Dog Walking

The Idea:
Dog walking

With clientele like this, how hard can it be?

One thing you can’t accuse me of is being a one trick pony. This week’s activities range from a website to provide football games, to the more traditional approach of taking man’s best friend for a walk. I recently looked after a dog for someone, which involved walking it. It dawned on me that there must be plenty of people who would like a reliable dog walker, and I can think of worse ways of making a bit of money. The challenge is finding these people, and convincing them I’m trustworthy enough to come to their house and walk their dog. Obviously dog-walking is nothing new, and there are plenty of people who even do it for a living. Whilst it’s easy to think all that is involved is walking around a park, in reality it is a little more complicated than that. The person is being trusted with someone else’s prized pet, and as such there is the responsibility for the safety and control of that pet. There will also be the inevitable rainy, muddy days picking up dog dirt. Having said this, given the potential gains that could be present in it, I’m going to take a look and analyse it.

Investment Required

Whilst it costs nothing to take a dog for a walk, there are a few associated costs. The main one here is the time and money it will take to advertise my services before I can even think about the first dog to walk. Things like notice boards in supermarkets and post-offices will be helpful here, and are completely free. Ads on Gumtree and Vivastreet will hopefully also help drum up some interest. However, I envisage I will need to get some flyers printed out and do some leg work if I’m to pick up enough business. I don’t think this needs to be anything too extravagant so I will keep the cost of this low – I hope to limit it to about £20-£30. There is also the cost of travelling, but this should be fairly minor so isn’t a huge concern. The amount of time invested, apart from marketing, is directly related to how much work I’m getting – and therefore money I’m making. I’ll assume I will be able to spend one hour doing walks, 5 days a week plus a couple of hours travel time.

Capital: £30

Time(hrs): 7/week (plus around 5 hours of marketing to begin with)

Return On Investment

Rates seem to be around £7-£15/hour, depending on location (it’s only really central London at the top end of that scale). Whilst this isn’t too shabby in itself, it’s nothing special either. the real benefit kicks in when you realise it’s possible to walk two, three or even four dogs at a time. £35ish for a walk round the park for an hour begins to sound pretty appealing. Obviously though travel times picking up each dog need to be taken into account, as well as time and money spent advertising. I will base my calculations upon walking two dogs a day at £8/hour each, and that I start doing so in three weeks. This is obviously unlikely to remain the case for the whole year, but gives an indication of a likely average outcome. I will also assume £3 per day in various costs, such as travel, periods of no work and occasional marketing.

Projected ROI:  433% (excluding labour).

ROI inc. labour: 42% (based upon minimum wage of £6.19/hour)

Expected Return: £2,925 This equates to an earning of £13/hour.

This guy will be a millionaire in no time at that rate

He’ll need a whole accounts department just to keep track

Skills/Resources Required

Whilst it isn’t rocket science, it’s not just a walk in the park either (excuse the pun). It takes the ability to drum up business, and most importantly to win people’s trust to the extent they will let you take their dog out. Also necessary is the ability to control the dogs on the walk. Lose control and I could find myself the subject of some serious liability. However, it isn’t hugely difficult, and I feel it is within reason.

Risk

As mentioned, there is risk in that it involves taking on personal responsibility and liability for anything that might happen with, or to a dog in my care. This is worth bearing in mind, but the reality is that this is fairly unlikely. The more likely outcome in terms of risk is that I plough a small amount of time and money into getting business, to find none is forthcoming. This would result in the loss of a few hours and up to about £30. Whilst inconvenient and unfortunate, it’s hardly devastating. As such I feel the rewards outweigh the risks in this instance.

Scalability

The biggest problem with dog walking is that it is labour intensive. If I’m not walking a dog, I’m not making money from it. If I am walking a dog, I cannot be doing anything else. If I am getting a decent return on my time, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but as time goes on, if I find that I could be using that time more wisely, then I will have to reassess. One possibility is that if I build up a good reputation and customer base, I can look to recruit some suitable and willing individuals to take on the walking, taking a small cut for providing the infrastructure and business to them. This is somewhat down the line, and relies upon many different factors, but would be an ideal circumstance as it would provide a passive form of income, which I see as one of the keys to being able to really rack up the stash.

Viability

It could end up being a dead-end as it relies on finding the small portion of people who need the service and are willing to pay for it. If I make it work though, it provides a pretty good flow of income for minimal hours spent on it. The possibility to also make it into more of a network of dog walkers down the line if things go well is also very appealing. The risk is fairly small, and losses would be minimal if it didn’t take off. All thing considered, I feel it is definitely worth at least attempting and seeing how it goes.

The Verdict

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Find out how this turned out by reading Humble Beginnings and The Dog Walking Experiment.

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