Tag: owning a pet sitting business

Using Automation in Your Business.

2 Meditation Tools for Pet Sitters

Listening to Binaural Beats when you are meditating or sleeping can help you manage your pet sitting business. This video describes the benefits of making Binaural Beats part of your daily routine.

Binaural beats are when you hear two tones, one in each ear, that are slightly different in frequency. Your brain processes a beat at the difference of the frequency. This is called a binaural beat.

Using Automation in Your Business.

 

About six months ago, I was advised by my coach to get earbuds and listen to binaural beats when I’m meditating. I was doing some reading about it, and I was like, it’s terrific to listen to binaural beats when you’re sleeping. It does all types of goodness for your subconscious mind, your subconscious thoughts. It reduces anxiety. It helps you increase your focus and attention, lower stress, increases relaxation, fosters positive moods, promote creativity, and helps manage pain.

These were all these benefits I heard about binaural beats when you go to sleep with them in your ears with your earbuds. But I like to sleep on my side or my stomach, and the earbuds would hurt. So I was like, “This isn’t working.”

I was scrolling through Twitter one day, and one of these ads pops up. This is like a sleep mask, and it has earphones on the side. It doesn’t hurt, and these are great for the plane too, or if you want to do a quick meditation in the middle of the day, block out all the light and go to sleep listening to different meditations, hypnosis, or binaural beats.

Another tip I have for you is this great app I found called Synctuition. This is a paid app, but it gives you all types of binaural beats for all different things. If you want to start a meditation practice or you want to up your meditation practice so you can become more productive in your life and your business, try these two things out.

Resources

evalax.com
synctuition.com
Understanding the Wellness Benefits of Binaural Beats

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Using Automation in Your Business

Using Automation in Your Pet Sitting Business

First, what actually is automation?

It is taking the manual processes out of your business. Instead, it’s the use of technology and automating various business tasks. Automating a pet sitting business replaces the manual effort needed to execute everyday tasks. Here are some of the benefits of using automation.

It boosts productivity and customer satisfaction, and it aids businesses in cutting costs, streamlining processes.

I love all things streamlining and improving efficiency, which leads to revenue growth and customer satisfaction. It also dramatically minimizes the chances of errors, which brought me to my first experience with automation, finally biting the bullet and investing in scheduling software.

When I was doing everything manually in my pet sitting business, especially the scheduling, mistakes happened quite frequently.

But after I finally, again, bit the bullet and invested in scheduling software, there were no more mistakes with service confirmations, missed visits, or client and pet care information, or tracking payments.

I’m going to tell you the experience I had that led me to finally getting scheduling software. I had an overnight service order for a golden retriever in Gladwyne, Pennsylvania. It was like 15 years ago. I had down the date that I was leaving was X date, and they had it a day later.

I couldn’t have done that date because it was over Easter, and I would be away over Easter. So I don’t know where the miscommunication happened, but this was a manual process back then. This dog was left alone for 24 hours a day.

Being the business owner, that was entirely my fault because I didn’t have a system in place that tracked all of the scheduling or checks and balances, which the scheduling software gives you. This client was super upset, and I don’t blame them. I lost nights and nights of sleep over it.

I woke up in cold sweats, and it was one of the worst feelings I’ve ever had in my life. So from that point forward, I said, “I’m not doing this anymore. I am going to put my big girl pants on, and I’m going to invest in scheduling software.”

Using Automation in Your Business


The benefits of using scheduling software. Number one, it’s peace of mind for you.

I used to wake up like, “Oh my gosh, did I visit that Westie? Oh my gosh, did I see that powered or that cat?” And I’m like, “Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. I did. I did. I did.” But again, it’s all in my head, and it was all on paper.

When you have software that tracks things for you, you don’t have to worry about that anymore. It’s taking up a lot of space in your brain. Trust me. It gives you peace of mind, and then it provides the client with peace of mind.

So not only does it give you a unique selling proposition to give to your customer prospects, but they can know that they can go away or go to work. They can have total peace of mind because they are going through the scheduling or the service confirmation, ensuring that all the requested dates are there.

Then they’ll get confirmations, and then they’ll get notifications when the visits are complete, and then they’ll get communications that the sitter was there or you were there, so on and so forth. So it gives them peace of mind. You can do all of your client and pet profile management.

Back in the day, when I did everything manually, I had them in file folders, which was like crazy. I finally threw them all away, by the way, maybe about three years ago.

I was like, “I don’t need these anymore because everything is online. Everything is tracked inside the software.” Easy scheduling and tracking. Again, the client can book their service online. They can tell you precisely what you want. You or your manager can then go ahead and schedule it, send it to the client, and say, “Hey, is everything on this correct?”

You’re putting that back on them to look at it and say, “Yes, everything’s correct.” Okay, we have an agreement, take payment, and move from there. You can do invoicing all from the same software, which is so easy.

Back then, when I was doing it manually, I would print out Word documents and leave the bill on the counter with a self-addressed envelope and then hope that my clients would get me payment in a quick way. Now they are invoiced ahead of time. We keep a credit card on file. We charge it four days ahead of time.

And then all of our regular clients who use this monthly are on an automatic billing schedule. They know every 30 days they’re going to be billed for the following month, and it just moves so much easier. I used to find checks in my pocket. I’d be like, “Did I deposit that?” It was just a mess. And then you can keep the credit cards on file, which I just mentioned. And then the sitter management and sitter visit tracking are essential.

You can do all your HR stuff right from your software on your sitters, and you can make sure that they are going to the client’s house, what time they show up, what time they leave. They’re going to communicate with the client through the app.

So again, going back to the peace of mind for you and the client, but you, as the pet sitting business owner, can track these people that are out representing your company. When you do all this stuff manually, you’re not using this type of technology; this is all that you’re missing out on. It just makes your life so much easier.

I get asked this question all the time. I think that Time to Pet is the best software on the market. Now, there are many, many to choose from. I’ve heard good things about Precise Petcare. I’ve heard good things about Leashtime, but I would say 99% of my students use Time to Pet, and they love it.

