Grow you dog walking business

Grow your dog walking business. How to grow your dog walking business in neighborhoods, buildings, and gated communities.

grow your dog walking business

How to grow your dog walking business in neighborhoods, buildings, and gated communities.

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Grow your dog walking business: Video transcript

Hello pet professionals! This is Josh Schermer of SparkyGo. I hope you’re doing well. 

Today we’re going to discuss the idea of targeting buildings, parts of neighborhoods, and gated communities – basically cluster where there are many customers in a small area. Why do we want to do that? Because it’s one of the best ways to increase how much money you make per minute. Because obviously, the less travel time, the more money you’re actually making while you work, and the less money you are spending on traveling. I know many of you drive to where your customers are. 

So even if you live in the country, where there are gated communities, or sometimes a part of a neighborhood where there are a lot of customers or even a few customers who might give you more consistent business, this is a good topic for you to concentrate on. 

What you can do is what I’m doing here. You can take a snapshot from the Google map of an area. Let’s start by discussing what areas you should choose. Choose an area where you know customers exist. Maybe you already know that there are dog walkers and pet sitters who operate there, (whichever service you are concentrating on). And that there’s money to be made there. Obviously, you want a customer base that can afford you. 

You also want to think about the type of jobs that people in the neighborhood have. Forget about the type of jobs. Focus on the lifestyles they have, because you want their lifestyle to match when you want to work. If let’s say, you’re concentrating on an area where there happen to be a lot of nurses, maybe it’s a building where a lot of nurses happen to live. You need to consider their lifestyle. Most nurses have sporadic schedules. They might be working at night. You need to make sure that their schedule matches the lifestyle that you want to live. 

Now, other neighborhoods might have people who work during the day, every day. This means that both husband and wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, or whoever is part of a household, are gone during the day. That could be really good for dog walking. You might have another area where people who travel a lot for business tend to live. That would be good for pet sitting and dog boarding. 

So you want to think about these things before you decide on an area you really want to push in on. Once you decide on that area, you can take a little snapshot on a Google map like this. Then it’s time to start planning ahead. You want to look for all the different assets that will help you get the word out about your business. Let’s take this area here, for example. I’m going to do this hypothetically. So if you know this area, keep in mind some of it is going to be made up just for the viewers. 

There is a dog park over here. So I’m just going to type DP for the dog park. There are some restaurants over here. I’m going to mark restaurants. There’s a pet store over here, and over here. Pretty close to each other. There’s a dog groomer over here. There’s a vet office over here. There’s a vet office over here. Now I have already found some assets in this neighborhood. If I’m concentrating on some buildings in this little nook, and I want to get the word out and get customers that are relevant to my pet service, right away I’ve identified some places to do that. Now let’s think of how we can use the assets we’ve found to benefit our business.

A vet office. We could discuss doing some type of referral arrangement: we’ll send them customers, they’ll send us customers. Usually, a vet office wants to get to know you. In terms of offices, you’re usually not going to be speaking to the vet, at least at first. You’ll be talking to the office manager. So be really nice to the people on the phone. Or if you visit them in person, treat everyone as if they’re the vet. Everyone in the vet office is very important to you. 

A dog park is obviously a place where you can go and meet actual dog owners. You know each of them is a potential customer. You can do things like handing out gift bags. You can go there periodically and give out gift bags with some tennis balls, toys, and your business cards, of course. If you are good at engaging people in conversation, you can go in there and speak to people. You might be wondering: “what do I say to someone? I don’t want to be pushy.” Well, just talking to someone about anything really can lead to the fact that you’re a dog walker. So if you’re a big schmoozer, the dog park can be a great place for you. 

We have a restaurant over here and you wonder maybe why I am paying attention to that. I’m just putting it as an example of a spot with a lot of people going back and forth, and a lot of dog owners. It could be a place that benefits you if you could work out an arrangement with them to have your cards on their counter. Or maybe they have a corkboard where they let people in the community post things, etc. There’s a lot of traffic over here. 

Pet stores can be served as another referral arrangement just like the vet office. Let’s see the vet office, same idea. I don’t remember what this is here. Oh, it’s a pet store. That should be an S. Okay. Anyway. There’s also a doggy daycare somewhere around here. Doggy daycare. So, as you can see, this is a lively area. There are a lot of businesses here telling us that there are a lot of pet owners in this area, they spend money on their pets, so there’s a good chance they want the service we offer. 

Now, let’s say that we’re looking to target three buildings in this area. We’ve already started by trying to make sure that if they go to these pet-related places, they see our cards, and maybe they even run into us. Now we can do a few other things. We can also target something like a coffee shop, magazine store, or other places they might go daily to get a coffee, to get their newspaper. You might be wondering why would these places do a deal with me? 

