Time To Pet Blog

Tag: Dog Walking (page 1 of 2)

Client Spotlight – Happy Hearts Pet Care!

12374824_10153198802990143_8947164209185977751_oUp next in our Client Spotlight series is Lee Taylor-Belcher and Happy Hearts Pet Care!  Located in Ann Arbor, MI – home of the University of Michigan (GO BLUE!), Lee and her team have been providing amazing pet care to the university community and beyond for over 20 years!  That means for over two decades, Happy Hearts Pet Care is truly care you can count on!  Be sure to take a look at Happy Hearts’ website and don’t forget to like them on Facebook too!

What caused you to get into pet sitting?
When I was a kid my dad owned a couple Texaco gas stations and all but 1 of my 5 siblings are small business owners in our town so you could say I was destined to own my own business. Growing up the youngest of 6 kids, we had a house full of pets. Even my dad had to have his own dog so there were always at least 4 dogs, numerous cats, reptiles, we had lambs, goats, ponies and even a pet raccoon named Francis. As I got older and spent more quality time with our family pets it seemed they all became mine, or maybe I became theirs. Our dogs were my shadow, even protecting me when my older siblings would pick on me! I was the neighborhood babysitter/pet sitter from the time I was about 10 and that’s how I earned money for my pony feed and supplies.

Lee Taylor-Belcher, Founder

Lee Taylor-Belcher, Founder

After high school my dog “Sly” and I took an adventure to California for a little over a year then came back home to take some accounting and business classes at our community college. I had several office jobs and eventually became an office manager at a local carpet store.  I got married at 20 and took a job as a school bus driver so we would have health insurance and had our first son in ’92. It seemed like every job I had, I worked with people who were not happy and stuck in their jobs because they had so many years in but not enough to retire. I didn’t want to grown old doing a job that drained me so I was always thinking of what kind of job I could do for the rest of my life without hating getting out of bed every day to do it. Since I had summers and all the school breaks off everyone always asked me to watch their pets and it began to dawn on me that the time that I felt the most content was when I was with the animals. I enjoyed my dog walks, being outdoors soaking up some fresh air and vitamin D, I got lots of LOVE from all the pets and I could take my son with me. That’s how it started, in 1994, I was going to be the worlds first professional pet sitter! LOL really! After I got my DBA and Insurance I thought I better get some legal forms made so I found an attorney. She is the one who informed me that “pet sitting” was already recognized as a legit business and turned me on to NAPPS. I joined and read “Sit and Grow Rich”. I joined PSI in 1998 and read “Pet Sit for Profit” too.

What is the most fulfilling part of owning a pet sitting business?
At this point I think what I am most proud of is that I have built the largest and longest running professional pet sitting company in my town and knowing how respected Happy Hearts Pet Care LLC is by my colleagues in the pet industry makes me so proud.

What is the most challenging?
0eeb301b3c98071ad151ad28a5fc2fcaI think the most challenging part of my business is staffing. There is a LOT of business here in Ann Arbor and not enough great pet sitting companies. We have many hobby sitters since it’s a college town but they come and go quickly. We’ve also had 3 longer running company owners retire in the last year and another that has a life threatening illness so she has closed down for now. It’s overwhelming to think about how much business I am turning down since finding staff that I can count on for more than temporary work is hard.

Where do you see your business in 5 years?
RETIRED!  LOL not really but I wish.  I recently did some webinars with a pet sitting coach to try and help get to the next level in my business. It’s not that I need to make more money, I am doing pretty well, but I figure If I have the best business in town – I need some strategies on how to grow without it being more work for me. So in 5 years I imagine I will have an office manager to take some of the load off my back. I hope to add some goats, chickens and horses to my animal family here at the dog gone farm and I want to be able to travel a bit more often.

