The answer to this question is going to vary greatly with each type of pet business but I thought this topic would make a good lead in to my next series of articles on pet care personnel management. If you have a storefront business such as a pet supply retail store or a doggy day care then the right time to hire help will probably be at start up. If you have a service orientated business such as pet sitter, dog walker, groomer, or dog trainer then you may choose to operate your business solo for the first few months or first few years.
If you have been operating solo there are several phases of your business when you should recognize that it is time to hire some help so that your pet care business can continue to grow.
The first situation that many pet service business solo operators encounter is burnout. We reach this point when we are so busy we don’t have time to take a break, we may not have been able to take vacation for months or years, and we are losing the joy of running our business. To avoid burnout we should be looking to find the right people to help relieve some of our daily visits or other business functions so that we have time to enjoy running the business and making sure we take time to rest and take care of ourselves as well as our clients.
The second reason to start looking to hire help is when we want to expand our coverage area. As pet care professionals we can only cover so much ground in one day by ourselves. If we want to be able to serve customers in a larger area then it makes sense to find help that lives in the areas we wish to expand into.
The third time to find help is when you are so busy working in your business (doing the day to day work of your business) that you have no time to work on your business. By working on your business I mean doing marketing, planning, creating new products, and other functions that strengthen and grow the business. When you are spending all your time working in the business then your business will be stuck at it’s present state – it will not be able to grow. At this point it is necessary to find help with the day to day running of the business so that you can find time to do the tasks that will allow your business to grow.
If you are in any of these situations in your business it is time to review your long term business goals. If you are happy to keep your business small and want to run it yourself then hiring help may not be for you. But if you want to grow your business beyond it’s current size then it is time to start considering the following questions:
1. What is your definition of an ideal staff member? Will they work full time or part time? What experience and skills will they possess?
2. Are you going to work with employees or independent contractors?
3. How will you advertise to reach these people?
4. How will you screen applicants?
5. How will you manage payroll?
6. How will you train personnel or what guidelines will you give them?
In this article series over the next couple of weeks I will help you form a plan to answer these questions and put together your own hiring process. I will also discuss contracts, common hiring mistakes, staff incentive programs, and ways to handle problems that arise with staff.
If there are particular topics that you would like to see me address or questions that you have about hiring staff please leave these in the comments and I will include them in this series.