Thankful for you — every day of the year

thanks

Thanksgiving Day is a day off for most of us, but for many of you who own pet care businesses, it marks the beginning of one of the busiest weekends of the year.  

Which brings me to my thought and message for the beginning of the holiday season.

This year my family did something very different for Thanksgiving.  We all (40+ of us) had our dinner at a country club where my cousins are members. There was a ton of perfect food and excellent service, all in a gorgeous setting in a very posh area of Chicago.

And while we were enjoying not having to cook, clean, etc., I kept thinking about how everyone on the service team – from the valets to the chefs – were not at home with their families.

I asked our server if she had dinner yet.

You know how she replied?

“Wow, thanks. No I haven’t. You are the only person here who thought to ask. That was really nice of you.”

Ugh.

I remember the years and countless missed dinners, holidays, parties, weddings, and funerals as a pet sitter. My friends and family hardly understood and, truth be told, I hadn’t ever really weighed that consideration as I built my pet care businesses. It was a struggle. But I recall the clients who left me special gifts and notes knowing I was with their pets so that they could be with their families. And that made all the difference.

So what I want to say is:

 I see you.

I respect you.

I admire you.

And I understand.

You – and your team – are my pet care heroes.

Be proud, because pet professionals like you provide an extraordinarily valuable service. Your hard work and dedication allow millions of people to have enjoyable and relaxing holidays knowing their pets are in capable hands.

Hang tight for this holiday season. You got this. And FetchFind is here if you need anything at all.

With great respect,

Jamie Sig Trans - First Only

 

WTF (Really!)

WTF blog

My life has two tales (or tails, if you will).

Last week I was in Hershey, PA at the Pet Boarding and Daycare Expo. I was surrounded by friends and colleagues from my beloved pet industry – some people that I have known for 20 years or more. They know me as Jamie-the-Dog-Trainer, or maybe even Jamie-the-Person-Who-Started- a-Company-Called-FetchFind-and-I’m- Not-Sure-What-She-Does-But-I-Think-It-Might-be-Kind-of-Cool.  I have so much history with these people that I want to tell them all about my other life,  which blends my love of pets and people with my love of entrepreneurship and technology. But how do I even get started with that conversation (especially when it’s so much fun to just talk about dogs)?

Likewise, when I’m with my technology colleagues, I would love for them to understand that I’m not just a dog trainer who started a tech business, but that I’m also a serious entrepreneur who happens to be working in a dynamic and growing industry.

That brings me to Thursday night…

I attended the Midwest Women in Tech Awards dinner, where I was surrounded by some of the most successful and innovative minds in entrepreneurship, technology, and business leadership. The evening was filled with dignitaries such Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (who gave the opening remarks and displayed some truly world-class shushing powers) and J.B. Pritzker, who gave the keynote address.

And the thing is, I won a technology award!  

(See above; WTF stands for Women Tech Founders, which is possibly the most satisfying acronym ever.)

But the entire time I was in that room full of tech and biz stars, I was aware that none of them had any idea that a mere 10 hours before I was talking dogs with my pet industry peeps in Hershey, PA.

How do I represent both sides of my career and passion?  Or should I just resign myself to talking pets with my pet tribe and tech with my tech tribe? Sometimes I feel that I’m denying 50% of my essential self to half of my network, all the time. Which is hard, because I really do like to share pretty much everything with everybody.

But you know what – maybe that’s okay. I’ve dedicated my life to people and animals, and I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to deploy that passion, experience, and education in building FetchFind. FetchFind gives me and my Amazing Team a platform to meaningfully scale our life’s work and being recognized for that work last night really did bring those two worlds together in a way that felt exactly right. 

 How many of us change careers or try to discover who we really are, only to end up feeling that there’s no way to effectively reach disparate audiences or even just the people from different sides of our life? I’d love to hear from you if you’ve struggled with that dilemma in the past, or are wrestling with it right now – we might be able to help you bridge that gap.

One of the best quotes from last night was “a good leader is a person who opens the door but holds out a hand to help the person behind her”.  So here’s my hand – let’s go through that door together. 

Jamie Sig Trans - First Only

 

How to get what you want – and make it a win-win for everybody

carmen rustenbeck and jamie

As my Grandmother would say: You don’t ask, you don’t get.

It’s great advice, but like a lot of advice it can be easier to implement in theory than in practice.

