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Starting any business can be like watching a puppy take its first step. You're nervous but excited to take a running start. Tempted as you might be, there are steps in starting a business you cannot sprint past. Our guide will navigate you through the steps you need to take to open a pet sitting business, leaving no stone unturned.
A pet sitting business is one that takes care of animals while their owners are away. This may be a temporary arrangement while a pet's owners are away on holiday, or a regular arrangement to keep a pet entertained while its owners are at work.
Ask yourself: can you handle an animal if it's anxious or gets too playful? A pet sitter should have an understanding of animal behaviour and be able to be gentle and assertive with animals when they act out.
If you can, gaining experience at boarding kennels, groomers, doggie daycares or other related employment can help you understand what may be required from a pet-sitter on a day-to-day basis.
While each animal is different with unique personalities, all pets share the same basic needs. Familiarising yourself with Australia's legislation governing animal welfare will help you to better understand these needs, which includes:
In some cases, you may be hired to pet sit at the owner's home. At this point, you will need to prove yourself trustworthy and reliable for the owners to feel safe leaving you in their home.
Not all pet sitters need a qualification, but having one can add credibility to your business. Luckily, there are plenty of online courses out there that you can complete in your own time.
Here are a few useful courses to consider:
Before you open your doors to paying customers, you need to name your business. While this is a very exciting point, don't let your excitement take away from making a good business decision. Remember that your business name not only needs to reflect what you do, but it also needs to be catchy and memorable for customers. Here are a few tips for picking the right name:
Once you've got your perfect business name secured firmly under your belt, it's time for the fun stuff, like designing a logo and building your website.
The business structure you choose will need to fit your needs and the vision you have for your business. After all, this will determine who makes the key decision in your business and how you pay tax. Check out two of the most common business structures for a pet sitting business:
Once you have established your business structure, you will need to register with the Australian Taxation Office and apply for an ABN (Australian Business Number). An ABN is a unique 11 digit number that identifies your business to the government. You can use it on invoices, tax payments to claim goods and services tax, and get an Australian domain name.
Putting together a business plan before you jump into the world of pet sitting can be extremely beneficial. It will help you think about your business's long-term goals, set realistic milestones for its growth, and consider the money side of things.
Your business plan doesn't need to be pages and pages long, but it should cover the following for starting a pet sitting business:
You shouldn't need to invest too much money in equipment for your pet sitting business in the initial stages. Typically, pet owners will provide you with everything you will need, including:
It can still be useful to have some spare equipment on hand as well. Here's a quick list of essential bits and bobs:
Making sure you have all of the right legal documents in place before you start your pet sitting business will give you the best chance of succeeding when you open. Here are a few legal bits to get in order before you open for business:
Just like any other business, it's best practice to organise a service agreement between you and your clients. It's always a good idea to go over this contract with your client before any business commences.
These are some essential clauses to include in your pet sitting contract:
Before you agree to care for an animal, you should also ensure that the owner has microchipped, desexed and vaccinated their pet. This should be included in the contract and signed by the client.
To avoid being liable for damages or injuries to another person or property, you should invest in Public Liability Insurance. In fact, this is required by law for all pet sitting businesses. The insurance covers events such as if a pet escapes or gets injured while in your care, veterinary treatment or if the pet injures another pet.
You will also need to check in with your local council regarding the number of pets you can legally look after. In some cases, you may need to apply for a permit.
If you are setting up a website, a website disclaimer can limit your liability to any claims that users and clients could make against information that you provide.
If you need any help with legal requirements for your business, you can compare and use the online legal services below.
The growth of your customer base relies heavily on glowing reviews. Consider your target audience and try to figure out the most effective way to reach them. You can print out flyers and business cards to pin at your local bulletin board or hand out in your local area to get started.
Online marketplaces are hassle-free and useful platforms to connect with clients.
You can also look at Facebook and Google ads from competitors to get an idea of how to market your business online. If you're looking to attract a wider audience, it's worth investing in a well-designed website that's SEO friendly. This means that it shows up in the first pages of search engines and can be found by more customers.
A pet sitter's service is not the same for every client. Before setting a price, you should consider the needs of your client. Here are some criteria to keep in mind when selecting your prices:
Browse through local listings or apps to find the average cost and set yours accordingly.
The average cost for a pet sitter ranges from about $60 to $200, but you can choose to raise the price for overnight pet sitting or boarding. A walk in the local neighbourhood may cost $10 - $25 per hour. For services such as bathing and grooming, you can charge a set fee of between $20 - $40.
If you are new to the business, you may choose to set your prices slightly lower than the average. As you take on different clients, your rapport will grow. You can raise your price once you have an established clientele.
What services does a professional pet sitter include?
Professional pet sitter services include feeding the pet, exercising them, cleaning up after them, grooming and bathing. Some pet sitters have experience with providing medical assistance such as daily injections and giving oral medications.
Can pets stay at the pet sitter's home?
This depends on the pet sitter's services. Some pet sitters do offer boarding services. However, this is limited to certain types of pets. The pet sitter will need special licensing and additional insurance to be able to offer this service.
What are the benefits of a long-term pet sitter versus a boarding kennel?
A boarding kennel can be quite expensive for many people. Being near other animals can also be stressful for animals, especially when they are in an unfamiliar environment. By hiring a pet sitter, your clients can ensure that the pet is comfortable and their routine remains the same. Having personal contact with a pet sitter can also be beneficial for your peace of mind.
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