Pet sitting businesses are becoming more popular. People see their pets are part of the family and when they take a vacation where they can't take their furry friends they want someone who can take care of them like family.
Before you decide to do this, ask yourself a few questions.
1. Can you take care of any kinds of pets, from dogs and cats to more exotic types like snakes and lizards? People have all kinds of pets, not just the standard ones. A good pet sitter will be able to handle a wide variety of pets.
2. Are you willing to do extra things, for a fee of course? Picking up some groceries, light cleaning as needed, or watering the planets while your customers are gone. When it comes to word of mouth advertising, it's the extra things that will make you stand out.
Once you decide you want to be a pet sitter you'll need to come up with a catchy name. Try to pick something that will stand out from other pet sitters. You will also want to be as close to the top of the list in the phone book as you can, so pick a name that starts with A.
Next you will need to check your state's requirements for business licenses. Do not try to run a business without doing this. Depending on your state, you could be looking at fines if you are reported. You also want to find out if you should charge sales tax for your services. Some states charge sales tax for services, some don't.
After you have your business license, you'll need to get the paperwork you need to run your business together. You should have every customer sign a filled out service contract, to protect yourself and your customer from misunderstandings. Have each customer fill out an instruction form so you'll know how to care for their pets. If there are medications you'll need to give, have an instruction form for those as well. You will also want to have a "what I did" kind of form, letting your customer know what tasks you did while caring for their pets. There are software programs that will generate these kinds of forms for you, ask at your local office supply store or do an online search.
Before you take on your first customer, you need to have business insurance. Don't assume that nothing will ever happen. The last thing you want is for something bad to happen and YOU have to pay for the damage. You might also consider being bonded, in case you are accused of theft.
Before you start marketing your services, you need to figure out what to charge. Do you want to have a flat rate for the pet sitting service, with some extras for a bit more? Do you want to have different rates for more days; like $15 for one day, $25 for two days, etc? Think about what costs you will incur during the course of your job. Make sure you incorporate those costs into the fee.
Once you have your fee structure, then it's time to advertise. Flyers are the cheapest form of advertising. Anyone with a computer and printer can create a flyer. You should have your business name, your name, and a phone number where you can be reached during business hours. Clip art of animals and creative fonts will make your flyer stand out.
Here are some great ways to get your flyers to your customers.
You can canvass the neighborhoods near where you live, leaving one of your flyers attached to each front door. You can even knock on doors and introduce yourself. But never leave a flyer inside a mailbox. That is illegal.
Another place you can leave flyers is on cars in parking lots. But be careful. Some parking lots have rules against leaving flyers on customer's cars. And if they catch you, they might make you take every flyer off of the cars.
Pet stores are another good place to leave flyers. Most pet stores have bulletin boards for just such a thing. Acquainting yourself with groomers and store employees can help get you clients. Pretty much, anywhere that has a bulletin board, put your flyer there.
If your local veterinary offices offer boarding, offer to leave some flyers there for times when they are fully booked. They might send a client your way when they have no more room at the pet inn.
If you have the budget, you can place ads in the local paper. Usually, newspaper ads are inexpensive and can reach a lot of people all at once. The drawback is a limited amount of space for the money.
Finally, start a web site dedicated to your business. Be sure to have your contact information, rates and a frequently asked questions page. Make it as user friendly as possible.
Starting a business can be a daunting and somewhat expensive task. If you are determined and take good care of your customer's furry friends, you'll go far.