S1/E10 – Surviving and Thriving for the Long Term with Kim Tank

kim tank
kim tank

Veteran pet care professional Kim Tank is share her experience spanning over three decades in the industry. With a central focus on the importance of not becoming a martyr to your business, Kim discusses what she sees as the key aspects of her sustainable, long term business success. Kim’s businesses have been through multiple variations over the decades. She stressed the need to be prepared for unexpected life events, drawing from her own experiences involving a temporary step back from her business due a significant diagnosis.

Kim shared valuable insights on managing a team to allow for regular time off and the key roles in preventing burnout. She has experienced both the rewarding and challenging aspects of pet sitting, which greatly influence her emphasis on the importance of maintaining a personal life as a business owner. She also encourages resilience in the pet care world, where we have a limit on how much of our work we can control.

Things Kim is passionate about:

Staff retention
– The power of a great team
– Providing peace of mind to her clients
– Cats

Topic time stamps:

01:33 Meet Kim Tank
07:10 Transition from Vet Tech to Pet Sitter
14:56 The Impact of Economic Changes on Pet Care Businesses
23:48 The Importance of Sharing the Load
32:27 Managing Workload and Quality of Service
38:17 Dealing with Unexpected Challenges
48:36 The Importance of Planning for the Unexpected
58:41 Business Should Not Be Martyrdom
1:03:59 The Importance of Resilience in Business
1:08:58 Conclusion

Guest links & Resources Mentioned:

Website: apronstringsonline.com

Follow Kim on: Facebook and Instagram

Perfectly imperfect transcript generated by Descript:

[00:00:00] Kim: It is not a badge of honor to say you’ve worked four or five hundred days in a row. It’s not something we should all strive for to be the record holder. And I always tell people that you don’t really want the pet sitter who’s been working a year and a half with out a day off. Because they may not even know that subconsciously they feel resentful or they may not know how exhausted they are. 

[00:00:23] A lot of people will say well I I take a vacation every year. If I took all my time off at once, the minute I come back, I’m back in that burnout mode because I know it’s another 50 weeks before I’m going to be off again. It’s not about the breaks. It’s about the day to day running your business . One vacation a year will not solve the problems of the stress of the other 50 weeks. 

[00:00:47] The average week in your business needs to be sustainable mentally. And for me that means having help on a regular basis. It doesn’t for everybody, but your average month, your average week has to be sustainable. that’s usually comes down to some kind of help. I’m just such a proponent of hiring and I, and I try to, get people to just consider it. 

[00:01:08] Morgan: everyone. Welcome to the Lucky Pup Podcast, where we’re taking big ideas and weaving them together in a way that makes the big picture relatable and hopefully a little bit inspirational and educational too. You’re gonna find candid and authentic conversations about the struggles we’ve encountered as we try to live more full and happy lives.

[00:01:26] I Am your host Morgan Weber. And to date we have Kim with us from Apron Strings Pet Sitting and Staffing Strings Consulting. 

[00:01:33] Meet Kim Tank

[00:01:33] Morgan: Now, Kim has been petit for nearly four decades and has had a pet care business for 33 years.

[00:01:39] She is a wealth of knowledge for the pet care industry and needless to say, she has some incredible stories of resiliency to have survived in business for this long. 

[00:01:49] We talk candidly about the major disruptions they have faced along the way and how they’ve continued on. Kim is passionate about helping business owners overcome challenges that prevent them from reaching their desired milestones, and I think you’re gonna hear that in our conversation today. So with that, here’s Kim.

[00:02:07] Well, Kim, thank you so much for joining me today. I know that you have a lot of knowledge to share with everybody because you’ve had a business officially for 33 years, but you’ve been pet sitting for even longer than that. And I know that your business has looked a little bit differently over those 33 plus years. So why don’t you give folks a little bit about you, for those who maybe don’t know who you are.

[00:02:28] Kim: Sure. Um, my name is Kim Ooni Tank. I always mention that because I like people to be able to find me on Facebook, and that’s my Facebook name. Um, I have a business in the San Francisco Bay area that I started in 1990. I. Central Contra Costa County. It’s about 30 miles from San Francisco, and I have been running it consistently since then, although seven years ago we moved to Pollock Pines, which is up in the Sierra Foothills about two hours away.

[00:02:56] So I rely on my team very much so that I can be home most of the time. and I do make trips to the Bay Area, but I manage things remotely for the most part.

[00:03:06] Morgan: Okay. And you have quite the pet crew at your house too, right? So, um, you have a good reason to wanna be hanging out at home with all of your amazing pets. So, let’s see. You’ve got, you’ve got cats, you’ve got a herd of goats. I think that’s probably like the most unique pet you have at your house.

[00:03:25] Kim: I do. People ask, well, what do you do with them? Well, the idea was to milk them, but I’m. Oh, I, I need to do some training. I’m really lousy at it. And they do eat weeds on the property, which is a really valued service, but basically they’re pets. I just wanted to have goats. We start out with two, we have 13

[00:03:44] Morgan: know, it’s like, it’s like potato chips, once you get a couple, it’s like, well, that was

[00:03:49] fun. You know, maybe we should have a couple more. And they just, it, they, they accumulate.

[00:03:54] Kim: We’d have more now, except, um, my husband says no more until we get a trailer, uh, because we had to evacuate, due to a fire in 2021. And, I fit 11 goats into a Honda Fit and two of them rode in other cars and he said, no, we’re not doing that again. Uh,

[00:04:12] Morgan: I can’t imagine why not.

[00:04:14] Kim: We have to get a trailer and maybe a bigger barn. So it’s been difficult. We haven’t had any babies born here for three years ’cause the babies are so much fun. we just ended up keeping them all . But I have chicken, I have about 38 chickens I think at the last count. I had chickens before I moved up here. We had about seven, which were legal in the town we lived in. But now we can have . As many as we want. And we have three cats and a dog

[00:04:40] Morgan: I think a lot more communities are starting to have chickens be legal for people to keep in their, in their towns. And it is so cool when we can tell our clients like, yeah, we do chickens and like, we, we know what we’re doing because like we have, our team has chickens.

[00:04:56] We have a client who has a huge flock of chickens. Like, um, she’s a commercial, um, egg broker you could say. So she has a flock of 200 chickens, give or take herself. And then she also collects eggs from other chicken farmers around the area and sells them to local restaurants and things.

[00:05:14] Kim: That’s how we got our start in raising chickens was that I had clients that had chickens and I thought, this is so much fun.

[00:05:22] This is so cool. The eggs and the. Different colored eggs and all of that. So in 2011, we got our first batch of chickens and have been happily eating farm fresh eggs ever since, except for occasionally when they’ve gone on stripe for whatever reason.

[00:05:38] But we’re overrun with eggs right now. So I do sell them to people. Um, you know, acquaintances, I don’t have, uh, the ability to become an egg seller at this point and go through all the hoops that I need to do that. 

[00:05:53] Morgan: It is kind of a, um, danger of the job is when you’re taking care of other people’s really cool pets to not say, I want one of these for myself, And just to start like collecting pets because there are so many cool pets. 

[00:06:09] Kim: In fact, that’s how we got two of our cats because we, we have a passion for orange cats. Um, and we’ve had. Probably seven or eight throughout our marriage, . Um, and we were sitting for a couple in Walnut Creek that were moving and uh, it was a long story. They claimed they couldn’t take their cats with them.

[00:06:28] And Howard had told them, if you ever can’t keep them, we’d like them. And I’m like, what are you doing? Because we could end up with. So many cats. Well, it was Luke and Leah and, they came to live with us in New Year’s day of 2012. Um, unfortunately Leah recently passed away, but we have . Luke, who is 15, who is annoyed by his little brothers , fish and chip.

[00:06:53] But, yeah, it’s a danger. Um, definitely that’s how we got into the chickens though. I thought this is really cool. You can have chickens. and it’s just started a passion for us. I definitely, there’s a thing called chicken math I have a T-shirt that says I only have two chickens, but my chickens have some chickens.


