Starting a business as a professional dog walker is becoming more and more popular. The number of walkers taking out insurance with Protectivity has skyrocketed recently with over 2000 walkers now on our books.
But with all the growth of the industry comes competition. In a business scene where every dog counts, ensuring you attract enough clients to pay the bills is becoming tougher.
Facebook has become the go-to place for dog walkers and owners alike to congregate and tout for business. There’s a good reason for this too. With the personable approach, the ability to focus on your location and the community spirit provide a fantastic arena to finding a professional walker to take care of your dog.
Three-quarters of the dog walkers asked in a recent Protectivity survey said they used the social networking site to promote their business. However, only six percent said they had turned to paid-for advertising to provide that added reach.
It could be that many walkers are missing a trick here. With even the smallest advertising budget you can really hone in on the people you really want to target.
Here are the three big reasons you should be using Facebook Advertising.
As a professional walker there are two things any prospective clients must be 1) dog owners and 2) reasonably local. With Facebook advertising, you can filter just those people. Want to show yourself off to as many dog owners in your community? Easy, just select the ‘Reach’ Objective when setting up your advertising campaign before you go and you’re on your way.
From there you can expertly target your desired audience. Select your location, plus the radius you are looking to cover to ensure you’re only going to pay for your advert to appear in front of your local residents.
Then, scroll down to the ‘Detailed targeting’ area to filter out those dog walkers you want to advertise to. By inputting the phrase ‘Pet Owners’ in the box you can find those that Facebook believes has a pet of their own due to their online activities. Filter that down further by clicking the ‘Narrow Further’ button and inputting the word ‘Dogs’. This will highlight those people who like pages that relate to dogs as well as being pet owners.
So, with a targeted campaign hitting pet (probably dog) owners in your local area you don’t need to waste money approaching people who will not be your customers.
A career as a dog walker is unlikely to bring in mega bucks. Therefore, many dog walkers will be wary of spending unnecessary cash on advertising. However, showcasing your business with paid adverts doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg.
In fact, for as little as £1 a day you could reach many hundreds of potential customers.
Using the criteria highlighted above, using High Wycombe (and the surrounding 10 miles) as our location, we were able to create an audience of just over 8,000 people. With a daily budget of £1, Facebook suggests we would be able to get our advert in front of between 710 and 1,500 of those people each day.
With a one-hour walk costing dog owners anything between £7 and £11 approximately, pull in just one new client a week and you can recoup the costs of your advertising spend. Deliver a good enough service to that new client and with their repeat business soon adding up, the initial outlay pales into insignificance.
While touting for business within dog walking discussion groups is all well and good, putting out a well-made advert looks far more professional.
Pick out a nice image, be creative with your copy and deliver a bespoke campaign right to the heart of your potential clients’ newsfeed, rather than a plain, forgettable post in the local dog walking group.
If you haven’t already, think about some branding for your business. Maybe create a logo, nail down some company colours or maybe use a regular canine subject for your ads. Build that familiarity that will mean dog owners think of you when they are considering a walker and you will already be one step ahead of the competition.
Facebook advertising isn’t a substitute for the more stripped-back community group based approach. But by adopting some basic methods, the difference made for your dog walking services could be plain to see.
If you are operating without a licence, the punishments are clearly set out. You can be prosecuted and sentenced to up to three months in prison and fined up to £500.
For anyone already operating, that does not hold a licence, it is advised that you contact your local authority immediately. Doing so doesn’t instantly mean you will be prosecuted. It is possible that the council will require you to stop boarding animals while they process any application from you for a licence. However frustrating it may be to curtail income from boarding clients may be, it is important to ensure you are fully licensed to avoid further punishment.