Pet Care Pro Quarterly - Q3 2020

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HEALTH & WELLNESS Mystery Writer








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FROM FROM THE THE PUBLISHER PUBLISHER Hello! Here at IBPSA we hope that each of our readers are practicing healthy habits in their homes and businesses. Never in the history of this industry have we seen so much loss of life and so many business closures in such a short amount of time. Most business owners have found themselves evaluating their business and personal life while at the same time looking for some normalcy or consistency. IBPSA has worked this last quarter to provide that consistency by continuing our mission of delivering resources and education that help businesses move forward despite the challenges that are all around. Pet Care Pro Quarterly is one of those resources. I encourage you to take time out of your day and read through the many articles and give yourself an opportunity to breathe. Have you stopped by the Member Dashboard recently and watched some of our recent webinars? These are free educational opportunities to the membership!

Have you registered for the 2020 Virtual Conference? We have pulled together a wonderful group of talented speakers and a virtual exhibit floor. Unlike the normal brick and mortar show, you have the opportunity to hear every session and visit the exhibit floor until March 31st of 2021. We miss the opportunity to be with you in Orlando, but we are grateful for the opportunity to e-meet with you virtually. Look for more information to be released in the coming weeks. I am looking to see each of you there! Thank you for your support of IBPSA as we support the industry.

Carmen Rustenbeck Publisher, Pet Care Pro Quarterly Founder & CEO, IBPSA International Boarding & Pet Services Association


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Kelly Cullum

Kelly is the former COO and Corporate Officer of Biotech/Diagnostic Medical Device Space. Working within the Veterinary diagnostic arena provided the springboard to opening her first facility in 2004 followed by a second facility in 2012.

Mike Hajduk

Mike is the immediate past president of Callahan Roach Business Solutions, the premier provider of flat rate pricing and marketing products in the HVAC, plumbing and swimming pool industries.

Alex McKinnon

Alex has 30+ years of increasing responsibility, with innovation senior leadership roles with Kinn, Gillette, Braun, Bell Sports, Sara Lee, Sylvan Learning Center, Hampton Products International and TopicalNet based in USA, Spain, Germany, and Scandinavia.

Jessica Finnegan

Jessica is the CEO/Founder at Good Human /Your Pet Business Experts. Jessica has served as a Hospital Administrator for several hospitals and was the Director of Operations for one of the largest hybrid veterinary and boarding resorts in the US.

Daniel Talbott

Dan is working to deliver the next generation of analytics platform for occupational safety, risk management and loss control systems. Dan brings years of operational experience managing large IT operations, safety and cyber security for large companies around the world.

Ryan Ainsworth

Ryan has been a veterinarian for 12 years, purchasing his first clinic 6 years ago in Mesa, Arizona. He has since purchased two more. His most recent purchase was Bark Avenue, which has an Animal Hospital, Pet Resort, and a Pet Supply store.

Ron Sosa

Ron is currently responsible for the vision, growth, and economic stability of Bark Avenue Enterprises located in Mesa, Arizona. As the Director of Operations, he is involved in three Veterinary Hospitals, one Pet Resort, and one Pet Supply retail store. FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT OUR BOARD MEMBERS, VISIT



2020 CONFERENCE EXHIBITORS The Virtual Trade Show Floor will be open each conference day from 1-7pm (ET). More exhibitors will continue to be added!

Business Insurers of the Carolinas PetReserve • 2-6pm(ET) all 3 days. Pre-conference and post-conference hours coming soon. • All registrants will receive an email in September with your login and instructions for utilizing our virtual platform. • Going virtual offers a unique opportunity to include your facility’s staff in quality business education without the added travel expenses. • More than 30 sessions, including two General Sessions. That’s less than $7/session for member pricing. • IBPSA Members will have access to bonus sessions designed just for them. • We will have our traditional Virtual Meet & Greet online, 5pm-7pm (ET) Monday • The full conference, including the Exhibit Hall, will be available on-demand for 6 months following conference. • Our annual IBBY Awards will be celebrated on Thursday prior to our closing Keynote Speaker. • Please visit for session details and the latest information.

Kinn Inc. Good Human Pet Business Experts PetExec PermaTek Coatings The Dog Gurus Doxieworks LLC K9 Grass by Foreverlawn Market Hardware FetchFind Gingr Software Health Technology Professional Products Inc. Virox Animal Health PACCC King Wholesale Ogena Solutions Kuranda Dog & Cat Beds NVA The Mason Company/MidMark Spray Master Technologies



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PAW PARTNER’s © COVID RELIEF RESPONSE We are pet care business owners, just like you. With the recent events around this country, many states have had stay home orders which has drastically impacted our industry across this country. To help ease the economic burden of reopening, we are offering FREE SOFTWARE FOR 6 MONTHS to those who register with us by June 30th. This is our way of helping those small businesses and pet owners-our community, come out of this stronger. We have a great software and mobile app for both pet parents, pet businesses, and employees. This offer applies to current Paw Partners, those in the onboarding process and our future Paw Partners as well!

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Tell us a little about yourself. Where is home for you? Pets? Hobbies? Random skills? At 50 yrs old…. A “little” about myself is kind of hard! LOL I am #4 of 6 children in a large Irish family born in Pittsburgh, PA. I am very close to my siblings and family is so important to me. I am a huge fan of all animals but a special place in my heart for Great Danes. My total love bug was a 160 pound harlequin, Seamus! I love all things outdoors. I spend my free time on the water swimming, kayaking, boating and just started paddle boarding. I find my peaceful place in cooking. I love bringing to life my mother’s wonderful recipes. Generation after generation… these meals have served as staples in our homes. I know she is smiling from heaven.


Give us a little information about key steps that you took during your career. I have had a very unique career path. I have spent the last few decades developing as a leader, coach and mentor. I have led a variety of teams from 5 to over 100. My time was spent in non profit, profit, large corporations and many small business. I have worked hand in hand with entrepreneurs and investors building and opening businesses in many different industries. The last 15 years I have spent directly in the pet hospitality and medical industry. I have put my hands on every position within the walls of the business up to my most recent, Director of Operations for one of the largest vet hospital and luxury pet resort in the US. I have made it my life’s passion to lead, inspire, coach and mentor all levels of leaders. It is my passion and goal as the owner/CEO of Good Human / Your Pet Business Experts to be: • • • • •

Identifiers of Business Gaps Creators of Solutions Client Acquisition Leader Financial Growth Manager Good Human focuses on the people problems and driving business solutions!

