Congrats! You’ve decided to dive into the world of online petcare with a slew of other eager participants! How will you stand out? What should you write? Where should you set your rates?
What makes you uniquely qualified to be a petsitter/dog walker? Everyone loves dogs, or at least will say they do. I would write the profile conversationally to introduce yourself to potential clients. Here are some questions to get you started:
- Do you have pets of your own? Or have you had pets in the past?
- Do you have petcare experience? Have you watched animals for friends or neighbors?
- What do you do outside of petsitting? Or what have you done outside of petsitting?
- Do you work another job full time? If so, what is that schedule?
- Do you work from home or have a flexible schedule?
- What is your educational background?
- Do you speak another language?
- What are your hobbies?
- Who lives with you? Are there children in the home?
Attracting clients to your online profile is not unlike online dating, and it’s important that the client-sitter relationship is a compatible one. For example, I started petsitting in Seattle and that’s written on my profile; some clients have chosen me from the bunch because they are also from Seattle. Many people can watch a dog, right? But your client will choose you because you seem RELIABLE, LIKABLE AND TRUSTWORTHY.
USE YOUR MOST MARKETABLE ASSET IN THE TAGLINE OF YOUR PROFILE. And also tailor it toward the type of work and client you’re looking to book. How are you different from the rest of the field? I’m a doctor, so I put that in my title (well… I wrote medical professional but I digress…). Here are some ideas:
- Experienced in rescue
- Work from home
- Flexible schedule
- Cat whisperer
- Patience for senior animals
- Active sitter/walker
You should absolutely be you; that being said, remember that you’re trying to cast a wide net as far as potential clients go. I would upload a main photo of you where you look fairly put together and you’re smiling. Remember, you want to appear likable. Looking put together in the dog walking world doesn’t mean business casual; you can be in active wear, jeans, ponytail, no makeup, all of that is fine. You should look like you’re ready to walk a dog and potentially get dirty. Taking photos outside in natural sunlight will generally create the most flattering and clear photos. Everyone has a smart phone camera these days, so there shouldn’t be any excuses as to why you can’t get one good, clear photo for your profile.
Do you have pets? Include them in your profile. Don’t have a dog? Borrow one from a friend; it will also be good dog walking practice. Include photos of your home (if applicable; an example of the main/living area and yard) and again, make sure they are well lit. Look at the other sitter profiles in your area and decide which photos appeal to you if you were a potential client.
DOG WALKING / DROP IN RATES
As far as dog walking goes, “the man” has decided that most people in the United States are willing to pay around $20/30 minutes for a dog walking appointment. You can search around online to see what people in your area are charging, but honestly the results will be all over the place. If you’re starting out, I would set your rates slightly lower than the market, so maybe $18/30 minutes. After you establish a decent schedule and/or reviews, or as demands on your schedule tighten, I would raise rates from there. I believe an established dog walker should have rates above $20/30 minutes and here’s why: a potential client can pay $20 + tip to play the RoverNow or WAG lotto, or they can pay more to guarantee service with an experienced walker. TIME IS MONEY for your clients, and if you are a reliable, no fuss walker, they will pay your rate.
The beauty of using an app like Rover is that you can just raise and lower your rates whenever you feel like it. Looking for more business? Lower your rates. Do you have enough business at your current rates? Then raise ’em. Every time you increase the price of something, you will sell less of it. But that’s okay because as solopreneurs, we don’t hundreds of clients in order to make a decent living. I’m happy with around 8 potential daily clients and maybe 25 ish clients served annually.
BOARDING AND HOUSESITTING RATES
Oh, boarding and housesitting…lol. I like think of these as “gig rates” or a package rate. When I first started, I had no idea why anyone would work for $25/night… haha. That’s a terrible rate, but it’s the going starter rate for petsitting. Keep in mind that MOST pet owners have never paid for petsitting before. That is literally why Rover and WAG exist. And also, “the man” has decided that $26 is what most sitters are willing to accept for up to 24 hours worth of petsitting. Just let that sink in…
You don’t board dogs and housesit for the money, per se. You do it because it fits into your lifestyle, you enjoy it and at the end of the week you have an extra couple hundred bucks in your pocket.
That being said, I would start off around $25-$30/night until you get the number of reviews and clients you need for more consistent bookings. Then you can raise your rates to a level that makes the work more acceptable to you. For many, this will be around $40-$55/night but it can really be any amount of money you choose. Don’t forget that higher rates will be mean less business.
YOU SHOULD CHARGE WHATEVER MAKES YOUR HEART HAPPY and whatever makes the gig worth it to you! But here are some things to consider.
ADDITIONAL DOG RATE
A decent rule of thumb to is to discount additional dogs from the same household if you’re visiting them in their home (housesitting, dog walking and drop in visits). For example, half of your base rate for each additional dog.
For boarding or daycare, or services where you watch the dog(s) in your home, many will charge full fare for each dog because there is oftentimes a finite amount of space and number of bookings you can accept each day. But again, do whatever feels right to you. I came into petcare as a multiple dog owner who had a really difficult time finding affordable petcare for my pack, so I have always discounted multiple dog owners.
ADDITIONAL CAT RATE
There is currently no “additional cat rate” option on Rover. I personally charge $1/additional cat and this way, both (or all) cats are covered under the Rover guarantee. Most sitters will charge no more than $5 per additional cat. You can absolutely charge full fare per cat if you think a potential client is willing and able to pay that rate.
Major holidays are the busy times in the world of overnight petsitting (boarding, housesitting and drop in visits). I would absolutely take advantage of Rover’s holiday rate feature. For me, it’s an extra $5/drop in visit and an extra $10/night. Most commercial facilities and professional petcare companies charge extra to work when other people have the day off.
Well, I hope this guide to getting started was somewhat useful to you. If you have further questions, feel free to join the Facebook community where we have some veteran sitters available to help answer your questions!
THE PETCARE HUSTLE COMMUNITY