I spoke with Mike yesterday, and he is giving you guys a special link. It’s https://timetopet.com/r/petnannycoach. You’re going to get the regular free 14-day trial. It can’t hurt. Go there and sign up and get the free trial.

If you decide to sign up, he’s also giving members of our community 50% off their first three months. So thank you, Mike, from Time to Pet. He has an amazing platform that I’m just super impressed by. Go check it out. It doesn’t hurt to give it a shot.

If you are on a super budget-friendly option, there is an app called pocketsuite.io. I think it’s around $9 a month, and it’s a straightforward way to get started with technology and using the software. It’s not pet sitting specific, but it’s a scheduling app, and you can accept payments through it.

Some of my students who are just starting opt for this, to begin with. And as soon as things get moving, they’ll move over to Time to Pet or another software.

Marketing Automation

Marketing automation is all about using software to automate marketing activities such as email marketing, social media posting, and ad campaigns such as Facebook Ads or Google AdWords. For example, I use a marketing software called Keep Classic by Infusionsoft. I love it. I’ve used it forever.

However, it’s super expensive, and it has many bells and whistles that you most likely won’t need. One less costly option is MailChimp. For your first 2,000 subscribers, it’s free.

You can try ActiveCampaign for about $10 a month, ConstantContact, or FloDesk. I suggest that all of my students use ActiveCampaign because it’s inexpensive and has all the power that Infusionsoft has. Like anything, with any software, there’s going to be a learning curve, and you need to take the time to learn how to use it so that you can start making money from it and utilizing it.

It’s not sitting there not being used, and you’re just paying this monthly fee. But MailChimp is free. It doesn’t have the same amount of power as ActiveCampaign does. You can check out ActiveCampaign, ConstantContact, or FloDesk.

Let’s talk about an example of a marketing campaign using an email autoresponder like Infusionsoft or ActiveCampaign. We’re going to go over today what I call an opt-in offer.

A prospect hits your website, and you are giving them something of value in exchange for their first name and email address so that you can then market to them to have them become a paying customer with your pet sitting business.

Here’s an example on my website. I offer an information packet, which is pretty much just a condensed version of my website in a PDF format. I give a high-value coupon along with the information packet. The prospect hits my website. They click that “Download Now” button. A pop-up comes up. They give me their first name and email.

Then this starts. It looks like inside Infusionsoft, guys, where it says here the info packet lead magnet. That’s the form. They fill it out on the website, and that’s what triggers the campaign to start. Boom! They go into that first sequence, which is the info packet delivery.

Now, this is what it looks like on the inside of that sequence. The first email they’re going to get is the delivery. They asked for the info packet and coupon, so I am giving it to them. Here’s what you requested. Here it is. Then a day later, I talk about the pain points.

It’s an email talking about how not to make the same mistakes that I did when I hired a pet sitter that lost my dog down the shore. Poor Dr. Watson. That was a terrible story.

But again, it’s speaking to their pain points, and you don’t want to trust any old person to come in and take care of your pet. Again, using a professional service, this is why you want to use a professional service, so on and so forth. Then two days later, I say, “Hey, do you have any questions? And here’s another bonus. I have an ultimate guide for all Main Line pet owners.” So again, I’m giving more value to them.

I’m positioning myself as an expert and the go-to resource for them. They have a whole PDF that’s emailed to them that has all of the local pet hotels and parks and pet shops and vets, so on and so forth. Then four days later, I do the Call To Action.

I say, “Hey, your coupon is about to expire. If you want to sign up for a Pet Nanny service, now is the time to do it. Click here to schedule.” The idea here is by the end of this email sequence that I am going to have converted a prospect into a buyer. If they don’t become a buyer, that’s okay.

Right now might not be the right time for them, but you can still keep in touch with them through other email marketing campaigns and holiday reservation reminder campaigns. You could have pop-up sales. Then, when they are ready to buy, you’re going to be the first person they think of because you have been keeping in contact with them.

Other options for me to get their information on my website. It’s called a red offer, a yellow offer, and a green offer for prospects that hit your site.

The red offer is for people looking for more information, so that’s going to be the information packet and coupon. Then some people are a little more warm, and they’re going to say, “You know what? This looks really good. I’m going to ask for a quote.”

Yes, all of my pricing is on the website, so they can quickly go there and get it, but many people asked for the quote, making it easy for them to do so. So that would be the yellow offer. They’re a little warmer. And then we have the green offer, which is they become a client.

You want to make it easy for your customers to buy from you. Some people are going to hit your website and say, “I am ready to start.” They hit the become a client button. They fill out the form, and then whole different automation starts.

Social Media

You can use tools like Hootsuite, SmarterQueue, Meet Edgar, or Buffer to schedule your social media posts and your social media plan. I used to use Meet Edgar. Now I use SmarterQueue. The cool thing about that software is that they create a library of your posts so that they continuously post over time. So you’re not going to post it once and then go into the abyss and never be seen again.

It’s reutilizing your posts from before, which is fantastic. You can also just use simple Facebook scheduling. They do it right there inside of Facebook.

You click the little clock, and you can schedule all your posts that way. But that way, you’re not doing it. So if you do it only when you think of it, it’s not going to get done is not going to be as effective as if you plan it out and automate the process if that makes sense.

Hiring Automation

Hiring automation is leveraging technology to allow companies to automate recruiting tasks and workflows to increase productivity, accelerate time to fill, reduce cost per hire, and improve the overall talent profile of their organization.

Today, I’m going to show you an example of a hiring campaign that I use inside my business, Pet Nanny-Pet Sitters of The Main Line. The automation is triggered when a a sitter prospect hits my website and fills out the job application.

If you are using ICs, you don’t want to call it a job application. You want to call it a questionnaire. Regardless, they hit the website. They fill that out, and that is going to trigger the automation to start. There’s the form. They fill out the application.

Then the sitter job description is sent to them. If they download the job description, they are given an interview invitation, which has a scheduling link inside. If they schedule the interview, the scheduling software tags them, and then they get their interview prep and confirmation emails.

So again, based upon the action that the sitter prospect is taking, these things happen. If they don’t take action, they don’t move forward in the automation. If they never download the job description, they’re not getting an interview invitation.

