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  • The most important question when starting a dog walking business

    by Talley Lattimore

    Are you the type of person who stops to pet every dog you see while walking down the sidewalk? Perhaps you’ve considered dog walking as a career or side hustle in the past. Before starting a dog walking business, there are several questions you must consider. Questions like what services you’ll offer, what rates you’ll charge for those services, and whether you need insurance or not are all things you’ll have to consider. However, the most important question to answer when starting a dog walking business is how will you operate your business? The good news is there are really only three options, each have their pros and cons. Keep reading to determine which option is right for you.

    A young pug with a dog walker. This post discusses how to start a dog walking business.

    The 3 options for operating your dog walking business

    When considering the options below, ask yourself the following questions. How much control do you want over your dog walking business? How organized are you? How technically savvy are you? How do you intend to find clients?

    • Option 1: low tech DIY – Dog walking businesses have been around well before the advent of smartphones and mobile technology, and it’s still very possible to manage your dog walking business with nothing more than a calendar, telephone, spreadsheet, and business cards.
    • Option 2: join a platform – Apply to walk with an on-demand platform that sends you walks, and gives you software to give clients a great experience, but keeps 20-40% of your earnings.
    • Option 3: use dog-walking software – Abandon the Google calendar and spreadsheets and use a software service that provides you with business management tools.

    Barkly Pets provides dog walkers the best of all three of these options. They offer the tools you need at a fraction of the cost of other dog walking software providers. They provide the experience that customers have come to expect from Wag! and Rover without taking a percentage of your earnings. Best of all, Barkly Pets provides all the freedom and independence of going it yourself.

    Technology for Dog Walking Businesses

    It’s not hyperbole to say that on-demand dog walking platforms have revolutionized what pet owners expect from their walkers. Mobile booking, GPS-tracked walks, automated post-walk reports, and paying with credit cards were unheard of five years ago, but are expected now. Unfortunately, these tech-enabled features are not available to those who opt to operate their dog walking business as a low tech DIY business, and do it all on their own.

    If you choose options 2 or 3 above of using a platform or dog walking software to start your dog walking business, then you’ll enjoy many technology benefits. However, the technology of dog walking platforms like Wag! and Rover only is designed to make the on-walk experience simple for dog walkers, which is not necessarily comprehensive for running your dog walking business. Meanwhile, dog walking software like Barkly is meant to simplify the entire experience of running your business – from scheduling appointments, providing services, and all of the administrative busywork.

    A dog walker at his computer with a dog next to him. Starting a dog walking business will require time at a computer marketing your business.

    Marketing your pet care business

    Let’s face it, no one starting a dog walking business because they love marketing. It’s true that dog walking platforms take this work off your hands, but at a steep cost, often taking up to 40% of your earnings. Doing it on your earn means dedicated a lot of time and effort to learning about branding, building a website, and other necessary tasks. While most dog walking software services provide few if any marketing tools, Barkly Pets provides you with robust tools to make marketing easy. These tools come in three primary forms.

    1. You get your own website which you can use to market yourself across platforms such as social media, Craigslist, Nextdoor, and anywhere else you want.
    2. They automatically create fliers for every walker which you can print out and post around your neighborhood or at local dog parks.
    3. Free courses are available to help you develop yourself. These online courses cover topics such as handling aggressive dogs, the basics of cat visits, and tips for building your own business. When you pass a course, you get a badge on your website for customers to see.

    Taken together, these tools allow you to effectively market your business while still focusing on the work you love.

    Putting the “independent” in independent dog walker

    The joy of being an independent dog walker comes from the freedom it provides. This is where the allure to go it yourself comes from, while on-demand services fall far short. Dog walking platforms don’t allow you set your own prices, force to compete for individual walks, and effectively become your bosses. Some dog walking software providers allow you to completely maintain your independence. While some, such as Time To Pet, restrict the services you can offer, Barkly Pets allows you offer any services you wish, set your own prices, and be your own boss. Simply put, you are still an independent walker, you just now have the support and tools you need.

    Dog walking software costs

    While most dog-walking software provides similar features, they can vary wildly in price. For example, Time to Pet cost a minimum of $35 per month, 400% more than Barkly Pets costs. With a flat fee of $8.50 a month, Barkly really sets itself apart by being the most affordable software provider.

    Furthermore, they are subscription-based service where you only pay when you make money. Walkers are only charged in months where they earn $100 or more. As a result, some walkers on our platform making thousands of dollars per month and they still pay just $8.50. That means that they are keeping over 99.5% of what they earn!

    There is also a one-time $10 registration fee that covers the cost of our vetting and a background check.

    Conclusion

    Each of the three options for starting a dog walking business has its benefits and drawbacks and no option is right for every pet care provider. If you’re a marketing maven with the skills to build a website and manage customer bookings and payment on your own, then doing it on your own might be best. If dog walking is a side-hustle and you’re just looking for a quick way to make money, then an on-demand service would be a great fit. However, if you have or are starting a dog walking business and want to be a pet-care professional, a dog walking software provider is ideal for you. Barkly Pets has set itself apart from its competitors and is the best options for those in the final category. Create your Barkly walker page today!

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