12 Marketing Tips for Dog Walkers and Pet Sitters
Create a Referral Program
One of the best ways to increase your word of mouth marketing is to offer a referral program. An easy referral program that has worked well for us is donating $10 to a local animal shelter (in the client’s name) for every referral.
This program has helped us network with local animal shelters, which also is a good source of referrals, and it gets our clients talking about our service.
Network With Local Pet Professionals
It’s easy and worthwhile to network with local pet professionals. Make a list of the best veterinarians, dog trainers, animal behaviorists, groomers, and pet stores in your area and follow these easy steps to connect with them.
For any pet professional that has a brick and mortar store, I bring by a gift bag stuffed with candy, snacks, business cards, information about our pet sitting and dog walking services, and a note about our referral program. I just stop in and drop off a gift bag every couple of months. This simple trick has brought in a ton of referrals from vets, groomers, and pet stores.
To network with dog trainers and animal behaviorists, you can just give them a call to introduce yourself or email them and ask if they would like to get a cup of coffee sometime. It’s beneficial for dog trainers and animal behaviorists to network with pet sitters and dog walkers because you are sure to send a few clients their way. Also, many dogs that are in a training or rehabilitation program tend to be good candidates for vacation pet sitting and private dog walking. The trainers in our area send us a consistent stream of new clients.
Give your Client’s Branded Refrigerator Magnets
We include a magnet with our company logo on it with every meet & greet packet. At first I thought the magnets would end up on people’s cars, but instead many of our clients put the magnet on their refrigerator. Once we paired our referral program with a free magnet, we noticed another big uptick in referrals.
I hired a graphic designer to make a cute paw design that features our company name and I buy 50 custom magnets at a time from Sticker Mule.
Have a Helpful FAQ Section on your Website
New clients often have a lot of questions about how pet sitting and dog walking service works and there are usually a lot of details to cover. You can build trust with potential clients and save time by answering common questions in your FAQ pages. I have two separate FAQ pages on my website. One for pet sitting FAQ and one for dog walking FAQ. Feel free to check out these pages to get some inspiration for your own FAQ pages.
When clients have a clear idea of what to expect from your service, they are much more likely to book with you instead of your competitors. A good FAQ section with links to related pages on your website will also help with your SEO.
Get 5-Star Google Reviews
Getting good reviews in your Google My Business listing is critical to building trust and showing social proof, but how do you get 5-star Google reviews? Obviously, the first step is to offer excellent pet sitting and dog walking service, but I’m sure you are already doing that 🙂
The key is to take advantage of those times when a client tells you how great your service has been. Of course, not every client is going to tell you you did an amazing job, but some clients will be totally blown away by your excellent quality of service. Whenever I have a happy client that mentions how great our service has been, I simply email the client and ask them if they would be willing to give us a 5-star review on Google. I include a few simple instructions they can follow to write the review and I tell them if they write a 5-star review we will credit their account for one free visit. If a client goes out of their way to post a 5-star review, I’m happy to give them a free visit for their trouble.
If you would like more details and an example email you can send to clients, check out our article, How to Get 5-Star Reviews on Google.
Use In-Market Google Ads
One of the most effective ad campaigns we run is a Google Ads campaign which targets users who are in the market to book a vacation.
Google can tell when someone is researching and booking their vacation, and they can serve up ads for your company to those in-market users. We run both banner ads and text ads to in-market users for travel. You can read more about in-market google ads, here.
When you are getting started with Google Ads, make sure you don’t get stuck with the inefficient and more expensive Google Ads Express. You will need to call Google to activate your full Google Ads account. You can take an online course to learn how to run your own Google Ads or outsource your Google Ads to a marketing company.
Learn The Fundamentals of Marketing
While relying on word of mouth and your good reputation will get you a long way in this business, to get your company to the next level, learning the fundamentals of marketing is key.
There are many marketing gurus out there and most are very good. For me, Donald Miller’s “Building a Storybrand” made the biggest difference. His simple methods don’t rely on gimmicks or tricks, rather he teaches small businesses how to clarify their message so clients know why they should buy from you. Plus, his book is available in audio format, so you can learn this stuff while you drive to your visits.
Put a Contact Form at the Bottom of Every Page of Your Website
You can make it easy for potential clients to contact you by adding a contact form to the bottom of every page on your website. Many marketers agree having a contact form at the bottom of every page increases your conversion rate.
Build a Team
It may seem odd, but I hear it over and over, “Every time I hired a team member, my sales numbers went up and up.” The truth is, clients look for pet sitting and dog walking companies that have a team, and they are willing to pay a premium for a service that has backup for every visit.
Building a team is difficult but you don’t need to do it on your own. PetSitterCourse.com offers personalized coaching to get you up and running with solid hiring processes. Also, you can train your sitters and walkers using this certification course that covers everything a pet sitter needs to know to do their job with a high standard of quality.
Improve Your Search Engine Optimization
It can take a few years of consistent effort to rank at the top of google in your home town for keywords such as: pet sitter your town’s name, dog walker your town’s name, cat sitter your town’s name, dog sitter your town’s name, but the payoff is huge because companies that rank at the top get the majority of clients.
Tape Magnets to Poop Bag Dispensers
An easy way to get your name out there is to tape magnet style business cards to poop bag dispensers in nice neighborhoods, busy parks, or even in a downtown square.
You can easily design magnet style business cards using VistaPrint and use double sided tape to adhere the magnets to poop bag dispensers. I go with magnets because they don’t fade in an outdoor environment like paper business cards.
Invest in a Company Car
One of the biggest challenges for a new pet care company is to raise awareness that your company and services exist. A company car is like a mobile billboard. Once we invested in a company car, our website traffic started to take off. I think a lot of people started to google us while stopped at a red light.
Some pet sitters feel a company car is a security risk for their clients, but there is a simple solution to this. Just park down the block, or even a couple blocks away. Then walk to your clients home. Also park at a property line so you further conceal your client’s location.
A company car can bring a big boost to your sales, and as long as you mitigate the risks, it’s a marketing opportunity you don’t want to miss out on.