Planning for a Tremendous 2022
By Annalisa Berns
Each day can bring its own challenges, so it’s important to plan out the year to stay on track. Daily tasks and emergencies easily distract from the big picture. One minute it is January 1st, the next minute all the toilet paper disappears, and then before you know it the year is over; leaving you feeling as though you’re always behind and not accomplishing your goals. So, let’s get a head start on that calendar for 2022 to set you and your business up for the best year yet!
One of the most important things to schedule out in advance is a business yearly calendar with time off. Have an open conversation with staff about priorities and business logistics. Ask what employees want as far as time off. Some might want as many work hours as possible, others want to match their spouse or partner’s vacation schedule, or have other priorities. Ask each year, as priorities change over time. Instead of trying to guess or directing a specific schedule, talk with them and ask for feedback. Mark it on the calendar, notify staff and customers. They need advance notice to make plans.
Employee evaluations need to be scheduled and consistent. Part of the process involves getting feedback from staff and working together as a team for improvement. Leaving employee reviews to last minute or unintentionally surprising an employee with a review can cause unnecessary anxiety. There shouldn’t be any surprises in an evaluation, because feedback and training should happen often and on a regular basis.
Price reviews and increases should be planned and communicated with plenty of notice. Reviewing prices and announcing changes in the October to December timeframe, with new pricing taking effect January 1st, is the most common approach in the pet care industry. Some business owners prefer a strategic move with price changes before the winter holidays, not after.
Here are some other suggestions to help outline the year and keep you on track:
Focus on Planning
- Get taxes and bookkeeping over with as early in the year as possible. Waiting until tax deadlines creates more stress than the extra time is worth.
- After reviewing expenses, cancel any memberships, services or subscriptions that are no longer needed.
- Create or update accounting structure for 2022. Update labels, files, forms, etc.
- Schedule planned price increases.
- Review license requirements and deadlines and mark them on the calendar.
- Back up devices and make sure security is updated.
- Plan and post vacation calendar and dates when closed.
- Take a vacation! For some pet businesses January is a slow time. Take advantage of that for some well-deserved time off.
- Update the business website to reflect changes in 2022.
- Put important dates on the calendar like birthdays, reoccurring dates and activities including facility events.
Focus on Marketing & Advertising
- Conduct a customer survey to get updated information on needs and feedback.
- Schedule promotional events for the business focusing on involving the community.
- Reflect on the daily business schedule for the past year and consider any changes to open, close, drop-off or pick-up times and policies. Promote any beneficial schedule changes to customers.
- Current trends in advertising are constantly changing. Reassess current strategies, make adjustments and try some new ideas. Whether mailing out promotional postcards or hiring a digital billboard, mark it on the calendar.
- Plan your social media strategy for the year. Include pictures and videos of pets at the facility, helpful tips on pet care and keeping pets safe. Other content ideas include staff profiles, affiliate marketing, testimonials, giveaways or contests.
Focus on Decluttering & Cleaning
- Tackle spring cleaning, including a deep-clean of the entire facility.
- Perform outdoor maintenance like resealing concrete, power washing, cleaning gutters and landscaping.
- Schedule repairs, maintenance and improvements that need to be done by a third party. Consider booking work to be done when the facility is closed for vacations.
- For grooming, send scissors, blades and dryers out for repair and maintenance before the summer rush.
- Inspect, clean and maintain heating units, hot water heaters, washers, dryers and any other equipment.
- Test water quality.
- Move any old files from 2021 to storage.
Focus on Employee Ideas & Projects
- Review and update policies and procedures.
- Review employee compensation and benefits. Research if they are competitive in the local area and industry.
- Review promotional paths. Ask employees what they want in their future and encourage learning.
- Ask for staff feedback and ideas. Have an open conversation and follow as many suggestions as possible. People often appreciate being included in the review and planning process.
- Talk about individual staff interests and curiosity. For example, you may have a staff member who also enjoys interior design and could be hired to redesign the lobby. Or, one with a hidden photography talent who could take photos at your next promotional event.
- Critically look at the work environment. Improve safety, performance standards, values and vibe.
- Review staff credentials, continuing education and training.
Focus on Work-Life Balance
- Track how time is spent on an average day. Review, reflect and update to spend the most time on the most important tasks. Be sure these tasks are in line with your goals and priorities.
- Conduct mid-year employee reviews with raises.
- Spend time checking in with staff about work-life balance.
- Take a working vacation and attend the Pet Boarding and Daycare Expo West in Burbank, California, May 2nd–5th.
- Set new, important and necessary boundaries.
