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I thought I’d share my tips on how to get dog walking or pet sitting clients quickly.
Building up clients is the most important and most difficult part of starting a dog walking business, right?
As you probably know, I started a dog walking business twice. The first was in 2008 when I lived in North Dakota. The second was in 2013 after moving to San Diego.
By now, I really know what works and what doesn’t as far as building up decent clients, and the following are my best ideas based on my experience.
I’m sure it’s a little different depending on where you live, so if you’d like to share your ideas in the comments, please do.
Here are my tips:
1. Reach out to existing pet sitters.
When I lived in North Dakota, I was the established pet sitter in my town, and all the newbies reached out to me for advice. I didn’t mind this at all. I had all the business I wanted (and then some), so it was nice to have reliable people I could recommend.
Later, after moving to San Diego, I was the new pet sitter and dog walker in town. It’s not easy to reach out to your “competition” and ask for help, but it’s well worth it.
I sent an email to one of the local pet sitters, introduced myself and invited her out for coffee. This was the best thing I could’ve done for my new business! This pet sitter was happy to help me out, and she and I maintain a great relationship, always checking in and referring clients back and forth.
Don’t be afraid to reach out. If another pet sitter or dog walker is “threatened” by you, then it’s probably because he or she is not a very good dog walker.
There are plenty of clients for everyone!
2. Post fliers, cards or brochures at every single vet’s office in town.
If you post fliers or drop off business cards at only one place, I recommend you choose a local veterinarian’s office. Actually, I think you should visit every vet office within 10 miles or so.
I’ve gotten lots more business through veterinarians than I have groomers, trainers, pet-supplies stores, etc.
3. Attend local dog events as a vendor.
When I first started my dog walking business, I didn’t put myself out there enough. Well, if you want to grow your business quickly, you just need to get out there and get involved in the community.
One way to do that is to attend a couple of local dog events. It’s worth it to attend a few of these as a vendor, and set up a table or “booth” where people can stop by and get information about your services.
Sure, these events are a lot of work and not very fun if you’re an introvert like me. But, if you attend a few the first year, you’ll never have to do so again (unless you want to!).
I recommend printing out a high-quality sign with your logo and web site and handing out something free to people like treat bags, bandannas, stickers, etc. And of course, business cards.
4. Offer your services for free to a shelter or rescue.
If you’re not already volunteering with a local shelter or rescue group to walk the dogs, I highly recommend you do so, even if it’s twice a month or so. It’s a great way to help dogs in need while meeting other dog people.
The group will more than likely be happy to promote your services to new dog owners in return. It may be able to post your flier at its facility or link to your web site from its web site. Another option is asking the group to mention you on its Facebook page or newsletter.
5. Create a business profile on Yelp.
The reason I recommend you set up a Yelp profile is because people often search for pet sitters and dog walkers directly through Yelp itself. And, sometimes Yelp listings show up in regular Google searches as well.
It’s also a good idea to ask existing clients (or even friends and family) to write reviews of your business on Yelp.
OK. Now I want to hear from you!
What’s worked (and what hasn’t) as far as building up clients?
You can get my ebook on how to start a dog walking business by clicking the button above ($17).
My ebook is a step-by-step guide designed to make starting your own business a little easier because you can learn from someone who’s been there.