Sunday, January 30, 2011

Pet Sitters associations membership- worth it?


Dear Labby- I am a reader of your pet sitting blog and had a question for you.  I have just started my own dog running, dog walking and pet sitting business.  I am looking to secure insurance and was curious if you saw a reason to join Pet Sitters Associates LLC AND Pet Sitters International?  It seems Pet Sitters Associates offers insurance at a much lower rate than PSI but I see that you are a member of both.  Any reason why the huge difference in insurance cost between the two?  From what I can tell, membership in Associates LLC is somewhere under $200 and includes insurance while PSI is $140 plus for membership and then around $400 for insurance.

Thanks for your help!

Beth

Dear Beth:
Good question- I have my insurance through Pet Sitters Assoc. for exactly that reason. It is cheaper. PSI tries to sell you on the benefits of membership, and if you are a new petsitter, their magazine is nice and so are their certification classes, etc. Pet Sitters Assoc is purely insurance, no other marketing foo foo stuff. One thing that got on my nerves with PSI is that they are ALWAYS selling you something. Their magazine and website are marketing tools, and I have sometimes wondered about the educational benefits of PSI's articles, as I discuss in this post about caring for horses. So maybe if you don't have much experience, PSI is good. I was a member for two years, then decided I didn't need it. 

You can buy your insurance from PSA, and just be a member of PSI, which was what I did.

Both have a referral service- PSA's is $10 a year, PSI's comes with your membership.

Hope this helps!

Sincerely, 

Labby

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© 2010 Terry Albert. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Follow-up to Bella the Cavalier's story

The Thornton family with their dogs and a few of mine!
Last September I had the scare of a lifetime when a 14 year old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Bella had seizures on a Saturday afternoon. Her owners were out the country, and I was in charge of life and death decisions. I wrote about it here.

I am happy to update you, as today Bella celebrates her 15th birthday. Her owner, Kim Thornton, wrote this blog about Bella's health challenges and miraculous recoveries. I am so grateful everything worked out okay. I am also grateful that Kim trusted me with her precious pet. There is no greater compliment.

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© 2010 Terry Albert. All Rights Reserved.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Followup to previous post about Petco Unleashed

In a previous post in May of last year, I reported that an owner of a dog daycare in Massachusetts was suing Petco over the name of  new upscale boutique chain, Petco Unleashed. Unleashed Doggie Daycare has lost the suit. The judge pointed out that there hundreds of companies across the US that use the term "unleashed." Too bad they couldn't all band together for a class action lawsuit. Then again, the little guy rarely wins against the corporate giant. But Unleashed Doggie Daycare does get to keep his name, and appears to still be in business.

Here's the story:
http://bostonipblog.typepad.com/dmass-ip-blog/2010/12/petco-unleashed.html

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© 2010 Terry Albert. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Independent Contractors and the IRS

Dear Labby,
How do I go about adding "Independent Contractors" to my pet sitting business and avoid having them being classified as "Employees"? This has not been an issue in 2010, my first year in business, but I can see a need coming in 2011.
Any advice you can give would be most helpful ... thx!  Cynthia

Dear Cynthia,
Excellent question! Here are the guidelines I have followed:

• ICs invoice me for their work, clients pay me. IC usually picks up the check and gives or sends it to me, or I bill to client's credit card.
• Clients book through me
• I do not supply any materials like crates, food, etc. or reimburse for gas. I do supply forms and all have my business name on them.
• ICs buy their own insurance- though I am able to add them on my policy at a reduced rate, they pay it.
• ICs must file their own Schedule C on their taxes, and I supply a 1099 form to them at the end of the year
• ICs are able to pursue their own clients separate from mine, under their own business name
• ICs sign a non-solicitation agreement, in other words they can't suddenly convert one of my clients into theirs. The agreement also states that they understand they are an Independent Contractor and responsible for their own taxes, insurance and expenses.

For a more official answer, the IRS has guidelines posted on their website, and each state has its own requirements also. For example, here is California’s site: http://www.taxes.ca.gov/iCorE.bus.shtml

From the IRS website:
If you paid someone who is not your employee, such as a subcontractor, attorney or accountant $600 or more for services provided during the year, a Form 1099-MISC (PDF) needs to be completed, and a copy of 1099-MISC (PDF) must be provided to the independent contractor by January 31 of the year following payment. You must also send a copy of this form to the IRS by February 28.

Good luck with your pet sitting business in 2011!

Sincerely,
Labby

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