Pet owners want to hire a pet sitter who will give quality, caring and consistent care for their pets while they are vacationing or at work, but just as importantly pet owners are also looking for convenience, which means that your pet sitting service needs to make it easy for them to:
understand how the service works
hire you and schedule services
You can provide this ease by ensuring that you do a great job at marketing your business and have carefully planned operational business systems that are managed by a strong support team.
Great marketing makes sure that:
potential clients can easily find your service
you build immediate trust by identifying your experience and credentials and by providing super customer testimonials
Good operational systems make certain that:
your policies and pricing are obvious
communication with clients on your website, over the phone, or in person is consistent and clear
your business makes every effort to protect the health and safety of the pets in your car
To successfully grow a pet sitting business that creates an experience of pet sitting excellence the business must also be easy for you to run and manage. The more smoothly your day to day business runs, the more clients you will be able to connect with and provide excellent service, and the more pleasure and profits you will gain from your business. Operational systems make running your business more efficient and allow you to hand off tasks to a support team as your business grows.
If you have been pet sitting for a while then you have probably slipped into routines of how you perform different tasks. How you answer the phone, conduct a client interview, perform a visit, and follow-up with clients. Do you have these routines written down or are they all in your head?
To create a system you must put your routines down on paper in an organized format. A system lays out the steps it takes to accomplish any task – whether that task is accepting a customer booking, completing an initial client interview, or performing an in home overnight visit. The best way to document your systems is to create flowcharts that show the steps involved in each task and how they link together.
Getting routines written down on paper can help you to see opportunities to improve the way you do things and make regularly performed tasks more efficient. When you start growing and need to get help from assistants or sitters having a written set of steps will save you time when you assign them tasks and make sure they perform the tasks the way that you want them done.
Another way to look at a system is to describe it as a step by step path to achieving a desired outcome. The completion of each of the tasks that you listed as part of your daily logs will result in an outcome for your business.
A simple method for creating systems is to ask yourself two questions:
Where are we going? What is the desired outcome upon completion of each of these tasks?
How do we get there? What are the steps that have to happen to reach the desired outcome?
Let’s look at an example –
Task – Answering a new phone client enquiry
Outcome – The first desired outcome is that the client schedules an initial interview and makes a booking for future pet sitting visits. A second outcome is collecting the client’s contact details – phone number and email address – so that you can keep in touch with them and follow up. This means that even if they call and cancel (the neighbor has decided they can watch the pets this time!) that you will have their contact details and can send them coupons or flyers to entice them to use your service in the future. A third outcome of the call may be to find out where they heard about you so that you can track the effectiveness of your marketing.
System – The steps that you have to go through to get them to book will vary depending on the client but you will always have to:
Greet the client.
Ask them about their needs and their pets and when they will need your services
Explain the features and benefits of your service and your pricing
Ask them when they would like to schedule their initial interview or consultation
Ask them for their address, phone number and an email address (so that you can send them welcome information)
Ask them how they found your service
This is a simplified step by step process for the initial call – in reality on a system flowchart the next step on the call would depend on their response you have received from the previous step. However, I hope this example has illustrated how the steps in your process flow from your desired outcome for the task.
One of the simplest ways to document your step by step processes is on a flow chart. You can open an example flow chart for our initial call system by clicking on the link below:
Click to Open Pet Sitting Process Flow Chart
If you have an existing pet sitting business the first step you should take is to document your as-is processes so that you can delegate some of your daily tasks to your support team and analyze your processes to see where there is room for improvement.
If you are just starting your business you can document your processes as you would like them to be. This will help you purposefully create your new business and help you think and plan out how your services will be delivered and managed.
To help you document your business processes all Gold members of the new Association of Pet Sitting Excellence will receive a process flow chart template and new mini-process flowchart every month that you can add to your systems library.