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Professional Farm Sitters-- Pricing?

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  • Professional Farm Sitters-- Pricing?

    In 2010, I decided I needed a career change and moved to Texas to pursue my teaching certification through an alternative certification program. Long story short, TEACHING.IS.NOT.FOR.ME. I've been doing a lot of soul searching trying to figure out where to point my career once my contract is up.

    Before I moved, I had a full time job as a lab manager and a full book of clients I pet/farm/house sat for on the side. I'm seriously considering taking the plunge and beginning a licensed pet and farm sitting business.

    One thing I'm mulling over (instead of doing my "real" work, haha) is how to set up a pricing scheme. In the past, I always did my pricing on a case-by-case basis. But I feel like if I'm going to eventually advertise services, I need a clearer method of stating prices. A big thing for me is to have a fair, simple pricing scheme that doesn't make clients feel like they are being nickled and dimed, but at that same time prevents me from getting taken advantage of. (I'm a pushover sometimes. )

    So... how do you or your farm sitters set rates? Hourly? By day? By trip? By number of animals? Is there certain things you assign special fees for? Anything "big" I'm overlooking in the pricing department?

    Thanks!
    Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO

  • #2
    I work for a petsitting agancy and they charge $30 for an hour visit, $17 for a 30 minute and $13 for 10-15 minutes. They charge a surcharge of an extra $5 per visit for the the day before, day of and day after a holiday. I'd say 25% of the people tip- LOL, generally the lady with one cat getting 2 30 minute visits a day tips generously whereas the cheap person with 4 incontinent dogs with 2-10 minute visits a day and a list of "special" instructions never leaves a tip.

    Basically- you need to factor in your driving time, time to get keys and meet with people, your time to do the job. (Let me note that if a client only pays for a 10 minute visit and there are 3 puddles of pee to clean up- and I run out of time because Pookie needs her food heated and mashed, Brownie needs to be walked to poop and they want all their blinds changed over.... I'm not obligated to clean up the pee). That is my one complaint aboput our service is that they let clients choose the amount of time needed and many are super cheap and unrealistic and so they get a 30 minute plus visit for the price of 10 minutes because I feel bad for the dogs, clean up the pee, spend 15 minutes walking the dog until he poops....

    I'd think for farmsitting you need an hourly rate, then see what the amount of work is going to be and give a price. Otherwise if you charge $30 an hour- you may get someone who thinks OK "bring the 2 horses in, pick stalls, feed hay, fresh water and grain- that should take an hour" or you may get "Clean 6 stalls that I have not cleaned in a week, catch 6 horses from my 20 acre pasture, medicate 3 of the horses, feed soaked hay, grain (and wait for Smokey to finish his meds), feed the barn cats, let my 3 dogs out, pick out the goat pen and feed them.... that should take an hour!"

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      Excellent info! Thank you so much!

      Originally posted by magnolia73 View Post
      (Let me note that if a client only pays for a 10 minute visit and there are 3 puddles of pee to clean up- and I run out of time because Pookie needs her food heated and mashed, Brownie needs to be walked to poop and they want all their blinds changed over.... I'm not obligated to clean up the pee). That is my one complaint aboput our service is that they let clients choose the amount of time needed and many are super cheap and unrealistic and so they get a 30 minute plus visit for the price of 10 minutes because I feel bad for the dogs, clean up the pee, spend 15 minutes walking the dog until he poops....
      That is exactly my concern about doing an hourly rate scheduled in advance! Good things to think about...

      "Clean 6 stalls that I have not cleaned in a week, catch 6 horses from my 20 acre pasture, medicate 3 of the horses, feed soaked hay, grain (and wait for Smokey to finish his meds), feed the barn cats, let my 3 dogs out, pick out the goat pen and feed them.... that should take an hour!"
      Believe me, I know all too well about that type of scenario! That's why I hope to set up fair pricing scheme in advance. I don't mind jobs like that at all (I actually enjoy them)-- I just want to have a pricing system in place to deal with situations like that so me being a pushover doesn't end up financially hurting my business.

      Thanks again! Great stuff to consider...
      Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO

      Comment


      • #4
        I have had a fair bit of experience house sitting for people with lots of pets. Ranging from: horses, dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea hens, goats, fish, chickens, peacocks, etc. This is not a service that I advertise, but more of a service that I have done over the years and gotten more jobs by word of mouth. Overall, I have been paid about the same amount by all of the people I have house sat for. Some of the people ask what I charge, others tell me what they normally pay.

        Here are a couple of examples, I get paid $20/day for both:

        House #1:
        They have 3 dogs, approximately 5 cats, 4 of their own horses and two boarder horses (one of which is mine). She has someone that does morning barn chores 7 days per week (it was previously 5), so I am responsible for all care of indoor and outdoor cats, plus evening barn chores. $20.00/day is her standard rate. I spent roughly 15 minutes in the morning and 30 at night doing chores. If there is a lot of extra work (below zero weather for an entire week or some extenuating circumstance), she generally pays a little more which is nice.

        House #2:
        Hasn't had anyone house sit for her in years. I first began corresponding with her after viewing her Craigslist ad in August of 2009. She asked what I charged and I told her $20/day. However, she asks every time I house sit, so I could theoretically increase my rates. She has 7 dogs (all under 5 pounds and 5 of which are always there), several fish tanks (salt and fresh water), 3 rabbits, 2 parrots, chickens and guinea hens. Last time there was an incubator with some chicken eggs in it that I had to watch as well. I spent 45 minutes in the morning and about 30 at night several of the days when I was there last, so I did charge her $25 for two of the days.

