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Pet Sitter Spotlight: Eric Reyes, Metro Pup SA Dog Walking & Pet Sitting

  
  
  

There’s great truth to the statement, “There’s strength in numbers.” Pet sitting can be lonely. And whether you are just starting your pet-sitting business or are a pet-care veteran, you have questions—and there’s no one better to help answer your questions and share in your daily challenges and joys than a fellow pet sitter.

PSI members have a network of nearly 7,000 fellow PSI members and pet-sitting business owners, and PSI is always looking for ways to help our members connect with one another. From PSI’s annual conference to the private Facebook chat group, PSI is always seeking out new avenues to allow our members to find support, advice and new ideas from fellow pet sitters.

PSI’s Pet Sitter Spotlight series has that same goal. Each month, we’ll feature a different PSI member and share his or her answers to our pet-sitting survey. The responses will help you get to “know” this pet sitter and provide you with some tips and advice for your own pet-sitting business.  You can view past Pet Sitter Spotlights here.

Meet Eric Reyes, owner of Metro Pup SA Dog Walking & Pet Sitting in San Antonio, Texas

 Eric Reyes-Metro Pup SA

Your Name: Eric Reyes

 

Business Name: Metro Pup SA Dog Walking & Pet Sitting

 

Location:  San Antonio, Texas

 

Year you started your pet-sitting business: 2012

 

 

What was your previous job/profession? Account Executive in Advertising

 

What is your current business structure? (sole proprietor, LLC, etc.) Sole proprietor

 

Number of current clients (an estimate is fine): 65

 

How many visits do you typically do per day? 15

 

Is your service area urban, suburban or rural? Urban

 

Is your pet-sitting business insured? Yes

 

Is your pet-sitting business bonded? No

 

Do you provide clients with proof of your clear criminal history (background check)? Yes

 

Briefly describe any educational opportunities you have taken advantage of since you became a pet sitter. 

 

*Pet CPR and First Aid trained through Pet Tech

*Currently pursuing Masters in Organizational Development

 

How long did it take you to build up your clientele? Approximately 4-6 months

 

Do you use staff sitters? Yes, ICs

 

Do you offer any services besides basic in the client's home pet sitting and dog walking? (pet taxi, etc.)

Dog Walking using GPS Technology

In-home overnight pet care (The Slumber Party - my home)

In-home overnight pet care (The Watchdog - client's home)

Pet Taxi service

 

Which advertising methods worked best when you were a new business?

Facebook

Yelp

Google

Building relationship with upscale apartment communities and planning Yappy Hour event for their residents.

(All organic and not paid)

 

Do you still use the same advertising methods? If not, what do you do differently now? Yes, I use the same.

 

What's one mistake you've made as a professional pet sitter (when you were just starting out or at any time during your career)? What did you learn/what do you do differently now?

Paying to be listed on Care.com - as a professional pet sitter, I don't want to be associated with the hobby sitter.

 

What advice would you give to new pet sitters?

Be patient, think outside the box, hit the ground running, and do NOT be afraid.

 

Are there any must-have business tools your business could not do without?

Smartphone

Facebook page

Yelp and Google

First aid kit

Backup plan

Business plan

Marketing plan

 

Do you schedule vacation time and/or days off? If so, how often?

I have scheduled a vacation since I've started my business and took 2 days off. I will probably schedule a vacation once a year, but I want to ensure that I have more ICs first.

 

Are there any tips you would share for establishing a healthy work/life balance?

Create a weekly schedule that is listed out hour by hour....and stick to it.

 

Is there any other information about your business and/or what has helped you create a successful pet-sitting business that you'd like to share?

I am pet-centric and believe in being completely transparent. I don't sweat the little things....I deal with them quickly and concisely, then move on to my business.

5 Ways to Use Mother’s Day to Promote Your Pet-Sitting Business

  
  
  

Mothers Day-Pet Sitters

While summer vacations and winter holidays likely mean busy times for your pet-sitting business, don’t forget other holidays and observances can also offer a great opportunity to promote your services and go the extra mile to make your clients happy. With spring in the air, one of the first holidays of the season is Mother’s Day. Whether you have open spots in your pet-sitting calendar that you’d like to fill or you are simply looking for a new idea to wow your current clients, Mother’s Day is an often overlooked time to promote your pet-sitting business.

If you’re in need of some Mother’s Day marketing inspiration, check out these five ideas from Pet Sitters International:

1. If you still have space for pet-sitting assignments Mother’s Day weekend, e-mail is a good place to start. Do you send your clients an e-mail newsletter? If so, consider sending an e-mail with a subject line similar to “Planning a last-minute weekend getaway for Mom? Don't forget your pets!”  This type of e-mail is a great way let your clients know you still have a few spots available and to contact you to schedule their pet-sitting visits. You may even consider offering a Mother’s Day coupon.