What has drawn you to the Pet Care industry? What drew me to this industry was the emotionally driven collective of people who fill it. The passionate people who made up owners and leaders and seeing the need for development. Being in the industry I quickly realized there were currently wonderful and talented consultants and guides that addressed animal behavior and training to be successful with the pets. PET CARE PRO QUARTERLY | Q3 2020 | IBPSA.COM/PETCAREPRO | 12


But, when it came to the people – the team – the leaders there was little to offer. I was told by one of my clients recently that our industry provides Step 1 (The basics of the Pet Business) and offers grand stories of the potential of Step 3 (Revenue Growth) but never before has she had a Step 2 addressed and achieved. Step 2 is the practical hands on problem solving, solution finding and step by step process to achieve the goals for their unique business. Others offered overviews and 60,000 feet concepts of how to. My team focuses on Step 2 Solutions! What is the importance of associations (specifically this one!) for a small business owner? Business owners know what is right in front of them daily. Imagine being in a rabbit hole and trying to guide a truck from outside. Being in a resort for many years I came to realize I thought I knew everything there was to know until I didn’t. Belonging to IBPSA takes owners out of that rabbit hole and encourages them to breathe in the benefits of the networking, sharing common and current issues with like minded people, to continue to learn and teach others and to feel part of something greater than yourself. Humans are built to be part of communities. IBPSA offers the platform for that. It is an absolute must! How do you view the pet care industry is different from other industries in which you have been involved? The largest differentiator has been that this is one industry that naturally drives candidates from a variety of other industries into it. This industry reminds me of Florida. A very small % of people are true Floridians. The majority are implants. The pet hospitality industry are filled with implants from other industries at a level of 2nd or 3rd career all seeking the fountain of youth with a wonderful and profitable business while finally having a true work/life balance! What area(s) do you see the pet care industry needing more emphasis than it is generally getting from current business owners? There needs to be a much higher intentional emphasis on the people! Everyone knows we are only as good as our teams; however, the comfort zone to many consultants and leaders goes to the animals. When staff become a focal point, the teaching moment is based around staff and working with animals. Although I can completely understand this critically important focus, this industry has done a disservice by not focusing on the team, healthy listening leaders, development and building a sustainable team that will drive results as a united front. Good Human has focused our entire platform of teaching and coaching towards the TEAM. We believe when the nucleus is strong and grounded, everything else becomes clear and true results can begin. What can you tell the membership to encourage them for the road ahead? What our present situation of Covid-19 has proven very clearly to all of us is that the future is unpredictable. Just when we think we are in total control and our path is solid, the world turns us upside down and reminds us we are not totally in control. Having a strong support system of like minded people to lean on in times of uncertainty was invaluable. We should continue to seek information, understand industry changes and learn from our peers. Associations like IBPSA help to provide the entire platform. IBPSA is the toolbox filled with all the necessary things you will need in order to run a successful pet business! With IBPSA and Good Human / Pet Business Experts you are set for success!!


What What vision vision do do you you have have for for the the future future of of your your business? business?


Questions to Questions ask as you to enter ask as you discussionsenter discussions with potential with potential partners. partners.

01 01 Is it the right culture

Dr. Steve Wolchinsky Rocky Gorge Animal Hospital - Laurel, MD Dr. Steve Wolchinsky NVA 2017 Rockypartner Gorge since Animal Hospital - Laurel, MD NVA partner since 2017

02 02 Are there flexible

03 03 How comprehensive




Is the right culture fit it for your team? fit for your team?

Are flexible dealthere structures? deal structures?

How comprehensive are the support services? are the support services?

As you begin considering your options As begin considering options for you selling your pet resort your business, for selling your pet resort business, it’s important to find a partner aligned it’s to firespectf nd a partner aligned withimportant your values, ul of the with your values, respectf ul of the individuality of what you’ve built, and individuality of what you’ve built,while and equipped to grow your business, equipped to grow your business, while your team and culture remain intact. your team and culture remain intact. Ask around to find out which buyers Ask to reputati find outon which buyersfor havearound the best for caring have the the bestpeople reputati on for pets and who lovecaring them.for pets and the people who love them.

Because selling your pet resort is such Because selling your you’ll pet resort a personal decision, wantistosuch aunderstand personal decision, you’ll wantons to are what types of opti understand what types of opti ons are available, and to what level they can available, and to what level they can tailor the terms to meet your needs. tailor the terms to meet your needs. ASK IF THE BUYER CAN: ASK IF THE BUYER CAN: • Make 100% cash offers with no • Make 100% offers with no finance conticash ngency finance contingency • Offer Joint Venture partnerships • Off Joint Venture partnerships for er growth and flexibility for growth and flexibility • Buy the real estate outright or • Buy realyou estate outright or leasethe from lease from you

As you contemplate transitioning As you contemplate your business, you’ll transiti want tooning your business, you’ll to know every aspect is want covered. know every aspect is covered. Seek out a partner with a Seek out ateam partner with a in dedicated seasoned dedicated team seasoned marketing (including digitalin marketi ng (including advertising and socialdigital media adverti sing anddevelopment social media strategy), web strategy), web development and hosting, client satisfaction and hosti ng, client satisfacti surveys, IT, HR, accounti ng, on surveys, IT, HR, ng, more. taxes, legal, callaccounti centers and taxes, legal, call centers and more.

Let’s talk. Connect with us at 888.767.7755 and or visit us at Let’s talk. Connect with us at 888.767.7755 and or visit us at NVA has over 800 partnerships in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Our passionate, NVA has over in the US,leaders Canada, Australia and unique New Zealand. Our passionate, visionary local800 petpartnerships resort and hospital embody NVA’s entrepreneurial spirit. visionary local pet resort and hospital leaders embody NVA’s unique entrepreneurial spirit.



ow, how the world has

on our webinars attended by hundreds

changed in the last 2 months!

of facility owners, we have learned the

At a time when you were

following 5 lessons COVID-19 has taught

looking forward to the ‘money making’

the pet care industry.

season starting with Spring Break and extending through school summer vaca-

1. Cash is King. Regardless of where

tions, COVID-19 virus swept across the

your facility is, what services you provide

globe bringing business to a screeching

or what size your business is, it takes

halt. First the cancellation calls, then shut-

cash to survive this crisis. Operators who

downs (some mandatory, some voluntary)

had access to a solid amount of working

and fear of catching this deadly disease.

capital (cash), are in a more secure po-

Then we realized that this will take lon-

sition to weather this storm. Historically,

ger than anticipated and concerns of

the industry has not worried about under-

business viability and personal finances

standing ‘working capital’ needs, how to

added to the already stressed situation.

create detailed financial plans extending

We were all caught off guard and for the

into the future or how to keep accurate

first time ever in the history of the pet care

books so you can measure profitability

industry, we have been severely affect-

and cash flow. This crisis has made it

ed. As planes ceased to fly, boarding

very clear how important it is to keep your

reservations dried up. As people moved

‘financial house’ in order to plan for the

to their homes to isolate and work, dogs

future and how much cash it will take just

who normally visit your daycare hunkered

to survive.

down with them. Takeaways: We are now about 2 months into the

• Secure cash from personal funds,

crisis and the world is slowly emerging

government loans, HELOC, etc.

from its shock. You are (hopefully) getting

• Have a solid plan for repayment and

calls again for long weekend stays and

don’t extend yourself too thin.

daycare dogs are trickling in. You might

• Try to secure forbearance from your

be wondering what the recovery will look

landlord, if you are in a leased space.

like and what lays ahead. Our firm has the

• Ask for payment deferral on all loans,

unique advantage that we have clients

including personal mortgages.

across the nation and between what they

• Clean up your bookkeeping so you can

report to us, and what we have learned

run simple reports that answer questions



based on which you can plan for the

consumer road trips; it has several data

future, especially in times of crisis.

points and can be viewed by the state. Both sites are packed full of relevant data

2. Lodging is 100% travel dependent.

for pet care facilities and are free to ac-

You probably always knew this, but this


pandemic has really driven the point

• Create and market lodging packages

home. Overnight boarding experienced

geared toward weekend trippers.

the most severe loss in revenue with most

• Maximize your revenues from each stay

facilities reporting losses of more than

by offering a myriad of add-on services to

95% over 2019. The travel economy is

any size, shape, energy level and age of

down 84% from last year’s levels (through

dog. Have a menu!

