Below are 5 of the most important tips for holiday pet sitting and dog walking business success:

1) Charge and enforce a holiday fee. Many pet sitters are resistant to charging a holiday fee because they are afraid or embarrassed to ask for more money over the holidays. Get over your fear and DO IT. You (and your staff) are giving of your time to work during this special time of year and deserve to be compensated for it.

2) Have your holiday fee be over the holiday period, not just on the actual holiday days. My holiday period this year is Dec. 20-January 3. Clients are charged an additional $5 for visits and $10 per night during this entire period.

Charging a holiday fee for the entire holiday period can help your profit increase by $500-$1,500+ during the holiday season!

I recommend that half of that holiday fee goes to the sitter working that particular holiday job. The other half goes to the company. Obviously if you are the one doing the job(s) you would receive all of it.

Why should your company get a portion of that holiday fee if your staff are doing the holiday jobs? The bulk of December reservations are often (obviously) only around the holidays so often times pet sitting business owners will find they are super stressed this time of year but are not making any more money than they might make in say, April. Having you, the business owner, receive a portion of that holiday fee will help your business thrive financially during the holiday season.

3) Figure out exactly how many visits you want to take NOW so you can have a sane holiday. Holidays only come once a year, folks. It’s up to you to decide now how you want to spend the days that are special to you.

If you want to spend Christmas day pet sitting from morning till evening with a brief holiday dinner in between jobs that is no problem. If that is what you want.

But if you don’t want that, decide now and limit the number of visits that you are willing to take. Make a time plan of the special holiday days that matter to you (Christmas Eve/Christmas/New Years) and block off the time for you that is sacred. Be clear and firm that nothing can touch that time you have blocked off for yourself and your family, no matter how insistent a client might be that YOU are the only one who can care for her pets.

Sound easy? It’s not. That’s why deciding now and sticking to a holiday time plan will help you stand behind your no (or help you get a staff member to take an insistent client).

4) Have all of your holiday cards and gifts purchased and sent off by December 18. If you get all of the holiday preparation done by December 18 you will be able to focus on the business of pet sitting and be able to enjoy your own holiday period. Start today by outlining all that you need to do to be fully prepared for the holiday for both your business and personal life. Next write down the action steps that you need to do between now and December 18. Put the action steps in your calendar on the specific days that you intend to accomplish them.

December 7: Purchase holiday cards, purchase staff gift cards
December 8: Write holiday cards
December 10: Mail holiday cards

5) Buy yourself a holiday gift to honor all the hard work you’ve done in your business this year. Why is this a success tip? Because it is a way of honoring all the hard work you’ve done this year. When we honor ourselves, more money flows to us. Always.

This is an action step I give to my coaching clients this time of year and sometimes it is the hardest action step they can take! Allow yourself to give something to you. Pet sitting is a business of serving and taking care of others; explore a way to bring that focus to yourself in the form of a gift for you.

Here are some gifts that pet sitters have bought for themselves to honor the work they’ve done in their businesses: a six-pack of massage certificates to use at various times in 2010, a novel that a pet sitter has been wanting to read all year but hasn’t made the time to read (part of her gift to herself was putting time in her time plan to read the book too!), a 2-day spa retreat with a girlfriend in January, a new car (!), a dinner out at a favorite restaurant.

Happy Holidays everyone!

For many more holiday success tips you can purchase the Riches and Relaxation for Holiday Pet Sitting Recording.

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This will be my last teleclass before I head out for my 2-month trip around the world until April 2010.

I’m a business coach who practices what I preach and I’m offering this teleclass to share my secrets with all of you wonderful pet sitters before departing for my traveling adventure.

This teleclass will truly change your life by profoundly transforming the way you relate to your work and your work schedule! You will come away excited and ready to create a work schedule that is beyond your wildest dreams (while being firmly rooted in reality).

Most pet sitters think that they have to work long and hard hours to create a successful and profitable business. If you are one of them you are not alone.

I thought that I had to work countless hours to make a lot of money until the year I began running my business in a completely different way.

In one year I began transforming my relationship with my business and the way I ran my business. To my surprise and amazement my profits began to rise even though I was working much, much less! It didn’t make sense at first (in fact it blew my mind a bit!) but then it completely made sense.

In less than one year, I went from working 12-14 hours a day, 7 days a week to working three 8-hour days a week.

If you have an established business and responsible staff members that you trust, you can too!

All it takes is some out-of-the box thinking and a willingness to try some new ways of running your company that I will outline in this teleclass so that you can create the schedule that works best for you in 2010.