What has Time To Pet changed the most about how you run your business?
dfe06ad9d5a8eaed2955a643adb3cdc7Lets see. I have been in business for 22 years now. For 21 of those years I used a large desk top calendar to keep my schedule and my staff schedule. Imagine 7 peoples daily schedules written in that tiny block with all different colors of ink! LOL I guess a lot like the TTP calendar but all scribbled up with white out and highlighted. It was getting too hard to keep it all straight so I knew I needed to take the step to find software. November 2014 I signed up with another software company that is highly recommended by PSI. At first the tech support team was very helpful getting me set up with the program but I am honestly a techno dummy so after a couple months I think I was getting on their nerves with my questions and I often just did not get it so I felt like I was bothering them every time I emailed them and the few times I called I could hear the eye roll in their voice. So I stopped asking questions and just dealt with what I had figured out with the software which was only the scheduling part. Still helpful that all of my sitters would get a daily/weekly email with their schedule but there was NO APP so if there was a change in schedule I had to call/text them quickly. My clients liked getting confirmations too but most did not find the software easy to use.

THEN I found “Time To Pet” in September 2015. Mike and Kyle were great to email with through the set up, they transferred all of my data over from the other software and any time I had a question or felt frustrated they responded promptly and never seemed short with me – maybe laughing at me but not annoyed : )

So NO MORE messy desk top calendar. I don’t need 7 different color ink pens. No more spending my Sunday evening talking to all of my sitters for hours. Now I know what and when visits are completed. When I need to pay my staff I don’t have to squint and count each days visits on that tiny desk top calendar to verify their invoice. My clients love the software and are using it to schedule their own visits. We are transitioning to using the software to store client contracts and vet release forms so eventually we wont even need to carry client files with us. I can invoice my clients by email now! (I could not do that with my old software because I wasn’t linked with QB). And my clients can pay on line right from their portal. I still have a lot to learn about how to use Time To Pet features but I am an old dog learning new tricks : )

Client Spotlight – Bright Star Pet Services!

Bright Star LogoOur next Client Spotlight is on Jessica Frost and Bright Star Pet Services.  Bright Star Pet Services is based in the far northwest Chicago suburb of Lake in the Hills.  Jessica and her team’s number one priority is your pet’s health and well-being.  They also strive to provide the highest quality care tailored to each pet’s needs.  Whether that is full-service vacation home care, dog walking or a behavioral consultation.  Check out Bright Star Pet Services’ website here and don’t forget to like them on Facebook!

Jessica Frost, Founder

Jessica Frost, Founder

What caused you to get into pet sitting?
I was a stay-at-home mom who started training my own dogs (two giant schnauzers) and fell in love with dog training, working my way up as a newbie, eventually helping teach beginner obedience classes at my dog club.  I loved it, but felt like something was missing: cats and other animals!  I grew up on a farm with lots of animals, but I married someone who is horribly allergic to cats.  I decided that working as a pet sitter would allow me to love and adore cats, dogs, and other animals while still permitting me a quieter family life.

What is the most fulfilling part of owning a pet sitting business?
The best part is falling in love with each pet you are visiting.  I guess we all have favorites, but I find that my favorites are usually the ones I’m with at the moment.   Nothing makes me happier than a dog’s excited eyes and wagging tail, or a cat sitting in my lap purring.

What is the most challenging?
By far, bookkeeping has been the most challenging.  I wanted to get a good handle on my books before expanding my business, but it ranks as one of my least-favorite tasks.  Honestly, I’d rather pick up dog poop all day than sit down to update my bank accounts.

Where do you see your business in 5 years?
Bright Star PetsAfter 3 years of business, I took the leap and hired my first employee in June.  It’s only September and I’m all ready to add 2 more employees.  In 5 years I’d like it to be a well-recognized local business, profitable, and mostly self-sustaining — with really good managers who can keep it running smoothly.

What has Time To Pet changed the most about how you run your business?
TTP has significantly enhanced the customer communication process. First, it gave me a reason to reach out to ALL my customers and say, “I’m switching pet sitting software, please activate your account!” As a result of the increased communication, I’m finding that a lot of former one-time clients have called us for new services and we are busier than ever.

TTP also gave me the boost to add credit card processing,and I am so glad I did. I like how everything integrates together almost seamlessly, with credit card processing, Quickbooks online, and even TTP keeping track of each employee’s pay. As my business keeps growing, I love that TTP is able to take care of the details so I can focus on what I do best.

Client Spotlight – Alpha Dawg Pet Sitting!

