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Why are our rates cheaper than the kennels and Petsmart rates?

asked 2016-03-16 16:54:24 -0600

Hi, everyone! I'm new to pet-sitting and LOVE the http://Rover.com platform, but I don't understand why are our rates less than most kennels and Petsmart in the area?

Petsmart & kennels start with the minimum basic boarding kennel at $27, where the dogs are kept in the kennels the entire time unless clients pay more for playtime, pay more for treats, pay even more for a walk, etc. We've kept our dogs at both in the past and the bill adds up fast.

However, in our home, I just raised our rate to $30 but clients are still getting to leave their dog in a nice home environment, with somebody that is home all day to show them attention and let them out unlimited times to a big secure backyard, takes their dog for a daily walk, sends as many updates as the client wishes, lets them snuggle on the couch with us, and even lets them on the bed if they whine at night. I love doing it all, but why charge less than the kennels and Petsmart? As a pet-parent, I would expect to pay more for pet-sitting because my dogs are getting much more attention.

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answered 2016-03-18 17:41:09 -0600

After doing a lot of research, initially I priced boarding mid-range, but after some experience increased it to the high end of Rover's range for my area, but still less than what licensed and bonded 24x7 companies that have their own website, phones, and multiple backup pet sitters, who offer some services I don't (such as cat, reptile, and cannot include their own dog). Years earlier, I had researched options as a client. Ultimately, we chose a home sitter through such a company that handled 1 family's dogs at a time. The other, more commercial options at numerous facilities and boarding businesses available can be lonely and scary for some, including isolation zones with low human to canine attention and regular fights and scuffles with others.

I chose to do this to enrich my dog's life (and thereby mine), but do not want heavy traffic where our home turns into a kennel. Since those that spend time with us are regarded as friends, I'm fine with giving away extra services (such as multiple&hand feedings, supplements, walks every few hours, grooming, cuddles, and virtually non-stop attention/much more than at home, etc.) for the dog's well-being. I've become very selective though, not agreeing to host dogs with marking behaviors and incompatible temperament. Since we're sharing our home, I agree that is a significant difference from most other home based small businesses that needs to be considered in pricing.

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We sound a lot alike in in what we're looking for thru pet-sitting. I'm used to fostering dogs so I'm not used to asking for money. I didn't want to sound greedy in my question, but I know we also give away services that others might charge for, because we just love the dogs. I also researched and found out that there are more sitters in town than I realized with other companies, so I'll keep my price competitive. Either way, I love the dogs that we sit and meeting the new clients! it's more fun than I imagined :)

Suzy and Kevin T.'s profile image Suzy and Kevin T.  ( 2016-03-19 20:17:25 -0600 ) edit

You didn't sound greedy to me. Sitter homes can have significant wear&tear from guests & the care the dogs are given is a bargain- though the time sitters spend w/dogs varies. By raising rates, I tend to get inquires from better matched pets, such as similar high level of care, socialization, etc :)

Deb A.'s profile image Deb A.  ( 2016-03-19 22:49:56 -0600 ) edit

Just wanted to add I don't think you sounded greedy either. It's a great question, honestly! I don't do sitting in my own home either, we're just not set up for it, so my experience may be a bit different with my response down below.

Jeanette T.'s profile image Jeanette T.  ( 2016-03-30 11:31:32 -0600 ) edit
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answered 2016-03-18 06:35:27 -0600

I see Rover as a "People helping People" option.

Here is my logic why costing less is fine with me: I used to do Mom2Mom sales. I would often see people selling their items at close to retail sale prices. Even those prices seemed far too high in my opinion. To me, this kind of sale should be seen as a way to help each other out, not as competition with retailers. Same goes for comparing your pricing to a kennel.

It might be more helpful to look on http://Rover.com and see what other Rover sitters near you are charging. Rover starts us off at $25/day for Boarding. That is their suggestion so you can kickstart your business and get some clients. You can raise you price later with new clients.

I found that I am definitely the lowest in my area which probably explains why I am so busy. Busy enough with in-home boarding that I am thinking about not offering house sitting or dog walking.

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answered 2016-03-17 09:04:17 -0600

I can't argue with your logic. :-) My rate is on the higher end for my area. I haven't checked recently to see what PetSmart charges or even how they charge, but I wasn't aware they nickle and dime owners with "extras." Quite eye-opening. I have to assume that owners think home petsitters should charge less because they don't have any overhead or have to pay employees with all that entails.

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Yes - you should try to book a dog on Petsmart's website. The regular kennel size is $27 and the "Dog Atrium" is $37. There's an extra charge for 1/2 day or full day of camp (so they can leave their kennels), and a few dollars more if you want them to give your dog a treat at night. I suppose our price has to be attractive enough that clients will make time in their busy schedules for a meet & greet. I'll find the right price eventually. The Rover site makes it all so easy.

Suzy and Kevin T.'s profile image Suzy and Kevin T.  ( 2016-03-17 22:14:57 -0600 ) edit
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answered 2016-03-19 22:52:46 -0600

I started a year and a half ago with a low ball rate to get clients. I raised my rates SLIGHTLY on 1/1 of this year. I'm going to do an extreme rate hike very soon after I send out messages to certain repeat clients with awesome dogs who I love hosting that I will keep my old rate for them - it's been crazy so far this year and I can't handle the number of requests to the number of spaces I have. I think for those just starting on Rover, a lower rate is a good thing - then work from there.

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answered 2016-03-21 13:39:03 -0600

I just looked in my area again and there is a wide range of fees, one as low as $15 a night up to $50 a night. I am at $25 which I thought was good for a beginner and thought I'd raise my rates slightly after 6 months or so. I do know that boarding at a facility is more expensive, especially when they have so many add-ons like bathing. My friends were out of town for 10 days and it was going to cost them $800 to board a small dog and a cat, so I went over there and stayed while they were gone... I had no idea it was THAT much tho.
-S

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I am looking for boarding for my yorkiepoo from June 30 to July 7

Beverly P.'s profile image Beverly P.  ( 2021-06-27 13:09:16 -0600 ) edit
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answered 2016-03-29 14:16:31 -0600

I would say to increase your rates. Mine are on the high end but I believe I am worth it for all that I provide. I get requests and have repeat clients and really just started in late November. I started high and never lowered them. Maybe it took a bit of time to get ramped up but I am pretty busy now. Booked for the entire month of April with 1-2 dogs (and i am sure will get more clients last min) I think 25-30 is way too low considering that is what most charge just for daycare.

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answered 2016-03-30 11:22:19 -0600

I am about mid range for my area. I get lots of requests and have repeat clients. I'm busy enough I don't take any new pet sitting clients and just do repeats, which still gives me a lot of business. I've also picked up regular dog walking clients, though I keep my rates pretty reasonable for those. I haven't compared my dog walking rates to the rest of the area but, where I live, there aren't a lot of dog walkers either. I am satisfied with where my rates are now but have raised them slightly a few times since starting, with no complaints from my regular customers.

I think what you charge, in the end, is up to you. I've never had to board an animal so I haven't looked into how much it costs but I do know it can be outrageous. I don't feel like people should have to go bankrupt to have someone look after their pets. When I'm house sitting, it's like a mini vacation for me! LOL Plus, I'm amazed at how often pet owners have asked what sorts of things I like to eat and have purchased snacks and things like creamer for my coffee or told me I could eat whatever was there if I wanted. So I feel like there's a little trade off, there.

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