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How to Transform Your Pet Business With Systems



Running a pet business is truly a dream job. You get to be your own boss while making a difference in the lives of animals. Add in the purrs and tail wags, and it is hard to imagine anything better. 

But what happens what that dream turns into a nightmare?

I remember the day this happened to me.

When I opened my very first pet grooming shop, I worked in my storefront every single day, open to close. When my business was small, it was manageable, but then I opened a second storefront. 

Suddenly, I was bouncing back and forth between shops, putting out fires. 

One day, during my commute between storefronts, a team member called me with a major client crisis. I started to walk them through how to solve the problem. 

Then, my phone rang again. 

It was my second storefront calling with a pet problem. They needed my help too.

So there I was, stuck in traffic with an upset client on one line and a pet crisis on the other, trying desperately to be in two places at once. 

How did it happen?

I took a hard look at my business and discovered that I had made a crucial mistake.

I had forgotten to lay the strong foundation that I needed to support my business: clear, consistent systems.

What Is A System?

Systems are organized methods for providing value. They represent the way you do business and respond to unexpected situations. When done right, systems save you time, energy and money. Without them, business owners take on too much, too fast and find themselves drowning.  

Once you understand what a system is, it is easy to tell whether yours are working. 

Signs You Need to Create Better Systems

Pet business owners with broken or nonexistent systems find themselves struggling with the same things day in and day out. 

Do you identify with these?

  • You feel like you have to do everything because no one else can do it right. 
  • You work late at night getting everything ready for the next day. 
  • You feel stressed out when you think about delegating tasks to your team. 
  • Your team members ask you the same questions over and over again. 
  • You are the only one who knows what to do if something goes wrong.

Qualities of Systems that Work

Efficient systems support the well-being of the whole business and all the people involved. By providing clear, step-by-step expectations for how to handle both daily operations and unexpected challenges, systems empower team members to do their jobs well. Most important, they disperse responsibility and make it easy to delegate tasks so that the success of the business does not depend on the business owner alone.

On days when your dream business feels like a nightmare, it can be hard to imagine that systems will solve all of your problems. For many people, creating new systems can feel so overwhelming that they never even try.

The truth is, the work you do creating your systems will pay off in time saved.

Steps to Build Better Systems

It is important to begin with a vision. Decide what you would like your new systems to do for you. What will your business be like once these new systems are in place?

Create time-oriented goals for working on your systems and completing your systems, and implement them across your business. I recommend a three-month time frame, from start to finish of the project.

Conduct a systems audit. Gather all the documentation you currently have that will help you understand the way you do business. Host a meeting with your team to discuss the ways they typically do things. Make sure someone is taking notes. 

Take a look at the results of your audit. Identify areas where steps repeat or where you are overly involved. Then, decide how you will make these steps more efficient. 

Write new systems. These should be step-by-step procedures for daily procedures and unexpected challenges in your business. There is no need to go into the “why” within your systems. It is better to present the information as clearly as possible. 

Present your new systems in a variety of ways. Create graphics and videos to accommodate visual learners. It is useful to hire help for this step.

When your systems are complete, you’ll need to store them on a platform that is easily accessible. Puff & Fluff’s systems are stored Google Sites so that my team can access them anytime from anywhere, without having to come to me.

Finally, retrain your team. Host a meeting to review your new systems together. Then, hold everyone accountable for using the new systems. People will still come to you with questions for the first two weeks. Don’t fall into old habits! Instead, encourage them to find answers in your clearly written systems. 

How Systems Changed My Pet Business

When you invest the time in creating systems that work for your business, you will regain the time, money and energy needed to create a bigger impact in the pet-loving community. 

Once I put my systems in writing, my whole business changed. I no longer felt like I needed to do everything for my business because I trusted that my team had the information they needed to do their jobs well. 

In fact, I had so much extra time, that I was able to open more locations. Now, I have six pet grooming shops in the Phoenix area, and my managers run them without my oversight. 

My pet business feels like my dream business again. 

Yours can, too.

Liz Illg is a Phoenix-based entrepreneur and business consultant who operates on the core belief that you have a message worth sharing with the world. Illg is the owner and CEO of Puff & Fluff Grooming and Pet Sitting. Building five brick-and-mortar locations in Phoenix has taught her exactly what it takes to get a vision out there and keep the momentum going. At Liz Illg Consulting, Illg empowers business owners with the clear, compelling internal and external messaging they need to get to the next level. From the systems and processes that keep your brand running to the story your clients hear about your brand, Illg is passionate about translating your vision into a message that works. Contact her at 602-708-3270, liz@lizillg.com or lizillg.com.

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