2. If your pet-sitting schedule is full, an e-mail promotion can still be beneficial.  Consider sending a Happy Mother's Day e-mail to your female clients… “Mother's Day is for fur-moms, too!” This e-mail is also a perfect time to include a reminder about how quickly your summer pet-sitting calendar is filling up. If you know any dates that you will not be available, include that information in the e-mail as well. This type of e-mail shows you value your clients and also keeps you top-of-mind with your clients who are likely busy making summer travel plans.

3. Want to put a smile on your clients’ faces? Consider making some simple Mother's Day cards from the pet that you could leave behind for your clients. If possible, include a photo of their pet/s. You can leave these at all of the female clients’ homes you will be visiting Mother’s Day weekend (or the week leading up to Mother’s Day). Happy clients are your best form of advertisement and your clients are sure to spread the word about thoughtful gestures like this!

4. Contact your local media. Consider writing and sending a press release about what to give pet parents for Mother’s Day. This offers a unique twist on the typical articles with Mother’s Day gift ideas for moms. Send the release to your local newspaper and news stations. If you do not already have a relationship with your local media, check out these tips for getting your pet-sitting company’s name in the news. If you have a blog for your pet-sitting business, be sure to post the release there. You can also take advantage of free online distribution sites, such as PRLog.com.

5. Share the love on social media sites. You can also use your pet-sitting company’s social media pages to wish your clients a Happy Mother's Day and share any special offers. Remember, photos and images get more “likes” on Facebook, so consider posting a photo of pets with a “Happy Mother’s Day” message.  You can also get your clients involved by asking your female clients to share photos of themselves with their “pet children” on your page. As a special “thank you” to your mom clients, you could even randomly select one client who shares her picture on your page to receive a free pet-sitting visit. When using social media to promote your pet-sitting business, remember to keep these social-media etiquette  tips in mind.

How are you sharing the love this Mother’s Day?

Does your company offer any special discounts or plan promotions around Mother’s Day? Are there any other holidays that you use to advertise your business?

Share your experiences and tips in the comments section below.

Pet Sitter Spotlight: Shannon Arner, Pet ‘n Nanny LLC

  
  
  

There’s great truth to the statement, “There’s strength in numbers.” Pet sitting can be lonely. And whether you are just starting your pet-sitting business or are a pet-care veteran, you have questions—and there’s no one better to help answer your questions and share in your daily challenges and joys than a fellow pet sitter.

PSI members have a network of nearly 7,000 fellow PSI members and pet-sitting business owners, and PSI is always looking for ways to help our members connect with one another. From PSI’s annual conference to the private Facebook chat group, PSI is always seeking out new avenues to allow our members to find support, advice and new ideas from fellow pet sitters.

PSI’s Pet Sitter Spotlight series has that same goal. Each month, we’ll feature a different PSI member and share his or her answers to our pet-sitting survey. The responses will help you get to “know” this pet sitter and provide you with some tips and advice for your own pet-sitting business.  You can view past Pet Sitter Spotlights here.

Meet Shannon Arner, owner of Pet ‘n Nanny LLC, in Wake Forest, N.C.…

 Shannon Arner Pet n Nanny Facebook

photo source: Pet 'n Nanny Facebook page

Your Name: Shannon Arner

 

Business Name: Pet ‘n Nanny LLCPet N Nanny logo

 

Location:  Wake Forest, N.C.

 

Year you started your pet-sitting business: 2000

 

 

What was your previous job/profession? Vet assistant

 

What is your current business structure? (sole proprietor, LLC, etc.) LLC

 

Number of current clients (an estimate is fine): 200

 

How many visits do you typically do per day? 12

 

Is your service area urban, suburban or rural? All three

 

Is your pet-sitting business insured? Yes

 

Is your pet-sitting business bonded? Yes

 

Do you provide clients with proof of your clear criminal history (background check)? Yes

 

Briefly describe any educational opportunities you have taken advantage of since you became a pet sitter. 

 

*PSI’s annual conference

*Local chamber sponsored business seminars and workshops

*Webinars from pet-sitting experts, such as Kristin Morrison

 

How long did it take you to build up your clientele? It took about two years (going at it hard core!)

 

Do you use staff sitters? No

 

Do you offer any services besides basic in the client's home pet sitting and dog walking? (pet taxi, etc.) We offer pet taxi, play dates, litter-box cleaning, taking dogs to self-serve dog wash, and medication pickup and delivery for pets.

 

Which advertising methods worked best when you were a new business? Print ads rarely worked. What worked more was asking the print ad folks to post our press releases or volunteering to write articles. We network a lot in our community so word of mouth is our best advertisement.

 

Do you still use the same advertising methods? If not, what do you do differently now? We used to do all print ads and flyers, but the ROI (return on investment) was not there. We started being smarter about social media and outlets available for free. We also bumped up our SEO (search engine optimization) for our website.

 

What's one mistake you've made as a professional pet sitter (when you were just starting out or at any time during your career)? What did you learn/what do you do differently now?

Taking on things we didn't want, and pricing our services too low. I've learned we are not the cheapest, but we provide the best quality and the best value of service and care.

What advice would you give to new pet sitters?

