If you are an animal lover, then nothing can be more interesting than spending the entire day with animals and earn an income out of it. Pet sitting business is becoming quite common, especially in western countries. Pets are just like babies, and many working pet parents rely on pet sitters for a number of things, such as daily walks, vet trips, stay-at-home pet sitter, and feeding and bathing pets.
If you are interested to know how to start a pet sitting business right from your home, read on.
Are You Passionate about Pets?
A love for animals, being consistent at your routine, being available all the time and trustworthiness are few aspects that comprise a successful pet-sitting business. Pet sitters are well on the rise, and they earn pretty well too. Pet sitting can be a perfect self-employment and freelance career for anyone.
A lot goes in a pet sitting occupation, and you should prepare yourself for it. Just like any other business, this one also requires a business plan and getting a few other things organized.
Pet sitters usually are available during the business hours, and if they prefer, they work on holidays and weekends too. They take care of the animals by taking them for walks, taking them to vet clinics, cleaning them, feeding them, playing with them, and cleaning their cages.
Pet Sitting Business Plan
Unlike other businesses, Pet Sitting Business does not require an extensive business plan; a lean plan should be more than enough to start this. Funding and licenses requirements are also not complicated. However, you will have to answer a few questions to form an effective plan, based on which your business will start. They include:
- What kind of animals would I like to care for?
- What services can I provide? – Some of the common services that most owners look for are walking, feeding, vet visits, overnight stays, poop-scooping, and cage cleaning.
- What will be your key selling point? A ‘something’ that will differentiate you from competitors. You can also offer extra services that are not part of pet- sitting, such as watering plants, running small errands, etc.
- Who will be your client? They can be senior citizens, retired people, office goers, new mommies, and children. You can also target a particular locality or residential complex.
- What marketing strategy will you apply?
- What will be your working hours and mode of operation? For instance, will you want to run service based on prior appointments or are you open for last minute calls?
- Will you run the company all by yourself? Or would you like to hire a part-time assistant for emergencies and sick days?
Pet-sitting business rates vary from location to location and are charged based on the demand of the service. While it is not quite popular in Asian countries and the rates can go high or come low, it is high in demand in other countries. A quick Google check should give you the answers to rates and common service options in your area.
Start with Licensing and Permits
Like any other business start-up, a pet-sitting business will also require you to obtain state or city licenses and other permits. The licenses needs vary in each city and state. Check with your local authorities to find out what are the necessary steps you need to follow. You can also visit your city’s chamber of commerce to understand and follow the prerequisites to start the business. Permits will slightly differ in this business because pets are involved. For instance, you will have to oblige to the pet walking rules (not more than 4 pets at a time), poop-scooping rules, and other pet-related regulations.
An Insurance Policy is Next
Getting an insurance policy is very important for your business. The insurance coverage will protect you, your family members, and your assets from any damage or health issues caused by the pets you care for. Many insurance companies provide tailor-made coverages for unique businesses, such as pet sitting. However, make sure it covers the basics – accidents, injuries, and damages. You can also get yourself a bond that covers theft and burglary. Both the insurance policy and bond will not cost you more than a few hundred dollars a year. Therefore, it is definitely worth an investment.
Pet Sitters Associates LLC and Per Sitter Insurance are two online associations you can follow to know about the latest rules and regulations for pet sitters and dog walkers and types of insurance policies for this business.
Determining Your Charges
Most pet sitters charge based on the number of visits required per day. You can charge per hour or for the entire day, depending upon the requirement. You can also offer additional services, mentioned earlier for a fee. You can negotiate service charges for house sitting services, such as watering plants, picking up the mail, attending calls in your pricing structure.
Check out with your local competition and determine your price. Most pet owners prefer an in-home service to keep their pet babies in a familiar environment. If your price is competitive, this could be quite advantageous for you.
Moving on, you should also have a list of pet grooming companies, vets, and pet stores contact details handy.
Get Yourself Organized
This is a kind of business where time and routine matters a lot. You have to work along with the clock and calendar. Pets are like babies, and they are family to many childless parents. You have to treat them with care. Therefore, you have to get yourself systematized and refine your organizational and time management skills. Find a system that works best for you – use apps, calendar, scheduler, or customer management system or even just the old pen and paper.
Keep a Record
You need to keep a record of all your clients and their pets and maintain a proper filing system. Your filing department should contain client contracts, checklists, invoices and payment, and health and care information.
Your contact sheet should contain pet owners contact numbers, address and alternate address in case of emergencies, and email id.
For the pet record, make sure you include information such as breed, color, age, date of birth, health condition, such as allergies, diseases or injuries, weight, vet details, groomer’s details, and food habits.
Maintain a Daily Care Sheet
You should also get a daily care sheet readied, either in the form of a paper or as a computer feed. Make sure the owners fill in the information before they leave for work or vacation. You need to mention exercise schedules, medication, feeding, and other routine works. Any special instruction should also be noted.
It is important that you discuss veterinary release form and veterinary contingency plan ahead of time. To allow you to take the pet to the vet, the owner must sign a veterinary release form. A veterinary contingency plan outlines the possibilities, actions, and measures to be taken when owners are out of the station and not reachable.
Everything should be in writing. For regular clients, ensure that you note down any updates and changes in pets’ food habits, medicines and other information related to the pets.
Bind in a Legal Contract
Even if this is going to be a home-based business and your clients will be animals, a business is a legal entity nonetheless. You have to discuss the terms of service agreement in detail between your pet owner and you. The contract will contain your service offerings, pricing, payment modes, cancellation and refund policies, obligations, pet owner’s responsibilities and liabilities, damages, veterinary situations and other rules and regulations to be followed by the service provider (you) and client (pet owner).
Start Marketing – Use Different Marketing Tools
You need to market your service and get the word out. Start with basic and cost-effective marketing tools, such as word of mouth marketing, social media marketing, and references.
You probably can design a flyer and business card for your company and send it across to all pet clinics, vets, pet stores, supermarkets, dog groomers and other places where owners can access your information.
Use Your Car
Make sure you create an attractive name for your business and design a logo is legible even in the smallest of sizes. Display your business logo and contact details on your car rear window and doors for people to notice it.
Furthermore, you can place ads on church bulletins, local newspapers, and magazines.
Your Target Market
Target market plays a vital role in determining the success or failure of your business. Choose a locality that has a lot of residential complexes and flats ora locality that sees a high demand for pet-sitters. Once your business starts to take a better shape, consider using other marketing techniques, such as website, blogs, and social media ad campaigns.
Focus on references from relatives and friends.
That is all you need to get the pet-sitting business up and running.
However, reminders include, do not forget to keep in touch with old clients through emails and messages. Attract them with promotional offers and seasonal discounts. Send them pet birthday cards or festive greeting cards to maintain a healthy relationship. They are the ones who will voluntarily help you to build a customer base.
Have questions? Feel free to ask them in comments.