Here are the pros and cons of starting a pet sitting business. These are also great considerations when evaluating how this service compares to the pros & cons of dog walking and which services you may want to ultimately offer.
What is pet sitting all about?
Pet sitting is the act of going to a client’s home multiple times in a day to take care of their pets while they’re away.
For dogs, most clients are typically satisfied if you visit 3 times per day (morning, afternoon, evening – roughly 8am, 1pm, 8pm). You might charge by time or service but, either way, the duration of the visit will vary depending on the activities you're doing and will generally last 15-40 minutes.
Visiting more/less frequently and for longer/shorter durations might be requested by some clients. For example, if you're pet sitting a cat, you may just need to visit once per day for 30 minutes in the morning. Or, a client might request you come 4 times per day with the first and last visit being 30 minutes and the other two being just 15 if there is a pet that requires more attention. It all depends on what the client and pet need based on their normal daily routine.
Each client will also have their own set of needs for what the end result of the visit should be. Some will be fine with a quick walk or even just backyard play time and a bathroom break. Some will want more of an exercise-focused visit. Again, just depends on the client.
The main pros & cons of pet sitting
- High-revenue jobs that can be $400+ for just a week or so of work
- Lots of activity to keep you and team members busy, happy, and making money
- Good client loyalty: once they try and like you, they’ll typically call you again
- Without advance planning, you’ll waste time obtaining and returning client keys (if you’re not holding onto them for future visits)
- May often include weekends, morning, afternoon, and evening work
- Sporadic and somewhat unpredictable work demand except for summer vacation and major holiday periods
- If a sitter falls through and you don’t have a backup, you may have lots of visits to make yourself all of a sudden
- May have sitters who you don’t have a lot of history/experience with going out on jobs
- Visits may include all types of activities that keep you interested and entertained, including: dog exercise, cat care, care of other pets, bathroom breaks, bringing in mail, giving medication, watering plants, and other “daily” tasks the owner would otherwise perform
Watch out for these pet sitting traps
- Not having a confirmed/tested key that opens the door it should: always test the key before you leave the initial client consultation, even if the client says it works
- Not having access to your signed client agreement, which should include an “apartment entrance authorization” you can bring to building management to enter a unit, if need be
- Not having a vet release form to bring to the vet
- Not having enough sitters on hand
- Not having enough sitters in the right location to serve a client
- Not having ALL the contact information for the client while they’re away and, thus, not being able to contact them either quick enough or at all; make sure to get hotel location/numbers, cell phones, veterinarian (day and night emergency), apartment management numbers, and anything else the client can give you
- Not having a full understanding of how the dog will behave while the owner is gone; if the dog won’t let you in and the owners have left, could be big trouble
- Know what to do if you run into an emergency; do you have authorization to make minor and/or major decisions on how much to spend at a vet’s office? Your client agreement should ask for permission to provide veterinary care, if needed.
Keep these things in mind
- Owners may have very particular ideas on when they’d like you to show up, so know exactly what times they have in mind
- Pet sitting hours can be 24/7 – 365, depending on what the client needs
- Don’t get curious and roam the client’s home checking in drawers, etc
- Get permission to use the TV, eat/drink, use the home phone, etc. before you do any of those things
- Don’t bring anyone into the home with you – no friends, no family
- Keep the home as clean (or cleaner) when you leave as it was when you first arrived at the start of the set of visits
- Show up on time and do what you say you’ll do (neighbors may often be keeping an eye out for you and security systems and other monitoring devices may be recording what you do and what you say)
How about you?
What do you think of offering pet sitting in your business? Is it something you may do? Let us know in the comments below.