How to Launch, Grow and Scale a Pet Business. Part Two – How to Staff, Systemise and Scale Your Dream Pet Business

This is part two of a three part blog series about how to launch, grow, and scale our dream pet business. To read part one of the blog series ‘How to launch your pet business’ click here now.

So, you’ve successfully launched your pet business, and you have a steady stream of clients. Your reputation is growing, and you finally paid back the bank loan (or money borrowed from family members) and now you have some money in the bank…

…but, one thing you don’t have is any more time to service the new clients who have heard good things about you, and now want to use your training, walking or grooming services.

This must be the right time to take on a staff member, right?


What you must do BEFORE you take on staff for your pet business

Many pet professionals make the mistake of hiring staff as soon as are too busy to serve new clients. And no, I haven’t lost my mind here. Supply and demand isn’t just about increasing supply to meet demand.

A better, less popular but vastly more profitable option is to increase your prices.

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Increasing your prices will dampen demand for your services, and increase the amount of money you earn from your current clients, and it doesn’t cost you any additional advertising, administration or production costs. You simply change the digits on your website, and inform your current clients by text, email, letter (all three) that you are increasing your prices.

And you’ll be pleasantly surprised how few clients will complain, or even comment when you increase your prices. Yes, one or two might moan a little, but they will be the cheapskate PITA clients, who are making your life a misery anyway. You know, the ones who expect you to be there at the drop of a hat, complain about your prices and pay you late, that’s if they pay you at all…

Making your pet business as profitable as possible should always be priority number one, and the easiest way to increase your profits is to increase your prices. And if no-one blinks when you increase your prices, then you can do it again, and again, until you meet some resistance.

Please don’t skip over this pricing lesson as you search for the staffing and scaling secrets to come. Make sure you push the price as far as you can BEFORE you take on staff. The extra profit you make will mean you can pay your staff better wages and still make a good margin for yourself.

I’ve seen many pet business owning become ‘busy fools’ who make little or no money from their business, because there wasn’t sufficient margin in their services. This means they end up with a business that keeps the ever expanding customer base happy and pays the staff wages, but leaves little financial reward for the business owner. And as much as you love dogs, you need to remember this is first and foremost a business.

The first job of any business is to make money for the shareholders, and as the business owner you are the sole (or certainly the main) shareholder.  Don’t forget that.

Do you want to remain a one-man band?

Of course, you may decide you don’t want staff at all, in which case you can keep increasing your prices until you have a small, select group of clients who pay you lots of money. These will form your loyal ‘core client base’ and they won’t be tempted by any of the cheaper competition that keep appearing like weeds in a flower bed.

Dom Hodgson out on a dog adventure

I quickly discovered there’s only so many dogs you can comfortably walk in a day…

The big ‘stumbling block’ for most pet business owners is not that they don’t want to take on staff to help their business grow, it’s that they can’t face the thought of giving up control of there day to day operations.

You assume that no-one else will care about your clients as much as you, that they will deliver the same levels of service as you, AND that the clients won’t let anyone else train, walk or groom their dog.

And you’ll be pleased to know you are wrong about all of the above.

Actually, that’s not strictly true. Your staff won’t care as much as you do about the business, how can they?  It’s YOUR business, after all. But, you can put procedures in place to help them deliver a consistently high level of service, that will placate your valued clients, and convince them they are still going to receive a fantastic service from you, even if it isn’t ‘you’ who is delivering.

You Need to Give up Control to Let Your Pet Business Grow…

I must confess when my business was around 18 months old, I also felt that I couldn’t relinquish control of my services. I convinced myself that I was the only one who could do what I was doing and this held me back from growing and scaling.

So, how did I fix that?

The same way you will fix your business, by creating a signature system.

Creating a Signataure System for your Pet Business

Your signature system is the step-by-step methodology for how you train, groom or walk the dogs in your care.

