A couple years ago I was (ouch!) paying $95/month to AT & T for my office landline. OOMA_office_LOGO-01

I really like having a landline because I’ve found the reception is clearer than a cell phone and I like having a ‘real’ business phone in my office.

But I didn’t like paying $95/month for that real business phone!

I’d been reluctant to switch to another phone carrier thinking it would be a hassle. I told a friend about this and he says, “You have to try Ooma!

Ooma?

What a strange name. 🙂

But he raved about how easy the Ooma phone system was to set up and how inexpensive it was. So I tried it. It took me only a few minutes to set up (and it was super easy to set up). Within a month I was saving over $70 a month on my phone bill. No joke!

One of the most common challenges that pet business owners face is how to project a polished, professional image. How can Ooma Office help them?

Believe it or not, your phone system can help you put your best foot forward. In today’s world you can utilize the power of the Internet to access business phone features and services that used to be exclusive to big companies. The advantage of switching to a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone solution is its’ low cost and flexibility to adapt to the way you do business.

Of the many VoIP phone solutions available, the best one that I’ve found is Ooma Office. It leads the pack with unlimited calling throughout the U.S. and Canada and offers a range of features including extension dialing, analog and digital faxing and conference calling.

And get this: Ooma Office includes advanced features too, like a virtual receptionist (yes, you read that right!) that automatically directs callers to the right extension, the ability to have multiple phones ring from one extension (powerful feature especially if you are out walking dogs or have managers who are working from their home office!), and forwarding voice mail messages as audio files to your email.

So I decided to have an interview with the folks at Ooma so you could get to know this great phone company (and yes, Ooma Office comes with a virtual receptionist, how’s that for a cool feature?)

Q. How much does Ooma Office cost each month and how much can pet business owners save?

A. Service starts at only $19.95/month and includes a local or toll-free phone number of your choice, a virtual fax extension, and a conference extension. Add additional user(s) for only $19.95/month each.

Q. How can Ooma help pet business owners take their business to the next level?

A. The first and most important way Ooma Office helps your pet business is by saving you time and money, both of which can be diverted into improving your business’ billable hours and financial health. If you use a traditional phone service and depending upon the number of lines and features you could save hundreds of dollars a month. That money could be spent on getting customers.

Q. What are some of the features that might help owners run their pet business?

A. Ooma Office has features to help you stay connected to your business like creating mobile extensions that route calls off-site to mobile phones or home offices, and multi-ring to ring two phones at the same time to ensure your business never misses a call. The virtual receptionist can be enabled to communicate business hours, directions or other frequently provided information freeing up valuable time during your busy day. Conference calling is easy so you can patch in your client and a staff member in the field or a Vet in an emergency. If you have a question, there’s 24/7 assistance if you need it.

Q. How long does Ooma Office take to set up?

A. Ooma Office set-up is so easy you can do it yourself in less than 30 minutes. And you can use your existing regular business phones.

At the end of the day, if you’re looking for a small business phone system with exceptional voice quality, the flexibility to grow with your business over time, the ability to stay in touch while you’re away from the office and ease of set up and use, look no further than Ooma Office. Click to find out more about Ooma Office and start saving money now on your business phone line!

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We are so happy to have Pet Sitters Associates as a Platinum Sponsor for our 2017 Prosperous Pet Business Online Conference and I wanted to interview them so you could find out what they do!

Don’t know who Pet Sitters Associates is and what they do?

This information below will help you get to know this GREAT company:

Q What is Pet Sitters Associates?

A. We started Pet Sitters Associates in 1998. Our philosophy has always been to help individuals throughout the United States start up their pet care businesses at the most affordable rates possible. Pet Sitters Associates proudly offers membership benefits that include pet business insurance administered by RPS Scobie Group and underwritten by an AM Best rated: A (Excellent) Insurance Company.

Q. What is the cost of the basic membership, which includes liability insurance?

A. The cost is $190 for membership and insurance through Pet Sitters Associates. The membership and insurance is good for one full year from the time of joining and can be effective immediately at www.petsitllc.com.

Q. What are the member benefits?

A. You will gain access to a library of resources including our customer checklist and archived newsletters, quarterly newsletters, and the option to be listed on one of the largest online pet business directories and pet business liability insurance.