If they don’t schedule an interview, they will not get the interview prep and confirmation emails. But it’s taking that manual process. I don’t have to move them through anything manually. It’s based on the actions they’re taking.

It takes a lot of time out of this process. I want to bring you inside the sitter job description sequence. They fill out the application. The job description is emailed to them. That’s right here.

We also send a voicemail that says, “Hey, Jessica, I just sent you the job description. It may end up in your promos folders. If you have a Gmail account, make sure you look in there. Also, look in your junk folder.”

If it didn’t hit their inbox, we want to make sure that they know that it was set. If they don’t download it, we try a second time a day later. And then if they still don’t download it, they’re moving to an inactive prospect. I no longer want to market to this sitter prospect because they didn’t download the job description. So they’re no longer prospects. That’s an example of hiring automation. You can also automate your workflow.

Workflow Automation

Workflow automation is a way to streamline essential processes in your business to minimize delays, so things get done faster. Here are some examples here. If we mail a lockbox to a client, a two-second form is filled out that automatically shoots off an email to the client saying, “Your order for the lockbox has been completed and is on its way to you.”

Suppose someone’s out of the service area. We get lots of requests about pet sitting service that we don’t cover their service area. We can fill out the two-second form, and it automatically sends an email letting them know, “Hey, unfortunately, you’re not in our service area. Here is where you can go to find a reputable professional pet sitter in your area.”

Suppose we want to send referral thank you cards. If I get a referral from a strategic alliance or a client or a friend and send them a Send Out Card with a gift card attached to it, I fill out the SOC referral $5 Starbucks. This card is going to go out and say, “Hey, Jessica, thank you so much for the referral. We always appreciate it. Enjoy a cup of coffee on me at Starbucks.”

We also do this for reviews. If someone leaves a review on Yelp or Google, we will send a thank you. Thank you cards with the Starbucks gift cards, but we make it easy to do so. If I were to do this manually, I would have to write the card out. I’d have to put it in the envelope. I’d have to write out the envelope, put the postage on, bring it out to the mailbox. I mean, how often are you going to do that?

I have it set up that it takes two seconds to fill out this form inside Infusionsoft. Then, it goes to send out cards. Finally, it creates the card and mails it off with a gift card attached to it.

Other ideas for workflow automations are when we need to have a sitter schedule, a pre-departure meeting, a registration meeting, a meet and greet, or schedule an essential pickup. My manager goes into the contact file, fills out this two-second form, and sends those email notifications to the sitter.

She doesn’t have to go back and forth a hundred times with the sitter letting them know. It’s all documented and organized inside Infusionsoft. It takes two seconds to fill out the form. The sitter gets the notification, and then the sitter is to let our manager know that the meeting has been scheduled.

And then Sue will mark the task complete. That way, she knows. “Oh my gosh. I sent the email to Kylie about scheduling a pre-departure meeting. I never heard back from her,” because this goal of the pre-departure meeting being scheduled is still sitting on her dashboard. So it’s a check and balance system too.

Final tip, if you are going to invest in an automation tool, like a scheduling software like Time to Pet, or an email autoresponder like MailChimp or ActiveCampaign, or you’re going to get Hootsuite or Buffer or SmarterQueue, any of these things, take the time to learn how to use them.

These softwares are built to make you money. People ask me all the time, “What about the expense?” If you use these tools, they’re going to make you money.

An expense is when you’re paying for them, but you don’t take the time to learn how to use them. They sit there, and you get charged month after month after month. They’re going to waste. They’re not bringing you, new clients. They’re not bringing you new leads, et cetera. That is when it’s an expense.

Don’t be scared of technology.

Think to yourself, what did I use not to be able to do that I’m terrific at now? Walking, we didn’t know how to walk when we were born. Now I’m an excellent walker. It’s the same thing. It’s a new skill you need to learn, and it’s going to benefit you and your business, and it’s going to help make you more money and give you more freedom in your pet sitting business.

 

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My Client Payment System

My Client Payment System

Today’s business growth video is a question that comes from a member of our Pet Nanny Coach community Facebook group. Kate writes, “How do you all accept payment? I’m so tired of the scattered methods. Cash, check, Venmo, Zelie. It’s everything. I’m a mess. Any suggestions? I know I should have done this a while ago.”

I can identify with what you’re going through because there was nobody worse than me when it came to tracking money. I would find checks in my coat pockets and the back of my jeans and my roommate used to borrow my clothes, and she’d find checks all the time. She’d say, “Wow, you must be wealthy not to have to deposit these checks.”

I would feel guilty if I lost a check, and I wouldn’t want to ask the client. So I would miss out on $600. It was just a nightmare. Then we had other people that wouldn’t pay, but I wasn’t treating my money or the energy around my money with respect. So, therefore, my clients weren’t treating me with respect for money, and it was a vicious circle.

I made this change probably about 13 years ago, and I’ve never looked back.

Get Scheduling Software.

I now bill the clients and create a service order. Then, four days before their scheduled service, I charge the credit card that we keep on file in my pet-sitting software. So that is how we do it.

I get a little bit of pushback from other members of the community. Well, what about the clients that don’t want to do that? Well, then they’re not my ideal client, and they can find service somewhere else.

Billing information is collected at onboarding.

There are two things that a client needs to do before we will schedule a registration meeting. First, they need to complete their welcome packet. It’s all their client and pet care information, sign their service agreement, and then need to give us their billing information.

If they don’t want to do that, Pet Nanny Pet Sitters of the Main Line is not the service for them. No judgment. Everybody has the right to make their own decisions, but that is how I run my business. It now runs seamlessly with me not having to worry about missed payments or tracking payments. It’s all right in there. It’s so easy.

The software keeps track of the credit card expiration.

The software system lets us know when the cards expire, and the client gets an automatic reminder email, “Hey, the credit card that you have on file with Pet Nanny has expired. Please update it.”

There has never been an issue since then. So think about it. Maybe that’s not the right system for you. This is your business, your rules.

What systems can be put into place to minimize time spent?

Consider what the pain points of your money management systems are and what systems can you put into place to minimize the time spent and make it easy for your clients to buy from you and make it easy for you to keep track of your books and your finances.

