Interview with Colleen Sedgwick:
Owner of Pet Nanny, LLC
Q. Colleen, how did you get started in the pet sitting industry?
Well, in a nutshell, I was unhappy in my career as a teacher and coming from a long line of entrepreneurs I decided that I wanted to work for myself. I just didn’t know what type of business to start. Someone gave me the great advice to do something that I loved and had a true passion for. When it was put in such simple terms, I knew immediately what it was… PETS! I am a hardcore animal lover, so I knew in my heart that starting a pet sitting business was the perfect fit for me. I opened the door of Pet Nanny-Pet Sitters of the Main Line in 2001 and have been loving my “job” and my life ever since. I’m able to make a living centered on my passion. I’m a lucky gal!
*You can read more about Colleen’s story on the My Story page of the Pet Nanny website.
Q. What type of clients do you work with?
We work with pet owners on the Main Line of Philadelphia (Malvern down to Wynnewood as well as Newtown Square and Conshohocken) who are searching for top-quality pet care and true peace of mind while they travel or when they have to leave their pets for long hours due to work or other obligations.
Q. How are you different from other pet sitting services?
I have put my heart and soul into creating an extraordinary pet care service that truly provides pet owners with peace of mind that their pets and their homes are being well-cared for in their absence. I created The Pet Nanny Peace of Mind Blueprint to ensure that every one of our clients receives the BEST possible service and overall experience. Each step in our Blueprint is what sets us apart.
Q. What is” The Pet Nanny Peace of Mind Blueprint?”
Our all-time goal is to provide our clients with the peace of mind that they know their pets and their home are in the best possible hands. We want our clients to leave their homes confident that their pet is receiving the love, attention and exercise that they deserve. We accomplish this by following our Peace of Mind Blueprint.
The 10 steps are…
- Reasonable and Competitive Rates
- Customized Services
- First-Rate Staff
- Experience and Educational Development
- Technology and Convenience
- Unsurpassed Personal Service with Outstanding Communication
- Genuine Love of Animals
*You can read all the details about The Pet Nanny Peace of Mind Blueprint here.
Q. Tell me about your hiring process of the pet sitters.
First, we contract ONLY dedicated pet care professionals. Not the college or high school kid trying to make extra cash. We work with sitters who have practical experience in the pet care field and view their time with Pet Nanny as part of their career path.
Second, we run an extensive screening process, which includes a face-to-face interview, followed by reference checks, followed by a complete background check. All sitters are then hired on a trial basis until we have followed up with enough clients to ensure that they are an excellent fit for Pet Nanny. All sitters contracted by Pet Nanny promise to abide by and sign our Code of Ethics.
*Read more about the outstanding pet care providers on the Our Team page of the Pet Nanny web site.
Q. You seem to have a very large staff of pet sitters. How is it possible to ensure that they are all keeping up with the standards of Pet Nanny?
All Pet Nanny sitters attend an orientation where they learn about the standards of Pet Nanny and the procedures that we follow to put our Peace of Mind Blueprint into action. They then work very closely with the office the first month to ensure that they understand and that they are following proper protocol. The sitters also have daily communication with the office and their clients, and are required to check off their visits on our secure database at the completion of their day. This allows the office to confirm that each pet was visited by their pet care provider. We always follow-up with our clients to make sure that their pet sitter is up to snuff.
Q. Why should a pet owner use a pet sitter?
Many veterinarians and pet experts believe that keeping pets in their familiar surroundings helps to alleviate the stress imposed when their owners have to leave home. Pets are then also able to maintain their diet and exercise routine, and enjoy the personal attention provided by a pet sitter. This also eliminates the trauma of being transported and minimizes their exposure to illnesses of other animals.
Q. What services do you offer?
Pet Nanny provides in-home pet care plain and simple. This means our sitters travel to our client’s homes to care for their pets. We provide service for whatever they need; travel, long work hours; a late meeting, recovering from surgery; working from home but not enough time to walk the dog, don’t trust the kids to care for the animals properly. Whatever the reason, we’ll be there! Our client’s are mostly cat and dog owners but we’ll also visit rabbits, birds, frogs, guinea pigs, gerbils, hamsters, iguanas, etc. Our clients can customize how long they would like their Pet Nanny to visit with their pets. We will also bring in the mail, take out the trash, rotate the lights and open and close the curtains to give the home a lived-in look.We also offer a variety of premium services that our client’s can schedule to compliment their pet and house care routines.
Q. Will you provide those “gate-keeping” services even if someone doesn’t have a pet?
Of course! We have manly clients who contract Pet Nanny to visit their homes while they travel to do all of those things. This gives them peace of mind that their home is safe while they are out of town. So, no, you do not have to have a pet to use Pet Nanny.
