This week Pet Sitters International issued a press release with 9 tips for pet sitting business owners from president Patti Moran. Patti started out as a pet sitter and has built the Pet Sitters International organization to 7900 members. I loved her tips and thought that they were worth sharing. If you run any other type of pet business these tips are also very applicable – take a look and see what you can put into action to grow your business in 2008.
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.
Consider giveaways and free trials. Offer your services to newcomers in the areas you serve. If emergencies arise and pet owners have to be away, offer your services to help them out and to demonstrate the basic reason the pet-sitting industry exists. Moreover, it’s just a nice thing to do.
Form and develop alliances with others who serve the same type of customer. Work with veterinarians, pet store owners, groomers, pet daycare and canine cafe operators to co-promote through advertising and formal programs as well as word-of-mouth referrals. Help them and they will help you.
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. Consider expanding by using independent contractors and growing your business through volume within targeted geographies.
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.
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.
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 supporting animal adoptions and local Humane Societies.
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.
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.