[00:07:10] Transition from Vet Tech to Pet Sitter

[00:07:10] Morgan: Well, so Kim, you were working in a vet clinic before. Right. So how did you kind from being in a vet clinic to being a pet sitter?

[00:07:18] Kim: Well, I was, going to community college in my local town to become, um, a registered vet Tech and. During that time I started working in an animal hospital and people would come in and looking, you know, for a pet sitter essentially. And I would, I met up with a couple people who were clients of the vet hospital and that kind of started it for me.

[00:07:38] Um, it’s kind of funny though, even before then, when I was 15, I started showing dogs and, and the breed I showed was an English setter and I. Met several breeders who lived in towns that were maybe half an hour to an hour away, and I actually really started as a teenager sitting for them. But the first time I ever took care of pets for someone I didn’t know was, Back when I was 21 and I was working at the animal hospital, and I, my first client had 10 whippets. And, um, I stayed overnight back then I, I would do overnights and I remember Howard and I were engaged and he goes, what do you mean you’re gonna go sleep out at this house somewhere, ? And I had to explain to him all about it.

[00:08:20] but that’s kind of how it started. And for years, when we lived in that town. Up until I was 28, we moved to Contra Costa County, and at that point I was leaving the animal hospital where I had been working. And I knew that it was an opportunity to change my life and maybe do go in a different direction, but I wasn’t at the point where I felt comfortable striking out and putting out my shingle to be a pet sitter, because back then, okay, just to give you some relevance, I know how old I am.

[00:08:49] It was 1988 and back then pet sitting really truly was in its Infancy. So I didn’t really know how to go about starting an actual service. So I told Howard, um, just gonna work at an animal hospital again, and we’re gonna, you know, think about the pet sitting thing, but we’ll put it on the back burner.

[00:09:08] Well, the same thing happened again. I had people approaching me. one of the hospitals where I worked, there was a receptionist who was overrun with pet sitting jobs. And she said, do you want some clients ? And so I immediately got really busy and that is when I decided, okay, this can be a business.

[00:09:27] so in 1990 I decided, that’s it. I’m going for it. I had had my first child and I didn’t, I wanted to have an income that wasn’t dependent on having him in daycare all day. I wanted a job where I could work around Howard’s hours, and that’s exactly what we did.

[00:09:43] I quit my job in 1992. When my second son was born, and I have not worked for anybody else since then, he is 30 years old now. It just blows me away sometimes.

[00:09:55] Morgan: I think, so many people when they start out as a pet sitter, they think, oh my gosh, I’ve gotta go full-time right away. And that took you what you said three, four years before you got to a point where you, had enough readiness to want to go full-time.

[00:10:09] But, you’ve been in business for 30 some years and so it doesn’t mean if you don’t go full-time right away, you can’t be successful. ’cause obviously here, you’re still going. But you see so many new pet sitters who Are so worried ’cause like, I’ve been in business for three months or six months or eight months and I need more clients. You can still do it professionally with it being not the main, generator for your income.

[00:10:32] Kim: Absolutely. I was not the type, I mean, there are different schools of thought when you want to do something is just jumping in with both feet and making it work because it has to work. And then there’s the people who are more cautious of saying, until I see some kind of guarantee that I’m going to make money, I’m not going to quit my other job.

[00:10:49] And I had a pretty steady income by the time I left my other job. My goal. At the time I was, you know, uh, paying $500 a month for daycare for my son, and so my goal was . To bring home that amount that I made at my other job minus $500. ’cause I wasn’t gonna have to pay that anymore. now let me also step back a second and say during the time, so it was actually between say, summer of 1990 and late 1992 when I left, during that time I was working my full-time job and doing pet sitting on the side, but I didn’t live off the pet sitting.

[00:11:28] I put that money away. Because I thought if I get used to living off the two incomes, then it’s going to hurt when I go down to one. But if I pretend I was not making the pet sitting income, forcing myself to live on one of the incomes, then when I switched over to the other one, there wouldn’t be any financial impact.

[00:11:46] I not only made that goal of making the same amount minus $500, I exceeded that and I started making more than I was working at the vet hospital, and I was a lot happier because I, I did want to be home with my son. I had a crazy life getting up early, uh, getting visits done, having to get home before my husband left for work.

[00:12:07] And then when he would get home, I would be, you know, watching the clock minute by minute to hand over my son so I could go out and relax and go to work in the evening , because children are great, but they’re, they’re a lot, uh, they keep you very, very busy, so I was, I was, felt like I was burning the candle at both ends all the time, but it was worth it.

[00:12:29] Uh, at the time I didn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, but . Here I am. They’re all grown up now and I can actually go out and work whenever I want. , which That was really weird at first . Well, one summer we had, when we had two kids, we had, um, paid for a summer program for them to go to, and it was wild because I could go out and work all day.

[00:12:53] And that’s what I did. It was a really busy summer, but I was also six months pregnant with number three, so I knew that that was going to be a new change as well. I mean, we finally got to the kids in school, uh, Tristan, our second one started kindergarten, and three weeks later I had my daughter. So I had about a three week time period where it’s like, oh wow, the kids are at school 

[00:13:15] Morgan: And then you started over again,

[00:13:16] Kim: Yes. I thought, what have I done? But, uh, yeah, uh, my daughter’s amazing. My child I had after that is amazing. Like I said, they all have jobs now, so we did something right in, in spite of the crazy life that they had. There was nothing routine about our life with raising the kids and running a pet sitting But like I said, I don’t know. How I would’ve done it any other way. It, it’s just 

[00:13:43] what came naturally to us. 

[00:13:45] Morgan: Well, and the hard part about pet sitting it is that it is, it’s Early mornings, it’s lunchtimes, it’s midday, it’s dinner times, it’s bedtimes. And so it can be a very hard thing to juggle, especially, you know, it can be hard to juggle when you got one kid and now you’ve got four kids. That’s a, that’s a lot to be balancing. 

[00:14:04] Kim: Right. And, and each, each stage we went through had its changes and um, nothing was ever the same for very long. Like I said, in 1997, we had my daughter and. After that, there we discovered a local, um, I was gonna say pet sitting. it was like a drop in daycare where I could take her for two or three hours.

[00:14:23] And that was amazing because then I was able to work more than just when Howard was home. And by then I had an employee who was working regularly as well. So each kind of stage was a little bit different, but when we had number four in 2001, so my oldest was almost 11 when he was born. And, uh, that is when I, I just kind of thought how, I don’t know if I can do this anymore. So my husband quit his job and , we just had to make that work. I just couldn’t do any more than I was doing at that point. So. 

[00:14:56] Morgan: yeah. 

[00:14:56] The Impact of Economic Changes on Pet Care Businesses

[00:14:56] Morgan: Well, I think one, the importance of recognizing , hey, there’s a lot, there’s a lot of things we gotta put our arms around here and, and keep control of. Um, but then to now have a household where, like you said, your sole income is based on how the business is doing.

[00:15:11] And for those of us who were around remember you nine 11 happened, not that many years later. We had a huge recession that happened in 2008 and then another recession, you know, in 2012. So like, there’s been a lot of, of ups and downs that have happened. And one of the hard parts I think about the pet sitting business is we are so dependent on the general economy and how our clients are feeling about traveling or about, being able to afford to have somebody come in to let their dogs out during the day.

[00:15:41] We really are a, a more luxury service. And so, especially when you’ve got now the full income of the household, the being dependent on kind of the whims and the feelings of your clientele like that, was that ever stressful for you? 

[00:15:56] Kim: yes. ’cause when my husband quit his job in March of 2001, and then six months later was nine 11 and. It was devastating. Not, I mean, in so many ways. We were so upset about what had happened, but then the cancellations started coming in. Um, and I mean, we had a few people that were stuck.

