Whether you have an established dog walking business or are looking to forge a career out of it, we’ve put together some helpful tips to get your dog walking business booming!
A whopping 26% of households in the UK in 2018 own at least one dog, so the opportunity to make a name for yourself is just a few steps away…
Provide excellent service
It might sound like a no-brainer, but providing an excellent service to clients is just as important as keeping their furry companions happy. How can you achieve this?
Always be reliable, make time for your clients and arrive promptly at their door. Look after the dogs, rather than treat them merely as money makers - if the dog loves you, you’re more likely to secure a long-lasting relationship. Communicate with clients, sit down with them ahead of the first walk to get to know them. They’ll appreciate how involved you’re being and it’s also an excellent opportunity to get to know the dog, what words they respond to, what might spook them, what treats they’re allowed.
There a few other ways you can go the extra mile as a dog walking business owner. Texting pictures of the dogs to their owners to let them know walks are going well and buying the dogs some Christmas and birthday presents are just two examples of how you can add value to your service and helps retain clients.
Maximise your time
There are only so many hours in the week, so you need to plan your time efficiently to ensure that your dog walking business is a carefully managed venture.
Plan your walks in such a way that you take many dogs on walks at once, but don’t mismatch them – a Great Dane and a Chihuahua might look funny next to each other, but they wouldn’t get the most out of a joint walk! Instead pair dogs by size, age and agility.
What’s more, plan your walks with care. Circular routes are best, as you can guarantee you’ll get at least one dog that refuses to double back on itself!
Update your social media feeds with weekly updates, pictures and videos of what the dogs have been up to. This shows clients the value of your work and could potentially help you attract new dog owners.
Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest – as long as clients can see the good work you’re doing, they’ll be more likely to hire or recommend you.
When you start your dog walking business, the main thing you’ll rely on is word of mouth. Ask existing clients to recommend you to their friends or share your social media posts. You could even give clients, friends and family business cards to hand out to dog owners.
Once you’ve established yourself, you can start growing your marketing efforts. Try these low-cost methods for growing your dog walking business:
- Apply some branding to your vehicle
- Become active on local Facebook groups
- Post listings on local business pages
- Place business cards with local vets and newsagents
- Go leafleting
- Use Facebook advertising
Any small business owner that offers hourly rates should know that packages can be a great little money earner. As a dog walker, you should consider offering to take dogs to the vet, or pet sitting while your client goes on holiday. You could even pop in to feed the dog if the client is out of the house for a large part of the day, or if you’re suitably qualified, you could offer dog training.
If dog walking keeps you busy during evenings and weekends but leaves you twiddling your thumbs in the daytime, then offering extra services can be a great way to earn more money.
Before exploring what extra services you are willing to provide alongside dog walking, be sure to check out what other local dog walkers are doing in the area. Once you’ve studied the competition, you’ll know what services are lacking in your area, or what you can do better. It’s not all about dogs, after all – other pets need attention too if their owners aren’t in. If you’re planning on offering dog sitting, why not broaden this to include cat sitting, rabbit sitting and more.
It’s the dream of any small business to have perfect clients that pay on time and are as reliable as you are punctual. Unfortunately, you will always get one or two clients that forget to settle invoices on time or who reschedule appointments at the last minute.
The trick is to be strict: ask to be paid in advance, or at least ask for deposits if you’re offering a package. Apply (and enforce!) late notice cancellation charges, and if you have a client that is consistently unreliable, don’t be afraid of getting rid of them – it might be awkward, but it’s in the best interests of your business.
If you are planning your next business move, be sure to check out our dog walking insurance! This covers you against injury, property damage and more.