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How to Start a Professional Pet Sitting Business

By Edited Jul 8, 2015 0 0

How to start a pet sitting business will require a person to love animals and people. A person that wants a professional pet sitting business will be dealing directly with clients just as much as with their pets. It's important to have impeccable people skills in order to start a successful pet sitting business. Clients will also expect a pet sitter to have vast knowledge about the animals they will be working with.

This is a complete pet sitting guide to answer all your questions related to starting a pet sitting business. Most asked questions about starting a pet sitting business are:

- Is starting a pet sitting business hard?

- Is starting a pet sitting business expensive?

- What should my rates be?

- Do I need a business license for my pet sitting business?

- What pet sitting services should I offer?

- Will I be responsible for my own taxes?

- Will I need business contracts for my pet sitting business?

- Should I hire employees?

- What are dog leash laws?

- Will I need pet sitting insurance for my pet sitting business?

- Will I need a bond for my pet sitting business?

- What kind of equipment or supplies will I need?

- Should I have a website for my pet sitting business?

- Do I have to register my business name?

- What is pet sitting software and do I need it for my business?

- Is there any special requirements or certificates that I need before starting a pet sitting business?

Is starting a pet sitting business hard?

No, but you will need to get all your ducks in a row before you start. In other words, you will need to do all the research and necessary steps in order to become a professional pet sitter. You will find that there is a big difference between starting a pet sitting business, and starting a professional pet sitting business. A professional pet sitter will have their business licensed and bonded, have their business name registered, and carry pet sitters insurance. Not all pet sitters do this and that is the difference between the two. If you want to advertise your businesses like a professional and make a decent living you will need to become a professional pet sitter.

Is starting a pet sitting business expensive?

No, It doesn't have to be expensive to start a pet sitting business. Most people want to know how much it cost to start a pet sitting business? The cost will determine on what services you plan on offering your clients. If you are just starting your pet sitting business and you don't have a lot of money. Start by offering dog walking and boarding. These two services will keep a new pet sitter busy and put enough money in their pockets to reinvest the money back into their pet sitting business. Top priorities should be purchasing pet sitting insurance, getting licensed and bonded, start a website (this is a very small fee) and getting small supplies to operate the business. You will also need a cell phone if you don't already have one.

What should my rates be?

The rates you offer your clients will either make you successful as a pet sitter, or sink your business faster than a sinking ship. How to start a professional pet sitting business will require you to have competitive rates. Offer your clients exceptional service and they will be willing to pay you top dollar for pet sitting services. Don't become desperate and slash prices because you are the new kid on the block. Filling your entire day with low paying clients will result in failure, not to mention you will have a hard to raising your rates when your clients are used to paying rock bottom prices for pet sitting services. In order to make a living as a pet sitter and grow your pet sitting business you will need to consider what gas prices are in your area, and how far you will travel to a clients home. The biggest expense that a professional pet sitting business accrues will be gas and travel time.

Example: If it takes a total of 1 hour to travel too and from a clients home for a 1 hour dog walk, that is 2 hours out of the work day for just one client. The national average that a pet sitter charges for a 1 hour visit is $25.00. That means you will be making $12.50 an hour. Now you will need to deduct mileage, taxes, and supplies from $12.50 and that will be your profit from that visit.

As you can see be reading the example above your travel time will be a very important factor in operating your pet sitting business. Never travel more then 8 miles if you are wanting to make a decent profit. Another great way to decide what to charge for pet sitting services are to go online or call local pet sitting businesses in your area. Ask what services they offer and what they charge.

Do I need a business license for a pet sitting business?

Each state is different when it comes to business licenses. You will need to research the laws in which state you reside. Even if it's not required to have a business license to operate a pet sitting business in the state you live in. I would highly recommend that you get one. It is extremely easy to file for a business license and it's very affordable. It probably wont cost anymore then a one time fee of $75.00 to obtain a business license. It will also help you get clients if you can advertise your pet sitting business as licensed and in good standing.

What pet sitting services should I offer?

What pet sitting services you should offer will depend on many factors. If you don't have employees and it's just you starting your pet sitting business be very careful about offering to many services until you get more experience and find your footing. Don't bite off more then you can chew in the beginning. Start by offering dog walking and boarding. These to services are by far the most popular services that clients are looking for. They will be 70-80% of your profit if you do decide to offer multiple services. If all you want to offer is dog walking then be the best dog walker in the business and you will develop a good reputation in the business. Soon everyone will know you as the pet sitter to contact for dog walking exclusively. Don't be intimidated by offering more pet sitting services until you are 100% ready to expand. In the beginning less is more. When you are established and are ready to expand your business some pet sitting services that you might consider are:

- Dog boarding

- Dog walking

- Mobile pet grooming (bathing animals and clipping nails)

- Pooper scooping services for a dog owners yard

- Over night stays for when owners are away from home (Pet sitter stays in clients home)

- Administering pet medications while owners are at work

Will I be responsible for my own taxes?

