If you love animals, have some free time on your hands, and want to have some extra income, you might want to consider pursuing a pet sitting business. Whether you start a business or have the opportunity to purchase an existing operation, taking the step towards owning your own pet sitting business can be daunting.
Should I buy a pre-existing company or start my own?
This is a common question when starting any business. There are benefits to both starting a company and purchasing a pre-existing company.
Starting your own Pet Sitter company allows you to control every aspect of the company, from the name and logo, to your services and location. You have full flexibility in how you operate your company, what you charge, and who you work with.
Buying an existing company also offers several benefits. First, it is less risky. When you buy a company you not only buy their location, name, and tools, you also buy their client base. The most difficult part of starting a company is to get your name and brand out there. Purchasing a company gives you access to its existing branding and clientele, saving you both time and money.
Overall, the decision between buying a company versus developing your own is an individual decision and will determine how you proceed in the Pet Care world.
Where do I start?
Starting your own business as a professional pet sitter is, in many cases, similar to starting any other business, especially since in some jurisdictions pet sitting services are required to be licensed by the authorities. If you decide to head your own company rather than purchasing one, having a business plan is essential. Make sure to highlight:
- What services are you willing and able to offer?
- What pets you are willing to take care of? What pets are you unwilling to take care of?
- What are your geographical parameters?
- What are your marketing techniques?
- Are you going to hire pet sitter assistants or do you plan to run the company alone?
- What is your fee schedule?
- What are your short term goals? What are your long term goals?
How am I going to find clients?
Building up a client base can be a difficult task. There is no one formula to establishing loyal clients but important factors include picking a good location, providing excellent dependable service, and learning from every experience. Luckily, there is a large market for pet sitters.
To begin building your clients, contact people you know. Established relationships are the easiest route to start a pet sitting business as these are people that already trust you. Over time your network of friends can refer you to even more clients. Most people feel more confident leaving their beloved pets in the care of someone who has been personally recommended than to a complete stranger.
After you’ve exhausted your social circle, it’s time to get creative. This is when your artistic and writing talent will come in handy. Visit appropriate websites and post some advertisements. CraigsList, Kijiji, and PetSitter.com’s very own site are all great places to start advertising your skills. Be sure to outline your experience, skills, and what makes you the unique choice for potential clients.
Finally, create some fun, catchy and colourful posters or advertisements that will catch people’s attention. It is important to identify high density neighbourhoods that seem to have a lot of pets. Aim at putting up posters where they will make maximum impact; at eye level next to a traffic light, in coffee houses, on bulletin boards at the local elementary schools.
How will I build my team?
If you’ve decided not to be a one-person business, you are going to need to find good employees. Your company is only as good as the individuals in it. Building a team can follow the same template as finding clients.
Start with your social circle; these are the people you can trust and who want you to be successful. Again go to the web PetSitter.com, CraigsList, Kijiji, where you will find many people looking for employment. Create an interview sheet that includes questions that reflect your philosophy and standards. Begin with phone interviews and then make a shortlist of potential employees for face to face interviews. Establish the rules of employment, including a trial period. Encourage open, honest and frequent communication between you and your employees. Having fun is not an option.
Some useful resources
- The National Association of Professional Pet Sitters and Pet Sitters International are both professional organizations that can provide you with tools to help you support your business.
- You might want to check out the website of the Small Business Administration for some general tips on how to build a business plans