Whether you are a serious dog walker, or just looking for a business that’s easy to get into and need some extra cash to help give your income a boost for that special gift. A Dog Walking Business is an ideal way to do that.
1 – The first thing you need to have is a love for dogs. Not just an affection for them, but a love for them. Dogs can sense if you feel afraid, uncertain or simply don’t like them. They will act out if you don’t know how to handle them, lunge at them, handle them awkwardly or exhibit cruelty towards them. They may shy away from you, behave badly for you and some may even bite you. If you don’t feel warm and fuzzy about dogs and pets then stop now, because a dog walking business is not a good idea for you.
2 – Decide if you want to work part-time or full-time and commit to a schedule with regular hours.
3 – Choose to either walk all types of dogs, or only specific breeds and sizes or level of energy. For instance, Jack Russell dogs and other terriers are high-level energy breeds and will require a lot of patience.
4 – Choose the walking services you are going to have. Will you go on group walks, favorite place walks, or only be walking one dog at a time. Also, will you be providing other services for dogs like dog baths? These extra services can increase your income. Some dogs will not go for a group walk, so you’ll need to have a way to assess that and a method for dealing with it if it happens.
5 – Develop walking routes (keep in mind that shorter-legged dogs and some dog breeds will go shorter distances than their long-legged friends). Find and map off-leash play areas for planned doggie play time, and create a place in your auto that can be used to transport pets.
6 – Create a safe and private area to keep house keys for your clients that won’t compromise their privacy.
7 – Develop a program that includes a client consultation and pet introduction and a client contract.
8 – No Professional education is required, but you will want to know what to do in case a pet becomes aggressive or frightened and runs away from you, or becomes sick. You’ll also want to know about favorite pet meals and toys and any outdoor elements that may require doggie clothing for the pet you are responsible for. Also a high priority area you need to know about is the dog health and safety issues related to your new business – Call a vet or better yet visit their offices for advice, tips and feedback.
9 – Create a client contract that covers health, insurance and any other issues that you can think of. You can even go to a dog boarding place and ask for a copy of the contract they use and duplicate it for yourself. Have an attorney proof your contract final revision to make sure that you have covered everything that you can and would be held liable for. Use this time to also create a business policy that also outlines your code of conduct, mission statement and how and when you are paid.
10 – Do a little research on the internet and pick out a great name for your business. A name that relates to your niche. Register your business name and your business and get a business checking account once you have these things and step 11 completed.
11 – Time to get a business license, and business insurance, find out about any dog licensing, and check into whether or not there are any local city bylaws that you need to know about. Pay any required fees before you walk your first dog.
12 – Gain the trust and confidence of potential customers by becoming visible in your community. Join any free local groups you can. Create several flyers and post them everywhere. Find an opportunity to volunteer in a pet store or even take a paid position for a little while then you are well-advised to participate in that. Join any networking group you fit well in. Get a list of any pet photographers in your area and visit those people for tips and advice. Are people close by who give pet massages? – Call them. Maybe that’s a service you can add later, too. Get business cards printed and always carry a handful with you and in your car.
13 – There is free publicity everywhere – Offer a free dog walking class and get some free radio and media advertising by submitting a press release on yourself, your new business, and your first class. If you have a dog, make a walking billboard on their coat and walk around your own block, talking to people and asking local residents for referrals, sales leads and marketing tips. I used to put my phone in my dogs coat pouch and walk to the mall for lunch. Once she started ringing, people started laughing and asking me questions. It was a great memory hook for them about me.
14 – Dress appropriately professional. People want to feel like they can trust you with the keys to their home and beloved pet. Clean and tidy clothes and shoes, combed hair, clean fingernails and great smelling breath will get you a lead faster than any talking you do. People make over 100 assumptions about you (non verbally) in the first 3-20 seconds that they meet you – use that time to your benefit. If you don’t have time to change into clean clothes then re-schedule your appointment – Same rules apply for showing up in a dirty car.
15 – Do enough work locally that you can create a list of references for potential clients.