4 Reasons Great Management Matters
By Laura Laaman
When most owners open a pet care facility, they abandon a previous career with the hope of being paid for playing with puppies, having exchanges with their lovely owners – and maybe hiring a few fabulous employees.
This idealistic picture is sometimes also filled with rainbows and butterflies. Then they open the doors and reality hits in a hundred hard ways…
• Employee challenges arise. Some common employee issues include reliability, poor work ethic, scheduling demands, tasks not being performed the right way, human resource compliance regulations and increased wages, just to name a few.
• Customer challenges, including complaints, are at an all–time high.Yelp!, Google, Facebook and other review options implore, enable and encourage the slightest issue to be magnified into a negative review. In today’s highly competitive market, someone needs to ensure exemplary customer service. Exceptional customer service requires good hiring protocols, training, motivation and a positive work environment.
• Pet care standards are prioritized. Owners naturally feel an ethical responsibility to ensure each pet in their care receives the same level of care they would want a friend’s pet to receive when staying at their home. Someone (or many people) needs to ensure all care tasks are being done properly and consistently. Feeding, cleaning, activities, medication and watching for irregularities are just some of these important tasks. These require organized, documented and systematic training procedures including checklists, shadowing, verification, and complements as well as coaching and counseling.
• You are filling your boarding and daycare building. Competition is at a frenzied pitch. Friends, family, chains and the in–home networks like Rover.com, Wag and Care.com make it more challenging than ever to achieve high occupancy. Marketing inquiries need to be adequate, measured and effectively handled to ensure profitability. Great phone procedures, tours, form responses and customer service needs to be executed exceptionally if there is going to be a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
The above lists are not exhaustive by any means. We could go on and on. One person (even a superhero–like owner) cannot possibly do it all—and certainly not well. If they even try, they’ll burnout sooner, not later. This business is so emotionally, intellectually, financially and physically demanding if you don’t have proper help. But exactly how can a manager help?
A manager’s function is to make the business more successful than it was before they came aboard. Success can and should be measured. Here are some specific ways a manager can improve the business.
1. Frees up owner’s time for other important things.
No matter who or where you are, you have 86,400 seconds every day. How you handle these precious seconds makes the difference between struggling and thriving. When the owner’s running all aspects of the business, it’s easy to get behind or buried, leading to mistakes and missed opportunities. Having a manager (or several managers) lifts some or a lot of this burden, giving hours of your day back to you—and those hours add up fast.
What are some of the responsibilities managers can potentially take off
- Being your eyes and ears in the facility to ensure an excellent level of care and organization.
- Scheduling employees and handling requests for time–off.
- Helping find and screen employee candidates.
- Providing proactive feedback to employees and even disciplining when necessary.
The most productive owners commit and carve out time to work “on” their business less than “in” it—giving them a chance to step back and ensure the critical “big picture” aspects of the business are being implemented.
So, what should you do with your newfound time? Certain areas of the business require the owner’s attention more than others. These are the critical factors that determine the overall health and, hopefully, continued growth of your business. Here are some the priorities owners should focus on:
- Providing quality pet care.
- Providing excellent (human) customer service.
- Ensure financial metrics are being met.
- Maintain effective employee staffing.
- Nurture a positive work environment and high employee morale.
- Ensure exceptional phone and tour procedures.
2. Streamlines communication and expectations.
Depending on the size of your business, effective management structure often means having levels between the owner, management and pet care staff. This might mean having more than one manager, or a manger and an assistant manager, or whatever structure works best for the size of your company.
It’s one thing to have a manager, but it’s another thing to have a set of management roles that cooperate and complement each other. These systems typically include Managers, Assistant Managers, and Supervisors/Leads. The benefits of this structure include:
• Creates accountability. When you have managers responsible for a certain set of people or duties, it’s much easier for the business to operate as intended. It removes ambiguity about responsibilities and promotes productivity and teamwork.
• Improves communication. One person can’t always be the touch–point for employee–related matters. Having a manager (or managers) greatly improves your team’s ability to communicate, learn and identify weak points.
• Clarifies expectations. Another main function of managers is to act as the ideal role models for your team. Owners should still provide feedback to their employees, but manages can provide day–to-day feedback, both positive and constructive.
• Reduces vulnerability. Having only one manager is problematic if (and when) something happens to impair their ability to perform for your company. Many pet care owners who initially felt relieved to have a manager to lean on felt lost, frustrated and overwhelmed when that person fell off the radar.
3. Creates advancement opportunities.
Among the most important factors job seekers want in a new employer is advancement opportunities. It’s also an important ticket to retaining quality staff. This industry is filled with employees who aren’t career–minded. Offering advancement opportunities creates a more motivated and ambitious work environment, affecting not only productivity, but also employee morale. Opportunities for career advancement gives quality employees a reason to stay and grow with the company rather than move on. Plus, employees promoted to management from within can be an invaluable asset; having hands–on experience with your business and customers.
In the pet care industry, we rely on our people. Your employees are often the first point–of–contact for your customers, as well as the first impression of your brand. The emotional nature of caring for pets creates an environment where excellent customer service is critical. Fostering a positive, cohesive staff goes a long way in maintaining quality customer relationships.
4. Helps the business function independently.
Managers make it possible for your business to operate at high efficiency around the clock, every day. A healthy business isn’t dependent on its owner. In fact, the most successful business can operate effectively regardless of the owner, due in no small part to well-implemented management structures. In the words of author and business expert Michael Gerber, “If your business depends on you, you don’t own a business—you have a job.”
Eventually, you’re likely going to sell your business. Investors are getting more and more selective as the market grows more competitive every year. Potential buyers won’t even consider purchasing a business that’s dependent on one or two individuals. To get what you deserve out of your business, it’s imperative that ownership can be smoothly transitioned with minimal disruption.
Even if you can’t imagine selling your business, if you have systems and a team of well–performing employees—not just you—you’ll be able to step back, smell the roses and enjoy your business even more.
Owners should take the time to list their daily tasks and ask themselves, “Can someone else do this?” In many cases, the answer is likely, yes. Who you choose as a manager is just as important as making the decision to hire one. It takes an excellent candidate with a positive attitude to move your business to a higher level.
Outstanding Pet Care guarantees to substantially increase the revenues of 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 www.OutstandingPetCare.com.