Pet sitting is always a solid business option for those looking to become entrepreneurs in the animal industry. Pet sitters are able to offer their services in the area of their choice, determining their own schedules and the number of clients they are able to accommodate. You can even start a part time pet sitting business on the side while keeping your day job, transitioning to full time pet sitting once your client base is large enough to support it.
Consider Startup Costs
You can start your own pet sitting business with relatively little money. Pet sitting requires no equipment other than a reliable vehicle for visiting your clients. You may need to spend a bit on advertising your services, particularly when you are first getting started, but over time your client base will grow primarily based on word of mouth recommendations.
There are also some additional items to consider when budgeting for your business. Your town may require you to purchase a business license to operate within their jurisdiction. You may also need to secure legal services if you decide to set up an LLC instead of operating your business as a sole proprietorship. Pet sitters can also purchase liability insurance policies for just a few hundred dollars to protect themselves against potential lawsuits.
Develop a Contract
You really should have a contract that defines the relationship between you and your clients. This is the proper place to list the services you provide, the prices for each type of service, the payment options, and your policy on various contingencies (such as cancellation policies, or how the need for urgent veterinary care would be handled).
Create Detailed Records
You can keep your records on the computer or as hard copy paper files, but you should be sure that they are very detailed for each client and their pets.
Your first step is to keep a contact sheet that includes the client’s address, phone number, email, and emergency contact information. You also need to include a detailed pet record that includes their name, breed, description, year of birth, allergies, any pertinent health or dietary restrictions, and the veterinarian’s contact information.
A veterinary release form is also a good idea, as this will allow you to take the animal to the vet should an emergency arise and guarantee that the owners will be financially responsible for the costs incurred if they cannot be reached directly by phone while they are away.
The owners should also fill out a daily care sheet that covers what the pet will need in terms of feeding, exercise, and any special needs like the administration of medication or fluids. Be sure to keep the information in all of these records current
Determine Pricing and Services
Most pet sitters charge a fee based on the total number of visits required per day. Additional services (like grooming, obedience training, or pooper scooper service) may also be offered at an additional cost. House sitting services such as watering plants or bringing in the mail may also be included.
You should check out the competition in your area to see what they charge for pet sitting services as it can vary widely from one city to the next. Don’t forget to check the rates at local boarding facilities, doggie day cares, and veterinary clinics—they are your competition as well. If your costs are in line with local providers you should have a good chance at building a solid client base.
There are several ways you can advertise your business without spending a great deal of money. You should start by developing a basic website and business cards—these items are standard in today’s marketplace. You can also design a flyer to leave in areas that have a high volume of pet owner traffic; veterinary clinics, pet shops, dog parks, and grooming salons are good places to start. Other venues to consider include local newsletters, church bulletins, Craigslist, supermarkets, and large office buildings. You can also consider advertising on your vehicle or on your clothing.
Over time you will find that word of mouth is the largest business generator. That is the best advertising, because it is absolutely free and gives you a high level of credibility with new potential clients.