Interested in becoming a pet sitter? These tips will help you succeed!
Pet sitters are in high demand. If you have a passion for pets and an entrepreneurial spirit, becoming a professional pet sitter could be a perfect career for you. These five steps will help lead you down the path to pet-sitting success.
1. Assess your current knowledge
Loving pets is a requirement for this profession and having experience with your own pets is a big plus. But other skills are needed. Take an inventory of your current pet-care knowledge and experience. You may note areas that you would like to learn more about. Perhaps you feel you need more experience with large-breed dogs, or maybe you have no experience with cats. Seek out training workshops, online classes and even volunteer opportunities (such as at your local animal shelter) to get virtual and hands-on training in specific pet-care topics.
2. Know the legalities
Once you decide on a business name and ensure it’s not already in use by another business, be sure to also inquire if a business license is required in your city, state or province — and obtain any necessary licenses to operate your business legally. You’ll also want to decide on your business structure and become familiar with any federal or local business laws. While these are topics you can research yourself, professionals (i.e. attorneys, accountants, etc.) can provide you with valuable insight to ensure you are legally operating your pet-sitting business.
3. Protect your assets
Before you accept your first pet-sitting assignment, you’ll want to have pet-sitter liability insurance. The reality is that for even the most conscientious pet sitter, accidents can occur. Being insured gives you and your clients peace of mind that you are covered should anything go wrong. Given today’s litigious society, no professional pet sitter should go unprotected.
4. Get a pet-sitting service contract
You want to ensure that all clients clearly understand the services you will be providing, your policies and procedures, and what is expected from pet owners. Your contract will outline the services you’ll provide, limitations, and important information about the clients’ pet and home-care needs. Pet-sitting service contracts can be purchased, or you can have an attorney create one for you.
5. Get the word out!
If your phone isn’t ringing yet, it’s simply because your community doesn’t know about you. Now’s the time to get the word out about your new pet-sitting business! Introduce yourself to local veterinarians and dog groomers, participate in community events, and promote your business online through a website and social media. Network with other professional pet sitters—they can send business your way if they are already booked or receive calls outside of their service areas.
Beth Stultz-Hairston is the vice-president, marketing and operations, for Pet Sitters International (PSI), the world’s largest educational association for professional pet sitters and dog walkers. She is an award-winning writer, editor of Pet Sitter’s World magazine and a frequent contributor to The PSI Blog at www.petsit.com.