Building Trust With Staff

A team full of pet sitters and dog walkers you (and your clients) can trust is imperative!

Building Trust With Staff

There is so much that goes into building a business. From great values and effective marketing to wonderful services, a lot of care and consideration are needed to elevate an organization from good to great. In fact, one of the most foundational aspects to the success of a business is its team of staff members, the inherent qualities they possess, and what they contribute to the services you and your company provide.

Nowhere is that more apparent than in the pet care industry, where dog walkers and pet sitters are in a unique position compared to groomers, trainers, and veterinary services. Not only are you entrusted with giving splendid care to a client’s furry family members, but you are also granted access to a client’s home while they are away. A great deal of trust goes into both of these acts, which are not to be taken lightly.

This is why, above all else, it is imperative that you have a staff full of pet sitters you and your clients can trust. Once that trust has been established between you, your team, and your clients, your business will thrive and gain a sterling reputation that cannot be beaten. In order to earn that trust, however, you need to start by building the trust between you and your staff.

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Good Help Can Be Hard To Find

The last thing you want to experience is learning that you cannot trust an employee after they’ve missed a pet visit, left a door unlocked, or have stolen something from a client’s home. Unfortunately, you don’t have a crystal ball to guarantee these things will never happen, but you can follow certain steps in your hiring process to make sure you hire the right people for the job and therefore reduce the likelihood of these situations occurring.

Start by jotting down the characteristics that are important for the position. For example, in the pet care industry, you might look for people with an eye for detail so that client care instructions are followed exactly as they’re written. You may also look for people with solid time management skills so that they will be on time for their scheduled visits and walks and be able to complete them within their scheduled time frame.

Once you know what type of people you’re looking for, you may be asking yourself, “Okay, but how do I find these people?” You can attract your desired characteristics through a well-written job description and a targeted job posting. Once you have promising resumes in your hands, you will want to evaluate their compatibility with you and your business through a standardized set of questions that you ask over the phone. To confirm they are a good match for the position, conduct an in-person interview in combination with a background check and/or personality test. You may also want to set up a field evaluation for the potential employee with one of your more experienced sitters so you can get a taste of what the candidate is like when interacting with pets under the company’s care and how they behave in a client’s home.

A thorough vetting and multi-step hiring process gives you a good feel for who you are hiring and lets your clients know how seriously you take hiring the best people to care for their pets and homes.

It Takes Two To Trust Tango

Building trust with your team members can begin as early as the hiring process. When you interview your candidates in person, pay close attention to how they interact with you. Are they respectful? Are they clear in their communication and do they honor their commitments? By observing how they approach their interviews and training with you, you may be able to spot some potential red flags, because how they treat you may tell you a lot about how they’ll treat your clients.

Once you have hired a staff member, it is important to set them up for success and to provide them with a positive work environment that will encourage them to stick around and be motivated to do a good job for you and your clients. In an industry like pet care, turnover rates can be high, so it is crucial to keep good team members by your side, as the right people for the job can be hard to come by. Furthermore, by investing in your team and their satisfaction, you will prove yourself to be a good leader that can be relied upon and looked up to.

To create a company culture that will inspire your team and will help to keep them content, consider some of the following suggestions:

1. Listen, Listen, Listen

One of the most important things a leader can do for their team members is to take a step back and learn when to listen. Whether they are voicing a concern, feedback, or asking a question, make sure that everyone has a chance to speak and to be heard, and then don’t stop there. Take their words and suggestions seriously and take action to act upon them, if appropriate. Doing so will demonstrate to your team that you care and that you value and respect them and their needs.

2. Honesty Is The Best Policy

If you want to create trust with your team of pet sitters, it is necessary to prove that you yourself can be trusted. Be transparent with them where you can - tell them the things they need to know, even if it’s difficult, and don’t be afraid to not have all the answers. Even if you don’t know something, you can find out, and making an effort like that for your team is never going to be a waste of time. If you make a mistake, own up to it if needed and take steps to correct it. By doing so, you open doors to a two way street style of communication that will lead to honest conversations, a heightened sense of collaboration, and mutual respect.

3. Lead By Example

In order to draw out your team’s full potential, you need to start by embodying the values, skills, and behaviors that you expect your sitters to exhibit. Be respectful, practice both compassion to those around you and competence in your job duties, encourage asking questions, and demonstrate problem solving. By giving your staff members a front row seat to your example and arming them with the tools they need (both literal and figurative), their expectations on how to succeed and do well at their jobs will set be and they can rise to meet them.

4. Foster Connections

Trust is a hard thing to build between people with little to no connection. When you hire a team member, make sure you make the effort and take the time to get to know them. If they need help in certain areas, help them to figure out solutions. If they have certain health restrictions or other commitments like school, work with them on finding the right balance and workload so they don’t experience burnout. Schedule individual meetings with your team to check in and give them a space to voice concerns, adjust their availability, or fill in gaps in their routes. By making yourself present and available where appropriate in the lives of your sitters, it will make you easier to approach and help your team to trust you more.

5. Give Your Team What They’re Worth

Last, but certainly not least, beyond a positive work environment, you should be sure to provide adequate compensation and benefits for your pet sitters. Their time is just as important as your time, and it is crucial that you make room for a good work-life balance for you and your time. No one will show up at their best if they are overworked, underpaid, and unappreciated. Give what health benefits you are able to provide, offer opportunities for bonuses, and ensure that you are paying your team members well for the work they are doing (this includes offering reimbursements when necessary). The cost of living is more expensive than ever and if your sitters aren’t able to make ends meet, no matter how much they love you, the pets, or the work, they won’t stick around.

Once trust is built between you and your staff member, you can anticipate that trust to flow over into their relationships with your clients, which in return will lead to an increased trust in you and your business. The amount of trust it takes to leave one’s pets and homes in another’s hand cannot be overstated, and once that trust has been earned, it’s hard to turn away from and is what leads to client loyalty.

A client’s loyalty is a powerful thing and it will not only lead to repeat business but to new leads, as well, when they recommend you to everyone they know with pets.

But remember, to earn that loyalty, you must first cultivate a sense of loyalty in your own team. As we have already discussed, the key to doing so is by establishing trust with you and your staff members. And so long as you practice empathy and authenticity, you will build those strong and trusting relationships, and you will see your business boom as employee engagement increases, turnover rates lower, and revenue increases.

Time To Pet is modern pet sitting software trusted by over 3,000 of the world’s most successful pet sitting and dog walking companies. We help pet care professionals start, grow and manage their businesses.

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