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TITLE - 26 Office Organization Strategies

26 Office Organization Strategies

Office organization requires effort and planning, but it isn’t difficult to accomplish.

QUOTE - 26 Office Organization Strategies


Use these tips to turn your office into a haven for productivity.

1. Declutter.

This is what I’m focused on this month with my Multiply Mastermind students and my Scholar students. We’re doing a 30-day decluttering challenge, not only of our office but also of our homes and lives.

Empty, shred, get rid of everything that you don’t need or want. Take everything out and look at it. Then throw away or donate anything you don’t need. Ask yourself the question, is this serving me still? Am I using this? If not, it’s time to go.

Take one area at a time. If it doesn’t work, send it out for repair or toss it. If you haven’t used it in months and can’t think of when you need it, out it goes. Don’t forget about knick-knacks, plants, real or artificial, and decorations. If they’re covered with dust and make your office look shabby, they’re fair game.

2. The Desk Zone.

Desks should only contain the necessities, like your computer, phone, printer, and reference materials. Too many things cause clutter and disorganization.

Ideally, your desk should have drawers for supplies and files used daily. Pens, pencils, tape, paperclips, and staples should all stay in containers or in easy to reach drawers. This is your workspace. This is where you are going to make great things happen. You want to make sure this is clear of clutter, so you can focus and be productive on your business.

3. Clean Off Your Computer Desktop.

Digital messes count as clutter, too. Files sitting on your computer desktop are distracting and will make it difficult to focus. I make this part of my monthly system, where I am cleaning off all the files on my computer desktop.

I’m constantly downloading things, and I take that one day a month to put them in the correct Dropbox or Google Drive folder. I can tell when I look at somebody’s computer screen, and it’s covered with files, that we got some internal stuff going on. Remember, once a month, get that desktop cleaned.

4. The Paperless Office.

One of the best things you can do for your office and the environment is to go paperless. Paper creates clutter. Although a certain amount of paper is necessary, try reading and storing documents online instead. Before you hit the print key, ask yourself, do I need to print this?

5. Go Digital.

Organize all your files in cloud-based software like Google Drive or Dropbox. I use both. I teach my students in my Multiply Mastermind program how to create their business hub in Google Drive.

Then you want to create systems so that your files are easily accessible. If you went inside of my Google Drive or my Dropbox, you would think I have some severe OCD problems, but I can find anything in two seconds flat. That is how organized I have these files in there.

6. Inbox and Outbox.

Having in and out boxes on your desk creates space for those documents that have to be printed, as well as incoming and outgoing mail. This allows you to know exactly where documents are instead of having them in piles all over your desk.

7. Snail Mail.

Sort your mail every single day. Don’t just stick it in a pile to be sorted. Every day, the mail comes in. What’s going in the trash? What’s being shredded? What’s going in your inbox to deal with that week?

If you wait and just let those piles stack up on your kitchen counter or in your office, it’s going to create brain clutter. Remember, we’re trying to clear our outer space to stay focused on the important things that we want to accomplish during the week. Do daily mail sorting. It takes 2 seconds.

8. Filing Cabinets

An organized office needs file cabinets. Color coding makes it easier and faster to find information. If your files become stuffed, clean them out. Put prior years’ files in a labeled storage box to free space. For all of the documents that I need daily, I want them just like an arm’s reach away.

I have a silver cabinet here, things that I don’t need as often. So like worker’s comp stuff, insurance stuff, stuff like that, that goes in there. But quite honestly, again, I have very little paper because I’m trying to keep everything in the cloud.

9. Magazine Boxes.

Store the magazines you want to keep in special magazine boxes on a shelf to declutter your workspace. Better yet, throw them out as soon as you’re done reading them.

My mom loves to order me magazines, even though I constantly ask her not to because they create clutter. My system is when the magazine comes, I read it immediately so I can toss it. It stresses me out. When I see the magazine, I’m like, oh, I have so much to do, I don’t want to read this magazine, but I don’t want it hanging around. So I read them the day they come, and then I toss them.

If that’s not something you want to do, you can get these magazine boxes at, The Container Store, keep them on a shelf, so they’re not creating clutter in your office or life.

10. Paper Shredder.

Shred documents with personal information that you don’t need to keep. This will free up file space and protect your confidentiality as well. You don’t want to be throwing any of your personal papers with your information directly in the trash, so use your shredder for those documents.

11. Filter Your Email.

Create a filtering system for your emails. Examples of mailboxes to create, customer care, sitter correspondence, drafts. You’ll always want to have a drafts folder, so you do not have to re-type every single email that you send to sitters and clients, the applications that come in, etc. and you can have a complete file.

So what I do in my Mac mail program is I flag. I move all the things I need to do that need my attention that I have not yet completed. I flag them, and they’re in that folder. And then I go in and complete them. When I’m done, remove the flag and then delete the email.

You can also create rules inside your email client, where certain emails automatically get sent to these folders, and you don’t have to do it manually. But the goal is inbox zero. You don’t want your Inbox completely cluttered with emails. If you’re not reading them, delete them. Get rid of them or filter them.

12. Do not disturb.

Reclaim your time by hanging a sign on the door or a dry erase board to let others know you’re unavailable. Dedicated work time helps maintain an organized mind, as well as an organized office.

I don’t know what I would do without my do not disturb sign. When my three little children come home from school, they would barrel through the door if I didn’t have that sign on there. I know many of you have issues with boundaries with siblings, not siblings, spouses, or parents living with them, or children living with them. This is how you create that boundary – putting that do not disturb sign up on your office door.

13. Personal Items.

Personal items can crowd your workspace, and that’s okay, but don’t let them overrun you. Designate a specific area for personal items, and this will keep your desk organized and free from distraction.

So my children love to make me projects at school, and they want me to hang them all over my office. And I do too, but I don’t keep them too long. This is the only one I have right now. It says Happy Mother’s Day. And this is a pen in a cute little pot, but I keep this on my desk, but this will go away soon, just because I don’t like clutter.