Alpha Dawg LogoToday’s Client Spotlight is on Alpha Dawg Pet Sitting and Kelley Fulmer.  Based in Birmingham, AL – Kelley’s background is as a flight attendant where she developed a deep understanding of the need for highly qualified pet care.  In 2014, she decided to combine her love of pets with her passion for meeting people’s needs and founded Alpha Dawg!  The care Kelley provides is based on the high standard she would expect from someone caring for her own pets.  You can check out Alpha Dawg’s website here and don’t forget to like them on Facebook too!

jet picture

Kelley Fullmer, Owner of Alpha Dawg Pet Sitting

What caused you to get into pet sitting?
About 6 years ago, I was looking for something to do on my days off while I was working as a flight attendant for American Airlines. I saw an ad for another locally-owned pet sitting service and they hired me as an Independent Contractor. I loved it so much that I decided to start my own Pet Sitting business after taking an early retirement from my flying career. Running the business allows me to use the customer service skills I’d developed during my 22+ years serving the flying public.

ribbon cuttingWhat is the most fulfilling part of owning a pet sitting business?
As a dog owner myself, making my clients comfortable and secure when they need to leave their pets at home – for any length of time – is very important to me. They can trust that their pet’s sitter truly cares and is highly competent and reliable. That’s what makes Alpha Dawg Pet Sitting “Ahead of the Pack”.

What is the most challenging?
Scheduling can be a problem sometimes- especially with very limited staff.  Holidays are really a challenge to fit in all the visits and still provide our superior service.

ChloeWhere do you see your business in 5 years?
I would like to hire a select group of sitters that could help expand our service area. We turn down many requests that are too far for us to cover. I also am looking to partner with a dog trainer, and learn more training techniques to provide another level of service to my clients.

What has Time To Pet changed the most about how you run your business?
When a potential client calls or emails now, all I do is send the activation link and – presto – they are a new client! Scheduling is so much easier and more reliable. Most clients are very comfortable with requesting online and the credit card payment feature has been my biggest change for the better!

Client Spotlight – iCare4Pets!

iCare4Pets LogoToday’s Client Spotlight is shining very brightly on iCare4Pets and their owner/operator, Carrie Simon.  iCare4Pets provides fantastic pet services in the Wekiva area of Longwood and Apopka Florida (just next door to Orlando).  Carrie has built her business on a dedication to keeping her four-legged clients less anxious, loved and cared for while her two-legged clients are away.  She also provides regular dog walking services too!  Be sure to check out iCare4Pets online and like them on Facebook!

What caused you to get into pet sitting?

iCare4Pets Founder - Carrie Simon

iCare4Pets Founder – Carrie Simon

I was a teacher for many years and wanted a change.  After going on vacation and having a hard time locating a qualified pet sitter to care for my 5 dogs in a way I found acceptable, I decided that since I knew quite a bit about animal care, and had a lot of animal experience I would start a business providing the type of care I would expect from someone taking care of my own pets.

What is the most fulfilling part of owning a pet sitting business?
From a young age I knew I wanted to have an animal related business and this has been the perfect match for what I had always wanted to do.  Being able to spend everyday enjoying such a variety of different pets makes what I do so rewarding!
I also love being my own boss.  Making decisions day in and day out that directly effect every aspect of what I do.  I love being outside and being active.

What is the most challenging?
Not being able to leave with my family for holidays.  While I was teaching I always had holidays and summers off.  It was great to be able to always travel and be able to enjoy the holidays with my family.  Now that I am pet sitting this is obviously my busiest time, so I am often home alone for the holidays (labor day and thanksgiving).

Where do you see your business in 5 years?
CharlieIn 5 years I hope to have a minimum of 2-3 employees, and being more active in the community in regards to animal related fundraisers, expanding our 4H dog training group, taking at least one vacation a year along with being able to enjoy one major holiday off to spend time with the family.

What has Time To Pet changed the most about how you run your business?
With TTP I have been able to more effectively and efficiently schedule clients while on the go.  Since I spend a lot of time away from my computer, the mobile friendly website has allowed me to update my schedule, send and update invoices and make sure I stay on schedule by using the timer.  It has also been an enormous benefit being able to sync with my ical calendar.  This allows me to be able to compare my personal calendars with my pet sit calendar to make sure there are no double bookings or overlaps.  Another great benefit is the ability to schedule a trip.  In previous software I have had to add each time frame visit separately or each day separately, with the “trip” feature I am able to put all the days in the trip and select or deselect that visits time frames that aren’t needed on particular days.  This reduces frustration and time when setting up a trip.