But when you’re faced with a situation that just doesn’t work for you, you can ado something about it, or b) feel resentful for the foreseeable future because you didn’t stand up and speak out.

Let’s be honest – most of us (myself included) will default to Option B because we don’t want to be rude, cause inconvenience, or make work for other people. And that’s fine, if you’re just dealing with the wrong latte size. But when you’re dealing with something that materially impacts your business, you have to go with Option A: do something about it.

(At this point you’re probably saying to yourself – yeah, yeah, Jamie, that’s very high-minded, but what brought all this on?)

We were at the IBPSA conference last week, and our booth placement was not very well-positioned to take advantage of foot traffic. After a day of wandering around muttering to myself (Option B), I thought – nope. This doesn’t work for me OR my company. Time for Option A.

So I found Carmen Rustenbeck, Executive Director and Founder of IBPSA and the co-coordinator of the annual conference. (That’s a picture of us, above.) I told her about the issue and how I thought we could fix it, and together we came up with a solution that worked for everyone. I was deeply impressed not only with how right it feels when people of goodwill work toward a common goal, but also with how much better I felt about myself when I consciously decided to address the issue.

In fact, Carmen and I were so inspired by our collective problem-solving mojo that we’re going to get together to discuss other ways to increase the value of the organization for all of its members.  I can’t wait – it’s always such a pleasure to work with the pet professionals at IBPSA.

It can be tough to ask for more than you’ve been given, because someone might be upset with you!

I get it. I really do. But everyone can go for Option A when the stakes are high enough. So in every situation you have to ask yourself “is it worth taking charge / potentially upsetting someone /c ausing a fuss?” When it’s a Dunkin Donuts coffee order and the line is six deep, perhaps the answer is no. When it’s your business, your brainchild, and your responsibility to do right by everyone who depends on you, my answer to that question is always going to be yes.

No matter your personality type, you can make deploying Option A a little bit easier with this simple exercise. Figure out how you would arrange the situation to your satisfaction before trying to make a change, instead of passively-aggressively addressing it with others or expecting someone else to read your mind and take care of it for you. If you can walk up to the decision maker and say “here is the situation and this is how I think we can change it”, you have a much better chance of getting what you want – and deserve. And, at the same time, you can strengthen relationships and grow as a professional. In other words – everybody wins.

Jamie Sig Trans - First Only

Disaster preparedness for pet professionals

23458617 - a dog is wet and sad in front of a puddle in the rain

The summer of 2017 has been relentless with its storms. Unprecedented rain has been dumped on Texas and a category 5 hurricane is heading for Florida, after having laid waste to islands throughout the Caribbean.

Whether or not you live in or around a storm’s path, you should have an emergency action plan created, practiced, and ironed out.

This article will provide information to those pet care providers who may be affected, as well as measures for preparation that any pet care company should take to make certain you, your staff, and your client’s animals are safe.

Emergency action plan

An emergency action plan is an essential set of documents, policies, procedures, and delegations that need to be laid out immediately (ideally, before you open your doors or book your first client). This goes for boarding facilities, grooming salons, pet sitters, or any person with animals in their charge.

We can’t emphasize this enough: everyone needs an emergency plan. Tornados, hurricanes, flash floods, fires, fallen trees, and even acts of terrorism are real issues with a serious set of consequences.  Below are some guidelines to help you and your company be prepared for whatever natural or unnatural disasters come along.

Insurance coverage

Check your insurance coverage; many policies do not cover floods or “acts of God”. Go through this thoroughly so in the event a disaster does strike, you only have to deal with the preparation and not the rebuild.

Does it cover lost wages? You and your staff won’t be able to work if the roads are impassable or your clients have canceled.

Does your insurance cover losses not only to the building or property, but also the cost to transport and find alternative housing for any pets in your care? Are you still liable for paying rent to a landlord whether or not the building is habitable?

Have your insurance agent review your lease, preferably before you sign it, so that you can decide on additional coverage to take care of things your landlord won’t. Your insurance agent should also be able to direct you to the type of coverage or riders you will need for your geographic area and common natural disasters – fires, floods, earthquakes, etc.

Staff roles

Start with staff obligations. Assign your staff to very specific roles and timelines to be followed during a natural disaster.

Who will be in charge of contacting clients about the current plan, whether it’s shelter in place or evacuate?

Who will be watching the news for updates from local authorities dictating evacuation orders?

