Start a Dog Walking Business Gloriously

Start a Dog Walking Business Gloriously

To Start a dog walking business is super easy, yet VERY confusing given you want to build a legit, insured and thriving business.

Ready to do it, right? 

Step by Step? 

You are exactly where you need to be, the perfect place to start a dog walking business! 

Grab a coffee, make yourself comfortable and get ready to get your worries cleared up and your mind organized.

1. Decide On Which Services You Want To Offer

Choices. Choices. Choices. There are many services you can offer.

These include:
Dog Walking,
Dog Sitting,
Cat Sitting,
Small Pet Sitting,
Dog Hikes,
Dog Runs
Overnight Dog Sitting
and the list goes on …

Decide on which services to offer, depending on your passion, experience, physical ability and time commitment you want to put in.

But just to give you some food for thought.

Here you can take a peek into my brain and see some of the reasons for offering or not offering certain services:

  • Personally i’m not a runner, so i could have never offered 30 min dog runs – i simply wouldn’t have made it! 🙂 
  • Dog Sitting requires early work mornings and late nights 7 days/week – i did it in the beginning of my career, but quickly noticed it overtook my life, so i stopped offering it.
  • I love midday dog walking, since it’s dependable income and usually on a Monday through Friday schedule

Don’t sweat this step too much.

When you first Start a Dog Walking Business there are so many things you simply don’t know – about the services and about yourself!

Just start offering whatever services seems suitable and you will be able to figure out along the way what works for your and your Business and what not.

2. Name Your Business

Most of the times your Dog Walking Business Name will be the first contact with a potential client. 

Depending on how the name is chosen, it can make a good or bad first impression.
Be mindful when putting following attributes into your business name.

Territory: Any towns you include in your business name will make it hard to expand later on.

Services: Any specific services that are included might hinder you to expand your service offerings down the road.

To get your juices flowing and help you with this oh so important creation, check out my Foolproof Method To Come Up With Names That Stick & Sell.

Once you have decided on a few names, head on over to the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) of the United States Trademark and Patent Office and check that the name you are about to register is not already protected by another entity. 

No matter how you decide on your name, your chosen name should be:

  • distinctive – be creative and set yourseld apart from the others
  • suggestive – of superior quality perhaps or specializing in one particular service
  • appropriate – there should be no misunderstanding that you are a pet service business a.k.a don’t go nuts
  • easy to remember – the ultimate test: tell a few friends your business name and see if they remember it a few hours later
  • registrable – check if it doesn’t exist in your state already (see above)

3. Determine Legal/Tax Structure & Obtain EIN

Determine Legal and Tax Structure

Deciding on your business’ Legal and Tax Structure, which by the way can differ, is important because it will determine important things like, legal, financial and record keeping responsibilities.

You will most likely have the choice between a sole proprietorship, LLC, Corporation, partnership, or S Corporation. 

For residents of the United States, head over to the U.S. Small Business Administration website to find the different types of business structures and their corresponding legal and tax implications. 

Someone writing on a Laptopin to start a dog walking business

Obtain an EIN (Employer Identification Number)

You want to open a bank account, right?

Well, you will need an EIN! 

You will also need it, if you decide to operate as a partnership or LLC (or corporation, but chances are very low at this point).

When starting to employ people … guess what?!  

You will need an EIN as well. So why not just get it now.

Best news here: It’s completely free!

And instant. 

Head over to the EIN Assistant and get your own EIN super quick and easy.
Interestingly this online system has opening hours: Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 10 p.m Eastern Time. 

4. Register Your Business With The State

Depending on the state and on the business legal structure, you want to make sure you are legally operating your business within your state.

You can do this by going to the SBA (Small Business administration) website and check what the requirements apply to your particular state.

In addition you will want to make sure that you are observing your State Tax Obligations.

Yep, that’s right baby!

In addition to the federal taxes you will need to pay state taxes in most states.
As of February 2018 following states take out no state income tax:

  • Alaska
  • Florida
  • Nevada
  • South Dakota
  • Texas
  • Washington
  • Wyoming

But don’t just follow my word, always do your own due diligence. 