Q. What is the cost if we have additional partners/spouse/employees?

A. The cost is $90 for each additional person on your policy.

Q. What type of pet care business does the basic liability cover?

A. It covers pet sitting in the pet owner’s home, pet transportation, pet walking, and pooper scooper services.

Q. What if I bring animals into my home?

A. Members need to purchase the optional pet daycare coverage to extend the liability insurance to cover incidents at their home or pet daycare operation. The cost for this additional coverage is $155 and can be added for up to 3 employees/ICs.

Q. Do you offer a bond?

A Our Broadened Property Damage/Bond coverage costs an additional $100. This coverage provides $10,000 per occurrence or $25,000 of insurance coverage annually for the theft, breakage, and mysterious disappearance of the personal property of the pet owner while under the care of you, your employees, your independent contractors, or your incidental helpers. Please note if you do not purchase this additional coverage, there is no coverage under your basic membership policy for loss, damage, or theft of the owner’s personal property.

Q. What if I do any housesitting without animals?

A. You would then need to add the house sitting coverage for an additional $100. House sitting without pets present cannot exceed 45% of the total pet care business revenue.

Q. What about grooming?

A. Pet grooming coverage for an additional $50 would need to be added. This coverage provides basic insurance for individuals who cut hair or nails while pet sitting. If you are only bathing and brushing pets, there is no need for you to purchase this.

Q. Do you have any type of coverage for Obedience Training?

A. Yes, our dog obedience training coverage costs an additional $155. If you are only offering basic dog obedience training (sit, stay, come) when provided in direct conjunction with your pet sitting work, you are already covered under your basic membership insurance. This coverage is for those who offer training outside of their pet sitting work. This policy does not provide coverage for protection, guard, fighting, attack, or police dog training.

To find out more and sign up for membership today visit Pet Sitters Associates online today: www.PetSitLLC.com

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I keep hearing such good things about Time to Pet software from the many of my coaching clients who use them! I am excited for those of you pet sitters and dog walkers who are need of a good administration system to get to hear more about them too.

Here’s an interview with the founder of Time to Pet so you can find out about them right now:

Q. What is Time To Pet?
A. At it’s very core, Time To Pet is pet sitting software. We like to think of ourselves as “Modern Pet Sitting Software” as we have a really strong focus on building innovative tools that help pet sitters and dog walkers be as efficient and professional as possible. Our system includes basic features like scheduling, invoicing, client and staff management as well as more advanced features like Mobile Apps, GPS, text messaging, Quickbooks integrations and more.

Q. What is your background?
A. My background is as a pet sitter. My wife and I owned a pet care company serving the Greater Austin area that we very recently sold. Kyle (who is my co-founder here at TTP) is a software developer by trade. I always call Kyle a “classically” trained developer as he went to college for computer science and worked at large tech companies prior to getting bit by the entrepreneurial bug and starting TTP. We always joke that when you put a software developer and a pet sitter together – you usually get pet sitting software!

Q. How do you help pet sitters and dog walkers?
A. Our main goal with Time To Pet is to help our customers automate as much of their business as possible while still maintaining (or helping to improve on) the outstanding level of service they provide. This means that we help our clients become more efficient and productive which allows them to focus more time on growing their business instead of managing it.
We are also focused on providing our customers (and more specifically their clients) with tools that make the process of requesting services, updating client information and making payments as simple as possible. We often hear from our customers that they are concerned about some of the “Uber for Dog Walking” startups that are out there. We want to give our customers the same type of tools to make it as simple as possible for their clients to book services while knowing that local, professional pet sitting and dog walking companies will beat those tech companies on quality of service every time.

Q. What makes Time To Pet different from other pet sitting software platforms?
A. There are a handful of items that help differentiate us from our competitors.
#1 is our founding team, especially Kyle. Kyle is a software developer by trade and spends each and every day inside of Time To Pet. This allows us to very quickly make improvements and release new features without having to contract with an outside development firm.
#2 is our commitment to data integrity and data security. We’ve built many systems into Time To Pet that help reduce downtime and protect our customers information like an automated Dropbox integration, a redundant server system as well as a fully replicated backup server.
#3 – we take customer feedback and customer support very seriously. We track every request our clients make and build features based on that feedback. All of our best features (like the Client App) are direct results of our customers’ suggestions.

Want to find out more? Click to visit Time to Pet software.

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I’m so excited: The fourth annual Prosperous Pet Business Online Conference is coming!

If you aren’t familiar with this online pet business conference, you are in for a treat. It’s a FREE worldwide conference that you can attend from your home or office (or home office!) You’ll have 24 hours to watch each speaker video and if you miss any of the videos you can purchase the conference video package for a very low price and get unlimited viewing (plus free gifts from many of the speakers) so you can watch, listen and learn whenever you like.

