- Check out the competition. Do a Google search for “pet sitter” and your zip code. Where do you show up? (You don’t? If you’re not on the first page, go to item #2). Look at other pet sitters’ web sites that are in the area you serve. Compare your services, prices, and the information you provide.
- Read my blog post: Optimize your web site for search engines. Be sure your site is working for you. Review your keywords and headlines to be sure they help the search engines find you.
- Update your Web site. Even if you do show up on the first page, take a fresh look at your site and see if it needs updating. New photos of pets, a new picture of you (you DO have a picture of YOU on there, don’t you?), new links, new colors, seasonal pet care info – all of these make your site look fresh and current.
- Check your listings. If you are an association member, for example PSI, take advantage of their listing services. Be sure your information is current. Be sure you are listed everywhere you can be on the Internet.
- Add your web site address to your email signature.
- Review local newspaper advertising. Are your competitors in there? Small community papers often run special sections or pages offering pet services. Find out when they run, what they cost, and look at some past issues (the ad salesperson should be able to provide these). Decide if you need to run ads a few weeks before major holidays.
- Beat feet. Go visit the local kennels, veterinarians, dog parks, pet supply stores and groomers. Don’t just drop off your business cards. If they’re not too busy, engage them in conversation. Offer a free day of pet sitting to staff members, or buy-one-get-one-free, or a similar offer. Bring a small thank you gift, like a box of candy, to companies that have referred to you in the past. They’ll remember you!
- Contact your clients. This is a great time to thank your regular clients for their business, and visit with clients you haven’t heard from in awhile. Ask them if they know upcoming travel plans so you can pencil them in on your schedule. At the very least you’ll feel better knowing you have future business on your calendar. Offer a free day of pet sitting if they refer new clients to you (this has worked especially well for me).
- Network with other pet sitters. Plan a get-together, or just chat on the phone or online with your fellow pet sitters. Besides being your competition, you can back each other up in an emergency, if one of you gets overbooked, or someone sells or quits their business. Make friends now; you might need them later.
- Take a class. Now’s the time to update your certification in pet first aid, take an accounting or marketing class, or an online teleconference from a business coach. Learn about a species of animal you haven’t cared for before, like ferrets or hedgehogs. New skills enhance your resumé.
- Take a vacation. Even if you have little money for travel, you can still go to the beach, a museum, a park, or nearby tourist attraction. Get away from it all for even one day and you’ll come back refreshed and ready for the next challenge.
- One last idea: Do something special with your own pets. They often get neglected because you burn yourself out caring for other people’s animals.
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