Learn, learn and learn. Be picky—don’t just do anything. It devalues the service. Don't be the cheapest, be the best.

 

Are there any must-have business tools your business could not do without?

We use Pet Sitters Plus software.

 

Do you schedule vacation time and/or days off? If so, how often?

We schedule a week vacation once a year. We also now tack on dates to the PSI conference.

 

Are there any tips you would share for establishing a healthy work/life balance?

Take vacations! Also, if there is a day that is looking slim, go ahead and block it off. You don't have to tell customers you're taking the day off…you say you are booked or do not have availability.

 

Is there any other information about your business and/or what has helped you create a successful pet-sitting business that you'd like to share?

[Completing PSI’s Certificate in Professional Pet Sitting and] obtaining our PSI Certified Professional Pet Sitter designation has been most valuable from learning more info regarding the care of pets, but business practices as well.

Pet First Aid Month: Reminders for Professional Pet Sitters

  
  
  

Pet First Aid Month-Pet Sitters International

April is Pet First Aid Awareness month and for professional pet sitters, it’s the perfect time to ensure that you have the pet first aid knowledge and skills necessary to offer the best possible care to your furry clients and also a good time to share pet first aid information with your human clients.

 

Why is pet first aid a vital skill for professional pet sitters?

 

To answer this important question, we reached out to Denise Fleck, pet first-aid & CPR instructor, author and founder of Sunny-dog Ink. Denise will be offering her Pet First Aid & CPR/CPCR workshop at PSI’s upcoming Pet Sitter World Educational Conference & Expo. Stay tuned for Denise’s in-depth article on pet first aid in the next issue of Pet Sitter’s WORLD magazine and be sure to visit her site to learn how you can enter win a great prize package by taking part in her PET SAFETY SCAVENGER HUNT (ends April 30, 2015).

 

The information below is excerpted from the helpful advice Denise shared:

 

Veterinarians are the experts, but most of us don’t have one velcroed to our hip 24/7, so you must react quickly and effectively at the scene when injury or illness takes place.  Knowing what to do during those first few moments can make a life-saving difference for the dog or cat in your care.”

 

If you know how to:

  • stop bleeding and bandage a wound, you can prevent severe blood loss and keep infection at bay.
  • reduce a pet’s body temperature, you can prevent brain damage and death.
  • alleviate choking, you can prevent an animal, from going unconscious.
  • be the pump the pet’s heart can’t be for whatever reason, you can keep blood and oxygen flowing until reaching your Animal ER.   

 

“Pet first aid is by no means a replacement for veterinary care, but can help your vet help your pet if you alleviate further injury. Together you and your veterinarian work as a team for the well-being of your pet.”

 

What pet first aid supplies do you need?

 

As a pet owner, you should have basic first aid supplies for your pets in your home. As a professional pet sitter, it’s important to have a complete pet first aid kit with you in your vehicle, should you need it while on a pet-sitting assignment.

 

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), your kit should include:

  • phone numbers for local veterinarians, the emergency veterinary clinic and animal poison control center. (Your personal kit should also include your pet’s medical records. As a pet sitter, you should also have the preferred veterinarian information for your clients handy.)
  • gauze
  • nonstick bandages or strips of cloth
  • adhesive tape (for bandages)
  • Milk of magnesia activated charcoal
  • Hydrogen peroxide (3%)
  • digital thermometer
  • eye dropper
  • muzzle
  • leash
  • stretcher

 

You can view the uses for each of these items on the AVMA website.

 

Denise Fleck also offered these helpful tips to make sure your pet first aid kit is ready when you need it:

 

  • Check for expiration dates and refill packages that have expired.  
  • Also be in-the-know about medications getting too warm. Hydrogen Peroxide will not fizz if the bottle has been subjected to heat and won’t induce vomiting when you need it the most!
  • Adhesive on bandaging also goes bad in the summer heat of your vehicle.

 

Remember: As a professional pet sitter, you are an advocate for your clients’ pets—and the pets in your local community. When your clients are away, you are responsible for the safety of their pets. Plus, your clients and others in your community look to you as a “go to person” for all things pets—especially pet health and safety information.

 

Pet First Aid Awareness month is a good reminder to brush up on your basic pet first aid knowledge and skills, but remember to keep learning all year long! The pets in your care will benefit and your clients will thank you!

The Dog Flu: What pet sitters need to know.

  
  
  

Dog flu-canine influenza

 

When PSI partnered with Merck Animal Health and introduced its first educational campaign regarding the canine flu for professional pet sitters in 2012 only one strain of the canine influenza (H3N8) had been known to affect dogs in the United States.  Many PSI pet sitters are now worried—and have contacted PSI—about the new virus strain that has caused a Midwest canine influenza outbreak.

While Chicago appears to be ground zero for the virus in the United States, there is concern throughout Illinois, and some reports have indicated concern of cases in Ohio, Indiana, Michigan and even Georgia. What is known is that this canine influenza outbreak has afflicted more than 1,000 dogs in the Midwest, resulting in at least five deaths.

