When you start a business one of the first thing all the guide books tell you to do is to define your higher principle. In other words why do you do what you do. The reason for this is easy to understand. Think about how much of an insult it is to say someone is only in it for the money. It is saying hey have no passion or caring and are only doing a job as a means to an end. This is why this is where you start. Define your passion before you ever make a sale and no one can accuse you of being in it just for the money.
Our higher principle is we help people own pets. It sounds silly when you think about it. People can own pets just fine without us. They'd just have to always have pets that can hold it for 12 hours at a time and don't mind being cooped up all day with no human interaction. There are a lot of people out their that want more for their pets and that is why they higher a pet sitter or a dog walker. I was first told this by a person that wasn't even a client, and I'd never even thought about this up until that point. This was while I was still working for Everything and the Dog in Northern Virginia and my father was in the process of selling the building the family business had been in.
We went to the closing and the closing attorney asked what I did for a living. When I told her that I walked dogs she said she just wanted to thank me as she wouldn't be able to have her dog without her pet sitter or dog walker. That she worked too long of hours and couldn't give them the time they deserved but that she loved them and they loved her and so she had a dog walker go and visit them and give them love, attention, and potty breaks.
The good people you run into in life will always make the bad ones seem that much worse. There are people out there that demean and belittle us and our profession every opportunity they get and then their are people that do so without even realizing. I'll use two recent stories to highlight this. A couple weeks back we got a chat notification through our website. Someone was asking about our services or so I thought. There for question was if we had any cheap services. This was not a good start. I mentioned we had a few packages available. They then launched into a tirade as to how their 13 year old home schooled neighbor does 24 hour stays for the price we charge for 30 minutes. I was going to leave it at that figuring if they were fine with their neighbors breaking several labor laws and not actually providing any schooling to their 13 year old home schooled child and thinking this was an acceptable person to look after their pets that they were not someone I'd want to deal with. Lara, however, listed all our credentials including the licensing, insurance, bonding, pet first aid and CPR training, education we've pursued, and information on the Time to Pet app. This brought another condescending question from them and I sent Lara a text to drop it.
The other show of disrespect we receive is far more subtle. I doubt people even know they are disrespecting us as a business and as people providing a service, but it is those last minute shoppers who forgot the pet care and are scrambling for help. Normally a friend or neighbor backed out on them because something better came up and that is how people operate. It is also why I always say 90% of the job is showing up. With their friend or neighbor having backed out and them in need of pet care they search for and find us. Once they call we spring into action. I hand the job off to a sitter, they call to schedule a meet and greet, and then we get the question. I always tell people if someone asks us our prices we're about to lose the sale. I have no idea why this is the case, but the vast majority of the time once we're asked what it's going to cost the sale is done, and we're surprisingly less expensive than the on demand apps. So by the time the person has decided they don't want to pay a dime for the care of their pets we've put in at least an hour of work, and it is an hour of work we will never be paid for, and because this is last minute we have already jumped through several hoops to help this person in what we thought was a time of need.
That is why it means so much to us when we are told we matter. That we do make pet ownership possible for people or allow them to have a life away from their pets. In other words we appreciate being appreciated. Now if only we could convince a client to tip us with a fine Spanish wine. Preferably a sweet white that's a little crisp with hints of fruit flavors. Perfect for a cool Spring night and ocean breezes. We're only half kidding on that last part. Your thanks is the only reward we require, but a fine Spanish wine wouldn't hurt.