Pet sitters provide a valuable service to pet owners who need help caring for their pets. Due to busy lifestyles and vacations, pet sitters are in demand year-round. In addition to being knowledgeable about pet care, pet sitters need to be friendly and patient, able to handle both difficult humans and animals. Pet sitting can be very profitable for people willing to work hard to promote their services.
Pet sitters care for animals when their owners are away or working. Pet sitters do more than provide fresh food and water for pets. They clean litter boxes, walk dogs, give medications and even bring in the homeowner's newspaper and mail. While pet sitters sometimes temporarily live with the pets in their care, pets usually stay in their own homes and are visited by pet sitters during the day.
A pet sitting job can last for one day or be an ongoing job performed every day while the owner works long hours. If you are pet sitting while the owner is on vacation, you can expect to work for one or two weeks. Dog owners who can't get away from work may hire you for an indefinite time period to walk their dogs during the day. Because the majority of your jobs will have an ending date, advertising your services in local newspapers, fliers and veterinary offices is a must if you want a constant influx of new clients.
As a pet sitter, you should have some background in caring for animals. Although many pet sitters have worked in veterinary offices, you only need to have a genuine love for animals and knowledge about the care of pets.
Pet sitting is not a 9-5 type of job. You will be working early in the morning and in the evening and will need to be able to work weekends and holidays. Before you begin your business, you'll need to purchase automobile and liability insurance for your business. If you plan on hiring employees, your insurance coverage will need to include them and you'll also have to provide workers' compensation coverage.
Before agreeing to pet sitting for a new client, you will need to meet the client and go over the type of services you offer. Ask new clients to fill out a contract and questionnaire about the animal and its schedule. Ask for payment before pet sitting to avoid the problem of nonpaying customers.
As a pet sitter, you don't have to work with all types of animals, but can choose to specialize. If you like cats but aren't comfortable with dogs, you may want to offer a pet sitting service that only cares for cats. If you specialize, you can use this fact to your advantage in your advertising efforts.
Find out what other pet sitters in your area charge and use that information to help determine your fees. After subtracting all of your fixed costs, determine how much you would have to charge to make a profit. If you'll be offering services that require special skills such as giving injections, you'll be able to charge a higher amount.
While pet sitting might sound more like fun than a business, you'll need to operate your service in a professional way. Invest in a voice mail system or answering machine and return client calls as soon as possible. Use your computer for your scheduling and bookkeeping needs. Consider joining a professional pet sitting organization such as the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters or Pet Sitters International. You can list your service on these sites, obtain certification and keep updated on trends and practices.
As a pet sitter, you will have the opportunity to make your own hours, choose the focus of your business and work only for quality clients. With a solid marketing and advertising plan, you can draw customers and attain a prominent position in the pet sitting market in your area.