The speakers that are speaking at this year’s conference …wow. Just wow. You are going to get so much from each one of the pet business and life management experts. (We include life management because, well, you want to have a life in addition to your pet business, right?) We are excited to help you create a pet business and a life.

Our speakers include Wayne Pacelle (CEO of the Humane Society of the United States and recent guest on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday), Andrea Arden (Today Show pet expert), Victoria Stilwell (Animal Planet host), Ian Dunbar (top dog trainer, author and TED speaker) plus so many more including me.

If you haven’t already signed up, you can sign up here for the 2017 pet business conference.

And if you have already signed up, I’ll see you there!

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Owning a business (especially a pet business) can be one of the most rewarding experiences in life and can also be among the most challenging experiences.

I often tell my new pet business coaching clients who are experiencing growth spurts or dry income times that owning a pet business has the power to bring us to to our knees in pain and to create some of the greatest joy depending upon the day (and sometimes the hour!)

A business is like a living, breathing entity in the way that it shifts and changes and rarely stays the same. There are often challenges to deal with (even after 18 years of owning my pet business I was still surprised by some of the odd things that would happen in regards to a pet, home, client or staff member). If you’ve owned your pet business for many years you know exactly what I mean.

Because it can be challenging it can be helpful to see your business as a spiritual teacher. I’ll be the first to admit it: besides my close relationships, owning a business has been my greatest teacher.
And I don’t mean great as in, “You are a great teacher. You deserve an apple, teach!” Nope. I mean great as in, “Whoa, you are a tough teacher! I’m really learning here. I’m even learning what I’m resistant to learning. Oy!”

Here’s why owning a pet business can be your most powerful spiritual teacher:

You never know what is going to happen in your pet business. Right?!
Not knowing what’s going to happen can help you cultivate acceptance. But only if you relax and surrender to not knowing what’s going to be coming your way. If you are internally or externally fighting against not knowing that will make you bat sh*t crazy. And miserable. So you might as well groove into acceptance. And your pet business will give you lots of opportunity to practice acceptance because you. literally. never. know. what’s. going. to. happen. (It’s enough to make you crazy but remember: pet business is one of the greatest spiritual teachers and many would even consider it to be their greatest teacher. And spiritual teachers -the good ones anyway- kick your butt into shape in order to make you into a better human being. And we can use some better human beings on the planet right now. So thank you.

You have to learn to trust. Oy!
Yes, trust. But here’s the bizarre paradox: trust is super hard for the control freaks that are often the very ones most drawn to self employment. (You know who you are.) I’m one too and I write this from experience. Ahem. So… it’s a set up for disaster because here’s the deal: the control freak starts a pet business thinking they get to control their domain (and they do–to a point) but once they get clients, pets and staff members then that control often goes out the window (much to the pet business owner’s dismay). That lack of control sucks, yes. But it’s a great opportunity to practice trust.

Self employed people have to trust that the calls and emails from new clients will come in to keep the business going going (of course, the marketing has to be done to get them but once that’s done, it’s about trust, baby.) If hiring has happened, trust needs to be given to that staff member (after you’ve done a good job vetting them of course).

Then there’s the trust that’s needed in yourself that you’ll be able to handle the endless odd situations and circumstances that come with you caring for hundreds (if not thousands) of pets and homes. It’s a numbers game, folks. When you are dealing with that many pets, humans and (if you are a pet sitter) homes, then strange things are bound to happen. Trust that you can deal with whatever arises. Because you can and you will.

Patience is a virtue (and most pet business owners need to cultivate it).
It’s not just self employed people but so many people want things to happen right here, right now. We’ve lost the art of patience and our pet businesses can help us gain it back. Aren’t we lucky?

There are countless ways to cultivate patience in a pet business so don’t worry, you’ll have lots of opportunity to work on this one.

Here are just a few ways: dealing with a neurotic client who goes on and on about her Fido, trying to pill the kitty Fluffy who is hissing at you from the top of the fridge, hearing a client’s dog piercing bark (and bark and bark) on the way to the dog park, when said barking dog eats your seat belt or poops in your car, when you’ve forgotten your poop bags. Oy, oy, oy. The list goes on. Patience is one of the highest spiritual qualities and lucky you, you’ve got a wealth of opportunity to practice it in your pet business (and if you resist patience, that resistance will make you bat sh*t crazy. Patience is a bit like acceptance in that way).

