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State of the pet sitting and dog walking industry

State of the Pet Sitting & Dog Walking Industry 2019

State of the pet sitting and dog walking industry

 

Whether you are just entering into the pet sitting and dog walking industry or been here a long time like me (17 years!) I bet you wonder about the state of the industry and where we are headed.

You might wonder if all businesses are like yourself?

What the effect of Rover and Wag will have on the industry as a whole?

I bet you wonder if you are making enough?

Charging enough?

What the “industry standard” is and how you measure up?

Whatever the case might be, I see a major shift happening that no one is really talking about…

 

major shift pet sitting industry

 

I also want to know what you think as you read what I am about to write so please, comment below or on the original post and let’s have a conversation about where YOU think the industry is going and how we can help shape it.

But first… I must put out there that like attracts like.

With everything I will say, my findings MIGHT be skewed only because the type of sitters I have been lucky enough to attract are real go-getters. They are business builders, get knocked down 7 times and get up 8 types of people.

They fail and learn from it.

They aren’t paralyzed in fear and they tend to have a great group of support around them. They are about efficiency, processes, and systems.

So here I tell you – my thoughts and insights are shaped by these incredible business owners and what I have personally witnessed as possible.

They are my inspiration and hope for the pet sitting and dog walking industry’s future.

 

 The Consumers Are Changing From Baby Boomers To Millennials

 

pet sitting software

Tailchasers Inc killing it on their website. (Actual screenshot)

According to Mintel, pet owners are spending 86 BILLION dollars on their pets. When I first started in the industry the surge was from the Baby Boomer segment, now it is transitioning to Millennials. This is a very important change that is necessary for any pet business owner to acknowledge. The buyer habits and behaviors have shifted with technology and the independent pet sitter and dog walker need to take notice.

Did you know that 3/4’s of 30 something-year-olds have pets? While American’s might be holding off longer to have children, as many pet professionals know, pets are often the “first child” before settling down and having two-legged children. The consequence of this is a huge market share that doesn’t like to talk on the phone, wait for responses back, and loves to do everything on the phone. Passive websites are a thing of the past and the buyer journey has to include the buyer as an active participant.

This is a huge point that we need to understand. There is a major shift in the way people research and purchase goods and services and it is something every pet business owner should reflect on how they are shifting to this change.

 

Want to learn more about this change? 

How to Hire Millennials (podcast)
5 Things To Consider When Choosing Software For Your Pet Business (blog)
Cutting Expenses By Getting Pet Sitting Software (blog)

There Are A Lot Of Pet Sitting And Dog Walking Businesses For Sale

 

One quick search on bizbuysell.com and you will see that there are many pet sitting and dog walking businesses all over the country up for grabs. I feel like I have a front-row seat because many investors call me and ask to help them evaluate the business they are interested in purchasing.

I see this trend happening a lot now for (what I believe) to be many reasons: 

1. With Rover and Wag making a splash… I see some companies that are just rolling over and giving up on the business. Believing that it is too hard and that they can’t compete.

(Which couldn’t be further from the truth BTW)

2. Our industry is growing up. No longer are we in the infancy stage like when I started my own company back in 2002. We are all grown up. Some business owners that started 10, 15, 20 years ago are ready to get out and as a result, they are selling.

3. The pet industry is booming and year after year becoming larger and larger. Investors see this and are willing to take $100K or $200K out of their retirement to purchase a business that they know they will make their money back in about 1.5 yrs.

4. Pet sitting and dog walking business owners are looking to scale fast and one of the best ways I see them doing this is acquiring other businesses. It is how Chunsoon Li, Randa Clark, Crystal Hammond, and Mark Shaver are doing it.

 

Want to Learn More About Buying and Selling Your Business?

How To Sell Your Business (podcast)
How To Find The Market Value of Your Pet Business (blog)
Everything You Need To Know About Buying and Selling Your Business (product)

Rover And Wag Have Entered The Room

 

This is one that excites me and here is why.

I know that as a pet sitting and dog walking business owner, you dislike all the irresponsible Rover and Wag pet sitters. It is undeniable the number of accidents and pet deaths they are bringing along in addition to undercutting some pet sitting businesses prices.

