Dog walking and grooming are not only a quick way to make a buck. It can also be a very promising career path
Normally a hint of a job to raise quick money, dog walking or grooming can also be a promising career. And how can we be so sure? Demographics.
As populations grow older in the US and Europe, more and more homes are comprised only by elderly couples who do not live with their children. Those people, either the ones who live off retirement or are still active in working, usually demand some very basic care that look unimaginable to younger adults.
Not only that: younger adults are also switching their habits as well. They prefer to live in cities rather than in suburbs, have less children and usually place their careers at the top of priorities, which, in turn, make them more prone to demanding specialized care for even the basic needs of daily lives.
Among those needs is pet care. In the US, since 2000, more than 20 million dogs were added to the pet population, making their number reach 90 million. Now, nearly 40% of American households have at least one dog and more than 30% have a cat.
While a cat can live well by itself and doesn’t demand much specialized care, the same cannot be said for dogs. Some breeds even require constant nail, teeth and fur care, along with exercises to keep them in a healthy condition.
Dog walking business and grooming businesses
Well, then, let’s talk about building a business. Either by working alone, opening a company and hiring other dog walkers and groomers or finding a dog walker job, that’s an industry with strong demand and an interesting growing trend.
Just be careful that some cities and counties may require a license, specially for dog grooming (a job that requires some specialization). Get informed with your local authority before commencing your activities. In most locations, you’ll need a general business license. You can skip this if you are looking for a job walker or groomer job.
You should also pay attention to local laws regarding the handling of the dog and how you and the dog should behave in public spaces. In the UK, for example, you have to follow some laws, like having the dog wearing a collar with the owner’s name and address, pick up their feces, keeping them on lead at a road. All of those British laws, however, are pretty common sense and you should follow them regardless of your location enforcing them, as they ensure a safer walk for you, your dog and other people.
Also, it’s advisable to purchase an insurance, specially if you are the business owner or you are working alone. Some dogs can be very difficult to tame and tend to behave poorly while walking or in the presence of other dogs, if you are grooming them in a place where you care for other dogs. Attacks on children or other dogs, damage to property or being attacked by other dogs are all things that can and do happen and you are likely to go through during a job. Some companies have specific insurance for those situations.
How to start
The fastest way to start is finding a freelance walker or groomer job in your area. You can use Craigslist, OLX or any other local freelance job directory in your location. That way you can just pick some jobs, earn some money and see if that job befits you.
If you are really decided that you want to start a business in that industry, you should do all the basic stuff to register your business and get all licenses need, if any applies, to your business. A good trait of this type of business is that it can be entirely virtual. You don’t really need an office space, you just need to be found and hired online to start, although some pet owners would like to know you and where you are based from.
Then, you have to consider promoting your business to the interested audience. Again, you can post ads on Craigslist, OLX, Angie’s List, Thumbtack and other websites in your local area, but if you want to reach a broader and more specific public, you should definitely build at least a basic website and start advertising on Facebook and Google networks. All your ads should be specific to your location and targeted to your audience (pay attention to Google keywords relevant to your business).
It’s not the goal of this article to teach you how to run Facebook or Google campaigns, so you should just keep in mind that you need to segment your campaigns. We advise you to read material over the internet, take an ads course or hire a consultant to run the campaigns for your business.
Earnings depend a lot on walking time and the city where you are providing the service. Consider at least $10 for a 20-minute walk or $15 for a 30-minute walk. Those are typical values.
Walking two dogs at once can be beneficial for both the owner and the walker, as the second dog could be charged half the price, according to Angie’s List.
Dog grooming is a more time intensive activity that requires more care. Average fees range from $60 to $80 depending on the dog breed, amount of fur or location, according to Thumbtack.
If you were hired by a company to the job, consider their need to pay for their structure and make a profit, so you are expected to earn a little less from your service.