May 23, 2020) and consumer polls show

• If your business offers only boarding

a slow recovery for flight related trips until

services, it’s time to reconsider that mod-

later 2021. As predicted, this will be the

el. This pandemic has shown having

summer of road tripping. Road travel

all your eggs in the boarding basket is

saw an increase of 24% through Me-

dangerous and these facilities will have a

morial Day weekend over the previous 7

harder, longer road to recovery.

days. Every travel polls shows ‘road trip’, ‘staycation’ and visiting National Parks or

3. Consumers will leave the safe-

friends/family being top travel destinations

ty of their home to have their pet

for consumers. The good news is, 58%

groomed. Grooming appointments have

of travelers are reporting plans to travel

exploded across the country and most

in the third quarter of 2020 (July-Sept)

facilities report more demand than what

so you should see an uptick in boarding

they can supply. In some states stand-

reservations later this summer.

alone groomers were mandated to shut down (or box store stopped grooming)


while multi service facilities were allowed

• Study the travel industry and specifi-

to operate. Consumers’ loyalty to their

cally its affect on your state/area. A great

groomer waned as time went on and they

place to start is to sign up for a weekly

were willing to book anywhere just to get

newsletter from the U.S. Travel Associa-

Scruffy cleaned up. Now single grooming

tion, the information is invaluable and will

salons are not able to satisfy the de-

assist you in budgeting lodging revenues.

mand so facilities continue to receive new shows you daily data on

grooming client calls. Facilities that are



able to book clients ‘in their time of need’,

Consider adding facility based, profitable,

and provide good service, are in an excel-

non key person dependent training

lent position to expand their client base

program. Seek out an expert consultant,

and cross sell other services.

it is well worth the investment.


5. Recovery will be geographic:

• If you don’t currently offer grooming,

The devastation of COVID-19 has shown

consider adding this service. Howev-

to be geographic and so will be the

er, question the traditional ‘commission

recovery. Recovery is locally affected by

based’, key person dependent model

a state’s ability to safely open businesses,

and seek out an industry professional

how psychologically scarred its residents

who can teach you how to add a groom-

are and nationally, by the arrival of

ing service that is both profitable and not

treatment and vaccine.

groomer dependent. • If you offer grooming but it’s based on


the model above, consider a more mod-

• Understand the virus’ impact on your

ern approach that also increases busi-

community; how travel patterns are

ness profits and value.

developing, are companies switching to

• Create a menu of add-on services for

a permanently remote workforce,

grooming expanding from day stay pro-

are schools opening, are your clients

grams to specialized pedicures, facials,

requesting more ‘contactless’ service,

etc. Think ‘whole dog’!

etc. This knowledge guides you in re-correcting your business plan to best operate,

4. Dog Training demand continues to

and thrive, in the post COVID-19 world.

expand: As pet parents are spending

• Plan for another outbreak. While none

more time at home or become remote

of us want to consider this a reality, it is

workers, a well behaved dog becomes

a possibility and the better prepared you

important. Facilities that offer dog training

are, based on what happened in your

services (NOT including classes) did not

community, the more successful you will

see cancellations and calls for training

be in managing it. Create a Crisis Man-


agement Plan that considers everything from financial to HR to operational so


next time around, you won’t be caught

Same advice as for Grooming.

off guard.



The coronavirus has wreaked havoc on our industry where everybody was enjoying the ‘easy life’; consumers spending on their pets was at an all-time high, facilities were expanding and complaining about not having enough employees to fuel the growth. However, as with every crisis, we have a choice to either fold up and go home, or take the lessons, implement changes and become stronger. No matter how the lessons are learned, the important thing is that they are learned. I encourage all of you to focus on the future, plan meticulously through 2021 and improve your businesses regardless of the catalyst.

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GETTING PEOPLE HYPED to learn about infection control can be challenging. I know, I’ve worked in infection control for the animal care industry for over a decade. As an educator on the subject, I’ve written articles for trade publications like this one and presented at conferences. While it’s my passion, as those who get my vigorous texts and emails about infectious diseases can confirm, I also understand when presented with the option of an educational

course on increasing revenue versus one on infection control, the former probably wins. But what if revenue is inextricably linked to infection control? The economic impact of the last several months would indicate that may be the case. From global economies, to local revenues, to your animal care facility’s bottom line, the spread of infectious disease can have a profoundly painful financial impact. Are you ready for the next outbreak?



NOT THE FIRST PANDEMIC, WON’T BE THE LAST. COVID-19 is not the world’s first pandemic nor its first crash course in zoonotics, diseases that spread between animals and humans. The world has become well-versed in the history of the Spanish flu of 1918. Despite its name, the origins of what is believed to have been an avian flu are uncertain. It gained its moniker because Spain was one of the hardest hit countries with a free media that was openly reporting on the tragedy unfolding there. The first reported case, on March 11, 1918, was in the U.S. at Fort Riley, Kansas. We’ve also had a refresher on the more recent SARS (a zoonotic disease that most likely first jumped from bats to humans in China) and MERS (zoonotic that initially jumped from camels to humans in Saudi Arabia). As we live through the current pandemic, others may already be brewing. At the end of June, at the same time Dr. Anne Schuhat, principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said in an interview that the U.S. has “way too much virus across the country” to control and that the recent surge was “really the beginning,” a report broke of a new potential pandemic: a recently emerged strain of flu carried by pigs that can infect humans. Identified by scientists in China, and as reported by the BBC, “the researchers are concerned that it could mutate further so that it can spread easily from person to person, and trigger a global outbreak.” (“Flu virus with ‘pandemic potential’ found in China.”

