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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It’s 100% FREE!

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