Dog walking or Pet Sitting Business Ideas – So, I was at the dog park the other day, when an entrepreneurial young lady (maybe home from college for the summer?) casually introduced herself and mentioned that she had a dog-walking / pet sitting business with her mom.
Very cool, but the important part was that she asked if I’d like a postcard with her business details and a coupon. Very friendly, and not pushy. If I had gotten it in the mail, I might have overlooked it, so the minute she spent talking to me made a big difference.
Awesome, because three days each week my wife and I can’t get home to walk our dog, so she has a long stretch at home alone.
Anyway, when we got home I checked out her website, (on Facebook) prominently displayed on the front of the postcard, saw photos of her with happy-looking dogs, read a couple of customer reviews, and decided to be her customer. After all, I’m a big fan of coupons, and her postcard offered 20% off the first 5 visits for dog walking.
Dog Walking – A Sweet Little Business Idea
So, we’re in the suburbs, but I know in cities dog-walking can be a huge business, especially for couples who both work. (There’s a dense population of potential customers, and we’ve all seen a lady walk by in the city with about 5 dogs at once)
So, currently I’m paying this girl $15 three times a week to walk our dog, and each visit is for about 20 minutes. Works great for us, and for her.
Multiply that by 8-10 customers, and that’s some good cash for a college student, or a great incentive to grow bigger. In this case, if she gets bigger, she can hire friends to handle some of the dogs, and take a % off the top. Well, if you’re an entrepreneur, you know how the rest goes!
Pet-sitting postcard template from Vistaprint
Ideas for Marketing Your Dog Walking / Pet Sitting Business
I’m not a marketing pro, but I do have a laptop, and motivation. In this case, there are really just a few things you’d need to start a dog walking business of your own:
- Geography + Math – Dog walking and pet sitting makes the most sense when you can make the most of your time. That’s why you should find clusters of dogs in the same area, and ideally walk multiple dogs at once. Hey, if you’re walking around the block, you may as well double or triple your profit
- Networking & Trust – Dogs are like children to most people, and you don’t just find people to watch them in the yellow pages or online. Also, a dog walker or pet sitter probably needs access to your house; maybe even their own key. The best networking in the dog walking / pet sitting business occurs by word of mouth and referral.
- Marketing- Think Small & focused – Due to the importance of trust, you should look at starting a dog walking / pet sitting business differently. All the advertising money and SEO in the world can’t buy trust, so don’t rely on it for new customers. Remember, this is a business where you’ll get new customers face to face, or through referral. Also, don’t spend too much of your profits on gasoline or road tolls!
- Marketing Offline – Design a postcard or catchy cheap business cards that prominently displays your website and a phone number. In this case the postcard or business card will give people something tangible to remember you by, and the website will give them supporting info and hopefully close the deal. Check out a cheap online printing service like Vistaprint (click here for coupons) where you can get a lot for $20 or less!
- Marketing online – Remember the importance of referrals! Casting too wide of a net, like distributing a press release isn’t of use to you; that’s why you have to have a presence on social media. Be sure to keep your Facebook page fresh; let people know how much you enjoy your job, and maybe even take pics of the dogs on your walks in town or the city.
- Postitive Reviews – Encourage customers to “like” you on Facebook, (which can serve as your main website) which can be just as good as getting a referral when their friends see that they liked you. Also, encourage customers to write a review for you on sites like Yelp if you are listed. Be sure to look for any bad reviews and address them, as that could kill your fledgling business!
Dog walking postcard template from Vistaprint
Dog Walking & Pet Sitting; A Great First Business
People always think of a lemonade stand as people’s first experience with pure capitalism, but a dog walking or pet sitting business can really blossom into a true full-time or side business.
The great thing about the time we live in is that you can come up with an entire online and offline marketing plan for about the price of a tank of gas!