How to Start a Dog Walking Business
Today, our topic is how to start a dog walking business or a pet sitting business.
1. You need to take action.
If you have been thinking about this for a long time but can’t seem to move forward with your idea, you need to take the first step. Here’s what I want you to do. Count with me, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, go. Take action.
Action is going to build momentum. Just get started. When your mind goes, “Oh no, no, no, I’m not ready, I’m not ready,” do the 5-4-3-2-1 rule and start.
2. Let’s get clear on your business vision and the results you want to create.
What exactly are you going to offer to your customers? Is it a dog walking business? Is it a pet sitting business? Is it a cat-sitting business? Are you going to do power walks? Are you going to do a pet taxi? Are you going to do a concierge service?
3. Create an Excel sheet to calculate your startup costs.
I highly suggest using a Google Sheet or an Excel sheet. The good news is that the startup costs for a dog walking business or a pet sitting business are very low. If you guys are like, “I want to do this,” but you’re worried about money, this is what you should be doing. You should be getting into this industry because you can get into this market at a very low cost.
4. Choose a smart name for your dog walking business.
Think about what people are going to be typing into Google. Are they going to be typing in ‘Cloud 9 Pet Sitting Services? No, they’re probably going to be typing in ‘dog walker in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,’ or they’re going to be typing in ‘pet sitters in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.’
So what are you doing, and where are you doing it? If you can choose a name that has these keywords, you’re going to be way ahead of your competition.
5. Get legal.
First, you want to choose your business entity. If you’re starting, it’s most likely going to be a sole proprietor; that’s how I started. Then as I got larger, I moved over to a limited liability corporation to protect my assets. You need to choose.
What’s your entity going to be? Then you want to register your fictitious name or do business with the government, and then get a business license if necessary.
6. Write a tagline.
It’s a short, memorable phrase that’s associated with your service. I did not choose a smart business name when I started my business. I chose a very generic name that a million businesses have.
It was not smart, but what I did was, with my tagline, I differentiated myself. So Pet Nanny, Pet Sitters of the Main Line. There we go again with those keywords. What am I doing? Pet sitting. And where am I doing it? On the Main Line.
7. Have a professional logo design.
If you want to be a professional service, get a logo design. You can go to upwork.com, guru.com, fiverr.com, or 99designs.com, and you can have a logo design very inexpensively. It doesn’t cost a lot of money. When I had my logo designed, it was $700 back in 2001. Now you can get it done for nothing.
8. Have professional business cards and marketing materials designed and printed.
In my Launch & Grow Your Dream Pet Sitting Business, we go very deep into marketing strategies for you to get clients, and guess what? If you’re going to be a professional business, you must have a logo and marketing materials.
You need those marketing materials to be able to promote your business. Again, Upwork, Guru, Fiverr, or 99designs. Very simple, very inexpensive. Even VistaPrint has a graphic design service now, which is like $5. That’s how inexpensive it can be.
9. Price your services.
How much should you be charging? Do competitive research on other local pet sitting businesses and kennels, create an Excel spreadsheet, and get clear.
10. You want to have a client-attractive website designed.
People need to find you on the web. People are on their phones; people are on their computers. They are searching for you on Google, and you need to have a professional website. In my Launch & Grow program, we go into depth about every piece you need to have to convert your website visitors into paying customers. This is important and inexpensive.
You need to have a hosting plan for a website, so godaddy.com, Bluehost, WP Engine, or SiteGround. I love SiteGround because you get all the security with your website at a quarter of your WP Engine cost.
11. Join trade associations.
So Pet Sitters International or my preferred association is the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters, NAPPS, which is all about education and how you can grow your pet sitting business. It’s well worth the money you will pay for these memberships. It gives you credibility, and you’re on their pet sitter search network. People go to their website and type in their zip code, and you’re going to be listed in their directory.
12. Register your business online.
In my Launch & Grow program, again, I give about 78 different websites you’ll want to register your business on. You want to register with Google My Business, Yelp, Bing, Yahoo, petsitting.com and petsitusa.com.
Try Business Insurers of the Carolinas or who I use: Pet Sitters Associates.
14. Prepare your paperwork.
Below this video you can find my Complete Checklist for Starting a Pet Sitting Business, where I give you the actual documents that you can email to your clients before you go and meet with them. This includes a welcome letter, and it has all their client and pet information, the vet release form and the key release form.
I also give you a digital process where you can do all of this online and get rid of the paper, which I highly suggest. So check out that link below.
15. Set up a business bank account.
Too many pet sitters I talk to are co-mingling their funds. They are getting checks from their clients, and they’re depositing them right into their personal bank accounts. No, no, no, no, no. You want a separate business bank account.
I would like more bank accounts, but that’s more of an advanced strategy. Start with just the business account. Go to your bank and say you’re starting a business. Bring them that fictitious name statement, doing business as, and you can open a business bank account.
16. Set up your social media accounts.
Set up your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest and TikTok accounts. These are free channels that you can use to promote your business and get clients. Go and claim your listings or create them.
17. Shop for your supplies and go to step two in the checklist.
18. Get it all out.
You want to promote your business then. I have an amazing long video and PDF that you can download. 30 Ways a Professional Pet Sitter Can Get More Clients.
But to name a few, you want to send out a press release to your local media, post your flyers or postcards on local bulletin boards, drop your cards off at local pet stores and vets, give your business card to anyone you do business with, hairdressers, landscapers, dry cleaners, dentists, et cetera, announce your business on your neighborhood Facebook page, and the list goes on.