If you have a passion for man’s best friend and are looking for a career change, then you should seriously consider starting your own dog walking business.
People will always require dog walkers because many people own or want to own a dog but struggle due to their career and other large responsibilities. This means that there is always a demand for this type of work, and it can be flexible, enjoyable and rewarding while allowing you to operate from home and make a living spending time with many different types of dog. Read on for some advice on starting your own dog walking business.
Improve Your Abilities with Dogs
A simple love of dogs will not be enough to succeed in this industry. You must possess excellent abilities when it comes to controlling dogs and knowing how to look after them. It is obviously helpful if you have experience in owning a dog, but consider researching, taking classes and practice with dogs before you start your own business. This will help you to look after dogs more effectively while also impressing your customers with your level of knowledge.
Offer A Variety of Services
It is also helpful if you provide a few additional services so that you can stand out from the crowd and attractor as many customers as possible. As well as walking dogs, you could also:
- Look after dogs in your home
- Look after dogs in your customer’s homes
- Provide dog grooming services
- Provide training classes
Set Up an Online Store
Leading on from this, another channel for making money in this industry could be setting up an online store as part of your website (more on this to come). There are many different products that you could sell, such as:
- Dog toys
- Dog food and snacks
- Dog beds
Having your own vehicle is important with this type of business, and this should be a van or car where you can easily, safely and comfortably transport multiple dogs. It is also a smart idea to have your logo and contact details on the side of the vehicle so that you can increase brand awareness while out and about.
Listen & Do Not Be Afraid of Asking Questions
It is important to realize that every customer and dog will be different, so you need to spend time listening to each customer and asking any questions that you might have. People need to know that they can trust someone with their beloved pet, particularly if it is one that has certain issues, such as allergies or behavioral problems.
Have Insurance in Place
There are a number of risks that are attached to this line of work, such as a dog damaging property, hurting someone while out on a walk, or becoming sick after eating something that they should not have whilst under your supervision. It is important that you have dog walker insurance in place in case anything happens so that you have financial coverage and peace of mind. Showing this to your customers can also help to show that you are a professional and take the business seriously.
One of the biggest mistakes that people make when starting a dog walking business is lacking professionalism. While it obviously does not make sense to wear a shirt and tie every day, you do need to have professionalism so that people will take you seriously and put trust in your business. This means that all forms of communication should be professional; you should have a clear system in place for handling payment and be presentable to customers.
Leading on from this, you also need to have a strong branding in place, which will help people to see your operation as a professional business, and will make you stick in the mind of your target customer. There are lots of good options for being creative and memorable when it comes to branding in this industry, and you should think about a company name, logo and slogan to stand out from the crowd.
Set Up A High-Quality Website
Much like any industry, having a high-quality website for your dog walking business is essential. People will want to spend time looking around and finding out more about your services before they make a decision, so the website should be informative, stylish and easy to use. It should include:
- A detailed description of the services that you provide
- An “about me” section which outlines your love of dogs and why you have started a business
- A USP which separates you from the competition
- Customer reviews
- Contact details
Use Social Media
Having a presence on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram is also an important way to build a connection with your target customer. You should use these powerful platforms to promote your business, show your expertise in the field, and respond to questions and comments.
This type of business works well on social media because you can post nice photos of the dogs that you are taking out (be sure to ask for owner’s permission before posting) and show your expertise by creating/sharing content related to dogs – this might include dog training tips, advice for first-time dog owners and any other relevant content.
Increase Visibility with Digital Marketing
When people are looking for somebody to walk their dog, the first thing that they will do is use a search engine to find dog walkers in the local area. You can increase your visibility online using digital marketing, which can increase brand awareness, improve your reputation and direct more traffic to your store.
It is also vital that you use more traditional forms of marketing, as you will be targeting people in your local area. You can do this with:
- An ad in the local paper
- Radio adverts
- Attending community events
- Partnering with relevant local businesses (vets, pet stores)
Ask for Reviews & Referrals
Reputation is everything in the dog walking industry, as people will always go with a company that has a positive reputation, so they can feel that they are in good hands. This means that you should be asking every customer that you get for a review and then placing these on your company website and on social media. Additionally, you should ask for referrals, as this is one of the best ways to acquire new customers and build your reputation; this may require incentivizing the referrals, such as one free dog walk or a discount on their next booking.
If you are a dog lover and are looking for a new way to make a living, then a dog walking business could be an enjoyable and rewarding career option. These tips should help you to get set up and start attracting new customers from the get-go, so you can start to build a reputation for your business.