Q. So, you don’t board animals or bring them into your homes?
No. We believe in in-home care, which is why we have chosen not to have a boarding facility. However, we do have pet care providers who can remain at the client’s home. This is our overnight/house sitting service, which is VERY popular. It’s what I use for my Bulldog when I travel.
Q. What time do the sitters make their rounds and how long do they stay?
Our sitters can visit their client’s homes up to 4 times per day.
- The “Morning” time slot is between 7 & 9 AM.
- The “Mid Day” time slot is between 11 & 3 PM.
- The “Evening” time slot is between 4 & 6 PM.
- The “Late Night” time slot is between 7 and 9 PM.
No longer than 12 hours ever goes in between visits. For example, if your pooch were visited at 8pm, the sitter would arrive to your home no later than 8am the following morning.
We offer 15-minute, 30-minute, 45-minute and 60-minute visits. The client chooses the duration of the visits and can mix and match to design the best plan for his or her pet.
Note: The 15 -minute visit option is not offered to clients using the Travel & Occasional Service for their dogs. We don’t believe that 15-minutes is enough time to visit with a dog that is by him or herself for an extended period of time. As much human interaction as possible is best to keep the hounds happy and calm until their parents return home.
Q. Are there extra costs for services rendered on a holiday?
We consider the following to be our major annual holidays: New Years Day, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Christmas Eve Day, and New Years Eve. There is up to a $15 surcharge plus the standard charge for the service being provided on these dates. 100% of these fees are paid to the sitters.
*You can read more about their Services and Rates here.
Q. What is the registration meeting?
The registration meeting is a visit that allows the client to get to know our service and their assigned Pet Nanny prior to the start of their service. During this visit their pet care provider will introduce themselves, spend some quality time with the pet, confirm and review the pertinent information about the home and pet care routine (e.g. vet information, emergency contact, special requests, etc.), and answer any additional questions the client may have. We do NOT provide service until this meeting has taken place. There is a fee of $15 fee for the registration meeting. This fee covers all administrative costs related to their account, as well as the sitter’s time.
Q. So, after a client has completed their registration meeting can they schedule service anytime?
Absolutely! All clients are provided with unique login information to their secured Pet Nanny account. From this gateway they are able to schedule service, check their personal service calendar, update their billing information and also update their password. It’s a handy little tool! All scheduling requests are confirmed during our regular business hours, which are 9AM-4PM Monday through Friday.
Q. How about last-minute requests?
We’re more than happy to schedule pet care for last-minute needs, however we cannot guarantee that a sitter is going to be available on short notice, (though 99% of the time it really isn’t a problem). We also only schedule service during our regular business hours (9AM-4PM Monday through Friday). We do charge a $10 late booking charge for visits scheduled without 24-hours notice.
Note: If a client emails on a Saturday for Monday service or Tuesday night for Wednesday service, the $10 fee will apply.
Q. What happens if a client’s primary sitter is not available for a pet sitting request?
Our sitter roster is chock-full of excellent pet care providers that would love to care for a client’s pet if their primary sitter is unavailable. Since we have all of the client’s pet care information in our secure database it’s really not necessary for the client to meet with the alternate sitter, however; if the client feels more comfortable with having a meeting with the alternate sitter, we are more than happy to schedule a “Pre-Departure Meeting.” The cost of this meeting is $15, which covers the sitter’s time and expense for driving over to the client’s home.
Q. Can your clients schedule directly through their sitter?
No!!!!! For the safety of our client’s pets all visits MUST be scheduled through the Pet Nanny office. We use a high-tech scheduling program, which ensures that “no pet is left behind.” If a client schedules through their sitter and the sitter forgets to inform the office, that takes us out of the loop and therefore unable to follow-up with the sitter to make sure that the pet has been seen. Pet Nanny will not be held liable for visits scheduled without the offices knowledge.
Q. How do you handle all of your client’s keys? You must have a ton!
Actually, we don’t. The only client keys that we keep are for those that use Pet Nanny on a continuous, weekly basis. Otherwise, the keys remain in control of the owner. I strongly believe in this. I think it is the safest option.
Note: Pet Nanny will not be held responsible for keys that a client asks a sitter to keep on file.
Q. So, if you don’t keep their keys on file how do the sitters access the homes?
We have a few options for key exchange. My personal favorite is using a lock box. It makes it so easy and is super safe! The client can purchase one from the office for $20. (They retail for around $30, so it’s a great deal.) The client leaves the lock box on a door of their choosing. When their Pet Nanny arrives they remove the key and the lock box from the door and hold onto both for the duration of the assignment. Then at the last visit the sitter returns the lock box with the key inside back to the door. The client can then remove it when they return home. It’s so easy!
If the lock box isn’t a good fit for them they can also leave a key hidden in a pre-determined location or schedule the key pick-up and drop-off service, which is $12 each way.