Whether you want to take one day off a week, weekends off, or create a 3-day workweek like I created, it’s up to you. I will tell you how to do it and outline the step-by-step method necessary to create time off.

Click here to find out more and to sign up for the How to Create a 3-Day Pet Sitting Workweek Teleclass.

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As most of you know I will be traveling to Indonesia for 2 months in late January. This is a dream I’ve had for years.

When I first started my business I was able to do world travel for six to eight weeks at a time fairly easily because my business was smaller and thus, I didn’t have a lot of clients and staff.

Now my pet sitting business is huge: we cover two enormous counties, have over 30 pet sitters on staff and close to 700 pet sitting and dog walking clients!

Thankfully I also have 2 trustworthy and competent managers who run my pet sitting and dog walking business as well as I do. I also have two back-up managers. Having these 4 managers in place is definitely the only way I could be able to travel and leave my business humming along for 2 months.

But it’s not all I’ve needed…

THE most powerful tool (besides my managers) that is helping me travel for two months is Power Pet Sitter.

Power Pet Sitter is an administration software system for pet sitters that enables my managers to manage my pet sitting business from the comfort of their own homes. By using Power Pet Sitter my managers can easily access client data, schedule sits for clients, send the schedule to the staff, invoice clients and powerfully run my business for me while I am out of the country!

It took me a long time to use an administration system. I’d been doing things by hand for years and years and years. And it worked. But it was tedious. And it wasn’t an empowering way to run my pet sitting business.

Most of you know I do not recommend products for pet sitters unless I believe in them 100% and stand behind them with every ounce of me.

Power Pet Sitter is one of those products. If you are interested in running your pet sitting business in a way that is more ease-filled and empowering I encourage you to contact Power Pet Sitter today.

If you mention that were referred by the Six-Figure Pet Sitting Academy, you can sign up for Power Pet Sitter and receive 3 months free when signing up for 6 months. You will prepay for 3 months and you get 3 months free. It’s a great way to try out this system. This offer expires December 31, 2009 and is only valid for Six-Figure Pet Sitting Academy students and fans of the Six-Figure Pet Sitting Academy. You must specify that you found out about this discount from the Six-Figure Pet Sitting Academy in order to receive this special discount.

Power Pet Sitter is the #1 tool that is enabling me to step away from my business more and more and to create the right work/life balance for myself that includes 2 months of travel in 2010!

I highly recommend Power Pet Sitter (and, as I mentioned above, I don’t recommend things lightly -products have to *really* be amazing tools for pet sitters for me to toot their horn!) Power Pet Sitter is one of those products.

Once you sign up you won’t know how you lived without it.

And maybe you’ll find YOURSELF planning a two-month vacation away from your pet sitting business in 2010?

Click the link to find out more and to sign up for Power Pet Sitter today.

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Save $10 if you sign up by Tuesday, November 3!

Date: Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Time: 5:00pm PST / 8:00pm EST

How does class take place? Via a conference call line. Call-in instructions will be given upon signup.

How long is this teleclass? 60 minutes of open forum for questions and answers!

How much: $20 (register by November 3) $30 (register November 4 or later)

Class description: In this 60-minute dynamic and interactive open forum, the first 10 pet sitters and dog walkers who sign up will have the opportunity to ask Coach Kristin their most challenging pet sitting questions. If there is time left over then Kristin will open up the line for additional ‘impromptu’ questions.

If your question relates to business or pet sitting-you can ask it! As a pet sitting business owner you are guaranteed to find this Q & A session with Coach Kristin compelling, supportive, and ultra-informative.

How do I get my question answered: The first 10 pet sitters who sign up will be contacted via email about their question and will be instructed on when to ask their question. If you are not contacted within 72 hours of signing up for the class it means you are not one of the first 10 callers. You will still receive valuable business information when you listen and learn from others having their questions answered.

Limited spots available so reserve your spot TODAY!
Click here to find out more and to sign up for the ASK ANYTHING! Pet Sitting Business Q & A Teleclass with the founder of Six-Figure Pet Sitting Academy.

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2813647822_c0603a658b_mA couple of blog posts ago I wrote about why client conflict can be good for business. Now you’ll find out how to deal with it!

1) Remember when you have an angry person on the phone or emailing you that this is an opportunity to create an even better relationship than you had with this client before they were angry. Print out the “How Conflict Can be Good for Business” blog post and keep it near the phone or your computer so that when you are REALLY freaked out by a screaming client you will have something to calm YOU in the face of all that negative energy.