Yes, any business that excepts money for services or goods in any state will have to pay taxes. If you get caught withholding taxes from Uncle Sam the punishment will be harsh. Pay your taxes on time, every time.

Will I need business contracts for my pet sitting business?

Yes, you will need a business contract if you want to operate a professional pet sitting business. This contract will protect you and your business, as well as your clients. Your clients will expect that you stand by your pet sitting business by signing a contract. It shows them that you are a professional. Pet sitting contracts are easy to find online and you can take them to your local print shop to have them print a double sided contract so your clients can have the bottom carbon copy. You don't need an expensive lawyer in order to have a pet sitting contract. It is very affordable to have pet sitting contract printed. It will cost approximately $75-$100 for approximately 100- 150 pet sitting contracts.

Should I hire employees?

In the beginning you should hold off on hiring employees for your pet sitting business. When you do decide to hire employees, you will need to contact the pet sitting insurance company so they can provide you with more coverage. It won't be expensive to add employees to your insurance policy. You will also need to consider how much you will pay your employees. Most pet sitters are considered independent contractors, which means they are responsible for their own taxes. Most likely, you will pay them per visit and not by the hour. You will need a separate contract for your employees which will state that they are responsible for their own taxes and are independent contractors working for your business or company.

What are dog leash laws?

If you are a pet setter, and you will be providing dog walking for your clients. You will need to know what the leash laws are in your state. Each state has different laws regarding dogs. You will need to thoroughly research what the laws are in your state. In some states, you are not allowed to walk more than three dogs at one time. It is against the law to walk a dog in public without a leash. Even if your clients requests you to remove the leash to play fetch, never take off the leash. Explain to your clients that there are laws that require pet sitters to keep the leash on at all times.

Will I need pet sitting insurance for my pet sitting business?

Yes, you will need pet sitting insurance for your pet sitting business. Pet sitting insurance will cover any medical bills or damages done to a clients home. For example, if you live in a hot state and a dog becomes dehydrated in your care you will be responsible for the vet bills. The average cost for a dog that is treated for dehydration is around $5000. Pet sitting and insurance is an absolute must have for a professional pet sitter. Pet sitters insurance only costs around $250 to $350 a year.

Will I need a bond for my pet sitting business?

Yes, your pet sitting business will need a bond if you choose to hire employees a bond protects your employees against theft in the event, if your clients ever accuses an employee of stealing. Even if you do not have employees, it is a great marketing tool for a business to have a bond. A bond is very affordable to purchase it cost around $50 a year.

What kind of equipment or supplies will I need?

Every professional pet sitting business should have the necessary equipment. Even if the client provides leashes, water, and doggie bags for waste you should always have these supplies on hand. Here are a list of supplies a pet sitter should consider having at all times:

- Cell phone with clients phone numbers programmed

- Dry towel for wet and dirty paws

- Dog leashes

- Doggy bags for dog waste

- Map and directions to nearest vet hospital in case of emergency.

- Water for dogs during walks on hot days

- Pet first aid kit

Should I have a website for my pet sitting business?

Yes, absolutely you should have a website for your pet sitting business. Without a professional website a pet sitting business will not thrive, or be able to compete with competition. A website is a very affordable and is easy to create. On average, a pet sitter can expect to pay $15-$20 a month for their website. On the website there should be a list of services and contact information.

Do I have to register my business name?

In order to avoid any legal problems in the future it's a good idea to register your business name in the state you live in. It's a one-time fee of $50 and will ensure that no other business will be able to take your business name in the future. When you register your business name it yours legally until you decide to terminate your business.

What is pet sitting software and do I need it for my business?

Pet sitting software is a great tool for a professional pet sitting business. Starting a pet sitting business will be much easier if you purchase pet sitting software, but it's not a requirement, or is necessary to run a successful pet sitting business. Pet sitting software usually includes contact information such as address phone number, e-mail. It also has a professional billing system to bill clients. It will also keep track of expenses and important tax information throughout the year. Basically it will keep you organized and functioning properly. So you can run your pet sitting business is focused on customer service, but again it's not necessary although a nice tool to have.

Is there any special requirements or certificates that I need before starting a pet sitting business?

Technically speaking, no, there aren't any requirements or certificates that need to be obtained for you to run a successful pet sitting business. A vast amount of knowledge about animals will be beneficial to your clients and their pets. Simply loving animals will not be enough to care for them. You will need to know what to do in the event an animal is ill or harmed while in your care. Pet owners love their pets like they love their children and will hold you responsible to care for them when they are not around. Check in your area if pet first aid classes are offered. Even volunteering at animal shelters or your local Humane Society will provide you with more experience.

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