To those of you who do pet-sitting...

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by wombatcat, Sep 23, 2006.

  1. wombatcat

    wombatcat Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    MN
    I have some questions--
    See, it has always been my dream to open a boarding kennel on our land. However, with the advent of the stupid neighbors who complain when the roosters crow, it quickly became apparent that a dog kennel would not fly without some serious conflict. (See, when we bought our house/land, we were in the middle of nowhere, then meathead up and decided to move to the middle of nowhere and park his doublewide right on the edge of the property line--so where we didn't have any neighbors for 1/2 mile when we bought the place, now we've got someone 75 feet away-- :grump: :grump: :grump: ) anyhow, it truly never occurred to me until I was reading the thread on ways to make money when you're desperate, that I could do pet-sitting in other peoples' homes and also I could set something up where I could board cats. So being that I don't know much about either of these, I was hoping some of you who have experience could help me out....
    1) Are you insured/bonded? Do most potential customers worry about that? How much does that cost?
    2) How do you advertise?
    3) Do you have a contract?
    4) How do you charge--by the day, by the visit, or some other way? (You don't have to tell me how much you charge--LOL, actually, I guess, you don't have to tell me anything--although I'm curious to know what people will pay for this kind of service)
    5) How did you get started doing that?
    6) Is there any advice you could give a potential beginner that you have learned through trial and error?

    Thanks in advance to anyone who answers this--it was really like an ah-hah (lightbulb) moment when I realized that I could still care for animals despite the bad luck of having that neighbor....
     
  2. Ross

    Ross Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    We have a kennel, it's one of those 356 day of the year jobs so you have to be able to accomodate that. yes there are slow periods, February is a good example. It's late so I'll limit myself to answering questions.
    Insured yes bonded no, (you'd want that for a pet sitting service) no 99% of the customers we get never even think of it. You should, and it is expensive for dogs at least depending on your coverage. Cheap at $1000 per year
    Yellow pages, the occasional local paper ad, word of mouth mostly
    Oh yeah definately
    By the day or part day. When people drop off the pet its extra work for us so its a full day charge, when they pick the pet up its extra work so a full days charge. Not the happiest method but its been working for 36 years. Cats are $8 per day and dogs 12. Prices vary alot region to region, Toronto would be cheap at twice that.
    My father bred Springer Spanials and started by boarding the pups/dogs he sold. Great feedback for a breedign program! Grew from there.
    Figure out how your going to handle a pet that turns nasty. It happens regularly, nice pet with owner, owner leaves, pet goes nuts. Poor social skills are a real problem with some pets. This is a big problem if you can't enter the house to care for the dog!!! We have a dog catchers pole and keep heavy clothing and gloves handy. It helps if you've spent a lot of time with dogs and done numerous training sessions etc with your own. Learn to really like people. Its harder than you think, but understanding the stress some people go through leaving thier pet is important. Learn something about veterinary medicines and practices. You don't need to be a pro but if you don't know some you'll hit a wall quickly as the dog who gets a pill three times a day seperates it from peanut butter and spits the slimey mass out. Fortunately PB works at about 95% cheese for most of the rest but you'll need to know how to get a pill down manually with your fingers! Advice could go on and on, ask on the Pet board too!
     

  3. dcross

    dcross Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Find out your zoning laws, dogs might be an option.
     
  4. Bluebird

    Bluebird Well-Known Member

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    Western WI
    ABKA.com is a great resource. Also check the web sites through that ABKA site under "Pet Services Locator" for pet sitting services in your area. Amazing how much you can learn about the business side by viewing other web sites. In our area there is a great need for people willing to cover stock at small farms when people need to be away. Are you in a rural area? Amazon has books about the business, too. We are just getting ready to open a kennel. Been waiting 20 years to retire so that we can work 24/7. Go figure.....but we love the dogs and most of their people. Good luck!!
     
  5. zookeeper16

    zookeeper16 Karaoke Queen

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    I've been petsitting on a small scale for five years, so I'll try to answer your questions.

    1. Yes, get insurance. Bonding is not necessary. Clients do appreciate knowing you have the insurance and it shows you are professional enough to cover all your bases. Mine was a little more than $200 a year.

    2. My only advertising with through the local veterinarians - make friends with them! Also business cards and flyers everywhere. After that, its all been word-of-mouth.

