We’re excited to kick off Season 3 of the Handling Business podcast with Grace Steckler. Grace is literally a saving grace to hundreds of pet owners in Washington, DC. Founded in 2000, Saving Grace Pet Care has grown to be a thriving business with 25 employees and three franchises. In addition to Grace turning her business into one of the most successful pet care companies in Washington, DC, she has also owned a cleaning company and a handyman service. Being an entrepreneur has brought about many challenges, some great accomplishments, and a great sense of personal satisfaction for Grace. It has also allowed her to remain a stay at home mom to her three children, to travel, and to have a freedom that would be difficult to attain otherwise.
Grace has taken a very interesting path in life with several twists and turns. She has combined many different life experiences from living as a nun, to teaching high school science, to traveling abroad, to running her own pet care business. She took lessons she learned from each of these experiences to create a highly successful business. Her teaching background has allowed her to easily keep her furry clients and team on task while others often struggle to stay calm and in control. Her love of travel, new languages, and cultures keeps her motivated to put lots of systems and processes in place to keep her business running efficiently without her. It’s broken down to a science at this point – no pun intended.
In this episode Britt and Grace go into great detail on what it was like for Grace to franchise her business. Saving Grace Pet Care’s key to success is focusing on caring for it’s large team of 25 employees. This includes making sure they all have a healthy work life balance, are compensated very well, and are allowed to thrive on their own terms while still working effectively within the team and the franchise. The name of the game is “Win-Win”. Grace wants each of her employees to feel empowered and part of a larger mission, which has allowed her to keep many team players around for many years. Grace believes that the happier your team is the smoother your business runs. She shows her appreciation in many different ways. For example, randomly during the cold winter months she’ll email each of her team members a Starbucks gift card with a note thanking them for all their hard work.
Franchising is something only a few brave souls ever tackle during their business endeavors. Grace goes into great detail on the pros and cons of franchising, what your business goals need to be in order for the cost of franchising to be worth the investment, and how she targets areas to open new franchises. For Grace, her franchising journey started with a few google inquires, several interviews with many franchise lawyers, and then a lot of pain staking paperwork that took a year to get in order. In the end it was all worth it. She felt that empowering her team not as managers, but as business owners with the most mutually beneficial outcome for both her and each individual business owner. Franchising was the perfect blend of business, teaching, and freedom for the Saving Grace team.
In this episode you’ll learn:
- How Grace went from a 12 year career as a nun teaching high schoolers to becoming a business owner
- How she carried over skills from previous career as a teacher to her pet care business
- How to clearly communicate the job’s ins and outs to new hires and what that teaching process looks like
- How allowing her managers to work remotely has caused them to feel empowered and stay with the company long term
- How implementing a win-win strategy in her company has created long term, happy employees
- How to go from a single business to a franchise
- How to find help with hiring through Jazz HR
- How to know if franchising is a good fit for you
- How changing locations can keep you from burning out
- How she integrates her business into her family life which allows her job to feel less like work and more like life
To connect with Grace you can find her at savinggracepets.com.