Earn £50,000 a year starting a dog walking business!
Up until a few years ago I was running a very successful dog walking/ pet business in the South of England earning £50,000 a year. Only downgrading my involvement in it (i run it through employees now) to start a family! Still even though i no longer dog walk, my 3 employees bring me in over £1000 a month in revenue, for a few hours of work a month! not bad! If you're thinking of starting your own dog walking business read this blog first and hopefully it will help you to decide whether its right for you.
Here is a little of my backstory: I started my dog walking business in 2007, when I was unemployed and on benefits. I knew i wanted to be my own boss but i didn't know exactly what i wanted to do. One of my friends told me that i should do dog walking as i was always out with my two dogs and she actually knew someone who needed their dog walking!
So thinking that it was a good idea but that i couldn't really see it as a long term career, or certainly not one that would bring in much money I rang the lady who became my first customer. At the time I didn't drive or have a car but luckily she only lived round the corner from me, so i would walk to hers, walk the dog and walk back home. It was tiring but i didn't have a job at the time and it was nice to be earning a bit of money all by myself!
Then my first customer recommended me to her friend who also needed their dog walking, and hence my little dog walking business began. I got proper insurance (i had explained to them that i wasn't insured yet), i learnt to drive over the next few months and i got an old banger that i could carry maybe four dogs in safely. And i was off!
I got a website soon after and invested in a few posters locally. And that's how my dog walking business it began, however, its not that simple and there are lots of issues that you should be aware of. Here are my top tips for starting your own dog walking business! Enjoy!
1) First of all you must decide what services you are going to offer. It may sound simple but most dog walkers actually offer lots of services and it will save you a lot of time to decide now which ones you will offer. Dogs that you regularly dog walk for and many others, also need holiday care or doggy day care (where owners leave their dogs with you whilst they are at work and collect them when they are finished) These are very popular services and from my experience will generate the most revenue for your business.
With dog walking you are going to be limited to a certain amount of dogs per walk. Most insurance companies will not let you walk more than 6 dogs at a time (that's plenty!) And most owners want their dog walked over lunchtime, so you are going to be limited in what you can earn dog walking, as its limited to certain amount of hours. So to boost your income dramatically it is well worth considering offering these services. However there are now local council guidelines if you are boarding dogs in your own home overnight. You must check with your local council what permission you will need. Usually you will need a licence to do this which will include things like having a 6 foot high wall in your garden, you can't have any young children living with you, you mustn't leave the dogs for more than 4 hours etc etc Each council have different regulations so make sure that you check otherwise you may be shut down before you even start!!
Likewise check with your local council about dog walking licences as some may require a licence to carry out a business, but most don't for dog walking.
Then you will need to decide on your prices- this is completely up to you what you charge however i would seriously say DON'T price yourself really low, as this will give the impression of unprofessionalism, if anything i would charge the same as current dog walkers in your area.
2) Get equipment- now i started my business with very little money. Literally £5! However if you are serious about the business i would recommend investing in the following:
* A website (mine cost me £200 and it was invaluable! If you dont have a lot of money for start up costs i would recommend a shopify website (they cost £20 roughly a month with no set-up fee)
* Print off a few posters and display them in shop windows, most shops charge for this service (usually £1 or so a week) but again its a good way to get started.
* Business cards- for around £30 you can get 1000, i got mine off Ebay (i find they are alot cheaper than other major websites)
* Get out and about dog walking- i have found soooo many of my clients over the years from just being out with my pack and talking to people that i meet. Give them a business card too.
*Buy a spare lead and a pack of poo bags
* Buy some appropriate shoes and a rain jacket - really important, wellies are not very practical for walking groups of dogs, i would always go with walking boots but make sure they are waterproof. I think i used Karrimoor ones for years and they were very good and inexpensive. Likewise you will need a good rain jacket, TKMaxx do some great last seasons ones at half the price of normal ones. I always get my jackets there!
3) Get insured- very important for obvious reasons! Most clients will want you to be insured and ALL professional dog walkers should have insurance, it not only protects the dog but it can protect you aswell. I am with Pet Business Insurance and they charge around £30 a month
4) Prepare your car- you will need waterproof covering of some sort for the back of the car, possibly some car seat attachments so you can secure the dogs with the seat belt and some towels and wipes to clean the dogs with too.
5) Prepare your paperwork- you will need to create /buy/ steal! some official paperwork which should be posted both on your website and in a welcome pack that you give the clients when you first meet them. You will need 3 separate sheets:
An information sheet- for the client to fill in when you first meet, it will say all about the dogs temperament plus things like contact details.
Terms and Conditions- your businesses t&c's very important to tell client what you expect of them like payment terms, cancellation notice etc
Consent Form- if the client wants their dog to be let off lead, make sure that they sign a consent form, this will protect you in case of the dog running off or causing damage/ biting someone etc.
6) Rehearse your first meeting- I remember my first ever client meeting , I was so nervous but most people are really friendly and their dogs are going to be there which always breaks the ice a little i find. Make sure that you tell the clients how you wish to be paid.
MAKE SURE THAT YOU GET THE CLIENT TO SIGN ALL PAPERWORK: THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS , THE INFORMATION SHEET AND THE CONSENT FORM. THEY WILL PROTECT YOU.
7) Go go go - that's it. You're off, just remember to work hard, take exceptional care of the dogs and always aim to bring them home tired and happy.....and in one piece!