As the owner of a pet sitting and dog walking company, I often find myself tethered to my responsibilities and the needs of my clients. However, my recent trip to Scotland taught me valuable lessons about maintaining a balance between work and travel. I had not traveled internationally, extensively  in almost eight years. Here’s what I learned about leaving work behind and keeping my business running smoothly from across the Atlantic.

1. Trust Your Team and  Businesses that Support You

Before my trip, I made sure to communicate extensively with my team. I entrusted my staff and supporting business such as attorneys, banks, accountants , Human Resources and insurance personal with additional responsibilities and ensured they were confident in handling any situation. This trust was crucial, as it allowed me to focus on enjoying my trip without constantly worrying about business matters.

2. Plan Ahead

Planning was key to a smooth operation. I created a detailed schedule, responses, contacts  and notes for the days I would be away, outlining all appointments and services through our Software Time to Pet. I made sure that everyone’s contact information detailed on documents.  Along with proper legal documentation to allow my manager to make decisions on my behalf if needed, with additional contacts of trusted and veteran Pet Sitters and Dog Walkers.

I additionally did not accept or add any additional services  By doing so, I minimized the chances of unexpected surprises.

3. Utilize Technology

Technology became my best friend. I used Time to Pet  to check in appointments, keep track of daily activities and reports, as well as communication with clients.. Regular check-ins via the Time to Pet Dashboard  ensured that everything was running smoothly. These tools allowed me to monitor the business from afar and provided peace of mind. Eventually I started to check in less and got to focus on my bonnie trip to Scotland.

4. Empower Your Team and Yourself

Empowering my team was essential.  Communicating with each other  and the client was also important as I was not always available.  This empowerment not only boosted confidence but also fostered a sense of ownership and responsibility within the team.

It got to the point where, my acting manager told me to go away and they had it handled.  It was just as hard to let go of the reigns for a little bit, but empowering to do so.

5. Emergency Protocols

Having clear emergency protocols with our Standard Operation Procedure  in place was vital. I made sure my team knew exactly what to do in case of an emergency, whether it was a pet health issue or a scheduling conflict. Knowing that they were prepared for any situation allowed me to relax and enjoy my travels.

6. Client Communication

Keeping clients informed was a priority. Before leaving, I notified all clients about my trip months in advance and sent reminders.  I  introduced them to the staff members who would be taking care of their pets while I was away or assisted in making arrangements with other  trusted Pet Sitting and Dog Walking companies. Meet and Greets were done as soon as possible and practice runs, while I was still in the country.

7. Self-Care and Enjoyment

Lastly, I learned the importance of self-care. Traveling is an opportunity to recharge and gain new perspectives. By setting boundaries and allowing myself to truly disconnect from work at times, I returned refreshed and more motivated to grow my business, but also allow me the opportunity to start planning for my next trip.

My Scottish Adventure

Scotland is a land of breathtaking landscapes, rich history, and vibrant culture. From the rolling hills of the Highlands to the bustling streets of Edinburgh, every moment was a reminder of the beauty of exploration. Visiting places like Loch Ness, St. Andrews, the Wallace Monument and the historic Castles and Battlefields  was an unforgettable experience.

I also took time to indulge in local delicacies like haggis, fresh seafood, delicious desserts and whisky! I got explore the ancient ruins, walk where historical figures lived and immerse myself with the Scottish people, who were welcoming and warm hosts. Each experience not only enriched my travel journey but also provided me with new ideas and inspirations for my business.

My animal loving self  got to view a Sheep Herding Demonstration with several Border Collies, watching them do the work that they were bred to do was inspiring and reconfirmed that these dogs LOVED what they did, even after the calling commands were done.  We got see lots of sheep and lambs, Highland Cows, but sadly no Nessie, she was a bit shy.

While in Edinburgh, I came across the heartwarming story of Greyfriars Bobby, a Skye Terrier who became famous for his loyalty to his owner, John Gray. After Gray’s death, Bobby spent 14 years guarding his master’s grave in Greyfriars Kirkyard, the most haunted place in the UK. He was a beloved Edinburgh icon,  until his own death in 1872. Bobby’s story is a testament to the unwavering loyalty and bond between pets and their owners, which deeply resonated with me as a pet care professional. Visiting Greyfriars Kirkyard and seeing Bobby’s statue reminded me of the importance of the work we do. Our pets depend on us, and our clients trust us to care for their beloved companions. This experience reinforced my commitment to providing the best care possible, whether I’m physically present or not. As part of the local customs, many would leave sticks, socks or treats behind.  Fittingly enough, my Mom packed one of our famous colored tennis balls and  I left a tennis ball at Bobby’s grave – a small token of appreciation for his unwavering loyalty.

Greyfriars Bobby

My trip to Scotland was a testament to the fact that it is possible to leave work behind and still ensure the smooth running of a business. With the right planning, technology, and team, you can enjoy your travels while keeping your business thriving. So, go ahead and explore the world – your business will be there when you return, and you’ll be better for the journey.

Taisteal sona!

Happy travels!

About the Author:

Savanna Westwood

Savanna Westwood is the Owner and Founder of The Savvy Sitter, Pet Sitting and Dog Walking, LLC. She has grown up with animals all her life and enjoys spending time with them. Savanna has lived in the Winter Garden and Windermere Area for over 30 years. When she is not taking care of Fur Friends, one can find her reading, practicing archery, riding, and devising ways to provide additional and excellent services to clients.  Savanna is a Certified Professional Pet Sitter with Pet Sitter International's CPPS certification and also holds certification in Pet First Aid and CPCR for Pet-Care Professionals.

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