If you have a building or client homes in your care, who is responsible for making sure the structures are safe? Appoint someone to check that trees have not fallen on the building, electrical wires are not hanging, flooding is not occurring in the basement, etc. Be very clear in your service agreements about the extent of your responsibility for real estate or home goods. No one should be risking their lives to save family heirlooms or laptops.

Assign someone to create and maintain a disaster supply list. Either you or a member of your staff should be assigned the task of checking on quantities, expiration dates, and battery levels. This is a great quarterly assignment. Creating this list will also assist those of you not in the path of a natural disaster to know exactly what you can help provide to those who are.

Have client medical records and contacts stored securely on a cloud server, and provide access to a trusted person outside of your business area. In the event that the internet and power goes out, you will want a point person who knows what to do and who to contact.

Assign someone whose sole responsibility is the physical evacuation of staff and animals. They should know where to go if a flood, fire, or evacuation is ordered, and should plan for the greatest number of animals your company would ever have in your care.

Evacuation

Transportation is key. If you have five pets that you are pet sitting or a hundred dogs in your daycare, what plans do you have to transport them to safety?

Speak with car rental companies about cargo vans. Crates can be ratcheted down to the frame of the van for safer transportation. Beware of box trucks, as they do not have adequate airflow or temperature control – these will be great concerns.

Whatever vehicles you have access to, make certain they always have gas and are in working condition. If you know that a hurricane is heading in your direction, don’t wait until the last minute to rent a vehicle; even if you have to pay for an extra week to let a van sit in your parking lot, it’s a small price to pay if you have to get out in a hurry. This also gives you luxury of adequate preparation time, so that if you do need to evacuate all you’ll need to do is put the pets into the van and head out.

Once the animals are securely ready for transport, who’s driving and where are they going? Is there another boarding facility nearby that has a large training space you can use during an emergency? Is there a warehouse that someone you know owns that would allow you to shelter animals? If so, consider getting contracts signed and adding these locations to your insurance policy.

Shelter in place

The storm may not be a category 5 and your facility or client home may in fact be on high ground. Make a shelter in place plan that will have you prepped for power outages and multiple days and nights stuck on the premises; make certain food, water, cleaning supplies, etc. are all stocked and accounted for.

During winter storms, pipes can freeze, the power can go out, and the heating can stop. Always have plenty of blankets and insulating materials to keep you and the pets warm.

If the power goes out during a summer storm, that means the air conditioning goes out with it.  Make a plan to keep the animals cool and covered from the elements.

Supply list

Here is a recommended (but certainly not exhaustive) list of items to always have on hand. Store them in waterproof plastic bins, clearly labeled and easily accessible.

For items that need batteries (radios, fans, flashlights etc.), store the batteries in plastic bags taped to the device so they don’t corrode and render the item useless.

Generators and associated fuel should be stored outside of any areas where humans and animals will be. When generators are running, make certain the exhaust is pointed away from breathing beings. Carbon dioxide poisoning can be deadly.

Cleaning agents like bleach should be stored in watertight plastic bins, especially if flooding is a concern. You do not want chemicals leaching into the water that you and the animals may have to walk through or even drink.

  • Radios
  • Duct tape
  • Folding table
  • Portable 20” box fans
  • Collar bands to place on animals for identification
  • Storage containers
  • Laptop computer and charger
  • Flashlights
  • Batteries
  • Trash can
  • Trash bags
  • Slip leads
  • Muzzles in assorted sizes
  • Cable ties
  • Bed sheets
  • Binders with paper and pens for notes/documenting
  • Hand disinfectant
  • Flea spray
  • Paper towels
  • First aid kit (human)
  • First aid kit (animal)
  • Leashes
  • Latex gloves
  • Shop lights
  • Dog/puppy food
  • Cat/kitten food
  • Bleach
  • Dish soap
  • Generators
  • Electrical cords
  • Gas cans
  • Bug spray
  • Shovels
  • Water
  • Food for staff
Put your plan in writing

Email it to your staff, have it in your handbook, put it on your website, store it on a cloud server, laminate it and hang it on the walls of your facilities. You can even pass it out to your clients (after deleting any sensitive information) and suggest that they put on their fridges. Let people both inside and outside of your organization know what you will do and where you will go if disaster strikes.

If you already have a plan, we hope this serves as a good checklist to help you be as prepared as possible. Never forget that people are always there to help, so make certain part of your plan includes organizations, other companies, friends. or family you can rely on ffor help during an emergency.  

Not affected by the disaster?

