January 6, 2010Topics: Business-of-Pet-Sitting
As a business the pet-sitting profession has tremendous growth potential, with the largest percentage of U.S. households ever experiencing the perks of pet ownership. For professional pet sitters, growing that business involves getting into the mindset and routines of those pet owners and creating a service package that fits into lifestyles and consumer trends.
According to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association (APPMA), 63 percent of U.S. households own pets, the highest level ever. Catering to these 69.1 million households has become a rewarding business for the nearly 8,000 members of Pet Sitters International (PSI).
"The business was founded on, and starts with, providing a service from a base of knowledge and experience combined with a love of animals," said Patti Moran, president and founder of Pet Sitters International, the world's largest educational organization for pet sitters.
"With a professional pet sitter, you can leave your pets in a comfortable environment --their home--and have peace of mind that they will be loved while you're away," Moran continued.
Growing a pet-sitting business to keep up with the demand for the service is a matter of translating that love for pets into a timely service that's top-of-mind for today's pet owners.
PSI offers these eight tips for pet sitters to grow their businesses while maintaining the high level of service and reliability that the leading industry group expects of its members.
1. Market to your current customers. Keep them informed about what you do for them and the standards to which you conform. Leave checklists and "report cards" after each pet-sitting assignment. Create referral programs to encourage them to pass along your information to other pet owners. Thank your customer with handwritten notes, e-mails and calls. Finally, ask them how you can improve, realign and expand your services to help them even more.
3. Let the world know that pet sitting is serious and that you mean business. Talk about your affiliations, commitment to continuing education and the insurance and bonding that you carry. Belonging to a professional educational association can differentiate you and your business from the competition and keep you up to speed on pet-care and industry news.
4. Create a grassroots Internet presence. Develop and promote a Web site that demonstrates your love for the profession and helps the public understand the value of hiring a professional. Participate in blogs and forums to offer your expertise and to promote your own Web site and business. Help educate people on pet-related issues and the rewards will come back to you.
5. Expand your services and constantly add value. Do your clients need you to take their pets to the veterinarian or groomer while they're away? Are you offering plant watering, mail and newspaper retrieval, or turning on lights and opening and closing curtains as value-added services? Expanding your business model and service offerings--both for profit and free of charge--can add value to and increase demand for your services.
6. Become an evangelist. At every opportunity, talk to your local media and to municipal organizations, civic clubs and other groups in your community. This is a great way to promote quality pet care while attracting new clients.
7. Watch the competition and learn from them. The market is expanding, not contracting. There is room for alliances and the sharing of great ideas. Lift up the profession and everyone will benefit.
8. Remember why you are in the business. Do not lose sight of what attracted you to pet sitting. Do a great job and the fun, fame and fortune will follow.
To find a professional pet sitter in your area, visit the PSI Locator.
© Copyright 2010 by Pet Sitters International. All rights reserved. For reprint permission for this article, contact EllenPrice@petsit.com.
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