One of the most common questions we get from potential clients is of course “How much do you cost?”.
It’s a question that we often ask when making a purchasing decision. How many people sort their shopping list on Amazon “from lowest price to highest?” . I don’t know that I’ve ever bought the lowest priced item but I definitely compare the VALUE of my options.
One of the most common questions pet sitters ask is “How much should I charge?” $10? $20? $22.50? $45.00?
While your territory, the area you live in (city vs rural), time/distance you have to drive all come into play when setting your prices, I believe there are 2 main questions you need to answer to come up with a solid financial starting point:
#1: How much do you need to make?
Making money is the end result of having a business – we love what we do, there may be pets you would take for free, but at the end of the day, you have a pet sitting business and you don’t want to be in the red financially. Maybe all you need to do is break even? Or do you need to make $30,000+?
To pay your bills, to pay for job related expenses, to give back to the community and animal organizations, how much do you need to make?
#2 (And this one is tougher to answer): What is your VALUE?
Sally Hogshead talks about your specialized experience. This is what makes you unique. This is what makes you valuable. This is what makes you you!
Your experience with diabetic cats, senior pets, horses….lizards…gives you value. Clients will pay more for your specialized experience.
If I need brain surgery, I am not going to go see a pediatrician. They may be the best pediatrician in the world, but they do not have the specialized experience that I need.
If I have a dog with seizures and there is a pet sitter who is familiar with grand mal seizures – sign me up.
Your experience is your value.
But how do you put a price on it?
Let’s go back to the brain surgeon example. If a 15 year old kid told me that he wanted to be a brain surgeon when he grew up, I’d say great, but I’m not going to give you a dime to practice on my head now. When that kid grows up, goes to medical school, gets experience – that is valuable.
Because his experience and knowledge is worth more.
Your experience and knowledge as a professional in the pet industry is worth more than hiring the neighbor kid for $5.00.
Repeat: You are worth it!
I once had a client question my prices. We all get those – but instead of responding with an apology and offering him a discount, I made a list of all of the things I did when I visited his animals:
Knowledge of his animals’ individual issues
Ability to assess any signs of distress and call the vet if necessary
Physical care of food and water
Mental health care (play time, walks)
Companionship to help ease any separation anxiety
Security of his home
Trust that I would show up when promised
Trust that I would not look for the keys to his Ferrari (not that I could drive it anyway)
Trust that I would not look for his medicine or liquor cabinet
Know how he responded?
“When you put it that way you are worth your weight in gold”
Yes. We are all worth our weight in gold.
I can’t give you a number and tell you that’s what you should charge your clients. I can’t even tell you that you need to raise your prices – maybe you should, maybe you shouldn’t. I know successful sitters that charge $10 per visit and I know some that charge $30.
Start with answering the 2 questions above and you should be able to get a strong financial idea of where your prices should be.