I have been enjoying spending time with my mom who has been visiting from Australia for the last 3 1/2 weeks. That’s us in the picture to the left. During her visit we escaped the Dallas heat for a week and drove to Sedona, Arizona. We stayed at a beautiful bed and breakfast – The Briar Patch Inn on Canyon Creek and spent our days hiking around the big red rocks and visiting the nearby historic mining town of Jerome. We also took a trip to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. The scenery was stunning and it was great to take a break from pet sitting visits and my day job.
Some pet sitters will tell you that they are never able to take time away from their business. Luckily I haven’t ever had this problem. In the early years of my business I partnered with another local pet sitter and we worked together to manage each others business for a couple of weeks each year so we could each take a break. I did this again for her this year when she traveled to Israel for 2 weeks.
In the last couple of years I have had contract pet sitters who I have been able to put to work and have on call for emergency visits which I’ve been away. I use my cell phone number in all my advertising so that I can carry it with me and answer customer calls and booking inquiries on the road. As the availability of wi-fi has increased I now find that I can always check my email at least once a day while I am away to check if I’ve received internet reservations or customer emails. All 3 of the small bed and breakfast lodges we stayed at had good internet access in the shared common areas and office.
Even with good planning and a couple of sitters on call the trip didn’t go totally without a hitch or two. On our drive to Sedona on the Wednesday I had 2 calls from existing customers wanting to schedule last minute weekend visits. I was able to cover one of these jobs but had to politely explain to the other customer that we would not be available as we were out of town. I also had to turn down one new customer that also wanted to schedule last minute visits. I think that you have to expect that will be some jobs that you will just have to turn away if you want to take a break for yourself.
Here are some tips for planning a get away from your pet business:
1) Find another local pet sitter who is willing to partner with you so you can manage each others business. This tactic also gives you a great emergency back up plan
2) Send out an email or letter to clients letting them know that you will be taking vacation and asking them to book early that you can can organize a sitter to care for their pets
3) Confirm which of your contract sitters will be available during your vacation and for how many visits each day
4) Put together a packet for each sitter with their customer contracts and keys and their schedule
5) Organize a contact person who has access to your key and contract files so that they can access them if existing customers call to schedule last minute visits and get them to your sitters.
6) Direct incoming business calls to a cell phone that you can carry with you or that you can give to someone that will manage your calls.
7) Carry your sitter contact information with you in a planner
Accept that you may have to turn down new customers if they call after you have left on your trip
It is possible to have a pet sitting business and be able to get away and take vacation time for yourself and your family. You just need to make sure that you are organized, have a plan, and set aside a small period of time each day of your trip to check in.