[00:16:17] I had a client that ended up driving all the way from the East coast home because the flights were canceled. So we had a few trips extended, but most of it was cancellations and people were . Still afraid. I had new client meetings in September with people who I never got to sit for because they canceled their trips and I don’t know whether they were just afraid to travel for a long time, but they never became clients and it was just sad that.

[00:16:42] What the entire nation was going through. But we were scared because now we’re dependent on one income. Unfortunately, things came back, um, relatively quickly compared to say now with Covid, where it feels like we still are having to repercussions from that three years later.

[00:17:00] But yeah, there have been many times when we’ve been very afraid and we just have to forge through it and, uh, hope for the best. We have so many things that we aren’t in control of and we just have to, trying to advertise, keep trying to take care of the clients that we do have, make sure that they remain loyal clients and try to get through these things. 

[00:17:22] yes, it’s difficult, but that’s business for yourself. and I think you do have to be resilient to be a business owner in the first place. We’ve managed to survive everything that the world has thrown at us. 

[00:17:35] Morgan: so your business has taken different forms. So like you said, your husband Howard has, you know, been a pet sitter. He is had sometimes where he is done a little bit less or he is done other work for the business. was that like a conscious decision? Like, did you guys sit down one day and say, Hey, I’ve got a lot going on here and he said, oh, I’m like, I can help with this. Or did like, did he always really want to be part of the business? You How did that kind of come about? 

[00:18:01] Kim: I don’t think there was a whole lot of planning at all. . One day I was just like, oh gosh, I don’t know if I can do this with four. And we did have a little chat. He goes, well, maybe I should quit my job. And I’m like, oh my gosh. Um, I don’t know if we’re ready for that. I said, how about if we set about a, a, a plan to make sure we have a certain amount of savings?

[00:18:21] And it was a large number I thought of. And uh, two weeks later, he quit his job. , didn’t have a large amount of savings. And I’m like, well, I guess we’re just gonna have to make this work. Part of me was thrilled because I really needed his help at home, but the other part of me was scared to death because I thought, wow, the biggest thing is, well, we did put a little bit of thought into it.

[00:18:43] We had to find health insurance and we did, and we found it at an amount that we could afford. And, uh, that was our biggest fear is that is a big benefit. And, I think that is a valid concern for a lot of people, and I think that is one reason they need to, you know, think about do you really wanna be completely self-employed and not dependent on, on a company to take care of you?

[00:19:06] So we got that outta the way and we, we made it work, like I said, shortly after, was September 11th. But we, we came back from that and actually we, we grew quite a bit because with First off, the idea was just for him to help with the kids. But then he was like, well, I’m home all day. I might as well do some marketing.

[00:19:23] And we started doing a little bit more marketing and the business grew. I think, the first year that he stayed home, it grew something like 80% or something like that. It was ridiculous. Yeah, it was ridiculous. Um, because now I had more time to work. I wasn’t limited by. His hours anymore or what? My employees, because I started off not being great at delegating work to employees.

[00:19:47] By the time Joel, our youngest was born, I did have someone who wanted to work for me full-time. And so things really took off from there because I could be out in the field a lot more. And she was also full-time, so we had the ability to take on a lot of work. So we went out and got more work. and then later on he, he started doing visits when Joel was in school, but like I said in the beginning, he was really just taking care of the kids and then he started doing the marketing and then he started answering the phone one day. I mean, we just don’t seem to plan anything. If you talk to us, it’s like all of a sudden he’s returning calls and I’m like, whatcha doing?

[00:20:21] But that was great. I loved that because when you’re out in the field all day, you know, do you really wanna come home and then go into your office and get on the phone and talk to people? And in the evenings you don’t get their answering machine as much. You’re actually have to talk to them a lot. , don’t get me wrong, I like talking to my clients.

[00:20:38] But I don’t wanna be on the phone for like an hour every night, then, uh, he in 2013, went back to working for someone else and decided to sell life insurance, which he did until 2022. So that was another change. Um, he just really wanted to do it and he was really good at it. But things with the economy and everything, we just decided, you know, last year that he would go back to working with me, and I’m really happy about that because now I’m back in that mode of not having to do absolutely all the admin work, which is really good.

[00:21:09] Morgan: Yeah. I think, you know, again, there’s a, a lot of times there’s this misconception or preconception that if you’re the, the owner of the business, you have to be doing all of the admin work and you’ve gotta like, love to do all of that. And I think a lot of us loved pet sitting because we loved being out and about or being active and not being, you know, kind of changed to a desk to answer those emails and, you know, pick up the phone and call people back and all of those things.

[00:21:33] And so if that’s not Something you love to do, being able to hand that off to somebody who does like to do it or you know, who is just, you know, really good at it, that can be really helpful. 

[00:21:42] Kim: Well, I’ll tell you what, I, I really do like doing the admin work and I do like doing the pet sitting. I don’t like doing them on the same day. I don’t like, uh, for example, I do go to the Bay Area and do visits on and before Howard was helping me, I was like, well, that’s great, but then I gotta stop and answer these emails and I really wanna pay attention to the pets.

[00:22:04] I don’t want to stop and take care of lengthy issues while I’m trying to get the pet care done. And I don’t wanna always have to take time out in the middle of the visits and stop. You know, it’s fine if I don’t have too many visits. I go to Panera Bread afterwards and use their wifi and sit down and do all kinds of stuff.

[00:22:21] But trying to juggle both of them on the same day for me is hard. So I’m fine working the admin, but I don’t wanna do it on days that I’m in the field. It’s just I’ve come to realize that was a big stressor for me and for quite a few years I had to do that when he was working at his other job. So I’m, I’m back happy to have that help again.

[00:22:41] It is important to understand that you can delegate. I mean, we all start off with, well, I’m gonna do this by myself. I’m just gonna have my little business. I’m not gonna hire anybody ’cause nobody can do it as well as I do. And, uh, all that. And then, um, one day you wake up and you like you’re happy to hand stuff off because it’s all consuming.

[00:22:59] Pet sitting will eat you alive if you wanna. Do this all the time, and you don’t have a backup plan for anyone to help you out. It will, you honestly, I don’t think I would’ve done it this long if I had help. I’ve had employees since, between child number two and number three. I didn’t really know how to delegate until after number four came along.

[00:23:19] I got much better at it. It was a learning process for me. Um, but I’ve learned so much and that’s why I try to help other people with that because I feel like I can speed up their process rather than having to learn it, bit by bit like I did. but I love delegating tasks it just makes me a much happier person to not have all that weight on my shoulders.

[00:23:38] So I’m a big proponent of hiring help and I think admin help is great too. We aren’t the only people that can answer questions about our business. You can delegate stuff out. 

[00:23:48] Morgan: Mm-Hmm. . 

[00:23:48] The Importance of Sharing the Load

[00:23:48] Morgan: iT really can eat you alive think that’s a fantastic way to say it, because It’s a 24 7 365 business. And especially if you’re doing it on your own, you have to be all of the things to all of the people, unless like you said, unless you’re delegating this out, um, and you can delegate out. Like you can be a solo pet sitter and be delegating out your admin work and your marketing work or you know, whatever thing it is that you don’t enjoy doing. But the, ability for more freedom comes from usually hiring a team member or team members usually to work with you. But then again, you know, that also comes with its own set of challenges because especially if you’ve got some folks who are full-time, you’ve gotta keep their calendars busy.

[00:24:30] And, and again, we don’t have control over how much work we have other than how much we’re out marketing or, and advertising. But, I can’t make my clients take a vacation or I can’t make my clients wanna, you know, have a stop over in the midday. Like, I can tell them how great our services are, but I don’t have control over when my clients book.

[00:24:51] I have some who will say, Hey, are you available this week? And if not, I’m going to pick a different week to be on vacation. But, you know, for the most part, we don’t, we, our clients don’t check in with us first to make sure that their vacation is properly timed for our services. 