2) If you are on the phone: let the client have their screaming fit.
They need to get it out of their system. If you interrupt them in midstream they will lash out at YOU and you don’t want that.

Here’s what to do: Think about this upset client as if they are an angry dog.

As a pet sitter who is around dogs all the time, you probably realize that most angry dogs need to express their anger by snarling and baring their teeth. Once they’ve had their say, they will often just turn around and be on their merry way. But if you interrupt them by talking “Nice doggy” or stepping forward,  they most likely WILL attack. Both of these actions interrupt the dog’s process to express his anger.

Words to live by when dealing with client conflict: Breathe. Listen. Don’t interrupt.

3) If the client has emailed you, DO NOT email back. Call them or email only to find a time to meet in person or on the phone. One of the best business tips I ever received is do not discuss any difficult issues via email. (This tip is invaluable for personal relationships too.)

Take the issue to the phone or in person. Why? Communicating a difficult subject via email creates a wall between you and that other person. You can remove the wall (or at least make it a wall you can peer over) by hearing that person’s voice and/or meeting them in person.

4) When the client is done spewing then let them know you heard what they said and you will do whatever it takes to rectify the problem. How do you know when they are done? Count for three LONG seconds.

If they have not spoken during the entire three seconds it is okay for you to talk. Say, “I’ve heard you and I’m so sorry for the part we’ve had in upsetting you.”

Put yourself in their shoes and let them know that you completely understand how they could feel that way about whatever it is that upset them.  (People want to be heard and not made wrong for what they are complaining about–give them that gift and most clients will be forever grateful.)

Offer to give them money back. If one of your sitters did a lousy job then ask your sitter  if they will pay for the mistake. (You cannot do this if they are an employee, only if they are an Independent Contractor.)  If you feel that you are to blame because you weren’t clear with your staff-own that mistake and be willing to refund a portion or the full amount of their pet sitting fee. Also be willing to apologize to your staff if the communication error was on your part.

5) After you’ve offered money back ask your client if they need anything else by saying: “I’m truly sorry about this. Is there anything else I can do to make this right?” And be willing to do it.

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Challenge #1: Your clients are often late in paying their pet sitting or dog walking bills.

Solution A: Get a merchant credit card machine to have control over when they pay. PayPal is great but clients have to do it so you still don’t have control when you get your money.  Costco has incredibly great rates for merchant credit card processing.

Solution B: Have them mail a check prior to departure. “In order to insure your reservation we will need to receive payment 3 days prior to departure. A post-dated check for the final date of service is also fine.” Business owners: the important thing is to get full payment prior to departure!

Challenge #2: You don’t know why but you find that you often attract difficult and ultra-picky clients who are not easy to work with.

Solution A: Get skilled at seeing the signs of impossible clients: “we’ve gone through 3 pet sitters this year”, writing a novel as instructions for their pets, interrogating you in the initial phone call about where you find your people, etc.  Choose NOT to take them on as clients.

Solution B: When you do make a mistake and take on one of these clients be willing to let them go. 95% of stress often comes from 5% of those difficult and ultra-challenging clients–let go of those 5% and you may find you have only 5% stress!

Challenge #3: You often have clients calling for services 1-3 days prior to departure and you have to scramble to meet with them or set up a sitter to meet with them. This leads to you being grumpy and irritable.

Solution A: Charge a $30 last minute fee. Say, “We’d love to help and it’s a lot to scramble to get our staff member Suzie to meet with you so we do charge a $30 last minute fee when you have to meet one of our staff members in less than 72 hours. She’s definitely available. Can I go ahead and get your information so I can set up a meeting?”

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3351810231_f7edc2eccaSound strange? It’s not.

Here’s why: when we work through issues that come up in relationships, including our working relationships, we then develop trust in that particular person and in the relationship itself. Often that relationship is then stronger and more connected than it was prior to the conflict.

That’s why having conflict with your pet sitting and dog walking clients is a ripe opportunity to create a bridge from anger, resentment and misunderstanding to a meaningful, lifelong working relationship.

Think about it: when you hire a service or company to do something for you and they screw up and then bend over backwards to make it right don’t you come away happier and raving to your friends about the excellent customer service?

I know I do. And you probably do too.

And for good reason. You were upset, the company made it right and then some (probably throwing in a little something extra to sweeten the deal and the thus, creating a sweeter relationship) and wah-lah! You went from being an angry, unhappy customer to telling your friends how incredible this particular business now is.

