The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Gateshead Pet Sitters is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.
Gateshead Pet Sitters
1GATESHEAD PET SITTERS |
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE 2020
Managing Director MandyBlacker
“Can I go in the garden
Gateshead Pet Sitters – part of the GB Pet Sitters franchise
– is based in County Durham. Established in 2014, the
company is one of 30 successful franchised organisations
– GB Pet Sitters service more than 10,000 customers across 31
towns and cities in the UK. Managing Director Mandy Blacker
The Parliamentary Review
about the firm’s drive to ensure
that both customers and their pets are happy.
My journey began in 2014, when I was invited to join GB Pet Sitters, one of
the longest-established pet-sitting franchise businesses in the UK, with over 30
successful start-ups. The experience I had acquired, together with their support,
was the foundation for starting my own business.
As a nationwide franchise, we provide a service to look after dogs, cats and
small animals while their owners are away – whether on holiday or at work.
Predominantly, my work entails taking care of dogs by walking them on a daily
basis and ensuring their time is as much fun as can be. Our ethos is “happy dogs
means happy owners”.
It’s a dog’s life
Those who have taken the plunge to start a business will no doubt concede it can
at times be a very daunting experience. On the other hand, it is a very exciting
First and foremost, one must be in a position to fund any initial outlay a business
requires in order to get started – fortunately, I had sufficient funds to do this.
GATESHEAD PET SITTERS
»Founded in 2014
»Located in County Durham
»Services: Dog sitting
»No. of employees: 1
Gateshead Pet Sitters
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
2| GATESHEAD PET SITTERS
OnceI had purchased all the
necessities and put them in place, I
compiled my website.
I began to wonder whether my
business would be a success – the
saying “half of doing it is believing
that you can” was particularly
pertinent at this point. I believed
in myself, and as those who may
have read my first book, which
was published in March 2019,
will recall, I wanted to work with
animals – predominantly dogs, as I
have spent over 21 years with my
I realised that I would not only be
dealing with dogs on a daily basis,
but that I would also be working
with the owners. I wondered if my
prospective customers would warm to
me as an individual. Being friendly and
courteous and always maintaining a
professional demeanour are qualities
which are paramount for anyone
starting a business.
Fishing for dogs
As soon as I started to receive enquiries
from prospective customers, it really
lifted my spirits. My belief in myself
was confirmed. There were people
who were interested, and my website
truly appealed to them.
Understandably, there were also those
who were on a “fishing exercise”, with
no intention of utilising the services
we offered. This was at times quite
deflating, especially when my business
was in its infancy.
I have to concede I did question
myself, but I picked myself up and
always maintained some element
of optimism. I reminded myself that
as one door closes, another opens.
Ultimately, I found that it was merely
a case of building my audience and
utilising social media sites, in addition
to engaging with new customers to
encourage them to provide a review,
which is obviously a positive start for
any new business.
Who will be the first to
Our ethos is
3GATESHEAD PET SITTERS |
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE 2020
With any new business, there are
many challenges to overcome. For me,
these included how best to encourage
people to visit my website and how
much advertising I would need to do. It
was simply a case of getting my name
out there and liaising with as many
local advertising companies as possible.
I have to express some disappointment
when I contacted my local council,
which issued my dog boarding licence,
to enquire if they would assist by
attracting local feeds to my website.
There was insufficient support to
A bark as big as our bite
My business, albeit small, has now
been in operation for just over five
years, and I can wholeheartedly say
that despite some pitfalls along the
way, it is continuing to grow. I am
humbled to be doing well. Last year I
was awarded a five-star boarding rate
from the local council, the highest
accolade for a boarding establishment.
This was a gruelling inspection arising
out of new guidelines brought in by
Defra, to which all pet establishments
have to adhere.
This is by no means a criticism of
current legislation – it is absolutely
understandable, as the welfare of
every animal under care is paramount.
One must always bear this in mind and
treat them with love, care and respect.
I can never express enough gratitude,
and I will not rest on my laurels. Pet
sitting can be quite a fickle business,
and you have to continually strive to be
the best at what you have become.
My hopes for the future are to
inspire anyone wishing to pursue
their dreams and to encourage new
hopefuls who wish to embark on their
I believe that you should always have
the drive and determination to succeed
in order to achieve your goal. There
is always a steep learning curve and a
virtue in acknowledging your mistakes.
It is also essential to take on board
lessons learnt as a result.
I feel very lucky and privileged to be
doing what I do every day, and long
may it continue.
As soon as I
started to receive
really lifted my
spirits. My belief
in myself was
were people who
and my website
Just returning from
a regular jaunt in the