Getting into the pet services business

The pet industry market is growing every year. Since 2001, the average growth has been around 5.07%. Last year, the American Pet Products Association (APPA) reported that Americans had spent $60.28 billion on their pets. APPA estimates that number will increase to $62.75 billion in 2016.

Within the pet services sector, pet owners are expected to spend $5.73 billion on grooming, boarding, training, pet sitting, pet exercise, and other services.

Some of these professions require extensive training and licensing, while others can be started easily as a cottage industry. Here are three services you could start from home with high margins and low startup costs.

Pooper Scooper Service

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Yes, it’s true. You can be a professional pooper scooper. In the busy-ness of life, many moms and dads are running to work, picking up the kids from school, running kids to dance practice or soccer practice that there isn’t enough time to tackle the yard work. Families often hire landscapers and lawn mowers to maintain a beautiful landscape but often neglect the chore of cleaning up pet waste. Because pet waste transmits disease to pets and people, often contributes to source water contamination, and kills grass, this often neglected chore can leave a lawn in a dreary state. As a professional, you can help pet owners eliminate (pun intended) this chore from their to-do lists while improving life for people and pets.

Skills Needed: You must be able to walk many yards each day while carrying equipment that gets increasingly heavier as you clean up yard waste. You must have great eyesight to find dog waste as you scan the yard. You must be familiar with local streets and know how to use a GPS device for locating new customers. You should be familiar with different dog breeds and understand basic canine body language in order to avoid a dog bite situation. You should be able to identify possible health problems by observing the appearance of dog waste.

Training: If you are starting your own business, your training will be on-the-job. Over time, your skills will improve. If a company hires you for this position, there should be at least 15 hours of formal training in addition to on-the-job training.

License: A basic business license is necessary for this type of work. There are no trade licenses for this profession.

Insurance/Bonding: Insurance and/or bonding will give your customers peace of mind about doing business with you; however, you should determine whether your business requires this additional expense. For most cottage industries starting out, you will most likely not need insurance or bonding. As your business grows and you hire your first employee, I would recommend getting insurance at that time. Bonding is only necessary if you or your employees will be going inside a customer’s home. The property bond helps protect a customer’s property from loss due to damage or theft caused by the negligence of you or your employees.

Pet Sitting Service

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These days, people are living closer together but couldn’t be farther apart. In the good ol’ days, people were social and friendly with their neighbors and would keep an eye on things when a neighbor would go out of town. But today, although we live close together, we’ve grown apart. Because of this lack of community, pet owners have turned to pet sitters to provide care for their furbabies when they travel. Several reasons why a pet sitter is a great alternative to boarding include:

  • Boarding facilities are stressful environments for pets. Strange sounds and smells from unknown animals can send even the calmest dog into an anxious fit. When dogs and cats don’t require 24-hour supervision and are accustomed to staying at home while their owners work, pet sitting might be an ideal solution.
  • Pet sitters keep an eye on your home while you’re away. Not only do they care for pets, pet sitters also act as house sitters. A good pet sitter will watch for any suspicious activity around your home and report to you any problems that occur within your home. This is a great way to have peace of mind while you travel.
  • Pet sitters can bring in the newspaper, mail, and water plants. Of course, you always have the option to stop your mail at the the post office but in case you forget, a pet sitter is happy to bring in the mail and newspaper so that your mailbox or driveway doesn’t pile up with mail. As mail and newspapers accumulate, it sends a clear message to vagrants that nobody is home.

Skills Needed: Pet first aid is required. You should also be familiar with different dog and cat breeds and other animals. You should know how to administer oral medication and how to administer a subcutaneous injection. You should have a basic understanding of animal behavior. You should have a basic understanding of health problems and an ability to identify an emergency situation. The ability to perform life-saving therapy is a plus but is not required if you can perform first aid and transport an injured pet to the veterinary clinic for medical assistance.

Training: If you are starting your own business, you should have developed these skills before starting your business. I acquired my skills from working in veterinary clinics and by reading books. You should thoroughly train any employee you hire to ensure you are developing the necessary skills to perform this job. The American Red Cross offers pet first aid classes for a nominal fee.

License: Again, a basic business license will do.

Insurance/Bonding: If you are a professional pet sitter, carrying business insurance and bonding is helpful. Because you will be going into your customer’s homes, the insurance will protect you and the bonding will protect your customer.

Dog Walking Service

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Another great way you can help people improve life for their pets is by offering a dog walking service. At PetCorps, dog walking is in the conceptual stage of development. Our basic model is to offer midday dog walks for pet owners who would otherwise rush home on their lunch breaks to let their dogs out. Instead of doing that, dog owners can remain at work while a dog walker arrives to walk the dogs. The midday walk does not replace any walk or exercise time the pet owner already has planned. It is simply a way to supplement what they are already doing. In addition, the midday walk allows the dogs to get some exercise while also getting some relief.

Skills Needed: A basic understanding of dog breeds. Ability to walk up to 150-pound dogs on a leash. Ability to walk more than one dog at a time. Knowledge of dog behavior. Pet first aid.

Training: Experience with dogs of all breeds and sizes. Attending a Pet First Aid class offered by The American Red Cross. To get some experience dog walking, you could start by offering dog walking to your pet sitting clients. After you’ve developed your skills, consider offering dog walking as a stand-alone service.

License: A business license is needed

Insurance/Bonding: Insurance and bonding is helpful in the case of dog walking because when you pick up the dog for a walk, you will be entering the customer’s home. Protect yourself and your customer with insurance and bonding.

Conclusion

In this article, a basic overview of dog waste removal, pet sitting, and dog walking services was presented along with the skills needed, suggestions for training, licensing, and insurance and bonding. All of these businesses can be started with less than $5,000. So if you’re looking for a way to break in to the pet services industry, choose one of these three services and start researching. You will find that setting up your business and developing the basic system on which your business runs is relatively simple. Be prepared for naysayers and road bumps along the way. The Bible says that the diligent prosper so do everything with a spirit of excellence.

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