Pet sitters in PSI’s private Facebook group also reported hearing of cases in Alaska, Florida, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

If you are concerned about the threat of this strain of canine influenza in your area, PSI encourages you to contact your local veterinarian for up-to-date information on if the virus has been detected where you live and operate your pet-sitting service.

PSI has also compiled this quick informational post to provide pet sitters with more information on the canine flue, where it originated, what the symptom are and how to prevent transmission of the virus.

Please note: This post will be updated as more information becomes available about the current outbreak.

What is the canine flu?

There are two types of canine influenza viruses that have been identified worldwide: an influenza A H3N8 virus and an influenza A H3N2 virus. The A H3N8 virus was responsible for the canine flu cases reported a decade ago, but this new outbreak first reported in the Chicago area this year is a result of the canine influenza A H3N2 virus. Dog flu is a contagious respiratory disease in dogs. (Source: Center for Disease Control)

While symptoms of the canine flu can vary, they are often very similar to human flu symptoms and include fever, cough, loss of appetite, lethargy and nasal discharge. The severity of symptoms can vary from dog to dog and some dogs infected will show no signs of the flu. About 80 percent of dogs who contract the canine flu will have a “mild” form of the virus. (Source: WCPO.com)

It is also important to note that this Asian strain, H3N2 (unlike the original H3N8), can also affect cats, based on what has been seen with the virus in Asia. (Source:ChicagoNow.com/Steve Dale’s Pet World)

Where did it come from and how did it spread?

Experts at Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine say this H3N2 strain of the dog flu virus likely came from viruses circulating in the live bird markets in Asia. It spread among dogs in South Korea and parts of China and there was an outbreak in Thailand in 2012. However, the strain had not been seen in North America until the recent Midwest outbreak and was likely just recently introduced from Asia. (Source: Associated Press)

How it got to Chicago, no one knows, and is one of the many mysteries which researchers are now beginning to seek answers for. However, experts say that while dog daycares are typically a healthy experience for pets, the daycare environment, with dozens of pets mingling, contributed to the dog flu epidemic in Chicago and the Midwest. (Source: Associated Press)

How can you help prevent the dog flu from spreading?

The following tips were shared in a recent article posted by WCPO in Cincinnati:

  • Veterinary officials recommend a dog flu vaccine to prevent your pet from contracting the disease.
  • If you believe your dog has contracted the flu, keep the dog out of contact with other dogs until the infection has subsided.
  • Avoiding places where dogs congregate - dog parks, dog day care, boarding facilities, grooming facilities, etc. - will reduce risk of exposure.
  • If you play with an infected dog - even if the dog is not showing symptoms - you could transmit the disease to your dog later via your clothes or skin.
  • Clothing, equipment, surfaces, and hands should be cleaned and disinfected after exposure to dogs showing flu symptoms. (Source: WCPO)

On 4/22/15, Dr. Andy Roark, veterinarian, international speaker and host of the YouTube show, Cone of Shame, posted this video for tips with what to do if you suspect your dog may have the dog flu: 





Should dogs receive the canine flu vaccine?

It’s very likely that your clients—particularly if you are located in affected areas—will ask you about the canine flu vaccine. It’s important that pet owners contact their veterinarians to learn more about the availability and effectiveness of this vaccine.

However, you may also want to share this additional information:

Advice from Cornell University:

“It is not known if the current vaccine will provide any protection from this new virus. It does protect against H3N8, which is in circulation in some areas. Other preventive advice remains the same: In areas where the viruses are active, avoid places where dogs congregate, such as dog parks and grooming salons. Owners of symptomatic dogs and cats should consult their veterinarians about testing and treatment. (Source: Cornell University)

Advice from Steve Dale:

“No one knows if the vaccine in place for the H3N8 - the existing canine flu which was discovered in the U.S. in 2004, will also work to protect the Chinese/Korean dog flu.  The two strains are different enough that some experts are skeptical regarding the possibility of cross-protection, but no one knows for sure.

I say (for social dogs), the vaccine is still a good idea. Definitely H3N8, which the vaccine was created for, has not disappeared. Vaccinating for that makes sense, to me. What's more if there is some cross-protection, it's better than no protection. Most of all, the dogs who die as a result of canine influenza virus do so following complications of pneumonia. The vaccines for the dog flu - including the Nobivac Canine Influenza H3N8 vaccine - have properties rendering it protective against pneumonia. That could save a dog's life.” (Source: ChicagoNow.com/Steve Dale’s Pet World)

Has the canine flu impacted the area where you live? We’d love to hear from youand learn how you’ve addressed this issue with your clients.

Pet Sitter Spotlight: Cynthia Johnson, Copy Cat & Dog Care Pet Sitting

  
  
  

There’s great truth to the statement, “There’s strength in numbers.” Pet sitting can be lonely. And whether you are just starting your pet-sitting business or are a pet-care veteran, you have questions—and there’s no one better to help answer your questions and share in your daily challenges and joys than a fellow pet sitter.

