How to pay rent and launch a business as a professional dog walker

  • When Abby Wischina and her new French Bulldog Pearl moved to Los Angeles 5 years in the past, she found an unexpectedly profitable business: dog strolling.
  • She began Brentwood Barks and constructed it into a six-figure business.
  • She and different pet-care entrepreneurs and professionals shared with Business Insider how they’ve efficiently launched careers caring for tons of of canine.
  • They instructed utilizing software program to keep organized and offering additional care and top-notch customer support to your shoppers.
  • Word-of-mouth referrals are highly effective for business, so commit a while to build up a social media following and an internet presence. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for extra tales.

When Abby Wischina moved to Los Angeles in 2015, she wasn’t alone. Her new dog — a French Bulldog named Pearl — was alongside for the journey, and the 2 went to the native dog park day by day to go the time whereas Wischnia trudged by way of the lengthy strategy of discovering a job in a new metropolis. With on a regular basis logged within the dog park, nonetheless, her job search plan modified solely. 

“I noticed professional dog walkers with huge vans taking 20-plus dogs each to the park,” Wischnia stated. “I did the math and realized there was an opportunity to make a lot of money doing something with dogs in my Brentwood neighborhood.” 

From there, Brentwood Barks was born. In 5 years, Wischnia has constructed it into a six-figure business. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic that moved so many pet dad and mom into a work-from-home routine, permitting them to stroll their very own canine, Wischnia stated she was on the peak of her success, with roughly 230 shoppers in rotation. She’d employed a small crew of walkers and boarders to assist choose up the rising workload. 

“I wouldn’t have been able to manage everything on my own,” Wischnia stated. “My hours were usually from about 11 a.m. to 3 or 4 p.m. — pretty ideal, although extremely physically demanding. I definitely accumulated wear and tear on my body from the five years of walking miles and miles every day.”

In spite of the bodily toll of being a full-time walker — in early 2020, the Brentwood Barks crew was seeing as many as 13 canine per day for walks alone, not to point out boarding and daycare shoppers — Wischnia has liked the job, particularly the group it is created for her. One former shopper will even be a bridesmaid in her upcoming wedding ceremony. 

And, after all, there’s the canine. 

“Having the opportunity to become a part of a dog’s daily life is such a gift,” Wischnia stated. “It’s hard to explain unless you’ve been in the position, but being accepted and recognized by a dog that’s not yours is very special. I love these dogs like my own. I grieve and mourn when they pass and will go to any length for their safety and care.” 

Good software program and robust word-of-mouth advertising and marketing are essential

Although Wischnia stated that her earnings has decreased by 70% as a results of the pandemic, she’s looking forward to the long run. In the meantime, she has a few finest practices to share with dog lovers trying to get into the biz and pay their rent as full-time walkers. 

Making a private reference to shoppers and their canine is paramount, however so are sensible issues like software program. Wischnia swears by Time To Pet, a pet-sitting platform that shoppers can entry by way of a cell app and the Brentwood Barks crew can replace utilizing a desktop dashboard. 

“It changed the game for me entirely, literally, in every single way,” Wischnia stated of changing from manually managing her firm to Time to Pet. “From the analytics to the client data to pet birthday reminders, it really is just an all-in-one and sets me apart from other businesses. I would not be a successful company if it weren’t for the software I use.”

Lisa Kang, who began Chapel Hill, NC-based pet care firm Walk & Wag in 2010, famous the significance of phrase of mouth for constructing a profitable dog strolling business. Walk & Wag maintains a constant social media presence, as properly as a YouTube channel with pet movies and a weblog with informative pet care articles. When pet house owners hear about Walk & Wag’s companies from associates, there’s a lot for them to discover on-line to allow them to determine if the service is a match for them, Kang stated. Walk & Wag additionally posts constructive critiques from shoppers. 

Lisa Kang with Abigail

Lisa Kang with Abigail.

Amber Byrd Photography

“Ten years ago, my clients were my friends, and once the word spread about my business, I had more than I could manage alone,” Kang stated. Walk & Wag’s total database now consists of 591 shoppers and 977 pets. 

While Kang’s business has skilled a related hit to Wischnia’s — companies have dropped by 60% and the Walk & Wag workers was diminished from 32 to 21 lively staff because the begin of quarantine orders — a handful of devoted shoppers have continued paying gratuities to the crew, a wholesome indicator of buyer satisfaction. 

Flexibility, punctuality, and an consideration to element preserve shoppers coming again

Sujey Carro Mojica is one in every of Walk & Wag’s fleet of dog walkers. Mojica has about 50 shoppers, a few of whom she sees for day by day walks and others who rent her for extra prolonged pet care whereas they’re on trip. One hundred % of Mojica’s dog-walking wage goes towards family bills — and since lots of her shoppers work within the healthcare business or have well being points which have pressured them indoors full time, her earnings has stayed roughly the identical amid the pandemic. 

Sujey Carro Mojica with Calvin and Hobbes

Sujey Carro Mojica with Calvin and Hobbes.

Sujey Carro Mojica

In order to be a profitable, worthwhile dog walker, Mojica emphasised the significance of flexibility, each by way of scheduling and the climate. “You will walk in all kinds of weather … during storms, too,” she stated. “Be prepared with the necessary clothing.” 

Prior to shifting to the Chapel Hill space, Paul Bradley, one other member of Kang’s Walk & Wag Team, labored as a dog walker for 5 years in Alexandria, Virginia. He began strolling for Walk & Wag shortly after shifting to North Carolina in 2015. 

“I have loved dogs ever since I was a little boy,” Bradley stated. “Because I am not currently in a position to own one — I live in a small apartment and my cat does not play well with others — dog walking provides me canine companionship and allows me to get some exercise while also supplementing my income.” 

Paul Bradley

Paul Bradley.

Amber Byrd Photography

Until 2019, Bradley labored full time as the editor of a small newspaper devoted to information of American group schools. When the publication folded, dog strolling grew to become a extra crucial piece of his earnings. Bradley earns a fastened earnings by way of Social Security, however his work for Walk & Wag “provides the kind of financial breathing room that is otherwise absent,” he stated. The cash he earns by way of dog strolling covers about one-third of his family payments. 

“I strive to be especially attentive to providing top-shelf customer service, including being punctual, communicating regularly with clients, having maximum flexibility to adjust to sudden schedule changes, keeping my supervisor in the loop and seeking out her help when needed, and interacting with the dogs as [I] learn their idiosyncrasies and those of their owners,” Bradley stated. 

Paul Bradley with Sully and Paddy

Paul Bradley with Sully and Paddy.

Paul Bradley

There’s additionally the practicalities of the job. “Buy a pair of sturdy, comfortable shoes,” Bradley added. 

With no clear image of the brand new regular or when it would start, business house owners like Wischnia and Kang can have to wait out the decreased demand for pet care. Wischnia seems to be for the silver residing.

“I’m optimistic that, although these times are unprecedented for our industry, as well as so many others, good will come from this,” she stated. “At the very least, [we’re] having more time to spend with our dogs.” 

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