12 things on a professional pet sitter's autumn "To Do" List
Professional pet sitters try to stay pro-active at all times, not just in regards to pet care, but also in how they keep tabs on their business preparations and growth.
Pet sitters in New England, and in various parts around the country where their are strong seasonal changes, have to be prepared for each season, and here we find ourselves in a fresh new autumnal season. It is a time for raking, pumpkins, hot cider, and bringing out the woolies, and that also means that it's time to pay attention to certain tasks in the world of pet sitting.
Many of my comments in this blog will also be helpful to those pet sitters in other parts of the country too. While some parts of the country do not have to contend with freezing weather, the sharing of my list might help them create their own, or spark ideas for their own pet sitting business needs.
In the first few years of pet sitting, a business owner is still getting used to how the business works, and they tweak their business accordingly to fit their needs, as well as their clients' needs. After a while, the owner will develop a routine, a list of things to do each day, each week, each month, and each season. Some keep it in mind while others plot it out on their computers or on a physical handwritten list. It's part of being a diligent business owner.
This post is for pet sitters who are just finding their way in the business or who are seasoned sitters who might just be curious about how other pet sitters do things. It will also be of interest to pet owners and other pet professionals.
After Labor Day, the crazy-busy summer pet sitting season would slow down a bit for me, at least for a while, and at least for me most years, then it would pick up again a month later. Some years it just kept on being busy. Either way, I thought I'd share some of the things I'd do in regards to my pet sitting business in the first days of Autumn:
1. Re-organize the supplies in my car. During the busy season, I'd be in and out of my car for various things and so I'd take a little time to get things back in order, toss out things I didn't need, add things I needed, and vacuum or sweep it out.
2. I'd take an "end of the summer" look at my financial records to make sure I didn't miss anything that needed to be recorded when I was super busy. I'd check if all receipts were organized and documented. I'd take some time to reflect on how I was doing financially.
3. I'd take a look at my files - paper as well as those on the computer. If any clients moved away during the busy summer season, I'd move their file out of the "active" files and move them to the "in-active" files. I'd still keep inactive files for a year just because ya never know if someone will move back to the area, or you might need some info in their file. Along with files, I'd double-check my clients' house keys to make sure their key tags were still legible or if the tags needed replacement.
4. I'd do a quick review of how my marketing efforts done during the summer have paid off. For example, did the presentation about professional pet sitting I gave to a local realtor association yield any new clients for my business? Did the flyers I strategically placed around town bring in any new business? I'd decide what I needed to do in the few months leading up to the holiday season to market my business. I'd start thinking about the special things I'd want to do for my clients for Christmas.
5. I'd take a good look at my cold weather clothes and see what I needed to add and I'd try to get those items before it got too cold and I got super busy again. Do I need a new pair of boots or rain shoes? How about a hat or two that would cover my ears better than my previous hats did last winter? Do I need to pack an extra pair or two of dry socks in the car just in case I'm out walking dogs in the winter and my feet get soaked?
6. I'd put the ice scraper back in the car because frosty mornings are part of Autumn in New England. The heavier winter items like snow shovels can be added just before the first snow forecast of the season.
7. I'd look at my personal plans for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's and I'd make decisions on what my pet sitting availability would be and then I'd make sure to tell my clients as soon as possible because sometimes their plans would be influenced by my availability. That said, I was usually available on all holidays because that can be a major time that pet owners go away for their own holidays. This is something that solo pet sitters have to consider before going into business. Pet owners really want sitters who are available on holidays, so if your business is going to be "just you", it is only fair to clients that you tell them way in advance if you are or aren't going to be available for major holidays so they can make other plans. If you have sitters working for you make sure to have a discussion with them about holiday availability.
8. I'd also give a gentle reminder to clients that soon, usually as of the start of December, I'd need to have them give me the name of their snow removal person when booking pet sitting services for the winter. I'll have a post devoted just to this coming up this Autumn, but I wanted to at least put a quick mention of it in this post.
9. I'd also stock up on any office supplies I might need going through the winter months. I don't like to shop in the winter because the weather is unpredictable and things can get wet, so I'd usually go in early Autumn to pick up enough copy paper and other needs to get me through 'til spring.
10. I'd spend some time during an early Autumn slow day to print up the forms I'd need and set up "new client" files. In addition, I'd make sure to check out my pet first aid kit and replace and refill anything that was needed.
11. At the start of each season, it's a good idea to double-check that your car's servicing is up to date so you don't have any car trouble while out doing your pet runs. Renew your AAA membership or another roadside service that you have.
12. Given the current Covid world in which we live right now, pet sitters should make sure they have plenty of extra masks on hand, hand sanitizer, and wipes in their supplies.
It is a personal and business benefit for a professional pet sitter to create a monthly to-do list for the entire year. So at the start of each month, all they have to do is review their lists and check off the items as they get them done. Following a list reduces stress because you just have to follow your own game plan. As sitters are more experienced, their lists will change over time with new additions of things that must be done.
Experience is the best teacher. For me, I like to share the wisdom I've gained over the years with other sitters so perhaps they can learn by my experience and in the end, it will make their lives a little easier and their businesses run more smoothly.
Happy Fall Y'all !