Why do you need a professional pet sitter?

Why do you need a professional pet sitter?

I don’t actually got asked this question anymore. In fact, I don’t remember when was the last time someone asked me that question. I would like to think the Maow Care website has been effective enough that people don’t feel they need to ask.

But in case you are someone who is not familiar with the concept or you are a pet sitter in an area with a population that is not familiar with pet sitting, here I will try to spell it out to you why we need professional pet sitters.

The benefit of using a pet sitter: 

  • Less stress for the pet, especially for cats – they don’t like new environment, they much prefer to stay at home
  • No transportation required, less stress for the pet, less stress for you. Especially if you live in Dublin and have no access to a car (which is the majority of my customers) going to a kennel or a cattery will be a logistic nightmare
  • One on one personalised service – follow your usual routine at home. It’s just like having you at home but it’s us instead of you…
  • Minimise risk of cross infection as your pets are not exposed to other animals.

The benefit of using a PROFESSIONAL pet sitter:

  • No more imposing on your friends or family who might not be a pet lover
  • Asking your friends and family is not actually free. You still need to get them something from Duty Free in the airport…
  • Knowing someone is a genuine pet lover and will notice anything unusual with your pet
  • Knowing that the person is trained to handle pet emergency
  • Knowing they will show up when they say they do! (We won’t call you to say we can’t make it because we got held back at work, child is ill or car problem, etc, we make damn sure we get there or send back up one way or the other!)
  • Knowing they will give daily updates (good luck asking your friend to send you cute cat photos every day…)
  • Contactable on the phone during the time your pet is under their care
  • Knowing there is a back up plan in case of emergency!
  • This one is very underrated – we are also trained to handle security issue of your home! We are trained to notice any usual activity in your home. The blind has been touched, we notice them, trust me.

Here are two videos to illustrate my points above in a more comical way. It’s funny now because you haven’t used these pet sitters. It’s not funny when they ARE your pet sitters…

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lEcyze4yoj8]

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GzAijc0L6yA]

To find a REAL pet sitter, you can check out your local pet sitting directory.

2016_garps_do_you_know_ss

 

Make sure to check the followings:

  • Are they a registered business?
  • Are they insured? (Even though you might never imagine claiming anything but knowing they have spent money to set up their business properly means they take their job very seriously)
  • Do they give you a contract? (Again, you might think it doesn’t matter to you, but knowing your pet sitter is taking their job seriously also means they will take your pet seriously)
  • Are they trained and experienced in handling pets?
  • Do they have reference from other customers?
  • Do they have a back up plan in case they got into an emergency?
  • You can also download this checklist to help you with your research for a real pet sitter.

Do you use a pet sitter? How did you find your pet sitter? I would love to hear your story! Share on the comment below! 

SMOPB – Part 2: naming your pet sitting business

SMOPB – Part 2: naming your pet sitting business

Since I started my cat sitting business 5 years ago, I have been asked again and again how did I do it.

People who asks, some of them curious (nosy), some of them genuinely want advices. Especially information on how to start a business in Ireland is not available in a consolidated manner, it might take a long time before you get on the right track with a lot of false start in the wrong direction in between.

I am all for sharing information to help other people, so I decide to start a series of post to explain once and for all – how did I start my own pet sitting business. 

 

In the last post, I talked about doing your marketing research. Also, you might want to know what it means to be a cat sitter by read this post.

That will give you a good idea if starting a pet sitting business in your area is a good idea at all. If it turns out pet sitting might not be suitable for your area, there are other business ideas you might want to explore.

And of course before you start any business at all, you should ask yourself if you are cut out for it.

After researching, thinking, checking with your family if everyone is cool with you starting a business, then what’s next?

Follow my blog. Joking…haha! (Only half though, as I will be telling you everything about how to start your own pet sitting business in Ireland!)

Then you have to think of a business name for your pet sitting business.

 

Step 2 – naming your business

(Step 1 and the rest of the series can be found here.)

First of all, you might want to read my post on the general information on business names. But there are other things we need to consider when choosing a name for a pet sitting business.

