If you are a petsitter and you want to grow your professional dog walking business read on. In this article we offer a range of essential software recommendations to help you grow your dog walking business.
Software to grow your dog walking business
It’s estimated that around 3.2 million households have adopted a pet during the course of the pandemic, bringing the total number of pet dogs in the UK up to 12 million. As a result, professional dog walkers are in a good position to scale their businesses. Not only do more people own pets than ever before, but these pet owners are resuming their normal lives after being at home. Whether they’re returning to the office or going on holiday, dog owners will need help with their pets.
However, growing a dog walking business takes a considerable amount of planning and coordination. This is especially true if you’re hoping to hire other dog walkers to help manage your workload. The easiest way to smoothly transition your one-man operation into a profitable business is by using software. Thousands of businesses across the country are now relying on digital means to manage their business administration. They automate their processes and increase the efficiency of their invoicing and administration. However, with so many solutions available, it can be difficult to know where to begin.
This blog describes some of the best software to help you grow your dog walking side hustle into a full-time job.
Accounting and Invoicing
Regardless of whether you accept cash or card payments, accounting and invoicing software is crucial. It means you can manage your finances effectively. In order to make dog walking a full-time business, you will need to plan income and expenses. In addition, you need a reliable way of requesting and receiving payments from your customers. Accounting software from Sage or Quickbooks makes it much easier to track cash flow and create professional invoices. It also helps you to stay in control of your money and continue growing your venture.
Cloud accounting software
As a dog walker, you may need to process and issue invoices when away from your home office. This makes cloud-accounting software the most appealing solution for you. Cloud-accounting software allows you to access your financial information from anywhere, as long as you have an internet connection. Many services even come with an integrated app. This makes it easy to create electronic receipts for any customers who pay you in cash after a walk.
Tax self-assessment accounting software
If your dog walking income exceeds the personal allowance threshold (£12,570) by the end of the tax year, you need this. Why? Because you will need to complete a self-assessment tax return for HMRC. This can be a long, complicated process, but accounting software will automate many of the calculations for you, making the tax return process more straightforward.
Booking, Scheduling and Customer Management
Some dog walkers walk as many as 13 dogs each day, which means an efficient scheduling solution is key for the smooth running of your business. Instead of fielding calls, texts and e-mails from dog owners, invest in an online booking system. This allows you to manage all of your dog walking appointments and messages all in one place. Many scheduling systems have a customer-facing interface as well as internal management capabilities. This means that your clients can make bookings through a user-friendly portal. All the while you can organise your schedule behind the scenes.
Customer relationship management software will enable you to answer questions, send reminders and provide real-time changes to a client’s booking. You will also be able to create customer profiles and log key data about each pet owner you work. This can include their contact details, address, any preferred walking routes, repeat bookings. They usually also have space for you to record the number, names and needs of all the dogs they have.
Scheduling software becomes even more important if you decide to expand your offering and branch out into pet sitting. You will you have more bookings and appointments to organise. Also you will have a more complex set of needs to master. Pet sitting will require you to collect and return keys, remember feeding schedules, administer certain medications to dogs and potentially even navigate overnight stays. Software such as Zoho Bookings, Calendly or DoTimely will all make managing your work smoother and more efficient.
GPS Tracking and Route Mapping
Dog walking involves a lot of trust between you and the pet owners who entrust you with their dogs. While this trust can be built over time, GPS tracking software can alleviate many of the concerns your clients may have. A GPS tracker will allow pet owners to monitor the routes you take with their dogs, providing them with real-time location data and information on how long the walk is taking. Owners will have complete peace of mind and your service will appear both professional and legitimate. Popular dog-walking GPS trackers include DoggyLogs and Tractive Dog Walk.
GPS tracking software
GPS tracking software can also be of use to you if you’re scaling your business. If you find yourself in a position to outsource some of your dog walking to others, it’s in your best interest to monitor the walks to ascertain whether they’re being carried out to completion. Some dog walkers may try to claim they’ve taken a particular route, when in actual fact the dog in question never left the house. GPS tracking means you can attract more genuine employees who will do the job well.
Route mapping software
It may also be useful to use route mapping software, such as iFootpath or AllTrails, in conjunction with your GPS. Should owners have particular routes they’d like you to take, you’ll be able to accommodate their request and follow a pre-set path from an app on your phone.
Start Growing Your Dog Walking Business Today
While dog walking can easily be maintained as a hobby or side hustle, it’s very possible to scale and expand your venture, especially if you already have a list of loyal clients. Once you’ve found the right software to suit your needs, contact previous and existing clients to make them aware of your new availability and business offering. Use the contacts you already have and ask for referrals to gradually build your local client base, using cost-effective digital solutions to improve efficiency and scale your business over time.
Further reading about dogs and dogsitting with Housesitmatch
At Housesitmatch.com we always try to share useful and informative blogs and practical advice with our members. Read on to find some helpful articles with useful tips for dog owners and dogsitters about dogsitting.