June 30, 2020.) That’s probably the last thing any business wants to hear right now, but the more we know, the more prepared we can be for the future. If we have (or should have) learned anything from the current one, it’s that pandemics don’t magically go away. RISK OF ANIMAL OUTBREAKS ALSO DID NOT MAGICALLY GO AWAY (BUT UV CAN HELP). As boarding and daycare facilities were temporarily forced to close or bookings significantly dropped, so did the risk for the spread of airborne infectious diseases like canine cough, canine distemper, and feline calicivirus. But as the animal care industry chugs back to life, as guests return, so, too, does the risk for outbreaks. In 2008, I founded my company to help create healthier environments for animals through the use of ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI or UV). Reading about the science behind using UV to help control the spread of infectious disease by disinfecting the air is one thing, but I’ve also had the opportunity to personally see what UV can do. Recently, two studies using UV systems manufactured by my company, in combination with our proprietary sizing methods, were peer reviewed for the American Veterinary Medial Association (AVMA) publications: the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAVMA) and the American Journal of Veterinary Research (AJVR). The JAVMA study, slated for publication this year, in a three-year retrospective field study at an animal shelter where our UV equipment was installed. The big



takeaway from the study, conducted in the kitten nursery of the Arizona Humane Society, was an 87.3% reduction in upper respiratory infections. A “significant reduction” as described by the researchers. The researchers further concluded that the airborne transmission of feline respiratory pathogens may be “more important than has been previously recognized.” The AJVR study, published earlier this year, was conducted by researchers at the University of Arizona’s College of Public Health, Environment, Exposure Science & Risk Assessment Center. This university study found that our UV equipment, in combination with our proprietary sizing methods, reduced airborne concentrations of pathogenic surrogate and vaccine strains up to 99.96%. Tested pathogens included Bordetella bronchiseptica (canine cough).

Read the science, not the Facebook, and always keep learning.

In previous test results from an independent laboratory using strict test methods, our UV systems killed more than 99% of tested virus and bacterial pathogens, including Bordetella brochiseptica, parvovirus, distemper, calicivirus, and canine influenza.

And if the learning shouldn’t come from often politically influenced memes in your Facebook newsfeed, where should it come from? Look to reliable sources like IBPSA who talk to and work with experts. Take advantage of the CDC’s expansive website and the search bar at the top ( From canine influenza to the common cold, there is a wide variety of information for four-leggeds and two-leggeds. The CDC also has a robust section devoted to “One Health,” the initiative that recognizes the interconnection between people, animals, and the environment; a potentially valuable source of information for those who work in the animal care industry. The AVMA also has a section devoted to One Health and has

As these field and university studies and independent lab tests were conducted using UV equipment manufactured by my company, in combination with our proprietary sizing methods, I can’t speak to the efficacy of other UV, but do your research, ask for studies, and know that UV, along with normal surface cleaning procedures, can be part of your arsenal to protect against the spread of infectious disease in your animal care facility.

There’s never been a time when it’s easier and faster to get information…and misinformation…and disinformation. Sorting through what’s correct and actionable and what’s from the extremist fringe can be a challenge, especially when it’s popping up in your Facebook newsfeed. Also, it’s important to understand that information can be evolving. There can be a tendency to point back and say “but, that’s not what the experts said then.” In 1949, an advertising campaign that “more doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette” was still making the rounds, just a few years before five large retrospective studies linking cigarette smoking to lung cancer were published. With research and studies comes increased knowledge.


addressed the particular needs of and information unique to animal care since the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic ( What we knew about COVID-19 five months ago is significantly less than what we know about it today. What we know about canine influenza today, versus just 15 years ago when it was first detected in the U.S., is immeasurable in many respects. Most, if not all, animal care professionals have updated their infection control protocols over the last several months. But a learning point to be taken away from this pandemic is this: your infection protocols should be a living document, regularly updated as we continually learn. This pandemic has ushered in a

new normal. We’ve always known that a canine cough outbreak could lead to a facility shutdown, reputation damage, and a negative impact on the financial bottom line. We’ve now seen that on a global scale. We can’t control whether a new strain of flu carried by pigs in another country will jump to humans and whether those humans will board planes for other countries, but we can control what we do at our businesses. It may never be as exciting as other business topics, but infection control is just as inextricably linked to your revenue, and making it a priority is the new normal. Annette Uda is the founder and CEO of PetAirapy, manufacturers of UV systems for the animal care industry. Learn more at



“How can I bounce back from the coronavirus era and make the most out of the second half of my year?” That’s a big – and increasingly important question. Chances are, you already have several marketing programs in place to drive traffic to your Website. And as regulations start to loosen up, many of your consumers will be looking for your services online. But with so many potential customers evaluating your business based on your Website, do you feel confident enough that it’s making the right impression on visitors? Whether you built your Website yourself, or had someone do it for you, here are our top tips to give your Website a refresh prior to the loosening of coronavirus regulations. 1. Can Website visitors find your most important information easily? This is and always has been one of our most important Website tips – and is consistently one of the most commonly ignored. Remember that the average person has a short attention span. If potential customers land on your Website and are looking to hire you, don’t make them spend any extra time searching for your phone number or storefront address. Make sure your contact info stands out on your Home Page. Pro tip: We suggest placing your phone number in the top right of your Website across every page.

2. Highlight key seasonal services on your site according to the time of year. As we head into summer seasons, you’ll

want to make sure your Website reflects that seasonality. Whether you have summer hours, seasonal services, or new specials based on the closest holiday, it’s up to you to make sure your company is keeping up with the times. The same goes for any banner images on your Home Page that might still be showing a wintertime photo. Pro tip: Do you have coupons on your Website? Check their expiration dates.

3. Display any professional association’s logo on your home page. Skeptical online searchers are always focused on finding a service provider that looks official, professional and trustworthy. Featuring an association logo like IBPSA on your Website quickly sends the message that you take your place in the industry seriously. It’s important to keep up-todate with those logos, too, as an outdated badge may send the wrong message to a visitor. IBPSA members can download their membership badge for their website in the Dashboard. For assistance, contact Angy at 4. Be personal with your visitors. People enjoy working with people, not faceless companies. Help your customers make a connection with you by including team photos, bios and pictures of your team at work. When visitors are able to see who you are and what you do, they’ll be enticed to make a deal with you. On the other hand, having stock photos of your industry isn’t going to impress anyone. You want to stand out from the competition, not blend in.


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You can make



©2020 Kinn, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Patented.

5. Check your site for yesterday’s Web design standards. When was your Website built? If it was a while ago, has it been updated regularly through the years? Businesses go through a lot of change, and your Website needs to keep up. Make sure your site is reflecting modern design and current information, or people may write your company off as a business of the past. Pro tip: What’s the copyright year on your Website? Is your most recent award from 10+ years ago? Be sure to update these!

