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Thinking of starting a dog business? Then you're in the right place because this informative video will get you started!
I’m John, the founder of the Dogs Love Running! pet care service. We help your pets live longer and behave better through exercise. We’ve been in business for many years and are experts in the dog exercise and pet sitting industry.
The information here is applicable to anyone who wants to start any type of pet business, so send this video to everyone you know who may be interested in getting into this exciting industry.
We’ve tried to keep this video short, but still include all the important groundwork you’d want to know to start your business. But, in case all this still seems like just too much work, you can always join our team as a franchisee because we’ve already done all of this work for you.
After watching this, feel free contact us with any questions you have via the form on this page.
Our video a practical guide to give you a framework from a real business perspective. This isn’t just some basic information on how to make business cards or where put up fliers. You’re going to learn real information on how to develop and grow a real business that can make real money.
With that in mind, let’s get started!
To begin with, a lot of people will tell you that you need a business plan before you start a business. I come from a formal MBA education where business plans are thought of very highly. But my experience has been that you don’t need an entire business plan right this second.
Instead, what you need is an answer to this one question:
What is your absolute end goal in starting your business?
Is it for:
Many new business owners forget about this question when they begin. But if you can answer this all-important question, you can then work backwards to figure out all the pieces of your business puzzle.
With a very clear answer of what your end goal is, you can then figure out what direction you need to go in your business to get closer to this goal. Every day when you wake up, you need a specific destination in mind so you know if you’re on the right road to get there or not.
Here are some questions to ask to help you figure out your destination:
Thinking about and answering these questions before you spend even one penny on your new business will give you an idea of what you need to do today to get to your end goal tomorrow.
So, let’s say that now you know what you want out of your business and you’re prepared to move forward. What next?
Here’s where lots and lots of business owners go wrong. They forget to think about what makes them special. In other words, why would someone buy from you and not your competitor?
Generally speaking, you can make yourself special by doing one of three things:
Typically, you can only be one of the three. Trying to be all 3 at once just doesn’t work.
Once you know how you’re going to position yourself against your competitors, it’s helpful to have:
So now you’ve carved out a little niche for yourself and understand WHY someone might buy from you. Now we have to determine WHAT they’re going to buy.
Exactly, what products and/or services will you be offering?
If you’re a service business, will you do: dog walking, pet sitting, boarding, day care, pooper scooper, pet taxi, house sitting, overnight stays, or something else?
Think about what you like doing. If getting outside and exercising is up your alley, maybe a dog walking service is right for you. Maybe if you just like cuddling up with pets and hanging out, perhaps specializing in overnight stays is a better option.
Build your business around what you love doing because if you love your job, you’re far more likely to do a great job at it. And your customers will notice that.
Ok, now you know what to sell. And we’re next faced with the thing most people struggle with: Marketing!
How will you let people know about your new business?
The good news is that, for the first time in history, you don’t need a lot of money to beat established competitors. All you need is your brain and some effort. All this is because of the internet. Using the internet can bring you lots of success. And here are the main components of your digital strategy:
Of course, you also want to meet people in person. That means giving business cards to every dog related business in your area to spread the word. You can’t be in this business without developing solid relationships with your customers, so you need to be out and about to meet them where they can see, hear, and interact with you.
And here’s a tip. forget everything you think you know about traditional advertising methods. That means skip the newspapers, yellowpage ads, radio, and everything else where you pay a lot of money to be seen by people who are NOT actively looking for a service like yours. It's generally not worth your time or money.
So now you know how people are going to hear of you, but what are you going to tell them once they contact you?
Well, there’s lots that people will ask you about, but the one thing everyone wants to know is your price, so let’s touch on that. To determine how much to charge, the best thing to do is to research your competition. Find the highest and lowest prices from your competitors. Once you do that, a lot of people will tell you to go right in the middle and charge the average. But don’t do it. Being in the middle is the kiss of death because it doesn’t give anyone a single reason to buy from you. Instead, you should be at one end or the other. You could be the cheapest because low cost is a good reason why some people may choose you. Or, you could be at the high end, which implies to many people that you’re somehow the best. And being the best is also a good reason why a certain type of person would pick you over your competitors.
