How to Start a Dog Walking Business in the UK
If you are passionate about dogs, then dog walking could be a viable business option. It can be very profitable and there is often a high demand for dog walkers.
Should You Start Dog Walking Business?
Dog walking is a service that is in demand because many people have dogs at home all day while they are at work. These people will want their dogs to be active and occupied even when they are not at home.
The start up costs for a dog walking business are quite low, and so it will not take long before you can start making a healthy profit. The hourly rate for a dog walker can be more than the minimum wage, depending on experience.
If you think that dog walking is a job that you could do, then the following step by step guide can help you to get your business off the ground.
Research The Market
The first step is to find out whether there is a demand for dog walking services in your local area. If you have any competition locally, then these companies or individuals are likely to have a website. Looking at these sites would give you an idea of which areas are already covered.
You may also want to consider heading to the local park to speak directly to people walking their dogs. They will be able to give you some insight into what they would look for in a professional dog walker.
Calculate Your Start Up Costs
You will also need to work out what your start up costs will be. These will mostly be related to insurance, registration and marketing. You need to ensure that you allocate a good amount of your budget to marketing, as this will be needed to get your business off the ground.
Build Your Skills And Experience
You will need some degree of experience before people you don’t know are likely to trust you with walking their dogs. One of the best ways to gain this experience is to offer to walk dogs for your family and friends first.
Register Your Business
Most clients will want to see that your business is properly registered. You will need to decide whether becoming a sole trader or a limited company is the best option for you. As a sole trader you will be responsible for any debts that the business incurs, but this is not the case with a limited company. There is more advice available on the government website which can help you make this decision.
Ensure You Understand The Rules And Regulations
There are certain rules and regulations you will have to follow when you work as a dog walker. The National Association of Petsitters and Dog Walkers can provide you will all the information that you need regarding this. Some of the main things you will need to think about are:
- Regulations surrounding how many dogs you can walk at a time.
- Procedures for recording the work that you do.
- Procedures for protecting the personal information of customers.
- Ensuring all dogs have collars with the contact details of the owner.
- Making sure that any mess is cleared up and disposed of when walking the dog.
Get A Licence For Boarding Animals
If you are planning on looking after pets on an overnight basis, then you will need a licence for this. You will also need pet sitting insurance if you will taking care of dogs in your clients home. The cost of this insurance and the licence can run into hundreds of pounds, so you need to make sure you will be able to earn this money back through the services that you offer.
Set Your Pricing
When setting your pricing, there are a few things that you need to bear in mind. You do not want to price yourself out the market, but people may be wary if your prices are much lower than your competition. You should expect to be earning at least £10 an hour and this could go up to nearer £20 in some parts of the country. A good place to start when setting your prices it to look what other people in the area are charging.
Find A Means Of Transport
If you are walking more than one dog at a time, you may need some way to transport them to the local park. If you have a lot of dogs in your care, then you may need to consider buying a van. Even if you can use your own car, you will need to call your insurance to let them know it is being used for business purposes, which may mean an increase in your premiums.
Learn New Business Skills
It can also help your business if you brush up on some skills that small business owners need. Things like accounting can help save you money in the long run, and customer service skills can help ensure that your customers feel well taken care of and remain loyal.
Prepare Contracts And Forms
Contracts are a good idea for you and your clients as it ensures that everyone knows where they stand. In the event of a disagreement, a contract can be used as evidence that you have provided the service you said you would.
Growing Your Dog Walking Business
Once you have established your business, you need to think about how you want it to continue to grow. Advertising becomes easier as you go along because you are able to use testimonials from existing customers in your marketing campaigns.
A dog walking business can be profitable, but you do need to be someone who is passionate about taking care of dogs. It is also something that requires a lot of patience. It is not something that should be entered into lightly, but there are people who make a career out of dog walking and it is the perfect job for people who love dogs. If this is something you have been considering for a while, then the above advice can help you get your business off the ground.