        When I was in high school (5ish years ago) I used to house sit for a lady who had a boarding barn with 9 horses, then she had two dogs and a cat. I fed in the morning and cleaned stalls and fed in the evening. I was paid $25/day there.


        As far as a standard going rate goes, I think it would be pretty difficult to come up with one. I really think the amount of money/day should be based upon the amount of animals, as well as the amount of work it is going to take.

        I really do think you could have a very lucrative business. Good help, especially reliable house sitters, seem very few and far between.

        Best of luck!

        Comment


        • #5
          My husband and I go out of state for 2 wks each summer.We hire a barn -sitter to come 2 x day to care for between 3-4 horses. After reading what some other people on this site are paying maybe I should be ashamed but I'm not,he-he-he!!!
          We pay our girl $30.00-35.00/day depending on if there are 3 or 4 horses.She comes 2 x day. The second time is only for 20 minutes or so. The morning visit is about one hour because she feeds and cleans the run-in.
          She lives 5 minutes away.I never leave her with 5 days of manure.

          Comment

          • Original Poster

            #6
            Thanks again for the info! I always set my rates by day before, too... but I was also nearly always sitting for friends or acquaintances. I'm afraid that may not be the best way to advertise unless maybe I advertise a day rate range. Hmm...
            Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO

            Comment


            • #7
              I really like how the farmsitter I've been using for the last 4 years set everything up. She had a little folder full of paperwork that she brought to my farm for a free walk-through/estimate. One of the documents was a sheet that listed all of her services and a price range for each service. She also had blank forms that she filled out for each of the animals during our walk-through of a normal visit.

              It worked out really well. I was able to introduce her to all of the animals and show her how they are used to being fed and handled. She took all the notes she'd need to do the job alone (including having me fill out an emergency action form for "what to do/who to call if..."). At the end, she confirmed exactly what I'd want done during each morning vs evening visit, and showed me how it calculated out to the rate she quoted. It was nice to see that if I ever decided I wanted additional services (such as stall cleaning) it would be approximately X more per visit.

              I think it's a great approach. Very professional. From your end, make sure you figure up how much your time is worth when setting rates, and don't forget that mileage and driving time need to be included. Two visits to my farm--including driving time--would take about 1.5 to 2 hours of her time (maybe 30-35 min actually at the farm) and cost me $24.
              ---------------------------

              Comment


              • #8
                What a timely thread for me. I too have been thinking seriously of beginning a professional farm sitting business. I am also stuck on how to price things, ie. hourly, per visit etc. Sounds like hourly is the best bet.

                I'm thinking at the time of walk through discuss how long it will realistically take and quote a time frame....inevitabley it sounds as though a client will think you can feed, turnout, do 10 stalls, walk and feed the dogs and 30 barn cats in an hour...not realistic. If it happens to go over the scheduled amount of time charge a certain amount for every 15 minutes over the scheduled time.

                Also, what about payment? Do you take a deposit at the time of the walk through and then full payment on the first day of sitting or do you bill the client after the services are performed? Or full payment at the time of the walk through with a partial refund policy (just enough to cover fuel and time) if they choose to cancel at the last minute?

                Sooo many questions!

                Good Luck to you OP!

                Comment


                • #9
                  yikes.

                  as soon as horses are involved prices should go WAY up.

                  I pet sat in the early 2000s.
                  it was 15 bucks a visit
                  35 bucks to live there. And when I say live there I mean eat their food, use their shampoo/conditioner...live there.

                  and that is only for house pets.

                  when we go away now,
                  (we have: 3 horses. only one needs to be cared for in the barn, all others are round bale pasture horses, some cats--dump food in bowl--and house dogs--feed once a day).

                  I generally pitch in with my parents and we will give our pet sitter (who comes and stays) 100-150 bucks for the weekend.

                  horses are a royal PITA. dogs are spoiled. and birds throw crud all over the floor.

                  hehe. fun stuff there.
                  http://kaboomeventing.com/
                  http://kaboomeventing.blogspot.com/
                  Horses are amazing athletes and make no mistake -- they are the stars of the show!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I pay 15.00 per feeding/visit for horse sitting

                    I have two horses that get 1/2 day turnout, stall cleaning, buckets dumped, am and pm feedings, soaked alfalfa cubes and beetpulp and smartpaks added

                    Also the cat gets his food checked and refilled as needed same with his water

                    I am lucky that it is my neighbor who can walk up to the barn if needed and she will do small extras like bringing in early due to bad weather and blanket changing etc at no charge, she likes my boys...

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Originally posted by WildBlue View Post
                      I really like how the farmsitter I've been using for the last 4 years set everything up. She had a little folder full of paperwork that she brought to my farm for a free walk-through/estimate. One of the documents was a sheet that listed all of her services and a price range for each service. She also had blank forms that she filled out for each of the animals during our walk-through of a normal visit.

                      It worked out really well. I was able to introduce her to all of the animals and show her how they are used to being fed and handled. She took all the notes she'd need to do the job alone (including having me fill out an emergency action form for "what to do/who to call if..."). At the end, she confirmed exactly what I'd want done during each morning vs evening visit, and showed me how it calculated out to the rate she quoted. It was nice to see that if I ever decided I wanted additional services (such as stall cleaning) it would be approximately X more per visit.

                      I think it's a great approach. Very professional. From your end, make sure you figure up how much your time is worth when setting rates, and don't forget that mileage and driving time need to be included. Two visits to my farm--including driving time--would take about 1.5 to 2 hours of her time (maybe 30-35 min actually at the farm) and cost me $24.
                      GREAT info! Thanks for sharing!
                      Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO

                      Comment

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