by Lana Rich, the Catsultant®
As everyone already knows, the holidays are already knocking on our doors. Since things are usually a bit slower now than they will be soon, there is no better time than now to start preparation for the demands of holiday business. No matter what kind of services you offer, getting an early start on planning for the holiday business will really pay off. Your cat staff members and your cat clients will all appreciate the extra things you have done to make their favorite feline’s stay more comfortable and fun. Of course, the cat will already know something is going on before the owner says or does anything, and will be wondering:
“What about ME-OW”?
Now is the time to make your plans for adequate staffing. With the right employees for each type of service you offer, you will be able to meet the needs of your clients and customers at the busiest time of the year. Since there are many less-than-obvious and quite subtle signs which are easy to miss or overlook in cats, your staff must be trained to recognize and address these important warning signs when caring for our feline friends. Starting now should give you enough time to hire and train staff members properly to ensure a smooth and non-eventful boarding season.
If you have a business that offers holiday care for both dogs and cats, you may want to have your employees who feel more comfortable with dogs, work with dogs. Having cat lovers working with cats, particularly during this busy time, will allow your staff to be “in their zone” and use their “cat-sense” and their passion for felines to reduce the stress some cats may have when boarding. Cats need cat-savvy care givers who know how to reduce the cat’s stress and respond to their needs almost intuitively.
If you feel you need, or choose to obtain, extra training for your feline boarding staff to make sure those kitties feel as happy and safe as possible while their cat parents are away, do it soon!
Make inquiries for special pricing deals by ordering ahead for non-perishable supplies, such as cat litter, toys, food and water dishes, beds (heated and non-heated) and carriers needed for the upcoming holidays.
If necessary, utilize some innovative marketing strategies. For example, consider having an Open House or Customer Appreciation Day for cat owner clients to show off any new amenities you have done to make their cat’s stay more comfortable. Introduce your cat-lover staff so clients can meet the people who will be caring for their kitties. At your Open House, you could also feature a Feline Behavior Specialist or perhaps a rep for Feliway products. You might want to also beef up your social media game plan, update your website, or offer a mobile website, if you don’t already have one.
Offer hand-outs for cat owner clients with helpful information such as cat carrier training, list of items to bring and what to leave at home when boarding your cat, and what questions to ask to identify a professional boarding facility. IBPSA has a great client brochure on What You Need To Know About Boarding Your Cat, that you can download and hand out to your clients. Note: the brochure is exclusively for IBPSA members. Just log into your member account and you’ll find it and other free brochures ready for download.
When offering cat services through the holidays and beyond, please remember your staff, friends and all 2-footed and 4-footed family members are always susceptible to our stress. The more stress and anxiety we have, the more they pick up. What a gift to ourselves and those around us to stay centered, present and authentic.
About Lana Rich, the Catsultant®
Lana Rich, the Catsultant®, resides in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area but works with clients throughout the U.S. and internationally. Lana has done cat behavior consulting for over 20 years and found Cat Connection®, which features cat boarding, grooming and retail business services, in Plano, Texas in 1985. After 4.5 years and doubling in size in Plano, Lana relocated Cat Connection® to Dallas in 1989, where it doubled in size again, becoming the largest cat facility in the Southwest. She started doing in-home feline behavior consultations (part-time) in 1992 and has been doing cat behavior consulting exclusively since 2000, when she sold the business. Lana offers cat consulting services for individual cat owners, boarding facilities, pet sitters, veterinarians, pet stores and shelters, and also teaches Cat Care Classes. For more information, visit catsultant.com.