Hi dog lovers!
So you’re ready to move from dog loving to dog walking, but aren’t sure of how to start?
Well, it’s a commitment, but it’s definitely a furry and happy one! Starting up takes a little bit of time and effort, but can actually be surprisingly simple— we’ve put together a few pointers to help you begin:
- Be professional and prepared
- Market yourself
- Network and ask around
Now let’s break these tips down into more bite-size pieces.
Be professional and prepared
- Already have a resume? Great, you’re ahead of the game. If not, don’t sweat it—just make one! When creating (or editing), brainstorm and narrow down your best dog walking skills; add words like friendly, punctual, reliable, organized, and honest. Be sure to also include past experiences that directly relate to animals and pets, volunteer work, and/or customer service.
- Take the time to make business cards. There is no way to make yourself look more professional than to hand out a tangible item to remember you or your services by. On the card, include valuable information such as your name, number, and email, a link to your resume, and maybe even your current town or location. Now for the fun stuff—add a logo or a graphic that speaks to your personality or dog-walking brand. The more relatable and friendly, the more calls you will receive!
- Calculate your target weekly or bi-weekly income. Incorporate your costs into your average as well; this could be the amount of gas used or travel time, for example. Don’t forget to consider your great experience, or lack of—because this matters to the dog owners. Lastly, do some research; ask around, look online, and compare others pricing; how do others calculate their prices? Do they offer any discounts for multiple dogs? Do they have a package deal? Once you’ve covered all angles, you can now base your prices off of this information.
Becoming a dog-walker is similar to becoming an entrepreneur… you are taking on your own clients, forming your own prices, and making your own decisions. To be successful in any side hustle, you must learn to market yourself. You are your own brand. How to do this, you ask? Well, to start, follow these steps:
- Make a resume and business cards; yes, we hate to be redundant and no, you’re not experiencing deja vu. These things are just that
- Design a fun, engaging, and informative flyer. Show these potential dog-owners what you’re all about, why you’re interested in dog walking, and what benefits you offer versus your competitors.
- Create a well-done LinkedIn. Treat this as a digital resume. Include keywords related to dog walking. Do a Google search for the best qualifications and skills for running your own dog-walking business. If you want to make it the best it can be, check out these tips too!
- Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Without loitering (hah), pass out flyers or business cards in front of your local grocery stores, PET SHOPS, and other family-oriented places. If you want to go above and beyond, ask if you can leave a stack of your cards (or flyers) near the door.
Network and ask around
Now the big question is… “Who do I ask?!” It is easy to spend a lot of time searching for new customers, but this is the same for any business big or small. Lucky for you, you already know exactly whom you’re targeting, so your next steps all revolve around networking.
- Write a solid sales pitch. Remember to sound friendly, genuine, and sincere when speaking, and use words, skills, and experiences that relate to dog walking. You don’t want to sound fake or stuffy, just real and honest. More than likely, you will use this sales pitch with strangers and in more professional environments, rather than with friends or family.
- Make a list of everyone (locally) you know who owns a dog and just simply reach out to each one individually. Start the conversation with something personable and light-hearted– maybe something new happening in his or her life or if you haven’t spoken in a while, ask how he or she is doing.
- Try to build relationships with animal shelters in the area. Offer your dog-walking services to either a) the shelter or b) the new dog parents! Not only would this work as a great incentive for families to find their dog at one shelter versus another, it is also an excellent opportunity for new pet owners to take advantage of after leaving the shelter.
- Volunteer. Get involved with others who are doing what they love as well. The best thing to do to broaden your network and meet others is to find volunteer work. In this case, peek around locally to find some great options!
If you follow these tips, dog owners will be Beggin’ for you in no time!