PSI members have a network of nearly 7,000 fellow PSI members and pet-sitting business owners, and PSI is always looking for ways to help our members connect with one another. From PSI’s annual conference to the private Facebook chat group, PSI is always seeking out new avenues to allow our members to find support, advice and new ideas from fellow pet sitters.

PSI’s Pet Sitter Spotlight series has that same goal. Each month, we’ll feature a different PSI member and share his or her answers to our pet-sitting survey. The responses will help you get to “know” this pet sitter and provide you with some tips and advice for your own pet-sitting business.  You can view past Pet Sitter Spotlights here.

Meet Cynthia Johnson, owner of Copy Cat & Dog Care Pet Sitting in Lebanon, Ohio…

 

Cynthia Johnson-PSI member spotlight

 

Your Name: Cynthia Johnson

 

Copy Cat and Dog Care-PSI memberBusiness Name: Copy Cat & Dog Care Pet Sitting

 

Location:  Lebanon, OH

 

Year you started your pet-sitting business: The company was founded in 2005, but I took over the leash in 2008.

 

 

What was your previous job/profession? USPS City Mail Carrier 1996-2008, USAF 1985-1995

 

What is your current business structure? (sole proprietor, LLC, etc.) sole proprietor

 

Number of current clients (an estimate is fine): 175

 

How many visits do you typically do per day? 10-15

 

Is your service area urban, suburban or rural? Semi-rural

 

Is your pet-sitting business insured? Yes

 

Is your pet-sitting business bonded? Yes

 

Do you provide clients with proof of your clear criminal history (background check)? Yes

 

Briefly describe any educational opportunities you have taken advantage of since you became a pet sitter.  

 

* Attended PSI’s annual conference since winning the Dotty Shantz Scholarship in 2012

* Trained in Pet First Aid/CPR

* Taken several business seminars via our local Chamber of Commerce

 

How long did it take you to build up your clientele? When I initially assumed ownership, there was a small client base in place. I hit the ground running & immediately started to grow the business.

 

Do you use staff sitters? I currently use ICs as their availability allows. I still do 60-75% of the total pet-care visits. It can be challenging, but I find it works best for my business model. I have no desire to have employees.

 

Do you offer any services besides basic in the client's home pet sitting and dog walking? (pet taxi, etc.) Yes, we offer pet taxi as well.

 

Which advertising methods worked best when you were a new business? Since I started with a base, initially I kept things status quo. I quickly started networking and also jumped on Facebook. Existing client referrals and having area veterinarians recommend our service became our best advertising methods.

 

Do you still use the same advertising methods? If not, what do you do differently now? Yes. I rely heavily on client and veterinarian referrals. Any advertising (paid) I do now is more in support of local events which helps in promoting our brand.

 

What's one mistake you've made as a professional pet sitter (when you were just starting out or at any time during your career)? What did you learn/what do you do differently now?

I’m not really sure I'd call it a mistake because it makes sense at first, but looking back, I wish I had chosen my clients more carefully. When you're a newbie, you tend to say "Yes!" to everyone and everything. I'm grateful to be in a place now where I can be selective with regards to whom I choose to work with. I recognize that I'm not always the right fit for every client and vice versa.

 

What advice would you give to new pet sitters?

Pet sitting is a marathon, not a sprint. Building a pet-care business takes time. Be willing to tweak things as you grow. Recognize the importance of cultivating relationships--with clients, with fellow pet-care professionals and with local small-business owners.

 

Are there any must-have business tools your business could not do without?

A good accountant who understands the nature of the industry

 

Do you schedule vacation time and/or days off? If so, how often?

YES! I typically schedule time off for the yearly PSI Conference and I also take days off here and there throughout the year. I find that if I give ample notice, clients are not only fine with it but encourage me to take time for myself.

 

Are there any tips you would share for establishing a healthy work/life balance?

The nature of pet sitting can be ALL encompassing. I am extremely fortunate to have a wonderful support system. It's key to remember that we can't be ALL things to ALL people ALL of the time. Set boundaries. Self-care is critical and needs to be a priority.

 

Is there any other information about your business and/or what has helped you create a successful pet-sitting business that you'd like to share?

When I left secure employment with benefits nearly seven years ago to become a professional pet sitter, I had my share (and then some!) of naysayers. Many people thought I was crazy. Thank goodness for thick skin! Belief in myself and the willingness to follow my heart despite the "Debbie Downers" has proven to be one of the best decisions I've ever made.

I think my success is largely due to my passion for pets and their people. Pet sitting is personal and for me, relationships are the key. No two clients are the same. Every pet is unique. Every home is different. I pride myself on not being a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all type of sitter. I recognize my strengths and I own my weaknesses. “What you see is what you get” and so far, that's working well for me…very well!

Setting Your Pet-Sitting Fees

  
  
  

setting pet-sitting fees

 Last update: March 17, 2015

 

 “What should I charge for my pet-sitting services?”

It’s a question we hear a lot here at Pet Sitters International (PSI).  

