Limitations of this business model
bubblesbubbles11 · 31/10/2021 23:29
A business model of "non residential" house sitting. Namely going into people's houses at their request whilst they are away on holiday/business/any other reason to check security, feed pets, feed plants, take photos and send them to the owner etc.
What are the limitations of this business proposal? The target customer is going to be quite wealthy and possibly on the older end of the age scale.
So what do you think the limitations might be? Would they be tech savvy enough to have internal equivalent of "cctv" so not need it? Do you have list yourself on an established agency or can you set up alone? Would the professional insurance be prohibitive? What would be the norm in terms of alerting owners to an emergency (security or pet related etc)?
Do you think people would pay for this kind of thing?
Laquila · 31/10/2021 23:36
I think people would pay, but only for what they felt was a very well-regulated and insured service, that they felt confident/safe about. I'm not sure how that would be achieved. You might be right about insurance - could be prohibitive and would you need to get co.orehensive contents valuations for every house visited?
And liability-wise...I'm not sure what you'd be liable for but there are a LOT of things that go wrong in people's homes whilst they're away. I guess if you specially offered, for example, a pet-feeding service then you couldn't be held responsible if the freezer went kaput and decorated itself or similar. I testing concept though and I think it's definitely got potential! What kind of market coverage is there currently?
bubblesbubbles11 · 01/11/2021 10:02
Thanks for your reply Laquila.
It is a service not a product so would be much more time sensitive I suppose. And people might be put off if you included loads of "exclusions" - eg "if your cat is not home / if your x y z appliance goes wrong not liable" although i will contact you to check what you want done/contact a handyman etc etc.
i live in a small village of mainly elderly and wealthy people who spend a lot of time abroad/away.
Laquila · 01/11/2021 14:41
Well it sounds like you have a pretty good target market 😁
I'd look into what's already available elsewhere/nationwide, and what sort of limitations they stipulate, and take it from there.
bubblesbubbles11 · 01/11/2021 18:55
I think there are larger agencies where you can sign yourself up as official house sitters but I dont want to do that - i want to carry on living in my own home and just visit during the day whilst the owners are away to check and update the owners as they require.
I really have no idea what the insurance position is tho.
Palavah · 01/11/2021 18:57
Have you asked any of your target market whether this would be useful to them?
Doyoumind · 01/11/2021 19:02
I think there's a limited market due to this role often being delivered by technology, even for older people if they are affluent, or friends and family who will do it for free and come with the added bonus of being trustworthy and reliable versus a complete stranger. I think it's less a matter of insurance and more of watertight terms and conditions for your service.
Woeismethischristmas · 01/11/2021 19:09
I think you’d find insurance relatively cheap. Insurance for dog walkers and cleaners is less than a tenner a month. Your terms say you are only liable for things you break. Lots of people would prefer to pay for a service than rely on favours from others. Set up some insurance, possibly a limited company. Posts on local Facebook page, card in the newsagents. Consider getting some leaflets printed and deliver them.
LtGreggs · 01/11/2021 19:14
I suspect there is a market for this. My parents would likely go for it. We have occasionally paid our cleaner to do this. I would make it seem as impersonal and professional as possible, to make people more comfortable with the idea of you going in to their home.
Ideas (from the top of my head)
- use a checklist so it's clear what will be done (check electricity on, take freezer temperature, check for weird smells, remove post from behind door, water plants, etc)
- consider what 'evidence' you could give - photos etc. Temporary cctv cams set up while folk are away? These are cheap these days.
- offer an emergency response plan. My parents were once staying with us, 6 hr drive from home. Their house alarm kept going off. Their neighbours were annoyed, everyone worried. Dad ended up having to make a round trip back, found a bat in the kitchen! They would have paid ££ not to have to have made that trip.
- use an external key safe for keys
- talk to a good insurer to ask what their criteria for being OK with all this would be (try Hiscox?)
- build a brand. Choose a business name that sounds like you already are a brand (Nationwide HomeSecure, Abbey PropertyWatch, something like that!) . People will trust you more.
FinallyHere · 01/11/2021 20:33
What backup do you have, incase you had an accident or otherwise became ill and incapable while you were looking after their homes?
bubblesbubbles11 · 01/11/2021 23:25
I agree and have thought the same myself.
Hence much thought about what actual "in person" value can be added.
Clearly (although maybe only a matter of time) tech cannot "feed the cat/make sure the cat is well and thriving" etc (assuming the cat has not been put in a cattery etc).
When people are away do they want a daily video/photo check in of their residence/pets? Is that something people value or will they just rely on smarthomes/cctv etc?
You are right i need to ask my target audience (there are a lot of very wealthy people locally who I know spend a lot of time away from home but I have not gone into the conversation of what they might be interested in etc).
bubblesbubbles11 · 01/11/2021 23:28
It would be seriously professional i.e. "I will arrive at x hours / take photos / video of x y z and send them to you in real time / check up on the following agreed things and be available for a call once you have seen the update / feed your pet and notify you if there is an issue / take your instructions if there is an issue (eg contact a vet etc).
I would hope to build up enough of a business base that the scope was tight enough to make the actual home visit efficient and short (but open to contact at home thereafter to discuss issues etc)
HollowTalk · 01/11/2021 23:37
But why wouldn't they just get ring doorbells and CCTV? They could have every entrance covered and it would go straight to their phone. It sounds as though you'd be emailing them all the time.
RaisedByPangolins · 01/11/2021 23:42
I’d focus on the pet sitting part tbh. Along with watering plants. That’s the main two things that can’t be done by tech or remotely.
When my friend goes away she asks me to come and feed her cats but also to play with them for a bit so they don’t get lonely.
People worry about cats being left so having the reassurance that they’re home and safe, eating well and being entertained, then they’ll pay well for that.
As an aside you can take in their mail, check on other things and send them pics and videos but I think that you’d be able to sell a pet sitting service with add-ons more than a house sitting service when you don’t actually stay there.
bubblesbubbles11 · 02/11/2021 22:56
thank you RaisedByPangolins
i guess i am working through how home visiting vis-a-vis putting your cat in a cattery would work.
I would definitely do the personal feedback on pets.
thank you for your post.
MagicalFish · 02/11/2021 23:13
We use our local PawPals franchise when we go away, they do pretty much what you're suggesting. Feed/exercise/ handle pets, water plants, bring in post, regular updates. They're very professional - insurance, detailed policies etc.
SimonedeBeauvoirscat · 02/11/2021 23:29
Cat sitters will do all the other stuff too usually. Well mine does, and my parents’ cat sitter does too. There are loads of pet sitters who do this kind of thing, it’s not a new business model or anything. The main limitation is that it’s not very scalable - usually they operate as one man bands because there’s only so much demand for their services within a local area at any one time.
RaisedByPangolins · 03/11/2021 01:56
Think most cats would prefer to be at home without their owner than in a cattery where they’re kept in a cage for most of the time or surrounded by other cats. They’re so territorial that they get anxious if they don’t have their scent on things so a cattery generally would be if you can’t get a pet sitter to visit at home or potentially if your cat has special needs/blind etc
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