Dog walkers can make a lot of money from attending to the needs of other people’s dogs in the United States. Indeed, starting a new business is not easy, even when it has to do with walking a pet in a park.
Starting a dog walking business involves a couple of processes, ranging from understanding the local market, crafting a business plan, and sending out your pitch to dog owners.
In this article, you will learn just the right step and when to take them to start a successful dog walking business in the US.
Step-by-Step Guide to Starting a Dog Walking Business
Here are the steps you must take to kick off a thriving dog walking agency in the United States, even if you have never taken a dog for a walk before.
1. Understand Your Role
Yes, it is called “dog walking” but some of the time, you wouldn’t be keeping the pet on its toes. There are moments when you will be expected to take care of the dog’s personal needs, including taking care of its poop and seeing that it is safe.
So, you are not just taking the dog for a walk. You are also seeing to its daily affairs and ensuring its safety at all times.
Is this something you can do?
One thing you must do at this stage is to filter the services and choose the ones you can offer. To be on the safe side, do not be overly excited to offer almost every service the pet owner demands of you.
Instead, pick a few and focus on delivering maximum value to the client’s satisfaction. To satisfy you, here are a couple of services you can offer like a dog walking expert in the United States:
- Take the dog for a walk early in the morning, or later in the evening.
- Dog sitting service
- Taking the dog for running sessions.
You can always add more dog walking-related services later. Just start with the few you can offer for a start and increase as the days go by, provided you can handle those.
2. Study the Local Market
Niche down and focus on offering dog walking services in the local market. For example, you can pay attention to the dog market in New Jersey rather than focusing on the entire state in the US.
This should help you figure out the unique dynamics in the market, as that can point you in the right direction on what the pet owners want.
Also, pay attention to the following when studying the local market where you want to offer dog walking services:
- Define your potential clients. What is their income range? How many dog owners are living in the neighborhoods and are they already using a dog walking service?
- Do you have a competitor? If so, what dog walking services do they offer, who are their ideal clients and how much do they charge on average?
- Consider reaching out directly to pet owners to have a brief chat with them. This helps you find out their pain points or the challenges they have with taking their pets for a walk. These challenges can range from not having enough time to the inability to appropriately groom the dog. Not sure of where to find these pet owners? Visit your local or nearby dog parks. You should find a couple of them there.
Here are tips to help you filter the ideal location to serve with your dog walking services:
- It may be a great idea to avoid locations that have established dog-walking agencies. The chances are that pet owners trust these agencies more and wouldn’t be so willing to give a new agency a chance to take care of their dogs.
- How many dog walkers are in the location? If there are lots of them, consider porting to a new location. You don’t want to start your dog walking business by tackling your competitors when you should be offering unique services to your clients.
- What is the average charge to walk a dog? Is it something you will be willing to accept?
3. Draw up a Dog Walking Business Plan
Now, it is time to think like a businessman and one that will walk dogs for a living. With strategic planning, you can kick off on the right foot.
At this point, you have to decide on a business name. Make it short and at the same time, relatable. Your dog-walking agency tends to draw more patronage when its name conveys what you do.
For example, the business name “Dog4Stroll” or “PetStroller” can get more patronage than one named “DogGuy.”
Your dog-walking business plan should also include the following elements:
- The target market or location you want to serve.
- Dog-walking services the agency offers.
- Financials, including the projected or expected revenue, the costs of starting the business, and expenses to make in the course of running the business.
- Competitor analysis, including the services offered by your competitors and the market/specific location they serve.
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4. Structure the Business
Starting putting structures in place from day one. What is your ideal structure for the dog walking business? The common options are:
- Sole proprietorship
- Limited Liability Company (LLC)
5. Obtain a Dog-Walking License
You don’t start a dog-walking business in the United States without getting permission. Therefore, obtain the necessary licenses and permits that allow you to operate in your desired location.
You can check with the county’s clerk’s office for information on how to obtain licenses and permits for the business.
In addition, you may need to apply for the Employer Identification Number (EIN) for tax purposes. The taxation options you have depend on the type of business structure you opted for.
6. Get Insurance for the Business
Apply for insurance to protect both you and your clients. Some of the insurance types are:
- General Liability Insurance protects your dog-walking agency from unexpected circumstances, such as damages done to either your client’s or someone else’s property.
- Disability and life insurance cover.
- Business Insurance to protect your dog-walking agency from financial expenses incurred in the event of a covered loss for the business.
7. Create a Dog-Walking Business Website
Hire a professional website developer to set up a website for your dog-walking brand. You may also want to hire the services of a graphic designer to design your business card, the brand’s logo, and typography.
8. Do not Suck at Marketing
It is one thing to open a dog-walking business and another to be strategic with its promotion. Explore different marketing channels to promote the brand. This includes using social media, influencers, and meeting pet owners in person.
The Bottom Line
Like every other business, starting a dog walking business requires planning, lots of brainstorming sessions, and niching down to a location for a start. It has its associated risks, ranging from an illness suffered by the pets in your care and injury done to others by the dogs. But if you can take care of the dog and prevent it from inflicting injury on others, you should have a nice time doing the business. With time, you can consider moving from a one-man business to a corporate entity where you hire other dog-walkers to take care of your client’s pets all over the country.