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“How much should I charge for dog sitting, cat sitting, pet sitting, dog walking, and pet care?”
This question is, by far, one of the most common we see from new pet care businesses — and for a good reason. Setting a fair rate for your customers and yourself is essential for a successful and sustainable pet care company. You could have thousands of happy clients, but if you are unable to cover your expenses and create profit, your business will struggle.
Ensuring you are charging the correct amount has become even more important over the past few years. The global economy, inflation, the threat of recession, and various other factors have significantly impacted pet care professionals. The cost to provide pet care services is substantially higher in 2023 than it was in previous years. Whether it is a tough labor market, increased gas prices, or other reasons - you need to make sure that the prices you charge for pet care services are increasing at the same rate of your expenses.
Price is still often a deciding factor when clients are looking to hire a pet sitter or dog walker. It is also likely to be one of the first things that a potential client will look at when visiting your website. That is why you need an easy to understand, fair pricing structure.
Time To Pet has created several free calculators to help you calculate your rates based on where you live and what services you offer. Use this blog post and our calculator tools to come up with the rates that are right for you and your business! Our rate calculators are updated every few months so you know you are seeing up-to-date information.
Are you in the process of getting started? We’ve put together an in-depth guide with all the resources you need to start your dog walking or pet sitting business!
There are several vital ingredients when deciding what to charge for pet sitting and pet care.
When thinking about what your rates will be there, there are a couple key items to review. They include:
- What services will you offer?
- Where are you located?
- What is your competition charging?
- What are your expenses? This one is critical in 2023
- How much do you want/need to make to sustain your workers and business?
Deciding on Services
Determining what services you will provide is a huge, and sometimes overlooked, part of the planning process for your pet sitting business. There are a lot of different strategies you can take here, but the most important thing is to keep in mind the type of business you are creating. What kinds of animals will you service? Will you offer overnight stays in clients’ homes?
Don’t stretch yourself too thin. You can always add more services later. It’s better to master a smaller set of skills than try to do too much. It’s important to provide the absolute best service possible for your clients. That is always the best way to set yourself apart from the pack!
Keeping It Simple
We strongly recommend keeping services as simple as possible. It can be easy to go overboard and offer dozens of types of services like cat sitting, dog walking, pet sitting, evening sitting, early morning walks, etc.
In reality, most of these services are probably very similar and have the same price point as well. Instead of offering tons of separate services, it’s easier to offer just a handful of services based on the duration of the event. There are just way too many inconsistencies when charging per task instead of by a certain amount of time.
For example—you may have a 15-minute visit, a 30-minute visit, and a 60-minute visit. Each visit can be the same for cats, dogs, walks, birds, morning, night, etc. Even though you may be doing different things at each event, you are still spending the same amount of your time. This makes the process much simpler when customers are requesting services--and simpler for you as well.
Keep your rates consistent and straightforward. In many cases, there is no need to add an extra dollar for giving oral medications, changing litter boxes, watering plants, or bringing in the mail. These additional services can all fall under the designated time of the visit. If a pet needs extra attention (or the visit requires more time for additional services), then the visit should be for a longer duration.
One of the first things most people do when searching for a new pet sitter or dog walker is look at their prices. Make sure your prices are clearly stated on your website and are easy to understand. You will be more reliable, and clients will know what to expect, which leads to fewer misunderstandings about rates.
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Location and Competition
Where you live is a very significant factor in deciding what to charge for your pet care services. Using our calculator tool, you can see what the average cost for services are in your area. You most likely do not want to be the cheapest service around, but you want to remain competitive.
Do your research. Look at your competition and see what others across the country in similar-sized cities are charging. Check out our free rate calculators for help coming up with rates for different services.
It’s also a good idea to decide how you will position yourself compared to your competitors. Will you be a luxury service? Do you have special medical qualifications? Do you offer extra value with a software like Time To Pet?
Having the Time To Pet App to share with your clients can be a massive plus for them. Being able to conveniently schedule and pay for service makes their life easier. Clients also love being able to receive pet report cards and see GPS tracking for dog walks. If you are providing more value to your customers, you can and should charge more for it.
