Specialty Sitter

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I’m a veterinary student, and I need to generate a little more income while I’m in school. I’ve decided to start a small pet-care business that’s targeted toward animals with extra needs, such as animals with diseases or that are really old. I think I could have a unique business because I have volunteered with vets and know enough about medical care to take care of these pets. I won’t try to be a doctor to them; I just am comfortable taking care of them and handling any out-of-the ordinary problems that show up. I just don’t know how to get my name out there and establish credibility. Do you have any suggestions?

Written by Suzanne Hite, former publications editor serving the technology services sector.

Thanks to the internet, it’s easier than ever to get small company names out there and also to get yourself established as a professional in your field. Simple ways to start are by creating a website, social media pages, and posting yourself on popular care-specific sites that focus on pet care. Be sure to contact family friends and acquaintances and use word-of-mouth to promote yourself. If you have any specific clients in mind right off the bat, get hold of them. The sooner you can establish a base, the better; that way clients can personally vouch for you.

Since you’re providing a service that affects an integral part of your clients’ lives, you need to make sure that you are approachable and make them understand that you know how to take care of their precious cargo. According to one successful registry company, personalizing this kind of service is important to making customers feel well-taken care of–which in turn creates a loyal customer base. You might do this by including pictures of you with clients’ animals on your social media platforms and by creating a specialized plan for each animal–and not just for medical needs either, but for each pet’s personality as well! Let your clients know that their life is part of your life–at least for a while.

Since you want to offer specialized care, you may need to establish extra credibility, as one expert in the field put particular emphasis on the importance of accreditation. A crucial step in the process centers around discussing each animal’s specific care with the owners while providing a low-stress environment for the animals. Since you don’t have your Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine yet, see if there are other licenses you can acquire through organizations such as the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters, but also know your limits. If you see something that is beyond your scope of action, you should have a trusted Veterinary Professional that you can immediately consult in an emergency. You may also need a business license, but be sure you aren’t overstepping the bounds of what you’re qualified to do. Remember, you have to be a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine before you can truly practice medicine on an animal.

Once you get going, establish a way for your clients to give you feedback and a rating. Job board sites usually provide this option if you establish a profile, and you can also use services such as Yelp!. Continue to volunteer with veterinary clinics and do well in school, so that you can one day be a true vet. Your experience with pet care will also give you an edge with “bedside manner” and boarding animals.

Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.― Anatole France

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