Client Spotlight – PacKare!

PacKare LogoWith winter right around the corner – we wanted to shine our Client Spotlight on PacKare – located in Duluth, MN.  As Alicia Skjoelsvold (founder of PacKare) says – it is a beautiful place that can get pretty darn cold!  Alicia and her team are providing fantastic pet care with a strong focus on exercise – they even offer Cycle Adventures for the high energy dog.  Hopefully the Spotlight keeps Alicia and her team warm this winter!  Check them out on Facebook here and don’t forget to visit their website!

What caused you to get into pet sitting?
Honestly, the desire kept popping up in my head, over and over again. I had been working for a telecommunications company and felt like it was a poor fit. I liked to help people and it was as if my hands were tied behind my back and that I could only sell my customers not so great internet, satellite, or phone service and then spend two hours with tech support on behalf of my customers when it didn’t work. It was frustrating, and I wanted to do something that was good. I didn’t want to be part of a corporate machine that only cared about the bottom line instead of its customers or employees. When I asked myself what I wanted to do, dog walking/pet sitting came into my mind. When I discussed it with people I knew, they kindly said that I wouldn’t be able to make a career out of it. Luckily, I have a supportive husband and a handful of other people who told me to go for it. I jumped in head-first and haven’t looked back since.

What is the most fulfilling part of owning a pet sitting business?
Alicia, Founder of PacKareI love being able to give people peace of mind when they can’t care for their pets. It’s amazing to have people tell me how much they appreciate being able to go on their first vacation in forever because they have someone to watch their pet or to be able to work long days at the office without feeling guilty.

What is the most challenging?
The hours are the most challenging for me. Getting up early and going to bed really late can be a struggle.

Where do you see your business in 5 years?
In 5 years, I’d love to be offering more services, such as pet massage or other alternate forms of healing, and I would love to be able to provide all my helpers with benefits such as a retirement plan, health insurance, and vacation time. My business would not be where it is now without my helpers, and I want to provide them with one of the best jobs on earth.

What has Time To Pet changed the most about how you run your business?
I am much more relaxed for several reasons now that I’ve been using TTP, and it’s changed more than one thing. The scheduling brings me such peace of mind, especially when clients request visits through their portal. It’s wonderful to scan the request and approve it and to see everything pop right into place. The invoicing and credit card processing makes it much easier to get paid from forgetful clients, and I never forget when someone hasn’t payed yet. It’s also great that my helpers can review the activity feed before going to see a client so that nothing is missed, and I will finally be able to go on vacation because TTP will help my business run itself while I’m away!

Client Spotlight – Housebound Hounds!

Housebound Hounds LogoToday’s Client Spotlight is shining on Housebound Hounds located in the Gateway to the West – Omaha, NE!  Owned and operated by Kayla Downey, Housebound Hounds is truly a pioneer in the pet sitting/dog walking industry.  Kayla founded Housebound Hounds in 2000 and has built it into the premier pet care company in Omaha.  Along the way, Housebound Hounds has stuck true to their mission which is to be more dog.  That means having fun, being dependable and loving unconditionally – with your dogs safety as their top priority!  Check out Housebound Hounds online here and be sure to like them on Facebook!

What caused you to get into pet sitting?
I graduated with a degree in Biology from Creighton University and was working in a lab and was bored to tears. I started searching on the internet about careers with pets and found out about pet sitting and dog walking as a career. Mind you this was in 1996, so both the internet and the field of pet sitting and dog walking was relatively new. We lived in Virginia and worked in D.C. so we hired a company to come at noon to let our dogs out, and I knew I wanted to do the same someday.

What is the most fulfilling part of owning a pet sitting business?

Kayla - Owner of Housebound Hounds

Kayla – Owner of Housebound Hounds

I am proud of what I accomplished and how I’ve grown my business from a part time paid “gig’ to a full time company with employees. I am aware of the statistics of businesses who fail within the first 3 years so I feel good about not only growing my business but not giving up during the hard times.

I also love the people and their appreciation for our service and the care we provide their pets!

What is the most challenging?
Marketing, taxes and finding qualified people to work.

