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Ninapup
05-15-2010, 04:40 PM
Hello'
i recently started my own dog walking/pet sitting business. However i still don't have one client. I have posted flyers and business cards and have several ads on major sites such as: pennysaver, eBay, Craigslist, I've even networked with people. I don't understand what Im doing wrong. If anyone has any ideas or suggestions i would greatly appreciate them.

vangogh
05-15-2010, 05:01 PM
Hi Nina. Welcome to the forum. I moved your post to a new thread so we could devote answers to your specific questions.

Sounds like you're doing the right thing the pennysaver and ebay and craigslist. If you want to share the details of the ads we might be able to help you improve them. Where are you placing the flyers? If possible pet stores and similar might be good places.

Finding your first few clients is usually the hardest part. A friend of mine used to do pet sitting. Her first client was simply through a friend. Put the word out to everyone you know that you've started a pet sitting/walking business. Among your circle of friends and family I'm sure there are people who own pets and sooner or later one of them will need your services. It sounds like you've already done that.

Do you have a website? My friend used to direct all her marketing to the website where should could offer more details about herself and her services. In time she added a portfolio of the pets she sat for. It also wasn't too hard to get her site ranking decently in search engines for some specific phrases. If you have a site we can help you with that.

Everything you're doing so far is good. Sometimes it comes down to time. I'm not sure how long you've been at this, but like I said those first few clients are the hardest to find. Once you've sat for or walked a few pets word of mouth does start to spread.

Brian
05-16-2010, 02:11 PM
I would try to identify what other businesses potential customers might patronize--such as vets--and try to partner with those businesses. They might let you put out business cards or fliers.

Steve B
05-16-2010, 03:29 PM
You should be a networking machine in a business like this - especially in the beginning.

30% of the world has a dog. It's probably over 50% that has either a dog or a cat. BUT, pretty much 100% of people have a dog or cat OR know someone that does. So, you need to be telling everyone you can that you have a pet sitting business.

With that said, you're asking people to let you in their homes when they are not around. This requires that they trust you - so I would expect your current friends and family will be your best source of clients in the beginning. After that, word of mouth will help spread the group of people who learn about you from a trusted source.

huggytree
05-16-2010, 03:44 PM
what type of customers do you want? thats your first decision!...do you want average people, poor people or rich customers with alot of extra income?

you need to know who your customer is...its not just anyone....you need to specifically choose your customer base....then decide how to meet the customers and introduce yourself..

if your looking for low end customer then craigs list is great
if your looking for high end customers you may want to advertise in places where high end dog owners go or look..maybe a booth at dog shows?

it costs money to advertise...free advertising will get you what you paid for it(not much)...the phone book is a good place to start(even though its been worthless for me)

make friends with dog groomers, dog breeders, dog associations, dog fence installers, etc

your new 'friends' will hand out your cards and find you business and in return you will hand out their cards and find them business..95%+ of my calls are previous customers and referrals from someone... brand new calls out of the phone book/internet are rare. i get mostly price shoppers from the phone book and turn 3-5 of them into customers a month....

what is your unique idea which makes your business different from your competition? why should i give my dog to you instead of your competitor?

low price isnt a unique idea

huggytree
05-16-2010, 03:46 PM
id recommend joining a BNI group in your area if you need to learn and understand how to network...it has been a great learning experience for me...

Ninapup
05-16-2010, 05:27 PM
Thanks so much for the valuable information. I will utilize all the advice I have gotten. I think I offer a valuable service like detailed daily reports (via e-mail) to my clients I would pet sit. Mail/newspaper retrieval, fish care, watering plants, light housekeeping. I also offer free consultation to all new customers to get to know them and their pets before any services are rendered.

huggytree
05-16-2010, 06:48 PM
who is your customer?

are you going to be a large- low price for the masses?

are you going to be a small high end- catering to the rich?

not sure yet?