Although it is important to remember that not all of them are bad and there are some responsible sitters on those apps. In fact, if I were to start my business today… and not really known where to turn, I just might have listed my services on there too.

But here is why their splash is exciting to me and something for you to think about: 

1. They have raised $310.9M in ten rounds of fundraising. That is insane! What they can do with that money shows in their national print, TV, and social media campaigns. What they have essentially done is educate the entire USA about our profession and that we exist. I feel this is a major reason why our industry has spiked in the past two years. Like it or not, they have educated the market on what a pet sitter does.

2. Rover is a technology company. They have encouraged many professional pet sitters to get software of their own and whether anyone believes it or not, I really think they have helped raise the bar when it comes to the user experience and being able to “go digital” and sign up online.

Study after study shows that the user wants to be involved more and more in the process and Rover is giving that to them every time. Professional pet sitters are increasing this trend by allowing their prospects to sign up with them online and get a leg up on their social media by using video and all the incredible tools we have access to. I see a lot more professional pet sitters and dog walkers really caring about their social media presence and website now and really stepping it up notches!

Gone is the time of a basic Wix website that you create yourself for a top rated and performing digital storefront.

3.  Consumer behavior has developed into asking Google everything. Did you know one of the most popular questions  Google is asked is  “should I text him back?”

From “How much does a pet sitter cost in CITY” to “Pet Sitter reviews in CITY” I believe that Rover and Wag have gotten the public to think about this with their top rankings in most cities. They got the public to wonder about this and then they start researching online. Where I see some professional pet sitting and dog walking companies fall short is by not answering the Big 5 on their website.

Marcus Sheridan explained in great depth on my podcast, Bella In Your Business what the Big 5 are. One of my clients was able to take her brand new website from Barketing Blog and get to to the #1 spot of one of the most competitive markets in just a month because of this strategy I told her to use.

4. More people than ever are starting pet sitting and dog walking businesses.   Initial thoughts by the defensive business could be “Great! This means more competition, Bella.” Although if you realize that 6 out of 10 households have pets… there really is more than enough to go around and it fills the gap of those who need cheap pet care.

In the words of Michelle Obama… “When they go low, you go high.”

Ok, so that might not have been what she meant, but many startups do start very low and don’t have the impeccable customer experience that I know your business already brings. So in essence… this gives you a reason to have the top-notch prices in your area.

You also should keep in mind that only 50% of new businesses last more than 5 years according to the Small Business Administration, which helps add businesses to the selling market and goes to show that you shouldn’t be comparing your well-established business to that of a startup who probably isn’t even charging enough to stay in business in five years.

Everything is relative.

Want To Learn More About This Topic?

What Type of Pet Sitter is Best For Rover Websites? (blog)
What’s The Difference Between Rover Sitters and Professional Pet Sitters? (blog)
What Type of Insurance Does A Rover Sitter Need? (blog)

 

Regulations Are In Full Effect

 

A necessary evil that happens when something gains popularity, like the pet sitting and dog walking industry, is that it draws attention. Regulations are popping up all over the country making it harder and harder to just do whatever you want when it comes to your business.

  1. Minimum wage is going up in many states, therefore, affecting many overnight services.
  2. Accumulated sick day pay is happening in many states causing business owners to factor in this extra pay.
  3. Many cities are putting limits to how many pets can be under one roof.
  4. Some states are being required to pay for cell phone usage like California and Illinois.
  5. A massive tidal wave is happening where business owners are reclassifying their sitters from ICs to Employees. They are realizing that the safest way to grow is with employees, and the only attractive way to sell one day is with employees.

It is because of this interesting shift that we are working hard behind the scenes on a major project for all of you looking to switch from ICs to Employees in 2019.

Sign up to be the first to get the step by step instructions on exactly how to do this:

Get Notified When My IC to Employee Program Launches

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Pet Business Sales

Want To Learn More About This? 

Is Dog Boarding In My Home Legal? (blog)
Should I Switch From Ics to Employees? (blog)
Which Costs More? ICs or Employees?  (blog)
6 Steps To Switch from ICs to Employees (Freebie)

 

Pet Sitting And Dog Walking Businesses Are Growing At The Fastest Rate Ever!

