How to Add In-Home Pet Sitting to Your Pet Boarding & Daycare Business to Increase Revenue
By Kristin Morrison
Are you looking for a way to expand your client base and increase revenue without adding expensive equipment or start-up costs? In-home pet sitting may be the answer.
You have probably already heard from your existing clients how relieved they are to have a place to leave their pets while they vacation or travel for work. With in–home pet sitting, you can provide that same peace of mind to owners whose pets may not do well in a traditional daycare or boarding environment.
Many Pets Benefit from In-Home Care
The sheer number of pets who benefit from in–home care may surprise you:
- Older dogs, especially those with special medical concerns
- Young puppies who haven’t yet finished the full course of immunizations
- Dogs with reactivity issues
- Intact dogs who may not be welcome in a traditional kennel
- Dogs dealing with separation anxiety
- Households with pets of more than one kind
- Cats, especially those that don’t do well in boarding situations or in cities without many cat boarding options.
In–home pet sitting also appeals to pet owners who travel regularly. Depending on the services provided by an in–home pet sitter, pet owners enjoy a double benefit; both their pets and home are cared for while they are away. Many in–home pet sitters also water plants, gather mail, and keep the house from appearing obviously vacant while the owner is away. Clients with swimming pools or anything else at home that must be monitored or maintained while they are away also appreciate the convenience of an all–in–one service.
What In-Home Pet Sitting Looks Like
If you are considering adding in-home pet sitting to your service list, you should be aware that there are two main categories of in–home care.
• In-Home Pet Visits
In-home pet visits are perfect for dogs that need some care and companionship but do not have separation anxiety or special medical needs that require constant care. This is generally the type of in–home care most cats need as well. In these situations, an employee would visit the client’s home 2–3 times each day for the duration of their trip. At each visit, they would feed and water the pets, take the dog for a walk or exercise in the yard, clean up after the dog (or for cats, scoop out the litter box), and administer any medication. Depending on the length of the client’s trip, you might also be asked to water indoor and outdoor plants, check the mail, take the garbage to and from the curb, or turn on the lights at night for added home security while the client is away.
• In-Home Overnight Pet Sitting
In–home overnight pet sitting requires more time from an employee as the pet sitter. Typically, overnight pet sitting hours are from 7pm–7am, although some clients might also want to include a mid–day potty break for dogs or even more care during the day. This is the ideal service for dogs with separation anxiety, puppies, or older dogs that need to be taken out frequently during the day and at night, or any pets with complex medical needs.
Your regular responsibilities will be very similar to in–home pet visits; watering plants, gathering mail, feeding and watering the pets, walking the dog, and cleaning up any messes. Depending on the needs of the dog, you may not be able to leave the home for more than an hour or two on any given day. This is especially true of dogs that are anxious or destructive when left alone.
Is it Worth Adding In–Home Pet Sitting to Your Services?
You may be wondering if in–home pet sitting is worth the effort of adding a new service and training employees. Instead of serving multiple dogs at one time in a daycare or boarding situation, you would have an employee dedicating their time to just one pet family. But many pet care providers have found in-home pet sitting to be lucrative enough to justify the time.
Pet owners love their “fur kids” and those whose pets require special attention are looking for quality in-home pet care—and are willing to pay accordingly. Although some pet owners look for the least expensive option, many clients are looking for top–notch care. Professional pet sitters with reputable businesses and proper insurance can charge enough to earn a very nice income, and this income can be a good way to increase your overall bottom line.
The pet owners most eager to pay for an in–home pet sitter are those with dogs that are excluded from or are not a good fit for traditional boarding or daycare. Dog boarding, dog daycare, and kennel situations can sometimes make behaviors like reactivity and separation anxiety worse. These dog owners are often actively seeking a solution that allows them to have the same peace of mind while they travel that other pet owners get with quality boarding or daycare. They recognize the value of the service you provide because they know their situation is unique and are willing to pay you well for this specialized service.
Ultimately, in–home pet sitting can be a significant source of additional income and allow you to serve a larger pool of clients.
Getting Started with In-Home Pet Sitting
As a general rule, overnight pet sitting and in–home pet visits have incredibly low start–up costs. Thanks to your existing business, you may have everything you need already. I recommend new in–home pet sitters take the following supplies to each pet–sitting job:
- An extra leash and collar (in case the client hasn’t provided them)
- A fanny pack or side bag for carrying client keys, dog waste bags, and treats on walks
- Dog waste bags
- Comfortable walking shoes
- Treats (if your client gives you permission to give treats)
- All necessary forms or paperwork (i.e., a service contract, a vet release, and a key release signed by the client).
Hiring in–home pet care providers to help accommodate all your clients’ needs is a great option if your business is already full to capacity or if you are concerned about the time commitment in-home pet sitting and visits may require.
Once you are ready to offer in–home pet sitting, start by notifying your existing clients first. It is very likely that some of your current clients will jump at the chance to have you or one of your employees come to their home instead—they already trust you and your pet business and know that you will take good care of their pets.
You may also want to offer a referral incentive for clients that recommend your in-home pet sitting services to their friends. Word–of–mouth recommendations are so powerful because people inherently trust personal recommendations more than any other form of marketing. If your current clients tell their friends how happy they have been with your boarding and daycare services, you will already be well on your way to a full schedule of in-home pet sitting clients.
Kristin Morrison started and ran one of the largest pet care companies in California before she sold it in 2013. She is also the founder of Six-Figure Pet Business Academy™, which provides coaching, webinars and online pet business programs to pet business owners. She is the host of the Prosperous Pet Business Online Conference and the podcast called “Prosperous Pet Business.” Kristin is the author of multiple books for pet business owners including Six-Figure Pet Business and 30 Days to Start and Grow Your Pet Sitting and Dog Walking Business: A Step-By-Step Guide to Launch, Attract Clients, and Make a Profit.