You've got your pricing strategy in place and are prepared for people to buy from you. But, what happens if LOTS of people buy from you? What are you going to do?
You’ll have either 2 options:
Here are the major pros and cons of both:
If you operate it by yourself: you control everything but your income is limited
If you operate your business with a team: there’s potentially an unlimited income, but you’ll have management responsibilities
Think now about which you’d be interested in doing because if you’re even somewhat successful in your business, you’ll eventually come to a fork in the road where you have to make this choice of hiring people or not.
Price is something that everyone knows to ask about. But the thing all clients want to know but none think to ask is: how do I get in contact with you and when are you available? Generally speaking, the pet business can be a 24/7/365 business. And working every day of the year is a great way to burn out very very quickly. So, think in advance of what days and hours you want to work. Then, tell new clients right at the beginning of your relationship the times you are available to answer their phone calls and emails. If you don’t set boundaries up front, you’ll for sure be getting client requests for additions and cancellations with zero notice and they’ll expect you to be able to deliver. Don’t dig your own hole by doing this.
At this point, you’ve got a solid strategy in place for your new business. Now what do you do?
Now you’ve got to get legal. Starting a business can be tricky, but it’s not too hard if you know what needs to be done.
First, you need to decide on a business form. You could be a sole proprietor, corporation, or partnership, among other possibilities.
To get a good overview of the types of business structures you can choose from as well as to actually file the forms you need to submit to your local government agencies, you can check with a certified public accountant. Many can probably be found in your local area. You can also check out a service like Legal Zoom. There’s lots of information at Legal Zoom on the business structures you can choose from and the pros and cons of each. Plus, getting a business set up through them is relatively inexpensive. It’s generally only a few hundred dollars.
Once the business is set up, you need to get insurance before you make ANY pet visits. Don’t wait to get insurance until after you’ve got a few clients. That’s like saying you’ll get home insurance only after you’ve lived there a few months and know you like it. The problem with that is that if anything happens before you obtain the insurance, you can be in serious financial and legal trouble.
Here are 3 places you can find insurance:
You’ve now got a formal business set up, you’ve got insurance, and now you just need an agreement to give to customers for them to sign so that you’ve got proof of what they agreed to.
There’s lots of legal mumbo jumbo you can put in this agreement, but basically what you need to start is :
In addition to the service agreement, you’ll also need to document the pet’s health and what exactly the client is asking you to do during the visit. You want to provide the best service possible and asking them very specifically what they want done make things crystal clear from the outset.
Finally, you’ll want a veterinary release that gives you permission (or not) to get the pet some emergency medical attention in case you can’t get in immediate contact with the owner.
Finally, all your strategic plans are in place and you’re ready to really start your business. The next steps for you are to:
I know there’s lots of information here. In fact, the Dogs Love Running! franchise training program takes multiple days to cover all this information and more, so it’s really hard to cram it into such a short video. However, this really is the complete foundation for all you need to know to get in business for yourself.
If you’re looking to get started in any type of pet business, feel free to contact us. We’d love to help. And if you’re interested in a dog walking and running or pet sitting type opportunity, why don’t you consider joining up with us as a franchisee. We’re pretty sure we can save you thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of work over trying to reinvent the wheel yourself. But, of course, there’s absolutely no obligation to hear about our franchise opportunity. We just love this business and we’re happy to help anyone get into this industry that wants to. We hope to hear from you.
Thanks for watching and give us a call!
You need a really great name for your dog walking company or other pet related business and you're stuck. Or maybe you've already got a name for your company and want to change it ("rebranding" as the corporate-speak goes). Here are some thoughts:
First, you may not want to follow the lead of Comcast, a huge cable company that also provides related phone, internet, and other services. They're keeping the "comcast" name as the corporate company name, but now calling all their services something else. The new name is "Xfinity" .
As the owner of a pet business, let's look at some easy mistakes you can learn from this:
Good luck in coming up with a great dog walking company name!
It’s almost depressing when 33 degrees feels comfortable and no longer cold, but I suppose that’s what happens when we’ve been surviving a record breaking snowy and cold winter here in the Elmhurst, IL area.
