Business Management

How to Accelerate Business Growth and Become a Leader with David Levin of Citizen Hound

Are you trying to decide whether or not to buy a dog walking business? Are you a long time business owner who is getting burned out and needs a pep talk with actionable items to move your business into a more positive direction? Then this podcast interview with Britt Alwerud and David Levin is for you!

David Levin is the owner and CEO of Citizen Hound - a world class dog walking company located in San Francisco. David started his business in 2011 after working in the fast paced world of copy writing and advertising. Looking for more work/life balance, he decided to start a dog walking business. With his background in marketing and advertising, combined with his love of dogs, people and the great outdoors, David built his business based on creating long term committed relationships with his clients, their pups and his staff. His hard work and dedication has earned Citizen Hound countless awards including - Best Dog Walkers in San Francisco 2017 and 2015 in Bay Woof Magazine. Best Dog Walkers in the Bay Area 2017 in The Bay Area A-List. #2 in the A List 2016 and 2015. #4 in 2014 and 2013. And Best Dog Walker in San Francisco by the SF Examiner 2017. David also cofounded a Dog Walker Certification Course in response to San Francisco requiring a dog walker permit to walk dogs commercially. David is the type of entrepreneur who faces challenges straight on, and fights to find the solutions and answers to overcome his biggest obstacles.

In this episode you’ll learn:

  1. How to get your business off the ground and accelerate growth.

  2. How important relationships are in a service based business.

  3. The pros and cons of buying a client list vs spending the same amount on advertising and sales.

  4. Whether or not you should take out a loan in the beginning of your business.

  5. Should you buy more client lists in order to expand your service business?

  6. The difference between buying a client list and buying a true business.

  7. The difference between selling a business and selling a client list.

  8. Why systems are key to your business.

  9. What if you were in a coma for a month? What if you break your leg? Can your business run itself?

  10. How word-of-mouth is a snowball effect and how to get your brand out there

  11. Why your website is key to your business’ success. It’s your store front as a mobile service business.

  12. Why SEO is key to your pet care business being #1 on Google and why this must be a priority for your mobile service business

  13. Pro tip: Look at the businesses that are on top of Google search pages and how does your website compare?

  14. How to develop your leadership skills as you build your team.

  15. Why personal development and managing your stress levels are key to being a solid leader.

  16. Ways to keep your service very personal even as you scale.

  17. How to define your business model. Every pet care business is so different. Some businesses like David’s only offer five day a week dog hikes, others are fill in pet sitters for other pet sitters, some might just do one-on-one pet sit visits. There’s so many ways to model a business and the most important things is to create a business that fits your demographic, goals and vision for your future.

To learn more about Citizen Hound, visit

How to Build a Pet Care Business Empire with Courtney DeDi

Courtney DeDi founded DiOGi Pet Services in 2010 to provide exemplary, professional dog walking and pet sitting services to the in-town Atlanta neighborhoods specializing in caring for pets with behavioral issues and special needs. What began as a 2 person company, DiOGi quickly gained the confidence and love of Atlanta's people and pets. Today, with more than 23 employees, DiOGi has become Atlanta's number one resource for professional pet sitting, dog walking and dog training.

Courtney has always had a love of pets and has been working in the pet industry for more than 14 years. She is a PetTECH Pet First Aid and CPR instructor, a member of the ASPCA, has volunteered for many different Humane Societies, organized fundraisers for EARS – (Emergency Animal Rescue Services) during the Hurricane Katrina Rescue Effort, worked as a dog handler and Assistant Manager for Central Bark Doggy Day Care in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, and is now the Executive Director of a nonprofit called DiOGi CARES in addition to volunteering with other pet rescue groups. She is a graduate of the National Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Program and continues to participate in small business programs to continue shaping DiOGi Pet Services into the best dog walking and pet sitting company possible. This summer, Courtney is opening Club DiOGi, a boutique, high-end daycare and grooming salon. She and her staff are committed to providing the best care for all of Atlanta’s pets when their humans are at work and play.

In this episode Britt and Courtney talk about how she hustled extremely hard to get her business off the ground and had several jobs while she got it going. They discuss why it’s important to have a side income while you get your business going, when to bring on your first team member and how to put systems in place to be able to support 23 employees. Courtney shares how she networks like a boss and gives back to her community. Courtney is an inspiring leader who is dedicated to creating a company culture that stands behind her values and mission.

