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How to start a pet sitting business

February 18, 2022
Written by Nextdoor Editorial Team
February 18, 2022 | Written by Nextdoor Editorial Team

Whether a family is taking off on a week-long vacation or a couple needs to leave their dog for a weekend wedding event, pet sitters are an in-demand commodity. But not just any sitter will do, of course. 

Pets of all shapes, sizes, and species are part of the family, and their owners want to work with someone who’ll look after their pet as if it were their own. Pet sitting is a business built around trust, a love for animals, and a carefully considered business plan. 

If you’re considering becoming a professional pet setter but aren’t sure how to start your own business, read on.

Step 1: Figure out finances 

When it comes to starting any business, money matters. To get going, you'll need to have a clear idea of what it will cost. Pet sitting may not be as risky of a financial investment as say opening your own restaurant, but it will come with its fair share of expenses.

First, there are the standard supplies that you’ll need in order for your business to run. In this case, reliable transportation to and from your pet sitting locations will be one of your primary financial considerations. Other supplies such as dog leashes, toys, pet food, or basic grooming tools will likely be supplied by the owner of the pet you’re taking care of. 

On the business side of things, you’ll need to factor in the initial costs for things like:

  • Business registration 
  • Company website and hosting
  • Design and printing costs for business cards and flyers
  • Pet sitting business insurance

Prepare a document that lists each of your anticipated expenses up front. From there, you assess how much capital you’ll need to get started. 

Step 2: Understand your target market

Once you’ve laid the financial framework for your pet sitting business, you can focus on who your services will benefit and how. Although it may change over time, start off by clearly defining your target market. This will help guide your marketing efforts in a more intentional direction. 

To do this, start by identifying what types of pets you’re willing and able to care for. Some clients may require sitting for more traditional pets, like dogs or cats, while others may need specialized care for animals such as horses, turtles, or saltwater fish.

After determining the range of pet sitting services you’ll provide, next decide on location. Where are your ideal clients located? How far outside of your city or town are you willing to travel? By widening your service radius, you’ll gain access to more clients but it will also come with a few more added expenses depending on how far outside your area you’re open to traveling to. 

 

Step 3: Make your business stand out

This third step is all about branding your business. Think about the personal touches you can bring to,  your pet sitting business to make it stand out. This is the time to clearly define things like:

  • Company name
  • Logo
  • Brand  colors
  • Typography
  • Tagline and tone
  • Imagery 
  • Brand values

The best way to get started in this phase? By perusing the market for inspiration and to find out what you do and don’t love about what other brands are doing. 

  • Take a look at Ooh La Paws, a mobile grooming service based in Nevada. Their website pays close attention to consistency when it comes to brand colors and their tone is casual and approachable. 
  • Another case study is Queen Anne Dog Walking based in Seattle, Washington. Their cleverly crafted tagline, “Your dog is our family” immediately gives consumers a sense of trust and reliability upon entering the home page of their website. 

But keep in mind, what works for some small pet sitting businesses may not work for you. Decide what’s important for you to showcase when it comes to your brand identity and public image. Work with a branding expert, if possible and your budget allows, to help you tie all the pieces together. 

Pet sitting FAQs

From rate-setting to savvy marketing techniques, there’s still a bit more to cover as you work to build the foundation for your pet sitting business. Keep reading to get the answers to questions other “petpreneurs” just like you are asking as they move forward with their business endeavors. 

How do I market my pet sitting business?

After you’ve set up a business plan outlining your services, rates, and budget, the next step is connecting you to the right people in your community. With the right marketing hacks, you’ll get your business in front of people who are already searching for services you provide. 

Some marketing campaigns may come at a cost for a pet business owner, but there are a number of low-cost (and free) marketing tools to take advantage of while you’re business is still in its primary stages of development: 

  • Business cards and flyers – Work with a graphic artist or hone your own design skills to build an eye-catching business card and/or flyer. Make sure the branding is cohesive across all advertising outlets, whether it’s your website or a printed advertisement. Partner with local businesses in your area that may attract a similar clientele to the one you’re looking for. Ask about posting a flyer or leaving your card in places like grooming spas and veterinarian offices. 
  • Word-of-mouth – If you own a pet yourself, network with other pet owners in your area to find out if they could benefit from your services. Start a conversation with a neighbor at the local dog park, for example, and generate local chatter about your upcoming business launch.
  • Social media marketing – Before launching your business, make sure your business name is available to claim as a username on social media. To make the most out of this free online marketing tool, don’t wait to start generating content. Build up anticipation surrounding your pet sitting business by sharing relevant posts in the days and weeks leading up to your launch.  

How much should I charge for pet sitting?

When it comes to setting rates for your pet sitting service, there isn’t just one right answer. To find out how much you should be charging as a pet business owner, you’ll need to set aside time to do some market research. Nationwide averages are good but you’ll really want to narrow your search to your specific region. 

How much are pet sitters charging in your city or town? How did they arrive at those numbers and how might you need to adjust your pet sitting service in order to accommodate your specific business expenses? Initiate your search based on these questions and set your rates in accordance with the data you find. Some of the main averages for pet sitting are as follows:

  • National average - $15 per hour
  • Minimum cost - $10 per hour
  • Maximum cost - $60 per hour
  • Average range - $10 to $25 per hour
  • Average cost per visit - $10 to $30 
  • Average cost per day - $20 to $30
  • Average cost per night - $45 to $75

How can I attract more pet sitting clients?

Whether you’re starting from scratch or looking to add more clients to fill up your schedule, there are plenty of ways to go about investing your time. Here are a few ideas to help get you started:

  • Testimonials - Testimonials are a powerful tool when it comes to building trust with prospective clients. Nearly three-quarters of consumers feel more trusting of businesses with positive testimonials. If you’re just starting out, ask a friend for whom you’ve provided pet sitting services in the past to write you a brief testimonial endorsing your best qualities. 
  • Targeted ads - Whether your goal is to increase brand awareness or to boost conversion rates, consider running a paid advertising campaign that targets people in your community and surrounding areas. This way, you’ll have specific control over the market segments you attract, resulting in contact with consumers who are more likely to be interested in the services your business offers.
  • Nextdoor - Nextdoor is your digital portal to your real-life community. Claim your free Business Page and get the attention of new customers - your neighbors - by offering neighborhood-exclusive deals. For example, consider running a giveaway that raffles off a free pet sit. Encourage neighbors to enter the contest by sharing your post or tagging your business in a post of their own. This will not only allow for more interaction between you and your customer base but it will also increase brand visibility. 

Nextdoor: The first step to successful pet sitting 

It’s nearly time to get off and running on your way to a successful career in pet sitting. You’re now equipped with the tools, business savvy, and animal-loving spirit to build your business upon solid ground. 

The final step? Connecting with your community on Nextdoor

Nextdoor is an online hub where neighbors meet to exchange recommendations and discover small businesses in their local area. Nextdoor is here to help your business grow.

With more than 55 million business recommendations made to date, it’s no wonder, small business owners, just like you are using Nextdoor to make a splash in their neighborhoods. Claim your free Business Page to start connecting with nearby clients today. 

Claim your Business Page

 

Sources: 

Boast. 30 Testimonial Statistics You Should Know in 2021.  https://boast.io/20-statistics-about-using-testimonials-in-marketing/

Truic. How to Start a Pet Sitting Business.  https://howtostartanllc.com/business-ideas/pet-sitting


Claim your free Business Page to get started on Nextdoor. For resources on how to use Nextdoor to stay connected with your local customers, pertinent news affecting business, and more, follow us at @nextdoorbusiness on Facebook

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