My business name Maow Care came to me because ‘maow’ is nickname my husband has been calling me for many years, which means ‘cat’ in Chinese…

Maow

So I thought Maow Care sounds like me. Notice I did add a ‘w’ at the end of just ‘Mao’ due to obvious reasons…

When I first got the idea of a name, I have asked one of the marketing consultants in the Start Your Own Business course by Dublin Enterprise Board. He thought ‘Meow Care’ would have been a better name. But my gut feeling told me I needed something a bit different, something almost a little strange so people would remember me. ‘Meow’ sounds too common. After using Maow Care for 5 years, I believe I was right. Because now I could use the word ‘Maow’ in a lot of word play in any marketing campaigns, e.g. Hungry Maow Cat Food Collection, Maow Of The Year competition, MAOW! Newsletter, etc.

For a pet sitting business, I think it’s important to choose a name that’s cute but at the same time professional. And it’s not easy…

I notice there are a few common theme with pet sitting business name. There is no right or wrong on this subject matter, but I will list out what I think as pros and cons for each of them. It is ONLY MY OWN OPINION. I have no intention to offend anyone. If you have alternative opinion, please leave a comment, discussions are most welcome!

 

1. Someone-someone’s pet care

For example, Mary’s pet care.

Pro: Very personal touch. Pet sitting is such an intimate service that I think it is a great idea to stay personal as much as possible. I believe I am the first pet sitting company in Dublin to put my own picture on my website. I want my potential customers to see me and ‘know’ me already before meeting me. I don’t want to hide behind the logo because I want them to work with ME not my company. (A post about ‘staying personal’ will come up in the future…)

Con: If your business start to expand, your customers might be disappointed to find out they are not actually talking to Mary when they ring the  number. Some sitters I know do stick with working alone for many many years. But if you plan to expand in the future or want to leave yourself a possibility of expanding, you might not want to do that.

 

2. A-LOCATION pet sitting

For example, Dublin Pet Sitting

Pro: Straight to the point. People know where you are at and what you cover. Great google SEO.

Con: Not very personal and you might ‘clash’ with other companies who have similar names. You might not stand out from the crowd. A quick search on Google shows at least 3 companies with similar name if you type ‘london pet sitting’!

Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 20.31.32

 

3. Funny-pet-related-word pet sit

For example: Maow Care (my own business, haha!)

Pro: It stands out. It can be funny and cute.

Con: People might not know how to spell the damn thing!

 

As you can see, there is no ultimate best naming solution. At the end of the day, I think the best important is this – YOU LOVE YOUR NAME! If you feel very proud to say your business name every single time you pick up the phone or handing out your business card. That will make you happy. And happy energy is so important in running a SME!

 

Do you have a business yourself? How did you find your business name? Share your experience in the comment below, I would love to hear from you. 

Trick of the trade: always lock ALL doors behind you

Trick of the trade: always lock ALL doors behind you

As a cat sitter, we open a lot of doors.

And with that, we also close and LOCK a lot of doors.

So Trick of the Trade to share with you today –

ALWAYS lock all the doors behind you. 

Whatever the door is. Front door, back door, side door, shed doors, everything. If the doors were lock when you came in, lock it back when you close it. Make it your habit if you are a cat sitter.

Firstly, it is good for your own safety. So that you know no one can just walk in on you. Secondly, you are protecting your customer’s property.

 

IMG_4274

As a cat sitter, I do pick up a lot of ‘trick of the trade’.

Some of them I learnt from mistakes…(oh yes, I do make mistakes and I don’t want to think about them right now…)

But my mistake is your gain.

Trick of the Trade (TOTT) is a series where I will tell you all about them. Some of them can be useful to your own cat(s), while some of them might be (hopefully) entertaining to you to brighten up your mid-week. FOLLOW my blog so you won’t miss any of the tricks!

SMOPB – Step 1: before you start – research

SMOPB – Step 1: before you start – research

I started my own pet sitting business (SMOPB) 5 years ago, I have been asked again and again how did I do it.

In fact, I have been approached by numerous individuals for the past few years asking for advices and tips to start their own pet sitting business.

