The National Association of Pet Sitters & Dog Walkers (NarpsUK) can be a huge help, especially to those setting up a new business. Smaller business ventures of less than 5 dogs may be well served by the Silver plan, but those with bigger ambitions might prefer the Gold plan, as it includes an App to manage bookings, contacts, payments, etc.
Below we'll explain the benefits of joining Narps, such as advice, legal forms, insurance discounts, the App, etc. If you're wondering if membership is worth it, see our cost analysis to help you decide.
- Review of NarpsUK
- Is it worth joining Narps?
- NarpsUK courses
Our Thoughts: NarpsUK Review
Joining NarpsUK can be a great move for someone starting a new pet sitting or dog walking business in the UK. Of particular use are the professional forms and service contracts. You also get marketing materials; advice; an online presence (a profile and listing on the Narps site); insurance discounts; software to help you track your bookings, customer details, finances, etc.; and more.
By using NarpsUK forms you don't need to hire a solicitor to create new ones for you. Over a dozen NarpsUK service contracts have been drawn up by a contracts solicitor to cover pop-in services, house sittings, home boarding, key releases, invoices, etc.
NarpsUK is not only the largest pet sitting and dog walking association in the UK, but they are also now the regulating body for the pet sitting industry and recognised within central and local government and by animal welfare organisations. Signing up with NarpsUK should be helpful as you start a new dog walking or pet sitting business, or even look to grow an existing business.
NarpsUK Benefits & Features
While exact features vary by plan or may cost extra, here is an overview of the benefits available from NarpsUK membership:
|NarpsUK Features||Why It May be Useful|
|Membership certificate and use of NarpsUK logos and emblams||Providing business credibility|
|Online profile (personalised 7-page URL) and listings at NarpsUK and www.findalocalpetsitter.co.uk||Credibility and business growth|
|Members Forum & advice from NarpsUK via email or phone||Advice and tips from fellow dog walkers and NarpsUK for the inevitable questions|
|Software and App||To store customer contact data, store bookings in a diary, track payments, etc.|
|Templates for marketing materials, professional forms and service contracts, etc.||To save you time and money hiring a solicitor|
|Discounts on pet sitting insurance and a pet sitting and dog walker courses||To potentially save money|
For example, the Narps App lets you track your bookings, customer addresses and phone numbers and whether or not you've been paid.
Which Plan is Right for Me?
In general, the Silver plan may better suit those planning a smaller dog walking business, perhaps up to 5 dogs. The Gold plan has the added software feature to help organise a larger business. The best Narps plan for you will depend on factors like business size.
For new businesses, the Silver plan's stand-out feature is access to professional forms and service contracts which you should have in place before making your first booking. Silver is perhaps better suited for those looking to keep their business quite small and walk only a few dogs, because it doesn't include the pet sitting and dog walking software (e.g., app)—but a small business may not need this feature. The Silver plan costs £30 less than Gold the first year (including the joining fees) and £35 less in ongoing years.
Another feature of Silver plans is discounts on NarpsUK dog walking or pet sitting courses. These courses can help provide know how in pet first aid, law and regulations, service contracts, and other topics that can help move your business forward. For a full list of features please see below.
Those looking to manage a larger business may prefer the Gold plan as it comes with the software feature to store customer details, manage bookings, track payments, etc. This software feature, which includes an App to use anywhere, is highly rated by users and could be very valuable in keeping a robust dog-walking business highly organised. Gold plans also offer course discounts, like the Silver plan.
Existing Businesses: Those looking to grow an already-established pet sitting or dog walking businesses might be drawn to the Bronze membership if they already have their paperwork in order and don't need service contracts or insurance (there's no joining fee). For existing businesses, the Bronze plan provides features to help increase credibility and efficiency, such as access to NarpsUK logos and the database software for tracking your clients' information, bookings, payments, etc.
However, the £25 ongoing monthly Bronze fee is higher than on Silver and Gold plans, so dog walkers and pet sitters with existing businesses may still find more value from the Gold plan despite the initial £180 joining fee. For more information please see our price analysis below.
NarpsUK packages & prices
|Costs||Membership (monthly payments)||£25/month||£8/month||£10/month|
|One-time joining fee||none||£173||£180|
|Use of NarpsUK Logos and Emblems|
|ONLINE PROFILE||Your own 7 Page URL (website)||√||√||√|
|Free Listing on Find a Local Pet Sitter|
|SUPPORT||In House Members Forum||√||√||√|
|Support and Advice from NarpsUK via Email or Telephone|
|ACCESS TO BASIC DISCLOSURE CRIMINAL RECORD CHECKS^||√||√||√|
|PET SITTING AND DOG WALKING BUSINESS SOFTWARE AND APP^||√||x||√|
|BUSINESS SETUP TEMPLATES||Marketing Materials||x||√||√|
|Professional Forms and Service Contracts|
|Pet Sitting Business plan|
|Pet Sitters Account Package|
|DISCOUNTS ON BUSINESS NECESSITIES||Discounts on Pet Sitting Insurance^||x||√||√|
|Discounted UK Rural Skills Accredited Pet Sitting and Dog Walking Business Course^|
Is it worth joining NarpsUK?