Your signature system defines exactly ‘what’ process you deliver, which makes your stand out from the competition, and reassures your clients that you have a reliable, proven method for you. It also details the processes for how you deliver your service which means you can teach staff members how to do exactly what it is you do. You can read more about how to create a signature system in a specific blog I wrote here.

The Canine Fulfillment Officers at Pack Leader Dog Adventures, who provide the same level of service each day

From Burgers to Barkers.

Macdonald’s is probably the best example of how you can successfully scale a business by implementing brilliantly detailed systems which don’t rely on the owner of the business to deliver them.

If you’re a vegetarian then stick with me here, because there’s an important business lesson you need to learn…

Macdonalds started out as a single drive-in restaurant started by a pair of brothers, Dick and Mac McDonald, in Southern California.

But McDonald’s didn’t develop into the huge success it is today (34,000 outlets in 126 countries) by making a better hamburger.

No, McDonald’s innovation was creating a better business system—They developed better methods, systems and controls—which meant they could lower costs, and sell their products cheaper to the public, which allowed it to grow and be more profitable.

A travelling salesman called Ray Kroc bought the rights to franchise this ‘speedee’ system and the rest, as they say, is history.

The Systems will Set you Free

So, what systems do you have in your own business?

Usually, when I ask that question to my coaching clients I get told, ‘I don’t have a system as such, I just train the dog’, or ‘I just groom it the way I always groom that type of breed’, or ‘I don’t use any system I just pick the dog up and walk him’.

If you think that, then you are severely underestimating how complex and sophisticated your current system is. You need to break it down into its constituent parts .

As an example, think about what the first step of your ‘process’ is when you  meet/train/groom/walk a dog.

Let’s take dog walking as an example;

What do you do with the dogs you walk? Do you play with them, what kind of games do you play? On average, how many times do you play each game? Do you take treats with you? What do you do with them? How do you decide when it’s safe to let the dogs off lead? When do you decide to put them back on lead?

We can go even further back with the process too;

How do you decide where to walk your dogs? How do you decide which dogs can be walked together and which need to be walked on their own? How do you safely get the dog to and from the van? How do you make sure the owners house is secure?

The answer to these questions will become the procedures that go in the manual which you will use to train up your staff members, so they can deliver the same high levels of service which you currently give your clients.

And that’s the beautiful thing about a signature system. Almost everyone already has one, they just don’t realise it, or they don’t yet think of it as a ‘system’.

A perfect group down dog picture

The Systems you create will keep your dog’s safe which will make your clients happy and make your job much easier…

You can begin documenting your systems with the staff member when you take them on, but ideally you should start systemising your business processes now, before you start hiring. Doing it now means you can really nail down each process and test it to make it as effective and fool-proof as possible.

It can be a tedious job at times, but this is how you go from being a one-man (or woman) band who owns a business which can only function when you are there, to being a systemised dog walking company that can grow and scale up whilst maintaining the same level of service that built your reputation.

In effect, systemising your business this way enables you to help more dog owners with your amazing services. And who does’t want that?

So, that’s a brief look at why you need to systemise your pet business if you want to scale, expand or even just be able to take time away from the business without it shutting down because you aren’t there.

In the next blog in this series we are going to look at how you can keep expanding and re-inventing your pet business to keep you interested and even excited about the future as you were when you first started!

If you enjoyed this blog and would like to find out more about how you can work with the author, and Europe’s leading pet business coach (That’s me by the way) then you can click here to grab a FREE copy of my pet business bible The Ultimate Pet Business Plan

The dog walkers business bible ‘Walk Yourself Wealthy’

In 2011 Dom Hodgson revolutionised the pet service industry with his first business Pack Leader Dog Adventures, the UK’s first, award winning ‘dog adventure’ company. Now a respected dog trainer, author, speaker and mentor to pet business owners, Dom’s calling is to help dog walkers, trainers and groomers to excel with their marketing, so they can help change the lives of more dog owners with their amazing skills.

Take that leap today. You won’t regret it.