I am one for information sharing and karma. Every time, I would answer all their questions as best I can. As far as I know, there are 2 other pet sitting business in Dublin has been set up after talking to me. I would like to think they find my information is somehow useful.

Today, I am starting a new series here to share my experience on how I started my own pet sitting business.

5 years ago when I first started Maow Care, the ‘pet situation’ in Ireland was quite different. There were, at that time, only 2 other pet sitting companies in Dublin. It was and it still is confusing to get insurance to cover such business. General public didn’t understand the concept of pet sitting service very well neither did the vets.

But fast forward to 2014, the business starts to ‘get’ pet sitting. I got referral from vets, charities, word of mouth and of course Social Media. I feel very hopeful to the pet sitting industry in Ireland and I think there are potential for many more companies in this country. I am hoping this series could inspire some of you start your own pet sitting business. I am looking forward to see such satisfying profession as pet sitting flourishes in the coming years in Ireland.

If you have any questions or feedback after reading this series, please feel free to contact me.


Step 1: Research

Before starting any business, doing a thorough research is very important.

You might start yawning now…

No, but I am serious.

It is very important to know where you are standing before you even start the project, even you waste time, energy and money on a project that might not be suitable to you.

As I am intended to write a straight-forward A-Z guide, I will give you a list of ‘assignments’ to do for this step.

1. Check if there are other pet sitting companies in your community

Do a quick google search to find out what’s the market situation in your community.

  • Are there existing pet sitting companies?
  • How many?
  • How much do they charge?
  • Do they work alone or do they have contractors?
  • Which area do they cover?

2. Try to talk to them

Contact the existing pet sitting companies and try to talk to them. You might go ‘what? Why would they talk to me?’

Well, if they are anyone like myself, they wouldn’t mind talking to you. I am not making huge amount of money from my business but I love my business and making a healthy living from it. Why would I mind sharing my experience and information?

You might go, ‘why would you want more competitors?’

Answer is simple: I would love to have more pet sitters in Dublin! Sometimes, I can barely cope with the amount of booking to be honest! Plus, from a point of view of establishing a professional image of the whole industry, having more professional pet sitters is only going to help us as a whole by raising public awareness of the industry and to improve animal welfare in the country in general.

The bottom line is this – a pet sitting business who have enough customers to keep them going WOULD NOT MIND having more competition. A pet sitting business who don’t have enough business might not want more competition. But then why would you want to take advice from people whose business is not successful?

If you can’t find any sitters in your community who would help you. Try this trick: contact a sitter in another country. Since you won’t be a competitor, I find people are 99% of the time being extremely helpful and tell you every trick of the trade.

3. Get training

Join Pet Sitter International. Pet Sitter International is the biggest pet sitting educational body in the world. After joining them you will have access to their member’s only area online. There is such huge amount of information on pet sitting. The members forum is also a gold mine. You can get to chat with pet sitters around the world, some of them have over 30 years experience under the belt! You might also want to get certified by following their education programme.

logo

4. Find out a realistic picture of what being pet sitter is about

Read my post here. Serious.

Depending on your location, maybe you can try to ask for an opportunity to job shadow an existing pet sitter? I can’t speak for everyone, but I personally wouldn’t mind to show someone the trade to be honest.

5. Talk to friends and family about your plan

As I said on this post, having support from friends and family are so crucial for any SME. Talk to them and make sure they are being supportive. But then if they are not, don’t let them get you down either. My parents still don’t understand why I quitted my job as a civil servant over 10 years ago. They understand even less why I would prefer to be covered with cat hair at work than to dress up nicely to work in a bank. Being determined (read stubborn) is usually what it takes to start your own business.

6. Volunteer at the local shelter

There is nothing like getting yourself dirty covered with cat hair/poop/vomit to get a feeling how it is to be a cat sitter. This is the ultimate test to see if you will really enjoy the lifestyle.