    3. Yes, I have a very detailed contract, outlining services, expectations, emergency plans, payment plans, etc.

    4. I charge by the visit. Since I'm in the boonies, I charge less. In the big cities, they get paid very well!

    5. Just a love of animals, and a concern about kennelling my own pets.

    6. Advice: Always have a back-up plan, in case you are sick or end up on crutches! LOL! Always have a spare key or know where the client's spare key is. Be professional - my clients love the fact that I note when I was at their homes, what time I left and everything I did while I was there. Don't expect to get rich from this profession! LOL!

    Hope this helps!
     
  6. Little Quacker in OR

    Little Quacker in OR Well-Known Member

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    :) You have not mentioned going to other people's places to dog or cat sit(horses and other stock too maybe?) but it sound's like this may be an option for you along with the cat boarding.

    Do be aware that what for others will be holidays with time off, will be YOUR busiest times! I am lucky to have two college students(who own their own dogs and horses) who come out and house sit for me and my 3 dogs when needed and this is a great thing!

    Take copius notes when anmals are entrusted to your care. The girls who come here bring a voice activated recorder and I read MY notes onto it! LOL And of course I leave other notes all over the place.

    Good luck in your venture! LQ
     
  7. zookeeper16

    zookeeper16 Karaoke Queen

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    Also keep in mind that if you do the kennel option at your place, you will NEVER get time off unless you hire employees.

    I think I have a couple pet-sitting books around that I'd be willing to sell to you (if I can find them). I'll get back to you on this!
     
  8. River Rest

    River Rest Home-Insteader

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    Western NC
    The answer to most of these questions can be found at Pet Sitters International
    I highly recommend joining. They have done all the leg work & have a lot to offer. I built a pet sitting business & actually sold it!

    1) Are you insured/bonded? Do most potential customers worry about that? How much does that cost?
    I was insured, not bonded. Your average insurance company may not have the coverage you need. PSI should have a list of companies.
    I did have many customers ask about being bonded. I assured them I had more than enough insurance. That was good enough for them.
    I do recommend that for your own satisfaction, check into & learn about what bonding means. In what circumstances will it pay? of course, the same goes for insurance.

    2) How do you advertise?
    I used word of mouth, veterinarians, groomers, any business pet related, neighborhood canvasing with flyers & business cards. Also, a customer that wrote for the local paper did a article on my business. That helped alot!

    3) Do you have a contract?
    A definate YES! PSI has one you can buy. I'll have to dig around but I may have a copy I could send you. I bought theirs & modified it to my specifications.

    4) How do you charge--by the day, by the visit, or some other way? (You don't have to tell me how much you charge--LOL, actually, I guess, you don't have to tell me anything--although I'm curious to know what people will pay for this kind of service)
    I charged by the visit, making each visit 1/2 hour. This included 1 pet, bringing in mail & paper, watering plants, any duty considered reasonable. Add on a little extra for additonal pets, duties & time. Remember, you are providing a valuable service. You are saving your client time & giving them piece of mind about where their pet is while they're away. You don't want your rates to be competitive with the local boarding kennel.

    5) How did you get started doing that?
    I started out as a groomer. Someone came by my shop & asked if I would provide the in home service for their cat. It grew from there. I eventually closed the grooming shop & focused on the pet care.

    6) Is there any advice you could give a potential beginner that you have learned through trial and error?
    This could turn into a 7 day 24 hour job if you let it. Find good help & use them ( this is where bonding may be recommended). Remember... you are commited to be there for that animal, they depend on you. I remember waking up in the middle of the night wondering if I'd forgotten someone! On several occasions I actually got up & drove over to a clients to be sure all was well.

    Also, join a local pet sitters network. Someone to "talk shop" with.They may be your competition but you can learn so much from your fellow sitters. I even filled in for some in my network as they did for me. They will support you & may even send business your way.

    Just an added note: I have worked at & managed several boarding kennels. I much preferred the pet sitting. The pets are much happier at home & are definately easier to work with. I guess you could say the same for the pet owners!
    Good luck with your new venture. It was very rewarding for me.!!
     
  9. wombatcat

    wombatcat Well-Known Member

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    Thanks to all of you who provided input on this, it really helped me a lot!!! And THANKS to River Rest for that great link!!!! If you wouldn't mind sharing a copy of your contract, I would love to see it, but I understand also if you would rather I just go out to the site and get the one they have....all of you made me consider the possibilities and I think I am going to learn as much as I can and then make a go of it in our small town. Our local vet does not allow boarding, so I think there may be a market. We will see!!!
     
  10. Pink_Carnation

    Pink_Carnation Well-Known Member

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    I don't do the boarding but I do know what several nice boarding places here charge. $25-$35/day By nice I mean not just a 5x5 kennel where everyone goes home at night. I do live in an expensive area though so I don't know if that impacts the rates.