I wanted to share with you some of the reasons, albeit some quite odd, that customers have told me they were put off by other Pet Businesses and came to me instead.
This was information they gave freely, I never ask if they’ve contacted another business or why they stopped using a previous business, but thought it would be useful for those of you who may be losing customers and don’t know why or those just starting out.
So number one, the TOP reason I’ve been told a customer wanted to change dog walkers on numerous occasions is…
I’ve said it before and i’ll say it again, being your own boss gives you the freedom to pick and chose what you do, what you take on, when you work, BUT remember that seeming unreliable and taking days off regularly means the customer has to make alternative arrangements. You are entitled to days off but if it happens so often that the customer is constantly trying to find back up, they may just find someone more reliable altogether.
2. HAVING SIGNAGE ON YOUR VEHICLE
Could be a controversial one but I have received a lot of enquiries simply because I was the only person in the area (at the time) who didn’t have DOG WALKER written all over my vehicle. While it’s good for advertising, customers have said they would rather not have it made so obvious that nobody is home except their dog. I would suggest a removable sticker or magnet so you can take it off if a customer requests.
3. ADVERTS IN LOCAL MAGAZINES
I always tell new business owners not to waste money on leaflets, instead spend that money on adverts in local magazines! I’ve received so many calls over the years from customers who told me they called me over other local businesses as they felt I must be serious about my job, professional and ‘legit’ because they’ve seen me in a magazine.
4. DOG OWNERS DON’T ALWAYS WANT THEIR DOG SOCIALISED IN GROUPS
While group walks are not ‘wrong’ in my opinion, a lot of dog owners do not want their dog socialising with dogs they don’t know or simply their dog isn’t that great with others and they’d rather the peace of mind in knowing their dog is on a lead being walked individually. If you offer group walks, maybe you could offer solo walks for anxious or reactive dogs as well. I’ve gained many customers because I offer solo walks.
5. FIRST IMPRESSIONS & FRIENDLINESS
So important, especially if the potential customer doesn’t know you from adam. If someone puts a kiss at the end of their message, I tend to put one back! Now this may sound silly and petty but it mattered to the customer and got me the job over every other business they’d contacted! A simple x at the end of my message! Apparently I was the only person who did this and to the customer made me seem friendlier than the others she’d contacted! It’s hard to portray your personality in a written message but very easy to appear harsh, unfriendly and unapproachable so be careful how you are coming across.
6. NOT FOLLOWING INSTRUCTIONS & RESPECT
We may not always agree with how people feed or walk their dog and we may not choose to do the same with our own, but we need to respect how the customer chooses to care for their pet and respect their rules and instructions (as long as it’s not cruel or harmful to the animal). For example, I’ve heard so many stories of dogs running off because they’ve been let off the lead when the dog walker was asked not to, or the dog has been sick because the pet sitter gave them a treat they weren’t allowed.
I’ve even been told of dog walkers who have taken their own dog to customers houses without permission which has ended in fighting and items in the house being ruined or broken.
7. TOO CHEAP
Believe it or not being too cheap can cause potential customers to assume you’re not professional or serious about your job! So don’t be scared to charge more or up your prices if you’re a lot cheaper than others in your area.
So that was a quick round up and things to think about if you are loosing custom and don’t know why or if you are getting enquiries but not bookings. Could it be one of the reasons above?