If you love man’s best friend, starting a pet sitting business could be an ideal option for you. By taking up pet sitting as a career, you will essentially be doing doggy day care when the owners are away.
According to the American Pet Product Association, Americans are now spending around $70 billion annually on pets and pet services.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that pet sitters and other animal caretakers earned more than $20,000 on an average annually.
Top Tips for How to Have a Successful Pet Sitting Business
#1. Knowing the Job of a Dog Sitter
The business involves a wide range of services:
- Taking care of pets when owners are away on vacation, walking them, playing with them etc.
- Feeding the pets in the clients’ home
- Walking the pet for a fixed amount of time, say half hour, one hour, either separately or in groups
- A pet sitter might have to stay overnight at times
- Additional optional services like bathing or grooming the pet, turning off the lights, bringing the mail in and so on
#2. Researching the Market for Dog Walking Services
More than 65% of households in the US have a pet. These pets need to be cleaned, fed and exercised.
According to the APPA American Pet Products Association, the pet services, grooming, boarding, walking, etc., is estimated at around $5 billion annually and constantly growing.
- Check out the competition in your area for dog sitting services and the number of people searching for ‘dog sitters in my area’
- See whether there are many pet stores, veterinarians in your area. If there are a sizeable number, it shows there is a demand for pet sitting
- Search on the Internet or through phone books to find the number of pet sitting services in your area, such as pet daycares; pet boarders and so on
- Get public records of the number of pets in your city through the county tax center to know the number of potential clients in your area
#3. Niche Services as a Pet Nanny
Make your pet sitting service special by offering a niche service in the dog sitting business. Check out the competition and offer something that is not currently being offered. For instance, is there a need for teaching tricks or behavior modification?
- Offer additional services like daily walking or overnight pet care and in-home pet sitting
- Behavior modification services, such as separation anxiety issues!
- Basic grooming services
- Transporting pets to and from places like the veterinary, for instance.
- Training options while puppy sitting
- Boarding services for doggy care business
#4. Franchisees for Pet Babysitting
Instead of starting your own pet sitting business from scratch, you can take the easy way out and opt for joining a franchise or pet sitting companies. Check out some of these popular pet-sitting franchisees.
- You can get advice and support from franchisees when checking out opportunities from those looking to ‘find a dog sitter’
- The work is easier; you don’t have to reinvent the wheel, just execute their tried and tested business plan
- You may have to pay a franchisee fee, which could be anywhere between $5000 to around $15000
- There might also be a monthly royalty clause and other fees
- The average cost to start a pet sitting business could be around $500
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- The basic requirement is that you must be a pet lover
- Experience in pet sitting is an additional skill
- Get trained in first aid for pets and in CPR
- Get certified with professional pet sitting certifications like the CPPS, Certified Professional Pet Sitter. When people try to find a pet sitter, they prefer to employ services of certified professionals, though it isn’t mandatory
- Be a good listener. Pay heed to specific information regarding a pet’s needs. For instance, you might need to give a medication. Get phone numbers, details of house alarms, watering the plants, handling trash etc.
- Be trustworthy, honest, punctual and develop good communication skills for a pet care business
#6. Getting Started in Pet Sitting Business
- Get some experience by volunteering at pet rescue groups or at pet shelters
- Take care of relatives or friends’ pets as a free service
- Get pet sitting jobs to begin with
- Ask yourself what type of animals you’d like to take care of: How many at a time? Will you be able to transport animals? Do you want to offer additional niche services?
- Do you need a license to pet sit? Check out whether you need any licenses for your business.
- Become a member of organizations like the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters/ Pet Sitters International and so on.
- Get a reliable transportation. For instance, you may need it for an urgent trip to the vet.
- Depending on the niche services you are offering, you will need leashes; treat; and toys and brushes just in case the client does not provide these.
- Get a catchy name for your pet sitting business
#7. Pet Business Marketing Strategy
- Check out pet sitting directory websites and apps
Tip: Use apps like Rover to get more clients!!
- Keep in touch with clients using smartphones
- Use the social media and online videos to get more clients
- Get references from professionals in your area. For instance, get a recommendation from the local veterinarian proving that you can take good care of pets
- Create your pet sitting website and mention your specialization, certification, niche services, charges, references and so on
- Use brochures and flyers to spread the word. Post these in grocery stores or other high traffic locations. Include your business name; contact details and what niche services you offer
- Approach vets and groomers; pet boarders and supply stores and offer your services
#8. Pricing: Dog Sitting Rates
The national average for pet sitters according to the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters is $16 for a visit. Based on this, you could be earning around $45000 a year!!!
- Fix your price based on average prices in your location for pet sitting business
- Charge based on the duration. For instance, you can charge $20 for an hour or $50 for a day. Charge more for overnight sitting
- Factor in the number of pets, the type of pet, the services needed. For instance, you may have to feed it or give medications
A recent survey by Houzz on more than 10,000 pet owners in the US and Canada showed that they tend to treat their pets as part of the family. This pampering culture offers a great opportunity for a pet sitting business.
You can offer personalized care, flexible and customized services to quirky requests (for instance, a pet owner might ask you to sing to her cat!!!), to make your business a booming one.
They say you must love your work! It couldn’t be truer in the pet sitting business. You are taking care of these loving creatures and you need to make an emotional commitment to these furry charges. Are you up to it?