Seven Traits of Highly Successful Pet Care Facility Owners
By Laura Laaman
Let’s start by defining success. I define success in this pet care industry as providing outstanding pet care AND experiencing an outstanding financial return. Caring for and being around pets is wonderful, but that isn’t enough. For the demands of this business (emotionally, physically and financially), you CAN and SHOULD be highly financially successful. Here are seven specific strategies pet care facility owners and managers should embrace to increase their success.
1) Project a Positive and Professional Image
Top owners recognize that they are their company’s brand. They realize that how they act and even think is directly related to how successful their company will be. Therefore, they are generally and genuinely positive around clients, employees, and prospects, as well as vendors and their support team.
Working in the pet industry means ‘getting dirty.’ However, successful owners appreciate their image still counts.
Many of my very successful clients proudly wear their uniform polo shirts in public, while out shopping or dining. Why? To promote their business as much as possible. Doing so however will project either a positive or a negative image. When you’re pleasant and upbeat, you’ll attract positive attention. When you’re not appealing, negative attention will follow.
Studies show that it takes just a glance, just seconds for someone to form a first impression. The first critical moments of seeing a potential client could actually make or break a future business relationship.
As basic as this seems, your smile communicates that you are open to conversation, approachable and hopefully even likable. Not smiling pushes people away.
Everyone has challenging, even bad days. But dwelling on it, of course, isn’t useful for anyone. Discussing your bad day or harping on negativity in front of employees is damaging to the work environment. Great business owners demonstrate to staff members that (as their leader) he or she is able to rise above personal feelings regarding a challenging customer or situation, and still present a positive, enthusiastic presence.
Negativity is a virus that spreads rapidly from one person to another. Individuals can bring the virus to work or catch it from others in the organization. The negativity virus can spread quickly in a matter of days or weeks, and once transmitted, is very difficult to cure.
Studies have revealed that up to 37% of a first impression is based upon the speaker’s tone of voice. On the telephone, that number rises to 80% or higher. With the majority of a pet care facility’s revenue being generated over the phone, it is critical that the people who handle your phone calls are doing so in a positive manner.
The effects of negativity are devastating to any organization and can lead to increased turnover, lateness, absenteeism, customer complaints, errors, accidents, and illness -- all resulting in deep bottom-line costs.
Action Step: Challenge yourself to give out 10 sincere compliments today. This includes complimenting your staff, vendors and clients. You’ll quickly see how quickly these interactions become even more positive.
“While a positive attitude alone won’t guarantee your success, the absence of one will almost certainly contribute to your failure.” – Joe Tye, Motivational Speaker and Values Coach
According to a Stanford Research Institute study, success is 88% attitude. When people think and say what they really want, the mind automatically shifts and pulls them in that direction. Successful business owners are realistic in knowing that they will experience challenges, and lean on educational and inspirational materials, as well as seminars, to help them bring a knowledgeable, positive attitude to the workplace.
Action Step: Sign up for an industry seminar or webinar given by a proven expert in your industry.
2) Good Processes in Place
Great owners know they need to devote time and energy to ensure that the human points of contact are as exceptional as the actual care provided to the pets. Three important and influential areas include check-in, check-out and the initial phone call. The phone is the way that new, concerned prospective pet parents will reach out to your business. Sure some inquiries will come through online forms but, just like with human parents, concerned pet parents want to speak with the potential care takers of their furry child.
Action Step: Challenge yourself to have effective phone, check-in and check-out procedures.
3) Strong Marketing
Ten to twenty years ago you could build a pet care facility and be confident that it would be filled over the holidays. With the explosion of increased competition and the ease of finding facilities via the internet, it’s imperative that pet care companies use strong marketing tools. Digital marketing (website, Pay-Per Click, Effective Offers, Outbound Phone Calls, PR Campaigns, etc.) is important but so are referrals from veterinarians and clients.
Action Step: Have a comprehensive marketing review done of the key, proven marketing areas to move your business forward.
4) Good Implementers
Great business owners and executives take an idea and ensure it’s implemented well. So when they decide that their check-in or phone processes need to improve, they commit and ensure it’s done. They realize ideas don’t move businesses forward, actions do.
Action Steps: What three areas/strategies are you going to commit to implementing? By when?
5) Quality Controls
Having systems for key areas is important. Great owners know they need to ensure implementation. “Trust, but verify,” is a key strategy to success. Successful human hotels have consistent check-in procedures, care of their guests and check-out. This consistency doesn’t happen by chance, they train, and then verify. They have internal or external shopping services to verify that the level of service delivered is what their customers can come to expect.
Most new phone systems allow you to listen to actual prospective and existing client calls. Our clients know that these calls are key to a company’s financial success. Ensuring that the employee converts inquiries into bookings and upsells important activities to increase the pet’s enjoyment of their time away from home form a key part of your sales and marketing strategy. Before you record calls, check with your business attorney to verify what steps you need to take to ensure legal recordings.
Customer feedback is a good way to find what’s working and what’s not. Just like top human hotels, sending out an automated survey is an easy, cost-effective way to let your clients know you value them and genuinely appreciate any improvement suggestions they have.
Action Step: Ensure your calls are being recorded legally within your state and listen to 5-10 calls per week.
6) Continued Learning
Rather than ‘hope’ employees will do as pet owners want, successful owners have detailed practices for management and staff. Diseases evolve and to deliver exceptional care, our operating practices need to stay ahead of the diseases. Having a comprehensive training program that covers all the key areas that your employees will encounter will not only save owners and managers time, it will inspire your employees to a higher level of performance.
Action Step: Invest in training for you and your team.
Top business owners in this industry and beyond are goal setters. They know that the human mind is like a missile. Give it a target, apply the appropriate energy and the chances are very high they will hit it. Goals should be realistic, yet challenging, quantified and highly visible. Setting goals is often foreign to small business owners. We help each of our clients set -- and more importantly -- hit their goals.
Action Step: Set monthly revenue, activity and labor goals for your business this month and every month for the next year.
Successful business owners don’t rest on their laurels. They continuously look for sound, proven ways to move their business forward. Costs are always increasing (labor, taxes, real estate...). Therefore it’s important to ensure you keep your business moving in proven yet progressive ways.
Laura Laaman is president of Outstanding Pet Care. OPC helps some of the most successful pet care facilities thrive in highly competitive markets and GUARANTEES THEIR CLIENT’S SUCCESS! If you would like to receive a complementary phone evaluation, contact the OPC team at www.OutstandingPetCare.com or call 1-888-735-5667.