Britt and Courtney also discuss how she has implemented team building strategies within her company to tackle her biggest pain points in a positive way. Most recently, Courtney and her partner Katie came up with a genius “squad” concept to identify leaders in their company and created fun monthly competitions to inspire more teamwork and communication amongst their staff. By creating more leaders within their organization it gives their staff more upward mobility within the company and allows the company to ensure quality and consistency, which in turn leads to more success for everyone involved.

In this episode you’ll learn:

  • How to start a pet care business with zero upfront capital

  • Whether or not you should go cold turkey and start your business, or have a side gig while you get it started

  • How to network like a boss and be a leader in your community

  • How to open a boutique dog daycare to complement your dog walking business

  • How to know when you should bring on your first team member

  • How to create leadership roles within your company and create fun goals to achieve a positive culture

  • How Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business program inspired Courtney to scale her business and achieve her dream of opening up her boutique dog daycare

  • Why finding a niche is key to creating a successful business  

  • How Handlr has helped DiOGi continue to scale by offering a local and professional option for ondemand scheduling for their clients

  • Why it’s important to offer your clients an ondemand app so that they don’t look for the convenience that apps like Wag and Rover offer

  • How using Handlr keeps your client list private and protects your business’ assets by providing a three-way chat to give your clients, management and staff a way to streamline communication

  • Why it’s better to find a software that works well for your business instead of building it from scratch

  • How to create a company culture when you own a mobile service business

  • Why Club DiOGi is a whole new type of doggy daycare that is committed to protecting your dog’s mental and physical well being. Club DiOGi provides a calm, safe and fun space for little dogs. By providing small, personalized groups, training games, Zen nap rooms, and even doggy puzzles, Club DiOGi aims to treat their canine members like royalty.

  • How to plan and budget for opening up a brick-and-mortar business

  • How to be a rockstar entrepreneur

Courtney’s favorite saying:

“I will not be governed by the tyranny of immediacy” - unknown

To learn more about DiOGi and keep up on the launch of Club DiOGi, visit                                                                                                                                          


Why Taking Really Good Care of Your Employees is the Key to Success

Adina Silberstein is the founder, President and CEO of award-winning, Philadelphia-based professional pet sitting, dog walking and force-free, holistic wellness company, Queenie’s Pets®, one of the largest pet care companies in the city.  She is a business and leadership coach and a Certified Canine Massage Therapist.  Adina is committed to making the lives of pets and their humans better by supporting her clients & communities in learning and practicing holistic, fear-free, force-free and pain-free care for all companion animals.  Adina is an active member of many professional associations, including Pet Sitters International, National Association of Professional Pet Sitters, the Pet Professional Guild and more. Adina sits on the Philadelphia Animal Advisory Committee, a team of 10 pet professionals from across the animal disciplines that  advises Philadelphia City Council and the city’s Mayor on all matters of the laws governing animals and their management - from companion animals, to the equine police units to wildlife and oversight of the main city shelter.

Adina is a writer for national & local pet-related blogs, including, &  She is also a graduate of American University as well as the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program.

In this episode you’ll learn:

  • The story behind Queenie's Pets and where the name came from
  • How to take really good care of your employees

  • How to take your mobile service business to the next level by creating systems and processes that prioritize efficiency, boundaries and profitability

  • The pros and cons of opening up a brick-and-mortar shop for your mobile service business

  • The importance of continuous business education in order to be a solid leader

  • The benefits of working with a business coach like Adina

  • How to get involved in your community to grow your business and give back

To learn more about Queenie's Pets and to find out more about Adina's business coaching program, visit:

Instagram: queeniespets

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How to Respond to Online Business Reviews with Kristen Lee

Are you small business owner who is panicking over an online review about your business from a competitor or a disgruntled past employee? Or are you wondering how to attract more positive online reviews? The answer might lie in making sure that you're building a tribe and cultivating the right relationships. Kristen Lee breaks it down for us on this week's episode of Handling Business!

Kristen Lee is two parts serious business strategist, one part fairy godmother with a double dose of Jersey, and she’s also the Founder & President of Kristen Lee Consulting, LLC {formerly Thrive}.

Kristen is a dog business consultant, marketing expert, high-end sales ninja, mindset and personal development thought leader. She’s also a continuous education and improvement junkie; always placing herself in the student seat.

And her vision?

Creating massive empires for dog business professionals, empowering industry leaders while accumulating wealth and FREEDOM in their businesses.

If she's not traveling the world on the search for business knowledge bombs to bring back to the dog biz industry, you can find her at her home in hipster Durham, NC with her hubby Frank, two dogs and one cat who thinks he's a dog.