6. Own your business’ Web address. Your Web address (or URL, domain name) is essentially your business’ address on the Internet. Many online com-

panies register a domain with your name but keep ownership of it. This puts them in a powerful position over you. Ask your Web designer or Web Marketing provider if you aren’t sure who registered your Website. It may be a long time before things are completely back to normal. In the meantime, some things haven’t changed: Any good Web Marketing strategy will revolve around a quality, professional Website. We hope that these tips help identify some areas for improvement in your Website. If you’d like us to take a look at your Website for you, feel free to reach out and schedule a free one-on-one Website evaluation where we can give you our input. -from our friends at Market Hardware


Pet Care Profile CLAY LIEBRUM, IBPSA What do you do in the pet care industry? I am the Director of Communications for the International Boarding & Pet Services Association. How did you get involved in IBPSA? I have known Ben Day for a few years. This opportunity became available and I jumped on it - to do in my “spare” time. I am originally a graphic designer, which has eventually helped me find my way into all things communications! The passion for my work comes from whatever it is that I am communicating, so I need to believe in it, too. This is what has brought me to IBPSA and I am honored to be here! Tell us about your current pets. A few months ago, we decided that our family needed a golden doodle puppy. His name is Pluto. I was born a dog human. I think a home is really missing something without a furry little friend around. I can not leave out the revolving door pet that we call the beta fish member of the family who always has a girl’s name, even though we never buy a girl beta. Don’t tell my daughter that minor detail. What has been your most memorable moment working for IBPSA? My most memorable moment over the past six months is this Pet Care Pro Quarterly. A ton has changed since the last Quarterly and this issue is all about moving forward with the most accurate

information from the best people that we could find, people like you. It has been a crazy busy time in the world of communications, trying to keep yourself and others updated with the most accurate information available, which seems to change daily. I will look back on this pandemic through the lens of a communicator, and it will cause me to think of the strong members in the IBPSA and how you have been able to move forward through this time. What would be the overall purpose of IBPSA, in your opinion? I started putting this phrase into publication once I began to see the direction and core vision of this organization, “...helping you and your business succeed.” IBPSA was developed to bring together a largely defined industry made up of mostly smaller defined businesses. This is the very environment that requires an association to be behind you, along side of you, and looking ahead to help you succeed. That is the purpose of IBPSA, from my view.


2020 WAS SLATED TO BE ONE OF THE BEST YEARS IN THE PET SERVICES INDUSTRIES, EVER! The future looked bright. Established businesses were just that, established. Newcomers to the industry believed there was minimal risk to the industry. They put together a solid business and marketing plan to secure needed financing. With this in place, they were ready to “go for it.” With global revenue projections expected to exceed $200 billion by 2025, there was no doubt the future was bright. (Grand View Research, Inc.) Then the light went out and darkness befell the world. COVID-19 HAD EMERGED. PET CARE PRO QUARTERLY | Q3 2020 | IBPSA.COM/PETCAREPRO | 28


CONFUSION NEAR AND FAR Not only did the financial well-being of many pet services businesses suffer, the emotional and physical wellbeing of the owners, management and staff was at major risk due to an invisible threat. A threat resulting in major stress. The type of stress that left unchecked, results in overeating, excessive drinking, unnecessary spending, illness, and emotional breakdowns. While some of the struggling business owners went into a wait and see mode, hoping beyond hope this was a temporary situation, others realized just how volatile the situation was and would continue to be. Feeling victimized by a faceless predator, it became apparent this was not simply going to go away. For many, the answer was simple. Turn on the news to get daily updates which inadvertently sucked them into a roller coaster ride of emotions, amplifying their feeling of helplessness.

PET SERVICES BECAME ESSENTIAL IN SOME AREAS A ray of light glimmered through when some pet service businesses were deemed essential. A huge sigh of relief crossed the lips of the owners of day care centers and boarding facilities who could make their services available to frontline workers. Although some businesses were struggling beyond anything they could imagine, others were emerging bigger and more solid than before. A surge in online shopping for pet products due to pet owners turning to the Internet for home delivery and parking lot pickup from brick and mortar stores, some pet service businesses are doing well. Yet, it wasn’t “business as usual.” There were restrictions owners had to adhere to that cut into their profit margins due to the increase of sanitation requirements. To minimize the financial impact to their businesses, many owners immediately



applied for any and all funding they could find. Employees were advised to apply for unemployment due to owners not knowing when they would be able to bring the staff back on board. Seeing this as an opportunity to restructure their businesses, many used the time to evaluate their product and service offerings, overhead, staffing needs and overall business structure. OVERALL WELLBEING With more uncertainty looming, it became apparent owners and their teams had to focus on their emotional and physical wellbeing. After all, if they got sick, or stressed beyond anything they could imagine, they would not be able to give the level of pet care their clients, guests and customers had come to expect. The world has done a complete 180, requiring more diligence than ever to our health. More than simply surface-level activities such as hand washing more frequently or wearing a mask, a deeper level of self-care is required. This is not about hitting the gym for hours on end, running marathons or entering an ironman competition. Rather, it is about incorporating simple strategies that lay a wellness foundation moving forward. MORNING ROUTINES Ask some of the most successful people, in virtually any industry, what their number one strategy for success is and most will respond with, “A morning routine.” Simply put, a morning routine is a strategy or ritual that is non-negotiable. One

that sets the tone for the day in mind, body, and soul. There is no shortage of highly-successful mindset experts who subscribe to the benefits of a morning ritual including Hal Elrod, Robin Sharma, Tony Robbins, Lisa Nichols and Mel Robbins to name but a few. Each has made it their life’s work to educate and teach people about the benefits of a morning ritual. Health and fitness experts also stress the importance of avoiding the dreaded COVID-15 by implementing regular exercise to a morning routine. COVID-15 refers to the weight gain many people have experienced since the lockdown began, adding as much as 10 – 15 pounds of unwanted weight in a two to three month period of time. The weight gain is related to unhealthy eating habits including excess sugar consumption, an increase in alcohol and sodas, unhealthy carbs, and mindless eating. Experts such as Dr. Joel Furhman, Rich Roll, and Bob Harper agree, exercise to avoid stress eating and the dreaded “my jeans shrunk” syndrome. Religious and spiritual leaders agree on the importance of maintaining a strong connection to our maker by increasing or implementing morning prayer and meditation. Whether it be Joyce Meyer, Joel Osteen, Deepak Chopra, Eckhart Toole, Michael Beckwith or any number of spiritual teachers, the message is simple; know that this too shall pass.



Each of these “larger than life” experts, teachers and leaders were able to put into practice what they have taught for years. Most went into high gear, filming home videos with personal messages on how to handle the added stress an unknown future holds. CREATE YOUR OWN ROUTINE If you have never experienced a consistent, non-negotiable morning routine, now’s a great time to start. It may seem this is just “one more thing” to add to your plate, yet, by starting your day with your own customized ritual, you’ll actually enjoy more peace of mind, better health, a great ability to focus and make decisions, and a higher appreciation of what the day has in store. Considerations for your morning routine are hydration, exercise, meditation, prayer, journaling, planning your day’s food consumption and inspirational teachings. HYDRATION Immediately upon rising, drink at least 16 ounces of water. Before your first cup of

coffee or tea, give your body the needed fluids you released through the night. This one action will wake your brain up and you’ll be more likely to have a clear head for the next item: exercise. EXERCISE Morning routine exercise can be something as simple and gentle as soft yoga. More than anything, a bit of gentle exercise is an opportunity to become fully present. Rather than waking up and jumping into action, invest 10 – 15 minutes of quality time into some form of gentle exercise. This is in addition to anything you choose to do later in the day. It is simply a “wake up” process. MEDITATION Meditation is one of the most powerful tools you can use to clear your head and prepare for the day. It’s not about emptying your mind from your thoughts. It’s about raising your awareness and perspective. If you are new to meditation, a quick search on YouTube will give you plenty to choose from. Start with a short 5 – 10 minute meditation and increase as desired. INTAKE OF INSPIRATION Whether it be watching a video, listening to a podcast or reading a few pages out of one of your favorite religious or spiritual books, a few minutes of inspiration from others will do wonders for your state of mind. As with meditation, commit to 5 – 10 minutes as part of your morning routine.



