Employee Profile: Sarah Smith, Senior Pet Relocation Consultant
by Kelley Barnes, Director of HR
Sarah Smith will be celebrating her four year anniversary with PetRelocation this March. In 2014, she helped more than 200 clients by creating customized move plans to safely transport their family pets and guiding them through the selection process to determine the perfect solution to meet their specific needs.
The intricacies of international requirements for the import and export of live animals is not knowledge that can be picked up quickly and easily. Undergoing the same educational process that all our Consultants experience, Sarah started her career with PetRelocation focusing on domestic US moves but she now serves as one of our experts regarding pet transport that originates or terminates in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. The complexities of permits and timelines for that region can take over a year to master, given all the countries involved.
When asked about her role in the company, Sarah said, “We send pets to more exotic locations than ever before. Planning can take days or weeks, so even if you apply the same thought processes, it’s never the same day twice.”
Not only does Sarah excel in providing expert advice to prospective clients, she also understands what is means to embody our company values, including commitment and wisdom. When asked to be the subject of our first employee profile in 2015, Sarah demonstrated her dedication to teamwork by making the time to answer the following interview questions.
What’s your first memory of working at PetRelocation?
They took me and Christina (she started on the same day and worked here for about 1.5 years) out to lunch EVERY day that week. And there was beer at lunch!! I remember it was a VERY relaxed atmosphere and I loved that right away. There were no micromanagers breathing down your neck. Everyone was friendly and genuinely cared for one another.
What drew you to the company initially?
PETS! I was looking for a job that somehow incorporated animals. I am an animal lover and I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I knew at that point in my life I wanted it to involve animals. I was looking for a supplemental job, just something to pay a few fun bills here and there. And after starting, I found myself needing to rely on this job for financial stability. After I had worked here for a few months, I knew I wasn’t leaving! I got to use my love for animals and my passion for helping people while having fun with puzzle-solving logistics!
How has the company changed during your tenure?
Sooooo much has changed. The company has grown in sales, maturity, processes and people. We have more resources and processes in place to support our work. It helps us to do our jobs better.
The two most notable changes? 1) Moving from our Spicewood offices to Downtown Austin. 2) We used to handle the entire move for each client from building the plans to the actual shipping. We really improved the overall process by having the task split between two people, allowing us to really focus on best practices.
The PetRelocation team on a recent outing
What’s your favorite client story?
I have too many to pick one!! I’ve moved pets for professional UFC fighters and professional European basketball players. I have several clients that are “threepeats.” One duo of Rottweilers moved with us from Laos to the US, then the US to Mongolia, then Mongolia back to the US. Probably some of the best world travelers we have!
One “story” that touches me involves at least three different clients. In 2013 we moved a sweet family to Dubai. They had a few cats and a dog. I had another potential client contact me about moving his dog and cat to Dubai, but he was terrified of what would be life for his Golden Retriever in a foreign country. I connected the two clients -- past and potential.
They hit it off and Kim (past client) took Jim and his family (potential client) to breakfast while they visited Dubai on a house hunt. He hadn’t even hired us yet! Kim convinced him that Dylan (his Golden) would be just fine and that we were a great company to work with. They hired us, and now the two families are fast friends in Dubai! Kim also had a hand in easing the fears of another client whose pets just moved, and now Jim and his family are paying it forward to a new potential client! I think we’re starting a group of friends in Dubai and that really warms my heart.
Dylan the Golden in Dubai
What has been your proudest moment while working PetRelocation?
Generating $1.2 million in revenue in 2014, which resulted in lots of beautiful reunions!
What do you think will change about pet travel in the next five years?
It’s hard to say. Country requirements will change, as they always do. For example, the European Union has a new rule that started being enforced on January 1 requiring that a pet traveling to the EU arrive within five days of the owner. It’s a huge change and will impact not only our clients, but anyone headed into the EU.
I also think companies will start realizing their employees won’t leave their pets behind, and we can expect more organizations to regularly factor pets into their employee’s relocation reimbursement plan.
What advice to you have for people who want to join the company?
You MUST be able to work strange hours. You MUST be able to deal with stress -- a high level of stress. You MUST care about animals, first and foremost! Decide if the stress and hours are worth it for you. It’s not for everyone and that’s ok, but don’t waste your own time by “trying it out.” It will be MORE stressful than they tell you! But so rewarding and worth it!
Everyone here helps each other. There will be a team of people willing to help you solve the client’s problem. You’re never on your own. The culture here has always been one of fun and caring. In fact, I think the team tries to focus on those qualities when hiring.
Reba, Sarah's dog, helping out at the office
What do you wish other people knew about the company?
Two things: 1) We don’t rescue and/or find pets a new home: our purpose is focused on relocation pets who already have an owner. 2) Our clients constantly tell us how this was the least stressful part of their whole move, and we’ve had others tell us that they wish we had handled their personal belongings as well because we made things so easy on them. We may cost more than other similar services, but we provide quality, professional service to every client, every day.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
I am a super social person, but some of my favorite times are sitting on my couch in pajamas with Reba (my dog) and a glass of wine. Even better if my sister is in town!! Family is #1 for me.
What do you like to do when you aren’t working?
Read, take Reba to the dog park, lift weights, swim, eat and drink, travel and anything involving water, sand and sun.
Hollywood wants to make a movie about your life. Who do they cast to play you?
Laura Prepon -- but not from Orange is the New Black. Laura Prepon from a few years ago when she was playing Donna from That 70’s Show (redheaded tomboy, goofball).
Editor's Note: We interviewed Sarah back in 2011, too -- take a look what she had to say after working at PetRelocation for just a couple of weeks, and read about some of the incredible experiences Sarah and the rest of the PetRelocation team have recently arranged.