One of our most common frustrations is to reach the end of a phone call when you think we are about to set up a meet and greet and then someone says, "Sorry I forgot to ask but what are your prices?" Then after hearing what we charge they tell us, "We're sorry but our last dog walker charged $xx.xx." And that's the last we ever hear from them. So I thought it would be nice if you, our customer or potential customer know exactly what you're paying for.
You might be thinking at this point that you know what you're paying for and that our rates are all over the website and we say we charge by the time and what we do with is up to you and while you are paying directly for 15, 20, or 30 minutes of our time to come and provide in home pet care or a dog walk that isn't everything that goes into why we're charging that amount.
Our biggest expense by far is travel. We spend as much time on the road as we do pet sitting or dog walking. We are listening to the radio, podcasts, or Spotify as much as we are taking care of dogs and cats. So while when you pay us for a 15 minute visit you are paying us for the 15 minutes we are with your pets we also have to get to your pets and then either get ourselves home or to our next pet sitting or dog walking appointment. Unless we have a really tight radius or happen to be taking care of your neighbor then it is most often 15 minutes from us to you and then 15 minutes from you to wherever we need to be next. This is also why we try to keep the pet sitters that work for us in as small a radius as possible so we can maximize their take home pay as taking care of the people that work for us is one of our highest priorities.
Depending on the pet sitting/dog walking company this cost can be all over the place. Some pet sitting/dog walking companies print off flyers from their home computer and hang them up all over town. We prefer a more modern approach and invest in Facebook and Google ads as well as being active on social media and writing a blog. No matter what path a professional pet sitting/dog walking company takes their is going to be cost just to get a client and then the real marketing begins. We are big believers in referral and relationship marketing and believe that in order to get referrals from current clients you have to build a relationship and give them value above and beyond the regular services provided. Getting a new client costs more for any business than keeping a current one but keeping the current ones happy and getting new ones through referrals goes hand in hand and is all part of client acquisition.
This is the boring one. This is the license, bonding, and insurance as well as taxes and other fees associated with running a business. We also have to have power and internet service as well as data rich phone plans. There really isn't that much to say about this one other than it is the cost of doing business and expenses we have to incur in order to be a legitimate business.
Notice I didn't mention the membership to a professional organization or being pet CPR and first aid certified and that's because it counts as continuing education. Our goal is to always make our pet sitting and dog walking better and in order to do that we need to acquire more and more knowledge and skills. A lot of this does come from free YouTube videos and podcasts but we also read books, attend pet events, and sometimes even take a class or two where available. It can add up and can be a real hidden expense for us as honestly I like learning about animals and don't even think of the books as a business expense. I've also read far too many books on SEO, social media marketing, and audience building in the past three months.
Travel, client acquisition, business overhead, and continuing education are our biggest expenses and factor into what your pay. I've heard it said that a professional pet sitter and business owner spends $5.00 for every key they put in a door.