Pet sitting is still a relatively new profession but with the rise of pet ownership, it can be very successful as people have great affection for their furry friends and are keen to find a professional person to help care for them.
The benefit of using a pet sitter instead of a helpful friend or neighbour is that a pet sitter is a contract service providing care at agreed times. This makes it not only more reliable but also gives a pet owner peace of mind that their pet is being cared for in the best possible way.
The vast majority of responsible dog owners and walkers will not need reminding about the importance of maintaining control over the canines in their care. However, there are certain things that do require extra consideration and pet sitting insurance is one of them.
There are some questions that you should ask yourself before embarking on a career in pet sitting.
These include: Would you offer the service at your home or theirs? How many animals would you plan to look after? Are there any additional services that could be included? Some pet sitters offer grooming, play options and where the care takes place in the owner’s home extra services such as mail collection and plant watering could be added.
When starting out however it might be sensible to start with the basics and grow from there once you have an established business.
To become a pet sitter there is no specific licence required in the UK. However there are associations for professional pet sitters and dog walkers which you can join.These associations encourage members to follow their guidelines and code of conduct thus giving your clients peace of mind. An association such as this can also offer a great deal of support to you in terms of training and advice as well as access to a great database or network of clients.
Whether you decide to go down the route of joining an association or not, there are some essential points that you should consider when setting up any pet business:
Pet owners are more likely to consider employing your services if you can show that you have experience with animals, an interest in them and their welfare. Anything from your family pets to previous work experience can help to demonstrate what a pet lover you are.
When running any business it is ideal to have basic business skills. Start by setting your prices – consider your costs and your competitor’s prices and ensure that you at least match them.
It is always helpful to write a business plan. Even if you aren’t looking for an investor, this will enable you to capture all of your plans in one document and detail what you are looking to achieve which will help to keep you focused.
Keeping on top of the financials is really important and if you know that managing the books might be too challenging for you then employ an accountant who will help you with the details and you can ensure that everything is declared efficiently in terms of income and earnings.
It always pays to do your research and there are a host of great websites offering a wealth of information and helpful tips to aid you in getting your business started.
Familiarise yourself with some of the laws and regulations that might affect your business. For example be aware of The Animals Act of 1971, The Dogs Act 1971; The Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953.
These are easily found through online searches or organisations associated with the relevant animal will also be able to help eg. The Kennel club.
There are also first aid for pets courses which would be a valuable qualification to hold as this can give you greater credibility and give your clients peace of mind that in the event of an accident, their dearly loved pet would receive the right medical attention. There are a number of providers that offer courses which can specialise in particular animals or give broader training.
In the case that you hold keys to your client’s house then it is advisable to have a criminal record check done through the Disclosures and Barring Service of your local police. This can take time to process so this is best applied for early in the set-up of your business and then you have a copy on file for clients to see. Contact your local police authority to find out more.
Pet sitting insurance is essential to protect you, the owner, the pet and anyone else that your pet might come into contact with. For more information about Pet business insurance and exactly what is covered on our Pet Sitting Insurance page.
Promoting any business can be a daunting task but when providing a service such as pet sitting, word of mouth and personal recommendation are so valuable. So, get testimonials from existing clients and utilise social media to ensure the best reach.
Make the most of advertising opportunities in the local area – through vets surgeries, pet stores and community social media sites.
So, if you are a pet lover then the rise in pet ownership combined with many of us facing increasing working hours could present the perfect opportunity for you to set up your own business.
Considering the points above should help you to get started. So why not turn your love of pets into a career?