7. Legality

Once you are sure you want to be a pet sitter, you need to find out how to start. If you are in Ireland, then worry not, because I will be telling you everything in this series (FOLLOW this blog!) If you are not outside Ireland, you will need to check the followings:

  • how to register a business? (you might not necessarily need to register as a company, you can potentially register a business as a sole trader)
  • insurance requirement?
  • how to open a business account with the bank? Is that mandatory to have business account?
  • do you need a special license to work with animal? (I know it is the case in France)
  • do you need to clear with the police? (I know it is the case in France)
  • do you need to trademark your logo?

8. Miscellaneous stuff

Find out all the other stuff you need to get your business up and running, including the following (the list is not exclusive):

  • how much is it to get your logo design done?
  • how much is it to get a website professional design? (You don’t need to, I will tell you how to do a cheap one until you have the money to invest a better one)
  • how much is it to get marketing material printed? (e.g. business card, flyers, etc)

Honestly, find out as much about pet sitting as you can. And if you have any questions, please feel free to be in touch!

Next SMOPB post – corporate image: business name, logo, etc.

Oscar – the dodgy builder story

Oscar – the dodgy builder story

Most people don’t realise being a cat sitter is a lot more than just to feed cat and play with cat. (I was hoping after reading the last post, you will have a better idea…)

One thing about being a cat sitter is, you need a lot of problem solving skin to handle the unexpected.

Not only are we on the road all day, hence we need to handle traffic, crazy people, weather condition, etc; but also we are working with one of the most unpredictable animal in the world.

On top of that, life is complicated and shit happens (all the time).

Oscar is a lovely ginger boy. Well he is more like a ginger grandpa at this stage. He is an elderly cat with a very gentle personality. We loves sitting with people and never give us trouble. He is one of these jobs I consider to be straight-forwarded. (I do have to remember he likes to drink water out of the two pint glasses reside permanently in the kitchen skin and make sure to clean them and top them up every visit though…)

IMG_4090

I have been sitting Oscar for over a year when his mom informed me there will be some work done in the house on her next trip. She warned me that, so that if I happen to run into the builder, I won’t scream and call the cops. (I do require all my customers to inform me if other people have keys to access their house for insurance and liability reasons, so if anything happen, I won’t be blamed). Though she said the chance is I won’t be seeing him at all as he should have finished the job by my first visit to Oscar.

This particular booking was for one week. After each visit, I did check with Oscar’s mom and let her know that the building work seems to be ongoing as the equipment was still everywhere (so as the dust, yuck!) I never did meet the builder but he definitely wasn’t ‘finished’ with the work by looking at the state of the house.

One week passed and we still weren’t sure what was going on with this builder, though builders don’t finish work on time is not someone unheard of, so we didn’t give it too much thought. That is until the disaster on my final visit to Oscar…

The moment I stepped inside the house on my final visit, I was hit by a very strong smell of solvent. Oscar’s mom mentioned the builder would polish the floor at some point, so I immediately knew it was the smell of the polish. I started calling ‘HELLO? ANYONE HERE?’ Nothing. I went inside to check. The house was dark so I knew there was no one. The builder has obviously left. I was only in the house for 5 minutes then, and my eyes started to water. My first thought was – ‘How about Oscar? Is he okay?’

I tried to run in to check on him but by then my vision is so blurry by all the tears that I had to run back outside of the house to catch some fresh air and clear my eyes. I did it quickly because I really started to worry about Oscar being trapped inside this cloud of solvent smoke!

I went in and there he was, chilling out in his bed. He looked okay, so I called his mom immediately.

My customers know if I call them during their trip, it is for something serious and urgent as I usually only update them by text and email after each visit. So when I make one of these calls, the other side of the phone is usually in panic mode, they don’t even bother to say ‘hello’ most of the time, they usually go ‘WHAT IS IT? ‘

‘It’s the builder…’ I told her the situation, the toxic fume, my eyes, and how I worried about Oscar, etc.

Oscar’s mom was almost in tears and started swearing out of anger. She is usually a very elegant lady. So elegant that I never thought she is capable of swearing! That’s just to show how upset and angry she was at that point! She was almost in tears and asked, ‘what should I do, Alice? I don’t know what to do anymore…’

I calmed her down and recommended putting Oscar in one of the room. I would stay with him while trying to open all the windows in the house to air the whole place. She agreed, ‘do whatever you think is best for Oscar, I trust you.’

