Homeowners who don't want to worry about their home and personal property while they are away hire a house sitter. A house sitter monitors a home for theft, vandalism and damage and oversees regular maintenance. Typical clients range from vacationing homeowners to seasonal residents. Before starting a home watching business, do what's necessary needed to launch a business. Check with your state licensing board to obtain necessary business licenses and permits.
Research the competition and the business. Before you jump into any new venture, obtain as much information as possible about the industry’s background, trends and future direction. Most important, check out the local and national competition. Learn what services and amenities competitors provide their clients, obtain a price sheet and scan local newspapers and the Internet for ads to see how other companies market their services. Identify your target audience. For example, if you live in Florida, prospective clients may be seasonal or retired homeowners who leave their house vacant for a long time.
Create a business plan that details how you will start your home watching business. Include information about your competition, target audience, industry direction, industry and local challenges, start-up costs, proposed prices, permitting and licensing, specific products and services, employees, marketing, future plans and an exit strategy. If you'll be using the business plan to attract investors, include a section about how involvement in the business will benefit the investor. Add information about needed start-up cash too.
Meet permitting and licensing requirements. Ask your state licensing board just what you need to start your business. For example, owners of a house sitting business featured in The Naples News said they had to complete paperwork on zoning, licensing and bonding.
Develop an ironclad contract for all clients to sign. A signed contract protects you and your employees from being sued or held liable for damages or mishaps beyond your control while you watch the home. For best results, hire an attorney to create your contract. Include statements about what each party agrees upon, emergency contacts and the care of the home. If your company offers additional amenities such as pet sitting, maintenance and repairs, add a clause on your duties and the services you will supply.
Promote your business. Launch a website, create a flyer and market your service to neighbors and local homeowners associations. Ask homeowners associations if you can speak during a monthly meeting, discussing the importance of keeping your home safe while you're gone. Distribute flyers during the meeting too, and ask the homeowners association if you can put flyers in neighbors’ mailboxes and post a flyer on the community bulletin board. Develop a referral program, providing discounts to homeowners who refer friends and family members to your business when the referral results in in a sale.
If you hire employees, do background checks on them and have them bonded, regardless of state requirements.
Keep overhead low by operating your business from your home.
If you want to do pet sitting also, contact the state licensing board to ensure that you have the proper permit to pet sit.
Gina Ragusa has made a career out of writing for the past 15 years, with an emphasis on financial institution writing. Ragusa has written for Consumer Lending News, Deposit and Loan Growth Strategies and Community Bank President. She earned her Bachelor of Arts from Michigan State University.