Pet Sitter Power - Creating Good Will in Your Community
Ideas to make a better connection within your community with a side benefit of promoting your pet sitting business.
This is an important post for any pet sitter who wants a good reputation in his or her community. Let's talk about GOODWILL. This is one word, not two, so I'm not making a typo!
According to the famous Webster Dictionary, a definition of goodwill is : "the favor or advantage that a business has acquired especially through its brands and good reputation." (My translation: Warm Fuzzies = Goodwill.)
That's what we all want, isn't it? Whether we are in the pet sitting business, or any business we want to have a good reputation and be in the favor of others. This, according to the definition, must be "acquired".
So, what are some of the ways a professional pet sitter can acquire a feeling of goodwill and the favor of others in their community? Well, you've come to the right spot! Let's discuss some of these ideas, shall we?
First and foremost, you attain a good business reputation by running a good business: being honest, knowledgable about what you do, keep good records, do a great job with the pets in your care, have great customer service and are able to articulate and "sell" your brand so that you increase your customer base.
But what are some of the ways we can propel this into another stratosphere? What are some ways you can get your business noticed in your local community that will benefit not only you, but others in your community? How can you help other businesses and organizations in your local community so that the entire community benefits? Where and how can you create warm fuzzies in your community?
What are some things you can do that are cost efficient or where your financial or time input will give you great gains in the way of a sense of goodwill so that your business reputation is increased?
As someone who started off running a pet sitting business on a "wing and a prayer" with a very tight budget, I'd try to give back to my community in ways that would not break my little pink piggy bank (metaphor for not much moola in my bank account).
Below are some ideas that I think are top-notch and that I want to share with you, my wonderful readers of whom I have the utmost respect and affection ! (really, I do.)
Be aware of local pet charities, rescues, agencies, shelters, foundations, etc that are running fundraisers and get involved. Maybe you can't donate a ton of money, but give $ 10.00 in the name of your pet sitting business with a lovely note. It matters. If money is an issue, give the gift of your time. Make contacts with the people running it and let them know that you are involved not only due to a personal community interest but as a business person. If you don't have much time or money, then use your words to talk them up to others whenever you can.
If you are actively helping one of these organizations let your pet sitting clients know what you are doing for them - not to toot your own horn, but to maybe enlist their help as well. For instance, if a shelter is in need of blankets, let the clients you will be seeing in the next couple of weeks know so if they'd like to donate some blankets they can leave them for you when you do your pet visit. Let them know that you will donate the blankets in their name. If they don't want their name attached and just want to give anonymously, then that is okay. Whatever you gather to donate, make sure to let the organization know that it was "such and such pet sitting company" that donated, or facilitated, the donation of these items. It is a win-win-win situation: the client gets rid of a few blankets, the organization get a donation, and you develop goodwill between your business and the organization and your client.
See how easy this can be?
You can do the same with pet food and supplies. If you area has a pet food pantry, then stay up on what they need and connect with them as often as you can. Help them out. For me, it was always such a great feeling when I could help out in this way.
Sometimes charity organizations in your area, not necessarily pet related either, will be having silent auctions, basket raffles, and the like. Put together a pet related gift basket and put in some of your business cards so they know who donated it, and they will have business cards to share with friends looking for a pet sitter. You can make a basket related to various pet supplies, a cat basket, dog basket, bird basket, even backyard bird basket. These are really fun to do, but they can get expensive when you add up the price of everything going in the basket. But again, the goodwill and free marketing will far outweigh the cost you put into it.
One thing I did that was fun, was that I took some big dog biscuits, tied a bow around them and my business card, and delivered beautiful trays of them to local realtors. They loved them. One realtor said she'd leave them as part of a "welcome to your new home" baskets she made for new clients, if they had a dog of course, or she would give one to her potential home buyers and dog owners at the end of a day of house hunting.
Help out on a campaign sponsored by your professional pet sitting association. I hope you are a member of one because they are really great for a variety of reasons. I was a member of NAPPS (www.petsitters.org), but there is also PSI (petsit.com) and probably some regional ones in your area. Yes, this develops good will nationally, but you might be able to help them get the word out and get local donations for them.