JOURNALING Journaling involves the practice of keeping a diary or journal that explores thoughts and feelings surrounding the events of your life. The power behind this practice is to take the garbage out. It is about emptying the trash thoughts and replacing them with productive thoughts. Which leads into the next step, gratitude. GRATITUDE It has been said, “When we express what we have to be grateful for, we have more to be grateful for.” This one practice is likely to be the most important step you can take in minimizing your stress. Expressing what your grateful for doesn’t necessarily make your problems go away, but it does make them much more manageable. It also opens your mind and heart in a way that you are more aware of solutions. Every morning list three things you have to be grateful for and write them down.

morning routine is the greatest gift you can give yourself, your family, your friends, your customers and clients, your business and all your furry friends.


Over time, you notice more and more things to be grateful for. THE BEST HOUR OF YOUR DAY The entire morning process will take about one hour. You might be inclined to believe you don’t have an extra hour. What you’ll find is this, by committing to this process for as little as 30 days, you’ll deal with situations very differently, handle frustration and obstacles with more grace and come up with solutions to problems that currently may be overwhelming you. With the future still very uncertain, a

Kathleen Gage is a visibility and marketing strategist based out of a rural community in Central Oregon. With over 35 years’ experience teaching clients how to grow their businesses organically, Kathleen is also an insightful keynote speaker and author. Kathleen is the host of the Plant Based Eating for Health podcast show and owner of Power Up for Profits consulting.


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This quarter you are getting a twofer as they say, meaning a two in one subject matter offer. First, we will discuss our Health, since if you don’t have your Health no amount of Money or Safety really matters. So let me take it personal for a moment where I feel several of you can relate. Owning my own business, like many of you, we feel it necessary to always push to do better and make more. We do this not only for ourselves, but we have other people counting on us. We have deadlines, issues/people to deal with, and are constantly chasing the almighty dollar. Guess what? If you spread yourself too thin your immune system lowers making you susceptible to illness. I got my wake up call in mid March in the form of the Flu Strain A with a visit to the ER. Just like you I have a business to run and I don’t get sick. The Flu Bug saw it another way and put me on my back for a week! Now I don’t know about you, but a week away from my desk in my mind was a total disaster. Maybe we aren’t as important as we think, the world kept turning and business kept going. I know you hire good people and that is why you can be away a bit. CLEAN YOURSELF! Let’s talk prevention for a moment. Wash your hands as if your life depends on it!! Sing “Happy Birthday” twice while you scrub. Keep your dirty hands out of your eyes, nose, and mouth. Stay hydrated with lots of proper fluids. GET PLENTY OF REST!

TOPIC NUMBER TWO IS SAFETY, specifically Weather Safety this time of year. I know you have an Emergency Action Plan and have trained your employees on it. You never know when those high winds or dreaded tornado might hit your establishment. Your Emergency Contact List is up to date and you have made plans for your clients to be placed in other facilities should yours become unable to be occupied. I suggest that you update all your client contact information as well as your staff at least once a year. The last thing you need is to not be able to get a hold of Fluffy’s parents to let them know she is ok after a storm. If you don’t have someone assigned to monitor the weather, stop and make that assignment right now, we will wait. Pausing, Pausing, Pausing, Pausing Good job, that is done and can be checked off your list. PLAN, THEN PLAN!!! Finally let’s discuss what you might need to remove from your facility should there be a disaster overnight even if you are a 24 hour facility. Always back up your records and remove a copy every night and weekend. If a storm is pending, get that disk in your possession in case you need to leave in a hurry. Communicate all of your Emergency/Disaster Plans with your staff with constant reminders as necessary. You might even let your clients/ prospects know you have plans in place, it might make them feel better about leaving their four legged loved ones with you!


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Do you consider fellow pet care services facility owners who operate nearby to be a competitor, a friend, or both? Why should this interest you? Based on what we have learned, your local fellow owners can help you with solutions to your unsolved priority pain points with Pet Health, Staff, Time, Clients, and/or Sustainability. I interviewed the leadership of the following 5 pet businesses all located in Houston, Texas. All are exceptionally successful, remain open during COVID-19, and live happy lives, in some part due to helping one another. Suzanne Locker, Owner of ABC Pet Resort for 29 years Laura Koch Executive Manager Meadowlake Pet Resorts, open 10+ years with two facilities Trisha Murphy Owner at Bayside Bed & Biscuit, has owned multiple facilities Gretchen Meienburg Owner at Urban Tails, & two other facilities in Ohio and Indiana Claire Ellington Senior General Manager at Rover Oaks, two facilities runs

Here is how they told us they have all helped one another: PAIN POINT 1: PET HEALTH When they hear about a new pet illness outbreak, they let their fellow owner friends know. This heads-up lets them take preventative measures. Gretchen

Meienburg told a great story of taking the lead in developing and sharing plans with neighboring businesses to help curb an outbreak of canine influenza which benefitted many pet businesses. Laura Koch asked Suzanne Locker about their protocols for water and feeding, and Suzanne’s feedback helped Laura’s team to reduce new canine illness outbreaks by 67% at their two facilities over the past two years. PAIN POINT 2: STAFF Sharing the best channels to hire has enabled many of them to bring on better team members. Occasionally a staff member is still working at one facility, and applies to work at another where the owners know one another. Gretchen Meienburg talked to these issues, and that having these conversations up front can in fact benefit everyone. During Hurricane Harvey, Claire Ellington came up with a game plan on how to recruit, motivate, house, and compensate employees who would need to stay overnight at the facilities for days due to the floods. She created a recruiting flyer and was successful in getting employees to “volunteer.” She then shared her plan with other local facilities so they would not have to reinvent the wheel. Suzanne Locker shared their staff cross training plans during COVID-19 which has given them more staffing flexibility across services and opened up new career paths for their staff. Her team has also reduced labor time on certain cleaning protocols which have helped improve the experience for staff. Suzanne shared



the details of these protocols with Laura Koch, which helped improve staff’s morale significantly. PAIN POINT 3: TIME All owners agreed that by networking with your local owner friends that you are going to save invaluable time in many ways by avoiding mistakes that others had previously made. Laura Koch shared a story of creating a client newsletter about changes due to COVID-19, which they shared with their friends’ businesses, which saved them a lot of time during a crisis time. Helping the others also made the Meadowlake team very happy. Trisha Murphy stressed how important it is to help pet care services non-profits by sharing your time to help them, which they have been doing for over a decade. The other leaders also support this through their memberships with IBPSA. PAIN POINT 4: CLIENTS There are many clients who take their pets to multiple facilities, whether for different services or occasions. We heard stories about clients bouncing checks, and it is always nice to give your friends a heads-up about clients that aren’t paying their bills. Gretchen Meienburg spoke about how Laura Koch had helped them with some insights to deal with abandoned pets. Trisha Murphy had a great story about helping out a neighboring businesses’ clients by taking some of their dogs during the Hurricane Katrina evacuations.

