Today we’d like to introduce you to Sarah Homan.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Sarah. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I was working in Deerfield and commuting from Portage Park when I found out there weren’t nearly as many choices for a qualified dog walker in my area as there had been when I lived further into the city. I started putting together a business plan for a dog walking company and launched a few months later, hiring 2 employees to get us started while I still had to be at my full-time job. Within 8 months I had left my full-time job to focus on growing S’wooft and today we have 13 employees, including an Office Manager (Lisa Aikin) and Pack Leader (Misty McDorman Warfield) who helps train our staff as well as assisting with training/health concerns of the pets we serve. From day one my philosophy has been that happy walkers make for happy pets, which make for happy clients and a successful business. We’ve been very careful about interviewing and staff selection, and aim to find the people for whom this is an ideal job because of their love for animals and the other logistics of their life. We’ve been focused on providing loving and reliable pet care, and seek to uphold a high standard of professionalism in our walker training (Pet First Aid/CPR Certification and other ongoing training throughout the year) and through our customer service. As owner, I’ve learned several valuable lessons in our first 2+ years and we continue to work through these new business challenges to improve our service so we can be around for a long time!
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
At the end of the day, I really can’t complain since our job is to spend time with pets. The business has certainly had a lot of challenging moments, some more difficult to work through than others, but the work is going toward something I’m really passionate about and that’s helped keep me focused and motivated. I’ve learned (often the hard way) about employment law, including converting our staff early on from independent contractors to W2 employees, how to best handle various customer crises, how to structure a management team and work with those individuals as a first-time “boss” (still learning!), how to deal with both major and minor injuries of walkers (even a very minor bite needs a lot of attention for an employee), how to improve policies around service pricing and scheduling, liability, and what service offerings are truly the best fit for us given these parameters.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the S’wooft (Dog Walking & Pet Care) story. Tell us more about the business.
I’m proud that we’re one of the first pet care companies in this area (far NW Chicago) with a focus on reliability and professionalism. There are a lot of smaller “mom & pop” type services in the area who may or may not be licensed/bonded/insured – those can be a wonderful service for the right client, but S’wooft offers an extra layer of service and liability coverage that gives clients a great peace of mind.
We primarily offer daily dog walks, usually midday but also available for evenings and weekends, and then also do regular vacation care for cats, dogs, and other animals. This is usually in the form of multiple visits a day without an overnight sitter, although we may bring back the overnight option through independent contractors. We also offer pet taxi and wedding services for those who need to get their pet to/from a vet or other appointment during the day or would like to include their fur babies in their special day!
Philanthropy is also a big part of our mission and has taken many forms, primarily including our annual staff/client participation in the PAWS 5K Walk/Run for Their Lives (raising over $4,200 total so far!) and rescuing lost pets we find in the area (in partnership with The Dog House of LC&L and the Garrido Stray Rescue Foundation).
Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I don’t particularly believe in “luck” but I do believe in reaping what you sow (or as I sometimes call it, the “boomerang of karma”), and I’m a person of faith so I’m constantly praying for the wellbeing of my staff, clients, and the company itself. Good things have happened to me/us throughout life and the business and bad things have happened – the bad is what teaches the lessons that I’ve needed to learn along the way or tested me in ways that prepared me for the next steps, and the good I believe is favor shown in big and small ways that correlates with the work and dedication I put into all that I do, including S’wooft.
- Half hour dog walk $15/daily (+$4 for extra dogs or evening/weekend)
- Hour dog walk $23/daily (+$5 for extra dogs or evening/weekend)
- Cat care $15/day for 1 visit) or $26/day for 2 visits (+$4 for extra pets)
- Address: 3943 N. Austin Ave.
Chicago, IL 60634
- Website: www.swooftchicago.com
- Phone: 773-340-1775
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/swooftchicago
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/swooftchicago
- Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/swooft-dog-walking-and-pet-care-chicago
- Other: https://www.google.com/#q=s’wooft&lrd=0x880fcc4448f5d46f:0x55816120deccc9de,1,