It may be the end of January, but like any Midwesterner, I know Mother Nature has no plans to heat things up anytime soon. Here are some cold weather tips to keep your pooch safe and happy the next few wintery months.
Exercise is important year round for our dogs. Don’t hibernate just because it’s cold outside. Keep these cold weather tips in mind and pay attention to the signs your dog is giving you.
If you don’t want to bear the cold, Dogs Love Running! Is here to help. We offer year-round dogs walking, dog running, and pet sitting for Elmhurst, Downers Grove, and other nearby Chicago suburbs.
First of all, what exactly is a press release and why would you want to write one for your dog walking or pet sitting service? Well, a press release is basically a semi-news story that aims to get information out about you and/or your product/service. The goal is to get your name out onto the internet to be seen by readers as well as, hopefully, get picked up by reporters and journalists who will want to contact you to do a story of their own for their respective news outlet (like a newspaper, radio station, etc). The more your story spreads, the more people hear about you and the more people that take action (they contact you, buy from you, learn about an issue, etc).
Entire books have been written on writing press releases and doing publicity, but let's break it down into 5 simple steps that you can do right now:
There are lots of minor details we're skipping in this article (like proper formatting procedures, etc), but you can find all that easily in an internet search. The 5 steps above though are the essentials you need to create an appealing press release that gets read.
We've updated this information. Click here to read our new article on how much you should charge for your dog walking and pet sititng services. PLUS we even give you a concrete number to start with.
Our original article begins below, but you should really read our updated version here.
So you're thinking about starting a dog walking business. One of the first things you're going to consider is:
Think about this before you get too far into your business because if you can't charge enough, you won't make enough. And if you don't make enough to make ends meet (or make you happy), then there's no point to the business, is there?
Different dog walking services charge in different ways. The two main ways are to:
If you're charging by time, then you might just have one flat rate for everything. As an example, you decide to charge $10 for 15 minutes of your time.
So, let's say you're going to visit a dog for 15 minutes. And the client wants you to take the dog out for walk around the block, bring in the mail, and feed Fido a bit of food before you leave. And the next day, the client wants you just to take Fido out for a walk and that's it. In the 15 minutes, you have enough time to take 3 spins around the block, not just the one you did yesterday.
In both of these cases, you spend just 15 minutes with Fido. Regardless of what you did within those 15 minutes, it was still the same amount of time both days. So, each day is $10 because it was just 15 minutes of your time.
Another way to charge is by the service you perform. In this situation, you're adding fees for each thing you accomplish.
Going back to Fido, let's say you tell the client that it's now $10 for a dog walk (not for 15 minutes). Maybe they ask a few questions about what the walk entails so you have to clarify about how long it lasts and when you'll arrive. Now let's say on one particular day they need you to give Fido a pill. So, you say it's $2 more to give medication. You're charging the client to perform this service (regardless of how long it takes you). Similarly, you'll bring in the mail for $1 extra if they want. Get the idea?
Ok, so you've figured out how you're going to charge. Now, figure out how much to charge.
The best place to start is by researching your competition. Check their websites and/or call them up.
Do you see any patterns in what people are charging? Are they all charging the same amount? Are there drastic differences between services? How many charge by time? How many by the service? How many upcharge for evening/weekend visits or other non-standard times? What else do you find interesting about these competitors?
Take all that knowledge and figure out how you can compete in the market to see if you can be a market leader, stay right within the average, or try to offer the cheapest prices. See our first post on how to start a dog walking business for ideas on how you might be able to be "special" in your local market so that you can get customers.
By now you're probably wondering "ok, but how MUCH do I charge for dog walking?"
The bad news is that there is no one single answer. If I told you $10 for 15 minutes, that might be a terrible answer based on your local market and the service you provide. Or, I could possibly tell you $30 for 15 minutes and it might be a great answer.
The good news is that we've outlined some basic steps on what to ask yourself so that you can figure out what's best for exactly the type of business you'd like to run. Still have questions, why don't you contact us and see how we do it?