DeniseTaylor
05-18-2010, 11:55 AM
Hi

I would think people who work a lot would be candidates for your biz. Do you have any larger businesses in your area that you could supply with fliers for the employee break room? A flier showing a cartoon pic of Fido trying to "hold it," while Mom or Dad takes their sweet time getting home, would be an effective picture.

Also, people who travel a lot would be candidates.

Love the vet idea. Do you have pet stores in your town? Another great place. The website is a must-do, because you can link to it from Craigslist. :)

vangogh
05-18-2010, 12:59 PM
That's a good idea. You could even end up being the person for dog walking for an entire business. Working people are your customers after all.

Patrysha
05-18-2010, 01:08 PM
Submit summer care tips for pets to your local media in the form of a tips-style press release. Share things related to caring for your pet including travel tips (heat in cars etc) - it's a good idea for working people to have someone checking on their dogs water supply as well as walking them...but you don't overtly say it...you just kind of imply it and have people connect the dots themselves...

Spider
05-19-2010, 11:57 AM
I just visitted Coffee Time Marketing - great page, Patrysha, and a neat video. How is it working for you?

Patrysha
05-19-2010, 12:20 PM
I just visitted Coffee Time Marketing - great page, Patrysha, and a neat video. How is it working for you?

Not as well as I would like so far, but it's just one of several projects that I'm trying to keep on top of as far as some expansion ideas go. I released it too soon which is a really bad habit of mine. But I am getting some interest from guest bloggers and I have a whole slew of ideas that have to be turned into video when I can figure out where to slot it into the schedule.

Spider
05-19-2010, 01:04 PM
Well, it looks really neat. Perhaps it just needs some seo work to get it listing higher on the SERPs.

Lyrafire
07-22-2010, 01:01 PM
I would be very careful about offering light housekeeping as part of your service. That's a slippery slope you probably don't want to go down. Watering plants and taking in the mail for people who are on vacation might work, though. I also think the vet idea is a good one. Also, pet groomers and maybe doggie daycare facilities that don't offer boarding. If you put up a simple website, include testimonials, after you get some clients.

Four94
07-22-2010, 06:27 PM
Hello'
i recently started my own dog walking/pet sitting business. However i still don't have one client. I have posted flyers and business cards and have several ads on major sites such as: pennysaver, eBay, Craigslist, I've even networked with people. I don't understand what Im doing wrong. If anyone has any ideas or suggestions i would greatly appreciate them.

Quick Question,

Before you started your business.
How many "potential" customers did you talk to gave you the idea that your business venture would work.

Did you start your business off of an "idea in your head" or did you have suggested "evidence" that in your location, there are good potential buyers.

vangogh
07-22-2010, 09:44 PM
That's a good question Four94. Obviously I can't answer for Nina, but I think you're hitting on something that many people fail to think about when starting. Now I'm pretty sure in Nina's case there is a market, but some people get the idea in their head without think whether or not anyone would ever be interested in their service or product.

That's not to say you can't just jump in. Plenty of markets didn't exist until after the product or service was there. Sometimes people don't realize they want or need something until it's been offered.

It's an interesting question and something that probably should be thought about more by most people looking to start a business.

em1880
07-23-2010, 10:32 AM
In response to vangogh's post--I think you are right about people just getting an idea in their head and not really finding if there is a market out there for their product. That happened to us and we are just now finding ways to expand our target market and hopefully network a lot and get our products out there, but we should have done that a lot more before we were holding an inventory and paying for rent.

