How to make real money as a dog walker (and charge higher prices than your competitors)
Here’s a question for you.
Which do you think is easier to sell: one new £264,000 Rolls-Royce Dawn or 26 Ford Fiestas?
You guessed it; it’s the Rolls-Royce Dawn.
Well, it’s all to do with who you are targeting the sale at.
So for sure you would struggle (and very likely fail) to sell a Rolls-Royce to someone looking for a Ford Fiesta, but if you targeted your advert at the CEO of a FTSE 100 company, a Premier League footballer or a Saudi prince, it would probably be quite an easy sale. In fact, the problem may be would the Rolls-Royce be exclusive enough for the buyer.
So if you get your targeting right, then yes, selling one Rolls-Royce should be far easier than selling 26 Ford Fiestas.
Selling even one of the 26 Fords is made even more difficult because in that price range there is a huge choice of similar-looking vehicles. Volkswagen, SEAT, Vauxhall and ŠKODA all offer a similar kind of thing at a very similar price. This is one reason why you see so many car dealers run discounted price promotions, all the time. When there is little to separate similar-looking cars, price becomes the only point of difference.
This works with every kind of product and service. Including dog walking.
Where does your dog walking business sit when compared to all the other people offering a similar kind of service in your town?
This is important because generally we are prepared to pay more for something if we perceive it to be better quality.
Why pricing matters
You wouldn’t go to Harrods and expect to purchase the same items at the same price as you would in Aldi or another discount store.
But is Harrods a better store because its products are five times better, or is it perceived to sell better products because it charges five times the price?
Well, it’s a weird quirk of pricing, but many consumers will infer that a product or service is better quality than a lower-priced one simply because it’s more expensive.
You can use this to your advantage and immediately position your services as better and more desirable than all the rest, simply by making your dog walking service the most expensive in your town.
Ah, but you have competition and couldn’t possibly charge any more than you do, right?
Wrong, and I will explain why.
Let’s move away from the Harrods and Rolls-Royces and take a closer look at the town you live in.
Look around your town the next time you go for a walk or are driving to work. Have a look at the different cars people are driving, the Fords and Ferraris. See the different houses for sale, cheap flats and council houses and huge private gated mansions. Now think about all of the bars, restaurants and shops in your town centre. Do they offer the same products at the same price in exactly the same way?
The answer is no, they don’t.
In every town and city all over the world, there are expensive and cheaper choices for every product or service you can think of. If you look hard enough, you will find both a high-end luxury and a bargain-basement option.
So if you are such a great dog walker, then it begs the question, why aren’t you charging the highest prices?
Premium pricing is the most easy-to-implement marketing secret and, as scary as it may seem, pricing your dog walking service at the very top end of the market will immediately position you among the best, if not as ‘the best’ dog walker in your town.
I mean, you must be the best. You are the most expensive, right?
That’s certainly what the more affluent prospects in your area will be thinking. They are used to paying more for the best clothes, food and other services they buy, so there’s no reason to doubt they will pay more for the best dog walker for their beloved dog.
As Dan Kennedy says in his excellent book No B.S. Marketing To The Affluent, “It takes no more work to attract customers from the explosively growing affluent population who are eager to pay premium prices in return for exceptional expertise, service and experiences.”
If it takes no more work, then it really comes down to choice and whether you have the cajones to go after the high end of the market.
And it’s not just the affluent who will be eager to get their hands on your exclusive dog walking service.
Most of us aspire to have better things, and we buy the best we can afford whenever we can. Dog owners are no exception. I know many dog owners who will gladly eat spam sandwiches or beans on toast while their dog will be chomping on organic duck breast and blueberries for tea. So while being premium priced means you will attract more affluent dog owners, there are many other dog owners who will find money in their budget because they want the very best for their dog too.
Of course, this premium pricing tactic is much easier to implement if you are excellent at what you do (and you will soon be found out if you aren’t very good). But I’m guessing you are already pretty good at walking dogs…
“But I need more experience!” I hear you cry.
You do not. As Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People, said, “Experience is very overrated”, and I tend to agree with him.
The biggest mistake you can make as a new dog walking business owner is to assume that you can’t position your new business at the top end of the market because you don’t have the same experience as X, or your grooming parlour isn’t as fancy as Y. Yes, you need to be of a certain standard, but the whole ‘more experience deserves more money’ thing is a big pile of horseshit.
If you believe your competitors who have been dog walking for ten years are ten years better than you, then surely they will always be ten years better than you, and you might as well just give up now.
Ah, but putting your prices up will mean you lose clients, right?
You may lose a few, but they will likely be the PITA (Pain in the Arse) clients that cause you hassle and you wanted rid of anyway.
To build a business you love working in and enjoy making money from will mean you don’t serve everyone.
Cheap ain’t cheerful
It might be cheerful for the customer, but the type of customers you attract when you are cheap are usually bargain-hunting bottom feeders who complain about the price, never pay on time and cancel appointments when they find someone who is cheaper than you.
Let’s go back to the point I made at the start of this chapter. Do you think it’s easier to serve one client who pays £30 for a dog walk, or two who pay £15, or three who pay £10?
Obviously it’s the one who pays the most. When you are a premium-priced business, you actually need fewer clients, which means you can give them an enhanced service and much more attention.
I know; it’s a scary thought to put your prices up.
What if clients leave, or what if they stop coming through the door? Well, these things almost never happen, and the increased profits more than make up for any clients you lose (who are usually the bottom-feeding cheapskates we mentioned earlier).
So yeah, it may be scary, but that’s no reason not to do it, and the fact is that premium pricing is the fastest and easiest marketing secret you can implement. You can do it today.
So do it!
This blog is an extract from a chapter of the pet business bible ‘Walk Yourself Wealthy – The quick, easy and no BS guide to transform your passion for pooches into an outrageously profitable and fun dog walking business.’