5 things you should do before starting your Pet Business

If you are thinking of starting a Pet Business such as Dog Walking or Pet Sitting, Dog Grooming or Day Care, there are some things that you need to do before you start.

If you are currently in another job and taking the plunge soon, these are things you can be doing on your lunch break, or when your boss isn’t looking 😉

 

ONLINE RESEARCH

Gather some info on similar local businesses in your area.  What do they offer?  What do they charge?  This will help you when setting your own prices and noticing if there are any gaps in the market that you could fill.

 

VOLUNTEER

Ok you can’t do this in your lunch break, but volunteering for animal charities or local dog rescue centres is such a great way to gain experience but also to showcase when you do start your business.  As well as make connections with those working in the pet industry.  The Cinnamon Trust is such a fab place to start, they match volunteers with elderly or ill people in their local area, enabling them to keep their pets at home but have someone come in and walk them. It is rewarding AND fab experience!

 

BRANDING

It’s a good idea to have a logo and name ready for when you start advertising.  Use your time to come up with some ideas, some colour schemes you like.  Be sure to check that you have a unique name that isn’t already being used.

 

FINANCES

This is a biggy that people often miss.  Work out exactly how much you need to earn a week / month to be able to cover your bills.  The quickest way for your business to fail is not being clear how much you NEED to earn.  If possible I highly suggest saving up as much money as possible to keep you going for at least a few months while your client base builds up.

 

ONLINE LEARNING

Have a look for any courses you can do around starting a Pet Business or on animal behaviour.  The more you know before you start, the more equipped you will be to succeed!

If you want a step by step guide to starting a Dog Walking & Pet Sitting Business, click here to view our online course! We know how overwhelming it can be so let us take you through the process one step at a time.

Rachel x

P.S Grab a copy of the Business Success Plan below to help you get clear on your Business!

Pet Business Success Plan

Designed to help you get clear on why you do what you do, how you're going to do it and where you want your business to go. The 16 page plan will be emailed to you in PDF format.

£10.00

Learn why customers choose my Pet Business

If you dream of starting your own Dog Walking & Pet Sitting Business join our free Facebook Group The Petpreneur Network or click here for more info on our Courses >>>

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…

  1. UNRELIABILITY

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?

If you dream of starting your own Dog Walking & Pet Sitting Business join our free Facebook Group The Petpreneur Network or click here for more info on our Courses >>>

 

Pet Business Success Plan

Designed to help you get clear on why you do what you do, how you're going to do it and where you want your business to go. The 16 page plan will be emailed to you in PDF format.

£10.00

 

How to make more money from your Pet Business

If you dream of starting your own Dog Walking & Pet Sitting Business join our free Facebook Group The Petpreneur Network or click here for more info on our Courses >>>

If you’re not earning as much as you’d hoped from your business, whether it be from walking dogs, grooming or cat sitting, there are ways to make the most out of your business and earn more.

It’s not all about the money for most of us but we all have to make a living and pay those bills so here’s a few ideas for you!

OFFER AN ADD ON SERVICE

Is there something you can offer to the customers you already have?  For example if you are a dog walker who does solo walks, could you offer a group walk at the weekend or when you’re less busy.  If you’re a dog groomer could you offer a pamper session or canine massage?   Or how about offering a ‘poop pick up’ service to help your customers keep their gardens clean!

If you create a pet product could you expand on it or add something to it that your customers would pay a bit extra for?

DON’T RULE OUT OTHER PETS

When I started I was adamant that I didn’t want to look after cats, so much so that my first business cards said ‘dog sitting’ rather than ‘pet sitting’.  But you can earn a good chunk of cash from cat & small pet sitting, which usually will be morning and evening visits so doesn’t interfere with your regular dog walks.  If for example you’re looking after 3 lots of cats for a week at £12 per day that’s an extra £252 a week!

If you’re a cat sitter and not particularly comfortable with dogs, could you walk small dogs at lunch time or advertise that you’ll care for guinea pigs and fish too?

If you paint dog portraits how about advertising that you can paint other pets too!

GET CREATIVE

Is there something else that you’re good at that you can do when you’re not out walking, grooming and sitting that you can link to pets?  For example if you’re good at sewing could you make and sell doggy bandannas or jackets or if you’re amazing at painting could you create hand painted gifts for pet owners and animal lovers?  Good at baking, you could sell dog friendly home baked treats.

