Interested in a dog walking Business? Or you may already be a dog walker, but the business has not done so well (or could do better)?
Aside from the obvious love of dogs, anyone who wants to be a successful dog walker needs to understand the common challenges that small businesses face. As well as how to overcome them and grow the career you choose.
Two out of five households in the United States own a dog – which owns nearly 4.8 million dog owners nationally. Research has shown that pet owners are more likely to work full time (75%) compared to non-pet owners, so the demand for dog walkers is much higher in the country.
While this is great news for anyone looking to start a dog walker career, the first step to establishing a profitable dog walking business is to meet and communicate with potential clients.
Word of mouth is a crucial marketing tool in any business, but especially when you are looking for someone to take care of your fur baby.
By word of mouth you can keep yourself a trusted and attentive professional, so go out there and encourage yourself.
Here are six other important things to do to create a profitable dog walking business.
Do your research
Suppose you already have the basics – set up your business name, a separate bank account. Research is very important to charge potential clients, understand potential market share and establish a reasonable price to identify your competition (you can observe these closely).
As a professional dog walker, you will never know where dogs can walk. Contact your local council to make sure you have a clear understanding of what parks and beaches allow dogs and when they need to be on the leash.
Crunch the numbers
You need to make your payments before starting any business. In fact, Average dog walking rates are $20 per 30-minute walk and $40 per hour-long walk. Many dog walkers are happy to give you a weekly or monthly discount of 10% to 30%.
However, the prices you charge should take into account all of your business expenses to ensure the cost of operating.
In addition to your time, there is also the cost of petrol (if you want to go to work), car wear and tear, business insurance and spare dog leads, poop bags, doggie first aid kits, dinners, and toys.
Talking to other dog walkers, pets and industry experts is a great way to get a deeper understanding of what equipment you need and other costs that you may not care about.
Remember, it is not uncommon for beginner professionals to do both jobs while growing their focus business.
Education & Certification
As a professional dog walker, you are expected to know what to do in an emergency and how to handle various animal behaviors.
You love dogs, but do you have the confidence to deal with an aggressive animal? Do you have any knowledge on training dogs?
You can think of doing obedience training or puppy pre-school for your own expertise and customer peace of mind. The two recognized accredited courses are Certificate III in Dog Behavior and Training and Certificate IV in Companion Animal Services.
Having a pet first-aid certificate Do you know what to take if a dog is injured or has a medical emergency while in your care?
The Pet Industry Association represents all pet industry businesses, from pet breeders and retailers to breeders, dog walkers, and pets.
PIAA membership gives you the opportunity to build and market your business, gain peer support and access to industry professionals, as well as attend training seminars and events.
Get Dog Insurance
When everything is fine alone, taking out insurance is the last thing on your mind. However, professional insurance can protect you and your business from potential risks.
Imagine if the dog you were running bitten a passerby or jumped on you and hurt you? Don’t think about it, but pay for it to make sure you have adequate protection.
In addition to giving you peace of mind, adequate insurance is a great statement of your professionalism!
As a starting point, you may want to consider professional compensation, public liability, and personal risk. Then, if things are chaotic when you have dogs in your care, you know you don’t have to fork out for someone else’s vet or medical bills and you won’t suffer a loss of income if you are accidentally injured.
Build a strong customer base
Important questions in any business are ‘How do I attract customers?’.
Whether you want to dot the letterbox, use social media, or advertise in your local newspaper, you need a well-defined action plan to attract potential new clients. Here are some ideas.
Visit local veterinarians. Introduce yourself and ask if you can put a notice on their wall or put some flyers or business cards on their counter. Do not drop and run. This is a great opportunity to cultivate friendships and create cordial relationships with other reputable pet industry professionals.
Network. Connect with dog walkers and pets established in the area, offer to fill when they are on vacation or sick, and ask if they can recommend you to their clients.
Create an introductory offer. Entice new clients with a one-off discount rate. Make sure people know that this is a ‘special price and advise on ongoing regular rates to avoid disappointment.
Must attend local pet events. Be prepared to introduce yourself, chat with pet owners, and promote your service. Take flyers by the hand or, if possible, have your own stall with information about your dog walking business.
There are many clever and creative ways to promote your dog walking business. It takes confidence and an active approach. Be confident and your dog walk business will grow.