In this episode, Kristen and Britt cover a wide range of topics and narrow in on getting clear on what your niche is in order to find your tribe. Kristen is a firm believer that you have to identify your tribe as the first building block in forming your marketing and sales plan so that you don’t waste time and money knocking on the wrong doors.

Kristen also talks about how important it is to cultivate your tribe and build a community so that when it comes to big “asks” it’s easier to communicate with your clients about writing reviews or spreading word of mouth about your business. Becoming the leader of your tribe also builds credibility as an expert, which leads to other great opportunities and more revenue streams.

Kristen shares what to do about good, bady and ugly reviews and how to deal with them in the most positive way. This episode is jam packed with good advice so don’t miss it!

3 Must-Haves for Your Business' Site

Responsive Design 

You MUST have a fully reactive, coherent, and clear design for your website. Your site must offer easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling. An awkward and cumbersome web experience is now considered indicative of a low-quality standard of service or product. Of course, your site should be mobile-friendly as well. In fact, Google will now penalize you if your site is not optimized for mobile devices! An investment in solid web design will surely boost your online business. Don't know where to get started? All Square Space sites are automatically responsive. Or you can find a local web designer to guide you how to get started.

Sticky Header 

This feature keeps the header at the top of the page as someone scrolls. The logo and menu is always present and available. This is great because it makes navigating your website seamless and effortless. It also ensures constant branding because your name or logo will always be visible. It is also very simple to do. With just a couple clicks, you can ensure your header stays sticky.

Plugins to capture emails 

Your users’ email addresses are worth their weight in gold. Being able to directly contact people interested in your service offers huge marketing potential. There are great free resources such as Privy or Powr that offer a simple and customizable pop ups for your website to capture email addresses. With this info, you can effectively direct marketing resources.

3 Traits of a Great CEO


If you have ever been in the cockpit of an airplane, you know that the many tools a pilot needs are clearly and meticulously arranged. The speedometer, altimeter, and GPS are right in front of him, exactly where they need to be. A pilot knows precisely what he has to do and when he has to do it. If things ever go awry, he can rely on this system of organization.  A CEO, as the “pilot” of his company, needs the employ the same system of organization. If your instruments (financial statements, marketing reports, etc,) are missing or miscalculated, you can’t make the right decisions. In addition, your time, your most precious resource, should be spent on the important stuff, especially when it is getting hectic.  When things inevitably go wrong, you can trust that your system of organization will help you solve the problem.

CEOs too, like great generals, need to inspire their “troops.”

Walks the Walk, Talks the Talk

One of the reasons George Washington was so revered by his soldiers was because he would fearless lead them into battle. Unlike other generals, he was on the front lines, leading the charge. CEOs too, like great generals, need to inspire their “troops.” They need to model the work ethic, attitude, and passion they hope to see in their employees. If the boss demands his workers should be responsible and diligent, he needs to model that behavior. Nothing inspires people like seeing their leader working just as hard, if not harder, than them. Not only will this yield inspiration, but respect as well. When your employees see how invested you are in the enterprise’s success, they will undoubtedly gain respect for you. When you actually “walk the walk” you become a much more effective leader.

Responds Well to Criticism

As many CEOs know too well, you can never be perfect. You constantly have to make decisions and any decision you make will inevitably be criticized. A big mistake is never listening to complaints and detractions. Too often, we take criticism to personally. John Wooden, the legendary college basketball coach, taught that “You can't let praise or criticism get to you. It's a weakness to get caught up in either one“ The best CEOs listen to their detractors and reanalyze their decisions. You should not bend to the will of anyone, but instead realize you are not infallible. Take criticism, especially constructive criticism, as an opportunity to better yourself and the decisions you make. This way, you will constantly grow and improve.

4 Tips for Keeping the Frustration at Bay

Running a small business can be more than a little frustrating. It tends to bring about emotions you didn’t even know you had. Being frustrated can cloud your mind and affect your thought process, causing poor decisions and lack of proper judgment.

1. Stay focused

Frustration is a poison that seeps into all aspects of your life. If you aren’t careful, it can cause you to neglect other tasks as you fixate on your frustration. Don’t let this get the better of you and take your focus away from what really matters.

2. Don't let your frustration affect your judgment.

As a business owner, your final decisions can make or break your business. Making clear, rational decisions requires a clear and rational thought process. Frustration is the enemy of rationality, causing you to overthink and develop delusional thoughts.

Therefore it’s absolutely crucial to force yourself to take a step back breathe deeply. This applies to every aspect of business, from a terrible employee/client, a bad review, a poor month or any of the thousands of other problems a business must deal with on a regular basis. Keeping your cool is what separates good leaders from poor leaders.