5. License And Certify Your Business

As a Pet Sitting and Dog Walking Business are getting more popular, more states are going to require a License and/or Certification.

Even if your Business does not require it now, make sure to check your state’s requirements frequently, since that might change. 

Where do you check?  

Oh c’mon …

You should know by now that I got you!

Check out yet another wonderful SBA website page.

6. Buy Pet Sitting/Dog Walking Business Insurance

There are 3 blaring-in-your-face-reasons why you can not skip this step or make it optional when starting up a dog walking business.

Please.

I beg you.

A dog is chewing on a rope.

Liability

If anything were to happen … the dog gets hurt while under your care, you flood the clients house, the cat dies, ANYTHING … you will most likely be held accountable for it and as a reputable business you want to make sure you take care of your clients.

Costs can run into the $1000s very quickly.

I personally did not take on any job, until i was 100% sure i was insured. 

The proof is in the pudding

Check out just a few claims that were paid out in 2017 by my Pet Sitting Insurance Pet Sitters Associate: 

  • While walking a client dog on leash, it lunged at another dog passing by and broke free of the leash; the client dog attacked the third party dog causing injury – $3,777.96 paid
  • While in member’s care, the client dog jumped while playing with a ball and landed wrong, which caused injury to its leg – $1,000 paid
  • A client dog in the member’s care pulled the squeaker from a toy and swallowed it; surgery was needed to remove – $5,724.89 paid
  • While walking client dog on leash, a third party passerby was bitten and taken to hospital for five puncture wounds – $25,259 paid
  • I/C lost client key and home needed to be re-keyed – $739.82 paid
  • Client dog broke its leash and attacked a third party person and dog; both needed medical attention – $2,385.68 paid
  • A client dog that the member was boarding got a foxtail lodged in its nose while playing in the member’s fenced-in yard – $888.65 paid

As you can tell there are some freak accidents that happen, some could be avoided and some simply couldn’t.

Either way, someone has to pay the bill!

But who has the money laying around to just leisurely pay $500 – $25,000 and more out of pocket?

I don’t!

And I know you won’t likely either.

So getting insured for just around $200/year is a freakin’ NO-Brainer. 

YES! 

I must repeat. $200!

That’s nothing, for all the piece of mind you are getting in exchange. 

Just one simple injury or accdient and your company could be PUFF … gone with a lawsuit.

Don’t be stupid.  

Being professional: 

So that’s one of the reasons why I created Dog Walk to Wealth.

I want to make sure you know the most straight forward way of running a professional business through which you can find your wealth.  

You will be just another hobby sitter, if you don’t have enough foresight to protect you, your Business and your clients. It’s part of being professional. 

Marketing: 

Most clients have come to expect for their Dog walker or Pet Sitter to be insured.

So it actually really makes for a great Marketing Tool to mention that you are insured. 

So which Dog WalkingPet Sitting Insurance should you get?

I have been with two different pet sitting insurers. 

The one that was the most reasonable, specifically designed for U.S. Dog Walking Business owners has been for all these years Pet Sitters Associate.

7. Decide On Setting Your Rates

Even though it doesn’t seem like work to walk a dog or care fore a cat, you will need to be compensated fairly. 

After all you want to become wealthy having your own company!

First you should dive yourself into some research to find out what the going rates are within your area. 

Someone showing checking Finances on a Tablet.

If you are just starting out i’d recommend charging about the going rate. 

But please do not charge any less than your competitors – it will just de-value yourself and your business.

Do not offer discounts on a continual basis!

A $10 off coupon offered here and there or a referral bonus might work wonders, but anything more than that with devalue your brand. 

Once you have a beautiful, professional website and sparkling reviews on Google, you will be able to ramp up your prices.

Setting your prices will decide if you are going for quantity or quality (meaning more $$$ for less work ;)) … of clients!

Get some pointers on how to truly stand out from competition in this blog post.

And once you are completely booked – guess what? It will be time to raise your prices.

Yeah baby, increase your bottom line!

Our DogWalkapedia will have all the scripts you need when you are ready 😉 

8. Open Up A Business Bank & PayPal Account 

Business Bank Account

You will need a Business bank account for a multitude of reasons.

