11 ways to make your pet sitting business the best
The following is a list of ideas to make your pet sitting business stand out among competition.
These are ideas I’ve used with my own pet sitting business as well as ideas from two other professional pet sitters.
If you’re interested in starting your own pet sitting or dog walking business, I hope this inspires you to get started on your business today.
How to make your pet sitting business stand out
1. Care the most.
You care about the pets (and their owners) more than the other pet sitters care, so let that shine through.
Here are a few extra steps I’ve taken because I care more:
- I walked 2 miles in a blizzard to get to a client’s house because roads were under 2 feet of snow and undriveable.
- I got my vehicle stuck while going to let another client’s dogs out during another blizzard while she was stranded at work for 36 hours.
- I send cards or flowers when a pet passes away.
- I carry a small vacuum to clean up pet hair and cat litter.
- I’ve shoveled snow from clients’ porches.
- I always walk the dogs long enough to make sure they have time to go to the bathroom.
- Staying in touch with the pet owners is a top priority, whether it’s by email, text or calling.
Jennifer Stack (pictured with her dog Lilo) offers pet sitting and dog running through RunThoseDogs in Washington. She said it’s important to her to be very flexible with her clients.
“I want them to count on me, talk about me, rely on me,” she said. “If I can help them out, I will.”
2. Have the best web site.
Most pet sitting web sites are pretty outdated, wouldn’t you say?
This could be because a lot of pet sitters are unable to or don’t want to invest the money into a modern web site. Or maybe they’re not sure who to hire for help. All I can say is it’s worth it to invest $1,000 or so into your web site. This will be the first impression most potential clients will have of you. You want your web site to look impressive and easy to use.
Some mistakes I see with pet sitting web sites:
- The text is difficult to read – often in odd fonts of multiple colors and sizes.
- Way too much text.
- The site has not been updated in over a year, so it’s hard to tell if the pet sitter is still in business.
- Rates are not listed on the site.
- No photos of the pet sitter.
- No links to social media sites.
Tips for a better web site:
- Find a crisp, business theme through WordPress.
- Hire a professional designer if needed. Shop around to find the best rates.
- Include a brief testimonials page.
- Briefly explain what you do.
- Make it easy for people to contact you.
- Include any credentials such as pet first aid certification.
Also make sure to set up a Facebook fan page for your pet sitting business and start interacting with your clients and “fans” there. For example, Sharon Wollenberg has a great fan page for her pet sitting and dog running business 4 Legs and a Leash in Darien, Ill.
3. Send “on the fly” pics and texts.
Leaving a handwritten note or sending an email is nice, but people also like to get immediate texts as you are visiting their pets. Send some nice pictures and little updates. People love to know what their dogs are up to as it’s happening. They’ll love seeing their dogs out on a walk or their cats playing with a toy.
4. Stay in touch with your clients.
Find a way to stay in touch with your clients even when you don’t care for their pets every single week or even every month. Some clients will hire you just once or twice a year when they go on vacation, so connect with them every now and then by sending an email and thanking them for choosing you in the past.
You could also offer specials through your business Facebook page or an online newsletter. For example, you could send out random deals for slow times of the year such as “Get one night of pet sitting FREE when you book three nights or more between now and Aug. 31.”
5. Ask for feedback.
When I’m checking on a pet for the first time, I make sure to actually call the pet owner to tell her everything is going OK. After that, I usually communicate by text or email, but people do appreciate that first phone call if possible.
Then, once the client has returned from her trip, I make sure to follow up with an additional phone call or email after a few days. During this time I:
- Thank the client for choosing me. I know she had a lot of options.
- Ask if my pet sitting services met her expectations.
- Ask what I could do to make her pets more comfortable next time.
Once you’ve established a relationship with the client and you are checking on the pet several times per year, it’s still important to touch base and ask for feedback.
6. Leave treats or other small gifts.
Think of some unique gifts you could leave for your clients every once in awhile such as:
- dog or cat treats
- printed out photos you took of the pets
- handwritten thank you notes
- small toys for dogs or cats
7. Keep it simple.
Don’t go overboard with offering too many services or too many rate options. People get confused easily and will just move on to the next pet sitter. Keep your rates and services as simple as possible.
For example, I charge the same flat hourly rate regardless of whether I’m walking a dog, running a dog or checking on a cat.
8. Buy my pet sitting ebook.
Starting a business is hard. This is your chance to learn from my mistakes. Through my step-by-step guide, you’ll learn how to quickly build up clients, offer the best service, find the right insurance company and more.
9. Connect with other pet sitters.
When Stack first started her business, she said she introduced herself to other pet sitters in the area and they were a “great group of people to align with.”
“They all were so busy,” Stack said. “I was getting a lot of referrals from them.”
Now they all meet once a month to share advice, compare notes and talk about clients.
“I found that other sitters had advice about things I didn’t even think of,” she said. “So nice to have people to bounce thoughts off of in the same industry.”
10. Get involved in your community.
The more you are out and about in your community, the more people will hear about your business name. Make a point to attend various pet-related events in town and introduce yourself to a few people at these events. Some examples could include humane society fundraisers, community dog shows or public events held at pet-related businesses.
Stack stressed the importance of getting your name out there by passing out business cards to vets, kennels, pet stores and dog parks. This is what I’ve done for starting up my new business offering pet sitting in Solana Beach.
“I created fliers and put them on bulletin boards all over town with cards attached,” she said.
11. Offer a unique service.
Find something that makes your business unique. Maybe you take the best photos of the pets. Maybe you take the dogs on two-hour hikes or for rollerblading sessions.
Wollenberg offers overnight, cage-free pet sitting in her home – also known as “the resort.” She also offers running sessions in addition to walks.
Stack also offers dog running sessions and is considering offering 3-hour trail runs for dogs in the near future. She encourages other pet sitters to have fun with their businesses and to stick with their strengths.
“Being a trail runner myself, I want to incorporate both of my loves,” she said. Dogs and trail running.