How to Start a Pet-Sitting Business
Everyday someone asks me, "How do you start a pet-sitting
business?" I try to answer their question succinctly. But the
truth is, starting a pet-sitting business, or any business is not
always a succinct process. Following are 21 tips that I know can
lead to pet-care business success in any economy.
1. Accept what you don't know. Not everyone who starts a
pet-care business is an expert on every type of household pet. Be
honest with clients who call requesting care for a pet you've
never cared for. Your honesty and commitment to learning from
them will go a long way in building long-term trust in you and
2. Commit to learning about business. Unless you've run a
series of successful small businesses before, you must create a
self-education plan for yourself. No matter how much you love
animals (and they love you) your business will flounder without
attention to the mundane details of accounting, sales, marketing
3. Have a realistic budget. Set up a realistic budget for
running your business. Be honest about how much money you need in
order to pay your bills and invest in your business. Many
pet-sitting businesses close because the owner did not evaluate
how many visits they would need to perform in order to meet their
basic financial needs.
4. Evaluate the competition. Make sure you understand what the
other pet-sitters in your area are already doing, and what you
can do better or more efficiently. If there are no other pet
sitting companies in your area, find out what your potential
customers currently do to care for their pets when they can't be
5. Set realistic rates. Yes, you love pets and you can't
believe that you can get paid to have fun - that's what a great
many star athletes say too, yet they manage to make millions of
dollars each year. You won't likely be able to draw clients in by
charging thousands of dollars for your services, but you won't be
able to serve pets well if you quit in 6 months because you need
more money to survive.
6. Listen to pet-lovers. Ask pet owner's what is most
important about their pet's care. Never imagine that you know
everything - a pet owner always knows their pet best. Listen and
you will learn how to serve them better.
7. Enjoy the people. I often joke that "Until that puppy can
write a check, I work for his Mom!" And it's true. The people who
love their pets are your customers - even if you don't see them.
Check in with them and find out how they feel about your service.
Make sure they understand that you are happy to work with them
and you appreciate being part of their care giving 'family.'
8. Make business decisions. You are in business, so treat
yourself like a business owner. If you intend to work as a sole
proprietor, make a decision to work only with the clients that
contribute the most to your bottom-line.
9. Build Alliances. Work with the other pet-sitters in your
area. If you need a back-up or you are booked, you need to know
the other quality caregivers who service your area. You can ruin
your great reputation simply by recommending someone who doesn't
live up to your standards.
10. Build alliances with other small business owners in your
area. Who better understands the 'downside' of pet ownership than
the dry cleaner or housekeeping service in your neighborhood?
Their businesses are based partially on the pet-owning clients in
your area. Ask to place your cards in their shops, or if you can
run put a flyer in their monthly bills sent to their clients.
11. Serve the client, not your ego. It's a heady experience to
feel the power of running a business and sometimes you will think
you know what's best when caring for someone else's pets. Realize
that you need to ride the fine line between educating customers
and talking down to them.
12. Be genuine. Everyone wants to work with someone "real."
When people are making decisions about letting a stranger into
their home to care for their most precious possession, they want
to feel that you are a real human being with an understanding and
appreciation of their relationship with their pet. You need to be
a business person with a heart - have all your forms and policies
in place, but let your personality shine through.
13. Believe in yourself. This is the most important success
factor I have found. Define your success by your rules and wake
up every day with the knowledge that you can and will
14. Ignore the naysayer. Plenty of people are going to doubt
you when you tell them this is your goal. Don't listen. Surround
yourself with people who believe in you and never stop moving
15. Create systems to work smarter. Everything can be
systemized to help you get everything done. Make a list of all
your 'must dos', 'should dos' and 'want-to-dos' and determine how
often they happen (annually, quarterly, monthly, weekly, and
daily). Sit down with a calendar and plug in the activities that
will accomplish your lists.
16. Network. Just like building alliances, you need to step up
your 'face-time' in your community. Investigate several
networking opportunities in groups that are industry specific
(like pet-rescue organizations, pet-sitter networks) and business
or community specific (like the Chamber of Commerce, or NAWBO).
After visiting several, select the ones that are most effective
for your business - both in terms of referrals for new business
and for educational purposes.
17. Evaluate. If something is working (or not) for you - find
out why. Ask questions of everyone - your happy (and unhappy)
clients. Find out what keeps happy customers coming back. If
someone decides not to hire you for their pet's care, ask them
what influenced their decision. If their decision was based on an
area where you can't compromise - you won't provide every other
day service for cats - move on. If it's something you can improve
upon - they thought you were too abrupt on the phone - fix it!
Get to the heart of what drives your business and take time each
day to improve.
18. Set goals and action plans. You must know what your
objectives are for you and your business. When you envision your
life in a year, three years and ten years, what will you be
doing? How will your business be running? Whether you intend to
serve ten clients for life, or you want to establish the top
pet-sitting franchise in North America and Europe - you need to
have a goal and a plan.
19. Find your niche and stick to it. When I started peggiespets.com, I was
intimidated by narrowing to a niche. By defining your niche and
marketing to them, you are not turning away other business (our
niche is big dogs and puppy potty training) you can continue to
accept all the business you want that is outside of your niche
(ask all the terriers, birds and rabbits we care for!).
20. Strive for success everyday. Never compromise your ideals
to meet someone else's expectations. The reason you started your
own business is because of your passion, so always stand by your
convictions and work hard to exceed your expectations each
NOTE: You'll encounter people who don't do business the way
you do, and you'll find clients that don't live up to your
expectations? Don't lecture, don't get on your soapbox, just
politely point them in a different direction.
21. Help someone else succeed. The more you give away, the
more you will receive. Whether you are helping another pet-care
business get started (with more than 65 million dogs and 77
million cats in American households according to APPMA- there's
room for more pet-care providers!) or you're helping another
person achieve their dream, you will be more successful because
Follow these tips to achieve your own brand of pet-care
About The Author
Peggie Arvidson-Dailey is the founder of Pet Care Business
University and the Pet-Care Business Success System?. She is the
author of several articles on small business success and has been
radio guest on "This Week in Small Business" on the topic of
Customer Satisfaction. As a trainer and coach she has helped
people across the country create and build the pet-care business
of their dreams. Visit http://www.peggiespets.com for more
MORE PETS INFORMATION RESOURCES updated Tue. June / 18 / 2019
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