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Setting up Dog Walking Business

Discussion in 'Dog Walking' started by simbachops, Jul 2, 2018.

  1. simbachops

    simbachops PetForums Newbie

    Jul 2, 2018
    Likes Received:
    Hi, I'm after some very early advice from anyone who has already gone through the process of setting themselves as offering professional dog walking services. I'm seriously considering quitting the rat race after almost 30 years in sales in search of something more rewarding. My current role is well paid but I'm sick and tired of all the corporate nonsense and would rather do something that I enjoy, working with and being around dogs. Not that I'm not a people person because I am (you need to be in sales), but dogs are more trusting, loving, appreciative than most people in my industry. So....how do I make the big leap? It's a tough decision when the fat salary gets paid into the bank every month, with bonuses, plus paid holidays (28 days plus BH's), sick pay and a decent pension contribution. I can almost sense your thoughts, "why would you give up all that"? Quite simply, it's because as I am becoming more 'seasoned' and experienced in life (turned 50 recently) I am looking at doing something which will give me better job satisfaction coupled with maintaining a healthy lifestyle. This isn't a mid-life crisis, it's a wake up call!
    I am genuinely interested in any information out there that can help me make the initial steps to this life changing decision. How did you start out? How long did it take to become established? Did you quit and start up or start up and then quit? how many days per week do you work to make a living. How many dogs do you walk a day to make the business viable and are they solo walks or groups or mixture? What transport did you start out with and progress to? Is the job rewarding, even in the bleak winter months (I'm an outdoor guy so not put off by weather)? How do you manage the business whilst you take holidays through the year (assuming you do)? What is a typical charge for walks (solo and group) an for what duration is typical for the walks? Do you run the business alone or is the business successful enough to sustain 2 persons (2 person team / man & wife team etc)
    I could throw out more questions but there's plenty there to get started.
    I'm not 'barking mad' (see what I did there :) ). Our family have always had dogs and we currently have 2 Cockapoos and have owned various breeds in the past so we know how to handle dogs of all shapes, ages, sizes and behaviours.
    Sorry for the long message, you can tell hopefully that I am serious about this!
    I look forward (hopefully) to some helpful feedback and guidance tips.
  2. kittih

    kittih PetForums VIP

    Jan 19, 2014
    Likes Received:
    Hi and welcome. I am not in that business but do work for myself in another service sector.

    If you haven't already, have a look through all the previous posts in this section as many of your questions may have been partly answered.

    I recommend you put together a business plan, identify competitors in your area, their USPs, methods of business and their rates, TOBs etc.

    Calculate your rates based initially only on your required income and expected business expenditure, sick leave, holidays, quiet periods etc (see previous posts on this - will try and link when not on phone).

    Then compare calculated rates to those offered by competitors. If you are way out work out why.

    Identify your USP as this will effect the rates you can charge.

    Research your customer base. Where are there gaps in the market and where is there an over abundance of supply. Can you utilise these in your business model.

    Identify what training and qualifications you have and need. What will make you business attractive to customers, what is essential.

    Start thinking about risks and how to mitigate against them. Research insurance and start putting together risk assessements.

    Research your obligations as a sole trader assuming you are going this route not limited. How are you going to run your business, are you familiar with the requirements of HMRC and taxation etc.

    Websites and social media - how will you advertise your services? Research costs of marketing/promoting your business.

    Are you only going to offer dogs walking or are you going to offer other related services ? Most people want dogs walking just at lunchtimes. How are you going to get enough revenue on this basis ? How will you obtain an income from the test of the day ?

    Transport - how will you transport the dogs. Research transport, cages, insurance etc.

    OK just some things to think about.

    Someone who has set up their business will be able to give you lots more information. :)
  3. Carly258

    Carly258 PetForums Junior

    Nov 10, 2012
    Likes Received:
    Hi, I left a career of 25 years with all the benefits seven years ago to start my dog walking and pet sitting business and have never looked back! I quit my job on the Friday and started walking the following Monday. However, there were hardly any businesses doing what I do then, bit of a saturated market now I fear so it's always worth checking out all the competition around you and maybe offering (as well as walking), boarding, pet sitting, small animal boarding which does contribute greatly to your income. I guess it took about 6-9 months to get established and have a good group of regular clients (some of which we still have!). Did tonnes of advertising, local mags, leaflet drops etc etc. My husband and I now run the business together full time and while we will never be millionaires, we are comfortable. However you must be prepared to work long long hours. We work 7 days a week including bank holidays and Christmas with 2 weeks off a year if we are lucky. It is HARD work but very rewarding and it's you that's in control of what you do, that's one of the best things. We only walk a maximum of two dogs at a time and I guess between us walk around 18 - 20 dogs a day. For pricing, it's worth getting your competitors prices to get a feel for what people will pay as I know different parts of the country can charge different rates. I hope that helps!
    iandavis likes this.
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