There are currently over 89 million dogs in the US alone, making them extremely popular pets among single individuals and families alike.
This also means that there’s a huge market for dog walking services, to help pet owners better care about their beloved dogs. But before launching a local or online solution for prospective customers, you have to carefully weigh all pros and cons. In this post, we’ll talk about the advantages and disadvantages of building an on-demand dog walking platform and give you a checklist for creating a prosperous dog walking app.
Pros of developing an on-demand dog walking app
Developing an on-demand dog walking application provides more opportunity to grow and expand, which is ideal if you have plans to scale your dog walking business regionally, nationally, or even worldwide. Here are the other most notable advantages of developing a dog walking app include:
- Streamline your routine processes like distributing tasks or scheduling dog walks
- Optimize your budget and with online analytics tools
- Attract more walkers for your business both full time and part time
- Expand your list of services with calories counting and dog sitting while dog owners are away
- Appear professional and trustworthy to new prospective clients who are seeking dog walking services
- Motivate clients to learn more with the ability to contact you from any location
- Ensure constant availability of your services with a mobile app
- Build an online community to strengthen the trust and bond you have with loyal clients while gaining additional referrals from family members and friends of your customers
- Provide additional security for dogs and for dog owners’ property as dogs are less likely to damage any home furniture and the presence of a dog sitter or a dog walker can scare away burglars when pet owners are away
Cons of developing an on-demand dog walking app solution
Before developing an on-demand dog walking app solution, there are a few disadvantages to remember in order to prevent potential issues from arising. Some cons of developing an on-demand dog walking app include:
- You will have to invest in a development team and equipment to build, manage, and scale your on-demand dog walking application.
- After you obtain a fully-operating app, you will have regular expenses to maintain and support your business app.
- Employees, IT staff, and web developers are all necessary to properly launch and manage a downloadable app, which involves repeated salary payments to your employees.
- There are already big players on the market like Wag, Pawshake, PetBacker, and others that create extreme competition.
- Different dogs require different activities and you might need to educate your dog walkers to work with young energetic dogs or with the ones that suffer from being apart with their owners.
- User expectations keep growing as the mobile app market continues to evolve and become saturated with new free service apps each day.
- Security concerns as not all users are ready to entrust their beloved pets and their property to the people they haven’t met before.
- Launching an application that allows users to share personal information, payment details, and sensitive data is vulnerable to potential hacks and security breaches. Maintaining a safe and secure application at all times is essential to prevent your app from being removed from the online marketplace or having your dog walking business shut down altogether or financially ruined.
In addition to the cons mentioned above, there might be some local issues. For instance, in the US, it’s quite difficult to find a proper space for dog walking in a rural area as there are dog restrictions in different parks. Also, there can be freelance dog walkers that already have their own customer base, so you’ll need to attract them to your app. Otherwise, you will get more competition.
Guide to building a solid on-demand dog walking app
Hopefully, the list of the cons hasn’t scared you much, as there’s a great revenue potential from the dog walking business. For instance, in the US alone, dog owners spend up to $45 per a single dog walk, while the overall pet spends in 2019 are about to reach $75.38 billion.
If you choose to get your cut from this market, you’ll have to come prepared, as knowing how to start a dog walking business is essential before launching a local or online solution for prospective customers or those in your local community. That’s why we’ve prepared a short step-by-step guide for building a successful dog walking platform for your business.
Create a solid business plan
Start with creating a solid business plan that outlines an overview of your dog walking business and how you intend to grow and scale as you build your client base. To develop a proper plan, you might need to consult experts not only from your industry, but also from other on-demand spheres with a shared economy like taxi-hailing, food delivery, and others.
Calculate your potential revenue and earnings
Consider the revenue you expect to get while calculating potential earnings you are capable of generating once you go live with your dog walking business. If you are planning or running the operation on your own, it is important to factor in the overall costs of developing your website, registering trademarks, filing licenses, and managing your clientele via a mobile app or an in-house email system.
Expansion and employees
If you plan to go online while expanding out of your local area, consider the cost of hiring new employees as well as outreach programs to help with finding those in need of work. Managing employees requires a complete understanding of labor laws and time management to ensure you are able to keep your business running and on track.
Researching the current competition nationally or locally is one of the most important steps to take before launching a dog walking business of your own. Conduct market research to determine whether or not you currently have competition locally and regionally throughout your state. Here are some questions to help you conduct market research:
- Who are these individuals competing for business in your area? Try to discover their operation style and how they manage to attract clients while remaining open for business.
- What your competition is charging for dog walking services? Do they provide one-time services? Is a long-term agreement required to get started with the services they offer?
- Is your competition based locally or do they have a downloadable smartphone app available for on-demand service?
- How does your competition reach their intended audience?
- Is their marketing strategy reliant on word of mouth, or do they currently advertise using search engines, third-party ad servers, or social media?
- Do competitors provide additional services like dog sitting and dog cleaning after walks?
- How good are your competitors’ apps? Download and test various dog walking apps available that are relevant to your consumer base and your local area. Make a list of the features each application provides and determine which are most useful to your target audience and the demographics you want to reach.
- Can you use your competitor experience on social media? Spend time browsing and reviewing the social media pages of your top competitors to gain valuable insight into the inner workings of their marketing campaigns and current strategies.
- Does your competition interact directly with consumers, or do they have a professional social media manager handling questions and inquiries? Is it possible to contact your competitor via social media or only through their official website and downloadable app? How do you plan to respond to potential clients who are genuinely interested in learning more about your dog walking business and what it entails?
Launch your marketing campaigns
After you have a complete understanding of how your competition advertises and markets their business, begin planning your dog walking marketing strategy. Build buyer personas for your app and focus on the ages, locations, and genders of those who interact with your ads the most to allocate more of your marketing budget to your optimal consumers.
Use A/B testing when launching search or third-party ads along with social media campaigns to learn more about the effectiveness of each individual ad you promote. Test various messaging tactics to gain valuable insights into which type of marketing works best for those who are interested in dog walking services. Optimize your ad campaigns as you begin collecting, organizing, and analyzing data from each campaign you launch. There are plenty of analytics tools that you can use for that like Firebase and Google Analytics to analyze your mobile app performance and user behavior.
Use social media and your blog to your advantage
Use social media to your advantage by gaining a following of locals who want to learn more about your dog walking business. Share photos and video media of the services you provide along with testimonials from clients who are satisfied with your business. Respond to prospective clients while building a sense of community among those who are seeking a dog walking business they can trust and rely on with their beloved pets.
If you don’t yet have a blog for your business, consider creating it, as it can also be a perfect opportunity to attract your prospect, demonstrate your expertise, and share testimonials of your clients just like on social media.
In case you decide to help dog owners care more about their pets with your dog walking app, you’ll have to spend some time to carefully plan your app’s future and the enter strategy and then spend quite a penny on building an app and maintaining it. Hopefully, the information above will help you not only get grateful customers, but also a high level of revenue and true business expansion.