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Dog walking business(11 Posts)
I’m starting a dog walking business in an area I’ve recently moved to.
I’ve got a Facebook page, a google maps listing and am DBS checked and insured. Will look into setting up a free website.
I have my own dog (who can come on some but of course, not all, of the walks) and a suitable vehicle to transport the dogs to the walk locations.
Any advice on where to advertise my business (preferably free as due to having to leave my old (unrelated) successful business due to an abusive ex I’m starting from scratch with my accounts in the red and zero savings!)
Any do’s and dont’s and general advice from dog walkers/dog walker users would be appreciated. Thanks!!
Local dog Facebook group
Local buy and sell groups
Good Dog Guide (free, but the premium option is excellent value at £40 per year)
Local noticeboards (may have to seek permission from parish Council etc).
If you have a front window on a road with decent foot traffic, you could do like one local dog walker has and dedicate much of the window space to an advert
You could also consider leafleting dog walkers - particularly those walking in the evening who are probably unable to walk in the day
Make sure your van has advertising on the side - you can get magnetic panels to stick on the side relatively cheaply and then your van turns into a billboard.
When dog walking, wear a uniform that advertises what you do with your URL - it will encourage those in the market to strike up conversation.
Agree with local facebook pages there are usually specific dog pages for areas as well.
Vets are also a good place to advertise.
Speak to local dog walkers most will pass on dogs if they are too busy or will ask you to cover if they are away.
I would not waste money on leaflet runs
I would not put signs on your vehicle as many clients prefer an unmarked car in be in their driveway rather than advertise that they are away all day.
Visit popular dog walking areas and speak to the people walking dogs
Make sure you sell why you are different from other dogs walkers eg training, first aid certificate, use reviews from other clients to help, walk reactive dogs (only say this if you have experience of it!)
Do you do home visits for elderly dogs that may need company but no walks, do you offer discount for family dogs, will you walk dogs together or individually, will you clean dogs when you return them home etc
Make sure you have insurance
As for advertising I found my dog walker/daycare through other dog walkers.
I had emailed them having seen their websites but they were full so passed me onto other walkers they knew in the area. Eventually found mine who had a vacancy as they were still building up their business.
Thanks - these are really useful.
I live with my parents currently so I’ll ask if I can put an ad in their front window.
I didn’t actually think to contact local dog walkers to ask for the dogs they can’t fit in.
I too would be put off by a branded van. I just think it's asking for trouble, both for the owner and yourself. I would also be put off by a uniform, if I'm honest. In both cases my main concern would be someone targeting the walker for dog theft. This might be paranoia on my part.
I found my walker by looking on FB for a local walker. I emailed her and she said she was full and no longer walked in my area but knew someone who did. She then handed me on to my current walker. Mostly I think she has built up her customer base by word of mouth so although she had a slowish start, I notice more and more she is busy and really needs to juggle things around if I ask for a last minute walk.
Things I asked her before starting:
- first aid training
- how she combines dogs to provide the best walk for them
- what she does with dogs that don't get on or are not compatible
- whether the dogs are ever left alone (e.g. in a van while another dog gets dropped off)
- what she does when it's too hot, too wet, too cold etc.
- how many dogs she walks at once
- how many holidays/breaks she takes a year and what the cover is (if any)
- where she walks the dogs
- limitations she has on dogs she walks, e.g. intact, vaccinated etc.
I walk in a local park which is extremely dog and dog walker friendly.
Met a lady and started chatting this morning. She said she was a paid dog walker. Am likely to be in the market for one soon and because I’d seen her interacting with both the dogs she was walking and with mine and was friendly, asked for a card.
She is doggy first-aid trained and insured (not just a hobby). I will seriously consider her - obviously with proper research etc.
If you can walk dogs in areas where there are loads of other walkers, talk to them (preferably when dog walking - not just randomly approaching them in the park or they may think you’re a. Desperate b. Dog napping).
I’ve also had a lady who I’ve only met a few times ask me to recommend day care because I’d more mentioned previously to her friend that I have a very flexible and lovely day care provider. She obviously has seen my bundle of joy and how she interacts; her dog is similar in age and temperament. Word of mouth is so important to dog lovers.
Couple of things I’ve noticed that would definitely put me off using a dog walker.
-one has just set up locally to me, I’ve looked at their website and in one of the photos the dog has its harness on the wrong way round. I’d always check with the owner which way it went (unless the owner put it on themselves and then there’s no hope)
- saw a lady in a country park yesterday with 8, yes 8 dogs. I would not be happy that my dog was walked in such a big group no matter how many bells you have on them so you can hear them when you let them off lead.
Our park has a notice board they advertise on (laminated a5 max) also consider just having a job lot of cheap leaflets printed (solo print is good) and give them to people walking dogs before 8am or around 7 - they are likely to be working
When I was looking for a new Dogwalker I did a google search, asked for recommendations on local dog FB page and checked out the notice board at local pet store (had lots). If it didn't state insured, DBS checked & first aid trained on info I wouldn't enquire, I also expect to be shown proof during initial visit.
One issue I found was that many only worked around school hours, which is no use to me as I work a late shift & weekends or likely to be out for day then, so if you can be flexible it helps.
Do you have insurance cover to do taxi-ing service for things like vets or hydrotherapy its really useful for non drivers and potentially could do during off peak times.
My Dogwalker meets other walkers and they've arranged cover between them & I think I was given her contact info from another walker that was full.
I found my dog walker through another walker who referred me as she was full. All the local walkers see to know each other and offer to fill in on walks if you own walker takes a rare day off.
It's a great little network and I know they share training tips and recommend local vets etc. It's been especially good for us as our walker hasn't walked a sighthound before so she went to her friends for advice. Everyone benefits!