And that’s what I did. I had no idea how long would it take to air the house, so I was prepared for a very long night…

Thankfully, it actually didn’t take that long for the condition to improve! After 30-45 minutes, I could walk around the house and my eyes feel okay. So by then we know the builder didn’t air the house AT ALL. He probably just polished the floor quickly knowing Oscar’s mom is due to be back and left immediately to avoiding running into me. How can someone trapped a cat inside with solvent fume and not thinking about the danger is beyond our understanding…

Before I left, I decided to move all Oscar’s stuff – litter tray, food and water bowl to the most airy room of the house, so in case Oscar wants to stay there, he didn’t have to walk around the house if the smell is still too much for him.

When Oscar’s mom came back, she called and thanked me again and again. That’s one of those moment when I was reminded why I enjoy my job so much. I was entrusted with people’s house and their important member of the family. And they are always very grateful for my service.

I thought this story was over upon Oscar’s mom return, but not so.

A few days after this incident, she called again and informed me she had to change the lock and wanted to meet me to give me the new key.

She said she complained to the builder about the quality of service and it didn’t end too well. The builder never gave her back her key and she spotted his van on her street just the day previous. She decided to change the lock just to be safe.

So what’s the moral of this story?

1. Being a cat sitter need to handle crisis at times and need to make quick decision for the benefit of the cat.
2. I will need to be very carefully when I get a builder to get work done in my house!

What does it mean to be a cat sitter?

What does it mean to be a cat sitter?

This happens to me all the time.

‘What are you doing in Ireland?’

‘I live here.’

‘You work?’

‘Er..yes.’ (I always wonder if people are asking me this as in ‘are you on welfare? Taking advantage of my country?’ but I could be over-sensitive…)

‘What do you do?’

(I thought to myself, ‘oh gawd…not again.’)

‘Er…I am self employed.’

‘Oh what is that about?’

(‘Here we go again…’)

‘I have a ‘cat business’. I am a cat sitter.’

Then the reactions are usually one of the followings:

– ‘You are WHAT?’

– ‘Can you make money doing that?’ (I have a separate post to address this question. FOLLOW my blog if you want to know more.)

– ‘What do you actually do?’

So today, once and for all, I will tell you what does it mean to be a cat sitter.

It is A LOT more than just putting down food in the cat’s bowl…

Accounting

Every business need to keep books. A lot of people like to use an accountant. I, however, am a strong believer that small family business like Maow Care should try to find time to do their own accounts. (A post on how to do your accounts will be up for SMOB series. FOLLOW MY BLOG!)

That way you can understand the cash flow of your business better. Plus, it’s quite expensive to pay for an accountant for a small business like mine. So I do my accounts.

Since I have a new baby recently, I am SOOO behind…

IMG_3826

Training

If you are a professional pet carer would it be sitter, groomer, trainer, etc, you SHOULD have regular training. There are new stuff coming out in the animal science world every year. I am surprise to see a lot of professional pet carers in Ireland are not actively seeking continuous education.

I suppose it’s a two-way issue. Most customers probably don’t see the importance of that and don’t value the time a sitter spend to learn more. As a result, some sitters might feel, ‘why bother?’

I have an extensive ‘cat library’ at home for my own use.

IMG_3828 IMG_3829 IMG_3830 IMG_3832

I attend cat conference regularly in the UK. I am a curious person by nature and I genuinely love cats, I want to learn as much about them as possible!

 

I also regularly seek education on the ‘business side of things’. Accounting, marketing, social media, etc. I have no formal business training, so it is important for me to educate myself to help run my business better.

Operation (actual cat sitting)

Now is the fun part – the actual minding of cats. You might not know, but there are soo sooo much more than just putting food out.

As a cat sitter, we are entering people’s home, we have to make sure to respect people’s privacy and make sure their home is secured. We have a lot of ‘trick of the trade’ in this business to ensure that.