PAIN POINT 5: SUSTAINABILITY The environment is increasingly important for staff and clients, especially for millennials. Suzanne Locker and Laura Koch’s teams have collaborated, and have invested in sanitation protocols related to their feeding and water systems for pet guests that excel in cleanliness, while involving more recycling to make them more planet friendly. What have these multiple businesses built together? These Houston area pet care businesses have built relationships over the years that have morphed into a mutually-supportive community. The friends share some common beliefs including building trust by example, helping others, and understanding that there is more than enough business to go around. This community gets together as a meetup group once a year to catch up, share stories, and invite new Houston pet care facilities to join them. How do they do it? It’s all about relationships. They call each other on the phone to help or just to vent. They meet for lunches. They give one another tours. They even share clients as so many clients take their pets to multiple facilities, so they might as well be with your friend’s business. All mentioned that when you are the leader, it is important to have people to vent with, share frustrations with, and to just talk to about virtually anything. They also mentioned that these types of rela-



tionships take time to build, and some of these relationships go back over a decade. Why do they do this? Emotionally it is critical to know that you are not alone in the pet care world, and you always have friends to help you. This is especially important for family businesses without a corporate mothership to help them out. The human element is what makes you happy. They give tours to their facilities to share the best practices ideas. They also share knowledge of local law and legislation. All leaders said that these friendships save them lots of time, mistakes, and money. Proximity is important, and trust is king. Within the community, it is generally viewed as a positive to befriend someone close to you as it easier to get together in person. Also mentioned was that if you have a rural location, you may have to expand your definition of close. Hurricanes and COVID-19 have strengthened relationships. They all believe that to be successful you need to be constantly looking to get new, great ideas from other sources. And when you do, you ask for permission to use the idea. HERE IS A NUGGET OF WISDOM FROM EACH OF THESE LEADERS: Suzanne Locker “With the current COVID-19 challenges, these friends have been extremely helpful. Being able to discuss serious situations that could affect our industry is invaluable…. Local get-togethers with others in the industry is a ton of fun too.”

Laura Koch “Experience is important for pets and pet parents in our industry, which makes it more complicated than other businesses. It is nice to share the positive and know you are not alone for the bad, so the human factor is helpful. Learning from each other’s experiences enables you to save time and money. Importantly, the human element makes you happy.” Trisha Murphy “Be there for one another, you never know when you might need help yourself. Your social network understands your daily challenges to help you. This keeps you sane, and knowing that you are not the only one dealing with the same situation. This provides a positive financial impact, and keeps things fresh.” Gretchen Meienburg “Developing a network is a top priority, and so is being open and honest for bi-directional help. We can’t handle all the dogs in Houston, there are more than enough for all facilities. The sharing is important, and very beneficial to be able to vent.” Claire Ellington “Take a chance on making friends with your competitors, it is totally worth it. What you learn from them can enrich your working life and your business as well. Also, don’t forget to reciprocate – offer tours of your own facility, be transparent with your own processes or learnings. You have to be a good friend to get good friends.”



Based on this author’s learning from these leaders, here are some suggested Action Steps to help you become even more successful and happy by building your own local network: ACTION STEP 1: Start to build your network today. Keep at it every day. Do not search too hard for relationships. The folks who share your values and goals will appear, and the right ones will stick. If you need a reason to remember to keep doing this, “your network is your net worth” a wise person recently told me. ACTION STEP 2: Focus on local friends. They may be more knowledgeable about local cultural, environmental, financial, and legislative aspects of where your business operates. They are also easier to meet and stay in touch with on an ongoing basis. Also, when you are at national conferences, be open to meeting and getting to know others from other parts of the country who share a lot in common with you personally and professionally. ACTION STEP 3: Build and maintain trust by example. The founder of Rover Oaks Steve Smith invited local pet care business owners to dinner to ask for their feedback on building a second location in Houston. This blew the group away, and

established trust for life. On a similar note, Carroll Ray the owner of Meadowlake asked ABC Pet Resort owner Suzanne Locker for her input on opening a second facility closer to Suzanne’s business. Suzanne’s response, “who does that anymore?” Alex McKinnon is an accomplished brand builder via leadership in innovation and teamwork driving significant business growth. Currently Alex is Founder and CEO of Kinn, Inc., a Member of IBPSA’s Advisory Board, a Fear Free Certified Professional, and a Member of the Board of Directors of the Charlotte Symphony. He has 30 years of increasing responsibility in general management, brand marketing, and design/product development senior leadership roles with Kinn, Gillette, Braun, Bell Sports, Sara Lee, Sylvan Learning Center, Hampton Products International and TopicalNet based in USA, Spain, Germany, and Scandinavia. He has an MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University in Marketing-Finance-International Business, and a BA from Duke University in History and Spanish





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The goal of this article is to provide some guidance on what to look for and how to reduce the risk that you will become a victim of this growing problem. It is important that we keep our guard up for cybercrime during the Covid-19 pandemic. We are only halfway through 2020, but cybercrime reporting by the FBI suggest that this year will exceed the more than five billion records stolen in data breaches in the US alone in 2019. Globally it is estimated that we will experience a record number of identify thefts equal to more than 60% of the global population being affected. Covid-19 has us in various forms of isolation during global lockdowns working from home, the bad guys are taking advantage of this situation and getting more aggressive all the time. Several governmental agencies have reported criminals contacting us by phone and email to commit financial fraud with a number of scams. Threat actors can be very convincing and appear very authentic. SOME OF THE REPORTED SCAMS INCLUDE: •Offers for free Covid-19 test kits •Promotions for a Covid-19 cure requesting payment to get yours ordered •Lists of work-from-home opportunities


•Student loan repayment plans & debt consoli-

to obtain sensitive information such as

dation offers due to financial hardships

usernames, passwords and credit card/

•Offers for small business funding or loans

bank data by disguising oneself as a

•Offers to sell PPE supplies

trustworthy entity in an electronic com-

•Offers for lower-cost-health insurance if you

munication. Unfortunately, these kinds

verify personal details

of phishing scams happen to large en-

•Offers to help with government funding if

terprise companies and small business.

you provide financial account information

Small businesses are hit with nearly the

•Notices that the U.S. Department of Health

same frequency as their larger counter-

and Human Services or any other govern-

parts. A phishing email may be a link that

mental agency is requiring you to click a link

they want you to click on and they will

to take a “mandatory online Covid-19 test”

download malware to your machine or

•Requests for money to support the World

corporate network.

