Find the right people
Another key component of Petplan’s success is the culture that requires employees to love what they do. At Petplan, that means pet lovers are welcome and those who have a tough time with animals need not apply.
“If they are not passionate about pets, we will not hire them,” Natasha says. “Your culture is the be-all and end-all. Competition will come in regardless of the industry, regardless of the market. Products will be commoditized, and all that you have at the end of the day is your brand, your culture and your service. Those are the things you have to be true to because those are what endure.”
That doesn’t mean you just have to be nice and have a bunch of dogs at home to get a job at Petplan. You need the skills to do your job, but you need to be able do that in a way consistent with the company’s culture.
When he’s interviewing prospective new employees, Chris says he looks for situations where the candidate made a difference.
“Give me an example of a situation where you made a real difference,” Chris says. “Where did you improve a process or make something better? It lets people talk about anything from their personal life to their business life. We aren’t looking for people who just want a job. We want people who want to get in here, get better and improve. Some people want to come in and just get told what to do. We want people who can think and are looking for ways to be better.”
Know your stuff
Petplan now insures more than 100,000 pets across the United States. The company continues to expand and the Ashtons see a bright future ahead.
One of the lessons that Natasha took from the experience of getting the company off the ground was the importance of preparation. It’s particularly critical when you’re asking people to invest in your business.
“You have to have the answers for everything,” Natasha says. “You have to be prepared, polished and know the industry better than they know the industry. Know your presentation inside out and back to front.”
Chris adds that you’re not just selling your business plan.
“They are investing in you the person as much as your business,” Chris says. “They have to believe in you.” ●