Why I chose to set up a dog walking business in York
I was in the Royal Navy for nine years finishing my career on the Royal Yacht Britannia, but I had always been interested in how dogs integrated into human lives. I believe that the human-canine bond is a dynamic balance of three very different but complimentary types of social interaction: rules, leadership and affection. Understanding how the bond works, how our behaviour affects it, and getting the balance right, is fundamental in developing and maintaining an emotionally healthy and fulfilling relationship with any dog. So researching and understanding this bond and how it works was fundamental in piquing my interest to create and set up a business where I could interact with dogs on a daily basis. So when the opportunity arose I took it.
I set up Walkabout Pet Services in 2010, the philosophy behind my business is the belief that when offering a vital service like dog walking it is important that dog owners have the reassurance that their dog walker knows what they are doing and that their precious pet is in safe hands. So I enrolled onto the International Society of Animal Professionals, Professional Dog Walker – Diploma. This course provides a dog walker with essential knowledge to carry out their work, and was facilitated through Compass who are a widely accredited private Animal Behaviour Distance Learning College. I passed the course with the grade of A Merit and after completing it I felt that the modules I passed helped to give me the confidence and the know how to provide a qualified and professional service to all of my customers old and new.
In addition to my investment in training I also felt it was important to invest in my vehicle, which is a van fully fitted out with individual secured dog cages, it is fully ventilated and air conditioned. I also made the decision to restrict the geographic area where I trade to ensure that transportation times from collection from the premises to the start of the day's walks are kept to a minimum. It was also important to me that I keep to two core services dog walking and puppy socialising, making these business decisions has enabled me to focus on what I do best and ensure that all dogs in my care are well exercised and have fun. I consider that having these key things as the basis of my business plan has ensured that I always provide a great service to my customers and their pets.
Sponsorship is also something that I feel every business should do so I sponsor a Guide Dog Puppy throughout their training stage right up to them being paired with a recipient whose life they live to transform. In addition to my monthly sponsorship I have recently made the decision to donate the first walk fee from all new customers who sign up to a dog walking or puppy socialising service to my companies chosen charity: Guide Dogs for the Blind.
Being a sole trader it is important to me that I not only need to provide a professional service but I also need to provide excellent customer service, at all times. I believe that good customer service is the better half of a successful business, making my customers feel that I go the extra mile for them is one of my core goals. So I always try to go out of my way to ensure that I make this happen and that my customers value the service I provide to them. But please don’t just take my word for it read my customers testimonials on my website or Google+ page.