I am fairly certain that one of the keys to running a successful pet care business is focus – zooming in on the detail of what you want to do, how you want to do it and who you want to do it for. This post looks at the WHO. Who is your ideal client?
Before you say anyone and everyone, let me remind you why that’s not true. It’s so easy, especially at the beginning, to get caught up in trying to be all things to all prospective clients, for fear of having no actual clients. Being unfocussed is the perfect route to doing nothing with flourish and getting overwhelmed and burned out by your business. You can’t do it all, for everyone, and I hope that this post will help you to find out who your ideal client is, so that you can focus on doing it beautifully for them. Once you do, you’re one step closer to that ideal client finding you, because you can market yourself and your business more effectively.
So, who is your ideal client?
Take a few moments to answer these questions in as much detail as you can:
- Where would my ideal client live?
- Which service would they want me to provide?
- What species would they need care for?
- What gender would they be?
- What kind of job would they do?
- How old would they be?
- Would they use the internet? A mobile phone?
- What would they be most motivated by? [Price? Flexibility? Experience? Personality?]
- What would the client’s animal(s) be like?
In my early days, I would have responded to these questions vaguely, truly believing that we could cater for almost anyone who enquired about our services. Over the years this has shown itself to be patently untrue, and my own answers to the question “who is your ideal client?” are now clear and defined. It makes screening clients so much easier, and screen them, we all must!
I am now essentially the admin hub for 7 independent contractors, one of whom is me. My answers are to a degree defined by what my ICs will do, and because of this they do get refined over time. This is how I would answer in April of 2016:
- Within a 15 minute drive through daytime traffic from the business address. [Makes sense for walking clients, boarding clients come from as far away as they are willing to travel but long distances may cause them to go with someone more local in the future, and I am always looking for client longevity.]
- Dog walking, home boarding. [We also provide house sitting and day care, but I would only take on new clients for those services if they met very tight criteria.]
- Dogs [We no longer provide services for any other species.]
- Female [Although we have male clients, almost all of my fully engaged clients – those who I anticipate lifetime service use from, are female.]
- Teacher, nurse, shift worker. [Our ideal client wants our unique selling point – flexibility]
- 25 to 55 [Again, most of my fully engaged clients fall into this age range, but I have some clients of all ages].
- Yes and Yes [Because I use Pet Software I do need clients to have an active email address, and a mobile phone for things to run seamlessly. This also means that they can access our info-site and e-newsletter, offers, diary dates etc.]
- Flexibility and experience [These are our unique selling points and we know that we will be a better fit with these clients because we will be able to give them exactly what they need.]
- A cheerful, dog-friendly, doesn’t pull on the lead dog, or two!
Now, just because my ideal client is this person, that doesn’t mean I don’t accommodate any clients who fall outside of these parameters.
However, knowing these criteria, helps me to spot a client who would present me with a number of difficulties, and I am usually happy for these clients to go elsewhere.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to focus on what you really want (and are able) to provide, and then focus on finding the clients who genuinely want what you are offering. We’ll look at marketing to find your ideal client in a future post.