Pet care professionals who are not in the path of the storm or directly affected by the disaster often have the resources to help you in your time of need. Even though we are all busy and don’t always budget for disasters, it’s a good policy to set aside some of your time and money to help others when they need it.

Always stay connected to, and network with, pet care businesses in your area and beyond. Competition doesn’t matter when human and animal lives are at stake.

Do you have a vehicle that can transport goods and bring pets back? Do you have supplies on the list above that you could send/ship or deliver to those in need?

Do you have a facility with space to foster pets that need to come out of the affected zone, or even just space in your home for one? Our founder Jamie Migdal is fostering a sweet little white dog named Sassy. Jamie met her while volunteering at the Hurricane Harvey animal intake at The Anti-Cruelty Society in Chicago. Sassy was fresh off the plane and still homeless, but with good fortune found her way into Jamie’s home.

Disasters are seemingly everywhere, but you should never feel helpless in the face of them. An emergency action plan doesn’t just have to cover you and yours when you are directly affected. Consider stepping into action when your fellow pet care professionals need assistance; we’re in this industry together and together, we can help thousands of people and pets get their lives back together.

Resources

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, it became common for everyone from pet professionals to pet lovers to emergency response crews to help stranded pets in need. At FetchFind. we want to share our resources with anyone who will be helping animals to be as successful as possible in their efforts. The stranded animals depend on us for their very survival, but they can be fearful, shy, or aggressive (even when they know we’re trying to help). Please read and share this Disaster Relief graphic to help the humans and animals get connected and to safety as soon as possible.

Disaster Relief

 

It’s time to take some time off

dog vacation

This article was originally published in the dog*tec blog. 

Depending on where you live, summers and holidays likely see RVs rolling down the highway, station wagons and SUVs loaded down with bicycles and camping gear, school-age children screaming through local parks in the middle of the weekdays, or tourists sauntering about with cameras and pointing index fingers. What about you? Did you get a break this year?

Everywhere we travel giving business talks for dog pros, we hear the same refrain: “I haven’t had a vacation in years.” “I couldn’t possibly take time off.” People have even tried to tell us that it’s impossible for a dog trainer/sitter/walker/daycare or boarding operator to take a vacation. We disagree. Not only is it quite possible, it’s imperative.

There are countless advantages to working for yourself as a dog pro—no supervisor micromanaging your work, no co-workers who make your eyes roll, no busy work or illogical requests coming across your desk. Oh, and you get to work with dogs. But then there’s the downside: No structure, no one to hand you a regular paycheck, all the responsibility for just about everything, so many people relying on you. Oh, and no paid vacation time.

It’s easy to feel that you can’t get away. Who would take care of the dogs whose owners are away on vacation? What would your clients do without daycare or walking for a week? Who would answer the phone and return emails? And how could you possibly afford it?

Before we help you answer those questions, here are a few more: How can you afford not to take a vacation? Who will take care of your clients and their dogs when you’ve burned out? What will you do instead of working with dogs when you are so tired that you don’t enjoy it anymore? Remember what the airline stewardesses say before take off: You’re supposed to put on your own oxygen mask before helping others. There’s a good reason for that.

Here are tips for a stress-free vacation from doing what you love:

Plan ahead – Your schedule is crazy. You can barely keep up. You can’t imagine when or how you’ll get away. The trick is to turn the calendar page. Turn as many pages as you have to to find a blank spot—a week where nothing has yet been penciled in. Pull a fat black Sharpie marker from your desk and fill that week with so much ink you couldn’t possibly write over it.

There. You have your dates. Now you just have to figure out what fun things you’ll do and where you’ll do them.

Give lots of notice – Given how busy dog pros tend to be, you probably had to plan a few months out anyway, so this one’s easy. Give your clients plenty of heads-up about your plans; at least a couple of months’ notice. Then put it in your calendar to give them a reminder at the one month, two weeks, and one week marks, just to be safe.

Let clients know what’s expected of them. You may choose to arrange a substitute walker or sitter for your clients, for example, but don’t feel obligated to do so. Schools close in the summer, on holidays, and for teacher in-service days, and working parents manage to figure out what to do with their children. Your clients can absolutely do the same for their dogs.

Simply write, “We’ll be closed on these dates. I wanted to give you early notice so you have plenty of time to make alternate arrangements for Fido.” You’ll likely be showered with well-wishes for your vacation and supportive comments like, “It’s about time! You sure deserve it.”