Had there been no conflict you might not be singing their praises to the masses.

Now pet sitters: I’m NOT advising you to create conflict for the sake of creating a more loyal relationship with your clients. Not at all!

What I’m advising is simply to look at conflict differently: look at it as a possible bridge to a more meaningful and lasting relationship with your pet sitting clients.

In my next blog post I will write about how best to bridge that conflict from tension and anger to harmony and customer loyalty. Stay tuned!

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2496956264_1819136d2d_m Step Number Two in the How to Start a Pet Sitting and Dog Walking Business Series is:  Get a Business License / Fictitious Business Name Statement for your Pet Sitting and Dog Walking Business

Before you get your business license you’ll have to decide if you want to be a sole proprietor, an LLC (Limited Liability Corporation) or a Corporation. Check with your accountant to find out what is best for you. With the help of your accountant you’ll decid what category of business you’d like to create. Once you decide you are then ready to get a business license.

In some cities you may have to get a county business license and a city business license if you are providing pet sitting for different cities within your county while also working from your home office.  Call your local City Hall to find out how and where to get your business license.

If you are named Jerry and your business is called Jerry’s Pet Sitting Service you will not need to get a fictitious business license.

If your name is Amanda and you want to call your business Jerry’s Pet Sitting (I’ve seen it happen!) or  if you want to call yourself “ Bakerville Pet Sitting and Dog Walking” then you will need to get a ficticious business name. Why? Because your personal name is not part of your business title.  City and state laws require that all businesses that don’t have the owner’s name in them get a special license so the city and state can determine exactly who the owner is.

A business license generally costs anywhere from $40-100 for new businesses. You will be required to renew your business license every year and some cities will base your renewal amount on a percentage of your gross earnings.

A fictitious business name statement generally costs anywhere from $30-60 and you will also need to pay to have your name appear in a local newspaper for 4 weeks. You will need to remember to renew your fictitious business name statement every 5 years.

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facebook-smallHere are 5 inexpensive marketing ideas to generate more business this month:

  1. Target pet-friendly apartment complexes to go for volume of potential clients: introduce yourself and your business to building managers and ask if they have a ‘welcome packet for new tenants’ that you can add your business cards to.
  2. Advertise on Craigslist: Craigslist comes up high on the search engines and potential clients DO look on Craigslist for pet sitters! Include a picture of you with pets as well as your business logo and a link to your website.
  3. Commit to doing one marketing action a day: drop off business cards while you are running errands, keep a list of clients who have called you in the past but not used you yet and ‘cold call’ them to let them know you are offering a special of one free walk or visit in exchange for the purchase of four walks or visits this month, answer your phone directly at least 20 times per day so you can avoid potential new client hang ups as a result of their getting your voicemail.
  4. Do some direct marketing: contact your city hall or local humane society to get dog license names and addresses: send inexpensive but professional postcards from Vista Print which advertise your pet sitting or dog walking service.
  5. Easily and effortlessly market your business to the masses on Facebook: sign up for the Six-Figure Pet Sitting Academy’s teleclass: Facebook Teleclass: Secrets to Marketing your Business on Facebook on Tuesday, September 22 at 5:00pm PST / 8:00pm EST. (Only $20 if you register by Tuesday, September 15 so sign up NOW!)

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In just one complete Search Engine Optimization (SEO) session I will give you the keywords you need to put on your website and tell you exactly where you need to put those keywords plus other important SEO tips that will shoot you to the first page (and often number 1 or number 2) on search engines! You simply relay what I’ve told you to your web person and have your web person enter the information that was discussed in your session.

It’s that easy!

Tired of spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on advertising that doesn’t yield powerful results when it comes to increasing your pet sitting client base?

For the month of September ONLY  I am offering $30 off a complete SEO session ($165 instead of the regular price of $195). You must schedule your session before September 30, 2009 to take advantage of this special offer.

What is also included in your Search Engine Optimization Session:

  • How and where to list your business on Google, MSN and Yahoo
  • 25 FREE websites to link your business website on.
  • Secrets to getting higher on Google Maps and other sites
  • The top 5 pet sitting directories that will generate pet sitting clients
  • What you absolutely need to have on your website for top SEO
  • What you can do to maintain high ranking on the search engines
  • Additional tips and tools to skyrocket above your competitors

Call 616-712-1426 to set up your session or email Coach Kristin at: success@SixFigurePetSittingAcademy.com

Ready to have more clients find you online?

Click here to find out more and to sign up for your complete Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for pet sitters coaching session today.

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