In this free 77-page report, you'll learn all you ever wanted to know about:
This guide was put together by our friends at naturalpetgrocer.com. If you're in the Montgomery County Pennsylvania area, they're a great pet food/product delivery service
Keeping up with the theme of cold weather tips for walking dogs, I thought I’d answer the question that I’ve been asked at least 20 times in the last couple weeks:
Unfortunately, there isn’t one perfect answer for this. I don’t 100% buy the whole “if it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for your dog” theory. And no matter how cold you feel, your dog still needs exercise during the winter.
After talking to a few veterinarians in Elmhurst and Lombard, I’ve come to a few generalized guidelines.While there’s not one right answer for an exact safe outdoor temperature for your dog, here are some tips to keep in mind:
Your dog’s age, breed, and health are all major factors as well. Remember that puppies and elder dogs are much more sensitive to the cold weather because their bodies can’t regulate their body temps well. If it’s below freezing, these dogs should be taken outside to eliminate only.
Different breeds have better tolerance to winter weather. While no dog should be left out in the cold alone, breeds like German Shepherds, St. Bernards, and Akitas have thick coats that help protect them from the elements. Small dogs and short-haired dogs need a sweater or jacket for the added protection and warmth.
Any physical conditions like arthritis or hip dysplasia will only be aggravated by the cold. Keep pets with these conditions inside where it’s warm.
The best piece of advice I can give you is to know your dog - pay attention to the signals they are giving you. If they are shivering, standing in a hunched position, lifting their paw(s) off the ground, or giving you verbal cues (like whining or barking); bring them inside. More serious signs are things like lethargy, weakness, or slowed breathing which are all signs of hypothermia. Keep an eye out for frostbite as well. The most common places this will effect is their tail, paws, and ear tips. If they are turning pale or blue, get your dog to a veterinarian.
Bottom line, don’t let the cold weather keep your dog from getting exercise. You may have to limit your regular walk to only 5 or 10 minutes, but make sure to get them outside even if it’s just for a little bit when the weather is appropriate. If the weather isn’t cooperative, make sure they are getting sufficient potty breaks and find other activities indoors to keep their minds and bodies active.
Dogs need their daily dose of exercise no matter what the circumstances are like outside. And this winter has surely caused several cases of cabin fever for our furry friends.
When we visit our dog walking and dog running clients in the winter but are forced to cut short the outside activities because of extreme temperatures, we continue the exercise inside. Here are some of the ways we keep our dogs active indoors and you can do them, too.
1. Play fetch.
Chances are if your dog likes to play fetch outside, they will love playing fetch inside. This is a great activity for owners with a long hallway or staircase. Not only is this a great workout for your dog, but it’s a good opportunity to work on basic obedience commands. When he grabs the ball or toy and is running back to you, say “come.” Once they return, ask them to “drop it.” Have them “sit” before you throw the ball again.
2. Teach them advanced tricks.
Sure, your dog might already know the basic commands, but why not have some fun with it? Tricks like “spin”, “ back”, “bow”, or even teaching them to retrieve something for you by name (like a pair of slippers, tissue paper, or a newspaper) are all challenging and fun. Teaching your dog new tricks isn’t only a great way keep them mentally stimulated, but it’s also a terrific bonding activity for the two of you.
3. Work on targeting.
Targeting is just the act of touching something. Dogs can learn to touch with any body part, but nose is an easy starting point. Teach your dog to touch their nose to your hand on command. This is a great skill and can help with teaching them new tricks; or even everyday things like getting on the scale at the veterinarians office or redirecting their attention to you if they become overexcited seeing another dog during a walk.
4. Play Hide and Seek.
You can play this in two ways. If your dog has a few favorite toys, try hiding them in various spots throughout the house. Once everything is hidden, ask your dog to find each of them. You may have to start with just one toy. Show your dog the toy, let them get really excited about it, ask them to sit and stay, then place 10 feet away or so. When you release them from the stay, tell them to “go find it” so they learn the command and associate it with the action. As your dog gets more familiar with this, you can start placing the toy further and further away.
If there’s more than one person at home, everyone can play. Everyone should grab a handful of treats. Each of you should try hiding in different spots of the house and take turns calling your dog once you are hidden. When they find you, give them lots of praise and reward them with treats. Now, the next person can call your dog and you can find another hiding spot.
