Congratulations! On thinking about or maybe you’ve already started your Pet Sitting or Dog Walking business in Ireland!
Having a successful business doing both for the last 10 years, I can tell you, there’s not a business I’d rather be in!
Being a pet-lover myself, there’s nothing more satisfying than helping other pet owners get the quality of pet-care I was looking for but couldn’t find before I started my business.
And although there’s no shortage of Pet Sitting and Dog Walking companies these days, the market is booming and there’s always room for high quality service providers.
So whether you’ve already started your business and are looking for some tips or are just about to get started, you’ve every opportunity to be successful!
But there’s a lot to consider and you might be wondering where to start, so I thought I’d share with you the key steps that enabled my success in the early days…
How to Start a Successful Pet Sitting or Dog Walking Business in Ireland
#1. Business Setup
Consider things like whether you’ll be a sole trader or a Limited Company and whether you’ll register for VAT from the outset or later when you reach the threshold.
My advice is to think about your vision for your business and where you want to be in a year’s time and set up for that rather than where you are now.
It’ll save you time and hassle when your business is busier and it also sets your clear intention that you’re serious about growing a successful business.
#2. Website, Phone Numbers, E-mail and Social Media
Your customers will want to know their pets are in good hands and a good website will demonstrate that and show them why they should book with you rather than your competitors – more on how to set up a website that does just that in the marketing section.
Once you have your website in place you’ll be able to set up an e-mail address that reflects your company name. Hotmail or Gmail accounts do nothing to assure your customers of your reliability and should be avoided!
Similarly a 1800 or at least a landline number will give your customers a sense of reliability more than a mobile number.
And lastly you’ll want to set up social media channels in your company name. Make sure to use business pages for e.g. Facebook and not personal accounts as these will get shut down, give the wrong impression and you won’t be able to set them up to help manage customer contacts and ads if and when you want to run them.
#3. Insurance, Qualifications and Contingencies
It’s essential for you and your customers that you have public liability insurance in place.
And also consider what you’ll do in the event you’re unable to work. Is it just you in the business?
Your customers will want to know you won’t let them or their pets down should you be unable to attend personally for any reason.
#4. Your Services and Charges
Think about what services you want to offer and document them clearly and the charges for each service so you and your customers know exactly what they’re getting.
Outline the details of how it works.
Will you offer a ‘meet and greet’ to new customers?
How will you get their keys if you need access when they’re not at home?
How will you keep their keys secure?
What’s your cancellation policy and how much notice is required?
What are the costs and what’s included?
You’ll want to think about what customers you’re targeting. When you’re starting out, it’s tempting to just offer the cheapest prices, but you’ll soon find it’s not sustainable and often brings customers who become difficult to work with.
What can you offer that customers will be willing to pay above average rates for?
#5. Customer Care
This is key to your success – in fact it’ll make or break your business!
Customers need to be able to contact you during working hours and in some cases, depending on your business, that’ll mean 24/7.
If you’re out working in the business you may want to consider using a good telephone answering service or contact centre to handle calls and e-mails. They can capture details and you can arrange to get back to the customers with quotes during your admin time or they may even be able to handle the quotes for you.
Without marketing, you won’t HAVE a business!
Whilst leaflets and word of mouth can get you started, if you’re serious about growing a successful business that goes beyond being a self-employed Dog Walker, you’re going to need more!
That’s where Blogging and Social Media come in!
It’s no secret that I love blogging and social media and they’ve been the making of our business!
And I know you may be thinking is Blogging REALLY the best use of my time as I’m starting out in business?! It’s easy to put on the back burner with so many other things to do, but building your blog is building a consistent flow of customers into your business and without that you’re always going to be chasing sales.
Blogging has enabled me to;
- Get FOUND by the right customers on Google
- Consistently drive new leads to my business
- Attract the RIGHT customers to my business – not the ones just looking for the cheapest price!
- These days I get 52,000 unique visitors to my website every month and that’s down to my blog!
How did I make my blog so successful? By answering the questions my ideal customers would ask (and be googling!) and by blogging about pet-related topics they’d be interested in.
That way when I share my blogs on social media, my ideal clients want to read them and that builds trust and they hire us!
And customers who are actively looking for information about their pets or about hiring a Petsitter, they find my posts on Google.
It is a commitment, but it pays huge dividends with blogs I wrote YEARS ago still bringing me new clients every day.
Similarly, I’ve consistently posted on social media to the point I have 42,000 engaged followers and make sales from my social media every day.
I can’t stress enough the importance of consistently marketing from the start!
#7. Business Processes and Systems
To consistently deliver a quality service, you’ll need systems and processes in your business. It takes a bit of trial and error and constant updating, but a robust set of Standard Operating Procedures will keep you organised and ensure everything is done in the right way at the right time for your customers.
Our business systems are a huge part of the reason we’ve been able to Franchise our business, even winning The Irish Franchise Associations The One to Watch Award in 2019!
These are the key things to put in place to ensure you grow a successful Pet Sitting and / or Dog Walking business in Ireland. It is a lot of work, but as I say, it’s the BEST business to run if you love pets, other pet lovers, a job that’s different than the 9-5 and the huge opportunity to be part of the growing Pet industry in Ireland!
But you don’t have to do it all alone! If you want your own Pet Sitting & Dog Walking Business in Ireland and want our support as an award winning Franchise why not get in touch?
We’ll help you with;
Marketing – my blog consistently brings clients from all over Ireland and you’d receive all the leads in your Franchise area into your business.
Customer Service – we have a dedicated call centre who handle all new enquiries so you can relax and take care of the other areas of your business.
Sales – we have established processes for reaching out and following up enquiries to maximise sales – the lifeblood of your business!
Standard Operating Procedures – in our 10 years running our Pet-Sitting & Dog-Walking business we’ve learned all you need to know to run your business like clockwork and would train and support you in implementing our successful practices.
If this is the opportunity you’ve been waiting for, click here to book a call with us and see if we’re a good fit. There’s no obligation, just a conversation.