Lovingkindness (it’s not for sissies).
This can only be learned through the daily practice of lovingkindness for self and for clients (pets and human). However, the only way some can begin to even practice lovingkindness is through noticing when its opposite pops up: hatefulmeanness. Some of us are pretty skillful at hatefulmeanness (to ourselves if not others) and if so, it’s often a big stretch to go immediately to practicing lovingkindness. Some of you who are super adept at hatefulmeanness might need to step toward cranky or bitchy and then go to neutral before you can make the big leap to lovingkindness. The public can be challenging to deal with, cranky staff can be tough to deal with, house alarms going off at 2am can be tough to deal with – it’s all an opportunity to go toward love rather than anger or fear (fear is what’s often under anger).

Meditation can set you free. (In your pet business and in other areas.)
Regardless of what you call it: prayer, meditation, mindfulness – it’s all good. And practicing it (whatever the “it” is for you) will help you deal with your greatest spiritual teacher.

Try this: practice five minutes of meditation every morning. That’s it. Just five little minutes. Don’t go all guru on me but simply set the timer and breathe in and out and watch your thoughts as they arise. Really that’s you need to do to begin to untangle the resistance that will inevitably arise when you own a pet business. Soon you will be beaming like a light bulb and will feel ommmm-tastic while you run your pet business like the Buddha that you are.

About the author:
Kristin Morrison started her pet care company in 1995 and it grew to be one of the largest pet care companies in the United States before she sold it in 2013. Kristin assists thousands of pet business owners from across the United States, Canada, UK and Australia to create profitable businesses and empowered lives. Kristin is a nationally recognized speaker and has taught workshops at pet business conferences around the country.

Kristin is the founder of Six-Figure Pet Business Academy and Six-Figure Pet Sitting Academy and the author of three books: Prosperous Pet Business: Interviews With The Experts – Volume One, Six-Figure Pet Sitting and Six-Figure Pet Business. Her podcast “Prosperous Pet Business” can be heard on iTunes or on the Prosperous Pet Business website. Kristin enjoys making business easy, fun and (very!) lucrative for pet business owners. You can find her at: www.SixFigurePetBusinessAcademy.com

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I’ve had a few of my pet business coaching clients want to start their year off with the healthy business activity of letting some difficult clients go.

It’s a delicate topic and one that has to be handled gently and carefully. I’m sorry to say that letting challenging clients go is is not for the faint of heart! But letting difficult clients go that have sapped your energy is always worth it.

Letting challenging clients go frees up your time, your energy and creates space in your business to take on an Ideal Client who you love working with. It’s worth it.

Because here’s the thing: your difficult client might be costing you more money than they are bringing to the business.

When we have a difficult client we often spend a lot on self care activities to try to manage the stress the challenging clients are causing.

Money from that client gets spent on massages, therapy sessions, ice cream and any number of things that we may give ourselves to ease the pain that the difficult client brings us. And yes, these things may numb the pain (for awhile) but they don’t create permanent help. And often the difficult clients can become even more challenging the longer we work with them. Dealing with a difficult client on an ongoing basis can create less hair (from all the hair-pulling!) and more neck tension. Not good…

But don’t worry. There is hope.

You don’t have to keep a difficult client.

But you do need to do it ever-so-gently.

It’s important to think of your client as an egg when you are getting ready to let them go. (Yes, think of that pain-in-the-butt client as a breakable egg.) If you had an egg in your hand you wouldn’t just throw that egg down. You would place it gently down so it doesn’t break. Same with your challenging clients.

When you break up with a client, it can bring up feelings of rejection for them. And that hurt feeling can cause them to write nasty reviews about your company. And we don’t want that. So let them go ever so gently (like an egg) if you want a peaceful and drama-free breakup.

Here’s How to Break Up With a Difficult Client:

1) It’s always best to ‘break up’ over the phone than email or text and you want to start the conversation with honest appreciation. Dive deep within and find something that you’ve enjoyed when you’ve worked with them or their pet (Fluffy is such a great dog, you’ve been so generous with me, I really appreciate ____).

2) Be firm, but compassionate. Do not use wishy-washy language (don’t say ‘I think maybe, perhaps, it’s not a good fit’) and don’t leave wiggle room for them to think you’ll work with them again. Saying that you don’t think it’s quite the right fit will give you the least amount of push back from your difficult clients because it makes it less about them and more about it not being quite the right match.

