Determine Your Service Area
Determining where you will offer your services is an essential part of starting your dog walking and pet sitting business. Where you live will play a significant role in your decision-making process. For example, if you live in a large city like New York or Chicago, it wouldn’t make sense to service neighboring cities or even the entire city, as you will be stretching yourself too thin. You don’t want to spend all of your time traveling between customers. Having to run back and forth across town will make it very hard to be successful when starting—and likely leave you exhausted, too. Ideally, your service area would start small and then expand as your business grows.
Alternatively, if you live in a more rural location, it might make sense to service several areas. Always make sure you are factoring in travel time and expenses when taking on new clients. A common issue when starting out is being overly eager and accepting any client that requests your service. This is okay, but you should be very open with your clients that they are outside of your service area, and you may even consider a fee to help you recoup some of the travel expenses. You should also set expectations that clients inside of your service area have priority.
Market research will be beneficial in deciding on your service area. If you live in a densely populated area with lots of demand (and little competition) for pet sitting or dog walking — you may just cover your neighborhood. As the demand decreases and the supply (the competition) increases, you may need to start expanding your service area. Do your research to see what the competition is like and what areas they are servicing. Maybe there is an underserved area nearby that has a high demand for pet care services. Understanding what other companies are providing can also help you decide what services to offer.
Once you’ve done some market research and have an idea of where you will offer your services, you will need to decide how much to charge. Using our calculator tool, you can see what the average cost for services are in your area. You most likely don’t want to be the cheapest service around, but you want to remain competitive. Look at your competition and see what others across the country in similar-sized cities are charging. Check out our free rate calculators for help coming up with rates for different services.
Much like other aspects of starting a pet care business, it is better to start off smaller and see what works. It rarely happens that everything goes according to plan, but that’s what makes it fun! You can always adjust your service area based on what’s working and customer demand. Once you are established and start growing your team, you’ll be able to cover a much wider area with your services.