If so, you are not alone, I have heard this story over and over again from pet sitting/dog walking business owners across the county. All size businesses are searching for qualified team members and having a problem finding sitters/walkers to fill their job openings. The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) reported in March 2017 that 52% of small business owners are having issues finding and hiring qualified workers.
One of the main reasons for the lack of qualified workers in our industry may be low the unemployment rate of 4% (less in some states) or the rise of businesses like Rover and Wag contracting so many pet sitters and dog walkers. Competition is strong with these large on demand businesses as they have millions to spend on marketing and they are also able to compensate at a higher rate. Perhaps over time the balance will shift, and more sitters will come to realize the benefits of working for a caring local business.
So how do you increase your odds of finding and keeping good team members? Here are a few suggestions.
Increase the starting wage. You may need to look at your budget and allow for a pay increase for your starting wage. If you were to ask most pet care business owners, they would tell you that they pay higher than minimum wage; but is that enough? Look at what other businesses in your area paying for workers. Most businesses listing job openings on Craiglist or Facebook will list the starting wage. Also when hiring you may want to mention that sometimes clients will tip. I know tipping can vary from business to business, so you know best if this is worth mentioning to new applicants or not.
Change up where you are advertising or listing help wanted ads. Sometimes you have to get creative when trying to find new staff.
Try looking someplace new for qualified team members. How about asking current team members if they know anyone, use social media, current clients or your local senior center. Don’t let the word senior scare you away; I had a retired school teacher that worked for me for over 13 years and she was fabulous. If you have openings for dog walking and pet sitting, maybe split the job listings in two, listing them separately may allow for more focused applicants and if you find someone to fit both jobs, even better.
Hire someone with potential and is willing to learn. This may mean you need to loosen up your qualifications for a job opening. I am not saying hire someone who does not like pets, but maybe you find someone who has experience with dogs but may need to learn more about other pets. If you than find a great candidate with good work ethic and common sense, you can train them on the rest of the job duties.
Hiring qualified sitters has become a greater challenge in this economy. The other day a business owner told me “It’s currently easier to find new clients than it is to find new staff “. However, like any challenge, you can overcome it with flexibility and creative thinking.