Pet Sitting Business 101

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End of summer marketing

Posted on August 3, 2018 at 9:40 AM Comments comments (0)

Summer can be very busy for some and then taper off in the fall. Especially for dog walking. One marketing tip to help build your daily walks is to target people with school age kids and teachers. Teachers have the summer off so don't need daily walks until they go back to work in September. Some people let their kids walk the dog durring the summer but would need assistance when the kids go back to school. In the middle of August start your advertising campaign based on that knowledge. "Who will walk your dog(s) when your kids go back to school next month? Pet Sitters Plus walks dogs year round, insured, bonded...". Plant the seed before they realize they have a need.

Type of leash

Posted on July 19, 2018 at 9:10 AM Comments comments (0)

You want to be careful of the type of leash used on the dog you walk. Everyone has their preference leash vs harness but some dogs need a specific type because of their behavior or in this case breed. Sophie the greyhound has a very small head and if you pull on the leash to get her to move the collar comes right off. Fortunately Sophie was very chill and just stood their looking at me. If that was not the reaction I would have suggested to the owners they get a harness or a gentle lead. You never know if a dog will bolt if it sees a squirrel or something else makes it curious. If you feel the leash/harness being used is not appropriate or risky don't be afraid to say something to the owner. They may appreciate your expertise.

Deciding on types of animals you will sit

Posted on July 12, 2018 at 2:45 PM Comments comments (0)

One of the first decisions you will need to make is what types of animals you will sit. Everyone has a comfort level for different types of animals based on experience or lack there of. However just because you don't have experience does not mean you can't handle it. Very early I sat for 2 bunnies Jack and Daniel. The owner was very organized and had am and pm bags of greens for each bunny, for everyday they were gone, in the fridge. Later I sat for 2 corgies and the owner had chickens as well, all she asked me to do once in a while was to close the coop door at night after they all went in and open it in the am. Some times I had to put more feed out for them. The bonus was she would tip me with a 6 eggs occasionally. I have been asked to feed/fresh water for birds. I even had to feed mealworms to a turtle. Which was an after thought on the list on the counter from the client, something they forgot to mention on the client visit. Even if you are just there for the dog(s) or cat(s) ask if there are other pets in the house, do the kids have fish or hampsters, etc.?

When you do the client visit you can decide on a case by case bases which animals you will care for. This will depend on the amount of work involved, whether you are comfortable with giving live food to reptiles, risk factor involved (i.e. chickens can sometimes come up and kick you), and how organized and easy the client makes it for you. If the extra pets require more work then your normal visit time then you would charge extra. Some people have a per pet extra charge or some just tack on 15 min. and have a set rate for that. You decide.

Resource guarding

Posted on July 2, 2018 at 3:35 PM Comments comments (0)

When doing your initial consult with a new client it's always good to ask (with multiple dogs) whether one of them is a resource guarder. For those who don't know a resource guarder is overly protective of their food, toy, etc. and can be aggressive if they think another dog is going to try to take it. Years ago I was sitting 3 boxers, sat them many times with no incident. They have a fenced in back yard and were doing their thing at 9:00 pm. I was giving attention to one of them when the other two got into a huge fight and bloodied each other. It was an effort to separate them. The fight was over acorns... yes acorns, you never know what can trigger it. The next day the owner had come home and took them to the vet and all was well. She said she uses the wheelbarrow technique where you grab the hind legs of one of the dogs and lift up like a wheelbarrow, and pull them back. Fortunately I have not had to try that. Always keep a vigilant eye on all dogs in those situations, I only let my guard down for a minute, at night you can wear a head lamp so you can see better and your hands are free if needed to act quickly.

Skittish Dogs

Posted on June 22, 2018 at 9:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Ferra was very scared of me when I first visited her, I was not able to get near her.You need to give these dogs time and space. Do not try to force attention, let them warm up to you on their own by building trust that you will not harm them. This can take one visit to several years. With skittish/fear aggression dogs you sometimes have to "herd" them. If they have a fenced in backyard open the sliding door, walk behind them and they will run outside to get away from you. Hopefully they will do their business. Then open the sliding door and walk behind them and herd them back" into the house.

Ferra eventually warmed up to me running to the door for attention with her "sister" Abby every time I came over. I was able to leash them up and have great long walks. I have dealt with many dogs like this who eventually warm up, however some never do. I had a German Short Haired Pointer I sat for 4 years and petted (one touch with hand) 5 times, but those are a very small percent. Trust your instincts and watch the dogs body language. Remember a wagging tail does not always mean the dog is happy to see you, look for facial clues. Is the dog coming to you or shying away, does their tail straighten when you approach them? These clues with help keep you safe and help build trust by not invading the dogs space until they are ready.

Client key

Posted on June 15, 2018 at 11:25 AM Comments comments (0)

I am always amazed when I show up at the new client visit and the customer does not have a spear key, they forgot we needed one. Some clients have given me their garage remotes and some a code for garage door or door to house. Make sure to get a key as a back up just in case or at least know where they keep a hide a key. Once years ago I went to the first visit, pulled out the garage door remote and it did not work, had to text the client for garage door code, fortunately they had one. Just the other day one of my employees texted she did the walk, the client had a note on the inside door that the keypad was not working so she did not lock that door, and when she came back the inside door was now locked. I was close to her and went right over, it was indeed locked and the keypad was not responsive. I called the client and then texted her, sent my employee to my next walk and sat and waited with Siena. The client called back after 5 min. and said there was a hide a key which she failed to mention before. She is fixing the keypad and getting us copies of the key.

When you talk to potential clients over the phone let them know you need copies of the key. I always get 2 copies especially when you have employees. When you go do the new client visit make sure to get a key even if they give you a remote or code. As you leave the house always test the key to make sure it works (if new key) or that they gave you the correct one. This will hopefully save you future headaches.

Summer means busy

Posted on June 14, 2018 at 6:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Summer is coming soon and you are probably getting lots of requests already. Since summer is very busy you need to streamline your communication methods and booking requests. That means you need to have a set policy of how you want potential and current clients to communicate with you like emailing or texting. For potential clinets it's a good idea to have a form on your website for them to fill in the details of the pets and what their needs are, then you can decide if that is a service you provide or area you service saving you time on the phone. You can call back the ones you can help and email  back those that you can't help but maybe you have some colleagues who can so you can refer someone you know who can help them.

With current clients using pet sitting software is the best way for them to book requests. They may still wish to ask your availability before putting a request in so have them call or text you. I like texting because you have a record of what they are asking for in case you forget to write down what you just discussed over the phone. I let all calls go to voice mail if I am out and about and get back to them later, but don't put them off too long clients don't like to be kept waiting.

Since you will be very busy over the summer make sure to schedule some time for yourself. In my pet sitting software the customers had their own portal where they could book requests, check their invoices, etc.. I could type a message in their landing page when they opened their portal. I would list the days/times I was booked even if it was for personal reasons (my time with family or friends). I did this because I sometimes had no employees or just one and they were not available during the time I wanted off. If you have several employees then you will not need to do this as you can just assign the employees that time slot.

Make sure to run your business effeciently and take time for yourself so you have a fun and successful summer and don't burn out.