When I started with Angel Pet Sitting in 2009, I had 5 independent contractors that worked for me, I was doing pet sitting & dog walking ALL the time (especially on holidays!) and I had a TON of day-to-day office work that had to be done. Now, 8 years later, I have 15 part time employees, I don’t do any pet sitting, and I touch base with my manager each day for only about 15 minutes.
In order to get to this point, I had to make some major changes. Putting any major change into motion was always super scary! I wasn’t sure how anyone was going to react, and didn’t know if my decisions were going to hurt my business. I made a bunch of mistakes along the way, but I also had a ton of successes!
Some of the changes I put into place made a HUGE impact on my business. They helped me to be less stressed, more efficient and work much smarter, rather than harder. Here are a few that changed my business (and my life!), and I am sure they will change yours too!
1. I turned my Independent Contractor’s (ICs) into Part-Time Employees.
Don’t get me wrong, having employees does cost more…taxes, worker’s compensation, payroll, etc, but it is SOOOO worth it! You will never have any control over what your pet sitters are doing during their visits unless they are employees. If you have ICs you cannot train them or tell them when they have to work! That was a huge problem for me. I think a major reason my company has grown to be so successful is because I have specific guidelines regarding how we provide our services. Amazing customer service is my top priority and having employees, I can train them to provide an awesome customer service experience for my clients.
There are a ton of other reasons why having employees is the way to go…I could go on and on about the benefits. If you want some more information about ICs vs. Employees, check out http://angelpetsitting.com/company_news/ics-vs-employees/.
2. I created an operations manual and employee handbook.
Expectations. No one can do their job well without having them in place. Your pet sitters need to know what you expect of them on the job. This is the purpose of your operations manual and employee handbook. This document is constantly changing, based on the changes and needs of your business, and is a go-to source for any questions your employees may have. What do they do if a client runs out of pet food? How do they deal with a sick or injured pet? When will they get paid? All of this information, and more, will be in your operations manual and employee handbook. And because this document is so pack-jammed with all your specific policies and procedures, it is also great to use as a training tool! After I hire a pet sitter, I use my manual as a step-by-step guide for their initial training. This way all my expectations are laid out at the start and any questions they may have can be answered.
3. I stopped doing pet sitting and dog walking visits.
I love pets…I wouldn’t have wanted to own a pet sitting business if I didn’t! And in the beginning, I did a lot of pet sitting and dog walking…especially on the holidays! But, I am an entrepreneur and I do have lofty business goals. In order to achieve these goals, I just don't have time to do any pet sitting and dog walking. Running a business takes time and energy…a lot of time and energy! I have found that mine is better spent working behind the scenes on marketing, networking, social media, and overall business development. I am only one person and can’t be in two places at once, so I leave the pet sitting to my pet sitters. I have even hired a few coverage pet sitters, so in case of emergency or a pet sitter needing time off, both me and my manager will most likely never have to do any visits. As much as I miss the pets, this change really helped my business to grow and flourish, while giving me a little bit more of a life.
4. I put a time-off policy into place.
Everyone needs a break, including your employees. Burnout is very prevalent in the pet sitting industry, due to the 24/7 nature of the job. Once you find good pet sitters, you don’t want to lose them, so it is really important to have a time-off policy in place. Our policy is that we ask our pet sitters to give us 30 days notice for any planned days off (and 60 days notice if they will be unavailable for a holiday). The pet sitters must submit their time-off request and then we can approve it (or deny it, which we rarely do). Now, I know that 30 days seems like a lot of notice, but it has been incredibly helpful with getting our pet sitters to plan things in advance and keeping in good communication with us regarding the time off they need. It also gives us an ample amount of time to find coverage for any clients that need visits when their primary pet sitter is unavailable. There are always going to be emergencies and things that they can’t give us 30 days notice for, but just having the policy in place has really helped to minimize the last minute requests and excuses. Now, everyone can have time off if they need it, but we have enough time to make sure our clients are covered.
5. I stopped accepting checks & cash, and only accept credit cards online.
This is another thing that is going to cost you a little bit more, but is worth every penny! Unless your clients are paying electronically, there is a huge margin for human error when clients leave checks or cash for their pet sitter to transfer to you. Not only can the payments get lost in the transfer process, but there is a significant lag-time from when your pet sitter gets the payment to when it gets to you, and then to your bank. Once I started only accepting credit cards, I no longer was spending hours receiving in checks, reconciling my quickbooks, going to the bank, and waiting for checks to clear. And there have been far less accounting mistakes on my part! This is one of the changes that has helped save me a significant amount of time & headaches and has helped in the path to automating my business as much as possible.
What changes have you made in your business that have been life changing? Comment below and let me know. I’d love to hear from you! And if you are interested in finding out how you can implement these and other changes in your business, go to the Services page of www.petsitsuccess.com to book your one on one consulting session or email me at email@example.com.