Love animals? Maybe you’d love to start a business that lets you spend lots of time with dogs or cats or all different types of animals. If so, a pet sitting business might be the perfect choice for you.
But it’s not as easy as just saying you want to be a pet sitter and then hanging out with cute puppies all day. If you’re interested in knowing how to start a pet sitting business, check out some of the essential steps in the list below.
Each city and state may have its own requirements as far as business licensing is concerned. So before you actually start pet sitting, check with your local government or chamber of commerce to make sure you get the proper license or documentation to run a business in your area. You might also consider obtaining business insurance to protect yourself in case there are any damages or health issues related to the pets you work with.
Then you’ll need to come up with some policies and an actual plan for your business. Will you only watch dogs or cats? Will you go to your clients’ homes for a set amount of time each day or stay there continuously? Will you provide any other services like dog walking or grooming? There are certainly other questions that will come up as you work with clients. But you should at least have answers for the basics before getting started.
From there, you have to consider how to price your services. Do some research to see what others in your area charge and then create a structure where you charge per hour, per day or per job. Setting those rates early can help you be ready for customers once you start marketing your services.
Since you’re likely going to work with pet owners who are in your local area, it makes sense for you to do a lot of marketing locally. Get in touch with local veterinary offices, pet grooming businesses and pet supply stores to see if you can put up flyers or otherwise advertise your services there. And you could also do some local advertising in newspapers or sponsor local events.
Even when you’re looking to attract local customers, online tools can provide a major boost. Post about your services on Craigslist or Care.com. Then check social media for any groups that could be relevant with your target customers. Maybe there’s a Facebook group for local dog owners that could help you garner some interest.
Once you actually start getting customers, you’ll have to create agreements with them so that each party knows exactly what to expect. You can find some sample contracts online to create your own. Or you can consult with a legal professional who specializes in creating business contracts. Then when you get a new client, go over the contract and have them sign it so you can keep it for your records. Aside from the basics covered in every contract, like payment terms and delivery of services, you should also consider contingency plans like what is expected of you in case of emergency or a veterinary visit.
You’ll also need to keep a detailed schedule of when you need to perform services for clients so you can be sure to show up on time for every job and not overbook any particular dates. Use Google Calendar, a paper planner or even an appointment scheduling software like Appointy or TimeTap.
Then it’s time for you to actually start working. If you love spending time with animals, this should be the easiest part of the job for you. You also have to keep up with the administrative part of running a business, like bookkeeping and scheduling. But the actual pet sitting should take up the bulk of your time.
You should also keep a detailed contact list of customers so you can stay in touch and try to garner some repeat business. Don’t bombard them with emails or phone calls. But you might start a simple monthly newsletter with tips for pet owners that includes a line at the bottom reminding them to contact you if they need a pet sitter. Or even sending out a holiday card or pet birthday cards could go a long way toward helping you build a loyal customer base.