Developing goodwill can come in the form of giving your clients rewards for referrals. If someone refers someone to you who becomes a pet sitting client, then the client might get a certificate for a free pet sit or a discount off of a future visit. Something like this will help out a client with his/her pet sitting costs and create warm fuzzies between everyone.
Another way to create goodwill is to talk about pet sitting at other local groups, such as local realtors. I did this and found it very fun. Not only did it get the word out about my business, which was in all honesty, one reason why I did it. But it also helped educate local realtors about the wonderful world of pet sitting, how it works, and how it can benefit them in their house selling/buying business. I gave a talk and then took Q & A and that created more goodwill and warm fuzzies galore!
Can you tell I like warm fuzzies? Hey, like I said in a previous blog, pet sitting was a lifestyle business for me. If I can create warm fuzzies wherever I go, then everyone was happier - myself included.
The next goodwill idea is a real "feel good" idea and something that is very easy and free and it is one of my favorite ideas. I think it is an original idea, but it isn't like I researched who else was doing it or not, I just did it once the idea started percolating in my mind.
When you are out walking dogs, or just on your own personal errands, and you notice a business that has put a dog water bowl out in the summer months to refresh thirsty dogs, make a note of it. When you get home pop on your computer's Publisher program and create a certificate for the business. My certificate would say something like: "To _____________ business who is being awarded the Business of the Week by _______________ (Name of your pet sitting business) for their thoughtfulness for all the thirsty dogs walking by their business on hot days". Make up your own words to suit your needs. Then, go into the business and present them the award. Try and be there when the manager is there. They will be so thrilled and guess what? They will probably hang it up in a prominent place to create goodwill between themselves and their own customers, and your business will also have free advertising. In regards to goodwill is concerned, added advertising is nice, but is not necessarily the most important thing - creating the goodwill is. If you want to make a bigger thing out of the certification presentation, try and harness the local newspaper photographer to be there as you surprise the manager! You could end up having your photo in the paper, all over facebook, etc.... in the name of goodwill.
You can create certificates for local groomers, pet shelters, etc.... Remember the "Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval"? Well, this could be YOU and local businesses might start hoping and praying that you'll give them a certificate too. Get creative with reasons for giving the certificate, but don't give out too many - one a week max is fine - or even per month. If you give out too many the meaning and importance of it will be watered down.
Can you see that by creating goodwill you are creating more local connections for yourself as an individual, and as a business? Your business name will get out more and your business reputation will increase. Warm fuzzies are definitely win-win situations.
If you create an in print or online newsletter for your clients and local vets, and I hope you do, give them a list of pet friendly places you've visited. Send the local business a copy of your newsletter so they can see that you've given them a little free advertising in your publication.
Goodwill can be created if you ask to set up a booth at your local town fairs offering free dog biscuits and several fresh water bowls for dogs who stop by. Many owners take their dogs to fairs and don't bring dog water bottles so they will be pleased to see some free offerings for their furry friend. You can post a sign on the table that reads "This watering and treat booth brought to you by _______________ (Your business name) pet sitting."
Goodwill is created by letter writing in support of animal rights or petition signing for a pet cause that is near and dear to your heart - especially if you do it in the name of your business.
Goodwill can be created if you offer to hire a local Santa or Easter Bunny character to sit with pets and get their photos taken with their own owners' cameras/phones. That way you are only out the cost of hiring the character and the owners snap the photos. You just create the environment and have a sign nearby that says "This experience brought to you by _______________(Name of business). Small business retailers who can't afford such a thing will be very grateful to you for footing the bill. Better yet, get a family member to volunteer as the Santa or Bunny and it won't cost you anything except the fee for the costume rental. Again, warm fuzzies all around!
I hope these ideas help you create goodwill and help grow your business.
Final note: I am available for 1:1 coaching of professional pet sitters, or those thinking of being in business by phone or in-person if Covid restrictions ever lift! Payment is done through PayPal or check and rates are reasonable. For more info e-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.