Many retirees enjoy the freedom that comes with retiring, but would still like to make some extra money. But then again, they don’t want to take on a new job that would require a set schedule or encroach on their other activities. They want to keep the freedom and flexibility they now enjoy. So what could be a perfect business for a retiree to get into, something that not only made them some extra money, but provided a lot of other benefits as well? The answer is pet sitting.
Pet sitters visit the home of a pet owner and perform normal daily tasks, such as feeding the pet, taking it out for bathroom breaks and walks, and giving the love and attention the pet deserves. Visits often take less than half an hour and pay between $12 and $22 a visit. That’s a national average of $16 a visit, which means you could make over $30 an hour! That’s a substantial pet sitting income!
There are over 160 million cats and dogs in the United States, not to mention fish, birds, and reptiles. Your own neighborhood probably has several pet owners, many of which have multiple pets. In fact, according to a recent National Pet Owner’s Survey, which was conducted by the APPM, 63 percent of households in the United States own a pet, while over 45 percent have more than one. That means a lot of potential work for you! As the owner of your own pet sitting business, you’re in charge. You work when you want to work, only taking the jobs you think would be a good fit for you. Plus, you set the rates.
Simply put, you’re the boss. Well, that sounds good! You can schedule your visits around your other activities. In addition to the financial rewards and the freedom and flexibility of pet sitting, there are many health benefits as well. Pets have been proven to lower blood pressure and stress. The warmth and companionship of a pet can bring a comfort and tranquility unparalleled to anything else. And don’t forget about the physical benefits too.
Pets can give you a lot of exercise, something not too strenuous, but certainly rewarding. Taking a dog on a walk can be a great aerobic workout, not to mention a great way to get some much needed fresh air. Many retirees enjoy the newfound freedom and the time they now have, but can grow bored too. Their day is no longer filled up with work and everything involved in that. But they don’t want to go back to working full time either. They like how they are in control of their time now. That’s why pet sitting can be the perfect job for them. A chance to get out and spend quality time with pets, while also making some nice money in the process. Simply put, pet sitting can be the perfect retirement business. Here’s how to get started in just 6 easy steps:
Well, there is one important question you must ask yourself before you get started on the other steps. Do you love pets? You do? Great! Now you just have a few more steps and then your pet sitting business will be ready to go.
1. Research. It’s a good idea to do some research before you get started. Is there much demand for a pet sitter in your area? Are there many pet sitters already? Don’t let a large number of pet sitters scare you away. There are probably many grocery stores, gas stations, and restaurants in your area—doesn’t mean there can’t be one more, and your pet sitting business could be the one pet owners prefer. If you can, talk to some other pet sitters, kennels, veterinarians, groomers, and pet shop owners. See what you can learn from them and then ask if they’d be willing to let you leave some business cards or flyers for pet owners to see.
2. Legal Structure. It’s important to decide your legal structure in addition to getting a tax identification number from the IRS, picking a business name, and getting a business license. Don’t worry, it’s not as scary as it sounds. You need to decide if your pet sitting business is a sole proprietorship, partnership, or limited liability company. You’ll pay different taxes based on which you choose.
3. Get Insurance. You simply must have insurance. It’ll protect you in the event of a lawsuit or claim. Many insurance companies offer policies for pet sitters, so you shouldn’t have trouble finding one that works for you. Also, get a bond while you’re at it. It’s a must if you plan to have employees, but also a good idea if you work solo. It protects you and reassures your customers.
4. Gather Supplies. Now you’re ready to begin gathering your supplies. You’ll definitely need a car to get you to and from jobs. There are many other things you’ll want to consider, such as an emergency kit for your car in case you need to transfer a dog. It’s also a good idea to have an emergency kit for things that could happen in a customer’s home. Items you’ll want to have include: a spare leash, collar, and can opener for pet food, a flashlight, first aid kit, change of clothing, and a spray bottle filled with half water and half vinegar to help you handle aggressive dogs you might encounter while on a walk.
5. Set Your Rates. How much should you charge? This can be a puzzling question for new pet sitters. Pay generally is between $12 and $22 a visit, making for a national average of $16. Most visits will take about half an hour. If your visit is more involved or you’re caring for a special needs animal, consider charging a higher rate. If you’re taking care of multiple pets, that’s also a reason to charge a higher rate. On the other hand, if you’re caring for a bird or cat that requires less attention, consider charging a lower rate.
6. Finding Customers. Okay, you have everything else completed, but how do you find customers? Pass out business card to prospective customers. Perhaps you can leave these at a veterinarian’s office or a groomer’s. Try a classified ad in the monthly newsletters for the over-55 communities in your area. Seniors travel a lot, and need someone to take care of their pet when they’re away. There are also many free advertising options available, such as Craigslist.org or an online blog. Don’t forget newspapers, newsletters, and other items where a mention of your business could get you an abundance of calls. Try a few and see what works best.
In just six easy steps you could be on your way to starting your pet sitting business. It shouldn’t take you long, nor will it cost you a lot of money. In no time you’ll be enjoying the benefits of running your own pet sitting business. To learn more, download a free copy of our eBook, Profitable Pet Sitting.