Finding a Pet Sitter in Your Area
Have you ever had a difficult time finding a pet sitter?
I can guarantee that the pet sitters in your area are not lost, nor are they hiding from you. They want to be found, so why is it sometimes a challenge to find a pet sitter?
Finding a pet sitter, depending on the area in which you live, can sometimes be like finding a needle in a haystack. This, of course, has a little something to do with where you live. If you live in a thriving city the pet sitters, hobby or professional, or even neighbor or relative, can be plentiful. However, if you live in a small community, suburbia, or in a more rural town, then it might be a bit of a hunt.
Solo pet sitters may not advertise that much, especially in the beginning, lest they become overwhelmed with requests for service. Plus advertising can cost a pretty penny and budgets can be tight. Being overwhelmed with service requests aren't necessarily a bad problem to have if you can handle them, but solo pet sitters may be limiting the number of clients due to their availability, or they may want to build the business slowly and add employees or ICs (Independent Contractors) as the needs arise. They may also want to make sure the employee or IC stays on board and doesn't all of a sudden become "unavailable", thereby leaving all the new pet sitting clients to be added to the owner's already-busy schedule.
Because pet sitters run their businesses according to what works for them, some sitters have found that paid advertising is not always the best way to get clients, and this might make it a little bit of a challenge for people who are looking for a pet sitter . Many pet sitters rely a lot on word of mouth recommendations. Often paid ads in local papers, besides being pricey, can yield inquiries from potential clients outside of their service areas. This can result in the sitter using up a lot of valuable time responding to inquiries that won't go anywhere instead of focusing on clients within their service areas.
Pet sitters who are members of a professional pet sitting organization like the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (NAPPS) or Pet Sitters International (PSI) can go to these associations' respective websites, put in their zip code, and professional pet sitters that work in their area will pop up.
Some people prefer getting a pet sitter who is a member of a professional pet sitting organization because members agree to abide by a code of conduct and are often certified professional pet sitters. Yes, being "certified" is a thing, and it is well worth it. It tells a potential client that the pet sitter they are considering has taking the time to learn about pet care, pet behavior, pet health, and how to run a good pet sitting business. This gives pet sitters a little added credibility to potential clients who haven't received a verbal recommendation and are cold calling pet sitters for information.
So, say that you've already checked your local ads, checked pet sitting organizations online, and asked around, and still no luck. What else can you do?
Visit or call local veterinary offices because many pet sitters will post their business cards there. The veterinarian may even be able to add a verbal recommendation if they are familiar with the pet sitter, and some vets only post pet sitter business cards if they've met them and know they are reputable, or if they've received high verbal praise about a pet sitter from one of their patients. Also, sometimes Vet techs who work at veterinary hospitals do some pet sitting on the side and are, as you can imagine, quite knowledgeable about pet care.
You can also contact local groomers, kennels, animal shelters, doggy daycares, or rescue organizations and ask if they can recommend a pet sitter. Like in veterinary offices, some employees of these businesses may pet sit on the side. Then there is also the local bulletin boards at grocery stores, libraries, and pet supply stores. Many pet sitters will tack up a flyer or their business cards on local bulletin boards.
Of course, you can also ask friends, neighbors, and nearby relatives, or even landlords or large apartment complexes might offer this service to help you out in a pinch. However, the best pet sitters - in my recommendation - are professional pet sitters because they are almost 100% guaranteed to have bonding and liability insurance, certification in the field of pet sitting, attend conferences and are always looking to improve their knowledge through continuing education. Pet sitting is their passion and their reputations are created by providing great pet sitting services. Professional pet sitters also tend to network so they have resources that might come in handy should they need advice on a variety of topics.
Of course, there are great hobby pet sitters out there as well, but I'd give a little more time in screening them before saying yes to their services. Sad to say, I have run into some people who think they are going to make a quick buck in pet sitting and don't really know how to treat customers or care for pets appropriately, but the. So, as the old saying goes "buyer beware". Once in a great while, a client may run into a bad professional pet sitter, but I can honestly say I've run into only one of those during my almost 16 years as a professional pet sitting.
One last word of advice - please screen your potential pet sitter. Most are good, loving, kind, and reliable, but like in any profession, there might be a bad apple every now and then. I will have a post coming up that talks about how to screen a potential pet sitter. And to help pet sitters out, I will also have a post coming up about how to screen a potential client. It is important that the pet sitter and client have a good working relationship for the good of the pet(s) being served, hence the reason for this blog spot!