A few are: 

  • You will look more professional
  • Your personal and business finances will be kept separate

Which is important for legal and tax purposes. Also, you will be more organized, so accounting will become much simpler.

PayPal Business Account

Don’t make the mistake to only take Checks and Cash – it’s seems very archaic and unprofessional. Because it is!

Instead accept all major Credit Cards and Debit Cards!

It’s so easy.

Create a PayPal Business Account. 

The current fee is 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction. 

You can also set up a merchant account, through which you can accept Credit and Debit Cards, with about the same fees, but usually a monthly and one-time set up fee applies.

You can apply with PayPal to open up a Business account and start accepting Credit Cards immediately.

Feeling bold? 

Stand out AND save more money by accepting Bitcoin in your Business!

Sign up for my free 5-Day Email Course and learn what Bitcoin are and how to accept them in no time! 

Pheeeeew! 

You almost made it. 

Hang on tight.

Only a few more steps and then you are ready to go!

9. Find Out If You Have To Charge Sales Tax

Most states are already requiring Businesses to charge a Sales Tax on their Services. 

If you are lucky enough, your state does not charge a sales tax on Pet Sitting services, but make sure to check back regularly to make sure that hasn’t changed. 

How?

The best way is to just call your state’s Division of Taxation.

To find out the correct phone number head over to Google search for: 

Division of Taxation + {Your State}

Ask them if a Pet Sitting or Dog Walking Business needs to charge sales taxes. 

Otherwise you can look hours and hours for the information, since you have to find it for our specific industry.

Take my word. 

I have wasted hours looking for the information online.

I gave in. 

Called. 

And received an answer within 3 minutes. 

Bam! 

10. Get a Pet Sitting Software & Forms

The right Pet Sitting Software is inexpensive.

It will get you organized and make you look like a professional company. 

A few benefits are: 

  1. You will never miss a visit, because you have an organized schedule.
  2. Clients can onboard themselves -> so your Meet & Greets will be shorter and more personable
  3. You won’t need to tote your client forms around during your visits, because it will be all online! 

I personally have had the best experience with Precise Petcare.

They integrate with my website very well. 

They look very modern.

They are super intuitive.

And their owners are responsive to any problems that might arise and are always eager to provide new useful updates.

Precise Petcare can easily connect to your PayPal account, so clients will be able to pay their invoice (and add tips!) with the push of a PayPal Button.

No matter if you are going to use a Pet Sitting Software or not, you will not get around the fact that you will need Pet Business Forms.

A Client Contract and Questionnaires for their Pets are among the most important. 

You can create them yourself, or you can join DogWalkapedia to get all the form you need.

So!

You have now officially acquired the most important knowledge to start a dog walking business the professional way.

Any questions or comments? Ask away below or leave me love notes (just kidding, but maybe not :D)!

8 Personalized Christmas Gifts That Will Steal Your Clients Hearts for $25 And Under

8 Personalized Christmas Gifts That Will Steal Your Clients Hearts for $25 And Under

Christmas is almost here and the deals are on!

Since “you can deduct no more than $25 for business gifts .. to each person” (via IRS) I have searched for the most original and beautiful christmas gifts near and far all over the web.

The gifts i’m showing you are ALL customizable with either the pets name, choice of picture(s) and color of item or all of the above. (more…)

Why This Tech Marriage Will Give You Even More Leverage As A Professional Dog Walking Company

Why This Tech Marriage Will Give You Even More Leverage As A Professional Dog Walking Company

In typical Amazon fashion, they are pushing the envelope again!

And this time around Amazon is planning to team up with Rover and Merrymaids to provide their customers with a “convenient” way to let service providers unattended into their clients home. 

What exactly is Amazon Key?

For around $250 you can purchase the Amazon Key In-Home Kit, which includes an Amazon Cloud Cam and a compatible smart lock. 

After that’s all setup, you can select In-Home delivery when checking out. 

So when the driver is delivering your package he will first knock and if no one opens the door, he will proceed to request access to open the door through the keypad, which has to go through an authentication process.

