Are you tired of fighting for dog-walking gigs on Rover? We get it. Rover was an easy way to get your dog walking business off the ground. But now that you’re a pro, it may be holding you back.
In this article, we teach you how to grow beyond Rover and keep the value of the business you created over time.
Is Rover a good app for dog walkers?
If you have a dog-walking business, you’ve likely heard about Rover. Rover is a marketplace where potential clients can book you for dog walking, pet sitting, and boarding services. You get a nifty profile and access to thousands of potential clients.
It should be a no-brainer. Except Rover takes a whopping 20% of your income. And in California, Rover takes up to 25% of your earnings!
Rover’s sitters and walkers are independent contractors. However, when one company controls an independent contractor’s source of clients, they can really start to squeeze you with high rates and onerous policies.
Rover may have been a good option when you needed to earn cash quickly and get some experience under your belt. But by now, you’re a pro, which means it may be time for a change.
What’s the alternative?
You’ll run into the same problems with other dog business marketplaces. For example, Wag can take up to 40% of your earnings. It’s difficult to use these apps for more than a side hustle.
The good news: You can take your career to the next level by leaving Rover and other high-fee marketplaces with some tools for independent businesses.
How profitable is a dog walking business?
A dog-walking business has the potential to earn up to six figures. That’s because you can charge as much as you would on Rover and pocket all of the cash. That’s a much better deal than losing 20% of all your earnings on useless fees.
Not to mention, Rover only pays you two days after completing a service. With a booking app like PocketSuite, you can get payouts instantly.
How do I get clients for my dog-walking business?
You already have experience running a dog-walking business. But, without a marketplace like Rover to bring clients to you, you’ll have to draw them in with clever marketing techniques.
Here are ten ways to grow your own dog-walking business.
#1 Build a Website
With Rover, you had a dedicated profile where potential clients could connect with you. You’ll need a new place to act as the first touch point for clients i.e., a professional website.
Your website should include:
- Contact information
- An “About you” page
- Cancellation and refund policies
It’s also important to add client testimonials to your new site. Potential clients want to know that they can trust you. Ask past clients if they can add or share reviews to your site.
You may want to start a blog to drive organic traffic and potential clients to your site. A blog is a great place to show your expertise as a dog walker and love of animals.
And make sure there’s a place for clients to book you. You can add a custom widget to your site so clients can book your services on PocketSuite.
#2 Transfer Your Clients Directly
You’ve likely built up a loyal client base while working on Rover. And they’re sure to miss you when you leave. Why not take them with you? Reach out to your Rover clients and let them know you’re striking out on your own. And offer a 10% discount to any client that follows you to your new business.
You can send them a flier, text, or email to prep them for the change. Just make sure this communication happens outside of the Rover app, as it may be against their terms of service.
PocketSuite can import your client data directly into your account.
#3 Get Active on Social Media
You have to pull out all the stops to get your dog walking business noticed by potential clients, i.e., make a few dedicated social media profiles for your business. The good news is the internet LOVES cute photos and pictures of pets.
You don’t have to take on every platform. Start off by listing your business on Google and making a Facebook page. You don’t have to become a full-time influencer, just post consistently. You have adorable clients, so you’ll be fine. You can post:
- Dog walking videos
- Dog-friendly location recommendations
- Advice for pet parents
- Tips for other dog walkers
- Use local hashtags to get trending in your community
Make sure you have your contact info and a clear call to action on your socials. Remember to add your Suite Link to your social profiles, clients can access your booking, social and chat links from one page.
#4 Find Referral Partners
The best way to get clients to your dog-walking business is through referrals. You can get referrals from current clients by giving them an incentive for every new client they recommend, like a discount.
Or, reach out to other pet businesses, like dog trainers, vets, or shelters, to form referral partnerships. You have a common goal and similar clients, so can help each other grow. You’ll send some dog owners their way and vice versa, everybody wins!
#5 Look into Local Advertising
More often than not, you’ll be walking dogs in your own neighborhood. So, local advertising can make a big impact on your dog walking business. You can rent some billboard space or put flyers up in your local pet café or vet office.
Sure, there’s lots of competition for dog walkers. But your neighbors likely need your services, and it’ll be easier for them to trust a familiar face.
One of the best forms of local advertising is making t-shirts and branded cold weather jackets for your business that you love. Wear them whenever you are walking dogs, and carry business cards. Neighbors are sure to notice and ask you for your card or google your business name later.
If you hire additional people, branded t-shirts can double your local advertising and ensure a consistent level of professionalism as you grow.
#6 Attend Community Events
Dog enthusiasts tend to form a tight-knit community. It’s good to stay active in your local dog community if you want to grow your dog-walking business.
Attend dog walker seminars or host a booth at your local dog fair. Research the latest dog business conferences. You can learn how to grow your business from industry experts. You can build your reputation, network with other dog business owners, and even connect with potential clients.
#7 Get Certified
In general, you don’t need certifications or licenses to start a dog-walking business. And that’s why they’re a great opportunity to stand out amongst your competition.
Certifications are all about building trust with your clients. Potential clients will know you’re dedicated to your business and that their pup is safe in your care. Certification programs, like the CPS-DW Certification from Petsittercourse.com, teach the fundamentals of performing the actual job of pet sitting and dog walking. Organizations like NAPPS and PSI also offer certifications to pet sitters and dog walkers.
#8 Create a Text Campaign
SMS Text marketing is a great tool to nurture your client base and make it bigger. And it’s the only way to get a 97% and up response rate from your clients:
You can use text marketing to:
- Solicit reviews from new clients
- Ask for referrals, and add on a free walk per new pet they bring into your life!
- Send out seasonal promotions (like for holidays etc.) to drum up business
PocketSuite offers automated Smart Campaigns so that you can connect with clients via text.
#9 Bundle Your Services
Nothing brings in clients like a good deal. Give your regulars a special they can’t refuse by offering your services as a package or subscription.
Packages and subscriptions give your clients the opportunity to buy multiple services at a discounted rate. Maybe they’ll purchase a package of 10 sessions with a 10% discount or a subscription where they pay monthly for you to walk their dog twice a week.
PocketSuite can help you get set up with both.
#10 Use a Booking App
With Rover out of the mix, you’ll need new software to schedule your services and communicate with clients. A reliable booking app is essential to run your dog-walking business smoothly.
Booking software allows you to automate time-consuming business management tasks, like scheduling invoicing, selling products, and receiving payments. You can find affordable booking software and avoid Rover’s 20% fee.
Are you over Rover?
If you’re ready to level up your dog-walking business, it’s time to leave Rover behind. With trusted marketing techniques and a reliable booking app, you can find clients and earn more money.
PocketSuite can help you grow beyond Rover. We have industry-leading features to help you run a high-earning dog-walking business. From bookings to payments to contracts, you can manage your business and communicate with clients in one app.