Struggling with Staffing?
By Laura Laaman
The pet care industry recently experienced a welcome upsurge in business, giving facility owners a chance to finally breathe…kind of. With COVID numbers on the decrease, stir-crazy people have flocked to airports and highways, and their pets filled our facilities.
Per the U.S. Travel Association, over 60% of American families have at least one trip planned this summer, while 85% of U.S. businesses are conducting business travel. These improvements arrive right on the tail of a record-breaking labor shortage we’re still recovering from.
The unprecedented labor market left many business owners grappling for even just warm bodies. And the service industry has been hit particularly hard. With local businesses pulling job seekers in every direction, many owners resorted to hiring the first candidates they could get in the door. This meant high turnover rates, low employee morale, and, often, substandard pet and customer care. With facilities full of pets once again, it’s time to address these challenging staffing issues…but how?
Attract and Secure the Best Candidates
Drawing in the best of your market begins with a quality job ad. This is your opportunity to “sell” your business in an incredibly fierce hiring environment. (Yes, it’s now necessary to “sell” your business to candidates!) An impactful ad describes who you are as a company, the expectations and responsibilities of the listed role, any career advancement opportunities and, of course, the joyful opportunity of working with pets!
Most hiring is done digitally, and some of the top job listings platforms include Indeed™, LinkedIn™, ZipRecruiter™ and Glassdoor™. It may be best to post on multiple locations to reach the widest applicant pool.
Have an Organized Hiring Process
No matter where you post, you need to monitor responses as often as possible (ideally multiple times daily) and reach out to interesting applicants immediately (within minutes of their application). Your response is your power tool. With more job opportunities than ever before, an applicant may send over 100 applications before receiving a job offer. If you respond quickly, your company and listing will be fresh in their mind.
The first response step is reaching out with a phone screening to see if the candidate is worth pursuing. By preparing a list of screening questions ahead of time, you can quickly get a sense of the candidate on the first phone call. If they appeal to you, offer to meet for an interview—soon. Ideally, schedule the interview for the same or following day. The key is staying in the forefront of their radar and acting quickly so another company doesn’t get to them first.
After identifying some candidates with good potential, the next step is the first interview. A successful practice is to ask each candidate the same set of questions, and be sure to take lots of notes during the interview. This way you can reflect on and compare each person individually to determine the ideal candidate for your role. After interviewing applicant after applicant, they can start to blend together and your memory will be fuzzy. Clear notes help keep your impressions straight.
Many companies will go a step further and invite candidates to meet for a second interview. This gives you the chance to delve into deeper details of the job. Just as importantly, it’s a second opportunity to test the candidate’s punctuality and reliability—two necessary qualities in pet care.
Unfortunately, many businesses don’t offer wages competitive enough for the current market. With nationwide pushes for a higher minimum wage (and the effects of increasing competition) many companies are offering higher pay with better benefits than ever before. If you haven’t yet, it might be time to find a way to step up. Paying more attracts more career-minded individuals and gives you the opportunity to be more selective with your hiring choices. Additionally, better pay increases retention and loyalty among your existing employees, too.
Many pet care workers currently earn anywhere from $11 to $14 hourly—but the push for a $15 minimum wage has taken hold in many areas. Pre-empting this expectation gives your company a competitive edge over those who don’t. In fact, many companies across industries have improved their benefits and bonus offerings to entice job seekers in this aggressive market.
Don’t think you can afford it?
As long as you control your pricing, you can. Yes, adjusting your pricing is dangerous. Pricing decisions are like surgery on your business. When done properly, it can be amazing. When done poorly, the results can be devastating. Customers are willing to pay for quality care if it is the correct pricing that parallels your care, is embraced by your entire team, and explained well to your prospects and clients.
Pet care relies so heavily on the quality of the people on your staff. Without excellent employees, your work environment suffers…and so will everything else. The quality of pet care goes down and customer satisfaction drops. Increased employee turnover only compounds the issue. Proactive business owners are taking the first opportunity to get their staff in shape—and for many, that’s now!
Laura Laaman is president of Outstanding Pet Care and we now offer guaranteed and discounted recruiting services for the pet care industry. If you’re interested in our pricing assistance, labor ratio guidance and hiring help, or any of our other proven services, scheduled a consultation by calling 1-888-735-5667 or vising www.OutstandingPetCare.com/contact.