 

Voila! There it goes: a stranger can walk right into your home

(if all goes well, with your permission of course).

 

Now couple that with Rover and we’ve got the perfect dog walking service. 

 

Ok i just needed to recover from my laughing attack in the farthest corner of my living room. 

Anyway, that’s the plan.

Personal service providers like cleaning services and dog walking services can walk right into your home and do everything for you, without you even ever meeting them.

Now i know a lot of pet sitters and dog walkers are already affected by Rover’s convenient uber-style dog walking service.

And a certain demographic totally digs Rover, Wag and all the other ones like that.

 

 

What makes Rover so successful to this date?

Here is the big secret:

They provide convenience. 

And now when teaming up with Amazon Key they will provide even more convenience because the customers don’t even have to meet the dog walker to give them the keys!

While I hope that most pet parents will still meet with the walker or sitter, i have no doubt that there is a fraction of our population that is completely fine for a stranger to walk into their home to care for their pet. 

I can’t even picture all the bad things that can possibly come out of this.

Especially when the dog is just stunned to have never smelled that person before walking through the front door like … a burglar?

 

 

How can you compete with Rover + Amazon Key?

Read my other blog post on 5 proven ways to outperform other businesses right here.

Make use of a pet sitting software.

It let’s your clients schedule services online, pay online, do everything online – in other words: It provides convenience.

Above that you already have a big advantage: You are not an App company, but a Dog Walking / Pet Sitting Company. 

You can guarantee that you face-to-face (!) hand selected, interviewed and trained your staff on an ongoing basis. Does Rover do that? No.

You can guarantee that when a client picks up the phone to ask a question about a sitter, they will be able to get the same person they talked to one week ago. Does Rover do that? No

You can guarantee that you started this company out of your love for animals. Can Rover do that? Certainly no.

 

Just to remind you.

We are dealing with living, precious beings here and while Rover has a big marketing machine going for itself, there will be many more problems for them to come in regards to liability and regulations.

So hang tight sweetheart.

Deliver exceptional services.

Offer a hassle free customer experience.

Collect reviews whenever and wherever you can. 

This way you will reach your wealth as a dog walking company not being at the mercy of an app. 

5 Idiot-Proof Methods To Attract The Best Employees

5 Idiot-Proof Methods To Attract The Best Employees

It’s a freaking revolving door. 65% of all the job applications I’m getting are looking to “make some quick money”.

With the involvement of real people and real animals, constant change in their routine and their caregivers is simply not an option and the added cost of time and moneyto hire and train someone every 3 months is simply not an option for you as a business owner as well.

But these wonderful employees we are all dreaming about are out there, you just need to attract the right ones the right way.

Check it out.

 

Lure them in – Pay well

People want to be appreciated. How is the appreciation measured?

Right Pay and Fair Treatment.

Find the sweet spot of a fair pay structure for the employee and your business and you are golden.

But, how do you find it?

First, check what your competitors are paying their employees.

If their websites don’t list the rate of pay, then you will have to pretend you are applying to become their dog walker or pet sitter and find it out that way.

Pay at least the same of what your competitors are paying. If you can afford it try to pay a little bit more than what your competitors are paying their employees.

Second, calculate what you can afford to pay your employees taking workman’s comp (if required in your state/country) and tax liabilities into account. 

Most importantly, calculate the average per hour wage and publish the pay rate on your website. 

Have you ever applied for a job?

And if so, didn’t you hate it if you found an awesome job to apply for, but nowhere did they publish what they are going to pay you?

Exactly! You could lose some great candidates on that simple fact.

… Or ATTRACT employees by following this simple tip.

 

Let them know what they are getting into

… with a job description.

Just like with any other job, no one knows what really goes into being a dog walker unless that person has been one before.

You want to be as ugly honest as possible about what their possible future job entails.

From picking up poop to cleaning up throw up, to cuddles, snuggles and driving through town on a tight schedule.

You can either create an entire job description or create an A&Q on your website, or both.