Lyrafire
07-23-2010, 10:55 AM
Yes. Also be careful not to mistake need for market. I did that once. It turned out OK for me, but I never did the volume that I had hoped for when I began. I had spoken to quite a few local professionals in the field (education), and it was easy to conclude that there was a great need for my service (an interdisciplinary tutoring center) in my community. I was right--there was a great need--but the market was minuscule, comparatively speaking. That is, in spite of the need, relatively few people were willing to pay for the service. I ended up making a decent living, but I had wanted to have employees and run the business, rather than try to do all the tutoring myself. That didn't work out because of my early misjudgment. Fortunately, as I say, I made a decent living, and I had fun.

luxpetsitting
01-09-2011, 05:49 PM
It looks as if you're doing all the right things. Just be patient. A website with good SEO would be of great help too. And definitely word of mouth, which is so important in the beginning. Best of luck!

jsingerston
01-10-2011, 08:59 AM
That kind of business takes a very specific kind of customer. Not every pet owner needs a sitter. Many of them already have some kind of system in place for taking care of their animals when they are gone. You need to find out what people are doing right now with their animals and offer them a better alternative. Imagine who your ideal target customer would be. He or she is probably an avid dog lover who spends a lot of money on their pet. Figure out how to advertise to them.

You should also think about starting a website to advertise your services. If your primary service is watching dogs then you should probably have a website something like yourcitydogsitters.com. According to Google there are 90,500 people searching for pet sitter each month and there are 165,000 searching for dog sitter. Your website should target the keywords "dog sitter in your city" . Replace the words your city with whatever city or metropolitan area you live in. Register your website with the Google local business center online. When people in your area search the internet for "dog sitter" your website will show up.

If you don't have the money to launch your own website with your own domain name, then launch a free one at Wordpress.com or Blogger.com. Write a couple of articles that lets people get to know you and post them on your website. Add your picture to the site as that will help get people to trust you. Make it easy for them to contact you by leaving both a phone number and your email address.

vangogh
01-10-2011, 12:41 PM
That kind of business takes a very specific kind of customer.

True, though the same could be said about most businesses. Pet sitting is a great candidate for word of mouth. Once you get one or two clients they'll likely tell their friends.

I agree about the website. My friend who did pet sitting and house sitting set up a simple website. I optimized it a bit so it could rank well for a few choice phrases and from that alone it wasn't too hard for her to generate some leads. I think she'd also place an occasional listing on Craig's List and it was enough to keep her going when she was looking for work.

Paper Shredder Clay
01-10-2011, 03:15 PM
Have you put an ad in the local newspaper? I would put an ad in the local newspaper. You might want to leave a stack of business cards and flyers at local travel agencies.

andru77
01-13-2011, 02:38 AM
Wow, a lot of good advice. The only thing I can add are social networking sites. Create a business account on FB and ask your friends to visit, and click the like button! :) As you know, that will show up in other people's feeds.

Good luck!!

bHIP Energy Blend
01-15-2011, 03:39 PM
WOMM is great for this type of business. Start off sitting a family member's or friend's dog and do the best job you can do. As long as your customers are happy with your work, they're likely to spread the word.

SCUBA9097
01-18-2011, 09:45 PM
Not intending to derail the topic, but...


Not as well as I would like so far, but it's just one of several projects that I'm trying to keep on top of as far as some expansion ideas go.

I just took a look at it and I like what you've done there. It's clean, simple and straight to the point.

SCUBA9097
01-18-2011, 09:50 PM
Ninapup,

You may want to consider developing "networking relationships" with your local vets, pet supply businesses, etc. Once you establish who you are and what you are offering to do, ask about leaving a flyer and a stack of business cards at their respective locations. Make sure you maintain a good relationship with the vets, as they are in close contact with your potential clients.

vangogh
01-19-2011, 01:33 AM
Godo idea Ted. Easy to work in too. You get in touch with the vet explaining you sit for other people's pets and ask how you can learn more about taking care of them, what to to be aware of, etc. Similarly with the pet supply businesses and there you can buy a few things while you're striking up conversation.

Watchdog
04-28-2012, 01:42 PM
Don't shoot the messenger :)

If you're out on a walk in your neighborhood, get yourself a set up with a toy dog and a leash that the links are welded and put a sign on the dog that reads "when is the last time your dogs been on a walk? And your number.

It might seem stupid but I'm not afraid to spit out ideas that might trigger a great idea.


(they may sell these leashes already at a local joke shop)

(this probably won't work for pipe wrenches - inside joke)