This is a guest post written by Ashley Spade.
I used to make a fair amount of money pet sitting for friends, but as a law student I don’t have time to commit more than a few weekends a year to my friends’ animals.
However, I’ve learned over the years that pet sitting can be a lucrative and enjoyable venture.
The following pet sitting advice will serve you well whether you have a one-person business or an operation large enough to use payroll software for your employees.
Service Agreements (Know your Limits)
One of the most important things you need to determine as a pet sitter is what services you’ll provide. For instance, I love cats and dogs and have even taken care of fish, but I don’t want to take care of snakes or lizards.
If you’re a solo practitioner, you can obviously make your own rules about what jobs you do and do not take. Starting a business can be quite the undertaking, but it can be worthwhile as long as you’re not faced with working for a pet sitting service that refuses no pet.
Know what pet owners expect of you while they’re out of town. Pets, like humans, are used to routine. Some animals are fed small amounts of food multiple times a day or require more than one walk to burn off excess energy.
Other pets may have special needs, such as daily insulin injections. Preparing and signing an agreement of what your business will and will not provide will keep communication clear between you and pet owners. You can find these kinds of forms inside the APSE Members Area, a recommended resource for those looking to go pro.
Professional pet sitters will want to pick up insurance for their protection. The Kennel Pro Pet Sitters Program, a policy available through full-service agency Mourer-Foster, Inc., is recommended for one or more employees as it covers medical and replacement costs for animals in a pet sitter’s care.
My pet sitting has only been occasional and therefore insurance was unnecessary, but pros will want to make this worthwhile investment. As with any insurance, pet sitters will ideally never need to use it but having it will put everyone’s minds at ease. When marketing your services as a pet sitter, having insurance will serve you well for attracting business.
Along with service agreements, pet sitters will want to use various forms to help their business run smoothly. Examples include a vet release so that animals may receive emergency medical care in their owners’ absence, permission slips for administering medication, or invoices in the case of larger operations that use online billing or payroll software systems as mentioned earlier. The more organized and professional you are, the better.
It’s all about trust
Having pet sat for well-organized friends who presented me, literally, with pages of instructions for their pets and the care of their home, I have a better idea of what questions to ask other pet owners. Follow the above tips and do your research. Trust in your ability to provide excellent service just as pet owners trust you with their animals.
Ashley Spade, also known as Sir Winston Pugsalot the First’s favorite human, is a law student in Chicago. When she isn’t studying, she enjoys competing in 5K races, trips the the bark park, and blogging. Keep up with her adventures on twitter: @ashspade