Tag Archives: name for dog walking business

Boost Profits from Your Dog Walking ServiceWhen starting a dog walking service, people are often attracted by the low start-up costs.  Often starting any type business can incur large start-up costs, for example if you were planning on opening a shop or a restaurant you would have the obvious start-up costs of renting/buying premises, fitting out the premises and buying stock.   So  a dog walking business by comparison is a more low-cost/low risk option – but don’t be fooled into thinking that there are no costs to running a dog walking business.  The costs involved in running a dog walking business are not always immediately apparent – and you do need to think about them in advance of starting your business to avoid any surprises down the road.

One of the biggest costs you will incur in your dog walking business is the running costs of your vehicle (fuel, maintenance and taxes).  Unless you are lucky and cater for a very small geographical area (where you can walk to pick-up your canine charges), you will need a vehicle.  Bare in mind that if you only pick up five dogs from different homes, walk them, and return the all home you will be doing a minimum of 10 short journeys – short journeys plus urban stop/start driving will mean you spend more on fuel and maintenance on you vehicle than you might have originally anticipated.

To keep your running costs down on your vehicle there are a few things you can do:

  • Keep a daily record of your business mileage – this will help you in planning your journeys better so you can take the most economical routes.
  • Try to minimize the size of your geographical patch (i.e. a 5 mile radius from your home, and try whenever possible to ‘cluster’ your dog-walking packs in the same areas).
  • Check your oil levels and tyre pressures on a regular basis.  Also, ensure your vehicle is regularly serviced.
  • Take some time to learn some basic car maintenance (do you know how to change the tyres or replace a faulty bulb), learning these simple things will save you having to run to the garage every time something happens and will keep your costs down.
  • Keep a toolkit and any thing else you might need in the car should you have car trouble and make sure you have a back-up plan should your vehicle breakdown or it won’t start in the morning.

Your website

You need a website – fact.  Everyone and his wife finds stuff they need to know via the internet these days, whether they use a laptop, a tablet or their smart phone – and you can guarantee the first place they will look when trying to find a dog walker is the internet.

A professional looking website is essential to project the ‘right’ image to your prospective customers and give them the information they are searching for.

Although there are some great deals to be had regarding web design, generally getting a good website up and running will hit both your initial  and ongoing costs.  A quick rundown of the initial costs are generally Website design, domain name purchase (usually purchased for a year or two at a time).  Your ongoing costs are likely to be the hosting for your website (hosting is required to get your website ‘live’ on the internet once it has been designed, hosting companies usually charge monthly or yearly for the service – so plan this into your financial projections) and charges for updating and maintaining your website (if you have a company design and build your website, there may be an ongoing monthly charge to maintain your website and ensure it continues work correctly, similarly they may charge you for when you want to update your site with new details such as change in pricing or contact details).

In essence you have two choices regarding your website, you can:

1. Have a company design/host your site for you.  The advantage of this is you don't need to learn any special skills to get your site up and running.  The downside is it can be costly, and incur ongoing costs after it is set up.

2. You can design your own website with an intuitive platform such as WordPress, and get your own hosting/domain name (website name) through a hosting/domain company (we use Bluehost for this, simply because they are straight forward and you can buy your domain name, set up hosting and get WordPress all from within their site - also their customer service is great!).  The advantages of this approach are, you are in overall charge of how your site looks and can change it easily whenever you wish, you will know in advance exactly how much it will cost per year to get your site up and running - this is usually very low as use of WordPress is free.  The downside is you might have to learn to do a few things you haven't done before, but with WordPress building your own website is no too complicated.  See video below from Pat Flynn who demonstrates how to buy hosting, domain name and get a website/blog up and running with WordPress in 4 minutes.

Hope this information helps with your  financial planning.  Remember to gather as much information regarding upfront and ongoing costs as possible, in advance, to help you with your financial projections and keep your costs down.

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Get Organized for Your Dog Walking BusinessBecause a dog walking business is a reasonably simple business in many ways, don’t fool yourself in getting started and then start thinking about getting organised!

Getting organised in advance of starting will save you a lot of time in the long run – so here are some of the key things you'll need to get sorted:

Get Organized: Forming a Company

You will need to create a business entity.  For a dog walking business this is usually a simple procedure.

In the US,  the route you would take in most likelihood would be sole proprietorship or LLC.  In the UK it might be Sole Trader or Limited company and you would need to register as self-employed with Her Majesty’s Revenues and Customs.

It completely depends on how you plan to grow the business – so I cannot give a definite answer.

I would however strongly suggest that you seek competent legal advice to discuss which business entity suits your business model and the relevant financial advantages.

Get Organized: Licences

In the US it is very likely that you will have to register for a business licence with your town or state – it obviously varies from town to town and state to state, so you will need to check locally for this – but generally it is a very straight forward procedure once you have your business entity in place.

In the UK, at the time of posting there is no requirement for a licence to walk other people’s dogs.  However there maybe restrictions on the number of dogs you can walk at any one time – so check this out with your local authority first (or local dog warden).  Also in the UK, should you offer boarding of clients own dogs in your own home you will have to apply for a Home Boarding Licence from your local authority - this would involve an annual cost and an inspection of your property.

Get Organized: Insurance

You will also need insurance for your business.  Liability insurance can be obtained via private insurance companies.  Another alternative is to gain insurance via membership of a national pet sitting organisation such as NAPPS , sometimes you will have to pay extra for your insurance through membership – although often at a discounted rate.   Make sure you shop around for the best deal on insurance.   Your car insurance should also be updated to include business use.