3. Focus on Progress

Instead of wasting time focusing on the cause of your frustration, invest your time in tracking the progress you make. This will not only ensure that your actually getting the tasks you need to completed, but will cause you to forget why you're so frustrated in the first place. These things need to get done, so just ignore your frustration and put in the grind.

Record and track your progress however you see fit, this will give you peace of mind as you cross off tasks left and right. If your frustration starts to stunt progress in areas outside of your work life, be sure to take notice. As we mentioned earlier, the blinding effects of frustration can be the downfall of much more than just work life.

4. Find An Outlet to Express your frustration

Often times frustration exists because of an inability to express concerns or problems in the correct outlet. If it stems from trouble at work, make sure that you create a constructive environment where healthy criticism and concerns can be properly addressed.

There’s a big difference between properly bringing your concerns to light, and doing so in a way that can cause problems in your business. This is why it’s crucial to create a business environment that allows you, your team members and clients to feel comfortable talking about what causes frustration. Remember that you might not be the only one frustrated in your business.

Small Business Talk: Avoiding the Summer Slump

For a child, summer is unquestionably the best time of year. Long, sunny days mean trips to beach, afternoons at the pool, and best of all, no homework. But for the small business owner, summer can be the worst season of all. Many companies experience a “summer slump” in June, July, and August. They struggle to find new customers and revenues don’t grow. You must avoid this dreaded “slump” at all costs. Doing so may require an investment of creativity, but it is necessary for success.

A great example is Starbucks. In the early days, people doubted if the chain could maintain sales in the warm summer months. Who would want a hot expresso in the middle of July? Starbucks, unwilling to submit to a seasonal drop in sales, innovated and debuted the all new “Frappuccino.” This iced drink has earned Starbucks billions and ensured they stay relevant all year round.

Where most see problems, you should see opportunity.

Like Starbucks, you should not settle into a “summer slump.” When revenues go down, it is up to you to boost them back up. It’s not time to take a break; it’s time to launch more marketing! This season offers exceptional opportunities to drive growth. Summer outings, events, and holidays have enormous marketing potential. You could host a BBQ for loyal customers, hand out flyers at a festival, or create summer themed giveaways. It is all about adapting your marketing techniques to the season. Where most see problems, you should see opportunity. Don’t accept a drop in sales, get creative and your summer may just become your favorite season again.

The Missing Piece of your Marketing Strategy: In-Person Marketing

A simple face to face connection is perhaps the best way to gain a new customer.

Every year, companies spend enormous amounts of time and money developing innovative marketing techniques. From electronic billboards, to sponsored web articles, to even creative skywriting -- businesses are constantly trying out new methods to drive growth. This desire to experiment with marketing is valuable, but often these efforts are poor uses of resources. Just because it is new doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good. Too often, businesses forget to focus on the simplest and perhaps most effective strategy: in-person marketing. Personal relationships with customers are critical to driving revenue and business growth. A simple face to face connection is perhaps the best way to gain a new customer.

Personal connections are especially important in the early stages of your business when you are still perfecting your model. Customer feedback is a key way to find out what elements of your business aren’t working. You can check in with your customers frequently and gain valuable information about pricing, quality, or anything else you want to know. A strong personal connection will ensure the feedback they give is honest and reliable. These connections are also great for market research. Learning more about your customers – who they are, where they are, and what they want – is critically important. You want to constantly tweak and improve your business to keep it relevant in the market place. Even for larger, more developed companies, maintaining and creating new personal connections is vital. It’s a big mistake to just see customers as dollar signs. Businesses who fail to understand what their customers actually want will not last long.  

Making meaningful connections with people can also be a great way to expand your business. Of all the types of advertising, one of the most valued is “word of mouth.” Your business profits when satisfied customers share their experiences and recommendations to friends and family. One Tweet or Facebook post could lead to many new customers. Again, this is why in person connections are so important. One solid interaction with someone will allow you to put a “face to the business.” Customers are of course more likely to share their opinions if that personal connection has been established.  One connection could lead to a whole web of potential new business leads. A small investment of time can lead to huge amounts of rewards. Your growing business could be one connection away from exponential growth.

In-person marketing is perhaps the best way to market your business, and best of all, it just requires a little bit of time. It’s as easy a quick call to a good customer. 

Personal Training Business Resource: ECA World Fitness

Who is ECA?