And if you’re worried that your clients will jump ship while you’re gone, don’t be. The likelihood of that is very, very low. They’re going to be just as excited to see you back as their dogs are.

Choose the slow times – The dog industry has natural yearly cycles. Sitters and boarding facilities are busiest during the holidays and summer months, for example, while these times tend to be slower for most dog trainers. Take a look at the patterns in your business and, if possible, take your vacation when things tend to be slower. This will help keep your revenue losses to a minimum and lessen the impact on your clients as well.

Budget – Put a bit aside for your vacation during the busier months so you can take time off with less financial stress and worry. Then get creative about planning a wonderful vacation that fits your budget. You may not yet have the funds for a trip to Europe or the Bahamas, but perhaps a road trip would do the trick. Are there unexplored areas close to home that you’ve overlooked for their proximity? A friend to visit? Maybe resources you haven’t considered? One of our clients announced a small upcoming vacation at home and one of her daycare clients gave her use of a vacation home!

Go! – You’ve planned and budgeted, now go. It’s that simple. Just go. Have a great time. The world and the dogs will be there when you get back.

Don’t work – If your budget only allows a staycation, be disciplined about not working. Lock the computer in a closet if you have to. Consider putting together an itinerary of day trips or plans—hiking, lunch with friends, a novel you’ve been looking forward to—to make sure you take advantage of your downtime.

It’s tempting to keep working right through vacation these days. E-mail, texting, and mobile phones make it hard to truly get away. But nothing ruins a vacation faster than taking a frustrating phone call or dealing with a missing class registration. So record a vacation phone message and turn on your auto reply. There’s little that can’t wait until you get back.

If you find that you rest easier and enjoy yourself more not knowing you have a full inbox waiting for you, allow yourself an hour of email each morning. Then lock the computer away and go have fun.

Plan for easy re-entry – Try to give yourself at least one day at home before you jump full time back into the business. Get unpacked, maybe catch up on a little email, take it easy. The transition from vacation to business owner can be jarring. Take it slowly and you have a better chance of bringing some of your newfound vacation zen back with you into the job.

Make a habit of it – Plan to take at least one vacation every year. In addition to the obvious personal benefits, your clients will become accustomed to your vacation schedule, making the whole process smoother for everyone.

One trick is to take the same week or weeks off each year so your clients know to plan for those dates. This is an easy way for facility-based businesses to give staff time off (and maybe even take an extra day or two for deep cleaning and a little maintenance work). And it means you don’t skip a year and cheat yourself out of some much needed and deserved time off.

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Having a well-trained staff can make vacations easier for everyone! Subscribe to FetchFind Monthly Pro and relax, because you know your employees can do the job while you’re away.

How to get the most out of FetchFind Monthly Pro for your team

cara collage 2

By Cara Armour, Founder of Active Paws Inc and marketing manager of ProPetHero

I listen to a lot of podcasts, and a popular question that they ask is, “if you could tell your 20 year old self something you know now, what would it be?” I realize that while there is a ton to tell my younger self, sadly what is most important to make my life better then didn’t exist.

Running a pet care business 15 years ago

When I first started Active Paws Inc back in 2003, I was using excel to print schedules and handwriting corrections on them. Smartphones didn’t exist, so I spent my dinner time responding to emails and phone calls. I certainly didn’t have amazing online training available, provided by experts in the industry. I had to either go out in the field and use my precious admin time to train my staff, or rely on a senior pet care provider to train the new hires.

Neither scenario was ideal. My company means the world to me, so I want my staff to know everything I have learned over the years; but, I only have a small window of time to deliver that information. I also do not have that time. I am busy with payroll, new hire paperwork, reconciling the bank account, bringing in new clients, handling client problems, answering employee questions, looking over schedules, doing accounts receivable — you get the picture!

Besides not having the time to do the training myself, my senior staff isn’t always overflowing with spare time, either. I have to pay them to train new hires or do a ride along, and I have to pay the new hires for their learning time out in the field. If my senior staff wasn’t trained correctly, or have developed habits that were not in line with the company standards, our precious new hires could learn bad habits and the quality of our care could snowball in the wrong direction.

Only having in-the-field training

There are many issues with only being able to train in the field as well. I don’t always have access (within the two week training period) to all of the “example” animals in our care that exhibit common behavioral issues or special walking tools, such as body language basics, safe greetings for shy dogs, using a gentle leader, introducing two new dogs headed out to a walk together, cats going outside of the box, etc.

