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Over the past three months my wife and I have been house-sitting in and around Victoria, British Columbia. Though there are several sites out there for connecting home-owners with those who love to travel and care for pets, we generally use Trusted Housesitters. While it’s been an incredible opportunity to make new friends and see a part of the world we’ve admired for years, house-sitting in this way is also remarkably similar to running a successful business.

Spend More Time Qualifying

The corollary to this principle, of course, is that you need to be extremely specific. Applying for every house-sit that comes up is not only a waste of time for everyone involved, it’s also meaningless unless you clearly define your goals. Think about it: in your business, does your team have a clear understanding of your target customer and how your product will help that customer meet their business objectives? Because it’s never just about your product, it’s about how your product can help make the lives of a specific set of people much easier and more enjoyable. This is a basic tenet of customer success. If your product can’t help your customers meet their goals – and if your team hasn’t picked up on this crucial fact – then you don’t have a business, you have street theater. House-sitting is no different, except that the product is you.

We Win With Referrals

Referrals are essential to running a great business, but their importance runs even deeper than you think. On a very shallow level, referrals help you grow your business without continuously spending time and money to do so.

But do you know the true meaning of referrals?


Your product may be fantastic, your salespeople might be rock-stars, your accountants might be wizards… but without trust once again your business looks like a sideshow. One of your loyal customers told their friends about you and those friends are now calling you for more information? Treat those calls like gold manna from heaven, because nothing could be more valuable to fuel the growth of your company. Of course, there will always be exceptions. That’s why we need empathetic individuals who have the willingness and capability to lead at all levels of an organization.

Even before our first house-sit had concluded, my wife and I were already receiving references for future opportunities. When you are the product and the goals of your customer involve caring for their home and beloved pets, the meaning of trust comes into sharp focus.

To Teach Or Not To Teach? Wrong Question

House-sitting in this way is relatively new in the United States and Canada, so the question naturally arises, “Are we hurting ourselves by telling more people about Trusted Housesitters? Won’t that just create more competition?”

This question only skims the surface. Here’s how to re-frame it:

“How can we be the best house-sitters possible? From the moment we first reach out to a new home-owner to the moment we give them back their keys at the end of our stay, how can we nurture our mutual trust?”

I love telling people about house-sitting. The people who care enough to check it out for themselves and become house-sitting legends will raise the awareness and appreciation of house-sitting around the world. This helps create a community of sharing and everyone improves their game. Win-Win to the nth degree. Those who don’t care, we don’t have to worry about.

As in life, so in business. If you try to imitate someone’s every move you won’t make it far. Running a business is not difficult, but running a great business means that we need to instill a culture of leadership and discipline throughout our entire organization. We need you to be awesome in every sense of the word, and this includes being generous with your newly acquired wisdom. In the very act of teaching you will learn more about what it means to be the best. Of course, what matters most is being extremely specific (there’s that word again) about how you define ‘the best.’

By focusing on these three assets, we take the guess-work out of house-sitting and form lasting relationships with every home-owner we meet. Think back to the title of this post and I hope you’ll agree that the answer is a resounding ‘No.’ By identifying the needs of home-owners, we’re making ourselves more valuable and loving every minute of it. It’s more challenging, it takes a greater investment of talent… and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Customer Success, Leadership, Empathy

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