Tips to get more pet sitting customers
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?
1. Don’t give up too quickly.
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!
2. 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!
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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!
5 BONUS TIPS:
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. Be unique!
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.
4. 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.
Read about what to charge for pet sitting here.
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.
5. Read my pet sitting ebook.
My ebook on how to start a pet sitting business is a step-by-step guide to help you start or grow your pet sitting business as quickly as possible. Learn from someone who’s been there and save yourself some time and stress!
Saturday 6th of March 2021
Hi! I just read your post and would like to ask you something, please would you email me. Regards Candy
Monday 31st of December 2018
This site helps a lot. I’ve had my own dog sitting business for about a year now. I mainly rely on rover to get clients, but I want to branch off of rover and this article helped. Thank you
Wednesday 11th of October 2017
Hi there! I started my own business on June. I'm getting good customers but I would like to get more clients. I am planning to build my own website for pet sitting business. Do you know which website that is free or affordable that will help me to get more clients?
Wednesday 11th of October 2017
Congrats on your business! I bought my web domain through GoDaddy and use a WordPress theme but someone else suggested to me that she used Wix, which is free. Something to look into. Her site looks nice using it.
Wednesday 6th of March 2013
I consider pet sitters to be an important part of keeping pets healthy and in their homes, so connecting with all local groups and no-kill advocates is a good idea.
- Connect with cat rescues and groups too! Pet sitters for cat owners away from home are essential since cats really require canned or raw food to stay healthy, and should never be left on their own with a pile of kibble (see non-commercial site www.Catinfo.org if you have cats or are caring for any so know what litter box issues to watch for). Cats are so territorial they often don't do well in strange surroundings; having a pet sitter is much better than boarding them.
- Advertise at animal control & adoption centers. Help walk and train shelter dogs and socialize shelter cats. Perhaps they would consider giving away your brochure to people who adopt. Maybe you could work with other community partners and put together a special package from several businesses.
- Advertise on www.kijiji.com (kijiji.ca in Canada) for free, or can buy higher profile ads
- connect with local dog owners associations & other groups where you may be able to offer members a discount
- do free pet workshops at local schools, community centers and YMCAs & hand out your brochures. Dog safety for kids is important to teach.
- Survey! Ask potential clients for suggestions.
- Some cities have discount rewards cards for people who licence their pets. Pet sitters could sign up as service providers. These cities usually remove arbitrary barriers to licencing ALL pets, so they don't have pet limits, mandatory spay/neuter laws or breed band. Three city examples are Calgary, Alberta and Regina and Saskatoon in Saskatchewan. (To those opposed to mandatory licensing, I agree that it can be done the wrong way. I would like to see a voluntary yearly fee ID program with a similar rewards program attached to see if it could work. Other services like first ride home is free and delivery of stray pets back home should be included. This can't be done without the same good leadership required to implement the No Kill Equation, but it could help fund some of the programs and services, http://www.nokilladvocacycenter.org/shelter-reform/no-kill-equation/) Outline of Calgary program, http://iheartmypet.ca/
- Make part of your brochure a picture that can be colored in
- join your local animal welfare committee and volunteer to help improve things
- conduct pet food drives, etc (contact local food bank and help them start a pet food bank if they don't have one already. Info is on the Best Friends Animal Society site). Contact existing pet food banks and work with the group in charge whenever possible. Make your interactions mutually beneficial, not superficial. (Example of dog owners association that started a pet food bank. Collection bins were donated by company that provides municipal recycling containers - http://stdoa.ca/pet-food-donations/)
- Help find lost pets. Seriously. If you are keen on learning about pet behavior, also learn about lost pet behavior and help your community save more lives. Getting more lost pets back home helps reduce the number of animals entering shelters and frees up room in rescues for pets who are truly homeless. Doesn't hurt if you also get some good media coverage. You can even just tell worried pet owners about the site where they will find the best recovery tips. See info on this non-profit group's website and blog, started by dog trainer and former police officer, Kat Albrecht, www.missingpetpartnership.org - Online training available.
- Put yourself on the map on www.helpinglostpets.com - a great free map-based site. You can recommend clients pre-register their pets so if they go missing, just change their status from "safe" to "lost" and the pet will appear on the map - it's free. This is an awesome and powerful site your community can use. Shelters and rescues can even link to their adoptable pet listings.
- Related to above, connect with local Trap-Neuter-Return groups helping to control the community cat population. They may be separate from local cat rescues and may need assistance, especially feeding a cat colony when the regular caregiver is away. If they don't have it, provide them with info from MPP and see if they will also help with recovering lost cats since traps may be required.
Monday 4th of March 2013
Do you get commissions when you refer out to other pet sitters? Or is it more about good karma that you know will come back to you?
Monday 4th of March 2013
I don't have any relationship set up where I get commissions, so I guess it's more of a good karma thing. I'm sure some people have worked out something like that.