexpectedly lost a longtime sitter with a full midday roster, which translates to VERY important clients that would soon be without a dog walker. I of course went into a total panic mode. I posted my job ad and started interviewing almost immediately, but the pickings were slim. I made the decision to hire someone I knew in my gut was NOT a good fit for Pet Nanny, but I had no choice (I thought.)

So, this pet sitter started with little to no issues, but as time progressed I started to receive some negative feedback. I knew I should let her go, but against my better judgement, I took the advice of someone who felt that it would cause way more of a ruckus to let her go than to keep her on. Again, I went against my gut and kept her on. STUPID!!!

Now, fast forward to about one year after she was hired. Our Client Happiness Manager set-up a shadow walk between this pet sitter and a new pet sitter. The new pet sitter reported back to Pet Nanny Headquarters that this veteran sitter had A LOT to say… A lot of negative things. She said that she takes clients’ reservations all of the time and that Pet Nanny has no idea. She also said that she brings her boyfriend with her whenever she wants and that you don’t actually have to stay for the entire time on visits. All three of these points completely go against Pet Nanny Standards and the Code of Ethics that each sitter signs when they join our team. This is not how to run a pet sitting business.

When this information was relayed to me, it felt as though someone had punched me in the stomach. I thought to myself, how many other pet sitters has she tainted with her selfish and self-serving views? How many clients had she tainted with her inability to keep her thoughts to herself and simply provide the top quality pet care that Pet Nanny promises? Ugh! I didn’t even want to think about it.

how to run a pet sitting business

Next, my manager and I jumped into fix-it mode. We knew we had to immediately stop this pet sitter from ever visiting another Pet Nanny client’s home. My manager called her and told her to meet her at a local establishment where she requested all of the keys to be returned to her. She then explained to this sitter the standards of Pet Nanny which she was clearly not living up to, as well as the provisions of her agreement with us, which she was clearly violating. The sitter swore up and down that she did none of these things. My manager wished her the best and they went their separate ways. Oh, and I forgot to mention that we removed her from our website and revoked her access to the Pet Nanny database before this meeting took place, just in case this sitter wanted to access her client list and wreak more havoc.

The Moral of The Story

The moral of the story is hire slowly and fire quickly. If you always try to hire proactively (as I talk about here in this blog post,) you won’t ever have to ignore this advice. And…. Always listen to your gut, because it’s always right!

Your Homework Assignment: Take an assessment of your staff. Is there anyone that you should cut loose? If so, do it!

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