Where do you see your business in 5 years?
My business will be 20 years old in 5 years. I see Housebound Hounds helping more families with their pets and I hope to expand in different parts of Omaha. I hope to have my business set up so it can run itself with systems I have put into place, with great people and a great service. If I could support myself and my family without having to work more than 10 hours a week I would be in heaven.

What has Time To Pet changed the most about how you run your business?
I was using a scheduling software before so not much has changed but I do love some features that weren’t available to me before and that is the GPS tracking (dog walking), I like how the clients can pay their invoice on their own (I’m receiving payments a lot faster now) and I love that I can see what my staff are messaging my clients. I also love the nice clean crisp look and feel of TTP. Other pet sitting software in this industry looks cartoonish and I think that “dumbs” down this industry.

Client Spotlight – Must Love Fur!

This month, we are proud to feature Must Love Fur in our Client Spotlight!  Must Love Fur calls the wonderful state of Colorado home and serves communities from Highway 7 South to Denver.  Featuring an A+ BBB Rating, Megan Harris seeks to provide her clients with the personalized feel typical of a relationship with a single pet sitter along with the security and backing of a larger company.  Check them out here!

What caused you to get into pet sitting?
I had been pet sitting as a hobby since college, but when I got a call from a complete stranger that had heard of me through word of mouth (friend of a friend of a colleague I had worked for) I realized it could be something bigger, something I could offer to people outside of the smaller circle of those I knew. I looked into what it would take to offer pet care professionally including bonding, insurance, pet care training, and business regulations, and jumped in with both feet.

Megan from Must Love Fur

Megan from Must Love Fur

What is the most fulfilling part of owning a pet sitting business?
All the happy tails and happy purrs that greet me and my team every day is wonderful. Knowing that we provide a service that helps pets and their parents live more complete lives is priceless.

What is the most challenging?
The most challenging thing is knowing that you can’t please everyone. We run out of availability, there’s only so much you can do in a day, glitches happen (both technology related and purely human ones), and some days are just hard. You live and breathe a business when it’s yours. We walk with families from adding a new furry addition to their home to the loss of that beloved pet. It’s hard, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Where do you see your business in 5 years?
My business goal is, and will continue to be, to grow my company into a community resource that not only provides the best pet care that we can offer but also expands to create jobs for those with a heart for service to pets and their people. Eventually I hope to open a partner non-profit that helps people remain with their pets during difficult times. Whether losing their home to a natural disaster or job loss, I don’t believe our animal companions are extra baggage that should be given up as someone tries to get to a better place in their lives.

What has Time To Pet changed the most about how you run your business?
TTP has allowed me to have a one stop shop for everything I need to best communicate with our clientele base. It’s mobile friendly which makes it user friendly to most clients. Clients can login to their personal portals at any time to request services or see the status of a current request. My team can easily update a client with a visit note or picture through the phone app. Scheduling is a simple point and click or drag and drop depending on each situation’s needs. I can more easily make changes on the go (something that always happens in pet sitting) and know that my team sees those changes in real time. TTP is always adapting to remain current with the technical changes occurring in our lives and helps Must Love Fur, LLC meet the expectations of our mobile clientele.

Client Spotlight – Small World Pet Sitters!

Small-World-Pet-Sitters-LOGO-white-badgeUp next in our Client Spotlight series is Small World Pet Sitters!  Owned and operated by wife and husband team Ann Simkins and Boni Montellano, Small World Pet Sitters provides exceptional pet sitting and dog walking services to the wonderful residents of Brooklyn NY.  Ann and Boni have a very hands on approach and take pride in living and working in the Flatbush community, training their staff members in the SWPS Philosophy and building a personal relationship with all of their clients – both the two and four-legged kind!  Check out their website here and be sure to like them on Facebook too!

What caused you to get into pet sitting?
little-ann-and-puppy-e1432923731531I have always loved pets. When I was little I wanted to be a veterinarian but I was also an artist. I ended up going to Pratt for photography and after graduating did lots of waitressing and then worked freelance at a package design studio and than as an art director at a real estate magazine for 5 years. That was a great experience but in December of 2008 I was laid off. Then one month later, my husband, Boni, who was a diesel mechanic, was laid off as the dealership closed its doors after 60 years.

Things happen for a reason.