Once we make sure the house is secured and cats are safe. We do the actual sitting. We follow customer’s instruction to feed cat, play with cat, change litter tray, give meds if needed, let cat out or let cat in, etc. To be honest, no two homes are the same, no two cats are the same. Every customer’s instruction are different! And I have taken care of close to a thousand cats! Take drinking device as an example, I have so far had, cat bowl, pint glass (half full, full to the beam, full but NOT to the beam), sink, bath, shower, bucket, fountain, etc. So being a cat sitter, one has to be very detail oriented to follow instruction to the T.

After each sitter, we keep a log to record what happened at the job in case customer ask us question later about a specific visit. We also send email or text message daily to report what happened at the job, so that customers can know their cats are fine.

We also follow up to make sure customers return home safety. In case of delay, we will cover extra days at the last minute notice. Sometimes, it might affect our previous engagement…

Key management is a huge part of this business. There are constantly about 100 keys I have to handle. Having a tidy and secure system to make sure all keys are label in code word is crucial.

We have to keep good record of customer profile and all other paper work customers hand in to us. I have to file them alphabetical and make sure to lock them safely in the file cabinet. There are so much personal information in these profiles that require high level of care and discretion.

IMG_3827

Customer Service

Cat sitting, at the end of the day, is a customer service business. We provide a service to the human. We take good care of the cats of course, but making sure the human are crucial for the business to stay alive. Because, after all, the humans are the one who have the bank account, not the cats…(sadly…coz I think it will be easier to please cats, just bring treats! haha)

As a professional cat sitter, we are required to provide the first meeting called ‘Meet and Greet’ free of charge. That actually takes up a lot of our time to do that. We usually spend one hour talking to the potential customers. We do a presentation to explain what cat sitting is and how it works. Then answer any questions they might have. If the customers want to show us where all the cat stuff are, we will do a house tour. All of these are free and though it’s rare, sometimes it might not bring in an actual booking. So it’s time lost and we are not paid. But it’s part of being a professional pet carer, we have to provide this service for ethical reason so we are happy to do that. But at the same time, as a business owner, I do have to be careful to screen potential time wasters so to maximise our time to provide service our actual paid customers. For example, if someone ring me on the phone and ask about my service and immediately mention her neighbour’s teenage son can sit her cat for 5 Euro, I know immediately that my service is not for her. Not purely because of the difference in budget, but my experience tells me this person probably won’t see the value of hiring a highly trained professional.

My phone is on 24/7. I try to reply customers as quickly as possible. Texts are generally replied with a few minutes. Email within a few hours. I also replied Facebook comments, blog comments instantly. Phone calls are replied as they come in. If I am in the meeting and can’t pick up the phone, I call back the first moment I step out of the meeting. As a result, my customers trust me because I am very reliable. And yes, I reply my customers even during my holiday. The only time I haven’t replied is during the first month of my maternity leave. I am a nervous cat parent, I know how it feels when we want to get an instant reply about our cats, so I try to make myself available for any questions or concern immediately. My customers know if I don’t call back in a few hours, sometimes is wrong. e.g. I was giving birth to my son.

Having said that, I am slowly trying to delegate some of these to the wonderful help Sara. I am hoping I can get a better work life balance now that I have my son in the picture…

Marketing

Cat sitting business is a business at the end. We need to do a lot of marketing to promote the business. I have been running a photo competition called ‘Maow Of The Week’ with great success since 2013. I will probably continue to do so. It takes about one hour a week of work, but it’s a lot of fun.

Almost every fortnight, there are advertising agents from different papers, website, magazine, even local school and rugby club (!) to ask us to advertise. It takes a lot of time to screen them and turn them down. I have huge success with online advertising and word of mouth so I don’t tend to do actual paper ad anymore. I used to do that when I first started my business on 2009 but that was because the whole social media thing takes off. Paper ad is too expensive and reach too little people in comparison to online ad. Plus, I notice most of my customers come from a certain group of people. They are the kind of people who will share cute cat photos on Facebook, and they don’t read actual newspaper…

That brought us to the subject of – Social Media.

