If you’re serious about running a dog walking business, as a business, not a hobby, then it's crucial to develop a business model that aligns with your goals, values, and market preferences. Your chosen business model will shape how you operate, attract clients, and generate revenue.
What is a business model?
A business model is a framework or plan outlining how a business intends to generate revenue and make a profit. It describes the core aspects of how a business creates, delivers and captures value. A well-defined business model helps a business understand how it will operate, sustain itself and grow over time.
Key elements of a business model typically include:
- Value Proposition: This explains what product or service the business offers and how it solves a problem or meets a need for its customers.
- Target Market: Identifies the specific groups or types of customers the business aims to serve.
- Revenue Streams: Describes the sources of income for the business, such as services, product sales, subscriptions, etc.
- Channels: Details how the business reaches and interacts with its customers. This can include online and offline channels like websites, stores, social media, and more.
- Customer Relationships: Explains how the business engages with customers, whether through personalised support, self-service, or other forms of interaction.
- Key Resources: Lists the essential assets, technologies, and capabilities needed to deliver the value proposition and run the business.
- Key Activities: Outlines the core operations and processes that the business must perform to create and deliver value.
- Key Partnerships: Describes any external collaborations or partnerships that are critical to the business's success.
Cost Structure: Details the expenses and costs associated with operating the business, including fixed and variable costs.
There are many different business models within the dog walking industry and you don’t have to replicate or offer the same services as your dog walking peers. In order to maximise your chance of success, it’s important to thoroughly research and plan your business model to build a dog walking business that suits your vision and meets the needs of your clients.
Aligning Your Business Model with Your Goals
Your business model should serve as a roadmap guiding your dog walking business toward success. Before deciding on the right model, take the time to:
Define Your Values: Consider what values are important to you and your business. Are you passionate about providing a personalised service? Or do you prioritise efficiency and affordability?
Set Financial Goals: Determine your financial needs and objectives. Are you looking to maximise profits or prioritise steady, sustainable growth? We discuss this in more detail in our blog post: “Setting Your Prices: Step by Step for Professional Dog Walkers”.
Assess Your Resources: Take stock of your available resources, including time, energy, and capital. This will influence the scope of services you can offer.
Understand Your Target Market: Your business model should be tailored to the specific needs and preferences of your target clientele. Who are they, and what kind of services are they seeking?
The Interplay Between Your Business Model and Target Market
Your business model and your target market are interconnected. If you already have a clear vision of how you want to operate your business, this will naturally lead you to a specific audience. Conversely, if you have a particular target market in mind, your business model must be crafted to cater to their preferences.
For instance, if you're open to various business models but want to serve pet owners with high disposable incomes, your services may lean towards the value-driven category. This approach allows you to charge higher prices, emphasising the additional value you provide to your clients. Your pricing strategy must align with this model whilst ensuring it doesn't compromise your profitability.
On the other hand, if your target market consists of clients with smaller pet care budgets, a cost-driven business model might be more suitable. In this scenario, efficiency and volume are paramount to maintain competitive pricing while still delivering excellent service.
Remember, neither approach is inherently better than the other. Your success depends on how well your chosen business model aligns with your goals and your ability to cater to your target market effectively.
Business Models: Cost-Driven vs. Value-Driven
Cost-Driven Dog Walking Business:
By prioritising efficiency and volume, a cost-driven business is able to maintain lower prices and offer a straightforward service which meets the needs of their target market. They may achieve this by:
- Offering a one-size fits all approach, providing one type of service to all dogs, rather than creating individual plans for each client.
- Allowing last minute bookings and flexible schedules, but with no guarantee that there will be availability for these bookings.
- Having a large number of clients, including ad-hoc booking, to ensure gaps in schedules are able to be filled rather than left empty.
- Taking on dogs who are suitable for group walks, allowing them to walk in larger groups.
Value-Driven Dog Walking Business:
A value-driven business may focus on creating value for their clients and charge a higher price to reflect this. This isn’t to say they are offering a better service, but rather offering more specialised service that is valuable to their specific target market. This may include:
- Offering smaller group sizes or solo walks.
- Customising offerings based on the dog’s age, needs, energy levels etc. For example, offering specialised walks to puppies or elderly dogs, or enrichment activities for busy dogs.
- Regular communication, updates, photos and reports for clients.
- Focus on maintaining lasting relationships with a smaller number of clients.
- Provide additional services
Your business model might provide room for a blend of both cost-driven and value-driven approaches within your business plan. You could offer a no-frills walk at a lower price point in the mornings, and also provideanother type of walk with added flexibility and premium options at a higher price point during the afternoon.
Your business model might encompass a range of specialised services, such as solo walks or puppy visits. If you opt for a rigid structure, this can allow for greater service customisation in other areas while maintaining a small and consistent client list. Alternatively, you may choose to offer many ad-hoc or last-minute walks to cater to an extensive and regularly changing client base, targeting specific groups such as shift workers or school teachers.
Your dog walking business's success depends on your ability to craft a business model that aligns with your values, goals, and target market preferences. Whether you opt for a cost-driven or value-driven approach, your commitment to providing excellent service and understanding your clients' needs will be the keys to thriving in this industry. So, take the time to strategise and create a model that sets you on the path to success in the world of professional dog walking.