I don’t usually tell personal stories about pet sitting but I thought this one needed to be told. By the end of it, you will see a little more about what makes for a professional pet sitter in Austin, and what does not.
Today, I want to show you the best example of a client of my Austin pet sitting services. You can see some of the decisions that they have made, what the outcomes were, and what their real costs in the end were.
One day, in the land of Austin Texas…
About 3 years ago I used to professionally pet sit regularly for a family with 2 dogs and 2 cats. The pet parents traveled often and they knew that they could rely on me; and that I truly loved their pets. They often told me so.
And then one day…
One day I received a call from the wife telling me that she had been talking with her neighbor. The neighbor has a college-age daughter who wanted to do pet sitting to earn some money for college expenses. The daughter was willing to work for a very small fee.
Value, as they soon realized, is not only about the cost. Cheap costs usually mean cheap service and a cheap resolution.
And so, my client call me, and she asked me if I would be willing to match the price of the college student. No real professional pet sitter can match the price of a hobbyist. I cannot do it, because my value to your furkid, to your needs, is worth more than what some would be willing to accept. This is because I have a legitimate business and like all businesses we have expenses.
In a perfect world of people, pets and professions…
In a perfect world, I wouldn’t need to buy liability insurance to protect the pet parents. But the world is not perfect and Murphy’s Law exists.
As a professional I understand the need to hire an attorney to make sure I have a contract that spells out my responsibilities and what I can and cannot do. As well, I need to make sure that the authorization forms for various professionals (such as your veterinarian) to work with us in case of an emergency are valid.
I, like other professional pet sitter, have the costs of printing questionnaires to make sure I have covered every situation that may arise so I know how to provide the very best care for your pets while maintaining their schedule, routines and diets. I have to keep my car in tip-top shape so that I know I won’t have trouble getting to the pets in my care on time. I have supplies to buy, the cost of my website, the cost of my cell phone and the cost of extra minutes so I can send all those cute pictures to mom.
I have the cost of membership in my professional pet sitting organizations which help me to build a network of support in case of emergencies so that any unexpected event can be minimized. I have the cost of professional education like pet CPR, pet first aid, pet behavior, pet training techniques and pet health issues, all of which helps me to provide the very best and safest care, and to spot when a pet might not be feeling so good.
Some real Austin pet sitting truth
In addition, this is my livelihood, my work, my profession. I am available 24/7, nearly every week. I also know that my fees are in line with the fees of the professional pet sitters in my area.
I do regret that I couldn’t match her price. I had to tell a customer ‘no’.
I regret that I could not match her price, but she cannot match my service.
The phone rings again; or “EMERGENCY!!”
The next week I received a call from the pet owner. She was out of town in Florida. She had hired the neighbor’s daughter to care for their dogs and cats. However, the neighbor’s daughter had a test that she needed to study for. I was asked if I could please go to her home just this once and feed her dogs and let them out? I did not want her pets to suffer.
And, so, I put my personal plans aside (something the neighbor’s daughter didn’t do) and I went to her home and I fed her pets and I let the dogs out to do their business, and I checked the house and I found that the litter box hadn’t been scooped so I did that too, and I topped up the kitties’ food, and I check the back door and I found it unlocked, so I locked the door and checked all the windows and I sent the owners a text to tell them what was going on.
A year later I received a surprise call from the pet owner. She was out of town. Their friend was taking care of their pets and one of the cats escaped from the house and she couldn’t get it back inside. The friend needed to get to work and had left the cat outside.
The owner was frantic.
She wanted to know if I could go to her home and find her cat and bring it in. I became concerned, too.
I went to her home and I searched the neighborhood and, luckily, I found her cat and I brought it home. While I was there I scooped the litter, provided fresh water, topped up the cat food, let the dogs out for a break in the backyard and checked to make sure the house was secure.
More concern from amateur pet sitting decisions
This year, I again received a call from the owner. They are using yet another hobby pet sitter, thinking of the cost and price aspects, instead of the value a professional pet sitter would give. This hobby pet sitter had lost their key to the home. My client’s pets were locked inside of the house, and no one had a way to get in.
On the phone, they were frantic.
The pet parents wanted to know if I could help their hobby pet sitter into the house. I was upset, too, just thinking about the pets trapped inside the house. I reminded the owner that I no longer had their key because they had not used me as their pet sitter in a long time.
After our conversation, the next logical step was for the owners to call a locksmith. This would cost the owners a lot of money. They will need to have their entire home re-keyed; there is no knowing who has the key to their house.
I am guessing the hobby pet sitter will not pay for this. Hobby pet sitters, (college students, neighbors and friends), do not usually carry pet sitting insurance. You cannot get blood from a stone.
The next time you are wondering why a professional pet sitter costs more than a hobbyist, these are the reasons:
- A professional pet sitter pays for pet sitting liability insurance to protect you. This costs money.
- A professional pet sitter pays for membership in professional pet sitting organizations in order to take advantage of pet care education and training in pet first aid, pet CPR, pet safety, pet behaviors, pet training techniques, and to create a network of professionals to help quickly in any emergency situation.
- A professional pet sitter pays for pet sitting-related books and magazines to make sure that our skills are the highest possible and that we are providing the safest care and attention to your pet’s needs.
- A professional pet sitter pays for legal advice so that we have a contract in order to protect you and our business. It will explain what services the pet sitter will and will not provide. There will be forms to fill out to give the pet sitter all the information needed to provide the very best care for your pet and your home. There will be authorization forms for various professionals such as your veterinarian to work with us in the event there is a need. There will be policies and backup plans in place.
- A professional Pet sitter will have expenses just like every other legitimate business. And the reason you want us to charge enough to keep us in business is so that you know who is caring for your pets, and your pets know and trust their pet sitter. This provides for a trouble-free vacation for you, and stress-free time for your pets.
Caring for someone’s pets is hard work. It takes long hours. It takes diligence, a sense of responsibility, personal commitment in the face of long hours and experience.
Like other professionals, large and small, pet sitting is a trainable business, but one that still has value over cost.
All professionals charge for their time and experience. They are worth it. Professional pet sitters are no different.
If you ready to contact a true professional Austin pet sitter, call us today at (512)484-5840 to schedule an appointment.