 

I have never seen pet sitting and dog walking businesses scale so fast in the 11 years I have been consulting. It is incredible how many people are acquiring smaller companies or lateral companies to grow their empire. They are accomplishing this a bunch of ways:

  • It is equally exciting to see people hiring multiple people at a time instead of just hiring one person at a time reacting to an open position they have in their company.
  • Another change I see is that when people move out of their territory, they are keeping their old territory and running it remotely while opening up a new one. Or, they don’t relocate but just open up a new territory to expand their kingdom.
  • Some members in the Jump Mastermind have hit their last year revenue by mid-2018 while others have figured out membership modules that are just increasing their profits.

It is really so exciting to see all the ways businesses are flourishing, despite what some naysayers might say about the tech companies.

 

The Use Of Software Is (and Will Continue To Be) at an All-Time High

 

Pet care companies that use software have the benefit of increased productivity, with their time being spent on the money-making aspects of the business instead of performing tedious and repetitive tasks. For larger companies, this can lead to the need for fewer office employees, while for smaller companies you may have more free time. Allowing clients to add their own information and schedule not only saves you time, but it also lowers the frequency of errors as the client immediately sees the same thing that the company sees.

Adam Smith, Co-Creator/Developer, Precise Petcare

 

To be taken seriously online in this industry you really need two things: A great website and that website to be connected to the software.

As millennials come into the largest buying power, they want to do things online. They want to have an experience online that solves their problems and doesn’t take forever.

I am happy to say that I am starting to see pet sitters finally invite the viewer into the process on their site. They aren’t just talking at them or creating an online brochure, but really speaking to their avatars, solving the unique problems, and inviting the viewer to take action that will make them feel like they are able to check “pet sitter” or “dog walker” off their never-ending to-do list.

Some are even starting to show-and-tell. They are finally starting to show the consumer the experience they will have on their cell phone when service is being provided. Whether this is IG stories, FB Stories, showing what the updates look like, sending a GPS map of the walk, only using GPS tracked collars… pet sitters are keeping pace ever-changing technology and it is becoming a real disruptor in their local markets.

 

pet sitting and dog walking industry

My Predictions for 2019:

  1. Companies are going to get even larger and things like benefits will become more and more talked about.
  2. The middle sized businesses will shrink slightly because they will get burnt out, stall out, sell, or on the opposite side… grow bigger.
  3. Companies will start to develop their own software apps specialized to their own companies and going outside the mainstream industry choices.
  4. More regulations coming down the pipeline for the proper classification of workers will be coming as our political climate continues to heat up, causing more companies to switch from ICs to employees.
  5. Online user experience is going to become one of the most popular selling features and is what will really start to set companies apart online. In the past it was a blog, software, or video… but this is all the “norm” so it will be important to have all that AND a great online user experience.

 

 

Pet Industry Dreams

How Can You Achieve All Your Dreams With No Sunlight?

 

We have all seen the experiment online where one plant was ignored and told negative things and another plant was given attention and spoken positive messages too… right? In this experiment, the negative comments plant wilted and the positive comments plant flourished.

Your brain and your business is the same exact way.

In order to achieve what you want for your business… you need to surround yourself with those positive comments. Surrounded yourself with people checking in with you daily and giving you encouragement and there to guide you. The pet sitting and dog walking industry isn’t going to get easier as it grows. It will become more cutting-edge, more innovative and larger. Where many used to strive for a six-figure company… more will be striving for a seven-figure business.

I am already seeing it happen and I am excited to be cheering you on.

Let’s do this together.

 

 

What Do You Think?

Comment below, I would love to hear what you think. Tell me what I might have missed, what your predictions are, or if you think I am off my rocker!  *haha* What has been your experience and where do YOU want to be in 2019 with your business? How do you plan to achieve it all and what changes have you seen in the industry?

Bella in your business pet sitting podcast

Episode 41: Communication Problems In Pet Sitting Companies With Adam Smith

On this episode Bella speaks with Adam Smith from Precise Petcare. They discuss communication problems pet sitting business owners often have with both the pet sitters who work for them and with customers.  They discuss how the software offered by Precise Petcare addresses many of these challenges.

