7 Steps for Offering Dog Walking and Pet Sitting Services
Photo courtesy of DogZenergy/Handlr
Looking to give your business an extra boost and increase your monthly recurring revenue without having to pay for more inventory or a bigger space? Consider adding dog walking and pet-sitting services to your store offerings.
If your average customer spends $60 per month on dog food and supplies, imagine if you could also sign them up for dog walking services. In big cities, the average cost per dog walk is $20 for a 30-minute private walk, or $30 for 60 minutes. Many working professionals who work Monday through Friday spend $400 to $600 or more on dog walking services each month.
Now think about how many times you’ve been asked, “Do you know of any good dog walkers in the area?”
While adding these services may seem like an enormous responsibility, there are plenty of excellent resources and platforms that can help.
Here are 7 steps for instantly adding dog walking and pet-sitting services that your clients will love…
Step 1: Make sure that you are certified, licensed, insured and bonded.
These words may seem intimidating at first, but it’s necessary for ensuring the safety of your clients’ pets, your dog walkers and yourself. There are some wonderful organizations—like Pet Sitters Associates and the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters—that can get your business insured and bonded in no time. They also offer a lot of support and educational opportunities for their members.
In addition, organizations like Dognostics and DogTec offer great business coaching services and can set you up with all of the contracts and policies that you need for your customers and staff.
Step 2: Create your service list and pricing.
When creating your services and pricing, make sure that you consider how much you will be paying your dog walkers, and keep in mind other costs like insurance, payroll wages, gas, supplies and workers comp. Look at other dog walkers’ services in comparable areas to get an idea for how you should set your rates.
Step 3: Set up your processes and systems.
Use a mobile business platform that will help you immediately set up the systems and processes necessary to successfully launch your new service offerings. After building my dog-walking agency—DogZenergy—10 years ago, I built the business software of my dreams to automate my daily operations. It’s called Handlr and it literally handles everything for you. Handlr is mobile business software for pet sitters and dog walkers that automates your scheduling and gives your dog walkers and clients connected apps. This way, your customers can book your services on-demand, GPS track their dog walker, receive chat and photo updates, rate your dog walkers and pay automatically.
Step 4: Hire the best dog walkers and pet sitters.
When hiring dog walkers, it’s best to ask for referrals from your friends or ask existing staff if they would like to do dog walking or pet sitting. Your current staff will appreciate the extra income and flexibility.
Let’s say that you charge $100 per night for in-home pet sitting; your pet sitter can make 60 percent of that. If they are booked 20 days out of the month, they can bring in an additional $1,200 of income per month. This can be particularly helpful to your staff during slow seasons.
You can also utilize hiring platforms like Hireology for help in finding the perfect candidates. Once you do find the perfect person, be sure to background check them using a platform like Checkr.
Step 5: Train your dog walkers.
Creating an employee handbook is a great way to keep everyone on the same page and offer consistent, high-quality services to your customers. Make sure that you spend a lot of time individually training your dog walkers and pet sitters. What is the proper way to greet a dog? Should they ask every dog to sit before putting on their leash? Do they know to knock twice before entering a home? Do they know what to do if a dog slips out of his collar?
One of the upsides to owning your own brick-and-mortar store and offering services is that your store staff can keep track of the schedule, take client requests and manage your dog walkers and pet sitters’ availability. Be sure that they know how the service side of your business operates so that they can help you manage the client requests.
Step 6: Showcase your services.
Your store is perfect for showcasing your new services. Putting up a menu of offerings behind the register is one way to let customers know what is available. You can also design a nice brochure or postcard that can be slipped into every customer’s bag. Offer a coupon for any new clients, or consider throwing a Yappy Hour at your store to launch your new services. Anyone who attends could receive a gift certificate for dog walking or pet sitting.
Step 7: Cultivate word-of-mouth advertising.
Word-of-mouth is everything. Your customers may be searching for a dog walker to hire, but they don’t know where to look. Dog walking is a trust-based business, and your regular clients, with whom you’ve already developed a relationship, will trust your experience and expertise.
If you are selling premium, high-quality dog food, but a customer’s dog is still overweight, tell him about your high-energy, daily dog walks. Keeping your customers’ dogs happy, healthy and safe is key. If your clients are happy, they will tell their friends how incredible your services are. This, above all else, is the key to your success.
Britt Alwerud lives in Los Angeles, CA with her menagerie of furbabies—two Goldens, Daisy and Taj; two cats, Tiger and Monkey; and two horses named Gracie and Moo. Britt owns DogZenergy in San Diego. She is also the founder and CEO of Handlr. Learn more about Handlr by clicking here or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.