14. Plan It.

A personal planner or desk calendar will help you keep track of your schedule and deadlines. Write everything down, including birthdays, appointments, client meetings, deadlines, and other helpful notes.

If you are a pen and paper girl, you can get calendars on Amazon that you can keep on your desk. I personally love Google Calendar, and I have a calendar for just my personal appointments. I have a calendar for my kids. I have a calendar for my marketing. I have a calendar for my programs, so on and so forth. I can share them with my students in certain programs or share them with my husband or share them with my team. They all sync from every device, and it truly is a lifesaver. So I personally love Google Calendar but use what you like.

15. Once a Month, Do a Clean Sweep.

Spend one day a month doing a total clean sweep in your office. Put files and supplies back where they belong, clean out desk drawers and file cabinets, shred papers that you don’t need if they contain personal information. Schedule a day to do this.

Every first Monday of the month, I have a business organization day where I do all of this. You know, my desktop, the computer desktop, my office, papers, throwing things away from the filing cabinet, going into my QuickBooks online, looking at the revenue and expenses from the month before, so on and so forth. It is a scheduled day on my calendar where I am doing a clean sweep.

16. Tip-Top Computers.

Computers are the lifeline of an office. Dust it weekly to keep it in tip-top shape, install and use antivirus software and system utilities to keep your computer running well. Also, you’ll want to back up and empty the trash regularly. This was big for me.

I do videos all the time, and I had so many videos sitting in my trash can. It was slowing down my computer so badly, and I didn’t even realize it. Now every week the computer gets dusted and the trash gets emptied.

17. What To Do.

Maintaining a to-do list will help you stay organized. Make it a habit to write down important tasks and cross them off as they’re completed.

Something I teach my students in my programs is called the See It Through Strategy. And a big part of this is taking weekly, either on a Sunday or Monday, you’re getting everything out of your brain, and you’re putting it on your to-do list, and then you’re scheduling it on your calendar.

I love to keep all of my notes on an app called Notability on my iPad, so everything is all in one place. You can use a notebook, you can use a Google Doc, but the point is that you are getting it out of your brain and putting it down on paper to use that brain space for business generating, money-making activities.

If we have everything in our minds, things don’t get done. It causes confusion. We want clarity, and doing this thought download at the beginning of the week of all of our to-dos and then organizing them on our calendar is so important. Again, I use Notability, which I love.

18. Deadline.

No one likes them, but we all need them. Incorporate your deadlines into your master to-do list and keep that handy in your planner. Sticking to a deadline schedule will force you to stay on track. Parkinson’s Law states that something will take for as long as you give it.

So if you say you want to get a website designed and you don’t give yourself a deadline, it could take you six months. But if you say, I’m going to give myself one month to get this done, that is how you increase your productivity. You have to provide yourself with deadlines, or otherwise, it’s just going to eat up all your time and take forever.

19. Ugly Cords.

Tidy up those messy cords with twist ties or rubber bands. I ordered a whole bunch of different colored ones on Amazon.

20. Reference Zone.

Set up a specific zone in your office for these materials. This could include binders, books, manuals, magazines, dictionaries, and professional items. A bookcase should fit the zone nicely.

I have a giant cupboard over here that I got at an auction. It holds so much stuff, it’s unreal, but this is where my reference zone is. All of my binders and reference documents from any program that I’ve ever joined, or documents that I create for my students is right here, and it’s behind a closed door so I don’t see it. If you can get something where you can close the door and keep that organized, that’ll be great.

21. Fresh Start.

Straighten your desk at the end of each day. That way, when you sit down in the morning, you can start with a clean slate. If you have a priority task that needs to be completed first thing in the morning, leave it out on the desk to help you get focused and ready to go.

If you do this one tip, I promise you your productivity is going to skyrocket. That is something I do, systematizing pretty much everything in my life, but at the end of every day, this desk is cleaned off.

That way, I can sit down with a clean slate, a clean mind, and get going first thing. If I sat down with piles of stuff everywhere, that’s not a good way to start your day.

It takes two minutes. Just clean off your desk, put everything away, and turn it off, shut it down, and head out.

22. Label It.

A label machine is your best friend. Labeling all files, folders, bins, containers, trays, boxes, and other organizational tools lets you know exactly what’s inside.

I used to have a Dymo label maker and stamp printer on my desk that took up a lot more space, so I switched to this because I don’t want clutter.

So label everything, and that way, you know exactly where everything should go.

23. Charge It Up.

Designate a space in your office to charge all of your devices. There are three children and two adults living in this house. We all have multiple devices. There were cords everywhere. Everybody was charging things in different places until I got a dry sink at an auction. And we set up a charging station. So everything’s organized. We have all of the charging cords labeled, so we know whose cord is whose, and everything’s right in one spot.

24. Organize Your Valuable Documents.

Create a special kit for all of your valuable documents, assets, and personal information. I ordered a fireproof briefcase from Susie Orman, the financial guru. We keep marriage certificates, birth certificates and anything about our assets in there.

You have to think if the house were to burn down and you could grab one thing, what would you need? That’s where you want to keep all those documents. It’s super organized.

25. Build a Life Binder.

Organize important papers in an easy grab-and-go binder. Here are some categories: medical, pet, auto, manuals, house, kids, and personal.

Many manuals are kept online now, so you might not even have to keep those anymore—just something to keep in mind. Keep it in your reference zone, and you can pull the binder out, and everything is right there and organized.

26. Utilize Wall Space.

If you have a small space, use your wall space to hang filing systems, calendars, whiteboards, shelving, and more. There’s so much more space when you go vertical.

Before I moved here to Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, I had a smaller office at my old house, and I used the wall space. It had all of my calendars and whiteboards and shelving.

Here, I don’t need it as much. I have a much larger space. I like things out of my sight. So I have these two glass cabinets, the big cupboard here, and then the dry sink back here, where everything is organized and put away out of sight. Use the wall space if you have a smaller space.

Keeping yourself and your office organized isn’t difficult after you create systems that you stick to. Following these simple tips will keep your office running smoothly, enable you to accomplish more, and help you feel less stressed.

If you are struggling with organization and clutter, it usually is a sign of something going on up here. You need to learn how to organize your mind, thoughts, and to-dos, and usually, the external physical environment becomes much easier to keep organized.