- Review the three key symptoms of burnout: emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and feeling ineffective. If you are feeling any of these, be sure to get help.
- Have updated professional pictures taken of staff, the facility and happy pets for your website and other marketing materials.
Focus on Health
Try a personal training session such as yoga, spinning, weight lifting or boxing.
- Invite a health professional to speak and answer questions to benefit staff.
- Offer employees free or discounted memberships at a local fitness center.
- See if your health insurance provider offers any additional health and wellness benefits for you and your staff.
- Try a healthy meal delivery service to reduce stress and increase better food choices.
- Update snack and beverage choices at work to reflect healthier options.
- Offer something to clients to benefit their pet’s health. For example, invite a guest speaker to present on pet nutrition or health for clients and staff, or give away magnets (with business logo) with emergency information for pets.
- Provide clients with science-based information on spay and neuter as well as discount options in the area.
- Consider offering fun add-ons for pets to improve their mental and emotional health. For example, agility training, scent work, one-on-one walks, etc. Bring in a professional for specialized services.
- Go over the importance of intake, daily and exit pet health exams with all staff, especially those grooming and handling animals. In this simple way, staff can help save pets’ lives.
Focus on Safety
- Review and update policies and procedures, including your disaster preparedness plan.
- Review exit routes, inventory emergency evacuation supplies and review dog-to-staff ratio for safety.
- Check fire extinguishers and alarms.
- Remind clients to have identification tags on their pets and to update microchip information after moving.
- Review and update property and liability insurance.
- Offer to check pets’ microchips and make note of the number in their file.
- Promote dog training services offered onsite or partner with a dog trainer to make this easily accessible.
- Educate clients on the importance of training pets to rest comfortably in pet carriers, crates and kennels. In the case of an emergency, they will be confined.
- Perform a full safety check of your facility, including fencing for damage or weak spots, exposed electrical or fence wires, chemicals, broken locks or gate latches, etc.
Focus on Self-Care
- Review retirement plans. There is still time to make changes to retirement plans and savings during this year.
- Ask yourself, “What do I need to help me better care for myself right now?”
- Do less or delegate tasks to others.
- Review your staffing schedule to make sure no one (including yourself) is being overworked.
- Let go of perfectionism.
- Take time to rest, even if it’s just five minutes every few hours to be by yourself and clear your mind.
- Spend time outside. Eat your lunch outside or take one of your favorite client dogs for a walk.
- Take a day off to do something just for yourself.
Focus on Training & Education
- Review and update employee training materials.
- Conduct employee reviews, including self-evaluations.
- Check out online training options for managers and supervisors to improve management and communication skills. Consider looking into training outside of the pet care field.
- Register staff for pet health and behavior education opportunities. Professional Pet Boarding Certification (PPBC) offers a variety of online courses at www.PetboardingCertification.com.
- Promote credentials to your clients so they know the extra training your facility has invested in.
- Make sure all staff is certified in pet first aid and CPR.
Focus on Relationships
- Implement techniques and methods learned in training to improve management and communication skills.
- Practice communicating openly and honestly—this is especially important with employees.
- Use technology to improve relationships. Set birthday reminders on the phone, send emails with words of appreciation, text a funny picture or meme and use video calls to stay in contact.
- Verbalize praise to employees, partners, friends and family.
- Prepare the facility for the winter season.
- For grooming, send scissors and blades out for repair and maintenance before the holiday season.
Focus on Gratitude
- Plan holiday cards or gifts for employees, clients and associates.
- Inform all staff of the holiday schedule for the rest of the year so they can make plans accordingly.
- Reflect back on the year, assess goals and achievements.
- Decorate for the holiday season and be sure to involve the staff.
- Make a list of 10 good things that have happened in your business so far this year.
- Plan any holiday events your facility may host, either for staff or clients, or both.
- Make a “Gratitude Board” at work and invite clients and staff to add to the board.
- Make a list of possible opportunities for the future.
Focus on Finances
- Make financial and item donations before the end of the year.
- Review prices and prepare for price adjustments to take effect January 1st. Notify clients of any changes in advance.
- Plan vacations for the next year.
- Create a business and personal spending plan or budget for 2023.
- Prepare and examine financial documents, including a balance sheet, income statement and cash flow statement reports.
- Prepare tax documents, including 1099-NEC, Form 1096, W-2 Forms, W-3 Forms, and state and federal payroll returns.
- Perform a full safety check, including fencing for damage or weak spots, exposed electrical or fence wires, chemicals, locks, gates, etc.
- Celebrate another successful year!