A friend hired me to do overnights with her senior cat that got lots of  medications, including fluids and an inhaler for asthma. She referred me to another person in her building and that friend referred us down the street and so it began. After a couple of months of doing pet care here and there, Boni and I discussed the possibility of us creating a true pet care business together.

What is the most fulfilling part of owning a pet sitting business?
About-Us_Ann_Boni-e1432923574536We love being with animals and seeing them on a daily basis. We have also made some great new friends & neighbors through our business and we feel very rooted in the community. Since we work local to our home we get around on our bikes. No more crowded subway rides. Even though we live in a city, Ditmas Park in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn has a small town USA feel to it. While we do work a lot we also get to spend a lot of time together and our days are not typical 9-5.

What is the most challenging?
The most challenging aspect has been to work on the business rather than in it. Hiring help that we trust has been the biggest challenge for me personally because we are very particular about the care we give. We have two wonderful employees who work with us and if we could clone them we would!

Where do you see your business in 5 years?
Boni_3-dogs-OPTI see us having 5 solid employees. I would love to focus on the administrative side of the business and Boni would like to cut back on his visits and take on more dog portrait commissions; he is a self-taught artist. We have grown slowly and organically and that is still the goal. We are building a business to last.

What has Time To Pet changed the most about how you run your business?
First of all – so much of the busy work I was doing is gone. Clients would email me and I would manually add their service request to our calendar that I had created in excel. This involved daily updating. Then I would invoice in Freshbooks. Once a sitter completed a visit they would text me the update and I would forward to the client. I spent a lot of time texting.  Now a client logs into their portal and requests service. I approve it and it automatically goes on the schedule and an invoice is generated. When a sitter completes a visit they use the TTP app to send the update. The client gets it, I get it and the sitter has access.

Secondly, communication between the client, sitter and admin has been strengthened because it stays in the “conversation” thread in the client’s profile. We can access it when needed!

Our clients really love the new system. I have found people booking 1-3 trips in one shot rather than one trip as the need arises. Mike and Kyle have been so excellent with customer service too!

Client Spotlight – Luke DogWalker!

Providing the best pet care on Tatooine, Luke DogWalker is up next in our Client Spotlight!  In addition to the Tatooine location, Luke DogWalker also serves the great people living on the Upper West Side in Manhattan NY!  Not only does Luke DogWalker have one of the best business names we’ve seen – they have some of the best dog walkers too.  Owned and operated by Tony and Christina Harris, be sure to visit their website and check them out on Twitter and Facebook today!  And as Luke DogWalker would say – May the PAWS be with you!

Luke DogWalker LogoWhat caused you to get into pet sitting?
Back in 2009, after ten years in the advertising world, I found myself unemployed. The industry had begun to change and I was no longer enjoying the work. In my previous job, several coworkers had often brought their dogs into work and they would inevitably spend most of the day in my office. After I was laid off, these same coworkers asked if I wanted to walk their dogs until I landed on my feet. They were unhappy with their current walkers and noticed how their dogs gravitated to me. So in April of 2009 I started Luke DogWalker (although the name wouldn’t emerge until July) with two clients, just as a means to pass the time. And by August of 2009, I had ten clients and had hired my first two employees. It was then that I realized spending my days with animals was so much more rewarding than life in an office.

What is the most fulfilling part of owning a pet sitting business?
Luke DogWalkerNo matter how bad your day starts, when you open the door for that first pup, you forget about 99% of your problems. For that 30-60 minutes, we get to hang out with someone who loves us unconditionally and is always happy to see us. It’s fascinating to watch puppies change from day to day; witnessing them develop their personalities, helping them learn commands and watching how quickly they go from tiny to massive. But the most fulfilling part is owning something which creates a positive and loving environment in the world… not many people can say that.

What is the most challenging?
Our recent struggles have involved finding great employees and keeping them. For many New Yorkers, dog walking feels like a stepping stone to something else. We encounter many artists who are looking for a side job to make ends meet, or people who are burned out in their career and want to try something new. And, unfortunately, the candidate pool is very shallow. There are few people who put an effort into writing a decent resume or cover letter and even fewer people who can show up to an interview on time. As an expanding company, finding the right people to represent our work ethic and values has been an eye opening experience and very telling about the work force in general.

