Hiring is often a nerve wracking proposition. You have worked long and hard to build a loyal clientele. Your clients love the level of service that you provide so you don’t want to jeopardize those carefully cultivated relationships by hiring the wrong person. Though introducing a new employee is a leap of faith, certain tactics can reduce the level of uncertainty.
- Ask friends for prospective employee referrals
Fear of the unknown is a common concern during the hiring process. When we interview strangers, we rely heavily on our instincts and the prospective employee’s references. Asking trusted friends and professional contacts for referrals allows you to create a pool of prospective employees who have a level of credibility.
- Contact local animal shelters, rescue groups and humane societies
These types of organizations are perfect places to recruit potential employees. The fact that an individual devotes his/her time to these causes reflects a commitment to animal welfare. Depending on the individual’s position and the organization, he/she may also have received valuable training. If you establish a relationship with local shelters and other pet focused organizations, they may be willing to let you post a part time help wanted advertisement on the premises. To be clear, I am not advocating “stealing” employees or volunteers of other organizations. Non profits, in particular, rely on volunteers to perform many tasks essential to daily operations so it is important to respect that relationship.
- Friends – To hire or not to hire?
As with any hiring decision, this issue must be approached with caution. If you know the person well and feel confident that he/she will provide the appropriate level of service, it may be worth exploring. When I opened my pet sitting business, I needed a back-up person to help with scheduling conflicts. I elected to approach a long time friend who also volunteers weekly at a local animal shelter. I knew that she was responsible and her shelter experience included animal handling and health training so it was a perfect fit. The relationship has been very successful.
If you elect to work with a friend, it is vital that the working relationship be treated in a professional manner. It’s easy to relax because the person is a trusted friend but disputes over money can ruin a prized friendship. Meticulous record keeping, including dates and services performed, is essential documentation for all employees, including friends. A copy should be provided to the employee to ensure there are no discrepancies.
- Ask the right questions
When preparing to interview, it is helpful to develop a list of standardized questions. This approach makes it easier to compare candidate responses. If you are new to interviewing, an Internet search on the term, “interview questions” will return many examples of common interview questions. A few additional questions might include:
- Tell me a little about yourself.
- What are signs that a dog/cat is ill?
- Are you a good listener? How do you know?
- What is your favorite animal and why?
- What would you do if an animal refused to eat and the owners were out of town?
- Two heads are better than one
Ask a trusted friend or colleague to participate in the interview process. Their input may help validate your impression or provide another perspective.
- Background check
In addition to maintaining liability insurance, a background check should be performed on every employee. In addition to creating an air of professionalism, selling your business to prospective customers is easier when insurance and background checks are part of the business. This will also increase your comfort level since you are assuming a level of liability when you send an employee into a customer’s home.**
**This is not meant to represent legal advice. To identify specific liability concerns and potential financial ramifications, it is recommended that you consult with an attorney and CPA.
About the author
Elaine Boyle is the owner of a successful pet sitting/pet concierge service and has eleven years management experience, which included hiring. She also is an Adjunct Faculty member at University of Phoenix.