Q. What does it mean that you are bonded and insured?
A dishonesty bond gives you peace of mind that you will be reimbursed if anything is stolen from your home. Anyone that has workers enter their home should be sure that they have a dishonestly bond.
We also carry a liability insurance policy that protects from financial loss in the event that we were liable for accidents that occur while caring for our client’s pets. Any responsible, professional business should carry liability insurance.
We are happy to provide our clients with proof of insurance and our bond. We can easily email them a copy or our certificates.
Q. How do you accept payment?
We accept payment by Visa, Master Card or Discover Card.
Q. So, you don’t accept checks? Can the clients leave cash?
No, we don’t accept checks. The clients can leave a cash gratuity for their sitter if they so wish, but payment for services must be made by credit card. Payment is due prior to the start of service.
Q. Do you care for pets that have aggression issues?
If the pet has aggressively bit someone in the past then no, we cannot provide service. That is too much of a liability issue. If the pet is skittish and maybe just growls around those he doesn’t know, then we will be happy to work with the client to see if a pet care plan can be designed that works. Our sitter will interview the client and the pet to determine if this is possible. If additional visits are necessary to socialize the pet with our pet care provider then the client needs to be present at all visits and pay the normal service fee until socialized. If at any time our pet sitter or pet owner feels that it is unsafe to perform a service, we will reserve the right to discontinue service without notice.
Q. Do you administer medication?
Due to the stress on the animal, we strongly urge you to administer all medications to your pet. However, when that is not possible and your pet needs its medicine, then we will attempt to administer medicine orally, only.
Q. How do the pet care professionals discipline the pets?
Pet Nanny believes in positive reinforcement ONLY for the pets in our care. We will never hit, spank, slap, yank the leash, yell, shock or grab your pet. If there is a disciplinary problem, i.e. toilet training issues, running away, etc., we inform our client of the incident(s) and together we workout a solution.
Q. What happens if a pet becomes ill and the client is out of town or unable to leave work?
If we suspect that something is wrong with a pet, we will call you at the emergency phone numbers we have on file. If the client believes the veterinarian should see the pet, we will transport him to the veterinarian’s office for examination and treatment. In the event we cannot reach the client, we will decide if the veterinarian should see your pet. If necessary, we will take your pet for treatment. You will be billed for any extra time we spend for these services.
Q. What is the Pet Nanny cancellation policy?
Since I understand what it’s like to have a busy and ever-changing schedule I have implemented an extremely flexible cancelation policy.
- Mid Day Dog Walks (for those that use us on a weekly continuous basis): 24 hours notice
- Pet Sitting and Kitty & Small Animal Care: 48 hours notice
- Overnight Care: 7 days notice
Q. How does a client go about getting started? How quickly can that happen? What if they have additional questions?
All are welcome to call or email the office with their questions. The office # is 610-716-7826 and the email is firstname.lastname@example.org. When they’re ready to get started we have a very simple registration process that will be explained to them. We can get started as soon as the registration meeting has taken place.
Q. Most importantly, what kind of results can people expect when working with Pet Nanny?
I sound like a broken record, but the greatest result is peace of mind. Our clients can travel, work or leave their homes for whatever reason, guilt-free because they know that their pets and their homes are in the best possible hands. Their pets are going to receive top-notch care; they’re going to be relaxed, comfortable, well exercised, and doted upon. Their houses are going to be safe guarded and kept tidy and neat. They are going to have happy and healthy pets.
Q. So, you’re happy with the company that you have created?
It’s amazing!!!! Seeing how Pet Nanny has grown since 2001 is astounding to me! The best part about it is that the more successful Pet Nanny becomes, the more opportunities I have to make the service even more extraordinary for my awesome clients. I love it! I love every minute of it! I have the greatest clients any business owner could ask for… pet lovers! You can’t beat it.
Q. And I hear you recently launched another business?
Yes, Pet Sitting Business Boosters! I created this company to help other pet care professionals reach infinite success with their own companies. I want to provide other entrepreneurs with all my short cuts to jump-start their success. It doesn’t have to take long time to become profitable. Anyone can learn and implement the steps that I use to create their very own booming pet care business.
Colleen Sedgwick is the owner of Pet Nanny-Pet Sitters of The Main Line, LLC; a thriving pet care business on The Main Line of Philadelphia. She is also CEO of Pet Sitting Business Boosters; a company devoted to empowering and leading other pet care professionals to infinite success with their own companies and Pet Watchman; pet sitting mobile application and web software.
Colleen resides in Phoenixville, PA with her husband Billy, daughter Lucy and sons James and Connor. Billy and Colleen are the proud owners of a spunky English Bulldog named Joe and a Terrier Mutt named Dr. Watson.