Have you thought about owning your own pet service business? From dog walking to pet sitting, the industry is growing. Josh Schermer, owner of New York City’s Downtown Pets, recently wrote a guide called The Dog Walker and Pet Sitter Bible for animal lovers interested in starting their own pet service. We recently caught up to Josh to learn more about his business, his book, and his love of animals.
Can you tell us about your background and how you came to work with pets?
I was born and raised in New York City and my connection with animals was formed at a very young age. When I was in 4th grade I spent months trying to lure a stray cat out of an abandoned building in my neighborhood. Two days after I was able to get the stray out of the abandoned building some construction workers blew it up! From that point forth I have felt a role as a protector of animals. And the cat I saved? It lived eighteen wonderful years with my family (:
What can you tell us about Downtown Pets?
Downtown Pets was loosely based on Starbucks in how they raised the status of the employee and made them their true product. I have always believed in having the very best and brightest dog walkers available and our hiring process is extensive.
I have also tried to have Downtown Pets reflect my core values in life. The environment and animal welfare are extremely important to me and last year I made Downtown Pets a green dog walking company! What does that mean? We only use 100% biodegradable waste bags and all of the treats we use for promotions are organic and vegetarian. For our promotional materials we use a recycled card stock and soy based inks. In our office we have a desk made from sustainable wood and powder coated with zero voc paint. We use 100% recycled printing paper, our computer monitor is made from recycled plastic and uses very little energy and all of our furniture is animal free.
You recently authored The Dog Walker & Pet Sitter Bible. Can you tell us about that book?
Writing The Dog Walker & Pet Sitter Bible was a fascinating experience for me. Before I started Downtown Pets I was pretty lost in life and my self-esteem was at an all-time low. In creating my own business I was able to discover that I’d actually learned a lot in life and had talents that I could apply to my own business. I assume many people who read my book will be in that same place I was years ago. I hope my book helps motivate them to make a change in their life and to realize that they are much more talented and ready to start a business then they realize. “The Dog Walker & Pet Sitter Bible” truly represents the day-to-day operations of Downtown Pets. In writing this book I was able to share with readers both the things we do well and those things we need to improve upon.
Do you have any tips for readers who are considering a career as a dog walker or pet sitter?
Inject your personality and your core beliefs into the culture of your company. One of the great benefits of having your own company is the ability to control the environment, isn’t it? Create expectations for yourself and those who work for you, benchmarks, dated times tables for expected results. Treat your clients and employees with respect and expect the same from them. Put a large emphasis on your Internet ranking. Make sure you use and master a smart phone (Blackberry, Android, iPhone, etc.). Always keep the dog’s safety and happiness as your primary concern and you shouldn’t go wrong.
What else would you like the readers of DogTipper.com to know about your work?
10% of the profits from The Dog Walker & Pet Sitter Bible will be donated to The Humane Society of America.
Photos courtesy Josh Schermer and The Dog Walker and Pet Sitter Bible