To avoid the appearance of price fixing, service providers, such as pet sitters and dog walkers, are prohibited from collectively discussing specific pricing details. (This means it could be illegal for pet sitters to discuss the specific prices they charge in blog comments or even in a private forum or Facebook group). 


Fortunately, PSI included questions on rates and services in its 2014 State of the Industry Survey, which can be shared.

PSI's survey information provides national averages. Keep in mind that pet-sitting rates vary depending upon where you live, so it's a good idea to take a look at what other pet sitters, boarding facilities and doggie daycares in your area charge to get an idea of local pricing.

Also, keep in mind that almost all of the pet sitters completing PSI’s survey maintain pet-sitter liability insurance.

According to the 2014 survey, the average pet-sitting visit lasted 32 minutes and the average fee was $18.67.

To learn the national average for pricing for other common pet-sitting services, including dog walking and overnight sits, download this free resource, "How much should I charge for my pet-sitting services?"

 

PSI members, you can download the complete average pet-sitter pricing report here.


A word about setting your pricing…

Remember, when setting fees, you’ll want to do some calculations to anticipate what your overhead business costs will be. Expenses to consider include:

  • insurance and bonding
  • utilities
  • phone bill
  • printed literature
  • advertising
  • professional membership fees, etc.

To be able to meet these expenses, you will need to factor a flat overhead cost and a margin of profit into each services fee.

“You have to remember all the expenses that go into this professional pet care service you’re
providing. And you have to believe that you’re worth it and be ready to explain to surprised customers that there is more to this business that simply putting out some pet food. Once customers understand the value of your services, price is usually not a deterrent.”

–PSI President Patti Moran

See what fellow pet sitters have to say:

To see how other professional pet sitters set their pet-sitting fees, PSI posed the question in its private Facebook group:

setting pet sitting prices 1

setting pet sitting prices 2

setting pet sitting prices 3

setting pet sitting prices 4

setting pet sitting prices 5

How did you determine your pet-sitting rates? Feel free to share your feedback in the comments section below,  but remember: mentioning specific rates is NOT allowed.


3 Things Learned While Pet Sitting in a Blizzard

  
  
  

Pet Sitting in a blizzard The PSI Blog

As Boston and other cities around the country have seen the snowiest winter on record, professional pet sitters have felt the painand dealt with the stresses—of one of the harshest winter seasons in recent history. While some office commuters can work from home and others benefit from delayed business and school openings or the option to take a vacation day, pet sitters don’t often have the option of a “day off,” particularly when pet parents are out of town and their pets still need care.

Many areas of the country have faced unprecedented cold temperatures and wintry participation, and many pet sitters have been forced to deal with the new pet-sitting issues inclement weather caused. Even for pet sitters in northern states accustomed to harsh winters, the severity of this year’s winter season has been challenging and damaging to the morale of even the most experienced pet-sitting business owners and their staff sitters.

PSI reached out to members in Professional Pet Sitters Chat, the association’s private Facebook group to ask pet sitters about the lessons they’d learned this winter. Overwhelmingly, their responses focused around three main recommendations:

 

1. Preparation: It’s important to plan ahead and talk to clients in advance about preparations that need to take place for winter weather. For example, what is your company’s policy on snow removal—does the client call before leaving town to arrange this service or do they provide you with their preferred snow-removal company for you to contact if needed? Whatever your preferred policy may be, it’s important to have a plan in place to ensure you are not spending exorbitant amounts of time in frigid conditions to “dig” your way to clients’ front doors for your pet-sitting visits—and it’s important that pet owners understand their cooperation is vital in ensuring you can properly reach and care for their pets.

It’s also important to consider what you would do if icy roads (or a state of emergency/travel ban) make roads impassable and prevent you from reaching clients’ homes. Verify that you have the correct contact information for your clients’ emergency contacts and discuss who you should call if you are unable to reach their homes. (For example, a relative may be the emergency contact, but perhaps, a neighbor could check on the pets if you were unable to reach the home for a day—so make sure you have that information as well!)

2. Personal safety: Harsh weather can take a toll on your physical well-being. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that those working outdoors in the winter wear appropriate clothing, sprinkle sand or cat litter on icy patches, be aware of the wind chill factor and work slowly when doing outside chores.

PSI member pet sitter Jamie Hoad shared this advice in PSI’s private Facebook group: “Long johns, scarves and chap stick are your best friends. The cold hasn’t really been a problem—the wind is the issue. It’s quick, fast and the chill brings the temperature down about 20 degrees. Wind burn is no joke, so wrapping up extra good is key!”

The harsh winter weather also makes what would typically be a minor inconvenience—a flat tire or car trouble—a dangerous predicament. The CDC advises checking your tire tread or replacing tires with all-weather tires if necessary, along with keeping an emergency kit in your vehicle. PSI member Jordan Di Marco shared similar advice in the PSI Facebook group: “I keep a good deal of winter stuff in my car—kitty litter, foldable shovel, extra hats and gloves, Yak Trax, flashlights, jumper cables and hand warmers.” (Note: Hand warmers – and foot warmers – are inexpensive, with many options to choose from. Most have long shelf lives as well.)