I’ve made it happen. I’ve made it happen at delis where I’ve paid to be on their counter. I’ve paid like an advertising fee. It was literally like $100 a month, but it was at a deli. That was the only deli in this neighborhood next to this building I really wanted to be in and it helped. I got customers from it. 

So let’s talk about the actual buildings themselves. There are a few things you can do in terms of getting noticed in these buildings directly. The first one we’re going to discuss is for anyone but it’s especially for you if you’re really not someone who likes doing direct face-to-face sales. If that is you, this is for you. It’s called a referral business card. And so the referral business card has a pre-written statement on the card. I’m going to show it on the screen, as an example. It basically says: “I’m a dog walker, pet sitter, daycare, (or whatever you offer). You are a doorman, you know people in your building who have dogs, pets, what have you. Let’s do business together.” That’s the summary. That’s the general idea. The card should have your phone number on it. It should have a link to your website. 

You can also simply go up to someone and say, hey, we give referral fees. If you ever find someone who needs my service, let me give this to you. Then you can just take off. You can literally run away from them. It’s okay. You don’t have to sit there and explain it. So that’s step one. You can do a referral card for the doorman who work in these buildings here. 

The next step in terms of what you can do to target these buildings is mailings. You could create postcards, a letter, anything you want to do. You could create a few different ones, two or three. Every month or two, you could send them to these buildings. Now you’re going to need to find out how the buildings work in terms of their floors, their addresses, things like that. There are websites where you can find this information. I’ll list one. 

You might try to befriend a doorman and just simply say to him: I’m trying to do a mailing to the building, I’m just wondering how the floors work. It’s really not sketchy. You’re not going to come off sketchy, because you’ll be really honest. Say “I have a pet business. I’m going to do a mailing here. I’m just wondering how the floors work, A through Z, 1 through 10, what have you.” Again, this might not be for you if you’re concentrating on a neighborhood or in the country, but for others it will. 

Another way you can target a building directly is the same idea as the dog run. Bring your gift bags, and/or some type of promotion that you carry on you. Stand outside the building and be there at a time when there’s probably going to be the most dog parents, which probably would be at night or on the weekends, possibly early mornings. But be careful about early mornings, as I think we all know most people are not in the greatest mood to be approached at that time. 

The nice thing, no matter what you decide to do, is when you give someone a gift bag. The success rate is really high especially if you don’t ask if they want it. If you ask someone, do you want a gift bag today? A lot of people don’t like being posed with choice, a lot of people like choices made for them. So if you approach someone with a gift bag, just hand it to them. Say, hey, we’re giving out free gift bags for dogs today. They take the gift bag. They get the toy or the tennis ball. They have your business card. It’s a nice way to get the name of your brand out there. 

Let’s take this a step further in terms of people who might be connected with these buildings. Think about anything housing related. Buildings often times have supers, doormen, property managers, things like that. You can approach all of them with the same idea, which is: I am in the area. I do business here. You can trust me. And I’m happy to give you a referral fee. Not everyone will ask for a referral fee. Some people will just want to refer someone they can trust. But offering the referral fee doesn’t hurt. A few more housing related ideas: you can reach out to real estate brokers, moving companies, nannies, and house cleaners. There are ways to reach these services if you just simply look for them online. Search on Google as if you live in the area and are searching for these services yourself. Search for people who target those specific areas in which you want to operate. Yes, they might not be in these individual buildings. But if you’re targeting these buildings, you want to be in this general area anyway. You think it would be great to have as many dogs as possible in these buildings. 

So that’s the general idea.

Now lastly, in terms of social media and Google ads, I’m going to rank Google Ads way ahead of social media in terms of advertising budgets. I would not spend anywhere near as much on social media as I would on Google. But either way, with both of these, you can target specific neighborhoods. You could target this specific neighborhood on social media, or Google with ads. It’s another way to reach out to people who live there. Even if your success rate is not high, even if you don’t convert a lot of customers through the paid ads, if you do all of the things we’ve discussed today, the one thing you’re going to get for sure, is brand recognition. People are going to know the name of your company. And over time, it will lead to more business. Someone you talk to, or you run into at the dog groomer might not need your business but you have a nice conversation with them. Then they recommend their neighbor. They refer you to their neighbor. They might say “hey, I met this really nice dog walker.” It can just work that way. 

Okay, guys, this has been a lot of fun. I hope it’s been helpful. I’ll talk to you soon. Buh-bye. 

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SparkyGo.