Where do you see your business in 5 years?
We just had our six year anniversary in April, 2015 and we’ve had more growth in the last six months than the previous six years combined! We are enjoying this surge and are looking for ways to grow in the coming months. New York is an ever-changing city and people move around, especially as rent sky-rockets in certain areas. While I don’t think the Upper West Side will ever be a “losing bet” many of our clients are moving to different parts of the city. If we want to continue to grow, we need to venture into other areas of Manhattan. The Upper East Side may be up next, or other areas like Washington Heights and Inwood. If we can successfully extend the borders of our service territory over the next 6-12 months then I believe that in the next 5 years we could have presence in nearly all of Manhattan. In fact, in five years we may even be able to get off the island and open chapters in other cities such as Chicago or San Francisco.

What has Time To Pet changed the most about how you run your business?
Time to Pet has given back some of the time which had been previously bogged down with administrative tasks: billing, collecting client information and revenue tracking. It’s easily saved me 10-15 hours a week by combining several spreadsheets, calendars, documents and whatnot into one centralized location. It’s also given me greater insight into my employee interaction with our clients and allows me to see issues that perhaps would have gone undetected in the past. I’d researched several other pet software companies before deciding to try out Time to Pet but I found that many only offered certain aspects of what I needed/wanted. Time to Pet was the first company I found which combined nearly all the features I was looking for under one product. It’s been a great asset and the transition was seamless. I’d highly recommend TTP to any pet businesses out there. Plus Mike and Kyle have been very responsive and helpful from day one. It is truly a fantastic company and I wonder how I got along the first six years without them!

Local SEO For Your Pet Sitting Business – SEO Optimization

Last but certainly not least in our series on Local SEO for your pet sitting business is SEO Optimization.  We spent some time in our previous articles talking about Local Listings, Reviews and Social Media but SEO Optimization might be the most important.  Besides being incredibly important to your SEO strategy, one thing the previous three topics have in common is that they occur off of your site.  Because SEO Optimization occurs on your site – it can be much harder to master.  But don’t worry – today we’ll spend some more time talking about how to optimize your own site to make it easier and more appealing for search engines to find.

SEOBecause optimizing the SEO on your own website takes some technical skill, we will provide a very basic overview of some best practices.  We’ll also link to some other helpful articles that dig deeper into making some changes.

If you’ve spent some time researching SEO – I’m sure you’ve come across the phrase “Content is King”.  While the phrase is accurate, it’s important to remember that not all content is created equal.  If you’re looking to move up the search results, be sure to create high quality, original content.  Content should be your own creation and should provide value to people visiting your site.  Don’t stuff your content with keywords like “pet sitting” because Google’s software is sophisticated enough to recognize that.  Keywords should fall naturally into place.  A good test is to read your blog out loud – does it make sense?  Does it seem like you said “dog walkers” ten times too many?  After you’ve gotten the hang of creating good content, you have to stay consistent too.  One good blog article a year is not nearly as effective as a good blog article every couple of weeks.

Similarly to using appropriate keywords in your content, you should use appropriate keywords on your website too.  I’m sure you’ve seen those sites that have a bunch of nonsense listed in the footer.  While that may have worked in the past, it doesn’t anymore.  The content on your home page, the about us page, the services page and the contact us page should flow nicely.  Try the “read out loud” test again and see if it makes sense.  If it does have good flow, the keywords should sound like they fit in – not that they are forced in.

Now that you’ve created high quality content and have a strong focus on appropriate keywords, it’s time to think about a link strategy.  Google uses links to and from a website as one way to determine the authenticity and credibility of that site.  Be sure to consistently link to your website from your social media properties and from your local listings.  You can also create alliances with other local businesses to share links.  For example – you might recommend a vet on your website and that vet might recommend you as a dog walker.  Most importantly – create an authentic link strategy.  While it may be a slow process, taking shortcuts can negatively impact your SEO strategy in the long run.

Last and not least – one of the most important aspects of Local SEO Optimization is NAP.  NAP stands for Name, Address and Phone Number.  This information should be included in the footer of every single one of your pages.  If you choose to only implement one of these suggestions, we urge you to do this.

If you’re looking to explore some other helpful articles about Local SEO – be sure to check out The Moz Blog, Search Engine Land, this article by Humayun Khan at Shopify, and anything found here.

And of course, until next time – happy sitting!

Photo by SEOPlanter / CC BY

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