A Silver or Gold membership can certainly create good value, especially for a new business. While these plans charge a joining fee, this fee essentially pays for service contracts and other forms so you don't need to hire a solicitor to draw up contracts. Plus Narps provides a wealth of information and advice to help reduce the anxiety of starting a new business.
For instance, many dog walkers don't realise they need a basic disclosure check in order to hold keys to pick up/drop off a dog when the owner isn't home. And you may need a licence from your council to board pets. Or if you're wondering which van to buy, you can get real-life advice from other members in the forum.
In addition, the Narps logo might give your clients peace of mind. For instance, most people would rather hire an electrician that is a member of an association. Customers like having somewhere to complain if there's a problem. Potential dog-walking clients might place a similar value on Narps membership, making your listing or advertisement stand out relative to other dog walkers.
Breaking down Narps Value
In order to decide if a Narps membership is worth the expense, it helps to put a value on membership. To do this, we've broken down the various features you get with membership. While some features are hard to value (e.g., the Narps logo and advice), other features can be quantified (e.g., the app and insurance discounts).
For instance, when bought as a standalone product from Find a Local Pet Sitter, the software would cost you £10 a month or £120 per year. The insurance savings from Pet Business Insurance gives NarpsUK Silver and Gold members 25% off their rates, plus free Non-Negligent Cover (Accidental Injury to animals) and Travel Costs Financial Loss Cover—a discount that we calculate is worth around £26.41 for 1 person. Between these two features alone, a Gold membership has the potential to create up to £146 of value per year—making the £120 Gold renewal fee quite attractive.
How Many Dog Walks to Pay for Narps Membership?
Another way to decide if NarpsUK membership is worth the cost is by breakeven analysis. That is, how many dogs would you need to walk to pay back the cost of membership? For example, assuming you'll earn around the UK average of £10 per dog per walk, you'd need to walk 8.5 dogs to pay for the £85 Silver membership renewal each year, or essentially two separate walks with 4 dogs.
|Number of Dogs Walked to Pay for Narps||Joining Fee||Annual Membership|
As you can see, while the Bronze plan benefits from no joining fee, you'll need to walk many more dogs to pay for the Bronze plan on an ongoing basis, year after year. For that reason, if you can afford the joining fee we'd recommend either the Silver or Gold plans depending on your need for the software and app.
Which Plan is the Best Value?
The Bronze membership is the least valuable option, in our opinion. While you might save money upfront because there's no joining fee, you'll pay more over time maintaining a monthly Bronze membership than Silver or Gold due to the higher £25 monthly fee. For example, over the first year the Bronze and Gold cost the same but in subsequent years you'd pay £180 less with a Gold plan than a Bronze plan.
|Comparing Plan Costs||Year One: Total Costs (including any joining fee)||Year Two: Total Costs|
NarpsUK offers a series of courses designed to provide additional skills to those in the dog walking business. Most of their short courses cost £25 for members and £35 for non members. The inclusive NarpsUK Pet Sitting and Dog Walking Business Course is priced at £299 (Inc. VAT) for non NarpsUK members or £199 (Inc. VAT) for NarpsUK Members.
|NarpsUK Course Descriptions|
|NarpsUK Pet Sitting and Dog Walking Business Course||Learn about business setup and management; branding, marketing and advertising; pet care & first aid; animal law and business conduct|
|Pet Services Offered and What's Involved||Learn about what's involved in offering dog walking, house sitting and home boarding services|
|Running your Pet Sitting Business||Learn about the business end of a pet sitting business, covering topics such as storing clients details, taking bookings, structuring your business, setting prices, confidentiality, scheduling and Managing Accounts|
|Animal Law & Regulations||Learn about insurance for the pet sitter and dog walker and relevant areas of animal law and legislation|
|Forms and Contracts for Pet Sitting and Dog Walking||Learn about the forms you need for your business and when to use them|
|Breeds||Improve your knowledge and understanding of the characteristics, both physical and behavioural, of different breeds|
|Animal Healthcare||Learn about routine health checks, common conditions, preventive treatments and zoonotic risks to people for dogs, cats and rabbits|
|Nutrition, a Healthy Diet and Grooming||Examine feeding and nutrition for dogs, plus grooming|
|Governing Business with Honourable Standards||Learn how to run your business ethically by clearly stating policies, being transparent and managing relationships in a professional manner.|
If you want a guiding hand to get your dog walking or pet sitting business off the ground, or the software, online presence and logos to help you organise and grow an existing business, then NarpsUK can certainly create solid value. Not to mention the advice and support network to help you tackle difficult questions or roadblocks you face along the way.
In fact, nearly all online feedback we've seen from existing NarpsUK members is positive. Certainly something to keep in mind when you're deciding if you want to join.