4 years ago · Olga Wharton · Comments Off on If I had $500 to spend on my pet sitting business…
A few days ago someone asked me a simple question: If you had $500 to spend on your pet sitting business, what would you do? The first thing that came to my mind was “Marketing!!” That part of the answer was easy.
Of course Marketing! That’s what any service-based business needs to attract new customers. There are so many pet owners around us, the question is how to let them know that we ARE the best solution for their pets? Yes, we are the largest pet sitting and dog walking services provider in the Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex (including North Dallas areas like Plano, Frisco, McKinney, as well as most of the neighborhoods between Dallas and Fort Worth, such as Southlake, HEB, and Keller). But that wasn’t always the case.
I’ve started as a sole owner-operator walking dogs and playing with cats in my immediate neighborhood. I had no marketing budget. I didn’t have any money to invest. I answered all client calls on my cell phone because I didn’t have an infrastructure to separate personal life from business. My business was my personal life. I was doing what I loved, got to play with all kinds of pets every day, and I was excited to grow my business. At that time, I didn’t have $500 to spend on marketing.
So yes, I would love that $500 back then to spend on marketing! But as I was looking at the face of the person who asked me this question, I realized that my answer was pretty shallow and lacked depth. My answer didn’t carry any value because it didn’t go in depth of WHAT would I be doing… And of course, I LOVE depth, so I spent some time pondering how I can reveal what I value as an entrepreneur.
Knowing what I know today, I wouldn’t do anything different. I remember I was visiting vets and bringing them cookies in the winter and ice cream in the summer. I volunteered at a local charity and spearheaded local pet events. I heavily relied on a word of mouth and relationship building which didn’t really cost much other than my personal time and effort.
So what would I do with that extra $500 that would benefit my pet sitting business?
1. Hire someone to customize your website. I was the one who originally built mine using a template, and it worked just fine… But it wasn’t until just recent couple years that I’ve invested into a professional customization. My advice would be to not use templates but customize what you are building. You and your company are unique, make your presence unique as well… I was able to hire a college student who customized my site for just $75. That leaves me now with $425 to spend….
2. Join professional associations. NAPPS and PSI have probably the largest web presence and are full of free resources with their memberships ($160 for pet and $150 for PSI). Petsittingology, however, is my favorite as Josh Cary uses so many different kinds of learning resources and tools that are free with the membership. Their membership alone has more flexibility and allows monthly payments and access to webinars and learning videos… Plus, you’ll get to network with other fellow pet sitters and learn so much outside of the classroom as well as build long-lasting relationships… Which leads me to my next point:
3. Buy someone lunch / coffee / cupcake. It doesn’t have to be a large financial investment to treat someone to a coffee or a snack… I cannot tell you enough how many laid back and informal conversations with peers impacted our businesses in the most positive ways. Don’t look at other pet sitting businesses as your competitors. Network with others. Support each other. We all benefit when the pet sitting industry grows and strengthens and gains positive reputation…
If your business is at a place where you can invest in it, invest in yourself and others, not advertising. Dale Carnegie said, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you”. I am thankful for all the relationships that I have built over the years which gave a very solid foundation for my pet sitting business collectively, and it wasn’t based entirely on myself.
Cover photo credit: Luke Ma, https://www.flickr.com/photos/lukema/, CC BY 2.0
Categories: Pet Sitting Advise Column