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How to Start a Pet Taxi Service

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Dog looking out of car window whilst on the move
Seth K. Hughes / Image Source / Getty Images

Pet taxi services transport pets to veterinary or grooming appointments on behalf of their owners. Busy professionals with full-time jobs find this type of service particularly valuable, as they can send their pets to weekday appointments without disrupting their work schedules. A pet taxi business has a relatively low start up cost and can be a profitable way to enter the pet service industry.

Form Your Business

The first step is to decide whether to form your business as a sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), or corporation. There are various tax and liability advantages to each type of business. An attorney or tax accountant can provide advice on which type of business will be best for your situation.

You will also need to look into acquiring any necessary licenses or permits, becoming bonded and insured as a service provider, and complying with any additional requirements from county, city, and state regulatory agencies.

Define a Service Area

Pet taxi services can choose to operate within a specific region, city, or town. Many pet taxi services operate in large metropolitan areas, and they may limit their service to a particular section of the city.

Purchase Equipment

A vehicle will be your greatest start-up expense, unless you already own one that can be used as a pet taxi. Vans or sport utility vehicles are ideal for carrying large crates, but cars can work just fine for transporting smaller animals. Regardless of what type of vehicle you choose to use it should be air conditioned, well maintained, and clean.

You should also have several crates of various sizes to accommodate pets as they are transported. While travel by crate is the most common option for pet taxis, you should also keep some dog harness seatbelts in case some owners specify that their animals are not to ride in crates.

Create a Contract

Pet taxi businesses will need to draft a standard contract that the pet owner will sign before service is provided. This contract should specifically spell out the terms of service (including cost, destination, and pickup and drop off times).

The contract should also address any liability issues regarding responsibility for potential injuries while animals are in the driver’s custody and list all pertinent details of a pet’s history (age, breed, any medical issues or allergies, veterinarian’s name and contact information, owner’s emergency contact information, etc).

Price Your Services

The best way to determine your rate for services is to investigate what other pet taxi businesses are charging in your area or in cities of a similar size. The rate may be based on time spent in transit, total mileage, the number of pets being transported, or a combination of these factors. An additional surcharge might also be included to defray expenses for fuel and insurance.

Pricing options may also include a “drop off” rate (where the “meter” stops at the time when the pet is left at the location and restarts when it is picked up at a later time) and a “stay and wait” rate, where the driver stays to supervise the pet during its appointment.

Advertise

The best place to advertise is directly on the vehicle that you are using to provide taxi services. Permanent lettering can be applied directly to the vehicle or customized magnets can be used for a non-permanent option. The vehicle will act as a moving advertisement for your services and will be visible to target customers when it is parked at pet service locations.

It is also advisable to create a business card or flyer that you can leave at various pet service locations such as veterinary clinics, dog grooming facilities, boarding kennels, and doggie day care businesses. Anywhere that pets might need to be dropped off is an ideal location for your advertisements. You should also consider placing print ads in local publications, putting an ad in the yellow pages, or posting on Craigslist or other online service sites.

Manage Appointments

You will definitely need to create a schedule that you can easily access and update. This can be in the form of a spreadsheet, an app for your smart phone, or a paper appointment book. Pet taxi drivers must be prompt in arriving at destinations on schedule and take care to provide reliable, accurate service to their clients.

It is also wise to use a cell phone for your primary contact number, as you will often be on the road. A hands-free device is ideal for managing calls that may come in while you are driving from one location to the next.

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