How to start a pet sitting business

Interested in starting your own part-time or full-time pet sitting business? Here are some ideas to get you started. I have maintained my own pet sitting and dog walking business since 2008, and it’s been awesome! It’s not for everyone, but if you truly have a passion for animal care, a pet sitting business might be right for you.

10 tips for starting your pet sitting business:

1. Get started now.

If you truly want to learn how to start a pet sitting business, then just get started. Don’t wait until the new year or until the kids get back to school. There will always be excuses. Just do something to get started with your business today! Buy a domain name, print out business cards, jot down some notes.

2. Participate in your local dog community.

If you are going to be a pet sitter, then you should talk to and hang out with other dog owners. You want to get them talking about your business. So, volunteer with your local animal shelter. Take your dog to the dog park. Sign up for a community obedience or agility class. Attend local dog shows. Shop at locally owned pet supplies stores. Introduce yourself to dog groomers, dog trainers, veterinarians and so on.

3. Set up a nice web site.

If your web site is not professional, people will not take your business seriously. Since it costs very little to start a pet sitting business, it’s well worth it to invest time and money into a professional web site. Hire a designer if you do not have web experience. Keep the content brief and clear. Post some pictures of yourself with your own dog. List your contact information, rates and brief descriptions of your services.

4. Get help with taxes and licensing.

Some people are hesitant to start a pet sitting business because they are worried about filing taxes properly or setting up the business legally. Don’t let that be an excuse. There are resources available to help you. Start by contacting a small business accountant.

5. Invest in pet sitting insurance.

When you are working with animals and visiting other people’s homes, you definitely want to carry insurance. Things happen. What if one of the dogs bites someone while under your care? What if you accidentally break something? For peace of mind, it’s best to carry insurance. The good thing is that pet sitting insurance is very reasonably priced and offers decent coverage.

6. Set your rates similar to your competition.

Look at what the other pet sitters in your area are charging, and offer similar options. Don’t charge less just because you are just getting started. Your customers don’t care about that. They just want to pay for the best service. Make sure you are offering a good service, and don’t undercut yourself by offering lower rates. It doesn’t make a whole lot of difference to a customer whether you are charging $20 per visit or $25 per visit.

7. Take vacations for yourself.

If you are a pet sitter, you can still take time off. Just block off certain days on your calendar and tell your regular customers you plan to be gone. Give them a notice in advance, and they will understand. Everyone needs some time off.

8. It is possible to make a full-time income.

If your goal is to be a full-time pet sitter, that is certainly possible. It will take some time to build up enough clients, but once you do, you will have no problem making a decent income.

9. Stay in contact with each customer.

Not only should you stay in contact with each customer while you are caring for their pets, but you should make a point to contact them once a month or so even when they are not on vacation. Encourage people to follow your business on Facebook. Send a thank you card in the mail once a year or so. Send out emails every now and then. Offer coupons. Or just call to ask, “How am I doing? Does my business meet your needs?”

10. Be flexible on services.

Offer a wide variety of services such as dog walking, a pet taxi service, giving medications and so on. Simply charge a rate based on your time so you can accommodate a variety of needs. Some customers might ask you to take a dog to a grooming appointment. Others might ask you to take out the trash or bring in the mail. All of these things could be included in your flat, hourly rates.

Best of luck to you with your new business!

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