OFFER AN EXCLUSIVE HIGH PAYING ONE OFF SERVICE

Think outside the box, what could you offer that pet owners would pay anything for that you wouldn’t need to do every day.  You could provide a service taking dogs to weddings (I love doing this!), or if you have a pet treat business what about offering to host doggy tea parties or birthday parties? (Yep it’s a thing!)

HIRE SOMEONE

Employing someone to work for you can be a great way to earn extra cash without you having to do much at all.  As long as you do it properly, get advice from an employment expert and or legal adviser, or even get a HR Company to do the hiring for you, it can be an amazing way to expand your business and help even more pets at the same time!

Do you have a side hustle?

If you dream of starting your own Dog Walking & Pet Sitting Business join our free Facebook Group The Petpreneur Network or click here for more info on our Courses >>>

Pet Business Success Plan

Designed to help you get clear on why you do what you do, how you're going to do it and where you want your business to go. The 16 page plan will be emailed to you in PDF format.

£10.00

The secret to stress free social media for local businesses

Wanna know the secret to stress free and affective social media for your local business??

STOP OVERCOMPLICATING IT AND OVERTHINKING IT

❌ DO NOT WORRY ABOUT:

Getting hundreds of likes

Getting hundreds of followers

Posting pointless content 10 times a day

Being on every platform

✅ DO think about:

Positive feedback and Reviews

Interacting with customers you already have & potential customers

Telling & showing people what you have to offer

The very name SOCIAL media means interacting, chatting with, mingling, meeting, networking, getting to know…..

Too many of us forget this and think it’s the place for us to sell, pitch and entertain people.

You are not here to entertain, your business pages are to showcase what you can do and to attract paying customers.

I did a survey of my customers who contacted me on Facebook and they said the first thing they looked at and what pushed them to contact me was my positive 5 star reviews, they didn’t even look at how many likes I had.

In fact most people who had contacted me through my fb Page had already been recommended by a friend.

I rarely post more than once a day, sometimes I don’t post at all, and when I do it’s usually just a photo of a pet I’ve seen that day. Personally if I’m following an account that posts 10 times a day, I stop looking and loose interest in that page.

So what’s my secret?

You’re probably bored of hearing me say it now but I’ll say it again! Haha!

👉🏼 Provide amazing quality service for the people who ALREADY pay you, and they will do your advertising for you! Simple.

1000 likes does not mean 1000 paying customers. If your likers and followers are not converting to paying customers then they are not your target audience.

For example if I get 100 likes from other dog walkers around the country, it’s nice of them to show support but they are never going to be paying customers.

Are you over thinking? I see a lot of people asking about blogs but then saying they’re not very good at writing and don’t enjoy it.. well don’t do it then! If it’s not going to benefit your business and you don’t enjoy doing it, why stress yourself out?

Really think before you post something… is this benefiting my business, is it attracting potential customers to pay me or is it showcasing what i offer? If no then it’s probably not worth posting.

So what are some things you could be doing?

• Just for fun photo competitions, this gets local pet owners engaging with you

• Ask your current customers to write you a review

• Mingle and talk to people in local business or neighbourhood Facebook groups

• Introduce yourself, tell people about you and why you started your business, was there a story behind it?

• Remind people what services you offer

• Get to know fellow Petpreneurs in your area, where I live we recommend each other

• Overall get to know local people and get them to like and trust you

For some ideas of what you could be posting have a look at my 30 day guide.

Social Media – are you missing the point?

Organise your Pet Business in 2019!

I’ve come to the conclusion that much of my stress in 2018 came from me being really unorganised and ‘winging it’ a little too much!

I know some of us work better that way, but for me, I need things written down, clear and organised.  Give me a spreadsheet any day!!

If you’re the same, here’s my top tips for staying organised in 2019…

Keep a simple paperwork / new client system

It doesn’t need to be over complicated, create a system that works for you that you can keep up to date easily.  Also be clear on what your system actually is.  There’s no right or wrong with this, you are more likely to stick to a system you decide upon.

