By Britt Alwerud
The holidays are supposed to be the happiest time of the year, but for many pet sitting business owners, it can be the most stressful. After years of getting frazzled around the holidays, I decided to organize and prepare my business for the holidays so that I could spend time baking ginger snap dog treats and snuggling up by the fire with my dogs and family – instead of constantly worrying about my pet sitters and stressing about the schedule. Here’s what I’ve learned along the way…
Send out a friendly email reminder to your clients a few months before the holiday season to remind them to book their holiday pet sits and walks early. This is a great time to let them know about any holiday surcharges or extra fees.
Prepare your schedule and gather your pet sitters’ availability ahead of the busy holiday season. You can automate this process by using the pet business app called Handlr that I built for my business DogZenergy. I was overwhelmed by constantly being on the phone and struggling with the schedule, so I decided to build an app for my clients and pet sitters. Instead of playing phone tag, going back and forth between your client and staff to cover the pet sit visit, you can use Handlr to organize all of this for you. You just need to collect your staff’s available dates for pet sitting and then your clients’ can book your pet sitters just like they would book a hotel online. They can see the available dates and then book the start and end dates. You get notified of the booking, your pet sitter can see the pet sit dates on their app and your customer will also see the visit on their app. This way, everyone knows the dates and times of the scheduled appointments.
Give your customers the gift of peace of mind this holiday season. Traveling for the holidays is fun, but can be stressful for your clients if they are worried about their pets at home. By giving your clients an app to GPS track their pet sitter, they will have confirmation that their pet is being well cared for. The Handlr app keeps track of check in and check-out notifications for you and your client so that you can both confirm that your pet sitter completed the visit for the full amount of time. You and your client will also be able to see photos and chat messages being sent by the sitter and you can both respond. You can take a quick look at your dashboard to see that all of your pet sitters are where they are supposed to be at all times. You’ll also receive a rating for each pet sit visit, to make sure that your client was happy with your service.
Give yourself the gift of automatic payments. Never send an invoice ever again. As soon as your pet sitter checks out of a pet sit visit, your client’s credit card will be charged automatically and will be sent to your bank account. You will never have to go back through your schedule to tally up all of the visits for all of your clients or scan a huge stack of checks ever again (or lose one!). By automating your scheduling, client requests, and payments, you will save at least 6 hours every week that you can use to spend time with your family and friends during the holidays.
The holidays are a perfect time to show your clients your appreciation. Thank you cards for Thanksgiving or treats or toys for your clients’ dogs for Christmas and Hanukkah are a perfect opportunity to let them know how much you care. One way to do so is by gifting your clients with custom pet socks. They’d be ecstatic to see how much work you’ve put into making them happy. A holiday card addressed to your clients’ dog is always a fun laugh too! Maybe you could pick out a few top clients and consider giving some extra gifts, like vouchers for custom pet portraits or the like. It could be a fun bonus for your regulars and might make them that much happier!
Get involved with your community. People are out and about enjoying community holiday festivals and parades. Festivals that have booths that support local charities are a great way to give back to your community while getting the word out about your local business. Christmas parades are a great way to invite your clients to bring their dogs and join you in the parade. It’s a ton of fun for the whole family!
Network with local businesses by hosting a holiday party or drop off a nice gift basket, holiday card or baked goods. This is a great way to thank them for their referrals.
Host a holiday party for your staff or if you really like putting on your party hat, host one for all of your clients too. They invite you into their home every day, it’s a great way to invite them into yours. You could arrange gifts for them, wrapped in custom wrapping paper, they are sure to cherish your sweet gesture. After all, the holiday season is the best season to show your staff that you appreciate them and their hard work throughout the year.
Put aside funds for holiday bonuses for your staff. There’s quite a bit of change over in the pet sitting business industry, but if you have holiday bonuses that your staff can earn if they stay with the company long enough, it’s a great way to incentivize them and show your appreciation.
Schedule time for yourself. Block out an afternoon or a weekend to bake, wrap gifts, go ice skating or read a book. Protecting your happiness and warming your heart during the holidays will spill over and make you an even better business owner for your clients.
Happy Holidays to you, your family, your fur babies and your clients from all of us at Handlr!
Britt Alwerud lives in Los Angeles, CA with her menagerie of furbabies – two Goldens, Daisy and Taj, two cats, Tiger and Monkey, two horses named Gracie and Moo, and a chameleon named Larry. Britt owns DogZenergy in San Diego, CA. Now she’s the full-time Founder and CEO of Handlr. Learn more about Handlr by clicking here or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find Britt on Instagram @doggonetechgirl or follow Handlr on Twitter @myhandlr for weekly business tips.