Did You Know?
A large portion of Voegele’s job consists of pet visits, where she goes to the owner’s house, checks in on and takes care of the animal(s).
Stacy Leigh Voegele, Owner of The Critter Sitter, has been operating her in-home pet care service business for 10 years, offering a variety of services including in-home pet and house sitting, dog walking and much more. Voegele discussed her journey with us, finding true happiness in her job and a typical day in her unique career!
1. What was your journey like for you to get to the position you’re in today?
It has been tumultuous. Self-employment seems glorious to outsiders. It’s very hard to get past the business side of things and weave your way back to doing what you came to do. Not many self-employed business owners survive the business landscape after three years for this reason. There are many behind-the-scenes struggles, including long hours, costs and administrative things. For me, it has been particularly hard on my family to buy larger items such as homes and cars. Taxes and insurances were, and still are, astronomical, then throwing COVID-19 into it just as we became the biggest we’d ever been didn’t help. Thankfully, I have a commercial cleaning business that helped me sustain a flow of income along with the PPP loans to get us by until we recovered.
2. Which parts of taking this risk will stick with you forever?
I remember my friend telling me that I was nuts for doing this and had me thinking it may not take off, but I took a risk and it paid off. Luckily, I was able to hire staff because I HAD to hire staff. I was growing exponentially and it was extremely hard for me to say no to clients. My books were filling up and we, at one time, had over 400 visits during the Christmas weekend. The most memorable part so far was when my mom came and witnessed me win Entrepreneur of the Year in 2018.
3. What steps were the hardest when taking the leap to start The Critter Sitter?
Not seeing my family is still the hardest part of my day. I wake up earlier than them most days and get home after they are in bed. I spend most of my day in my vehicle and in other people’s homes. It is hard to navigate the steps of opening your own business, but I knew the right people to ask, as I worked for 28 years in the restaurant business. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. I had an extreme amount of assistance in opening the business.
Did You Know?
Voegele has the distinct honor of winning the Bismarck Mandan Chamber EDC Entrepreneur of the Year in 2018!
4. What was a typical day in your life like when you were beginning The Critter Sitter?
In the beginning, a lot of my days consisted of marketing myself and developing a brand on social media. I know a lot of people so it wasn’t hard and it helps that people love seeing pictures of animals! It was easy to grow by word of mouth. I would go to pet visits before work, head to my regular job, head to more visits, then, sometimes, have supper in the car or at home, if I was lucky. At lunch, I would leave as well if I had to. On weekends, I would do pet visits and clean six to eight businesses on my own, until I hired staff for that as well.
5. What would you have done differently if you could go back and start again, knowing what you know now?
I would absolutely change a lot of things, including making more time for my personal life. I would start by having a business plan, better software for accounting on my end and a better system for tracking the client base. We’re working on fine-tuning things now after 10 years and have recently rebranded. In the end, it’s never too late to get a hold of it.
6. What advice do you have for readers considering taking this leap?
It’s important to really think about how to keep your work and personal life separate. Your family means more to you than a paycheck. Just because you are busy, that won’t make you successful, it just makes you stressed. Hire a good team and an assistant (when you can) that knows you in and out. Lastly, make time for self-care and making memories with your family. Those you will remember more than how much money you made or how much work you did!
7. What else would you like to add regarding your personal experience in taking this risk?
Not everyone is going to like you. You will have bad experiences, but you can chalk it up to learning. Do what you can to make it right and move on, as that’s all you can do. Don’t let negativity make a space to live in your head.
8. What is something you wish more people knew about The Critter Sitter?
We also house-sit for people! We water flowers, check the mail and do minor chores. We make sure that all is right for when they return home, including the basic groceries.
Did You Know?
Pet visits usually last 20 minutes in length and take care of all of your pet’s needs!
Get In Touch
Phone: (701) 426-5063
Email: [email protected]