If you are new to dog walking, you are in for a treat. Firstly, congratulations. You’ve already taken the first leap of faith, starting your own business! Whether you have been in the game for a while or just starting your dog walking business, our tips for gaining new clientele will serve you well.
There are various ways to start spreading the word regarding your dog walking business, and gaining new clients. Networking, fliers advertising your business, and attending local dog events are just a few examples of what you can do to begin spreading the puppy love. You can also take your business to the digital realm, including social media and your own website.
Perhaps bringing your dog walking business into the 21st century of social media and establishing an online presence seems scary. Let us reassure you, it is not. Or perhaps you have been only focusing on online presence only and have forgotten the time-tested and traditional ways of spreading the word! Either way, stay with us, we will help you break down every step of the way, and take a closer look at each of these methods.
It is a good idea to incorporate flyers showcasing your business. Ideally, you will begin dropping off fliers at least two months before starting your business. However, whether you have been in business for a while, or in the first few weeks, it is never too late to start.
What Should My Flier Include?
Your flier should include your business telephone number, and mention they can call or text. Also, include your email, and if you are equipped with one, your website. We will discuss your website a little later. Remember, you want to establish easy communication between yourself and a potential client as clear as possible.
Make a List and Deliver
The easiest way to go about this is to first make a list of 30 to 40 pet-related businesses in your area. After you have compiled the list, set a couple of days aside to drive around and physically introduce yourself. Great places of business to visit would be veterinarians, groom shops, pet-supplies stores, and dog-training facilities. Visiting dog parks located in your area of coverage is also a great way to meet other dog lovers, such as yourself, and spark interest. Animal shelters and other humane societies are also great places to hand out your fliers, as well as spay and neuter clinics.
What If There Aren’t That Many Businesses Around Me?
If there aren’t 30 to 40 businesses located near you, not to worry. You can go to other places such as local coffee shops, libraries, grocery stores, and churches to spread the word. You can also ask friends if they would do you the favor of hanging fliers in their workplace break rooms. Remember, the idea is to spread the word of your dog walking business to other dog owners.
Repeat Repeat Repeat
You will want to repeat this process for about 4 months, and you will be sure to land a decent amount of clientele.
For new business owners, this may seem a little counter-intuitive, difficult, or even intimidating. The notion that you are stepping on someone else’s turf, or in this case doggy territory, will often hold dog walking business owners back from establishing a professional working relationship with other dog walkers. This is not the case.
Reach out to other dog walking business owners or pet sitters in town via a short and friendly email. Invite them out for a cup of coffee and explain that you are interested in new clients. Let them know that you would appreciate recommendations when they are busy, out of town, unavailable, or if the client is not a good fit.
You will find that most often than not, most dog walkers are willing to play nice with each other (see what we did there?) and welcome the help! You will also find that dog walkers offer slightly different services anyways.
Attend Community Dog Events
Make an effort to attend as many dog-related events you can find. There are always humane society fundraisers, dog costume contests, and things of this sort. If you can, signing up as an official vendor and sponsoring a table or booth will be a great way to get exposure.
These events often lend themselves for opportunities to provide potential clients with coupons such as, buy one dog walk, and get one free. Making little goodie bags to hand out is also a creative way to include these coupons and solicit client opportunities.
Creating a social media page exclusively for your business is always a good idea. The exposure you get is incredible, not to mention free! If done properly, your social media posts advertising your business can be targeted to reach specific demographics and regions, including your neighborhood. Besides, who wouldn’t press ‘like’ on a cute puppy picture?
Aside from all major social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, consider creating a Yelp profile exclusively for your business. Yelp listings showcase local searches, so people in your coverage area looking for dog walking services or pet sitters are very likely to come across your page. Did we mention it is also free? Include a photo of yourself and of course those precious dogs. Gently invite your friends and clients to kindly write a review of their experiences with you. Just as in your flier, be sure to include your telephone number, email address, and your website. This leads us to our next point.
Consider investing in your own website. Your website, as we have mentioned, can be showcased in your flier, business cards, and social media outlets.
A website is the first impression that potential clients will have of your professionalism, your business, and reputation. While your website doesn’t have to be anything fancy, however, it does have to be practical and versatile. As many users tend to look up information via their mobiles, your website should be easy to navigate using both a desktop and mobile device.
Here are several must-have items on your website:
- Detail out your coverage area. List the city, and if you are in the United States, also list out the state. Be specific of the region, listing out suburb or neighborhood if possible.
- Include pricing. For this information, you will want to consider researching other dog walkers in your area. Your rates should be comparable to those being charged in your community. After six months to a year, you can increase rates.
- Include an easy to fill out contact form, as well as listing out your contact information
- Include that you are insured. This will instill a sense of peace and security for potential clients.
- Include any testimonials. What’s great is that you can include testimonials across platforms, meaning you can use the testimonials on your Yelp, and any positive and praising social media commentary you may have received.
Branding My Dog Walking Business
Now that the essentials for starting your dog walking business are in place, making it a step further and branding your business will help with word-of-mouth and establish your brand.
Name Your Business
For example, let’s say you call your dog walking business “Puppy Love R Us.” Adorable right? You will be able to place this name on your flier, business card, and if you are lucky, purchase your website domain name the same (in this scenario, it will be puppyloveRus.com).
Further to this, your social media handles across all major outlets and Yelp will be puppyloveRus. This will help establish presence and consistency throughout and be easier to remember for potential clientele. In this manner, your company and services will also be easy to spread via word of mouth, “I used puppyloveRus and they were great!”
To further establish presence and branding, obtaining a logo for your business will be incredibly helpful. This logo can again go on your flier, business cards, website, social media outlets, and your Yelp site.
Your logo can also be displayed on any official documents including invoices, coupons, goodie bags, and any thank you letters or holiday cards that you may write for your clients.
There are many websites where you can select a top-notch designer to create your logo. In the past, I have worked with many designers that I have found online on websites such as fiver that have been great and inexpensive.
Let’s get out there!
While it will take some planning, starting your own dog walking business doesn’t have to be daunting. On the contrary, it will be a fun adventure! Applying some traditional and time tested advertising principles can take you a long way. Similarly, applying some 21st century online techniques will also help expand your dog walking business. Now that you have all the basics, we hope you are getting out there and handing out your flyers and business cards!