Icy roads and slippery sidewalks make it more important than ever for pet sitters to exercise caution to avoid slips and falls. One pet sitter reported a fractured wrist and dislocated rib resulting from a fall after slipping on ice. Remember, too, that these injuries are not covered under pet-sitter liability insurance. (Workers compensation covers work-related injuries. Contact Business Insurers of the Carolinas to get a quote for your state.)

3. Pets’ safety: In our online discussion about the recent blizzards, PSI member Robyn White shared that “one of the biggest challenges in this snow and cold is how badly it affects the dogs. Their paws get so cold from the snow and ice and they get irritated from all the salt people put down on the sidewalks. It's rough on us and it's also rough on them.” Her concern has been a common one this year—what effect does this cold weather have on pets and how should pet sitters adjust their services to ensure pets’ safety? More specifically, this harsh winter season left many professional pet sitters asking: When is it too cold to walk dogs?  Some pet sitters have also been faced with clients who wanted their dogs outdoors for extended periods of time.

To get an answer to this question, PSI reached out to Dr. Tony Johnson, clinical assistant professor at the Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine and a consultant to the Veterinary Information Network. He offered this advice: “The rule of thumb is ‘if you're cold, your dog is probably freezing.’  A walk to eliminate and stretch your legs is OK. A 45-minute forced march...not so much.”

Dr. Johnson also added, “Cold and pets don’t mix well in many cases. A dog’s degree of cold tolerance can vary – just like with a person. Some dogs that are accustomed to cold and have a dense fur coat will do fine, even into the single digits, if they can stay dry and out of the breeze.  A little Chihuahua with no fur and no tolerance to the cold won’t. Dogs that are acclimated to cold conditions will do better than those that haven’t been gradually exposed.  There is no single number I can answer when people ask, ‘How cold is too cold?’ but keeping the above guidelines in mind can help keep your pooch safe and comfortable when the snow flies.” 

It is important for pet sitters to share these guidelines with clients and suggest alternatives—such as indoor play time—when frigid winter temperatures make it unsafe for pets to be outside beyond short potty-break times.

Surviving the winter…

In addition to focusing on preparation, personal safety and pets’ safety this time of year, there’s another important quality to help pet sitters survive this harsh winter—patience.  On the worst days, when it’s too cold to walk even the most energetic dogs, when you’ve had to shovel your way to a client’s door or have had to change a flat tire as sleeting rain pelted down, remember…Spring is coming! Your commitment to providing pet care in even the harshest conditions sets you apart and your clients are surely grateful for the peace of mind you provide, particularly during seasons like this.

Are there any more winter lessons learned you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you! Comment below, post in Professional Pet Sitters Chat or contact us directly

Pet Sitter Spotlight: Katie Casell, Dances with Dogs, Inc.

  
  
  

There’s great truth to the statement, “There’s strength in numbers.” Pet sitting can be lonely. And whether you are just starting your pet-sitting business or are a pet-care veteran, you have questions—and there’s no one better to help answer your questions and share in your daily challenges and joys than a fellow pet sitter.

PSI members have a network of nearly 7,000 fellow PSI members and pet-sitting business owners, and PSI is always looking for ways to help our members connect with one another. From PSI’s annual conference to the private Facebook chat group, PSI is seeking out new avenues to allow our members to find support, advice and new ideas from fellow pet sitters.

This new Pet Sitter Spotlight series has that same goal. Each month, we’ll feature a different PSI member and share his or her answers to our pet-sitting survey. The responses will help you get to “know” this pet sitter and provide you with some tips and advice for your own pet-sitting business.

Meet Katie Casell, owner of Dances with Dogs, Inc. in Miami, Florida…

Katie Casell-Pet Sitters International  

Dances with Dogs, Inc. PSI blogYour Name: Katie Casell

 

Business Name: Dances with Dogs, Inc.

 

Location:  Miami, FL

 

Year you started your pet-sitting business: 2002

 

What was your previous job/profession? sales manager

 

What is your current business structure? (sole proprietor, LLC, etc.) S-Corporation

 

Number of current clients (an estimate is fine): 200

 

How many visits do you typically do per day? 15-20

 

Is your service area urban, suburban or rural? Suburban

 

Is your pet-sitting business insured? Yes

 

Is your pet-sitting business bonded? Yes

 

Do you provide clients with proof of your clear criminal history (background check)? Yes

 

Briefly describe any educational opportunities you have taken advantage of since you became a pet sitter.  I went back to school and got my degree in management. I am currently studying to become a professional dog trainer because I have more and more clients with reactive dogs and felt that I needed the education in order to help the dogs and the people. I have also read numerous books on dog behavior. In addition, I have my CPPS designation through PSI.

 

How long did it take you to build up your clientele? 2 years

 

Do you use staff sitters? Yes, independent contractors (ICs). I decided to use ICs because I wanted sitters with experience. My ICs also have their own clients.