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Work Family Balance

Work Family Life Balance

One of the members of our community, Emily Lewis, asked me to talk about work-life balance in her pet sitting business. There are two main topics I want to cover.

First is when you have young children, and you’re trying to build your business, and I did a video about this last year. Here is a link to that video: https://youtu.be/302z5z1PikI

Hire a manager.

When I started having my family, having Lucy, that’s when I hired my first manager. When I hired her, I wasn’t expecting to keep her on to work for me.

I was planning to have her come for three months and cover things for me to be a new mom and enjoy my new baby. I ended up loving mothering so much, and she was doing such an amazing job that I decided to keep her on. When Lucy got a little bit older, I realized that I had all this time now because my manager was taking care of things.

She was taking care of all of the administrative tasks for me, which freed up so much of my time to focus on growing the pet sitting business. So that is why I kept her on. The year that I did hire her, I made an additional $53,000. So it was like, “Well, this is a no-brainer.”

Have a support team around you.

When you hear me talk about building your team, I’m not only just talking about building your team of pet sitters. I’m talking about your support team around you. I now have three managers and a virtual assistant that helps me with everything.

I can focus on marketing and getting new clients, and having our current clients booked more frequently. That’s where my manager onboarding system comes from.

I think it’s important. It is part of a process.

Work Family Balance

 

The manager also helps to free up your time to be a mom as well.

Have an organized household and set boundaries.

My kids are now in school. They’re at school every day until four, and then I can focus on the business. So my suggestion for when you have young children is get a support staff around you, and work when the baby sleeps, and work when your husband gets home from work. That’s what I used to do. I used to hang with my kids, and then when he got home, that’s when I would sit down and get my work done.

Now, if you’re asking about COVID, that’s a whole different ball of wax. If your kids are home, luckily, my kids are in Catholic school. So they are in school full time. They have been since September.

Last spring was not easy, and my suggestion for that is you need to be super-duper, duper organized in your household, and setting boundaries. Ensuring everything’s set up at the beginning of the day, in their specific spots. Make sure they have everything they need. Lunch is made the night before, and have space for just yourself to work in your home.

We have a system in my house when I have a smiley face on my door; they’re allowed to come in. When they have a sad face on the door, that means they are not allowed to come in. That means I’m either doing a Facebook Live, I’m recording a video, I’m on phone calls, I’m teaching. So that’s kind of how they know whether they can access the office or not.

Delegate duties to your manager.

My manager handles all phone calls, emails, scheduling, and keeping track of all of the sitters availability. My hiring manager takes care of the sitter recruiting, the sitter assessments, and the sitter onboarding. Then she manages them as well.

Sue is my main manager that does all of the face-to-face client work. I have my sitter manager and my hiring manager, Jessica. My Online Business Manager is Michael, and he runs both sides of my business, so Pet Nanny and Pet Nanny Coach. He helps with all tech and marketing stuff and organizing all the projects that we’re working on in my pet sitting business.

When you get to a point in your business where you have 2,000 clients to service, that managerial role does become a full-time job and will suck up all of your time. That is when I suggest bringing on the manager and again, freeing up your time to be with your children.

I can go to any school function that they need me, all the sports events, that’s all taken care of because I am not the system in my pet sitting business. I’ve created a business that’s a machine that runs without me because of the amazing support system and the systems that I have put into place. So I can run the business.

Create a miraculous working routine.

So you want to make sure you’re getting up, and you’re doing something positive for your mind. Whether that’s listening to a positive podcast, reading something positive, doing yoga, exercising, something where you are starting your day off on the right foot. Mine includes Peloton and meditation.

Get up and get dressed.

During COVID, people were just kind of lounging around in their sweat pants, and it’s not good for motivation. So get up, get dressed, put a little makeup on, do your hair, and that’s going to help with the motivation.

Have a designated workspace.

So everybody in my home knows that when this door’s closed, a sad face is on the door, that mommy is working, and I’m not to be interrupted until I come out and give them the A-okay.

Now, if they’re very little, obviously that’s going to be different, but my kids are a little older now. So that’s a system that works for us.

Plan weekly.

You want to make sure that you’re doing your weekly planning on Sundays. We call it the see it through strategy where you’re taking everything out of your mind, put it onto paper, and put it onto your calendar so that you know exactly what you’re working on every day.

Then on Friday, you’re going to do the Finish Up Friday hour where you’re going to go through and see all the tasks you had on your calendar to see what wasn’t completed. Then you’re going to put that on the following week’s calendar.

Define boundaries with family and friends.

I used to talk on the phone all the time with my friends during the day. I don’t answer it anymore. I don’t answer text messages until the day is over. I’m taking care of my family and building a business, and now they know that I’m not available to chat about the Real Housewives during workdays.

Meal prep.

I try to plan my meals every week. I use an app called Plan To Eat, which I love. I put the recipes in for the week. It creates a shopping list. Billy does all the food shopping. He has the app, and he knows exactly what we need to buy at the store because I have everything planned for the week. I try to do as much prep work at the beginning of the week.

Chopping the onions or making the ziti, or today I’m making shepherd’s pie. I try to do as much as I can at the beginning of the week.

Design an end of day routine.

When you have a family, you want to turn off your computer, turn off your phone and be present with them. I have a whole routine that I’m shutting down for the day, and then I’m with the family, and that’s it.

Again, that’s from having that support team. You’re not on-call 24/7. Having a pet sitting business for years, I was on-call seven days a week, 365 days a year, and that’s not the way a business is supposed to be. It’s supposed to add to your life, and you need to create these support systems around you so that you can shut it down at the end of the day and be with your family.

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Amazing Customer Experiences

Amazing Pet Sitting Customer Experiences

Please think about your pet sitting customer journey from start to finish. And I want you to think about it from the moment that the customer makes contact with you. It could be the moment they land on your website, or this could be when they call the office.

Create the know, like, trust factor through video on your homepage.

First, let’s talk about the website. Are you creating the know, like, and trust factor through video on your homepage so that if a prospect hits your website and they say, “Oh, let me click play. Oh, wow. This is great.” And you talk about your services; you talk about the value you provide, talk about the benefits, talk about how you are the solution to their problems.