So I was super excited to find out that someone was doing this, just for MY staff! For the 20 year old self that I would get the chance to talk to, I would tell her to hold on, an easier way to run your business was coming, courtesy of FetchFind Monthly Pro!

To be honest, I am [still] a little surprised that the training is only $59 a month, for unlimited users. My staff has access to things that would take months for them to be exposed to with that particular animal or in that particular scenario. Even though I provide checklists for my senior staff, I no longer have to worry if the new hire saw or was taught everything, let alone worry if they actually learned it. I now know that they’ve learned it, since the report in FetchFind’s admin dashboard shows me they did.

Why is education so important?

Prevention – the best way to prevent a bite is to train staff how to recognize the triggers and avoid them. If they don’t know what to look out for, they won’t know that a bite is coming.

Retention – while the pets in my care are an important priority, the liability of the people in my employment is actually my biggest concern. If they are not happy, well, and healthy, they cannot care for the animals our clients have contracted us to care for.

Employee happiness starts with confidence in the job. Confidence in the job comes from training and feedback.

If you have poorly trained staff who have to fumble through their tasks and learn by being corrected, they don’t feel great about the job they are doing. Don’t leave your staff figuring out or learning as they go. I started that way and it didn’t feel good. I felt great about my job after I had learned everything I know.

Health and wellbeing of the animals – someone that doesn’t know a cat going outside the box could be a medical problem might write it off and not mention it.

Confidence your clients have with your company – a new hire that wasn’t trained in customer service may not know how to act around your clients, and therefore could make your clients feel uneasy about the people you hire to care for their pets. I have seen staff who interview well get super nervous and act strange around our clients. This behavior would then prompt me to train them, but of course that’s after the fact. Now I can take care of that beforehand.

Cost effectiveness

I know from networking with a lot of pet care businesses that we know our time is valuable, but we rarely – if ever – put a monetary value on it. You really should! Figure out what it would cost to have someone trained to do your job and to the caliber your company demands, then add the value of your knowledge, and you’ll have a good number for an hourly wage. Now charge that to your company for training your staff. (I know you wouldn’t, because that would affect your bottom line, but you can see where this is going.) I can guarantee that doing all the training covered in the FetchFind Monthly Pro subscription would cost you much, more more than $59 a month.

Then you have the senior staff –  you might get away without paying them extra, but you have to pay the new hire to tag along and do a one person job with two people. I have tried making the visits enough for two people, but the backlash of the new hire seeing the tremendous workload sometimes turns them off. I’ve had people quit after a couple days out in the field because they were so overwhelmed by what they saw and needed to learn!

I now have all new potential hires take an hour’s worth of courses on FetchFind Monthly Pro before they are even hired. I consider this my second interview for them, and a way for me to see how they do in the training, since I can see their results. If they don’t score well on certain quizzes and  I choose hire them anyway, I know the areas in which to concentrate further training.

While content is added every Friday to FetchFind’s Monthly Pro subscription, the crucial information needed to get a new hire confident with caring for pets is already there, and can be taught in 5-10 hours (depending on the type of pet care business you have). If you care for cats and dogs, there obviously is more content to consume.

For the sake of simplicity, let’s estimate the minimum wage to be $10/hour. For 10 hours of paid training on courses that cover more than you could in 10 weeks, you’re looking at $100 + (lovely taxes). A few hours of my time is worth that amount, not to mention the cost for 2 weeks at 5 hours/day training in the field (that’s $500 + taxes).

So basically for an hour of training as part of the interview process and $100 in payroll, you have saved yourself $341 ($500 – $59 – $100). (I left out taxes for the sake of simplicity.) That’s $341 savings per new hire for more consistent, time efficient training.

There are a few ways around the pesky payroll as well. Depending on the structure of your pet care company you can have staff take courses while pet sitting, if you provide in-home visits. I have asked my clients about doing this and they love it. No course is longer than 17 minutes, and for those that pay per job, this is a massive bonus! I get the wifi password from my client, the staff performs the visit in the time the client has requested, and for the downtime when your staff would be at the house not doing anything but being present for the pet, they can be learning as well. As I write this blog, I am pet sitting a Chesapeake Bay Retriever who has been a client for 8 years. I am sharing while she is snoring.

What about an incentive program?