To determine your rates based on the standard rates in your area, review what your competitors are charging. This may be in your city or in places similar to where you live and work. Also, keep in mind that the kid down the street is not your direct competition. You are delivering a professional service so you will always be more expensive than them.
Time To Pet Averages:
We used our Free Rate Calculator Tools to pull the national averages for dog walking, dog sitting, cat sitting, and pet sitting services across the country. Overnight rates for pet sitting will vary greatly based on location.
- Dog Walking - 30 Minutes: $26.59
- Dog Walking - 60 Minutes: $42.72
- Dog Sitting - 30 Minutes: $34.35
- Dog Sitting - 60 Minutes: $46.58
- Cat Sitting - 30 Minutes: $28.76
- Cat Sitting - 60 Minutes: $44.30
- Pet Sitting - 30 Minutes: $32.52
- Pet Sitting - 60 Minutes: $43.58
The cost to run a pet care company has dramatically changed in the past 18 months. It has become more challenging (and more expensive) to hire and retain great pet care pros. Inflation has also dramatically impacted the cost of gas, insurance, and other common expenses a pet care business has. It is vital to make sure that the prices you charge for pet care services cover your expenses and leave something extra for profit. We’ve got more information on this below.
If you have any employees or workers other than yourself, you will need to account for their pay. Factor in labor, insurance, gas, marketing, materials, and any other miscellaneous expenses. Your profit is not what you make from each event, but rather your revenue minus your expenses. Make sure your rates cover your business expenses with something left over for profit.
Also, remember that even though a visit might be short, you still need to include travel time and resources that take you away from other clients.
Setting Your Rates
One really simply way to set rates is to identify how much money you want to make per hour (let’s say $40/hour). Then work backward on how much you need to charge for events.
For example, if you have a 30-minute event, the cost isn’t just $20. You have to also factor in travel time and overhead. If your typical travel time is 15 minutes and your overhead per event is $3, the actual cost of this 30-minute event should be $33. This is $30 for 45 minutes of your time (30 minutes at the visit, 15 minutes traveling) and $3 for overhead.
When setting your rates, it is most likely going to be a combination of what you want to make per hour and what the typical rates are for your area. You can’t price yourself out of the market but also need to be sure you are compensated appropriately.
Frequency Discounts and Special Rates
Frequency discounts are a great way to “lock-in” your best customers as regulars while making sure you have plenty of work. We recommend frequency discounts because it encourages more use and loyalty from clients.
A new concept that has gained a lot of popularity in 2022 is the “subscription” idea. Instead of charging per event, charge $400 per month, which entitles a client to one dog walk per weekday. Of course, some months (like February) - there will be fewer walks, and other months (like January), there will be more. However, your income (and your clients’ expenses) will be very predictable. If you are considering this type of pricing model, let us know and our team can walk you through some best practices.
More pets can often require more time and work. You may want to simply set your costs based on the time you spend but charging for extra pets is a very common (and accepted) fee in the pet care industry.
It is common for pet care companies to charge extra rates for holidays. Think of it this way. How much would your customer expect to be compensated for working on Christmas? Be sure you value your time on holidays appropriately.
To help you set holiday fees for your business, we've created a Holiday Fee Calculator Tool that provides the national averages for flat rate and percentage-based fees for the most common US holidays. We also have a detailed Guide to Setting Holiday Fees for Pet Sitters and Dog Walkers. We’ve also got a great post on Pet Holidays! You shouldn’t charge extra for all of these but it’s always nice to have something to celebrate.
It’s Okay to Say No
No matter how fair your price is, there will always be potential clients that try to haggle on price. There will also likely be people outside your desired service area that would like to be customers. This is where you must decide if taking on a particular customer is in your best interest. If they are not willing to pay full price for your services, or if they live an hour away from your other clients, you need to decide if it’s worthwhile for you to take them on. It can be hard to turn down business, especially when you are first getting started and are eager to grow but it is okay to say no. You are running the show and need to decide what’s best for your business. If you need any help in saying no, be sure to read our Academy article on How To Say No.
Setting up a meet and greet is the best way to really determine if a client is going to be a good fit. There are also questions you can ask potential new clients before you even have the meet and greet.
Use our pet care rate calculators that have been updated for 2023 to find out what you should be charging for pet sitting and dog walking.