I don’t advertise my pet sitting business.
This is because I have more than enough customers. Word of mouth is all I need.
However, this didn’t happen overnight. It took about a year to build a full-time business. Most pet sitters give up before they reach that point.
I’d like to help you gain more customers, too. Then you can focus on providing the best service and stop worrying about advertising.
For more info, see my post on how to start a pet sitting business.
How do I find enough pet sitting clients?
If you can work your butt off for at least six months, the rewards will pay off. Don’t expect to find 20 clients during your first month. You may only have one client, and then two. When you start a pet sitting business, you have to be patient!
Offer a midday dog walking service.
Don’t limit yourself to pet sitting. You should offer midday dog walks and “potty breaks” for dogs while their owners work. It’s much easier to build a client base this way, because you have a wider market. You can always cut back on later. Learning to say no to pet sitting clients is a nice problem to have!
Post about your pet sitting business on Craigslist.
Craigslist is free to use, and people do check it (in some areas, anyway).
I recommend posting once or twice per month in the pets section. Don’t go overboard or your posts will get flagged.
The value of Craigslist depends on where you live. If you live in a larger metro area, there might be hundreds of posts per day and yours will get lost in the clutter. In smaller communities, you might have the opposite problem – very few posts and no one checking them.
Get involved in your local dog community.
People in your local “dog community” should know you by first name. I’m referring to dog trainers, veterinarians, shelter staff, groomers and other pet sitters. They should know your name and business name so they can recommend you.
To get to this point, you will need to slowly connect with a few key people each week. Sign up for an obedience class with your dog at a training club. Drop off some business cards at a grooming shop. Send a friendly email to a dog daycare owner to introduce yourself. Shop at locally owned pet-related stores instead of chains. Volunteer to walk dogs at a shelter once per week.
Network with other pet sitters and dog walkers.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to existing pet sitters and dog walkers.
I have more potential customers than I can accommodate. It’s difficult to turn clients away, so I appreciate having other pet sitters to recommend. There are more than enough pets to go around, so I’m not afraid of losing clients. If you reach out to other pet sitters, they might be happy to send business your way.
To introduce yourself to other pet sitters, just send a concise email to say hello. You don’t have to say you are a new pet sitter or that you are looking for new clients. Just say something such as:
Hi, my name is Lindsay Stordahl and I’m the owner of Run That Mutt here in town. I offer pet sitting and dog walking/running. You have a very nice web site, and it looks like you have some happy clients as well! I’d be happy to recommend you when I am unavailable. Just wanted to introduce myself and wish you continued success with your business!
Volunteer with a shelter or rescue group.
If you love dogs, I’m sure you’re already thinking about volunteering at a shelter.
Volunteering to walk shelter dogs, clean cages or help at adoption events is a great way to get to know people in your industry. There are always more people adopting dogs, so this will expose you to an endless supply of new customers. Shelter and rescue volunteers will be more likely to recommend you if they know you’re committed to helping dogs in need. You could even offer a discount for recently adopted dogs.
Attend local dog events.
Attend dog shows, business open houses, shelter fundraisers and as many other community dog events as you can. Some organizers will invite businesses and vendors to set up tables or “booths” at the events. This is a great time to get to know dog owners in your community. Hand out treats, business cards and fliers, and provide a way for people to leave their contact information. Sometimes you will need to supply your own table and chairs at these events. A colorful tablecloth and a professional sign will help your “booth” stand out.
What is unique about your pet sitting business?
Do you take dogs on hikes? Do you run with the dogs? Take them rollerblading? Do you have dog training experience? Are you capable of caring for reptiles and rodents? Are you a photographer? Do you make dog treats? Are you available 24/7?
There must be something unique about your business. Whatever it is, make sure to advertise it clearly on your web site, fliers, business cards and so on.
Build a professional pet sitting web site.
People ask me about prices for starting a pet sitting business, and it really doesn’t cost much to start your business. One important investment, though, is to design a professional web site.
People will take you seriously if you have a nice web site. They will choose you over your competition for that reason alone. If that means you need to hire a designer, it’s well worth the money.
I see so many pet sitting sites that look like they were built in the 90′s. The information hasn’t been updated in months. They use low-quality photos, huge blocks of text and hot pink fonts. Please, avoid all this. Keep your site concise and modern. It’s something you should be proud of.
Read my pet sitting ebook.
My ebook on how to start a pet sitting business is guaranteed to be the best resource available for starting a pet sitting business. It’s full of ideas on how to market your business, how to get more clients and how to stand out among competition. It even has a section on potential problems you can run into as a pet sitter and how to handle those situations.
Also see my post on how do I start my dog sitting business.
Do you own a pet sitting business? How did you gain new customers?
Here is one of my dog running/pet sitting clients, Hope!