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Meet Sari Reis of Mission Valley Pet Sitting Services

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sari Reis.

Sari, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
In 2008, I was working as an Independent Contractor training business executives how to improve their organization skills, particularly the management of information and their time. Then the bottom dropped out of the economy and no one was hiring independent consultants. Businesses were laying people off. I was too young to retire and not in the financial position to so do so. I needed to re-invent myself.

I have always had a passion for animals and decided to try to find some sort of employment where I could work with them. I looked at several different fields and then zeroed in on pet sitting and dog walking. I emailed about 20 different owners of local pet sitting businesses and asked if I could buy them a coffee and pick their brains. Four of them agreed and when we met I asked them all kinds of questions about the business. How did they get started? What were startup costs? How did they market themselves? What credentials did they have? What associations did they belong to? How did they establish fees, etc.? After getting all my questions answered, I picked a business name and set up my website. I ordered a bunch of business cards and went about getting what I believed were the essential credentials. I joined Pet Sitters International; got certified in Pet First Aid; I purchased bonding and liability insurance for the business. Then, I started marketing.

Since I had been volunteering at the San Diego Humane Society for a few years, I told the folks there I had started my business and would appreciate any referrals. I also helped with puppy classes and with some of the other training programs which put me in touch with potential clients. Other marketing included visiting pet-friendly
apartment complexes in the area, calling on veterinary clinics and groomers, small pet boutiques, etc. I started getting clients. Thanks goodness, that trend has continued. With over 75 5-star YELP reviews, our business is getting at least 5 or 6 new clients each week. I also was recently photographed and videoed for AARP magazine to be in a feature on Second Careers.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Like any journey, there have been some rough spots. Working solo, and growing the way I did, eventually I discovered I was at a crossroads. I was working 24/7, and the new clients kept calling. Not a bad problem to have, right? Wrong! I realized I had to make a choice. Either I was going to stay solo and have to start sending business to other pet sitters or I would have to expand. After some serious soul-searching I desired to hire some help. Finding just the right person was extremely difficult and stressful. I couldn’t afford to make any wrong choices. The welfare of my client’s “fur babies” was at stake. Thankfully, I found the right person and she has been with me for almost 7 years. I did make some bad decisions with personnel but fortunately, no harm came of them. I have since added an additional 4 employees.

I also made some bad financial decisions as far as marketing was concerned. Put some money in some things that didn’t pay off.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Mission Valley Pet Sitting Services – what should we know?
Mission Valley Pet Sitting provides various services for people with pets. We walk dogs when people are at work, on vacation, or just unable to get their pups out. We take care of various animals when people are on vacation or away on business or other trips that take them away from home. The animals we care for are primarily dogs and cats, but we also look after rabbits, guinea pigs and other pocket pets, birds, fish, chickens and a few others. We take pets to the veterinarian or groomer if the client is unable to do so. We do overnight stays at the client’s home if they want someone there with their pets all night. We sometimes stay with a pet at a local hotel for visitors to the city who want to get out for a few hours without their dogs.

All of our pet sitters,, are bonded, insured, pet first aid certified, background checked and highly knowledgeable and experienced. We are best known for being extremely professional and passionate about what we do. Our clients have total peace of mind when they know we are caring for their “furry kids”, and that is what I am most proud of.

We are all about “peace of mind”.

I think there are several things that set us apart from others in the profession. Our pet sitters are extremely reliable and excellent at communicating with the client. They are very responsible and never miss a pet sit. If one of our pet sitters is unable to complete a contract, one of the other team members will be there to make sure the pet/s are cared for. We go the extra mile with pets bringing them treats, toys and making sure they get lots of TLC.

I make it my business to stay up on all the latest research regarding pet welfare and we try wherever possible or needed to educate our clients on nutrition, pet health etc.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
I have had so many people in my life that mentored, and supported me in my endeavors in this business. My first mentor was Kyle Rayon, a trainer at the SDHS when I was volunteering there. She taught me so much about understanding dog behavior I refer clients to Kyle frequently for dog training. My team members, Amy Shaw, Amy Marrah, Jenna Jimeno, Katherine London, and Jeff Dames have helped to build and maintain our clientele through their incredible level of professionalism and dedication to the highest quality service they can give. My family and close friends have been my greatest fans, supporters and cheerleaders, giving me encouragement all the way.

Another one of my friends and colleagues, Trish Ludwick, has also been a great mentor as she was in the business before me and gave me so much good advice.

I have also been blessed with the best clients. Not only do they give us lots of repeat business but they refer their friends, relatives and colleagues to us regularly. They also were responsible for having me chosen as Pet Sitter of the Year for 2013, by Pet Sitters International. The highest honor you can get in the pet sitting profession. I owe the current success of MVPSS to all of these people and more.

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2 Comments

  1. Andrea

    January 10, 2018 at 11:12 pm

    Congratulations Sari Reis !!! I am wanted to know how to grow a pet walking / sitting business as well. I on the path of looking up pet first aid certification, and researching pet sitters international. I know this might sound different but somehow I would like to incorporate YOGA into this business. Would like to know your thoughts and feedback if you have a chance.

    Kind regards, Andrea

  2. Denise Aquino-Riverso

    January 18, 2018 at 2:56 pm

    DO YOU HAVE ANY INCITE IN THE NEW YORK AREA? HAVING TROUBLE FINDING A RELIABLE PET SITTER / HOUSE SITTER.
    MY SPINONE ITALIANO IS 14+ YEARS. WOULD LIKE TO KEEP HER AT HOME IF WE TRAVEL RATHER THAN A KENNEL.
    THANKS FOR ANY ASSISTANCE YOU MAY BE ABLE TO PROVIDE.

    REGARDS, DENISE

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