Plan your meals and snacks

I have been TERRIBLE at this!  But it’s so important when you’re doing a physical job to make sure you have enough lunch and snacks to keep you going throughout the day.  Trust me, feeling hungry is the quickest way to make you feel like crap!  I’ve now got a healthy snack basket in my car with dried fruit just in case I need something in between walks.

Keep your mobile office clean and tidy

“Tidy house tidy mind” or “Tidy car tidy mind!”  Personally i’m in my car for so long during the day it feels like my office and it can quickly get messy!  Before I know it it’s full of mud, wrappers and receipts, making me feel bleugh! Give yourself 20 minutes or so once a week to tidy your car, it will make you feel so much better!

Morning routine / evening routine

Our jobs can be very erratic and all over the place so for me having a set routine morning and evening can make me feel more in control and relaxed.  Everyone’s routine will be completely different but for me I like to make sure I give myself enough time in the morning to have a Cacao drink, feed and spend time with our pup Mia, and listen to a positive, feel good podcast or You Tube video while I’m getting ready.

Tax Return

Don’t leave it to the last minute to do your Tax Return, trust me you’ll get stressed out and possibly get a shock when you find out how much you owe!  Why not make it easier for your future self and record your incoming and outgoings as you go throughout the year.  All it takes is a simple spreadsheet or even a notebook where you can jot things down as you go.

Your diary

Set aside time on the same day each week/month to work out your schedule.  I like to do this on a Sunday ready for the Monday morning, checking that I’ve read everyone’s messages, got back to everyone and made any changes needed.

Social Media and content planning

One of THE most stressful tasks for us can be creating posts and content, and often doing it every day, as and when, can be overwhelming and cause us to post rubbish content that doesn’t benefit our businesses at all!  Set aside time to switch off from everything else and concentrate on this only.  This can be an afternoon once a week, a whole day once a month, an hour, whatever you can fit in.  Once you have your content you can schedule it to go out so you’re not having to physically do this every day.

For more help with this I have a 30 day content planner for Petpreneurs below.

Social Media Posting Guide

A 30 day social media posting guide for Pet Business Owners.

£1.00

 

Make lists and brain dumps

When everything is in your head its hard to make sense of it and remember it all! So get it all down on paper in whichever form you prefer.  Once you know what you want to do you can work out how and the steps you need to take in order for you to complete each task.

Time Out

Give yourself time out of your business to relax, recharge your batteries and get those things done round the house and in your personal life that get left when we’re so busy with our work.

If you’d like support with your Pet Business join me over in our free Facebook Group or click here for more info>>>

I hope you all have a very happy New Year and successful 2019!

 

Christmas Gift Guide for Pet Owners

I love nothing more than buying unique and different, hand made items from small or local businesses.  Especially when it comes to pets!  So here’s my top handpicked gifts for 2018!



Muttley & Martha

All accessories are handmade by Charlotte in Somerset.  Order book for Christmas delivery is open until the 6th of December so get your orders in quick! 

Collars start from £10.50

Leads from £13.50

Snuggle blankets from £11.95

Shop Here



Little Crafty Shop

All hand made by Fran in Peterborough

Key racks can be done in different colours and with names £8

Pebble Art Pictures various sizes £10-£15

Shop Here



Cathy’s Creations by Cathy Settle

Cathy is a super talented artist who hand draws all of her work.  View her Pet Portraits and purchase her cards on the links below.

Christmas cards £2 each with free P&P 


Growlees
Growlees have sooo many fabulous tags that come in various colours and come with free UK shipping!
Tags are £10 


Harley Bear’s Coco Bites
The organic coconut oil treats your dog will go nuts for!  Inspired by adopted Staffy Harley.
Christmas Eve Box’s are £10 + P&P
Selection Boxes are £6.50 + P&P

 


Bazil & Ruby

Rope Leads hand dyed and made with 100% natural cotton, durable and soft £18

Shop Here



Hunter & Hound

Hunter & hound all stems from love and passion.  All treats are handmade with simply the finest, natural ingredients to ensure your furry friends tails will be wagging when they receive their Hunter & Hound treats this Christmas.

