1. Tips and Tricks

How to start a pet sitting business

Have you heard that the pet industry is evolving? It’s true! Forbes recently shared that millennials are now the leading generation for pet ownership. And, about 70 percent of all households have at least one pet. Pet ownership is a trend expected to keep growing.

Animal lovers can tap into the growing pet industry and even start a small business around pets.

You can create your own pet sitting business and cater to the needs of pet parents in your area. After all, many pet owners go to work every day. They are not available to walk their dogs or practice obedience lessons. But they don’t want to leave their animals alone all day.

This is where pets come in. In addition to caring for animals while owners are on vacation, many now offer daily services. They take dogs for walks, pet cats, take animals to the vet and make love to pets while their owners are away.

If you’re ready to build your own pet sitting business, here’s how you can get started.

Create a business plan

Before you can set your rates, market your business, or start making a consistent income, you really need to take some time to plan your business. It doesn’t have to be an overly formal process, but you need to know what your business goals are and what your scope will be.

To help you get started, here are some questions to use as a starting point. Take time to think about them and write your answers. You always want to get your business plan in writing so you can refer back to it.

  • Which animals will I care for? ““Pets” is a broad term. While you may typically think of dogs and cats, other pets are growing in popularity. Are you going to care for cats and dogs alongside snakes and spiders? What about pet chickens? Or pot-bellied pigs? What type are you? Get a clear idea of ​​where the pet will sit.
  • What services do I provide? Pet sitting services can make an extensive list. They cover things like daily walking, feeding, watering, cleaning litter boxes, pooping, taking animals to the vet and overnight care. What exactly are you going to offer?
  • Do you offer “extra” services? If a pet owner also wanted you to take out the litter or water plants, would you offer them? What about turning the lights on for clients who are out of town? These questions will come up about family care, so think about your answer before asking them.
  • Why should clients use you? What sets you apart from your competitors? Why are you the best person to watch this pet?
  • Who is your ideal client? About 70 percent of households have a pet. Not all of them are your idea customers. Who do you want to work for?
  • How do you market your business? Your business will not grow without customers. You have to spread the word. How are you going to do that?
  • What are your ideal hours for your business? What are your hours of operation? Do you offer services on weekends or holidays? Do you take care of last minute requests or urgent appointments?
  • What if you get sick? What if you can’t take care of a pet one day because you’re sick? Do you have a backup person you can call? Clients appreciate knowing what to expect.

Having these basic operating guidelines for your business will help you stay focused as you move through the next steps

Licensed, Bonded, and Insured

Since you will be working with people’s pets, inside their homes, you need to set up your business formally. You need a business license. You need to be insured. Being bonded can help give your clients peace of mind.

The exact process varies from state to state, so take the time to research. When you’re looking at insurance options, look at the costs and what’s covered. You may get better service with a company that focuses on pet sitting insurance, such as from Pet Association.

Although best suited for businesses with bonded employees, the term gives clients some level of trust. A bond covers loss from theft. You can get different amounts of coverage for the bond, usually from $10,000 to $100,000. Think about the types of clients you’ll be working with and the homes they live in to help you determine an appropriate amount.

You can plan to spend $200 to $500 a year on bonding and insurance. You’ll also need to purchase any supplies you need (such as pop scooping bags) and some marketing materials.

Set your rate

Rates vary widely by location. Use your research to help determine the appropriate rate.

Your goal is not to undercut all your competitors – you need to stay profitable and competitive with your business. Besides making it harder to get, extremely low rates can cause clients to question your experience or professionalism.

I suggest creating some service packages that you can offer. Spelling is exactly what is included. That way your clients know what to expect and you don’t have to track your hours for hourly rates.

For example, if you are going to offer daily care for an animal owner while he is at work, a package you offer might include:

  • A fifteen minute visit in the morning for a potty break and quick love
  • A thirty minute tour in the afternoon for play and walks
  • Ensure adequate food and water
  • Refreshing the kitty litter box
  • Making sure the toys are ready to keep the pet happy until the owner returns

It can be a basic daily care package. Then you can add additional services if your client wants, such as additional walking or family care.

There are plenty of options for extras, so think about what you like to do and see what you can come up with. Here are a few to get you started:

  • A photo of your client’s pet is texted to each visit
  • Arranging pet play dates and providing taxi service to and from those appointments
  • Pet birthday party plans
  • Handmade treats that follow specific diet protocols
  • Stay overnight at your client’s home
  • A bedtime visit to make sure the pet can go potty before being restrained
  • Grooming services

When you’re pricing, make sure you’re profitable. Think through your expenses. If you are going to the client’s house multiple times a day, you need to calculate the mileage and travel time.

Preliminary meeting

Most pet sitting companies require a face-to-face meeting before starting services This is a good thing to bring into your business practice as well. During this time you can:

  • Meet pets and pet parents
  • Get a key to the house and know where the essentials are
  • Get a feel for general pet care needs
  • Ask questions about the care routine
  • Answer questions for your client
  • Make sure you and the client and the pet are suitable

This meeting can be an opportunity to get to know your client, pet, and home. This gives you a chance to check for any red flags.

Market your business

I recommend setting up a basic website for your business. In today’s world, people are searching the Internet for services, not flipping through local directories or newspapers. You can start with GoDaddy’s website builder They have tons of themes for you to choose from for under $80.

Your site doesn’t have to be fancy. It should tell your customers exactly what to tell them, including:

  • Who are you and what experiences do you have?
  • What do you offer?
  • How much do you charge?
  • Your contact information
  • If you are bonded and insured

But, if you want to add additional information and functionality to your site, here’s what I recommend:

  • A way for clients to purchase and schedule your services
  • A list of frequently asked questions
  • Testimonials from happy clients
  • A photo gallery of yourself with pets

A website is essential, but you can’t just throw a website together and wait for it to knock in customers. You must be involved in some marketing for your home business.

It may run ads on local marketplaces (for example Craigslist or Facebook). It might be a service to get permission to hang an ad in the local vet’s office or get your name out there.

You should also invest in some good quality business cards. List your business name, title, website and phone number. Keep these cards and some flyers with you and distribute them when you can. You never know who might be looking for a new pet.

Once you have some clients, do your best to WOW them. Word of mouth can be your best marketing tool for a service-based business. When your client’s friends are looking for pets, you want to be the one they heartily recommend.

get organized

You can never miss appointments or overbook as a pet sitter. You need to find a way to stay organized. Find a system that works for you and stick with it.

You also need a way to organize all your files You must have a way to transmit and retain information about client contracts, invoices, and all the animals you care for.

If you are taking the pet to the vet, groomer or other care provider, you will need a release form. It must be signed by the pet owner, giving you permission to seek services for their pet

You’ll also need a system to track your mileage. You can use a special mileage book in your car or an app designed for tracking miles. These are all things you need to maintain as you develop an accounting system to track your expenses and income.

Join an industry association

Joining an established pet sitting association has definite benefits. You can find a local one, or join one of these national associations:

Before you join any association, take a close look at the costs and benefits. Joining usually requires you to pay dues to the association. These often range from $50-$500 a year.

For that price, you get some distinct perks. This may include:

  • Discounts on business insurance
  • Educational materials
  • directory listing
  • a website
  • Business tools

Each association will offer slightly different benefits, so always read the fine print. Make sure you get what you pay for.

With this, you should be able to get your new pet business up and running. Keep marketing, and provide excellent customer service. For the pet lover, a pet sitting business can really provide a rewarding opportunity to earn a living.

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