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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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 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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