Today’s Client Spotlight is shining on Clare Siska who is the Owner/Operator of Acton Critter Sitters based in Acton, MA! Clare and her team proudly serve Acton and the surrounding communities of West Concord, Maynard, Stow, Littleton, and Boxborough. Acton Critter Sitters was founded in 1984 and Clare assumed ownership in June of 2015. Acton Critter Sitters has a sterling reputation (check out what their Clients have to say) built on personalized care that delivers complete satisfaction and peace of mind when it comes to the comfort, good health, and happiness of the pets in their care. You can learn more on the Acton Critter Sitters website and be sure to like them on Facebook too!
What caused you to get into pet sitting?
When I was growing up, I had this dream of living on a big farm and rescuing dogs. I was trained as a teacher, then ended up in the software industry. As my professional work drifted further and further from what I really enjoyed doing, I envied the woman who was taking care of my dogs while I endured long commutes to an impersonal office job. Two years ago I was laid off, started pet sitting for her, and really loved it. When the opportunity came to buy her business, I jumped at it and have never looked back. I often run dogs in my big yard overlooking a farm, so it’s pretty close to my dream come true!
What is the most fulfilling part of owning a pet sitting business?
Most of all, it’s doing something that is really meaningful for people. Customers are so relieved to have someone they trust to care for their pets. And when something unexpected happens — an animal gets sick or a client misses their flight home, for example — and we can step in and help out, that feels really good. But there are so many other things: my relationships with the animals and their owners is really high on the list; building a team that works well together is another; and I’m also really proud of how I’ve been able to modernize and grow the business since I took over.
What is the most challenging?
Working through issues when a customer is dissatisfied can be hard. I take it very personally when someone feels like we haven’t met their expectations. I rely on a staff of a dozen or so to service all of our clients, so obviously I can’t be on top of every single thing that happens at every visit. It becomes a “he said, she said” thing where I’m trying to satisfy the customer, be respectful of the sitter’s perspective, and protect the business’ reputation and bottom line all at the same time.
Where do you see your business in 5 years?
I was fortunate to inherit a strong reputation and name recognition with Acton Critter Sitters, which has been in business now for 32 years. I hope to maintain that reputation and to be THE go-to company for pet care in the area, so long as we can maintain the personal service we are known for. It’s important to me to stay local, where we are connected to our community and can tap into resources that we know and trust. We may offer additional services in the future, but they are just glints of ideas at the moment.
What has Time To Pet changed the most about how you run your business?
TTP has honestly revolutionized how we do business. We are just too big to use the manual methods of the previous owner. My sitters can work much more independently because they have ongoing access to customer and pet information without relying on me. They can see their projected schedules days in advance. I save hours upon hours of administrative time on billing, processing payments, and generating paychecks. My customers — the newer ones especially — really like it. And most of all, I make way fewer scheduling errors than I did in my first months owning the business, which is crucial for maintaining a reputation of reliability. Finally, because of TTP I can actually turn the business over to someone else to run for a day when I need personal time — I hadn’t expected to be able to do that, ever!
TTP is an absolute MUST for our business and we haven’t even begun to tap all of its features. You guys rock!