[00:25:07] Kim: And Absolutely. And you know what’s amazed me over the years is in spite of that, how somewhat consistent it is now. No, I mean, it, it’s all over the place, but. When you think about, okay, we all have our busiest, you know, I’m busy at Thanksgiving, I’m busy at Christmas, I’m busy in July. We’re heavily pet sitting and, um, we’re not in an area where, uh, for example, in the north where they have snowbirds that go to Florida all the time.

[00:25:34] And so, you know, in January you’re gonna be busy. It’s, it’s not like that. Here we have your kind of standard busy times and it is somewhat predictable. What kind of amazes me sometimes is I mean, I guess I, I have enough clients, but what I’m trying to say is for a business that’s completely dependent on travel and we don’t have that many dog walks.

[00:25:54] I’m almost amazed at how consistent it is that I am able to provide that work for my sitters who do a lot. Now, it’s always a delicate balance. I have somebody right now who works about 30 hours a week, and I can always fill that. And then the other people who have more flexibility, I can do a little bit more, I can do a little bit less, then we are more flexible with them.

[00:26:16] Because if Hannah is overwhelmed, then they’re gonna have more work. If she’s not, they’re gonna have less. So somehow it always works out. That’s what I’m, I’m trying to say. I’m amazed that it works as well as it does for such a crazy business. ’cause we’re totally dependent. You’re exactly right. I, and I tell my sitters, you know, I can’t tell my clients when to go away.

[00:26:34] What the amount of work I have is dependent on them. So, you know, let’s keep doing a great job so that they keep coming back. And what my sitters mostly remark to me is they’re surprised at how often they go to the same houses. we have people that are just seem to always be gone. And then we have the ones that we, you know, are once a year in the summer.

[00:26:55] But I think they’re amazed at how well, they get to know the pets ’cause they go away all the time. And, uh, and of course those are the, the clients we love, but it’s, uh, it’s just a crazy business in that it even works at all sometimes. 

[00:27:09] Morgan: I have so many clients who say, well, how, how early do we need to book with you And I said, well, it depends because at the same time, while it does fairly even out over the course of a month or over the course of a year, we also have some weekends where nobody is traveling. And then the weekend after, it feels like everybody is traveling.

[00:27:27] And so, you know, I tell people, well, it depends on when you want to travel, because there are some times where we’re booked, three months in advance almost for some weekends. And some weekends we have last minute availability. And so it’s just, is something where I feel like it’s. It’s almost a mind game.

[00:27:42] Like I sat down with a big spreadsheet and I was tracking our revenue for every month over every year that we’ve been in business. ’cause like there’s gotta be a pattern here, So I was trying to break it out by quarter and then I tried to break it out by season, like the winter season and the summer season and the holiday season. Um, and I was like, there’s gotta be some pattern here. And over 10 years there was no pattern. Like the pattern was that there was no pattern because every year that busy point shifted and the deviations from like slow to the busy, percentage wise we’re about the same, but they kind of shifted over the year.

[00:28:19] And so I was gonna drive myself crazy trying to find this pattern that I swore was gonna be there. And it, it didn’t show up. 

[00:28:27] Kim: I figured out it changed. Um, it used to be. the last two weeks of August, used to be in the nineties, was insanely busy because the schools tended to start later, back then. Now they go back at all different times in August. I’m like, these poor kids, it’s the middle of summer and they’re already in school again.

[00:28:44] I just, I, I, I would hate it if I were kid, but so August is not the month that used to be, but at the same time. So, so like last year it was super slow and so I was expecting that this year and I’m like, oh, I was pleasantly surprised. August was pretty good. After all. There isn’t any rhyme or reason or we have these odd weekends.

[00:29:03] We had this happen. I think Labor Day was, you know, not spectacular. It’s, you know, people are winding down by Labor Day. The kids are back in school for the most part. So it’s not a super busy three-day weekend for us, but I think it was like the next weekend after was insane or something. And I I Why You can’t figure this out.

[00:29:22] It’s so, it is, it is difficult. Like I said, I’m, I’m amazed that staffing works out as well as it does because this business is so unpredictable and, I try to have. extra people that can, I can call on, oh, can you do three or four visits? Because I’ll tell you, you know, the way we book things, we just book things.

[00:29:40] We just book ’em and we figure out who’s gonna do it afterwards. ’cause we have people that have work set days and they’re, they’re gonna be available. then, we’ll, every once in a while I’ll look at a weekend and I’m going, oh wow, , I think I’m gonna call in some extra help. or I better go down and help myself.

[00:29:57] I generally don’t ever work weekends, knock on wood. Uh, I did work this last weekend because I wanted to give one of my sitters, whole weekend off because I am going to the PSI conference. at the end of next week and, I realized, uh, I gotta have all hands on DAC Care . So, uh, I’d be, be very nice to my people this week, , because I don’t wanna be across the country and find out we’re shorthanded 

[00:30:23] so. 

[00:30:23] Morgan: Yes. I also try to do that where, when I’m gonna be gone for a while, I try hard that when I’m out of town that we just don’t take on as many clients because, my own dogs are kind of difficult. I am the difficult client where I have dogs who are, who are very particular and only certain people can go see my dogs. Uh, well, to clarify, one of my dogs, only certain people can go see one of my dogs. And um I know that when I’m gone it adds a lot of extra work for my team because they’re taking care of my dogs and all of our other clients who happen to be booked. Um, and so same thing, I feel like I have to work extra hard kind of the week before and the week after. So, because I know that they’re gonna be busy while I’m gone, and I know you and I are both passionate about. Making sure people get time for themselves and we’re avoiding burnout. And sometimes I’ve had to encourage my employees to remind them that you don’t need to pick up every visit that’s available.

[00:31:18] You don’t need to, you know, be working all the time. And we do need to take some time off and find some breaks. And that can also be hard to balance. My team this year is having fantastic work-life balance, which means that, you know, I have to pick up a little bit more because they’re out also enjoying their lives. Um, and I know that it’s important because, you know, as humans we are not meant to be working all of the time, and we do need to have some of that time off. But, you know, that adds another challenge to being a business owner with team members. and I know Kim, you do hiring, consulting and, you know, helping people figure out should they have employees, should they, you know, keep going solo.

[00:31:54] If they wanna hire employees, how should they be going through this? Um, do you have any kind of words of advice for people when they’re, when they’re kinda looking at this struggle and saying, how do I not only provide myself a good quality of life, but how can I help extend that to my team as Well, 

[00:32:11] Kim: Well, I think there’s a number of ways you can set it up. Um, the scheduling and mine, I won’t say it’s unique. I know other sitters who do it this way. It’s kind of contrary to what a lot of people envision when they’re gonna hire help. 

[00:32:27] Managing Workload and Quality of Service

[00:32:27] Kim: But we hire people for specific days, so everyone has automatically, at least two days off a week.

[00:32:36] Um, that the issue with that, I mean, it’s a great idea. It’s putting it into action means . There’s going to be more than one sitter on a job because I have, for example, um, Hannah works about 30 hours a week. She’s Monday through Friday and she starts around six or seven in the morning. Works till she’s done, usually around one o’clock.

[00:32:57] I have, son who works Friday through Sunday, for me, he has another job that he works the other four days of the week. So he is. Pretty busy guy and I try to give him time off whenever he needs it. And then I have somebody else that I just brought on. So we’re developing our schedule now, and I think we’re going to go something like Friday through Tuesday.

[00:33:17] So it helps me schedule because I can look at the calendar to go, oh, I have Hannah and Trevor that day. Um, or it’s the weekend, I have Robin that day. So it automatically is built into my system. To give them days off and have a predictable schedule. Um, but it is something my clients have to understand.

[00:33:37] That’s why we do that. And one of the reasons we do that is because if I feel like I am, them a predictable schedule, And I try to mold it to around the amount of hours they want, which of course is tricky with what we talked about. Um, if they have that predictability, they’re, they’re more likely to stay longer because it fits in with their life.