That right away is going to give you a step up above the pet sitting competition. Is your messaging clear? Do your contact forms work? Is your number clickable? Everybody’s on mobile these days. They need to go boop and touch the phone number and have the phone call.

I know that seems so simple, but how many times have you been to a website, and you’re like, “I can’t call the person.” Very simple. Make sure the phone number is clickable.

Load your pet sitting website with social proof from happy customers.

Social proof is free, and it, again, creates that know, like, and trust factor, and it’s going to portray to your prospect that you are the person they want to do business with.

Make sure every website link is going to the right place.

If I sign up for your free offer on your website, is the email being sent? I can’t tell you how many companies I’ve worked with that have that opt-in offer on their website, but then nothing happens on the back end. That’s not a good first impression, especially when they leave you in the trust with their animals and their homes.

Make sure someone answers the phone.

That is a big one, and I have a manager, my client happiness manager, and she is supposed to answer the phone, and if she doesn’t answer the phone, she’s to call back within five minutes. That’s the deal.

If you’re not answering the phone, if you’re the admin and you’re out walking dogs, how long is it taking you to get back to your customer prospects? This is part of the journey. Every five minutes that you let lapse before calling a new customer prospect back, your chances of signing them on as a client drops significantly, so keep that in mind.

Be friendly on the phone.

I had a student once, and we were doing a coaching call, and she just sounded miserable. And people would call her office, and she wasn’t signing clients. I said, “Is this the tone of voice that you’re using when you’re speaking with your clients?” She said, “Yeah. What’s wrong with my tone of voice?”

I’m like, “Well, it’s not very welcoming or friendly.” I was scared to death. It was just a cold feeling. Remember, they are trusting us with their homes and their pets. They want to feel that you are warm, and friendly, and approachable and that they can trust you.

Listen and take good notes.

We all know that everybody loves to talk about their pets. It would be best if you sat back, listen to your customers, write down notes so that you have a clear understanding of precisely what they’re looking for. And say it back to them. Let them know that, “Yes, I am listening to you. I hear what you are saying.” That’s going to go a long way.

Have an easy system or process for customers to get started.

They say, “Okay. This is great. How do I get started?” Is it easy? Always want to make it easy for them to buy from you.

Set clear expectations of what is to happen next.

“Okay, we have you all signed up. This is what’s going to happen next. Your assigned pet care professional will be reaching out to you within” enter the time period.

“You’re also going to be receiving an email that’s going to tell you all about them. X, Y, and Z. You’re also going to receive a welcome packet in your inbox. There are two sets in that welcome packet. Number one. Please fill out the forms. Number two. Update your billing information.” So on and so forth.

They know exactly what their responsibility is and what they can expect on your side.

Reach out to your customers before they depart.

If you are reaching out, how is that? Is it an automated process through an email autoresponder? Are you picking up the phone or calling them?

Regardless, you do want to make that touchpoint. This is going to give them peace of mind, “Okay, this company is on it.” 

Do you have prepared information on how they can prepare for their pet sitting, dog walker, or house sitter? With a simple checklist PDF that they can go, “Oh, this is great information.” They can put it on the counter and make sure they have everything ready.

You’re taking the pressure off of them because you’re giving them exactly what they need to do to prepare for their sitter.

Keep in touch with your customers while they’re away.

If so, how? Do they request how? Did you ask how they want to be kept in touch with? Do they want text messages? Do they want videos? Do they want emails? Do they want phone calls?

You need to set that expectation that you need to ask them first and then follow through with how they want to be communicated with. We had a client once who the sitter was texting every visit with cute pictures, and he was like, “Stop texting me. I am on the beach trying to relax. I do not need to be texted.”

Right there, I went to their onboarding form, and I said, “How do you like to be kept in touch with?” I give them the options. I don’t want to bother my customers who don’t want to be bothered, but if they do want to be bothered, I want to be sending those messages. Make sense?

When a client returns, make sure they were happy with the service.

When they return, what is left for them at the final visit? What are they walking into? Do you reach out or send a survey to make sure they were pleased?

Every time a client ends service with me, they are receiving a survey because I want to make sure they were happy with their pet sitter. And if anything was out of the ordinary or anything went wrong, I want to know so that I can make it better.

What are you doing to Wow them?

Are you sending them a card? Is the sitter leaving a handwritten thank you note for allowing him or her to take care of their pets? Are they leaving a little bag of homemade biscuits? There are a million different things that you can do to really wow your customers.

Stay in touch when they are not actively using your service.

Are you keeping in touch with them? Are you providing value to them with interesting or helpful content? Are you checking in with their furry pals? Are you making quick phone calls, or sending short text messages, or sending a send-out card, “Hey, it’s Colleen from Pet Nanny. I haven’t heard from you guys in a while. I just wanted to see how doctor Watson’s doing. We miss him so much. Let us know if you need anything; we’re always here to help. With warm wags, Colleen.” Something like that. You can do that so easily through sendoutcards.com.

Are you reminding them about upcoming holidays when they may need service?

This is the whole journey. From the time they hit the website, they call the office, how they sign up, is it easy to buy from you? Before they depart, while they’re away, when they return, and while they’re not actively using your service.

 

I tell you, if you do improve it, this is where you are going to set yourself apart from the rest. I see in so many pet sitting groups there are so many pet sitters, “How am I going to make a living doing this?” This is how.

You’re going to attract amazing customers; you’re going to provide genuinely stellar service; they are going to use you over and over again. They’re going to refer you all over town, and this is when business becomes easy.

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How we Handle Bookkeeping & Payroll in my Pet Sitting Business

How We Handle Bookkeeping & Payroll in my Pet Sitting Business

I started using my bookkeeper probably about ten years ago for my pet sitting business. I remember just thinking like, “Oh my gosh, this is such a huge investment.” but I read the book Profit First, which completely changed how I view money, and finances, and systems.

I ended up finding a bookkeeper who specialized in Profit First, and she was located in Pennsylvania. So it just seemed like a perfect combination. We’ve been working together ever since.

