TALES FROM THE HOLLYWOOD PET SITTERS
West Hollywood, California - Michael Landa and Brett Montana found a niche and created a unique business which was recently voted by the City of West Hollywood as "Best Service Business of the Year." Their brainchild, The Pet Staff, offers the highest level of professional pet sitting care available.
The genesis of the business was unique as well. "Six years ago I was Director of Corporate Development for Universal Studios," Michael explains. "Brett and I were going to take a trip to Colorado together. He was COO for a business in the Valley at the time. Brett's dog Max was too old to fly, so we looked around for a sitter. We narrowed it down to a company that didn't call back, a second company that didn't show up for the first appointment and a third that was three hours late. So we decided to drive the 2,000 miles and bring Max with us." Halfway across Utah, Michael and Brett realized not only did it appear that there were no reliable, professional pet sitting services in Los Angeles, but that this was also a niche where they could combine their business backgrounds and their love for animals. The Pet Staff was born.
"Anyone can print a business card and be a 'professional pet sitter' today, " Michael continues. "It's pretty scary. We saw an opportunity to leverage our 32 years of combined business experience. We continue to grow at rates my former boss, Jack Welch would be proud of - some 25-30% per year. We have a staff of over one hundred people covering greater Los Angeles, including the Westside, Valley, Pasadena, Long Beach and South Bay areas."
Pet Staffers have been asked to baby-sit a Christmas tree, hand-feed worms to an exotic frog with hemorrhoids, walk a duck in a harness, clean 32 gerbils (keeping the males and females separated!), give dog commands in Swiss, German and Swahili, hand feed a tarantula, and spend the night with up to five dogs in the owner's bed.
One sitter was surprised by a client in his underwear, hiding in the hallway closet with a tape recorder, making sure that the sitter was spending a full 30 minutes for the visit and talking baby talk to Scout, a mixed breed rescue dog. Pet Staffers sit for thousands of clients each month, including a long list of celebrity clients that employ the company to pamper their pets.
Michael suggests a checklist when interviewing a potential sitter. It's important to cover such issues as liability insurance. The Pet Staff carries the maximum $2,000,000 of liability coverage. It's also important to know if your sitter is bonded adequately. The Pet Staff is bonded with $50,000 per incident for the client's added protection - the highest available. "We provide all clients with a lock box and a unique code, so the keys are always in the client's control, " Michael continues. "We also offer a guaranteed back up in case the primary sitter is unable to make it to his or her appointment. We have many clients in the entertainment industry that rely on us to be there for them if their schedule suddenly changes. We can do that because we have over one hundred staff members who can cover each other. Those companies with less resources need at least 48 hours notice."
The Pet Staff runs ADP background checks on all of its pet sitters. Many are experienced in the area of subcutaneous fluid administration and insulin injections and several have saved pet's lives.
Abby, a Yellow Lab friend is a resident Pet Staff office dog and is also part of the pet sitter interview evaluation. "If someone comes into the office and brushes by Abby to get to the paperwork, I'm not interested, " Michael explains with a grin. "If they get down on the floor with her before seeing me, I've got a potential sitter. That's who I want to work with our clients."
This is also a company that contributes part of its annual earnings to support animal welfare organizations; the pets of California are in good hands with this company.
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