[00:33:58] If they have another job and I know they can only work three days a week for two hours at a time, then that’s what I’m going to have them do. And so it’s an excellent second job for someone. If they’re happier and stay longer, then they’re a more experienced pet sitter. And that’s a benefit to my client. I tell them, well, you might have two or three different sitters, but a year later it might be the same two or three sitters because they’re still with me because I try to take care of their needs.

[00:34:24] And I think most people understand that. I, I get it, that people want consistency and we are not the service for everybody. But, the other benefit to that is. We hardly ever turn anybody down because I can usually pull on some more people for a particularly busy day. I don’t wanna turn down somebody because one day is busy and then the rest of the week is not.

[00:34:46] And we have trouble accommodating that one particular visit on that day. So I will make it work. Um, and so that’s kind of how we do things now. There’s certainly many, many ways. To run a petting business and do the scheduling, you can certainly ask your sitters to take on the whole job. I, I mean, I’m in California, we have a lot of regulations, so we have a lot, we go into overtime after eight hours in a day.

[00:35:08] Not that I want my sitters to work over eight hours anyway. We also have issues with the seventh day of work in the same week. So for me to promise the same sitter for someone gone two weeks is just not even, it’s not even feasible. So I think. My clients understand that, but, um, there are so many ways to run the scheduling, but taking care of your workers.

[00:35:31] Yeah. it sounds like you have to, yeah, you have to remind yours because they’re so enthusiastic. They wanna work all the time, and, and that’s hard. Like, I have actually two right now that I’m gonna sit down with this week and tell them, Hey, you have, you thought about taking a vacation

[00:35:45] Hannah’s been with me a year and I think you should take a vacation, Hannah, even though I know I’m gonna, uh, regret that week, she’s gone because I’m, it’s gonna probably put me out there a lot more. But, um, I want her to be happy. I, I, I love her. I love her work ethic. She’s wonderful and I wanna take care of her. I wanna make sure she gets the time off she needs. ’cause we all need it 

[00:36:08] Morgan: Mm-Hmm. .Yeah. I think especially, you know, a lot of times people pick up pet sitting as a second job like we talked about, or they’re, they’re saving up for something I, we started pet sitting, my husband and I started pet sitting because I had, I had a master’s degree out of college and my first professional job paid me 12 bucks an hour. And this was 2012, and you can’t live on 12 bucks an hour. And, um, I was living in Bismarck, North Dakota at the time, at the height of the oil boom, and it was a completely unsustainable way to live because everything was so expensive up there. But, um, we kind of just were looking at the money and looking at, you know, what we were making and our jobs and how much our bills were, and we kind of said, well, this is not gonna work.

[00:36:51] Like, what else can we do to, you know, we need to pick up these second jobs. So we started pet sitting and it was just a fantastic way to help pay those extra bills, how to pay off student loan debt. We had this goal of being, uh, consumer debt free. And so we started, you know, chipping away at all these things and it was fantastic to be able to take that money and just throw it directly at that goal. And, you know, we’ve definitely had employees where that’s how they’ve Come to us and they said, Hey, I have these financial goals that I wanna hit. And every time there’s an opening, you Hey, Angus wants visits, last minute visits this weekend. Is anybody available? Oh, I’ll take ’em all.

[00:37:28] And it’s like, yeah, but you also worked like four other days this week. You really don’t need to be working all weekend too. Oh, no, no, no, no, no. It’s okay. I wanna take them. So after a while, I started selectively asking people, you know, instead of putting it out to the whole group of who would like to pick up a visit this week.

[00:37:43] And I’d start selectively asking people and kinda working my way through the list. because they, they were a little over enthusiastic for how much they they wanted to work. But also, the quality of our work. I know for me at least, I’ll speak for myself.

[00:37:55] The quality of my work starts to slip when I’m working those kind of marathon, busy times. 

[00:38:01] Kim: Yeah. I, I, I think we have to, we have to watch that even when someone is wanting to take on the work, because it, it almost never fails on a really long day. At, towards the end of the day, something will, will go wrong. Not always, but I’m just thinking back to last. Friday. 

[00:38:17] Dealing with Unexpected Challenges

[00:38:17] Kim: I, I often work on, on Fridays, ’cause I have a special needs cat and, um, long story.

[00:38:23] But anyway, I took Friday off because it’s my grandson’s birthday and one of my sitters, she’s fairly new, so she had to go through it. She locked herself out of a house. So we’re getting to the train museum in Sacramento and I am, uh, getting a call from a number, I don’t know because she’s next door.

[00:38:38] Her cell phone was locked in the house. Her car keys were locked in the house, And it, her day had been going so well. This was like stop number eight. Started really early. She was just about done and it, and it was another hour, uh, that she had to spend dealing with that. And I kind of had to deal with the funniest thing though.

[00:38:58] She went next door to a neighbor and the neighbor was so nice. She was saying, I was listening to the other end of the phone conversation and you handled your employees so well. And I’m thinking, I thought I was kind of hard on her ’cause I said, remember , we always have to keep the key with us when we go outside, there’s, that’s the reason.

[00:39:16] And um, so I was all worried that I was hard on ’cause then I’m apologizing later. Was I too hard on her because . And this neighbor was like, oh, she was impressed with our company here. We’d come over because my sitter had locked herself up. She was impressed with how I handled the situation, . I got it, uh, heard back from the client praising us for how professional we were, how we handled this, and I’m like, wow, darn.

[00:39:39] We locked ourselves out of the house and everyone thinks we’re absolutely the greatest. So it was, it was just kind of a funny. Side story there. Um, but uh, yeah, things do go wrong. And um, and I was feeling that way. I thought, wow, she had a long day. And it’s of course right at the end of the day.

[00:39:56] That’s, uh, when we have a need in the schedule, I do tend to . Sometimes I’ll throw it out, right. You know, to everybody. But usually I’ll pick the most likely person I think, you know, could use the work is probably available. Who won’t mind. And then when they can’t, I go to the next person. But fortunately, we don’t have to do that a whole lot because usually our schedule seems to work. I, I, again, going back to the unpredictability of travelers, I don’t know how, but it does . I just, I usually have coverage. 

[00:40:27] Morgan: I love that. And so, you know, Kim, you and I have also talked about, so again, this idea of living a, a full life and you know, like you said, being able to go and spend the day with your grandson and your family to celebrate his birthday and all of these things. Um, has it always been like that in your business or has that also changed over the years where you’ve given yourself more flexibility or to be able to kind of enjoy your own life more? 

[00:40:50] Kim: Definitely in the beginning I was completely tied down and felt very, very restricted, but I also was raising little babies, and your life is . Kind of crazy. Anyway, I won’t say that you don’t go anywhere ’cause we certainly took kids plenty of places, but I was already in this, this, these are my years to raise little kids mode.

[00:41:11] And I kind of didn’t mind it for the first three or four years, but it started to take its toll. And when it began to do that, I realized that’s when I needed to hire help. And I started this business . In the beginning to do things to our house, we, you know, not to live off of, not to be our sole source of income, it was to do projects around the house and it paid for a lot of things in our first little money pit that we bought

[00:41:35] but when I knew it was time to hire help, that’s when I realized, you know, I’m, I’m gonna do this and I’m gonna have somebody else trained so that I can, take time off. And I remember one of the first things. My employee really came in handy for, was my, I had an, uh, a sister who got married in July and it was insanely busy, but he took all of the visits on that day so I could go to the wedding and not have to.

[00:42:02] Get up early and do visits before or turn down a bunch of clients. And so that’s when I first saw the real value of having some help. And it just grew from there. Um, because I still have a terrible time saying no to people. I mean, you’d think I’d, some of us just don’t ever learn that.

[00:42:21] And so I had to get help because I didn’t wanna turn my clients down and I wanted to be able to take trips without closing down the business. You know, the, we took vacations in the early nineties, but, you know, I, I had to tell people no, and I would, I would put it on my answering machine. I would mail people notes about my time off, and they don’t read they don’t read and they don’t listen to messages.

