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Pet sitting and auctions are not a good mix

by Therese on January 25, 2011

in Pet Business Marketing, The Pet Care Biz

Offering pet sitting services as an auction item may not be a good marketing tactic.A few days ago I saw a question posted online by a pet sitter. She was planning on participating in a pet event that required a donation of a product or service as an entry fee. All donations would then be auctioned off to people who came to the event. Her plan was to give a gift certificate for a specific number of pet sitting visits as her donation. She thought it would be a great way to market her pet sitting business – give a donation and get some good press. Before she did it though, she was asking opinions as to whether it would be a good idea.

My suggestion is to find something other than your services to give away.

The ideal result, when giving away a service in this way, is that you’ll end up with a great client, and get some good press in the process. If you don’t get the good press, you’re not going to be out all that much. On the other hand, you could end up with a horror story – courtesy of the person who won your item.

Before you agree to offer pet sitting services in a fund-raising auction, here are a few things to think about . . .

You don’t get to choose the winner
Whoever wins your gift certificate may be someone who you would rule out as a client after a short phone call. He or she may be a hoarder, have an extremely filthy home, may be extremely difficult to work with, or might just make you feel very uncomfortable.

The person may be out of your service area
Unless you specify on the gift certificate that the winner must live within a certain area, you may end up having to drive out of your service area. And, even if your certificate does indicate a certain service area, people bidding on it may not read it thoroughly. Of course, that could void the certificate, but that may create ill will for your company or the charity the auction benefited.

You and the pets may not be a good match
The person may have aggressive dogs or the pets may have health problems you’re not properly trained to deal with. They may also have pets you don’t know enough to care for like birds, reptiles, or horses.

You might be thinking the chances of running into any of the above may be slim, and you may be right. At the same time though, you do run the risk of getting yourself into a situation you’d rather avoid.

Believe me. I’ve been there!

I never have, and never will, give pet sitting services away as an auction item, door prize, etc. or for any other reason. I learned the hard way. Years ago, when I was a children’s entertainer, I donated a gift certificate to be auctioned off at a fund raising event. And then I lived to regret it!

The people who won the gift certificate turned out to be, without a doubt, the worst clients I had ever worked with. They had the attitude that I was to provide them with whatever they demanded, which happened to be much more than the value of the gift certificate. Although they didn’t pay for my services in the usual way, I wanted them to be happy clients, so I did what I could to work with them. Otherwise, had they paid me directly I would have refunded their money and told them to find someone else. If I had to do it all over again though, I’d refund the money and simply consider the whole thing a donation to the charity.

Give something else
If you really want to be part of an event that requires a donation of some sort, give something other than your services. Here are just a few ideas:

  • A gift certificate to a local pet supply store.
  • A basket full of pet toys, treats, or other items
  • A gift certificate to an online pet website
  • Items imprinted with your logo (t-shirts, dog bowls, leashes, etc.)

It’s good to get creative with your marketing efforts, and donating items to auctions can be a good way to get your name out to people who may need your pet sitting services. Be wise about it though, and make sure you don’t put yourself into a situation you may later regret.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Julia@PriorityPets January 25, 2011 at 11:08 am

Thank you for this valuable tip. When we are beginning our businesses, we often brainstorm ideas and pursue those that are low cost and easy for us as a business to perform. A gift certificate for our free services seems like a good idea — just print it out and donate it to the charity. Therese points out the flip side. Great post!


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