5 years ago · Olga Wharton · 2 comments
A Lesson I Learned When I Decided to Add Employees to My Pet Sitting and Dog Walking Business
Growing my pet sitting business from a one-person owner-operator shop into a corporation that employs 85 part time pet sitters is one of my biggest professional accomplishments.
It always makes me laugh to see people’s reaction when I meet them for the first time and tell them what I do for a living: “I have a pet sitting company”…. “Oh how nice”…. “I have 85 employees covering most areas of the Dallas Fort Worth metroplex servicing 7,000+ pet owners”… “What?? Really? I would have never thought….”
Yep, I created that. And I am proud of this, because we are actually really good at what we do. To retain a large amount of clients and provide my employees with this work volume requires zero tolerance for errors. We cannot mess up. We cannot miss a visit or lose a pet. One error may cost a life. And reputation. We have to be that good.
I would like to share how we’ve done it, so far. It’s not a secret. In fact, I’d like the whole world to know about it, because I believe that we can all make a difference in our own way and impact the world around us.
First and foremost, the most important thing that drives customer satisfaction and retention is my employees.
My pet sitters are the ones who meet with clients and then take care of the pets when owners leave town or work long hours. Hiring a good employee is important, and retaining that employee is my number one priority. Pet sitting is a part time job, and nobody’s mortgage really depends on this income. My employees choose to work for my company because they need supplemental income but more importantly, they love pets. Anyone who applies to pet sit and passes a background check has a good potential to be hired. The tricky part is how to manage them. How do I know what they are doing while nobody is watching?
The answer is simple: trust. If you have hard time trusting people, pet sitting business is not for you. This whole business model is based on trust. Clients trust us with their pets and homes. We trust the clients that they won’t accuse us in crazy things. I trust that my employees take good care of pets. My employees trust my company that they will be valued, compensated and supported. Trusting others has been the most liberating experience in my life, and DFW Pet Sitting Services has taught me this very lesson the day I hired my first employee and handed a few keys to her. It was hard. I had so many “what ifs” in my head that it was making me sick to my stomach.
As the years have gone by, I’ve learned how to trust my employees, support them and value them. Our relationships are not typical employee/employer models you’ll see in a corporate world. We don’t have written or verbal warnings. You either take care of the pets or you don’t. It’s that simple.
When someone realizes that they are trusted, they aren’t going to jeopardize the well-being of the animals. They just won’t.
I honestly believe in the highest good in each and every one of us, and when you give people an opportunity to show it, they will.
Now, not everything has been all rosy. I had employees that lied to me, stole clients, missed visits and lost keys. I have developed a software system that tracks completed visits and periods of inactivity when visits are scheduled. If a human error were to occur, we catch it within 12 hours. If a key was to be lost, we have a business relationship established with a local locksmith. If I catch someone lying or soliciting my clients, I let them go.
I personally don’t engage in legal battles, I don’t let one spoiled apple to ruin the crop. I bless them and let them go. The funny thing is that clients who have been solicited by those employees were the ones who reached out to me and notified me on my sitters contacting them behind my back, and those clients weren’t willing to trust those employees because they were acting unethical. The trust was broken, integrity was lost.
If I were to give one piece of advice, it would be to focus on the big picture.
Design a processes for your business that will prevent errors from happening, and make finding great employees your top priority. Once you’ve found good ones, treat them well, support them and above all, trust them. They will know when you do, and they will repay you with respect and loyalty. When these fundamentals are present, your business will prosper, no matter what industry you are in. This is your business, and it will reflect exactly who you are and what you do. The choice is yours. Keep your eyes on the big picture. Make this world a better place.
Categories: Pet Sitting Humor