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.”
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 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.
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 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 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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