Entrusting our furry friends to strangers can be stressful, which is why many people rely on reputable pet-sitting businesses to take on the task. If you’re looking to start a small business venture (and you love animals!), pet-sitting is an excellent option as it doesn’t require much capital investment.
That said, you may be wondering exactly how to start a pet-sitting business. What do you need, and how will you build a client database?
Well, don’t worry. We’ve got you. This article will take you through how to start pet-sitting with an easy step-by-step plan.
How to Start a Pet-Sitting Business
Pet-sitting sounds simple, but there are a few caveats when it comes to starting it professionally as a business.
Serious animal owners may want to see evidence of liability insurance, knowledge of emergency care, or at least some sort of guarantee that they can trust you with their pets.
Therefore, if you want to start a serious pet-sitting business, it’s a good idea to cover all your bases in terms of developing a business plan, acquiring the tools you need, and marketing your services.
We’ve gone ahead and broken it down into a step-by-step process to assist you, all of which we’ll cover in some detail.
- Select the types of services you’ll offer.
- Develop a basic business plan.
- Research insurance and licensing requirements.
- Establish a payment structure or rate card.
- Invest in the tools you need.
- Create client contracts.
- Market your services.
- Keep on top of your administration.
Ready? Let’s get planning.
What Services Will Your Pet-Sitting Business Offer?
Most pet-sitting businesses specialize in caring for dogs and cats. However, occasionally, you may come across a more exotic pet, like a rodent or reptile, or be required to fulfill other tasks like property management (watering plants, overseeing service providers).
For this reason, before you start marketing, you should be very clear about what you can offer clients. Will you be live-in pet-sitting or just checking in for play and feeding times? Do your services cover a range of animals or just cats and dogs? Do you do long-term stays or prefer a limit of a few days?
Ask yourself these questions before you start developing your game plan, as the answers will inform many of the requirements for your business.
Building Your Business Plan
Every start-up business needs a business plan to serve as a guideline for dealing with clients, your services, how much you will need to spend, and how profitable you can be. It also details marketing and the various permissions you need to get going.
Initially, it may feel like a lot of work, but there are plenty of useful guidelines to help you, and once you get into it, you’ll see exactly how valuable this step of your planning phase can be.
Some points to include for a pet-sitting business are the services you offer, liability measures, capital investment, profit projections, and your marketing plan.
Your business plan can also include your mission statement (i.e., excellent, stress-free care for pet owners) and your goals and objectives for future growth.
Licensing and Insurance
Some states require a business license before you can embark on professional pet-sitting. The last thing you want for a start-up business is to be caught operating illegally, so it’s crucial that you do your research before you start offering your services to clients.
To cover licensing requirements, have a chat with your local business authorities (usually the Chamber of Commerce) and get your applications filed as soon as possible.
Insurance is another vital aspect of your pet-sitting operation. As much as we wish they didn’t, accidents do happen. So, it’s a good idea to have liability insurance to cover yourself, the animals, or the property if anything should happen on the job.
Rate Cards and Payments
The first thing a pet owner will ask you is how much your services cost. To this end, it’s handy to have a rate card listing your prices or to have a clear quoting system you can talk them through at first communication.
When developing your rate card, include as much detail as possible, listing your packages from the most basic to the most extensive (popping in for a feed versus live-in, for example).
Pet-sitting durations tend to vary, so we recommend going with a day rate versus a week or weekend rate.
On your quote or rate card, you can also include your preferred payment methods, such as cash, card, or bank transfer.
Investing in the Tools for the Job
Though you don’t need much other than a love of animals to pet sit, some tools might be necessary, which can require capital investment.
If you’re traveling to your client’s home, you’ll need a reliable vehicle. The same is true if you collect pets to keep on your own premises. And for this, your car should also be equipped for animal transport.
Vehicle aside, we also recommend purchasing an emergency care kit and treats and toys if needed for the packages you offer.
Some back-ups, like a spare leash, can only serve you in good stead should something get damaged or break on the job.
Contracts can feel like a lot of admin, but they’re handy for managing expectations. A well-constructed contract can also protect both parties from liability.
Generally speaking, your written agreement should include the service you’re offering a particular client, their details, your details, the overall price, and your duties.
Enlist the services of a local business attorney to help you draw one up, or if this is beyond the scope of your start-up budget, look for a great template online that you can adjust to suit your business.
Marketing Your Services
There are plenty of ways to go about marketing your pet-sitting business, but our top recommendations are:
- Social media
- Advertising at your local vet
In contemporary times, social media is where most people get their information, and for the most part, it’s low-cost (or free!) to market online. You can use platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn to link back to your website (if you have one), where people can find more details.
Advertising at your local vet is also an excellent way to get the word out about your business venture, as this is where many animal lovers go for advice about their pets.
And once you have an excellent reputation, you can ask your clients to recommend you to others, which is a surefire way to garner new business.
Administration and Planning
This almost goes without saying, but staying on top of your administration is the best way to ensure business success. A pet-sitting business requires careful scheduling and planning to guarantee you don’t overbook yourself or let your clients down.
Take the time to keep a log of your clients, their contacts, their animals’ needs, local vets in case of emergencies, and backup references should you or an employee of yours not be able to make it to a job.