3 Strategies to Ensure Success in the Coming Year
By Laura Laaman
While 2020 was the worst year in recent times for a lot of businesses, 2021 presented plenty of its own challenges. So, 2022 has to be better, right? Possibly…but only if we take the correct steps to make that happen.
As if the pandemic wasn’t enough of a blow to our businesses, we ended 2021 with a labor shortage and higher wages than ever before; somewhat of a crash course in mastery-level business survival. After white-knuckling your way through business ownership and management, it’s time to move on to what we need to thrive—but calmly. This is a fabulous time of year to work ON your business rather than just work IN it.
Without thoughtful planning and changes, owners can get anchored to their business and feel like they’re being sucked down a powerful drain. Countless pet care business owners quit (or sell or just abandon) their business prematurely because they can’t stand the stress, worry and disappointments anymore. As we know, pet care is an extremely demanding business—physically, emotionally and financially. But now is your opportunity to realize the business you initially dreamed of. So, what does it take?
1. Quality Staffing
The pet care industry depends on the people in it. Without good staff—and the right amount of them—your business and the pet care you provide will inevitably suffer.
A dedicated pet care team is important, but effective management is equally important. Are you confident your managers have the skills and training they need to turn your dream business into reality? As your business grows, managers become increasingly critical. The most successful pet care facilities have multiple managers to monitor the quality of care, oversee and train staff, and keep operations running smoothly. It’s unrealistic to think one manager can do it all singlehandedly. Maybe it’s time to add, train or even replace managers as we start a new year.
If you’re like many other pet care business owners, COVID likely decimated your staff. And as the economy started to recover, everyone scrambled to hire again. As if finding good staff wasn’t challenging enough, you were competing in a historically-fierce labor market. Many business owners hired anyone they could get—which in some ways could be even worse than having no one at all.
Without quality staff:
- Employee turnover increases
- Employee morale plummets
- The quality of pet care suffers
- Your customer service falls short
- Revenue and corresponding profits drop.
Do you have the people you need to propel your business ahead? Are you offering adequate pay to attract the best candidates in your market? If not, it might be time to re-evaluate.
2. Effective Systems
While dedicated, skilled employees are a must, relying too heavily on individual employees is incredibly risky. The most successful pet care facilities set in place effective systems to provide the structure and foundation for growth.
Implementing good systems means having a set of tools, systems and training for employees rather than depending on one key individual. If you have just one employee who’s great at phone sales, what happens when your superstar isn’t there? If you have one manager who excels at facility tours, will someone be able to convince touring prospects to book when that manager is on vacation? Can you afford the losses when someone is inevitably unavailable or leaves your company?
Taking the time to provide written procedures to ensure all your staff (or appointed staff) are performing tasks in consistent, effective ways is a wise investment. This means you’ll need to provide them the training, materials and information they need to succeed.
Where are systems useful and necessary in pet care?
- Answering new customer phone calls
- Creating new client files
- Differentiating your company from competitors
- Giving effective tours
- Dog training evaluations
- Employee training
- Providing activities to pets
And because you need systems, it’s critical to re-evaluate the software you’re using. If you’re like most, your goal is to have a business that not only provides wonderful pet care, but also provides the data and tools needed to produce strong revenue. If that’s true, you need a software program that allows you to track all the tasks taken to care for the pets, provide quality control to owners and managers, and accurately predict the labor hours needed to eliminate overstaffing.
3. Profitable Pricing
Now is also a good time to consider necessary price adjustments, which will allow you to pay for all the necessary changes you’ll need to elevate your business. Increasing prices even a small amount can improve your incoming revenue, but the process is very delicate. When handled improperly, price changes can be incredibly destructive. But when handled well, your business will emerge significantly more robust and profitable.
Perhaps the most meaningful thing you can do for your pricing is examine your pricing model. Are you bundling playtime and nightly lodging together in one flat rate? This all-inclusive price structure is very common—but also extremely disadvantageous. Why?
- The price tag tends to be too large and imposing, especially for new pet parent prospects. These pet parents won’t even give your facility a chance and will likely turn to your competition.
- Believe it or not, you’re likely losing money despite the high nightly rate. Even more difficult to grasp is that many pet parents happily pay more when given their choice of add-ons.
- All-inclusive facilities usually cater solely to social play, and a significant number of dogs don’t do well in a group play setting. You’re missing out on a huge amount of paying customers whose dogs just need a different play experience.
A much healthier price structure is separating the charges for overnight lodging and play. Not only does this reduce the overnight rate, but it gives pet parents the power to choose their pet’s preferred activities or add-ons. This is proven to appeal to a far larger portion of customers, and it’s also a better, more customized experience for the pets.
It’s important we forge ahead confidently into 2022, and this might mean not being afraid to make large, productive and positive changes!
Laura Laaman is president of Outstanding Pet Care. Outstanding Pet Care guarantees to substantially increase the revenues of its clients with its proven services. If you’re interested in growing your revenues, schedule an individual consultation with Laura Laaman or one of her team members. Call Outstanding Pet Care at 1-888-735-5667 or go to outstandingpetcare.com/contact.