Life with dogs
Working with dogs is a lifelong ambition for many people, it can be for you too....
Are you a dog walker worried about standing out from the overwhelming competition? Here's 5 ways to overcome it.....
1. Show case your reasons for doing what you do
Telling potential clients why you do what you do will help them find an affinity with you. This is particularly useful in the dog sector as our furry friends mean a lot to us. Clients need to be able to trust you and like you, the way to do this is to share your reasons, motivations and values. This will draw those who can resonate with your values and motivation towards you and they will be more inclined to trust you with their beloved dog. Competitors who don't convey their reasons and motivations will experience less affinity and trust and relating to them may be more difficult. It doesn't need to be anything too fancy, just a page on your website about where your motivation comes from is enough.
2. Find a corner of the dog walking market to call your own
This may sound like a plan to reduce the amount of clients wanting your services, but in fact narrowing down your breadth of services and concentrating on one specific market will actually improve your chances of getting noticed, and in turn getting clients. Being specific and offering a more bespoke service will attract 'your type of people' to you. Concentrating on a particular type of service e.g. puppies only or rescue dogs only will mean people in your area will associate that with you, whereas trying to please ALL the people, ALL the time will dilute your magnetism. Finding a niche that suits your own personality and offers a solution to demand in your area is the easiest and quickest way to get well known for that thing, for example the vegan restaurant in your town is very specific and attracts vegan diners (rather than vegan diners having to ask what food is vegan on the general menu in a non exclusive restaurant).
3. Let your pricing structure set the scene
Once you've found your specific bit of the market or nailed your niche, you can then charge more money. Being priced differently distinguishes you from all the other dog walkers in your area who all charge the same or the 'going rate'. Having a more exclusive service or niche, naturally means people will expect to pay more. If all dog walkers were priced the same, how would customers choose between you all? Every sector has tiers, you can choose where in those tiers your services lie. You may find that you want to be the budget brand dog walker in your town (I wouldn't recommend that....but that's a title for another blog post) and that would set you apart, but being in the middle is a very grey, confusing place to be. Ideally if you niche down and corner your market, you will naturally be expected to be near the top of the pricing tier which ultimately means less stress for you and a more profitable business.
4. Don't just do the dog walking, show your skills
Dog walking in the United Kingdom particularly is viewed as a bit of hobby job and with that comes a belief that we are not particularly skilled people and we have decided to work with animals because we aren't much good at the 'other stuff'. In reality this couldn't be further from the truth. I know some super intelligent people who have jacked in their corporate jobs to set up a dog walking business as a lifestyle choice.......but they still have ALL THE GOOD SKILLS. The key is to still use all those good skills. What do I mean by this? Well I mean be a dog walker AND a business person, be a dog walker AND an entertainer, be a dog walker AND a writer, be a dog walker AND a speaker, be a dog walker AND a marketeer. Its amazing how much praise I get when people realise that I'm a #1 author, that I've a good degree and a background in education. USE YOUR SKILLS and people will be in awe of your brilliance and gravitate towards you. These super skills make you unique too.
5. Blow your own trumpet
This goes against all your natural instincts as a person who naturally enjoys the company of dogs (we are not particularly people, people) but as a business owner you have to share your wins and sparkle your glitter. If you get good feedback from a customer....share it, if you get a lovely text message from a client....share it (ask permission first of course), if you do use your other good skills (as mentioned in point 4), share your stuff. I like writing and I shared my book to my clients and they bought the book (even though they weren't thinking of setting up a dog walking business), because they thought it was interesting. If you're a good photographer....share it. If you're learning new skills.....tell people. It's not just about the dog walking, its about YOU as a person and that is so important nowadays in a world of media overwhelm to share your personality and your development. You have to shout about yourself as nobody else will do it for you. YOU are your best advert, tell people your skills, your wins, your positive results and your aspirations. All this information is actually helping your potential customers decide whether to become a customer or not. You need to sell yourself and point out your attributes as these are unique to you and in turn set you apart from the competition in your town.
To delve more deeply into how to stand out from the never ending competition, check out my brilliant six module course 'How To Attract Clients In To Your Dog Based Business Despite The Overwhelming Competition'.