Starting a dog walker service is exciting but a little overwhelming as well. There is no better feeling than being your boss and surrounding yourself with lovable creatures. But like every business, it should not be handled casually. A lot of thought goes into planning and executing a profitable dog walker business.
You would see several iterations of dog walking services, from large enterprises to local services that can be hired via smartphones. Starting a dog walker business on any scale will take time, patience, and, most importantly, solid planning.
Hence, we have compiled this guide to help you with the basics that must be checked before starting the business. Give it a read to understand what it takes to run a successful dog-walking service.
Benefits Of A Dog Walker Service
Besides the generic benefits of owning a business, there are specific advantages of tapping the dog walking industry. Let’s take a look at them:
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1. Large Market
As per estimates, there are about 78 million pet dogs in the United States. Most of these pets are left unattended owing to owners’ professional and social commitments. You have a large market to tap, which is unlikely to get saturated.
2. Little Investment
Unlike most businesses, dog walking service does not require a large investment. You can train yourself or hire trained employees to offer the basic services. The fees to get certified and licensed are not too high as well. The point is you would not have to put the idea on hold and wait for investors to start the business.
3. Profitable Business
As discussed earlier, dog walking services cater to a large market. Thus, it holds a high-profit potential. An average dog walker makes about $28,000 a year, and individuals that have made $150,000 per year have also been reported. And these are the figures that individuals make, companies that these individuals work for earn a decent profit as well.
It is imperative to know a lot about dogs especially since you will be dealing with a lot of them once you start your business so read on about how to properly care for them since all of them are not the same check on Walkies and Whiskers to learn more.
4. Does Not Require A Degree or Diploma
Some businesses require a degree or a diploma to get licensed and certified. You can either have the degree yourself or hire someone with a certificate to supervise your operations. But it is not the case with dog walking services. You can get certified and licensed dog walkers even if you are a school dropout.
What Does A Dog Walker Service Do?
The fundamental job of a dog walker service is to walk the pets on predetermined schedules while safeguarding their wellbeing. But the scope of dog walkers has expanded in recent years. Now, most dog walking services have a range of offerings besides just walking the dogs. People can hire these services to watch their pets in absences, dispose of waste, and transport them in emergencies.
Furthermore, some dog walker services have partnered up with veterinarians as well. Such companies also cater to the medical problems of dogs. Customers can use them to get their pet’s medical attention and deliver medicine and food to their doorstep.
The point is there are several services that a dog-walking business can offer. You just have to research the market and offer the ones that have the highest profit potential.
How To Start A Professional Dog-Walking Service
The benefits and responsibilities of dog walker services have been established. But exactly what one has to do to start the business? Let’s take a look at that.
1. Do Your Research
Solid research is the key to starting a successful business. You would know the demographics, preferences, and behaviors of potential customers with comprehensive research that would help create an effective business plan. Furthermore, a comprehensive market survey would also identify the opportunities to make a profit and provide a solid foundation.
For example, if you are starting a business in an area where residents are not tech-savvy, creating an application would not benefit the service. Instead, you should market via traditional brochures and pamphlets containing a contact number to hire the service. But the same strategy would not work in areas where most of the population is young.
Without proper research, one can never know the demographics and preferences of potential customers. Hence, it is important to understand the target audience before launching any startup.
2. Create A Business Plan
A thorough research will provide you with pointers to the business plans. You would be able to map out the specifics of the business. You would know exactly how much investment is required, which services are in demand, and the appropriate medium to reach the audience. You should put it all in writing and create a document that describes everything in detail.
For example, if the research figures out that the potential audience of the business is young. It should work on developing an application. And the plan should include the top developers and their pricing for the task. Similarly, if a particular service requires equipment, it should also be mentioned. The plan should include the top manufacturers and the estimated cost of the procurements. Compiling all these prices would provide an idea about the investment that is needed to start a service.
Besides that, the business plan should also include long-term goals and short-term objectives. Furthermore, the key performance indicators must be enlisted to gauge the performance of the business to achieve its outlined goals and objectives. The point is it should be as comprehensive as possible.
3. Establish Your Business Structure
Once you have figured out the name, the services the business will offer, and the investment, you must register the business with the authorities. Right now, there are two popular legal structures: DBA (Doing Business As) and LLC (Limited Liability Company). Each has its advantages and disadvantages, but both allow you to open a bank account under the company’s name. You would have to opt for a legal name, but the businesses are not bound to necessarily use that name in their marketing.
4. Get Appropriate Licenses, Insurance, And Permits
Like all businesses, there are certain rules and regulations that dog walking services have to comply with. The requirements of different states can vary, but a dog walking license will be needed in most metropolitan areas. Prerequisites to license also vary in different states.
For example, some cities like San Francisco require business owners to be familiar with dog walking and train professional dog walkers. In addition, the businesses will require valid driving licenses, state identification, and liability insurance.
Furthermore, there are several rules which dog walkers have to comply with while walking a dog. The point is that you must comply with a set of rules to avoid getting in legal trouble. Hence, do thorough research on federal and state laws and regulations and get the necessary documents before starting the business.
5. Set Your Pricing
It is the most tricky and complicated part of running a business. You have to consider several factors, like the customers’ average income, the average expenditure of business, and competitors’ prices, among other things. Pricing the services higher than the customers can afford would be discouraging and certainly would not be a great strategy for a business. Even if the business is providing better services and value than competitors, as a startup, you would have to price the services lower or comparable to the competition.
However, once the business takes off and secures a loyal customer base, you can increase the prices to earn more profit.
6. Draw Up A Contract
Many things can go wrong for dog walkers, especially in metropolitan areas, and given the emotional attachment to their pets, most owners are not forgiving. Hence, it is important to have all bases covered to avoid legal disputes. You should hire a lawyer or a law firm to craft a contract if you run the businesses on a larger scale. You must get the contract signed by the pet owners to avoid any inconvenience.
7. Build A Website And Social Media Presence
Social media is the new mass media that is accessible to everyone. You should build a social media presence on different networking sites to make yourself accessible to the audience. In addition to enlisting the services you offer, interact with the audience and address their queries.
A business website is also a must because it adds credibility. Furthermore, the website should not just feature the services offered by the businesses but also blogs on the benefits of different services. Your website should also provide value to the customers.
Starting a dog walking service holds great potential, especially when owners are more concerned than ever about their dogs. Pet owners can hire the service to walk their dogs or just to watch the pets when they cannot attend to them. But like all businesses, there are certain factors that must be considered.
To run a successful dog walking service, you should be familiar with the market, do thorough research, and comply with all rules and regulations. And we hope this piece has conveyed exactly what it takes to get a dog walking service up and running.