Festive donuts 4 pack £4.00

Christmas biscuit tin 16 biscuits – shortbread, iced rings, custard cream, barkbons, Jammy treats, digestive biscuits, dog Oreos! £16.00 

Dog hamper – Stuffed with 5 natural and nutritional treats!  Donuts, Sweet potato chews, Sweet dream bites, Pupcorn & Baked bones £14

Shop Here



MonKee Pet Boutique

Digital & Hand Drawn pet portraits by Kelly at MonKee.  Prices start at £20 and can be mounted on canvas from £45.

Shop Here



Furnishables

So unique!  Reusable static cling stickers, creating themed environments for small animals.

Prices start from just £1.50

Shop Here

 

Happy shopping!!!

Adding festive charm to your Pet Business this Christmas

What can you do to add some festive charm to your Pet Business this time of year?

Change your Facebook Cover Photo to a lovely Autumnal or Christmassy, snowy photo that you’ve taken. This is one of the first things people see when they visit your page so make it stand out with those lovely Autumn colours or beautiful white frosty trees.

IMG_4768

If you sell physical products make sure to update your website and social media with all those puuurfect gift ideas and add any special Christmas deals. You could add a pinned post to the top of your Facebook Page letting everyone know about a fab deal you have.

Create your own Christmas gift guide for Pet Owners featuring local businesses near you and either post them on your page so they can be shared or create as a blog post like this one or send out to your email list if you have one!

Come up with some small gift ideas for your customers. You don’t need to go over the top just a card and a small gesture will be so appreciated by your furry and non-furry clients.

Hold a festive themed competition on your page such as a best Christmas jumper photo competition. People LOVE to get involved in things like this and your page will be seen by so many more people wanting to take part.

Edit your website colours or add some extra sparkle just for this time of year.

Don’t forget to upload all those cute pictures of your furry customers to your social media accounts, we all love a puppy in a Christmas jumper don’t we??

IMG_2999

Get your tinsel out and decorate your work place or yourself! Stick some in your hair while you’re walking your doggies, you may get talking to potential customers 😉

Overall, have fun with it and get into the Christmas spirit!

Rachel x

For more info about how we can support you click here.

Or join our friendly Facebook community here 🙂

Why can’t I get any customers?

Whether you’re just starting out or have been running your business for years, you may have experienced the panic of dwindling customers and asked yourself what am I doing wrong??  Truth is there MUST be a reason… Once you’ve found that reason you can take action and make the necessary changes.

Below are some of the main reasons you may be struggling to find customers.  Do any of them apply to you?

  • You are covering a very small local area

Do you need to widen the area that you cover?  You may save on petrol sticking close to home but if there aren’t enough customers within that specific area you’re losing out altogether.

  • You are not reliable

Eek! This is a tough one to admit but it’s a biggy!  We all deserve time off but are you making sure your customers have plenty of notice, don’t forget they need to find a replacement for you when you’re not available.  If they’re having to do this too often they may just find a replacement altogether.

  • You are ignoring the customers you ALREADY have

Another biggy that’s easy to overlook.  Don’t forget your current customers are the ones that are ALREADY willing to pay you!  Nurture your relationship with them and they’ll stick by you AND recommend you to others.

  • Your prices are too high or too low

What are other people charging? Go with the average or slightly higher.  People tend to think there is a reason if you’re too cheap.

  • You don’t respond to messages quickly enough

It is difficult to respond to all queries immediately but people are impatient, if you take too long to respond to a query they will probably have already gone elsewhere.

  • You don’t stand out from the crowd

There are increasing numbers of people setting up professional pet businesses, could you offer something different that others don’t?  What can you do to go above and beyond?

  • You are invisible

Take off that invisibility cloak!  Ok bit dramatic… BUT customers won’t just fall in your lap, you have to put yourself out there in front of them or they won’t see you!  Which leads me on to…

  • Your social media pages and/or website are not up to scratch

Facebook was THE biggest way I personally got customers when I first started.  I’d say 90% of my customers contacted me through my Facebook page or found me through it.  Make the most of it and make sure it’s looking good, that it’s clear, has all of your contact information on and is appealing to people who don’t know you.

  • You are not giving the best first impression

Ouch… But critical.  If someone doesn’t know you from adam, they are purely judging you on the way you respond to their initial enquiry, the vibe you give off if you meet them, and how you appear on your social media pages.  They are trusting you with their door key and their family member (their pet) so first impressions are vital.  Would you give your keys and pets to someone you weren’t 100% sure about?

