What does a pet sitter do during slow periods?
There are times of the year when things slow down, people don’t travel, kids go back to school and a pet sitter gets some relief or we get the occasional day off with no sits scheduled. Just because we are not out running around taking care of pets doesn’t mean we still aren’t working!
Operating a professional pet sitting business entails more than just going to care for people’s pets. There are a lot of behind the scene tasks that often get put on the back burner until we have a moment to breath. The pets are obviously the first priority in this line of work. However there are a lot of other hats to be worn and tasks to accomplish.
Majority of the work is office and paper work. One task I have HATED since day one is paper work! And since 2010 I have paid somebody else to do it for me. But that doesn’t mean I completely escape it unfortunately! I do have a book keeping service that I send my monthly invoices, receipts, mileage logs and other expenditures to. I still have to file it and put it all together.
A lot of Professional Pet Sitting Services use a electronic online invoicing system. After we create and send the invoice to the pet owner, the pet owner pays us, we have to mark it as received. The paid invoice then has to be printed and filed to be sent to book keeping. I try to sit down at least once a week and go through the invoices online for that week that have been paid.
End of the month is a nightmare I dread. Pet Sitters have the choice to either claim mileage or claim the cost or gas & vehicle maintenance at tax time. Most choose the mileage option. Therefore we have to keep mileage logs marking down our starting point and end points and amount of miles driven for business use. These logs have to copied be sent to book keeping at the end of the month. If the pet sitter chooses the gas and vehicle maintenance option they have to save all of their receipts when they gas up or have any work done to their vehicles.
The other vehicle expense report that need to be run is the highway tolls paid. Luckily with the development of I-Pass and the internet we can simply run a spreadsheet report off the state toll website of what tolls where paid, when & where.
Then the other businesses expense comes into play such as cell phone, internet, advertising, donations, gifts, shows/expos, office expenses, work supplies etc. All of these receipts have to be saved, and sent to book keeping each month.
When book keeping is done entering all of the data in to the system they generate spreadsheets showing profit/loss, income etc. and with those spread sheets comes back all of the receipts, invoices and other paper work you had send them. So then it all has to be filed for tax time!
When I’m not doing paper and office work I am networking & marketing. Having meetings and meals with other pet sitters or people in the pet industry such as groomers, trainers etc. I’m also looking for marketing ideas and having meeting with advertising businesses on opportunities to pursue. If revenue isn’t coming in you have to go out & find new opportunities to get it walking through your door! I have a Marketing Manager who does the research for me and the middle man work when it comes to getting the company name out there. She also does the graphic design work for the business, and attends pet expos and shows we have booths at. We will collaborate every 3-6 months and come up with new marketing ideas and strategies.
So on top of all that you also have to find time for your own pets! It honestly can get difficult at times. Especially when I’m away doing overnights. Your home becomes one of your “Stops” and you sit down to play and care for your own pets for a bit. There are many a time I don’t want to leave and miss my pets & home.
Some where in that mix you try to also find a social life of time with your friends & family. If you are lucky you have a supportive spouse and or boyfriend/girlfriend who understands the crazy work schedule you have. Because you can easily become ships passing in the night with a pet sitters schedule.
As you can see there really isn’t a slow time or free time for a pet sitter. Because if we aren’t caring for pets there are a million and one other tasks or people demanding our attention!