No matter which way you choose, make sure to:

* include basic pre-requisites (like availability, have to have car, prior experience with dogs, etc.)
* not make things look better than they are
* keep it concise
* be thorough

But with that being said, our job is fun most of the time of course 😉

Let your applicants know that they get to cuddle, play and simply walk outside and that this FREAKING ROCKS!

Your employee retention rate highly depends on how you communicate with and how you treat them.

Hopefully, you have it all worked out and are already creating a wonderful company culture.

If so, use that fact as a great reason to work for you!

 

Know what you are getting into

… with a carefully crafted job application.

Your schedule is already busy enough as is.

The last thing you will need is to waste 30 minutes of your time on a phone interview only to find out, that the prospective person doesn’t even have a car or is really only available Monday through Friday until the end of the summer.

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.

To make sure you are only speaking to well-qualified applicants, make sure you are asking all the pertinent questions already when they are filling out a job application on your website.

This way you will be able to schedule phone interviews.

So you can verify what was written,

get a feel for how they carry themselves on the phone and

hopefully invite them for an in-person interview which will result in a positive hiring decision.

 

Make them stay – Give security

Everyone loves security.

Security of a job.

Security of an income.

Start with figuring out how many work hours/week on average you can promise to your applicant and then look for someone with that availability.

When you guarantee (as much as possible of course) a certain amount of work hours = income per week and let them know that you are looking to work with someone who can stay with you longer than 6 months, it will give your prospective employee a good feeling of job security.

Which is huge, especially in this economy!

I elaborated more on all of the Employee Needs right here.

 

Make them devoted – Offer a way upwards

What motivates employees to give their Best?

A way upwards,

a better job position,

more responsibilities,

a higher pay.

Even if you are at the very beginning of hiring, eventually you will need an office manager or a person overseeing your vast array of pet sitters.

Keep your eyes open for a dog walker or pet sitter that might have qualities of leadership. And let your employees know about the opportunity to eventually be promoted.

The right person will be motivated by that sheer fact to do their best job at all times.

And hopefully, you will be able to promote one or some of your pet sitters. 

 

Online Reviews Are The Heartbeat Of Your Marketing And The Stats To Proof It

Online Reviews Are The Heartbeat Of Your Marketing And The Stats To Proof It

A whopping 88% of all consumers are reading online reviews of a business before reaching out to them.

That’s 9 out of 10 people! 


That means if you have no online reviews you are kind of hoping that the prospective client asks a neighbor about your business and they can vouch for you.

If not, a lot of people will move on to research the next viable option for a pet sitter or a dog walker. (more…)

5 Proven Ways To Rise Above Your Competition

5 Proven Ways To Rise Above Your Competition

Chances are that dog walking jobs are going nowhere.

And with that, more and more dog walking businesses are going to pop up all over the country.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn

Since we are not a regulated industry (yet) everyone can pretty much do as they please.

Some will fail within 2 years and some are going to stay on their mediocre path for a few years.

And then there are the few ones that stand out, rise to the top and are taking over the market.

You have to decide early on, which one of those 3 ways you want to go. Chances are if you are on this website, you want to rise to the top 🙂

 

1. Have an outstanding looking website

We have all done it, judge a person by its cover.

That raggedy looking man approaching you to ask a question – first thing in your mind:

“What the heck does he want from me?”.

He might be one of those millionaires that don’t care about their appearances or a professor who has been crunching numbers in his apartment for too long.

Either way, they could actually be really nice, competent people.

Same goes for your website for your dog walking business.

You could be the best dog walker or pet sitter Rise above the rest in your dog walking businessaround,

but if your appearance

– your website –

does not reflect it, people are most likely just clicking away thinking you don’t know what you are doing talking about.

 

So get it together and either build one yourself or hire someone to do it for you.

 

2. Use Technology to your advantage

Two things are important here:

Type of payment accepted and Pet Sitting Software.

Type of payment accepted

In the year 2018 nothing is worse than accepting only cash or check.

Wonder why it should be the standard to accept all major credit cards?

For three reasons:

Professionalism.

It might come across as either you are running a front (joke aside, alright) OR

you are not going to pay your taxes (because in all honesty, that’s why my local pizza guy ONLY accepts cash) OR

you don’t take you dog walking business seriously.

