I started a professional dog walking company in 2008, and I’ve written an ebook on how I did it.
Because of that, I have a large following of people who want to become dog walkers.
If you want to start a dog walking business part time or full time, starting a waiting list is the first thing you should do.
You might think, “What? Why would I start a waiting list? I don’t even have one client yet.”
Why you need a waiting list when you’re starting a dog walking business
Because the waiting list does three things.
1. It helps you gather a list of potential clients for when you’re ready to leave your current job and start walking dogs.
2. It allows you to reach back out to people down the road.
3. It puts you in demand.
Plus, once you’re an established dog walker you’ll need to say NO to a lot of people. There are more dogs in need of good dog walkers than there are good dog walkers to walk them.
Note, I didn’t say dog walkers, I said good dog walkers.
Which are you?
Once you’re an established dog walker, you’ll need a way to weed through potential clients. A waiting list helps you do this. Trust me, there are good clients and there are bad clients and you’ll learn to recognize which is which.
But for now, when you’re just getting started as a dog walker, let’s focus on how the waiting list can help you TODAY.
The waiting list helps you gather potential clients, and it puts YOU in demand.
How a waiting list can help you gather clients
I don’t know about you, but when I started walking dogs I had a full-time job with full benefits.
I worked for a newspaper called the Fargo Foolum and was not comfortable just up and quitting my job without gathering a few clients first. However, it’s hard to gather dog walking clients when you’re working full time.
So, what I recommend you do is post the hours you want to walk dogs on your web site, even if you currently work another job during those hours. Also include the hours you’re currently able to walk dogs, if you’re able.
So, maybe that means you put your hours as 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. every day, even if you currently work five of those days.
Then, accept the clients you can realistically fit into that schedule right now, if any.
Put the rest on a waiting list and reach out in a couple of weeks when you’re able to accommodate them.
Sure, you might not be able to accept any clients right now, but once you have four or five serious people on your list, you might want to think about leaving your job or cutting back on hours or whatever you can do.
See my post on how to get dog walking clients.
Someone named Karen calls or emails about needing you to walk her dog at noon Mondays and Wednesdays.
You would just say or email something like:
“Hey Karen. Thanks for your message. I’d love to help you out, but I’m currently unable to accommodate new clients and have a waiting list. If you’re interested, I will reach out in a couple of weeks once I have an opening. Are you flexible on the time of day for Cookie’s walk?”
This opens up the possibility for flexibility.
Maybe Karen doesn’t really need you at noon, but 10 a.m. or 3 p.m. would work just fine. Maybe she’s even flexible on which days you walk her dog. Some people can be flexible, others can’t (understandably).
You would file Karen’s info, and then reach out in a week or two to touch base. Either tell her you have an opening or let her knows she’s still on the waiting list.
Sure, some of the people on your list will move on and find another dog walker. That’s fine. They would’ve done so anyway.
The waiting list allows you to keep track of potential clients and gives you a professional way to keep in touch with them.
A few more tips
1. Don’t mention on your web site that you have a waiting list because that might stop some people from contacting you. Wait for them to call or email and then tell them about the waiting list and put them on it.
2. Also note that you don’t need to explain why you have a waiting list.
“I’m unable to accommodate new clients right now and have a waiting list” is the truth.
It could be because you are THAT busy! And you will be, soon.
People won’t ask these details, so there’s no need to elaborate.
If you’re in a small town and worried people will know you work at the bank full time or whatever it might be, then sure, you can explain a bit more. Otherwise, there’s really no need.
So that’s my tip. Get your waiting list started today. Like seriously, today.
Let me know if you’ve used this strategy or if you have any questions.
Interested in starting a dog walking business? Order my ebook and learn from someone who’s been there!
I quit my job in 2008 to start a successful dog walking and dog running business. Starting a new business is scary, but it shouldn’t have to be hard. This is your chance to learn from my successes and avoid common mistakes. Cost is just $17.
Wednesday 29th of July 2015
The waiting list is a great idea! I got extremely lucky earlier this year and was able to take over someone's dog walking/pet sitting clients because the previous owner of the pet sitting business moved to a different state (army spouse whose husband got orders).
We agreed on a price I paid for her established client list, and I was able to jump right in. Perfect way to start my own pet sitting business, although not the norm. I've been working as a professional pet sitter for 4 years, but always worked as a contractor for someone else's company. It's pretty neat to be my own boss these days ;-)
Wednesday 29th of July 2015
I'm so glad you're enjoying it and it sounds like it's going well. So happy for you! And your clients are lucky to have you.
Tuesday 28th of July 2015
That's such a great idea - I admire your awesome business sense, I seriously have none what so ever.
Sunday 26th of July 2015
Great idea Lindsay! I've read the same practice used for product testing as well, where people make a page advertising a product and asking people to join their online newsletter to get more info about the product. If enough people sign up, you know that your product idea has been validated and is worth pursuing!
I'd love to start a dog walking business some day - and when I do, I'll be jumping all over your ebook!
Monday 27th of July 2015
Paved by Paw Prints
Sunday 26th of July 2015
Hi Lindsay! These tips are great! Creating a waiting list, filing potential clients and touching base every few weeks, is really professional. I'm not looking to start a dog walking business but for those who are, this would extremely helpful and really get them off to a excellent start! Just discovered your blog and I can't wait to see more!
Thursday 23rd of July 2015
That actually makes a lot of sense, we would never have thought about that!
Friday 24th of July 2015