Communication Problems In Pet Sitting Companies

Adam & Lynn Smith

Precise Petcare is an online management system that could quickly become the center of your business. The online scheduling, billing and client/staff management are all in one place. With their system you’ll have fluid communication between you, your staff and your clients. Much loved features include Pet Care Journals, the Live Sitter Map and GPS sitter check-ins. Precise Petcare was co-created by a pet sitting business owner and a web developer to combine a perfect blend of knowledge and talents specifically for this industry. Husband and wife team, Adam and Lynn Smith understand first-hand what your needs are as a pet sitting business owner and have built each aspect of the software and continuously update and improve the system – without having to rely on outside talents to delay the process!

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choosing pet sitting software

5 Things To Consider When Choosing Pet Sitting Software For Your Business

Choosing pet sitting software is no doubt a daunting task. After all there are a TON of different companies, all with loads of different, innovative features. But how do you know which of those features you truly need? Today we’re going to talk about the 6 things you MUST consider when choosing pet sitting software in order to keep yourself sane and organized.

6 Things To Consider When Choosing Pet Sitting Software For Your Business

choosing pet sitting software

Accounting

When choosing pet sitting software, we have to consider what type of accounting we do. You want to ask yourself if it’s important to you whether or not your accounting is done within the system. By this I mean if you want the software to track invoices, income, give you profit and loss reports, etc.

But, maybe your accountant or CPA prefers you use a software like Quickbooks to do your accounting. Maybe your CPA works with you virtually through Quickbooks where they log in and help you manage business finances. If this is the case, then a software with built-in accounting may not be vital for your business.

 

Customer Service

Another crucial aspect of choosing pet sitting software is customer service. What type of customer service does the software offer? What is there response time like? Do they have 24/7 support? What do other pet business owners think about the company’s customer service? Do they have online Facebook support groups? And are these groups run by community or actual Helpdesk at the company?

All of the above are great questions to ask and research when choosing pet sitting software. As a pet sitter, I know you know as well as I do that things DO go wrong sometimes. And in the event of an emergency or major problem with your software, you want to make sure that someone has your back.

 

How Often Is The Software Updated?

Nowadays, technology and software is constantly changes. There are always new breakthroughs. It’s important to choose pet sitting software that stays on top of the technology industry and is constantly changing with it. This can include things such as increasing loading speeds, GPS, adding new features, and optimizing their software for other devices such as phones or tablets.

Plus, does the company actually listen to their client’s ideas for changes? You definitely want to pick a company that listens to feedback and implements it in a timely manner.

 

Mobile Version or App Version?

It’s really handy for your pet sitters to be able to use the software on their mobile devices. So it’s important to find out when choosing pet sitting software if they at least have mobile friendly version (i.e. a simpler website specifically for a phone). Or, even better, do they have a specific phone application that you can download? And, can the client use the app or just the company?

Being able to use pet sitting software on a mobile device eliminates lots of room for error and can eliminate a paper trail, as in pet sitters won’t have to manually print out client notes or their schedule. There are lots of benefits to having mobile access to your pet sitting software, so this should be a primary deciding factor.

Communication

Every pet sitting company should have a primary form of communication. When communication is spread out between multiple methods (i.e. email, texting, phone calls, voicemail etc.), things get lost in translation. Consider choosing pet sitting software that offers communication within the program. This can be helpful so that you have all client and pet sitter communication within one medium.

Or, if you prefer email (or another method), then choosing pet sitting software with communication built in may not be as important to you.

Credit Cards

Make sure the software you choose doesn’t lock you into just one credit card company. Make sure that you can actually negotiate your credit card prices. More about how credit cards work here.

 

Final Food For Thought

Everything listed above are some of the major things you should consider when trying to choose a software company. You should consider these 5 factors first and determine what’s important to you. Then, you can look at the additional “bells and whistles” that the software companies offer.

Software is there to help you, so you want to find the program that’s right for YOUR business and fits in with your model.

mastermind pet sitting

The Problems With Switching Pet Sitting Software Companies

Thinking of switching pet sitting software companies can be a big pain in the A$%, isn’t it? In fact, all the headache that goes along with switching is the single most important reason why I hear many pet sitters won’t do it.