 

Do you offer any services besides basic in the client's home pet sitting and dog walking? (pet taxi, etc.) Yes, we offer pet taxi as well.

 

Which advertising methods worked best when you were a new business? community newspapers

 

Do you still use the same advertising methods? If not, what do you do differently now? I now get most of my clients through Angie's list and referrals.

 

What's one mistake you've made as a professional pet sitter (when you were just starting out or at any time during your career)? What did you learn/what do you do differently now?

[One mistake I made was] giving clients a price break in order to get the job. I learned that I need to value my profession, so I no longer give price breaks.

 

What advice would you give to new pet sitters?

Don't spread yourself too thin (time wise and area wise).

 

Are there any must-have business tools your business could not do without?

Poop bags, treat pouch, good leashes, and a few good pairs of sneakers.

 

Do you schedule vacation time and/or days off? If so, how often?

I do now—usually a four-day vacation every four months.

 

Are there any tips you would share for establishing a healthy work/life balance?

We all want to be successful, but we can lose sight of the other aspects of our lives. Take time for yourself. Learn to say no.

 

Is there any other information about your business and/or what has helped you create a successful pet-sitting business that you'd like to share?

I was willing to work long hours, weekends and holidays in order for my business to be successful.

 

Update: After posting this member spotlight, we received a media notification about a member in the news. Dances with Dogs, Inc.'s press release on Professional Pet Sitters Week™ was featured in a local Miamia newspaper. Katie, great way to use the PSI press release templates and get exposure for your business!

5 Things You May Not Know About Your Pet-Sitter Insurance Policy

  
  
  

pet sitter insurance-5 things you may not know

If you've already taken the necessary step of obtaining pet-sitter liability insurance for your business-WONDERFUL! Maintaining pet-sitter insurance is vital for every professional pet-sitting business. It’s important, however, to make sure you understand what type of coverage you have—what is covered and what is not. It’s better to understand your pet-sitter coverage now, than be surprised when you file a claim and learn you are not covered!

We spoke with Business Insurers of the Carolinas, PSI’s Preferred Provider for pet-sitter insurance in the U.S., to discuss common misconceptions pet sitters have about their pet-sitter insurance policies.

Here are five things you may not know about your pet-sitter insurance policy*:

1: Your automobile is not covered under the PSI Liability policy offered through Business Insurers of the Carolinas (BIC). David Pearsall of BIC says they often receive calls from pet sitters that believe their vehicles are covered under the PSI Liability policy when a pet chews up the interior of a car, such as a seat belt or back seat. This type of damage may be covered under your auto insurance policy—physical damage - if purchased when you took out auto coverage on your vehicle.

 

2: Injuries to yourself or your employees or independent contractors are not covered under your pet-sitter liability insurance policy. Pet-sitter insurance does not cover injuries to you or your staff, but these types of claims would be covered under workers compensation insurance, if purchased.

 

3: The personal contents of your own home are not covered, even if you have the In Your Home Pet Care (Optional) Endorsement. BIC often receives calls from pet sitters who do have the In Your Home Pet Care (Optional) Endorsement and believe their personal contents in their homes are covered if a pet chews up or destroys. Since these claims are to your personal property and not the client’s, there is no coverage.

4: Pet-Sitter Insurance DOES cover vet medical expenses. BIC has found that some pet sitters do not understand that the PSI Liability policy offered through BIC covers vet medical expenses, regardless of fault/negligence, up to care, custody and control (CCC) limit the pet sitter has chosen. It’s very important for you to make sure you maintain the right care, custody and control (CCC) limit for your pet-sitting business. Many pet sitters have filed CCC claims that exceed the $10,000 limit, as vet bills continue to increase, especially for emergency surgeries, PT, etc.

 

5: Pet-Sitter Insurance DOES include a provision for lost or stolen pets. The PSI Policy includes reward coverage for lost or stolen pets up to $500. The policy will reimburse you for flyers or newspaper ads or a reward to find a lost or stolen pet that was in your care.

 

* Please note: This information was provided by Business Insurers of the Carolinas and pertains to the PSI Liability Policy that is available at a group rate to PSI members. It is important to contact your pet-sitter insurance provider directly with any questions you may have.  Coverage varies by provider. (View this insurance comparison chart.) Your insurance provider can provide you with details on your specific coverage.

Because your insurance needs may change as you build and grow your pet-sitting business, it’s also important take a look at your insurance coverage periodically to ensure you really have the coverage you need.

For instance:

  • Have you begun using staff sitters but still have only the individual policy?
  • Have you chosen the correct level of Care, Custody & Control coverage? If you had a major claim, would your insurance policy cover it?
  • Does your insurance policy cover all of the services you offer (limited in-home boarding, house sitting, etc.)?
  • Do you have insurance to cover you if you were injured while pet sitting?

Business Insurers offers a free review of your current pet-sitter insurance policy. Visit this page to sign up and have your policy reviewed

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