In my book, The Dog Walker’s Startup Guide I discuss ways to increase marketing through business partnerships. This is a great way to improve your visibility and reach; while also increasing your business’ trust factor by associating with other local well known businesses. Trading clientele between others in the same industry is hardly new, it’s called referrals. One look at the home improvement sector and you’ll know what I’m talking about. Contractors refer work to plumbers, electricians, masons, structural engineers, etc.
A dog walking business is no different. Groomers, pet stores, veterinarians, shelters, and others regularly get inquiries about dog walking and dog sitting services. Your goal is to get on those lists and preferably at the top of them! How do you do this?
Many businesses, like pet stores will allow you to place your name on a bulletin board in their store, and many vets offer this service too, but this simply gets you a little visibility, it lacks the pizazz of being specifically recommended.
Getting the recommendation of your fellow business owners isn’t very hard if you offer them something in return, and show them what you’re worth. Some options include offering your services to your local vets for discounted walks for the sick and/or healing. You may also purchase your dog-related gifts from your locally owned pet food store and reminding them who you are and that you’re in a related business—ask them to consider recommending your services. You might also offer to pass out specific coupons to your clientele from related businesses which could be useful to dog owners. When your clientele bring the coupons in and do some shopping the store owner will realize you’re helping him/her out and will do the same for you.
Working at a shelter is just a good thing morally speaking but it can have huge beneficial effects on your business as well. Why not consider doing what Cheryl Staab, of DogCentric Inc. did and volunteer your services free of charge for a few hours a day at your local shelter in return for being the exclusive dog walking / sitting service they recommend to their dog’s adopters? It seems to be working out very well for Cheryl! You can read more about this story in the Wall Street Journal by clicking here.
There are a lot more ideas than this but I hope you can see that there is a lot of potential for making friends and increasing your business at the same time. Word-of-mouth is alpha in the dog walking service industry!