You can ask staff to take the course not as a requirement, but rather as an incentive. Whoever scores the highest gets a $100 gas card or $50 to Starbucks. This is one of many ways to cost effectively get your staff learning.

Do you ever throw staff parties, events, or dinners? I take my crew out on a yearly excursion of their choosing. We have gone bowling, laser tagging, and even taken a trip to an amusement park. Have everyone meet beforehand for a half hour to an hour of training – it’s a great group exercise and bonding experience.

Finally, the cheapest and most cost effective way to train – just ask! Ask your staff to have a look at the FetchFind Monthly Pro courses provided. Let them know the benefits it will provide them in their daily tasks and the experience and credentials they can gain.

My younger self would be jealous

I’m sad that my 20 year old self wasted so much precious time and money doing things the hard way. Pet care software, CRMs, and now unified pet care staff business training exists, and it’s always online at our fingertips. My 20 year old self is jealous for sure, but at least now I can prevent turnover, have animals in safer hands, have happier staff, and – most importantly – have more time to work ON my business.

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Cara ArmourCara Armour os the co-founder of Active Paws Inc., a professional pet care business based in the greater Boston, MA. In 2009 Cara won Pet Sitter of the Year, the industry’s highest honor awarded by Pet Sitters International and collected many other accolades over the years. Since 2003, Cara has been trained in Pet First Aid and CPR, and in 2015 she started her own online pet first aid & CPR company. She later joined the team at ProPetHero. She is also a volunteer and foster home for The Boxer Rescue Inc. She has been a mentor to many in the pet industry as well as those in the small business world. Cara spends her free time traveling to agility, lure coursing, and conformation trials. 

 

Thanks to you – we did it!!

Republic final

I’ve always said that we have the best community in the world.

And it’s thanks to this community that we were able to meet – and exceed – our goal for the Republic equity crowdfunding campaign.

  • 217 investors
  • 222% funded
  • $111,161 raised

I won’t lie to you – the last four months have been a roller coaster of emotions and soul-searching. Just getting to the point where we could launch the campaign was a hard, tough slog (and boy did we learn a few things along the way). But the rewards of the campaign go far beyond the funding – we’ve tightened up our processes, met amazing investors and pet industry pros, and drilled down to our core values and company mission.

And now – after a weekend of catch up and, yes, a nap! – we’re back at it with new ideas and new perspectives on how we can make FetchFind an even better tool for pet pros across the world.

We wouldn’t be here without you.

With love and endless gratitude,

JM Sig copy

It’s all about the community

Moe and Mia
Our wonderful community will help these cuties find a new home. Moe and Mia will be available for adoption (via Chicago Canine Rescue) at our Come for the Pets, Stay for the Tech event on Tuesday, July 11, at 1871 Chicago. 

By Jamie Migdal, CEO of FetchFind

First off, thank you for the outpouring of love for my girl Whisper’s passing. Your emails, Facebook notes, texts, calls, cards, flowers, and gifts will be forever remembered by me and my family. I have said it before, and I will say it again. – I love the pet industry and feel gratitude every day I get to work in this community.

Which brings me to my next point: the three things I appreciate and cherish most about the pet industry are: the people, the innovation, and the passion. And it seems that every day I see more and more of all three things, all wrapped in one gorgeous package of community.

To that point, here’s a lovely blog about some of the ways we have created a pet+tech community here in Chicago. And, by the way, out of our 158 current investors, 80% of the investment has come from you, my community.

I want to challenge, remind, and/or inspire you to think about our industry as a community because in a community all the best things happen.

But you already knew that. 🙂

Together,
JM Sig copy

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republic invest info drop shadow
Campaign ends July 14 ! Learn more – and invest – here:  https://republic.co/fetchfind

2017 Pet Age ICON Awards announced

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By Jamie Migdal, CEO of FetchFind

I am thrilled – and deeply honored – to be one of the recipients of the 2017 Pet Age ICON awards. The awards recognize pet industry professionals who have demonstrated a long term commitment to the success of the pet industry based on experience, integrity, and leadership. A full profile of all the recipients (listed below) will be in the September issue of Pet Age magazine (you can get your subscription here.)

Side note: if you want to get a good idea of how many opportunities there are in the pet industry, browse through the links below. And believe me – this is just the tip of the iceberg. There is something for everyone in the pet industry, with so much scope for innovation.

 

Jim Bradley, Bradley Caldwell, Inc.

Andrew Darmohraj, American Pet Products Association, Inc.