As a business owner, we already have way too much on our plate. If delegation is the key to success, why don’t we allow our clients to help us out with this process?

Stay with me here…

The Problems With Switching Pet Sitting Software Companies

switch pet sitting software companies

Don’t Make Switching Pet Sitting Software Companies A Solo Project

When switching pet sitting software companies, you will ultimately have your clients log in, update their info as needed, and schedule services with you, right? A common misconception with pet sitters is that they think the burden of updating their client’s information is on THEM – but I’m happy to tell you that this is not the case 🙂

So let’s invite them to “update their information” as we get our new system set up.

[ctt template=”8″ link=”7i813″ via=”no” ]Let your clients update their information by saying, “We want to make sure we have the most current info about Fluffy and Fido” @bellas_pets[/ctt]” This type of phrasing not only shows that you care, but gives the client an incentive to comply. It also alleviates the pain of you having to enter in all the information or pay to have someone do it. Plus, different systems might have different fields for information making it a little difficult. When this happens, we might procrastinate things even more. AKA Not get the task complete!

 

Here Are Two Examples Of What You Can Say To Your Clients:

If you can muster up the positivity and set expectations properly – consider the task of switching pet sitting software systems done!

How do you do that? Well, thankfully, you are reading this now, so here goes a mock letter, that you can copy and paste, right here from my website, for you to use:

 

Sample Letter #1

Dear NAME:

Our tail is wagging in anticipation of this new toy we just bought for XYZ PET SITTING COMPANY. It is an even BETTER scheduling software system that we just know you will absolutely LOVE!

Feel free to scratch and sniff your way around by going HERE and clicking THIS. Once you are in, you can actually create your OWN UN and PW. (I thought it would be better for you to create it rather than making something that you would probably forget, because, let’s face it, you didn’t create it!)

Before we are able to approve your next booking, we just need you to take 5 minutes, enter in the info for your fur babies, your credit card, and then you can be on your way to booking.

EVEN BETTER:

I know it is probably been dog ages since you have updated your babies info, so this will help us all stay on the same page!

HAVE ANY QUESTIONS?
If your paws hurt, you can always watch how easy it is to set up an account by watching this 30 second video HERE

Or, you can give me a howl on the office phone OFFICE HOURS, I am on stand by ready to help!

Tailwags,
YOUR NAME

 

Sample Letter #2

Hello CLIENT,

We are doing some updates to our online profile system and just need for you to update your fur kid(s) info before making your next booking.  Feel free to do it now, if you have the time!

It is as easy as 1-2-3.

1 – Click HERE and create a UN and PW
2 – Fill out all of your info and your pet’s info.
3 – Oh wait, we are all ready done! See how easy that was? 🙂

If you have any questions at all about this new process, I am in the office OFFICE HOURS and ready to help!

Tailwags,
YOUR NAME

Manage Expectations & Solve Problems Before They Come

I have always said, if you can manage someone’s expectations, you will cut the questions down to a minimum. Likewise, if you can expect people’s behavior, you can lessen your frustrations!

Here is what I mean: Anticipate the questions that your clients will have for you and consider making a short video like this one to help show them their answers:

You can easily create videos on Screencast-o-matic for free!

Remember, Questions Do Not Mean Criticism

Don’t fret when clients are asking you questions on the system. It doesn’t mean that the system you just moved to is de-funked. It means that they just simply have questions and they are looking to you for help. Think of it as a way to touch them and open up a conversation about how their services are going or how their pets are doing. Ask them their opinion of what they like and if there is anything you can improve on. Simply ASKING that last question can secure a client for life because they know that you care!

Switching Pet Sitting Software Systems Doesn’t Have To Be Tough

Change is always tough. I am betting that it actually took you a while to take the JUMP towards switching pet sitting software companies, am I right? What you need to do now is hold on tight, anticipate the questions, and know that you don’t need to sit there for hours upon hours to update every single client file.

Nor, is a data transfer going to be seamless. So in my opinion, it is best to have your clients help you do it. 🙂 Not to mention, all of the companies are always there to help you. After all, they want you to LIKE using their software!

Don’t ever let this challenge prevent you from making a switch!

 

Mastermind