[00:42:46] So I was always having to deal with that disappointment of not being available. So. I got much better at delegating and having a quality of life and, and I owe it to my first full-time sitter who said, well, Kim, why don’t you have me do all the visits at least one day a week so you can take a day off?

[00:43:06] And I was like, oh, wow. I had not even thought about that. It was like I was so immersed in the business. Even after, at that point, like after 10 years, I still. Had the feeling that I had to be on duty all the time. I mean, for some of us it’s, we just don’t learn these things very fast. And, and from then on, I started taking days off all the time and, and I realized, wow, you can have a business.

[00:43:31] You can do what you love, but you don’t have to do it every second. And, and, and it was then that I realized that I probably would keep doing this forever, you know? And so far it’s, this is my forever and it’s, it’s working out. We’ve been to Europe a couple of times in the last few years, and honestly, we didn’t plan the trips very far in advance.

[00:43:52] I think I decided to go to Paris a month or a month and a half before we went. And that was because I knew I didn’t have to shut down the whole business. ’cause six weeks out, you’ve always got visits, right? So, we just went. And, My daughter-in-Law at the time, helped me with admin because of the time difference.

[00:44:10] We wanted somebody to be able to answer when we were asleep and they were awake. It just got exponentially better after that beginning. Once you get a taste of taking days off, you, you can do it. It’s something you won’t be quick to give up. And so, now I, rarely ever work on the weekends.

[00:44:27] Um, do have medical appointments in the Bay Area every other Wednesday and Thursday, so I work on those days. And then I usually stay over till Friday. But the other days are pretty much mine and I want them to be mine all the time. 

[00:44:42] Morgan: So with your medical appointments, you had a, fairly significant catalyst event, and did your opinion on making sure you got that time for yourself change from before you had that diagnosis and after you had that diagnosis? Or were you already kind of working your way to having that better balance, you could say in life. 

[00:45:02] Kim: Well, I would say that by 2013 when I was diagnosed with a rare disease called amyloidosis, I would say at that point I had a pretty firm handle on the balance, of my life. But I’ll tell you, that was just, uh, kick in the gut when I got a diagnosis and I actually, it’s, there’s no cure for this disease and a lot of people do die from it.

[00:45:24] And I I went on the internet when they told me not to go on the internet. So of course I went right to the internet and it was really bleak and I thought I was gonna be dead in two years. So I, that was a shock to my system and I immediately thought, I don’t care about work during, especially in the beginning, I don’t care about work at all.

[00:45:40] I knew we had to keep the business going, but that’ll make you prioritize things really fast. So if anything, it just sort of, reinforced all the feelings that I’d been having even more so, um, because I immediately cut back on work. Um, I had a lot of medical appointments. I. I had to just because, I was going off to Stanford all the time.

[00:46:01] So what it is, it’s not cancer, just because I know this is kind of vague to everyone. it’s a blood disorder and it has to be treated. And fortunately there are far better treatments now. Then even when I was first diagnosed, ’cause it’s been 10 years now, um, it used to be a death sentence probably 20 or 30 years ago.

[00:46:18] It’s no longer the case. Um, I have it in my kidney. Some people have it in their heart. I know a lot of people that have had heart transplants due to having this disease. But fortunately I got treatment right away at Stanford. They have an excellent amyloid center. Um, but it did involve going on chemo for about six months.

[00:46:36] And the following year I had a stem cell transplant, which is, uh, equivalent to a bone marrow transplant. So I was in the hospital for about three weeks at, over at Stanford. So that was something that had to be worked around. Obviously I had to go to the doctor all the time. I was thinking I was going twice a week for a while.

[00:46:55] And, uh, it made me appreciate the fact that I was self-employed. I mean, if anything I. Realized how much better my life has been because I am self-employed because I would’ve made the worst employee and I had the freedom to decide if I wanted to work and. When I would work so that I could work around my appointments. And I was gone for a month from my house because after they let me out, I had to live, uh, close by and they had to monitor me for a while because what it does is a stem cell transplant, it destroys your immune system and you don’t have one anymore, and it has to be built back up.

[00:47:28] So, um, that was the time when it I won’t say it woke me up to anything. I, like I said, I had a good balance prior to that. Boy did that demonstrate that I could be out of the business completely and it survived. I think we had one client complain about something that month that I was gone.

[00:47:48] Um, and it was the only time in the last 33 years where I absolutely had nothing to do with the business. I tell people it was the best vacation I ever had. , even though I lost my hair and all that stuff. It was like. Anything. They did absolutely everything and I completely stepped away from the business.

[00:48:10] And, it made me feel good that I had done that preparation because I will tell you, I hear of a lot of sitters who say, well, you know, when I get sick, I just, I just work. You know, I had the flute. I’ve done that too. I’ve gone out. Throwing up and having to do visits. I, you know, probably all of us have at some point and they’ll just say, well, I’ll just work if I’m sick.

[00:48:29] Okay, yeah, you can do that. But what if you’re in the hospital and you can’t, they won’t let you out to go do a visit. 

[00:48:36] The Importance of Planning for the Unexpected

[00:48:36] Kim: that’s when you have to realize that you have to have some kind of a plan. And you can’t tell clients no, once they’re already in Europe and you’re taking care of their pets, and you were to have, God forbid, an accident, you know, what is your plan for that?

[00:48:49] So that period of time when I was at Stanford just reinforced that I had a plan and it worked. I, we made it through. That could have been a, a big, interruption in our whole business. You know, they’d be thinking, a lot of people realize, said, well, Kim has seriously ill, so we just better find another pet sitter.

[00:49:08] But it wasn’t like that at all. We, I. Maintained all of our clients and the business went on. I was on very limited duty. I wasn’t supposed to be around, uh, scooping litter for like six months after that or something. I cheated. I did it anyway, but I worked very little, and another point I wanted to make too is, um, people think, well, I’m healthy. I’m totally healthy. Well, so was I, 

[00:49:30] Morgan: You were like running marathons, right? I mean,

[00:49:33] Kim: Marathon when I was diagnosed, the only reason I wasn’t actively training for Marathon that month is ’cause I had had plantar fasciitis and I was in a walking boot and wasn’t running because of my foot injury. So I was very stubborn and in May while I had the boot on my foot, I.

[00:49:50] Walked a 50 K, which is a 31 miles on a cattle ranch. It was an ultra marathon, and I walked it because I couldn’t run with a boot on my foot. So the week before my first doctor’s appointment, I did the 50 K. So I was in pretty good shape. And then I got diagnosed with this rare disease and everyone’s like, where the hell did that come from?

[00:50:11] But my point is that we all think we’re healthy. You have no idea what could be around the corner. Sometimes life has itself funny little way of. surprising my point is that just the fact that I had put all this in place, it was there when I needed it, my, my system, and thank goodness I’ve been self-employed and have a business that could survive when I was not actually in it.

[00:50:33] Morgan: Yeah. We had a, a similar situation, um, as we’re talking here about years ago, um, my husband, we thought he had a kidney stone and turns out he had bladder cancer And, you know, 31 year olds don’t get bladder cancer.

[00:50:47] It’s usually people who’ve been smoking for 60 years, or it’s like 90-year-old men or truckers for some reason. And he has none of those things. And so, you know, his doctors are kinda like me, we don’t know. and it happened just a few weeks after we had to put our dog down and it was just a very hard time of year, but was one of those times where we just kind of looked at each other and said like, we need a trip right now, and it was like the weekend before he was gonna have surgery. We just, we left for Florida and we just needed to not do anything, a few days. And our team was fantastic. And they kind, you know, they said, yep, we got it.

[00:51:25] You know, we’ll, we’ll step up, we’ll take over these things and help you out. But I went to architecture school and had a professor who called people temporarily able-bodied all of us at some point or another will not be able-bodied, and , like you said, we all think that we’re invincible, and it is hard to make those plans and to try to figure out, you know, if something terrible happens, can I step away for any length of time?