Bob Fountain, Fountain Agricounsel, LLC

Dave Friedman, Health Extension Pet Care

Dr. Bob & Susan Goldstein, Earth Animal

Rob Jackson, Healthy Paws Pet Insurance

Edward Kunzelman, Petland, Inc.

Aaron Lamstein, Worldwise & Pawscout

Mariah Leal, Mariah Leal Author

Louis McCann, PIJAC Canada

Jamie Migdal, FetchFind 

Peter Muhlenfeld, Champion Petfoods

Nina Ottosson, Outward Hound Nina Ottosson AB

Dave Ratner, Dave’s Soda & Pet City

Elwyn Segrest, Segrest Inc. &  Segrest Farms Inc.

Thomas Somes, Pet Tech Productions, Inc.

Beth Sommers, Pura Naturals Pet

Kurt Stricker, Pedigree Ovens & The Pound Bakery

Richard Ticktin, SynergyLabs

Sylvia Wilson, Bark Busters Dog Training

Secrets to pet business success

Dog trainer teaching dogs

This article was originally published in the dog*tec blog. 

We’re asked often by clients and workshop attendees as we lecture across the country for the secrets to success in this industry. Here’s what we tell them.

Get and keep yourself educated

Whether you are already or wish to become a dog trainer, walker, sitter, or daycare or boarding facility owner, you owe it to yourself, your clients, and the dogs in your care to know everything you can about dog behavior. We have an unfortunate habit of assuming we understand dogs because we’ve lived with them all our lives. The truth is we suffer from a host of often damaging misconceptions and pieces of conventional wisdom about why dogs do what they do. Ridding yourself of these myths will make you a more effective dog pro.

Start by attending a scientifically-sound program based on positive reinforcement, then keep up your education through seminars, reading, DVDs, and professional conferences.

Learn how to market yourself

A lack of or poor marketing is the number one reason for failure in our industry. Too many dog pros rely on a “build it and they will come” approach, or a few brochures or fliers spread around town. This rarely gets the job done, especially in a busy market like the Bay Area. I also see dog pros waste precious money on passive advertising that rarely works—Google ads, yellow pages ads, direct mailers, etc. Marketing doesn’t have to be expensive or stressful, but it needs to be done and done smart.

My focus when working with clients is to develop inexpensive community-based marketing plans that play to personal strengths—good writers can write an ongoing column or newsletter, for example. I also recommend finding a way to stand out. Look around at other service providers in your area. What can you do differently, better? There are lots of pet sitters– is anyone focusing on animals with special health or behavioral needs? Anyone sending video report cards to clients on vacation? There are lots of dog walkers—is anyone focusing on small dogs? There are lots of daycares—what will make yours special? Small playgroups and a well-crafted daily itinerary? Special monthly event days?

Work ON the business, not just in it

I can’t stress this enough. To be a successful dog pro, you have to do more than see clients and care for dogs. You have to be your own secretary promptly returning phone calls and emails, your own admin assistant handling paperwork, your own accountant managing your books, your own marketing manager executing your marketing plan, and so on. Though you can (and should) get help with many of these tasks, the reality remains: You have to actually run the business. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day demands of client needs, but if you don’t work on the business itself it won’t grow.

Keep to a master schedule

Working on and in the business demands efficient use of time. I teach my clients how to create a smart work schedule that allows them to effectively run their businesses while also enjoying plenty of down time and flexibility. After all, there are supposed to be perks to working for yourself. Whether you’re the type to flounder under a lack of structure, getting little done without the external pressures of a job and boss, or the type to work yourself to the bone when there’s no one to tell you to knock off for the day, a master schedule creates a sustainable balance.

This approach to scheduling involves setting aside specific days and times for each business activity, as well as protected personal downtime. When there’s a specific task to be done, it’s assigned to its logical spot in the weekly schedule, rather than relegated to a post-it note, intimidating to-do list, or a hopeful “I’d like to get to this someday when I have time.” A master schedule operates on the concept of “do dates,” listing when something will actually be accomplished, instead of “due dates” that simply cause stress. When everything has its place things get done—and that means success and peace of mind, too.

Though running your own dog business can be challenging, few who do it will tell you they’d rather do something else. Working with dogs and dog lovers is a great way to make a living, especially when combined with the freedom that comes with owning a well run business. So be bold. If you already own a dog business, take it to a new level. If it’s been a long-standing dream, give yourself permission to pursue it.

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