Update on Pet Sitting in a Pandemic: new ideas and suggestions to help keep your business afloat
Pet Sitters - don't give up! Try some of these ideas.
I'm sure my pet-loving readers will agree with me when I say that we are certainly living in difficult times. It has been a tough 12 months and it looks like things will continue being rough for a while longer.
Pet owners are staying home more due to the pandemic and that has affected professional pet sitters' businesses. With fewer, or almost no pet sitting clients taking vacations and business trips, many pet sitters have had to change things up in order to stay in business.
Like other types of businesses, some pet sitters have had to close their businesses either permanently or temporarily until this virus blows over, and we can get some sort of new-normal going.
The trick for business survival during these challenging times is to think very creatively, become super flexible, explore new resources and ideas, and work really hard to keep focused on making ends meet so you can stay above water financially.
For some, that means to do something other than, or in addition to, pet sitting. There is no harm in crying uncle because many other businesses are making the same cry. I have some thoughts and suggestions on how pet sitters can "shake it up" during this era of Covid-19 to help their businesses stay viable, or at least survive until we can collectively take a big sigh of relief.
Dear readers, consider these ideas:
If it is financially feasible, expand your service area by five or ten miles. Greater outreach might yield greater results.
With more people working at home and being chained to their computers and Zoom meetings, you might want to remind clients that even though they are home, you can still stop by and take their dog for a walk. It will help the dog and give the owner a break.
The same offer should be made for those owners with parrots or cats. Giving the pets a chance to play with someone other than their owners for a little while will help the pets. While their owners are busy on their computers, what is the pet doing by lying around? Give them an offer of fun too!
Offer "Field Trips" for pet owners. Take their dog out for more than just a walk, but perhaps a two-hour field trip to a new dog park or hiking trail. This brings in more income for you and helps the pet owner.
If you are able to do this, offer vacations for your clients' pets - by this I mean, while the clients can't go on vacation, who says their pets can't? Offer to take their pets for a weekend away at your house for all sorts of special experiences. The client will have a break from pet care and can focus more on their work or do things around their homes without pets (literally) sticking their nose into things. Clients get a staycation, pets get a vacation, and you make some money that will help you stay in business.
Reassure your clients that you are taking Covid protections and that might mean wearing shoe covers while they are caring for the pets in their homes if you do have clients who can get away for a while. As I've said in other posts, pet sitters offer peace of mind to their clients. Let clients know you are washing your hands upon coming into a client's home, hand sanitizing even before they enter the door. Let them know you are wearing a mask so those who are hypervigilant about the vapors and molecules that leave our mouths are not settling into their pets or floating around their home's air space.
Talk to clients in advance, especially clients who live alone, about arranging pet care for them if, God forbid, they end up in the hospital with Covid or another problem. They will know their pets will be cared for by their regular sitter and you can settle up payment once the client returns home.
Learn a new skill that you can offer for free right now, and then when it is perfected you can offer it as a "for charge" item. I'm thinking about skills such as nail clipping, or pet massage, dog training, or even grooming skills.
If there wasn't a need before, perhaps there is a need in your service area now for pet transportation. Maybe you can be hired to drive someone's pet to their routine veterinary check-up.
Capitalize your creative skills and learn how to make dog clothes, sew some catnip pillows and mats and sell them to clients, through vet offices and pet supply shops.
Create an online podcast about a specific type of pet you know a lot about. For instance, if you know a lot about love-birds or home aquariums, then create a program that others can use and can also draw others to your business.
If all the above are not options for you or not enough of an option, then see how you can augment your loss of pet sitting income by picking up some part-time work at a pet supply store, or another retail establishment, or something else that sparks your interest or works around your daily schedule.
Pet sitting during a pandemic, as you already know, takes a big toll on our business and personal budgets. It is time to tighten up the money belt, stop spending, and make do.
This is the time to beef up communication with clients. Send out a physical or e-newsletter or post something on your business's Facebook page. This will keep your services fresh in clients' minds.
The Chinese word for crisis is defined as a mix of "danger" and "opportunity". Covid-19 has certainly brought both of those things to our daily lives. Danger, in regards to our physical and business health and opportunity, in regards to our ability to make lemonade out of the lemons life has thrown at us in the last year.
Pet sitters are by nature, in my estimation, creative people who already think outside of the box. I hope some of the things I mentioned in this post will be of help to you.
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