3) Try to sound breezy and light when you are talking, even if you’re not feeling that. I get it. The frustration with this difficult client has probably been there for awhile but don’t let that affect your delivery when you are letting them go. If you are snarky with them it could ruin your reputation and you don’t want that. Be understanding and sympathetic because here’s the reality: they are probably going to miss working with you and it’s a loss for them. You may not miss them (not at all!) but they (and their pets) will most likely miss you.

4) Don’t blame. Playing the blame game isn’t necessary and it will only hurt you in the end. Be mature and adult about the situation and keep your cool. Again, light and breezy. Ahhhh…

5) Keep your conversation with them brief. Do not go into a long-winded explanation about why you are letting them go. Be honest and clear and keep the conversation short.

6) Be professional. If you’re already partway through caring for their pets it’s important to complete the job. If you haven’t yet worked together offer to refund them their full deposit and help them find someone else who will meet their needs. If they’re going to have to scramble to get care for their pets, try to give them as much notice as possible.

7) An “Affirmation Sandwich” is always the way to go when breaking up with a client. End the conversation with another positive authentic and honest affirmation about your experience in working with them. Something like “I really enjoyed working with your pets” can be a truthful, simple way to end the call (leave out the part about the humans being challenging!) It’s important to leave people better than when you found them.

Good luck! And be sure to reward yourself with something really special after you’ve let a challenging client go. You deserve it.

Want support to help you break up with difficult clients, create work/life balance and create a pet business plan that will rocket blast your pet business this year (plus get your pet business automated in a way that lets you relax and enjoy 2017?)

The 4-Week Pet Business Jumpstart Program starts soon! Click to find out more and to sign up now and save.

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Hi there, pet business owners!psa_web_logo

I wanted to share with you that we are so happy to have Pet Sitters Associates as a Platinum Sponsor for our 2016 Prosperous Pet Business Online Conference!

Don’t know who Pet Sitters Associates is and what they do?

This information below will help you get to know this GREAT company:

Q What is Pet Sitters Associates?

A. We started Pet Sitters Associates in 1998. Our philosophy has always been to help individuals throughout the United States start up their pet care businesses at the most affordable rates possible. Pet Sitters Associates proudly offers membership benefits that include pet business insurance administered by RPS Scobie Group and underwritten by an AM Best rated: A (Excellent) Insurance Company.

Q. What is the cost of the basic membership, which includes liability insurance?

A. The cost is $190 for membership and insurance through Pet Sitters Associates. The membership and insurance is good for one full year from the time of joining and can be effective immediately at www.petsitllc.com.

Q. What are the member benefits?

A. You will gain access to a library of resources including our customer checklist and archived newsletters, quarterly newsletters, and the option to be listed on one of the largest online pet business directories and pet business liability insurance.

Q. What is the cost if we have additional partners/spouse/employees?

A. The cost is $90 for each additional person on your policy.

Q. What type of pet care business does the basic liability cover?

A. It covers pet sitting in the pet owner’s home, pet transportation, pet walking, and pooper scooper services.

Q. What if I bring animals into my home?

A. Members need to purchase the optional pet daycare coverage to extend the liability insurance to cover incidents at their home or pet daycare operation. The cost for this additional coverage is $155 and can be added for up to 3 employees/ICs.

Q. Do you offer a bond?

A Our Broadened Property Damage/Bond coverage costs an additional $100. This coverage provides $10,000 per occurrence or $25,000 of insurance coverage annually for the theft, breakage, and mysterious disappearance of the personal property of the pet owner while under the care of you, your employees, your independent contractors, or your incidental helpers. Please note if you do not purchase this additional coverage, there is no coverage under your basic membership policy for loss, damage, or theft of the owner’s personal property.

Q. What if I do any housesitting without animals?

A. You would then need to add the house sitting coverage for an additional $100. House sitting without pets present cannot exceed 45% of the total pet care business revenue.

Q. What about grooming?

A. Pet grooming coverage for an additional $50 would need to be added. This coverage provides basic insurance for individuals who cut hair or nails while pet sitting. If you are only bathing and brushing pets, there is no need for you to purchase this.

Q. Do you have any type of coverage for Obedience Training?

A. Yes, our dog obedience training coverage costs an additional $155. If you are only offering basic dog obedience training (sit, stay, come) when provided in direct conjunction with your pet sitting work, you are already covered under your basic membership insurance. This coverage is for those who offer training outside of their pet sitting work. This policy does not provide coverage for protection, guard, fighting, attack, or police dog training.

To find out more and sign up for membership today visit Pet Sitters Associates online today: www.PetSitLLC.com

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