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Ways to create a more
Staff Dependent Business
(& Reduce Owner Stress)
By Laura Laaman
Life as a small business owner can be incredibly taxing. Most owners feel like they have a never-ending laundry list of worries hanging over them, and for good reason—especially in the beginning.

Every part of opening and operating a business can be demanding, and even more so in pet care. After all, pet care facility owners are responsible for the wellness and safety of living beings who can’t talk. And if that’s not enough pressure, many of these owners put their financial futures at stake…

They invest in buildings, property improvements, quality staff and countless other important expenses. Most don’t expect it to be easy at first, but they work hard and hope to develop a rewarding and successful business. Unfortunately, so many owners get worn down and become disillusioned because they haven’t reached that level yet.

Since this business is dependent on its people, a huge key is surrounding yourself with a strong team. Delivering quality pet care and customer service (while growing financially) depends on a cohesive, functional staff. One or two employees can’t do it all. Here we’ll dive into five important tips to build a more staff-dependent business, thus reducing owner stress and developing a more rewarding pet care business.

Create and share your advancement opportunities
If you haven’t created advancement opportunities for your staff, you’re likely putting yourself at a disadvantage. Advancement opportunities are among the most important factors for job seekers—especially quality candidates. Offering advancement attracts (and retains) career-minded people who are likely to work harder and remain loyal.

How many roles do you have between management and pet care technician? If you’re like many, probably just one…if even that. Creating more roles boosts accountability, insulates owners/management and gives employees a path upwards.

The first step is developing a career advancement chart. A career advancement chart is an organizational chart showing growth paths for each role. This visualizes advancement opportunities for your staff and can be useful during hiring, interviewing, training and any review process.

Accurate, clear job descriptions go a long way
Many pet care facility owners don’t take the time to develop clear, complete and accurate job descriptions for each role. The reality is that good job descriptions are vital tools for everything from hiring and training to providing feedback. Clearly written job descriptions specify what’s expected of each team member. It can even help take the emotion out of coaching and discipline. Quality job descriptions can also help delineate responsibilities among different roles.

Each state has its own labor laws; therefore, consulting with a qualified labor attorney is a recommended first step. Your attorney can help you write or review your job descriptions to ensure they’re thorough and legally sound.

Provide fair compensation and pay ranges
Fair and appropriate pay is among the most important components of business success—but it’s a constant balancing act. You need to pay enough to attract and keep good employees while being fair to existing ones. Many pet care business owners put off increasing pay for new hires, fearing backlash from current employees; however, this can be a real problem. If you can’t attract or keep good new hires, existing staff members may become overtaxed and leave.

Ultimately, you may need to pay employees more across the board to strengthen your business and team. It makes you more desirable as an employer, puts you in the position to choose the best talent, fosters better employee commitment and enables you to have higher expectations. If you’re concerned about being able to afford this, that’s understandable. Your revenues need to be robust enough to support increased wages and additional roles—but the rewards are invaluable.

Illustration of open hands with coins increasing per hand
Ultimately, you may need to pay employees more across the board to strengthen your business and team. It makes you more desirable as an employer.
Implement an effective onboarding process
Effectively onboarding new employees is incredibly important, yet often neglected. A great onboarding process sets employees up for sustained success, frees up time for the owner and is legally compliant. Proper onboarding also leaves a great impression on new hires and gives them the knowledge and confidence to excel in your business. So, what does a great onboarding process look like?

It starts with organizing the initial paperwork, including your employee handbook, applications, tax forms, internal policies, confidentiality agreements and more. Thankfully, we have access to paperless, self-managed software systems which put all of your employee onboarding and training processes in one place where you can easily track progress, distribute documents and ensure accuracy.

Provide a comprehensive operations manual
One of the reasons many companies struggle with poor employee performance is a lack of clear, written procedures. Instead, the owner or company makes assumptions. It’s beneficial to believe employees want to do a good job, but to do that, they need to know exactly what a “good job” means. Since most of us learn best visually, taking the time to write down the procedures can be very helpful.

An operations manual is a key part of this, but building one from scratch can be a daunting task. Developing defined and written guidelines is an ongoing process and evolves one procedure at a time. Key aspects of the employment relationship should be outlined in an employee handbook. Detailing important tasks is equally necessary, such as feeding, cleaning, giving wellness checks and medications, and providing activities. If every employee has the same instructions and expectations, performance will be much more consistent and efficient.

Establishing a stronger and more capable team can take a massive burden off the owner. That laundry list of tasks might not be so long anymore! With a self-sufficient and high-performing team, owners can focus their energy where it’s needed most. And, perhaps most importantly, making these kinds of changes can significantly reduce stress and improve your quality of life.

Laura Laaman is president of Outstanding Pet Care. Outstanding Pet Care’s Management Development Program provides the tools you need to implement these strategies successfully. If you’re interested in a healthier and more rewarding business, schedule a consultation by calling 1-888-836-8740 or visiting