ANY major company nowadays accepts Credit Card – boom, that’s the truth and they are seen as the professionals.

Inconvenience.

How many times do you use your Credit or Debit Card throughout the day?

Chances are you are ONLY using plastic nowadays and that goes for many other people – your potential clients.

People don’t want to have to make that extra trip to the ATM or whip out their check books (seriously America?) everytime it’s time to pay their pet sitter (“oh, she is so 1990s”).

Organizational Problems.

It’s so easy to keep track of incoming electronic payments with wonderful bookkeeping softwares 
and/or your pet sitting software.

 

Pet Sitting / Dog Walking Software

You will know if that booked visit was paid yet or not, without you having to make yourself a note.

At the end of the year, you will just click “Report” and you will get all the income, refunds and whatever not consolidated right in front of you – in 5 seconds.

Instead of you looking through your ledger adding up all these numbers you have written in hastily (wait was that a 9 or a 0??) You get the point, right? 😉

There are other two great main reasons to use a industry specific dog walking software:

  • You will appear professional to your clients – in their head they think you got your stuff together and will not forget about their pet
  • You will be so organized never missing a visit, payment and any information you need from your client and client’s pet

There are many pet sitting softwares to choose from and most of them are starting at a low price/month ~ $15.

 

Can’t beat that for your peace of mind and for your business to be organized and professional looking.

 

Pet Sitting Software

 

 

3. Be as professional as you can be

You are the one that sets the tone in your relationship with your clients.

Sending text and yelling insults at each other is not a professional way of communication.

So when communicating with your client adhere to these simple rules from the beginning:

  • Use a Signature in every one of your email including your name, title, contact info, logo and maybe pertinent blog post links or review links
  • when a client texts you do not text back – email or call back instead. If you start going down that road, client will text you at 11 pm at night or trying to cancel and book visits – it’s going to get you to forget things and your clients won’t see you as a professional
  • Always use a greeting in your emails, even when you are replying back. Stick to the script – it’s professional.
     
     
  • Take your emotions completely out of it
    Even if an unsatisfied client writes you a nasty email.
    If it really gets you stirred up emotionally – decide if you want to keep the client or not.
    And then – very important – sleep on it overnight.
    Then write back an email,
    taking out all emotions.
    Just sticking to the facts.
    Nothing else!
    Promise???
    The shorter, the better.
    As a business owner you should always have to manage to keep your head up high, no matter what. Otherwise it will come back to bite you.

  • When receiving email pet sitting requests – use a script to email back

4. Collect reviews

 To a big degree, you have the power to control the image/narrative of your company.

 

Don’t be afraid to self-promote.

That’s why collecting as many great reviews as possible is of the utmost importance.

It comes with 2 very important side effects:

 

  • Your chances of showing up on top of page 1 are exponentially higher with 5 Star reviews
  • According to moz.com (2015) roughly 68% of purchase decision are influenced by online reviews

 

To read about 5 more important reasons on why to collect reviews, check out my post here.

So here is what to do:

 

  1. After 4 weeks of service (and of course giving your very best at all times), send out satisfaction surveys via email to your clients asking how satisfied they are with your services provided and if there is anything you could improve on
  2. After an additional 2 weeks and some happy responses send out an email asking for a review on google, yelp, Facebook etc. with an easy to access link straight to the review page – the easier the higher the chances you will get a response
  3. Do that with every new client religiously. 

Now lean back and watch the calls come in because by owning a 5 Star rated company you have already cleared a very important “trust hurdle”.

 

5. Be unique

There are so many ways you can bring your own unique personality into your business and you should!

Here some ways to set you apart: 

  • Choose a unique business name – spend time on it, it’s important
  • Create a logo that reflects your business’ personality
  • Same goes for website – it can really reflect what your business stands for
  • the uniform you choose to wear – think about it – spaghetti tops vs. polo shirts?!
  • The way you conduct yourself in front of clients – in-person, phone and e-mail  

 

Don’t be afraid to be yourself, to care a lot and to go the extra mile.

 

People don’t hire businesses, but people.

 

 

 

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