[00:51:50] And it is definitely challenging. Um, but it is important. ’cause like you said, you don’t know what’s gonna happen. Again, there’s so little we have control over in our lives or, and in this work 

[00:52:00] Kim: We were say artists and we were painting or doing pottery and something happened. We, we don’t have to make some pottery that day or someone’s order is going to be late, but we’ve got live beings who need us every day. And yet in this business, there are so many people that feel they have to do it all. And when you put those two things together, it isn’t like, okay, I’m going to take a couple of days off and the dog can just not eat go outside for two days. This is a business where it’s absolutely critical to have some kind of a plan in place. If you’re not going to hire people, then I urge people to find someone who could. I mean, in the very beginning, uh, before I hired anyone, I knew that in a pinch, my husband could go out and do the visits.

[00:52:54] So there was that, but until I had somebody that actually trained, I always. You know felt like wow, it’s all on me and it’s kind of scary and I didn’t know what was ahead I was that was 20 years later. I had that diagnosis, but like I said by that time things were in place and It’s just critical because we can’t just take a couple of days off to recover from something there. It’s 24 seven as far as the responsibility. I think that’s just why, you know, a lot of people don’t want to hire, but, and I, and I understand sort of, I guess I’ve been in it so long. It’s hard for me to understand because knowing the peace of mind that my team gives me, and I think people don’t realize too, that.

[00:53:36] You’re gonna get to know these people. I mean, they do feel sort of like family in a way. I mean, you know, um, one of my sitters, has been with me for four years and You know, we’re we’re more than just employer employee. I mean we joke about stuff We’re friends and she brings things into my life. They don’t take away It’s not like i’m just paying them a paycheck. They give so much and they bring so much in that it It’s a whole other, aspect of the business that I think people until they’ve hired, they don’t, they don’t know. Sure. There’s going to be the people that don’t last very long, the people that you don’t care for very much.

[00:54:07] But if you are very selective with people you hire, that’s going to be in the minority, really, really.

[00:54:12] Morgan: We’ve had a couple of clients where, You know, I said, Hey, I’m going to introduce your dogs to Leah and Leah’s fantastic. I trust Leah. She’s, she’s delightful. Like your dogs are going to love Leah. And they’re like, Oh. I don’t, I don’t know, you know, but, but, but you’ve been walking my dogs forever. And I said, I know, but I promise that Leah’s great. And they were very hesitant and it didn’t take long for them to now. Now they love Leah and they would rather have Leah come walk their dogs and have me come walk their dogs, you know?

[00:54:41] And, um, I think when you’re first. starting out or you’ve maybe been solo for a while, that kind of feels impossible to say, Oh, but my clients would never accept somebody who wasn’t me. And, I didn’t really give my clients much of a choice, you know, I just said, okay, cool. We got new people are going to come see your pets, but we really didn’t get pushback maybe like one or two people out of 200 and some clients have really been extra hesitant or they needed to meet every single person who’d be coming over. once we built up that relationship, they have so much more trust and so much more comfort, with our whole team, but. It is possible.

[00:55:17] So even if you’re in a position right now where it doesn’t feel possible, because again, there’s that feeling of like, well, nobody’s going to love these pets, like I love these pets. And I, I promise you there are people out there who will love those pets and they might love them differently. And that might be a good thing because you know, not every pet that I have met has loved me.

[00:55:36] And sometimes we have these , I’d say friendly rivalries amongst our team where there’s like a shy cat or a shy dog. And. One person befriends that pet faster than another person was able to defend that pet. We’re like, what do you mean? Like I’ve been seeing you for two years and this person has been seeing you for two weeks and you already like them more than you like me.

[00:55:57] Like what is happening here? Um, so , like you said, they do bring so much and every person on our team has a different personality, have different skillset. And. We’ve become just a richer, business because of every person who has, who has joined us.

[00:56:11] Kim: Oh, I agree. And I think that the greatest compliment is when you can tell maybe they do like your sitter more than you, because that means you’ve done a stellar job of finding a team member.

[00:56:23] So there’s, that’s great. That just means they love your, your whole company even more because, you know, of course they love me, but I’ve had. Some dogs that just, a couple of dogs that my sister Debbie could charm I don’t know what she did, but they were afraid of me, never afraid of her.

[00:56:41] And, um, it’s, it’s interesting. That’s why I say that people bring something. Sometimes it’s such an asset to have a different person. they, will find that they do get used to different people. And also, when people say, well, you know, my clients only love me and only trust me, and Granted, I understand that, but there’s, there’s 10, 000 other pet sitters across the United States whose clients tell them the same thing.

[00:57:05] So right there, there’s probably, you know, 10, 000 people that could do as good a job as you do. Okay. Um, let’s just put that out there. Right? So who’s to say? that you have to be a business owner for all the clients to love you and think you’re the best. There are people out there that don’t want to own a business.

[00:57:20] They just want to show up on the weekends or show up Monday through Friday, go home and not have to deal with all this circus of running a business. and they are willing to work for a paycheck, not make all the money. They do do a good job. They love working with animals, but they don’t want to run a business.

[00:57:42] So those are the people that we’re looking for. They’re the clients can fall in love with them just as much as they can fall in love with and I think It’s just such a disconnect sometimes I mean, I think I woke up and realized that one day and it’s always my hope that when people are resistant They will at least consider that I know there’s people who say i’ve managed people before I don’t want to manage people again Okay, I understand that it’s just that I hate to see when people say when was your last vacation and people go What’s a vacation or it was six years ago, and I I don’t know whether to get mad or to cry because I don’t know.

[00:58:18] I like to travel and I like to sleep in and once in a while and things like that and I could never go back to the very beginning when it was all completely on me And that’s that’s why I try to help people because I want to see them get their freedom. It makes me sad It’s fine if people want to be tied down and don’t want to travel It’s the people who want it and feel like they can’t have it they need help out of that. 

[00:58:41] Morgan: 

[00:58:41] Business Should Not Be Martyrdom

[00:58:41] Morgan: We can’t know something we don’t know, or we can’t find the answers to something that we don’t know what questions to ask, but, yeah, I, I hate the part of. Business ownership that feels like martyrdom and that, you know, we have to kind of martyr ourselves for our clients or we have to martyr ourselves for a paycheck because, I have to say yes to COVID was very much like that. Or when we have an odd slow month where. It, we’re normally busy, but now we’re slow. And sometimes you do have that feeling of I’ve got to say yes to everybody because I’ve got to get some money this month. Cause I got a mortgage to pay or I’ve got whatever bills to pay.

[00:59:18] But at the same time, if we’re always stuck in that survival mode, we can’t actually enjoy. The part of life that is fun. And then we’re gonna be that much closer to burnout. And that much closer to giving up on this dream of our business and our passions, because we just can’t do it anymore.

[00:59:37] And, and I feel like there’s a lot of struggle there because we don’t want people to be quitting the thing that they love to do. Because they haven’t had that vacation, or they don’t feel like they can get that time off, or they do get sick, and the only option is to close the doors when they really don’t want to yet, um, and a lot of that could be helped if they can offload some things, or, like you said, they can hire a team, um, because there are options, and I, I hate when people feel like they don’t have options.

[01:00:05] Kim: Right, and it is not a badge of honor to say you’ve worked four or five hundred days in a row. It’s not. We all have the capability. Believe me. I, I, well, I don’t think I ever have worked that many days. We always, always had some kind of vacation and even when I hated saying no, I knew I had to do it sometime because It wasn’t fair to my family.