ECA World Fitness is an international organization and association representing the fitness and wellness community. ECA started their roots back in 1991 and is the undisputed leader for innovative and quality programming. ECA’s reputation for integrity is well known and has earned respect and trust for delivering win-win relationships with all of its partners.

What does ECA World Fitness offer?

ECA offers a wide array of resources to industry professionals from personal trainers, hybrid trainers, to yoga instructors. They offer workshops, seminars, online events, continuing education and webinars, resource materials, networking opportunities and a wide array of individual member benefits, including their claim to fame, and annual conventions, which are legendary throughout the industry.

Why ECA?

The personal fitness community is a competitive space and when it comes to searching for the right tools to support your mobile business and clients, ECA World Fitness has a strong reputation for over delivery. Be apart of their vast network, gain insight on industry trends, expand your knowledge and connect with like-minded people. 

For more information on ECA, visit their site here.

Step Back to Move Forward

No one said starting a business would be simple. As Shakespeare once said, "Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown."  In today’s environment, owners have to do it all. They need to be accountants, customer services representatives, digital marketing experts, and more. Too often, owners are overwhelmed by the details. Organizing invoices, tracking employees, and chasing payments all distract from the real goals of the business. Instead, you should be ensuring the quality of your service, engaging with customers, and driving new growth. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day to do it all.

There is an expanding school of thought that entrepreneurs shouldn’t be judged by how many hours they work, but rather by how effective those hours are. “I work 60 hours a week” shouldn’t be a badge a pride, but rather a sign you may be going wrong. Diligent, consistent work is the key to growing a business, but if it is focused in the wrong area, your efforts may be in vain. The solution is delegation. For many new business owners, it is very difficult to relinquish control. You need to be sure that the job still gets done right. You need to guarantee the payments are on time, your employees are where they need to be, and the budget remains balanced. But there really are tools out there that can help. Handlr has the resources to assist you more effectively in delegating and managing tasks. Our system makes handling finances and logistics a breeze. Applications like Handlr are so appreciated by business owners because not only does it do their tasks efficiently and correctly, they free up a lot of time for you to do what is really important – running your business.

To see Handlr in action, book a demo here.

Frequently Asked Questions: What's Handlr's Pricing?

We frequently get asked the question of, “What’s your pricing?” And we realized that this is something that needs a little bit of explanation. So, we decided to expand this conversation into a blog post where many other entrepreneurs in search of a business management software probably have the same question as well. Also, we want to open up the dialogue with our audience about their thoughts and opinions on this --please feel free to leave comments on this blog post at the end of your reading, we’d love to hear your feedback!

Handlr For Businesses

Our Handlr Partners have complete access to the entire platform for free. Seriously! Businesses can apply, receive an invitation code from us, fill out their company profile/information, and voila! Businesses can manage their team members’ schedules, manage customers, see reports, invoices, and more. To paint a detailed portrait of the whole process, the free version means that you can create appointments in your schedule, and whoever is assigned to the job will get a notification on the Handlr Team App (given that they’ve downloaded this on their smartphone) that they’ve been scheduled for an appointment. The team member can get directions to the job, check-in to the service, check-out when completed (business and customer gets notified of this), and the business gets paid instantly. It’s a beautiful thing.

Handlr for Customers

Let’s say your customers contact you directly to book an appointment with your business. Well, that gets pretty hard to manage when your business is expanding, and before the day is over you have hundreds of booking requests in your inbox, texts, voicemails and other channels of communications you have. By becoming a Handlr Partner, your customers can book you through our Handlr App. And we charge a 15% service cost that customers pay for the convenience. There’s more in it for them. Your customers can instantly chat within the app with you, and the assigned employee about their booking. The team member can send photos and updates about the service to your customer in real-time. And the customer can trust your business that the job is getting done with Handlr’s GPS tracking. They can also book other services on the app as well. For instance, if you’re a dog walking business, your customers can book a Private Dog Walk with you, and also find a local dog groomer on the app as well. We onboard complementary business so both businesses swap customers and your company grows.

We’ve had businesses that choose to have their customers pay for the 15% cost, or, some of our other Handlr Partners cut their prices back a tad and absorb the cost. There’s no right or wrong way of approaching this, just whatever works best for your business model.

The Takeaways

Handlr is free to use for businesses and that includes the entire dashboard log-in with 100% access to all the business management tools, and team member Handlr app. When customers book you through the app, the customer gets charged a 15% fee of your service price and they get to easily book you and many other services on Handlr.

If you are interested in seeing Handlr’s magic in action, schedule a demo with a rep, or apply to be a Handlr Partner here.

For any questions, feel free to email us at or leave a comment below.