What I am going to say might offend some people. It might be a stereotype but cat people do spend a lot of time on the internet, hanging out with other cat people, sharing cat photos, laughing at cat jokes, etc. Heck, you are reading my blog! haha

So I do need to spend significant amount of time every day to interact with customers and other cat lovers who might potentially turn into my customers or refer their cat loving friends to my business. This is the part of my daily duty that I quite enjoy. I love cats and I love to chat with cat people, so yeah!

IT

I don’t like to deal with technology.

But unfortunately as a one-woman show, I need to deal with everything.

I have maintain my website (a revamp of my website is long due! I need to get it done before Christmas season!!! UGH!!!!)

I am also in the process of building a new CRM. With the growing number of customers every year, I need to have a better CRM. It’s a long term IT project, and I am pulling my hair out just talking about this now. So I stop.

Charity Work

People might be aware but it’s almost unavoidable to be involved with charities when one is in an animal business. Cat charities and Maow Care co-exist in a win-win situation. Cats helped by Maow Care will become potential customers. Charities helped by Maow Care will refer future adopters to use Maow Care. So everyone is happy.

At the end of the day, cat sitter are genuine cat lovers, it’s only natural that we want to help.

Often I got pet sitters who just started ask me how to get more customers, my standard answer is always this – you need to be patient and you need to do a lot of free work to build a reputation.

I started a cat food collection campaign recently. Click on the image to learn more!

Hungry Maow Logo

Legal Matters

Making sure insurance is in order. Sorting out piles of paperwork coming in the mailbox every day. Just like any other business. I bore myself just talking about this, so let’s move on.

Human Resources

Every cat sitter is required to have a back up person. In case of accident or injury, a cat sitter should provide a back up plan to take care of cats under their care. And since 2012, I have Sara, Oli, Laura and Grainne work with me as contractor sitters. They are all my existing customers and have been great fun working with people who are as cat mad as I do. (Happy face!)

But as a result of expanding the team, it comes more paperwork and accounting to do! (Sad face…)

Blogging

After being a cat sitter for over 5 years, I realise writing about cats is the natural next step. I work with and talk about cats 90% of my waking hours. I have so much to say on the subject. Plus, seeing so many ignorant people and general horrible attitude toward cats in Ireland, I feel a calling to educate the general public. Hence, I started writing this blog.


As you can see it’s a constant struggling to put different hats on every day to run a cat sitting business!

Some people complains the price we charge is too expensive for ‘just putting food down’. But the thing is, we don’t just put food down! As you can see, there are so much more! We are only being paid for one item out of this list of 10 – the actual cat sitting visit. But the other stuff all needs to be done and absolutely necessary.

Being a cat sitter is A LOT more than just taking care of the actual cat. It’s a huge responsibility and require high level of problem solving skill and organisational skill. If you are not a multitasker, being a cat sitter is not for you.

During the past 5 years, I have seen so many pet sitting business and pet grooming business opening up, only to close down in a few months down the line. Most of the time, it has nothing to deal with not getting enough business. There are more than enough business in Ireland to have many more pet sitters, trust me! Usually it has a lot to deal with the person not suitable to be self employed. Either having wrong expectation (e.g. thinking ‘playing with animals, yeah!’ or thinking ‘I am going to make a lot of money JUST playing with animals! Yeah!’ ) or just don’t have what it takes to run a business (‘I can’t do customer service.’ WHAT?) A lot of people think ‘I love animals, so I play with them and take good care of them.’ Well, I am sorry to say, being good with animals is only one of the item on the job duty list. As you can see, there are so much more.

I am pleased to say it has been over 5 years I am a cat sitter and I am still here! I don’t make huge amount of money, but I really enjoy my job and can’t imagine doing something else!

Before I go, I will show you a picture of my office, so you can see where I pull my hair out doing my account and paperwork…haha.

IMG_3825

Coming up – I will bring you to my round on a typical day (if there is such a thing) and an atypical cat sitting day. I will also show you my gear. So FOLLOW my blog if you don’t want to miss these fun posts.