Health Organization (WHO) or another health organization that needs funding to advance

Phishing schemes can be sophisticat-


ed and sound very authentic because there is so much information about you

Fighting these threats requires being

on social media. Today, bad actors can

aware of the risk and being prepared

craft a very convincing imitation of known

when something happens. The goal of

brands by scraping information from sites

this article is to provide some guidance

like LinkedIn or Facebook crafting believ-

on what to look for and how to reduce

able situations that you accept without

the risk that you will become a victim of

great inspection because it is something

this growing problem. I tell everyone that

that you consider familiar. Recently one of

just buying security tools doesn’t make

the more popular software security com-

you secure. You have to take actions to

panies did a survey where 97% of con-

protect your data from the many threat

sumers couldn’t determine that an email

actors who are working to trick you into

message was a phishing attempt. The

taking their bait.

conclusion being that the vast majority of US employees have no concept of cyber-

Talking with clients, I hear comments like

security best practices.

this type of crime is only targeted at big enterprises not us small guys. Statistics

Online domains that we once considered

suggest that the single greatest source

secure by definition because it has the

of cyber attacks starts with a phishing

HTTPS(secure): is used more and more

email. Phishing is the fraudulent attempt

by phishing websites. Almost half of the



phishing attempts are to install a malware

important that you install updates from

infection. Some of the companies most

your software suppliers (often referred

imitated in phishing attacks include Mic-

to as patches). Many people now keep

rosoft, PayPal, Netflix, all the major finan-

Bluetooth enabled on their mobile phone

cial institutions, Facebook and Dropbox

because they are using wireless head

just to name a few. They use official logos

phones, watches, or many other devices

taken from many sources and bait you

anchored to their mobile phone. Some

with topics like “your password needs to

companies are prescriptive on which

be reset” and they offer a link to accom-

internet browser they support because

plish that. You enter your data and they

of all the plugins that users install or the

have you. Some don’t even try to be so-

tracking that the service provider does.

phisticated, they something like here is a

I have said many times, if you didn’t pay

new email feature and click here to learn

for the service or software, you are the

all about it. If you click on the link, they

product. They are tracking your actions

have downloaded malware into your sys-

and selling data about you to make their

tem. Some of the most common words

money. Microsoft recently added a fea-

that appear in the subject line include:

ture to Windows 10 to detect and block

payment, urgent, request, attention,

potentially unwanted apps (PUA). There is

important with the goal to fool the recipi-

no advantage of any mobile phone oper-

ent into opening the email and taking the

ating system over another anymore as all

intended action.

the major platforms are very broad in their use and many users store application

It used to be everyone knew not to touch

user ids and passwords on their mobile

an email attachment that had .exe as the


file type. That barely makes the top 5 file extensions used today. Most people don’t

I would be remiss to not say something

pay any attention to the file type. The

as ransomware continues to be used

majority of malware downloads comes in

broadly in 2020. If struggling with the

visual basic script (.vbs), java script (.js),

Covid-19 impacts, a small to medium

word files (.doc) and of course the exe-

business couldn’t survive a ransomware

cutable program (.exe).

attack with an average demand that reaches more than $100,000. If they can

Bad actors exploit weaknesses in organi-

get hit by malware into your systems and

zational security through vulnerabilities in

bad actors hold you hostage. The aver-

very common software like Adobe PDF,

age ransomware ransom demand in Q1

Adobe Flash, Java, Microsoft, etc… It is

of 2020 was over $100,000. To make



matters worse now, if you pay their ran-


som demand they may give you the key


to unlock your systems and data but then

Do you have cybersecurity incident plan?

they want a second ransom to release

Any form of checklist of what you need to do?

the data they stole from you on the open

•Do you know how to determine if incident

market. So you have to pay to get your

justifies escalation?

systems unlocked and you have to pay to

•Begin documentation of decisions and ac-

not expose your stolen files to their mar-

tions immediately.

ket place. Some software packages like

•Do not destroy any evidence. It could help

NortonLifeLock now offer to protect you

lead you to the source of the breach.

from ransomware and create and secure-

•Consider experienced legal counsel to lead

ly store backup versions of your files, as

this process and determine what is privilege

part of their service now. I will do a future

vs disclosure tracks.

article on the dark web and how this all

•Remove any improperly posted information.

works and help explain why the number

•Do you have cyber insurance?

of bad actors is growing the way it does.

•Engage a forensics firm to mitigate contin-

Now that I have shared some of the

ued harm, gather evidence, and investigate.

many risks that are out there, let’s talk

•Assess scope and nature of data compro-

about what you should do if you deter-

mised and stop additional data loss.

mine that you have fallen victim to any

•Preliminarily determine legal obligations, use

of these traps. It benefits everyone if you

a firm that understands cyber liability.

think about what you need to do before

•Determine whether to notify law enforcement.

you have a problem. Cyber laws vary

•Prepare a public relations message.

by state so you need to understand the

•Engage notification/credit services vendors.

laws where you do business and how

•Notify affected business partners.

they apply to you. Some of the laws are

•Determine when notification “clock” started.

very prescriptive with punitive penalties

•Determine proper remediation requirements.

about notice and disclosure that you must follow. There are also mandated


notices and remedies that you must offer


like credit monitoring and identity theft

•Keep your operating system current with

repair. Some of these are very expensive


but are required by laws. Here are some

•Keep antivirus protection current

suggestions for a Cybersecurity Incident

•Have ransomware protection


•Use malware removal software



•Have good internet security practices

Know how you will notify affected busi-

including firewalls and VPN’s for remote use

ness partners. Utilize the many tools of-

for example.

fered by organizations like the FBI, Secret

•Implement strong authentication and en-

Service, Homeland Security on their web


sites. The Federal Trade Commission

•Follow wireless security best practices

even recommends you have a model let-

•Establish strong physical security also. Are

ter prepared so you can act quickly. With

work areas with PCs secure, passwords are

some of the short notice and discloser

not posted.

windows of states that you do business

•Microsoft operating systems are by far

in, you don’t want to lose valuable time

the biggest target for viruses and malware.

agreeing with all the parties on what the

Make sure that you regularly update all soft-

letter should say, get that worked out

ware applications, browsers and operating


systems on all machines. It only takes one machine to allow malware inside your

This topic is a complex issue but it must


be addressed. Do not hesitate to sug-

•Android is the second with the largest threat

gest future topics that you would like to

coming from sideloaded apps – installed

see a more in-depth review for future

from outside Google’s Play Store

articles. My goal with this article is to get

•Create a regular data backup routine that is

you thinking about cyber security and

offline to reduce the vulnerability of ransomware

steps you could take now to avoid fu-

•Conduct security training with your staff

ture problems. I look forward to our next

•Develop a comprehensive data security plan

article together. I’ll throw out a thought, does your organization use wireless de-

Fix vulnerabilities before you need them.

vices? It is possible that data leaves your

Work with your service providers and

facility via wireless devices, Bluetooth,

understand their standards and encryp-

wireless keyboards, etc.. by bad guys

tion practices. Know what certifications

parked in your parking lot who record all

they have or that you need for security.

the unencrypted data using Bluetooth

Get to know your local law enforcement

antennas that extend the range upwards

including the FBI and Homeland Security

of a 1000 feet.

along with your local police. Have a call list before you need it. Make sure you

Just something to think about.

have home and mobile numbers for your leadership team in case of an emergency.


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