Have your pet sitting business set up in Quickbooks Online.

You don’t have to use QBO. You can use software like Xero or Wave apps; there’s a ton. We use QuickBooks Online, and we have all of my Profit First bank accounts connected to it.

They go in there every week, and they categorize all of my expenses to make sure that everything is organized.

At the end of the year, make sure everything is balanced. Then send to your CPA to do the taxes.

People ask me often, “Colleen, is this something that you think I should invest in?” If we do not have the budget for it, as of now, it’s absolutely something that you can do on your own.

But when you do end up getting an influx of cash that you will justify that expense, I highly recommend it. It just makes everything so lovely, neat, and organized.

Move your payroll over to a software system called Gusto.

My manager, Sue, runs the payroll every two weeks. All the visits from the first of the month to the 15th are run on the 16th. All the visits from the 16th to the end of the month are run on the first. It’s simple to use.

I use Employees, and it calculates all of the taxes and whatnot, and then sends all of the employees their paperwork at the end of the year, 1099s are for independent contractors. If you use independent contractors, it will do that for you.

Back in the day, I used to sit every two weeks, and I would write the checks to 20 some pet sitters, and it took forever. It was a giant waste of time. So I had put these fantastic software systems into place.

So with QuickBooks Online and Gusto, and using my team, my bookkeeper, and my manager, it’s not part of my duties anymore.

How we Handle Bookkeeping & Payroll in my Pet Sitting Business

 

Again, freeing up my time to focus on money-generating activities, marketing, and getting new clients. So that’s how we do things here at Pet Nanny and Pet Nanny Coach.

I use a Profit First bookkeeper who keeps my QuickBooks Online completely neat, organized, and categorized weekly.

My CPA does my taxes, and my manager, Sue, the Pet Nanny manager, runs the payroll every two weeks. So hopefully, you guys found that helpful.

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7 Tax-Saving Tips for Pet Sitters

7 Tax-Saving Tips for Pet Sitters

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Tax time is upon us. I want to talk about seven tax saving tips for your pet sitting business.

1. Keep your tax and financial documents for at least seven years.

If you’re ever audited you’ll need those records. Any claims made at tax time require supporting documentation. Keeping good records is an excellent idea for any pet sitting business owner because it encourages organization, always a good thing.

It’s challenging to reconstruct records at a later date. To give you a real quick story about how this is very important, I have been audited twice. They tried to audit me one year after the second audit that I had won. I’m supposed to have five years safe harbor.

My accountant went back and said, “Hey, you guys audited Colleen last year.” They said, “We have no record of that. We have no documentation of that. You need to prove that we did.” Thankfully, we had all of our records. I was able to send it to them so that they couldn’t continue with the audit.

So, a simple system I use is Dropbox, and I have a Financials folder. I have a folder for each year where I store all of my financial documents. There you go, a straightforward system that you can implement today in your business.

2. Understand your loans.

The IRS doesn’t classify most business loans as income. The interest paid on loans is generally a deductible expense. It’s essential to have records regarding the use of any loans, which may be for equipment, or to finance some other activity.

In the year 2020, with all those PPP loans, you must understand how that implicates your taxes and how it’s forgiven if you took out a PPP loan.

3. Know the different types of audits.

First, there’s an office audit, which generally is a simple audit where you’ll be requested to report to your local IRS office to resolve some slight discrepancy.

Then, there’s a correspondence audit where they’ll, it’s hard to say, where they’ll ask you to mail in some documentation.

Then, there’s a field audit, which I went through. These tend to be comprehensive audits conducted at your place of business—very, very stressful. I would never want any of you to have to go through what I went through. I ended up winning, by the way, which was good.

Then, lastly is the criminal investigation audit, which, hopefully, will never happen to anybody watching this video. If you get notified that a criminal investigation audit is happening to you, immediately consult your lawyer because you’re suspected of tax evasion.

4. Pay your quarterly tax bill.

When you have an employer, your taxes are regularly taken out of your paycheck. If you’re self-employed, you’re required to estimate your tax each quarter and pay it. Failure to pay this can result in a significant tax penalty.

You might also end up with an enormous tax bill than you can handle in a single payment.

7 Tax-Saving Tips for Pet Sitters

 

I did not pay my quarterly taxes for years, and I would stress about it, and I would toss and turn, “Oh my gosh, am I going to have enough money to pay the taxman?” One year I did get caught with a $15,000 bill that I was not prepared for. So, I never again missed a quarterly payment after that experience.

5. Prepare early.

The vast number of tax filers wait until the last minute. If you’re expecting a refund, this can be the worst time to file. The IRS is overwhelmed with all the tax returns that pour in. So, preparing your tax return early leaves you time to find any missing documents and answer any questions, all right? It just gives you peace of mind to get it done with, get the monkey off your back.

6. Get help.

Depending on your business finances’ complexity, hiring an expert to prepare your pet sitting business tax return is an excellent idea.

In theory, the money you spend ought to result in a smaller tax burden. It can be helpful if any legal issues arise. The price you’re going to pay for using an accountant and a CPA lets you know what you can be deducted. You don’t know what you don’t know. That’s going to be money in your pocket that you’re not paying to the government. I’s going to pay for itself to use an accountant or a CPA. That’s number one.

Number two, when I was audited, my accountant was so awesome. He dealt with the whole thing. He knew exactly how to structure the audit. He knew exactly what language to use. He knew exactly how to organize everything, where I easily won that audit.

Without him, I don’t even know what would have happened. That audit was for using independent contractors appropriately. That’s a whole other story. Thankfully I had him because he was an MVP in that experience.

7. Avoid using taxes collected from employee payroll, or that you put aside to pay business expenses.

Don’t do that. That happens when you have all of your money in one account.

My tip for you today is to create a bank account outside of your regular bank. I want you to title it The Government’s Money. It’s not your money.

Every week, you’re going to take a percentage of your revenue; you’re going to transfer it out of your bank into the government money account. By the time you’re ready to pay your quarterly tax bill, the money is there set aside, and you’re not tempted to touch it because it’s outside of your regular bank, out of sight, out of mind, okay?

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