For more info regarding getting organized see Part 2 of this post below:

Get Organized for Your Dog Walking Business Now - Part 2

Just a short post today – but really, really important.

Win at the Name Game

Giving your dog walking business the right business name can be key to your long term success – so it is important to take a bit of time over naming your business. Sometimes a name will spring straight into your mind for your business, but even if this does happen, don’t just go with it, test the name out on some friends and family to get a broader opinion.

More often, it can be difficult to think of a name, especially when you know that once you have chosen it, you are generally stuck with it - whether it is good or bad.

Keep it Simple

As a general rule you need to keep your business name simple, but also say what your business does, if you can – and if you have no plans to expand your dog walking business outside of your local area – include your town name.

Also your business name has to work well as a domain name – your domain name will be your website address such as www.newtowndogwalking.com - so try and keep it relatively short.

(Note: You need to decide on your business name before setting up your business website)

How to Come up with a Great Name

I have found the easiest way to come up with a name is to take a piece of paper and just start scribbling as many ideas down as possible without thinking about any of them too much, then get your family to do the same. Once you have a long list of potential names you can start going through them to see which match your criteria and which you like.  Then pick your top five names and check that the domain names are available. It is important to check if the domain name is available early in this process, you do not want to set your heart on a name only to later find that someone already has that domain name and a nice website attached to it.

How to check if your domain name is available

To check if your domain is available is quite easy, go into Google and type in ‘domain name’ in the search box. A list of domain name sellers will come up, click on any of them and use the domain search tool to check if your domain name is available – I’ve used 'GoDaddy' in the past but you can use any - they all work in a similar fashion. If your name is available you are good to go -  If your name is unavailable, then try your other favourites until you find one that is available.

Once you have decided on your name, make a note of both it and the domain name - as when you set up a your business website you'll will need to use that domain name to set it up.

What quirky and interesting name have you come up with for your dog walking business?

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Dog Walking Service WebsiteYou need the essentials when running a  successful dog walking business, safe transport, being  well organized, and great customer communication  with both your human and dog clients – but before all of that you need to attract your customers  in the first place, and one of the best ways to do that is with a professional and great looking Dog Walking Service Website.

Why do you need a website?  Well, where do the majority of people turn to when they want to research something (prior to buying a product or a service) – the vast majority go to Google (or another search engine) – and that’s where you need to be found to create a great first impression.

Of course you could use Facebook and Twitter to in place of a formal website, and whilst these social media tools are great in their own right, your own website will give you more flexibility about how you present your business. A professional website boosts your credibility and draws in more customers through organic search traffic.

Here are a top 5 ways your can take your dog walking service website to the next level

Build your customer base with the power of Google

When your prospective customers are looking for someone to walk their dogs for the first time - how do they find you?  It could be word-of-mouth from a friend, or they have seen one of your flyers or they have searched and found you on the Internet (searching for ‘Dog Walking Services’ in your home town) – in the end it doesn’t really matter how people find you, as long as they do and it is easy for them.

Having a website in place dramatically increases your online visibility. And if your service is one of the first few results to appear for “Dog Walking Service [your town],” new customers will find you easily on their own.

Keep the competition at bay!

Using free social networking sites such as Facebook are fine, but they have to make money somehow, and part of the way they create revenue is with advertising.  So, if you a have a Facebook page for your business, you might find ads from your competitors showing up on the side, so if you do have a Facebook page make sure it is directing them to your website where you have complete control over the customers experience and what they see.

Create interesting content on your website

When you are setting up your website always remember the job your website has to do – get you more customers!

A few of the rules when it comes to making your website are:

  1. Keep it simple.  Work out  your website on paper before you even start building it, what are the main pages you will need (about page, services, prices etc.), this applies if you are building your website from scratch yourself, or you are getting someone to build it for you (even more important).
  2. Use good quality bright photos, throughout the site, these will break up any text and give the site a more balanced look, no-one likes to read a load of text if they are shopping around, keep the text relevant and concise.
  3. Keep the layout of the pages clean and easy on the eye; don’t clutter them up with different colors and sizes of fonts, or adverts all over the place distracting the viewers from the main content of your site.
  4. Most importantly, let people know who you are, share your ‘story’ and background; a dog walking business is based on trust, and the more a prospective customer knows about you the more they will trust you, tell them what your experience is with dogs and why you set up the business, this will all help to build the relationship.  Along with telling your story, let other people tell your story; as soon as you can gather reviews of your service and place them prominently on the website. When people visit your website they should get a sense of who you are and what your dog walking business can offer them.

You decide the rules

Dog Walking Service WebsiteUnlike when you use Facebook or Twitter for your online presence, using your own website puts you in charge.  If Facebook suddenly changes its terms and conditions/or design or you can no longer post your updates to your Facebook page for some reason then you are out in the cold – not so with your own website.  With your own website you decide how it looks and what you put on it – you make the rules, this gives you complete control over building your brand.

Show new clients what you have to offer

A website isn’t an all-in-one solution that will magically have clients queuing up at your door (dogs at hand) —the hard part is up to you. Creating a base of loyal clients is all about the quality of your communications, the services you offer, and your power to connect with people.

However, a website does serve as an online version of your dog walking service where people can get to know you and see what you have to offer. And most importantly, your website is an opportunity for you to show your customers that you’re doing something different (or better) than anyone else in your area.

Keep in touch with Dog Walking HQ to learn more about how to set up a successful website and some of the easiest and most cost effective ways to develop an online presence for you dog walking business. See our Resources page for a list of tools to help get you get started.