  • You are not actively looking

This goes back to visibility, if you’re sitting at home waiting for customers to find you but not actively putting yourself in front of them, they won’t find you.  Are you advertising in the right places?  Where are your potential customers?

If you’d like support with your Pet Business join me over in our free Facebook Group or click here for more info>>>

Social Media Posting Guide

A 30 day social media posting guide for Pet Business Owners.

£1.00

Remember why you started

Do you ever have one of those days (or weeks) where you think what the hell am I doing, what’s the point, why is nothing going to plan, why am I bothering?  Trust me we ALL feel like that at some point and it can be hard to get out of that state of mind when we work alone.

I have had sleepless nights, I’ve cried, I’ve ranted at my loved ones and felt so frustrated with it all and forgotten what the point was and why i was working all hours.

What I’ve learnt is to keep coming back to the point and the reason why I started my business. My goals and my aims and why I do what I do.

I wanted freedom, I wanted to be my own boss, to help people, to work with animals, and to do something I’m passionate about.  I didn’t want to work for someone else.

If you struggle with this, take some time now to jot down in just a few sentences:

• Why you started your own business
• What drives you
• Why you wanted to be your own boss
• Why you are passionate about what you do

When you’re feeling rubbish and like you’ve lost your way, come back to these sentences to remind yourself why you’re on this roller-coaster journey.  You could even print them off and put them somewhere that you’ll see them every day.

If you’re an aspiring Petpreneur and would like some support getting started join our free Facebook group!  Or click here for more info >>>

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6 Steps to finding potential customers on Instagram

If you dream of starting your own Dog Walking & Pet Sitting Business join our free Facebook Group The Petpreneur Network or click here for more info on our Courses >>>

Make the most of your bio section

Here’s your chance to give an overview of what you offer and what you’re about.  I’ve seen a lot of Instagram accounts that literally just say ‘Dog Walker’ which, ok, says what it is on the tin, but if you’re a customer looking for the perfect dog walker are you going to go for that person or are you going to lean towards the person who has made an effort to put a full description with something to catch their attention?  You can add your website link, phone number, email address and any other info you think they’d need to contact you easily.

Post regularly but don’t stress about it

Social media experts say you should post 1-4 times a day to grow your following.  EEK!  That’s a lot!  I personally don’t think I can cope with 4 posts every single day but I aim for at least 1 a day.  I think if you are forcing yourself to post 3-4 times EVERY day you’ll end up putting out stuff just for the sake of it which is boring and repetitive.  Just don’t leave it weeks without posting anything as potential customers may assume you are no longer in business or not working.

Look for your ideal customers

Something I did when I started my Instagram account was to search for my potential customers by looking for hashtags that they might use.  So for example there’s a country park in my area called Ferry Meadows that is hugely popular with dog owners so I searched #ferrymeadows and looked through the people who had used that hashtag.  If there was a photo of them with their dog I would ‘like’ the picture or comment on it.  I know it sounds a bit stalker-ish but honestly this got me my very FIRST customer, who is still a customer!  Now don’t put anything too spammy, be genuine, comment something like ‘aww cute dog’ rather than ‘hi need a dog walker?!’

You’re simply drawing attention to yourself rather than trying to ‘sell’ yourself to them.

Use your hashtags

Think of relevant hashtags you could use that your potential customer might search for, including the area you cover. E.g. #londondogwalker #dogwalkersinlondon #petshoplondon

You can use up to 30 so make the most of them!

Insta Stories

Everyone loves watching short video clips, so Insta stories are amazing!  Post videos throughout your day and show everyone how much fun your furry customers are having.  You can be really creative with these, there’s loads of options now to make your stories interesting, fun and stand out.  Show YOU, your personality, so potential customers know who they are looking at.  They are more likely to contact someone who they feel a connection with or that they can SEE.  Don’t be another faceless Instagram account.

Don’t be boring

Overall don’t post just for the sake of it, be funny, interesting, informative and creative with your photos!  This is your chance to attract potential customers and show them why they should use your services or buy your products!

If you dream of starting your own Dog Walking & Pet Sitting Business join our free Facebook Group The Petpreneur Network or click here for more info >>>

Social Media Posting Guide

A 30 day social media posting guide for Pet Business Owners.

£1.00