In this months customer spotlight, we are excited to introduce you to Kara Dello Russo owner of Kara’s Pet Care. She shared an insightful and inspiring story about overcoming adversity, how that led to starting a successful pet sitting business, her goals for the new year and why you should never give up! Life threw Kara a curveball, and she's hitting it out of the park.
Hi Kara, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I started working for the family veterinary office when I was 15 doing mainly kennel work. Working as a veterinarian was a life goal. If my family asked “what do you want to be when you grow up,” the answer was always a vet. I started working as a vet tech when I went to college. I was so excited when I applied to vet school and was accepted to Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine, an American school located in the Caribbean. I was there for over a year and found a mass in my hip. I came home and wasn’t able to do much of anything on my own. I would be up all night pacing trying to alleviate the excruciating pain, basically, it was really awful. I was 23 at the time and it took almost 6 months for doctors to figure out what was going on.
How did you end up starting a pet sitting company?
I tried to work in a veterinary hospital while still somewhat sick. Safety started to become an issue because I couldn’t move a certain way. For instance, if a large dog was having anxiety and moved a certain way, I couldn’t keep up nor move with the animals to protect them and myself.
The staff was very supportive of my situation. I ended up getting business cards made because pet sitting for solo animals did not require the same amount of movement. The staff was handing out my new business cards to all of their clients, this is how Kara’s Pet Care was born. I then learned there was a real need for veterinary techs that could pet sit because certain pets, for behavioral or medical reasons, cannot be boarded or sent to a kennel.
Of course! It’s all about commitment and client peace of mind and Scout helps me provide this to my clients with their accountability features. If you aren’t willing to put in the time and effort for your clients, then it’s all for not.
What motivates you, what are you most passionate about?
My passion comes from wanting to make people feel comfortable with me and my services and the animals of course! I had an interesting situation where I received a call regarding a diabetic lab. The client called me because the Labrador wasn’t eating and his insulin could not be administered because of the lack of food. Sometimes people think that dogs understand boarding facilities when really it is a life-altering event for the animals. They don't understand what's going on. It definitely gives (the owner) more peace of mind to do in-home care.
When did you realize you needed to hire employees?
Roughly two years after I started my business, I had a great clientele list but was turning down appointments because of the schedule. The business was just so busy and overwhelming and I needed help. I realized that I had to hire a few employees.
What was it like hiring your first employee?
Hiring is extremely difficult and I didn’t realize it until then. I wanted to continue with the need for vet techs to pet sit, but I was incredibly picky about who I wanted to bring on and introduce to my clients. I didn't want to jeopardize the wonderful relationships I have with them and their pets. At the end of the day, I try to hire vet techs that are personal and empathetic.
Can you walk us through what it was like before you had Scout?
Oh boy! I was making lists and trying to get through the day. When I hired my first employee, I handed her a piece of paper with the addresses and walk times. It was incredibly stressful for both of us, what if she lost the list, what if she missed a walk. There was no organization or accountability. It’s kind of funny when I think about it now, it was a lot of scrambling, figuring things out and making sure all of the details were together.
When was your “BAM” moment? Meaning, when did you say, enough’s enough, I need something to help with the administrative side of this business?
We had no way of knowing all tasks were complete. Unfortunately, we had an incident that made me realize we needed something for accountability. After researching different software companies, I came to the realization that accountability wasn’t the only thing we needed, easier scheduling options was another feature that made a huge impact.
What are your favorite ways to build awareness of your business and gain new clients?
Generally, I use facebook. Scout gives me an edge, and a lot of people are recommending me. A lot of word of mouth from clients because they see the value. We like to do silly things with the Scout picture feature for our pet owners. The number of people, that will be out with friends and show off the report card and the fun photos, are pretty large.
What were your top accomplishments in 2017?
It was a really big year for us. It was the first year I had a real staff and the first year that I felt like I had a work-life balance. To top it off, I finally got approval for an addition to my business.
Tell us more! What are your plans for 2018?
I am proud and excited to say we are opening a dog daycare. It’s in the process of being built and we’re hoping to have a grand opening for summer 2018. The pet care industry is just growing so rapidly and if you care, you attract a lot of clients. Do you remember Gilmore Girls? Well, that’s our town, quirky, weird and wonderful. And I’m just a townie!
Thank you, Kara, for your contribution to his highly insightful spotlight series based around New Year’s goals and giving life everything you’ve got. Even after a life-altering event, Kara stayed focused and motivated with the help of her family, vet staff and her own strong will to succeed and continue in the industry she is most passionate about.
“Life will find a way,”
- Jeff Goldblum, Jurassic Park.
If you are a Scout customer and interested in being featured in our customer spotlight, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org