5. Invest in a treat dispensing toy….you won’t regret it!
Speaking of new toys, treat dispensing toys are an amazing tool for giving your dog a mental workout and to alleviate canine boredom. Your dog stays busy pushing around the toy trying to get the treats inside. The toy motivates and rewards your dog all on its own!
Need some help letting your pooch burn off energy? Call Dogs Love Running! of Elmhurst and we’ll schedule a dog walker to exercise your dog no matter what it’s like outside. If you’d prefer the visit to remain indoors due to a certain type of weather condition, we will make sure to still provide your pooch with heart-pounding exercise and fun. We guarantee your dog will be smiling and panting by the end of our visit.
As a dog walking franchise, we get lots of calls and emails from people inquiring about joining our team as franchisees. Part of our job is to help guide and educate them about what this business is all about so that they know if it's really what they're looking for or not. From that experience, we can tell you that the #1 mistake that people make in buying a dog walking franchise (or in trying to start a dog walking or pet sitting company up on their own) is:
Now, don't get us wrong. With our franchise, you definitely get to play with dogs for a living. And it's a heck of a lot of fun. But, it's also still a business. And there are a lot of "un-fun" things that go along with being the owner of any type of business. When you talk to us, we tell you what those "un-fun" things are so that you know what you're getting into.
If you're considering buying a dog walking franchise partly because you love dogs, that's great. In fact, if you don't have a love for our four-legged friends, I'm not sure we'd even want to talk to you.
But if 100% of the reason you want to start this kind of company is soley just because you're a dog fanatic, owning a business may not be for you. You'll find out very quickly that marketing, scheduling, accounting, and hiring have nothing at all to do with dogs.
Some people hate those things.
If that's you, we'd suggest thinking very carefully about if this is the right type of opportunity or not.
What we look for are these types of traits, in no particular order (if you don't have all of them, that's fine, but this should give you an idea of the "right" type of person for this job):
Note that we didn't exactly specify that we're looking for runners (our company name is Dogs Love Running!, afterall). That's because your staff will be the runners/walkers/sitters, not you. What we're just hoping to find are people that enjoy and live a healthy lifestyle. This can come in many forms.
Being a dog walking franchise owner can be the best job ever, as long as you know what you're getting into. We try to be as informative as possible when talking to prospective franchisees because the worst thing that could happen to both of us is that you join our team and then realize that this isn't really for you. We'd rather just tell you straight up what this business is all about before you commit to being a franchisee. If it turns out you're a match, that's great. If not, that's fine too. Maybe we can point you in a better direction once we know what it is that you're really seeking.
If you're thinking about buying a dog walking or pet sitting franchise and want to know more about what it takes to make it, just ask us. You can contact us about the Dogs Love Running! franchise here.
Are you investigating the pet franchise industry and wondering how a pet sitting franchise might compare to a dog walking franchise? Are you wondering which might be best for you?
Here's a quick and easy overview on how to compare the two so you can determine which may be the best choice for your particular situation.
First of all, it's important to note that many consumers use the terms "pet sitting" and "dog walking" interchangeably. However, from a business owner's perspective, these are actually two different types of services and often have different objectives. Let's take a look at both of them.
"Pet Sitting" would typically be defined as providing a service where you'd visit a client's pet(s) at the client's home while they're away. It does not entail the client bringing their pet to you (this would be more of a "pet boarding" service). How many times you vist the pet would depend on how long the owner is away. If they were gone for a 24-hour period, dogs typically would receive 3 or 4 individual visits. Cats, fish, and other similar household pets might only need 1 visit during that same amount of time.
"Dog Walking" is also a service where you'll visit the client's home. Owners are typically away at work, school, or another place during the day that makes it difficult for them to get back home easily and quickly to tend to their dog. So, they'll have you come and take the dog out instead. You'll usually visit just 1 time during the day and it will probably be somewhere around the lunch hour.
So, Of The Two, Which Is The Best Type of Business?
The "best" opportunity is largely dependent on what you're looking for in a business. Here are some things to keep in mind when determining which might work for you:
There really is no "best" way to go because both types of businesses have their pros and cons. For our dog walking franchise opportunity, we focus more on the walking/running service because it fits our particular business model best. As long as you know what you're getting into and why, either can work for you.