If your pet sitter belongs to an organization (or two), it is a good sign that you’ve found a responsible caregiver. Pet sitting organizations offer two principal benefits to members: pet sitting insurance and sound business advice. Pet sitting organizations are also useful to pet owners searching for quality sitters in their locality.
Money-saving tip: Pet owners do not have to pay and join pet sitting organizations in order to search for pet sitters in their zip code. These websites feature a “non-member” section that provides free information for pet owners.
The group I joined was the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (NAPPS). The membership fee for NAPPS is $160 per year, and tax deductible for a small business. Pet sitting insurance is only available through one of these groups.
Additional benefits of joining pet sitting organizations include networking opportunities, health insurance, certification programs, continuing education, and professional development through annual conferences, publications, and resources.
In the beginning months of my business, tuning into the NAPPS forums was remarkably helpful. Members regularly discuss relevant topics such as how to manage schedules, track revenue, and log mileage. Additionally, tips were offered regarding the hiring of employees, how to spot scammers, and how to manage difficult pets or owners. There is even a featured thread on how to administer oral medication to a feline without bleeding to death.
Forums are monitored closely by NAPPS staff, so they don’t devolve into a kettle of fish over a dumpster fire like on Facebook or NextDoor.
Interestingly, there is a strict policy on discussing rates in these forums. Communicating pricing is not allowed because the SEC is afraid pet sitters will progress into a coalition that will charge everyone in the nation $400 per dog walk (they actually monitor this, I’m not hornswoggling). If you need to see what other sitters charge for their services, just go to their website.
Pet sitter certification programs are available through NAPPS for an additional $245. This online course is easy to schedule and covers nearly every topic relevant to pet sitting, and not just for dogs and cats. It also includes business development and management, pet safety, and a complete pet first aid course.
Sitters who complete this course receive a discount on their liability insurance premiums, and a nifty “NAPPS Certified” badge for their business card or website. Whether owners notice these emblems or not, these crests hold pride of place for many sitters.
Some business owners have logos from six or more organizations. Now, you may be thinking: pet sitters are a bunch of ego maniacs! Well, we are, but it’s also a business development strategy to improve visibility in search results. You never know which organization or search page a pet owner will use.
There are plenty of national groups to survey. I know sitters that belong to Pet Sitters International, Pet Sitters Associates, Pet Sit USA, or Professional United Pet Sitters. I used NAPPS in my examples above, but keep in mind they all have different rates for membership, certifications, insurance, and other offerings.
State and local groups will be in your region as well. In North Carolina, the Triangle Area Professional Pet Sitters group is one example.
A note about Rover and Care networks: Although they facilitate a connection with established and recommended pet sitters, it is also a system where “tire-kickers” or other types of non-committed sitters may be looking to make money.
Finally, I often recommend that clients bookmark other groups such as the Humane Society, your local Chamber of Commerce, the SPCA, and a pet foster and at least one “lost pets” network group. These groups offer free information online, and, of course, free emails at a frequency that you request. The more you know, the better off you will be!
Featured photo – l to r: Bean, Millie, Ollie, and Remy like to be in a group all by themselves.