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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What I Learned from the Last Decade

What I’ve Learned This Past Decade

Now that we’ve entered 2020, 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?

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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YES! Send Me The Complete Checklist of 125 ways to get more PET SITTING CLIENTS!

 

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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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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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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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