Almost two-thirds of seniors in the U.S. own a pet, and many have more than one. All these pets require daily exercise, feeding and an occasional trip to the vet or groomer. Unfortunately, many seniors are not able to take their pets to the groomer or vet, pick up pet supplies, or take their dog for an exercise walk because of health or mobility issues. That’s where a senior concierge service can help.
A senior concierge can easily offer a pet taxi and other pet care services as an “add-on” to their regular menu of concierge services, as the added cost is low. The car or truck used for other senior concierge services will work just as well as a pet taxi, although you may have to say no to the occasional Great Dane or other large dog breeds.
What you’ll need.
Aside from a dependable vehicle, all you’ll need for adding pet care to your concierge list of services is pet carrier crates, leashes and a few essential supplies, like pet treats and doggie bags. Buy the crates as needed to keep costs low, and shop online at amazon.com for the best prices.
Pet care forms.
Before offering any pet care services like dog walking, pet sitting or a pet taxi, have your senior concierge service clients sign a pet service agreement that covers all the basics, such as rates, information about the pet, special instructions for care or medications, and a liability disclaimer to cover yourself if anything happens to a pet while in your care. You’ll find a ready-to-use, 3-page agreement in our senior concierge guide.
Most pet sitters and pet taxi services charge by both mileage and time. The IRS per-mile allowance for business mileage, currently 55 cents per mile, is often doubled to arrive at a fair rate for mileage. Time spent caring for a pet is usually billed at the normal senior concierge rate used for other services. For example, if you take a pet to the vet, charge $1 per mile, plus $24 per hour, or your customary hourly rate.
Don’t forget to charge extra for work outside your normal business hours, or your customers will expect you to be “on-call” 24-7. Simply adding $5 to $6 per hour for after-hours work and $10-$20 per day extra for holiday work will encourage your customers to schedule you during your normal work day, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., for example, to avoid the surcharges.
If you offer pet care in addition to your other senior concierge services, be sure to let everyone in the pet care community know about it. Consider a separate business card promoting your pet care and pet taxi service business, so you can leave a few at local boarding kennels, veterinarians, pet groomers, feed stores and pet supply stores.
Also get the word out to your local senior community by running a simple classified ad every month in local senior publications, such as the senior center newsletter or the monthly newsletter for the over-55 communities in your area. These are your perfect prospects, as so many over-55ers have pets, above-average income and travel frequently.
Turn your car into a moving billboard for under $100. A simple removable sign let’s everyone who sees it know what you do and how to contact you. For the best prices on magnetic signs, do an internet search for “magnetic car signs.”
Ask anyone who owns a service business, and they will tell you that referrals from current customers bring in the most new prospects. Don’t forget to ask your customers for referrals, because they may assume you have enough work. If they are willing to help, leave a few business cards for them to share with their friends.
Helping seniors care for their pets is a great add-on service for any senior concierge business, as they fit together so well. For example, you can drop off a poodle at the groomer, run a few paid errands for other clients, pick up and take the poodle home, and make more money in the same number of hours by “multi-tasking.” It’s a great way to boost your concierge income at almost no extra cost.
To learn more about caring for senior’s pets, read How To Start a Profitable Senior Concierge Service.