[01:00:22] but it’s not something we should all strive for to be the record holder. And I always tell people that, you don’t really want the pet sitter who’s Been working a year and a half with out a day off because you know, they’re they may not even know that Subconsciously they feel resentful or how they may not know how exhausted they are 

[01:00:44] and another thing is a lot of people will say well I I take a vacation every year. I take two weeks off And I recharge, but I got to tell you, I’ve always had the feeling that if I took all my time off at once, the minute I come back, I’m I’m back in that burnout mode because I know it’s another 50 weeks before I’m going to be off again. So my suggestion is, I mean, for some people that probably works, but you can’t live from vacation to vacation.

[01:01:13] You have to take the time in between and make that work for you. It’s not about the breaks. It’s about. The day to day of running your business has to also work for you. One vacation a year will not solve the problems of the stress of the other 50 weeks. It’s very temp temporarily it will, if you can wind down long enough.

[01:01:34] But the day to day week, average week in your business needs to be sustainable mentally. And for me that, means, having help on a regular basis. It doesn’t for everybody, but I, I just really feel that your average month, your average week has to be sustainable. So and for that’s usually comes down to some kind of help because if we’re always saying no and we’re always taking time off, that’s great, but then you will be when you slow, you won’t have enough clients.

[01:02:04] So one of the reasons I hired in the first place, I had a mentor back in the early nineties who we were talking about reasons to hire employees and one of them was, you know, to get some days off time off. One of them was to be able to grow the business, but the 3rd idea was something a little different.

[01:02:22] It was. It would help you take care of the clients in the busy times, so that you don’t have to say no to them, so that they would maintain being clients for you, so that during the slow times, you have a much bigger clientele to draw off of. Let’s say that 50 percent of your clients travel in the summer, but in January, only 10%.

[01:02:40] Well, maybe that 10 percent isn’t enough to sustain you. So, because I was going through that, I knew that in January, we didn’t make enough money for us to live on. And in, and in order to have enough clients for us to live on in January would mean we’d be totally overwhelmed in July. Well, having somebody seasonal, part time who understands the summer’s the busiest time to help you, you could maintain a much larger clientele so that when only 10 percent of them go away, that 10 percent is a lot bigger chunk than it used to be.

[01:03:08] And you’ll have enough where you may not have very much work for your sitter, but you will have enough income to pay your mortgage and all of that. So that was really valuable advice because I knew I needed to make a steady income all the time. But if I had part timers who, were willing to make more in the summer and less in the winter, then that would solve a lot of those issues of that up and down.

[01:03:27] I’m just such a proponent of hiring and I, and I try to, get people to just consider it. 

[01:03:32] Morgan: Yeah. Like you said, it’s not the perfect answer for everyone, but for a lot of people, it is going to be the thing that helps give them some of that freedom back.

[01:03:40] Cause I don’t think any of us started a pet sitting business and said, you know what I’m really excited for. To work every fricking day of the whole year and not have time with my family and not walk my own dogs and, say no to everything else in my life so I can say yes to my business.

[01:03:59] The Importance of Resilience in Business

[01:03:59] Morgan: Like if that was, like if we had to sign a piece of paper and they said, okay, here’s your, here’s your business license. And by the way, sign here. none of us would ever do that yet. We all, at some point or another, probably will find ourselves in that type of situation. Well, I think 

[01:04:15] Kim: a lot of people think I’m gonna, I’m gonna have days off.

[01:04:17] There’s gonna be days people don’t need me. Well, I don’t know what critical point that is, but it happens really fast. That your calendar, you know, it happened right away. It’s just organic days off don’t happen. I mean And I, I’m going to say it was back in the nineties, there must’ve been a day we didn’t have anybody on the schedule, but the schedule has, there’s been somebody on the schedule consistently up until, COVID we actually, thanks to the few people who still had us walk their dogs and the one guy stuck in New York for four months, I actually stayed, there a lot when I was in the Bay area to keep this. Poor cat company, but that cat was sometimes the only one on the books, but it finally did happen. We actually did have a day with zero visits on the schedule, and we all know why that was, but, um, that was the last time we had an organic day off. It was, you know, it took 25 years for an, a disaster. So they don’t just come along once you have, I don’t know, 50, a hundred clients or whatever it is, somebody always needs you. I mean, thank goodness now, but if that’s what you’re counting on for time off, you definitely have to cross out those days and take the time.

[01:05:24] So Like I said, it’ll just, it’s constant. somehow it’s, you know, ingrained on me to be thinking about my business all the time, but. Because I don’t have to do everything all the time, everywhere, I am able to relax and enjoy my life, 

[01:05:39] Morgan: yeah, the hard part, too, is I don’t want people to have to have a catalyst event in their life in order to make time for themselves.

[01:05:48] So I don’t want them to have a coven where their business is completely in the trash to go. Oh, you know, I maybe should have been doing this a little bit differently, or I just got a diagnosis or somebody I love, you know, just got a diagnosis or when my husband was dealing with his things, you know, I kind of looked at how much I was working and said to myself, do I want this to be our legacy? And is this like what I want to look back on at this time in our lives and just be really glad that I worked this much. No, I don’t, so I need to make a change. Um, , it is possible and, um, there are other options out there.

[01:06:21] So, yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s a hard, and we all have to learn that lesson in our own time. You can’t convince somebody that this is a really good idea. Everyone needs to kind of come about this their own way, but, it is a good idea and we would highly recommend 

[01:06:34] Kim: this.

[01:06:35] Yeah. I’m, I’m grateful that I had my team in place before my big thing, because I was able to focus on my treatment. And dealing with that instead of, Oh my God, what am I going to do with the business? So, I mean, we are all humans. We’re all vulnerable to something happening. that just kind of came out of left field too. so I was really happy that I had things in place. because it, like I said, I was able to focus on what was really important.

[01:07:01] Morgan: So true. Oh, well, Kim, we’ve covered a lot of history, in your, your 30 some years of pets sitting here. I think there’s some really good nuggets. I hope that people can take away from this conversation, not just about the hiring, but building that resilience.

[01:07:16] I think that’s a fantastic phrase you used earlier. In order to be in business for 30 some years, you do have to have that resilience and, you know, it’s only like 25 percent of businesses make it past 15 years. And so to double that and I’m sure it’s a single percentage, a small single percentage who have made it that far.

[01:07:34] But, you know, for those of us who do want to take our businesses, and run with it for the longterm, I feel like the things you’ve talked about today is being flexible, being able to look at your situation and say, okay, something new is coming or something new is here and we’re going to shift and make this work.

[01:07:51] And again, just that resiliency to say, we should keep going, even when things look really, really bleak, um, to kind of persist through those, have been the messages that you’ve shared with us today. 

[01:08:03] Kim: You just got to keep going. You got to 

[01:08:05] Morgan: keep that tagline. Um, we can have a shirt. Make that a shirt.

[01:08:09] You got to just keep going and maybe get some goats and some chickens, you know, that, that helps too 

[01:08:14] Kim: for the comedic relief that you need. 

[01:08:16] Morgan: Well, Kim, how can people find you if they want to get in touch about hiring or they’ve got questions for you? 

[01:08:22] Kim: Well, I have an email address. Specifically for my hiring, which is Kim at staffingstrings. com. Um, I’m on Facebook at Kim Otoni Tank. The middle part is O T T O N E. And, if anybody wants to set up a time to chat, you, you can find me, 

[01:08:40] Morgan: Kim, thank you so much for joining us today. And I hope that like I said, people had a little nugget that they can walk away from this conversation from and implement, or at least think about maybe helping change somebody’s perception on some of these topics. thank you so much, Kim.

[01:08:54] I really 

[01:08:55] Kim: appreciate it. You’re welcome. I enjoyed it. 


[01:08:58] Conclusion

[01:08:58] Thank you so much for listening today. You can find show notes, transcripts, and more on our website, LuckyPupPod. com. Don’t forget, review, comment, like, share this conversation with your friends. Then, don’t forget to reach out. You can find us on Instagram at LuckyPupPod or LuckyPupPodcast on Facebook. Or send us an email, info at LuckyPupPod.

[01:09:24] com. Until then, don’t forget to live a more full and happy life. We’ll talk to you soon.