How to incentivize training for your independent contractors

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

The employee vs independent contractor debate is a hot topic on many pet sitter forums. The decision to use one or the other should only be made based on legal and financial facts, and how much control you want to have over your staff.

I presented a webinar on this topic to Pet Sitters International back in 2010, and the biggest thing that has changed since then is that the IRS has really started to crack down on the classification of independent contractors versus employees. This crackdown coincided with the boom in the pet industry and the gig economy, because having ICs is the cheapest staffing method for any business owner. If  your staff is classified incorrectly, this can send up a red flag and the next thing you know, you’re being audited. 

By using ICs, you can avoid employment tax and, in many states, unemployment insurance payments as well as mandatory worker’s compensation insurance. The flip side is that person contracted to do jobs for you must have their own business, should have their own insurance, and cannot be told how to do a job; they are simply given jobs and compensated for their completion. They cannot be trained, told to wear a company uniform, or scheduled for work. (See what I mean about having control?)

Employees are far more expensive, but the safer way to go. Employees can be trained and guided, told how to do their job and what to wear, and can often be paid a bit less up front since you are covering their insurance, taxes, etc. Both employees and ICs can be fired, but if an IC later tries to claim unemployment because they were confused about the nature of their employment relationship, you could be in serious trouble.

If you’re not sure that your ICs are classified correctly, check the IRS’s 20 Factor Test. Also keep in mind that individual states may have their own employment laws regarding worker classifications.

If you’ve considered the legalities of your situation and have decided to use ICs versus employees, how can you incentivize them to use FetchFind?

Since you can’t require ICs to take training like you can with an employee, that doesn’t mean that you can’t use many of the same incentivizing tactics from our previously blog on how to get the most out of your FetchFind subscription. The key difference is that they are incentives, and not directives or requirements.  Here are some of the easiest ways to incentivize the learning process:

Gift cards: Out of those ICs who choose to take the provided education, whoever scores the highest gets a $100 gas card or a $50 Starbucks card. 

Lunch and learn: If you have meetings, events, or dinners with your ICs, these are great opportunities to throw in some training (and you do not have to pay for their time). Just invite them over for a meal, but have FetchFind locked and loaded on your smart TV, ready for them to learn while they eat and socialize.

Educational benefits: Offer training as an additional benefit of performing jobs for your company. It’s a boost to their educational toolbox and their portable skill set, and they can say they are FetchFind approved through your company.

Just ask: The most cost effective way to get your ICs trained on FetchFind is to just ask! Ask them to have a look at the courses provided, let them know the benefits for their own businesses and with your clients, and remind them about the experience and credentials they can gain.

Charge for access: Finally, the most awesome way to get your ICs to indulge in FetchFind content is to buy a subscription for your company, and charge your ICs a smaller fee for access. This makes the learning process completely voluntarily on their part. ICs can be entered into the system just like any other staff, but you can choose who you add to the platform based on if they’ve paid for access.

Let’s break it down.

Your company pays for a FetchFind Premium subscription that gives you all of our content with weekly updates, plus Feline Fundamentals and the ability to upload your own content so that all your staff (including ICs) has access. Then, you can charge each of the ICs $10 a month. If you have ten ICs doing this, your monthly subscription is nearly covered! Even if you have only five ICs paying, that still gives your entire company access to an incredible training solution for a fraction of the cost.

It’s akin to group buying power. As an independent  pet care business owner, I pay into a small business association with other small business owners to get big buying power for health insurance (that’s a blog topic for another day). So why not have your ICs pay a small amount to buy into the amazing investment of pet care education? It’s a win-win for everyone involved.

So that’s the scoop on incentivizing your ICs to take advantage of FetchFind staff training. And now that we’re all busily preparing for tax day, it’s a good time to check your staff classifications with your accountant or lawyer to make sure you are making the right choices regarding ICs versus employees. While employees certainly cost more, that classification can save you the time, money, and hassle of an audit or steep misclassification fees.

 

Welcome to the feline revolution!

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By Arden Moore

Face the feline facts. Cats can be fussy, fascinating, frustrating, funny and even a bit freaky. It’s easy to be puzzled or perplexed as to why cats do what they do.

Don’t expect cats to apologize or grovel – leave those actions to gotta-please dogs. Cats pride themselves on being candid about what they want and when they want it. I say that cats put the C in clever, the A in attitude, the T in tenacious and the S in “so what.”

What are they clearly not? Little dogs who purr. Cats outnumber dogs in households, yet they remain challenging to understand and to handle, especially when it is time to transport them in pet carriers to the veterinary clinic or give them medicine. Yowl! Hiss!

For all of you pet professionals, the time is perfect to get schooled in all things feline.

Ever since I was a toddler, I’ve shared my life with cats. My feline friendship began with a cool Siamese named Corky, who joined me swimming in our backyard lake. Today, I travel the country with a confident, comedic orange tabby named Casey (see picture, above) who assists me in pet first aid trainings and pet behavior classes. I continue to be both a teacher and a student, sharing my intense knowledge of cats I’ve learned from the world’s most respected feline experts to you through my best-selling books, presentations, and radio shows.

That’s why I am honored to team up with FetchFind in creating Feline Fundamentals.

This must-get subscription is only $19/month and is perfect for pet sitters, groomers, bloggers, hospital staff, trap-neuter-vaccinate-return cat rescuers, cat pet parents and, simply, everyone who loves and adores cats. Through videos, how-to photos, text, and more, Feline Fundamentals will provide you with a steady supply of cat knowledge.

What is the best (and safest) way to greet a cat? How do you break up a feline fight and escape injury free? Why do cats hack up hairballs? Is there a safe, quick way to give medicine to a client’s cranky cat? Why should I pay attention to litter box deposits? We at FetchFind stand ready to arm you with step-by-step guidelines as well as practical tips, tricks and tactics to these questions and countless more. And each month, we will add new content to the subscription as there is so, so much to reveal about felines.

Yes, a feline revolution is underway. A generation ago, phrases like catios, cat cafes and catification did not exist. Today, pet careers are being created and expanded out of this global fascination with felines. Here is your opportunity to really get to know and care for 21st century cats. Don’t pussyfoot around – sign up MEOW!

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http://www.fetchfind.com/p/feline-fundamentals
The Feline Fundamentals subscription is available for $19/month for individuals and FetchFind Pro subscribers. Feline Fundamentals is included for FetchFind Premium subscribers at no additional cost. Learn more or subscribe here.