November 12, 2023

How to run a profitable pet service business


You love pets. You can’t get enough of them – whether they’re your own or someone else’s, you wish you could spend all day with them.

You’ve even considered starting your own pet services business and finally becoming your own boss.

There’s just one problem – you don’t know a thing about running a pet services business, let alone a profitable one! 

We won’t lie, the pet services industry encompasses a lot of moving pieces. But that doesn’t mean it’s out of reach for you. With the right guidance, you can get this business thing figured out and start offering your own pet services.

Whether you’re a dog, cat, or even turtle professional, this article is for you!

First: Get clear on your service 

Pet services are a wide niche. Before running any type of business, you need to figure out where you stand in the industry.

What do you see yourself doing with animals all day? You can offer any of the following services and more:

  • Dog walking
  • Pet sitting – either in your home or the owners’ home
  • Grooming or mobile grooming
  • Pooper-scooper services

However, just picking a niche isn’t enough to run a profitable business.

You need to establish a specific list of services within that niche! For instance, if you decide to go the dog grooming route, you’ll need to choose if you offer simple grooming services or more advanced styling services as well.

Here’s another example – if you’re a dog walker, you may want to specialize in certain dog sizes. For instance, you can brand yourself as a large dog walker who also runs with dogs, which can be extremely tempting for owners of more active dog breeds (like Huskies).

Choosing your specific service offering will go a long way in helping you to carve yourself a slice of the market.

Figuring out the cost of your pet services

You’ve got services – now let’s price them and see how much it costs to run these services!

Getting a clear idea of your financial situation is a must if you want to run your pet services business in a sustainable way. Without a complete picture, you risk losing track of your expenses, and possibly undercharging for your services and find yourself unable to make a profit.

How much will it cost you?

The first part of the equation – what does it cost to run your pet services business?

This depends widely on the type of services you’re offering.

For instance, if you’re a dog walker, you won’t need much equipment compared to a dog groomer. As long as you have proper leashes, you’re good to go, compared to the plethora of products, equipment, and even home renovations you’ll need to make dog grooming possible.

You also need to consider training. If you love dogs, but don’t know much about them yet, we suggest taking a dog training course at the bare minimum. For dog groomers, there are a variety of more advanced courses to help you develop your skills in an efficient and safe way.

Here are some expenses you can expect to shell out, no matter how you take care of people’s furry friends:

  • Business licensing: If you’re just starting out and you’re barely making any money, this may not be necessary at first. But depending on where you live, you will need to register your business (costing you between $30 to $500) once you reach a certain income threshold.
  • Payment processing software: This is a must. Even if you plan on running a cash-only business, you need to keep track of invoices to keep your books in order. Apart from invoicing, several software options provide payment features to ensure you’re getting paid easily.
  • Business management software: Naturally, you’ll have several customers if you want to turn your pet services business into a profitable venture. Some tools that can be useful are CRM platforms (client relationship management), pricing and booking software, quoting tools, and more.
  • Labour: You may be thinking you want to start off without staff, and that’s fine! But you need to factor in your minimum living expenses to ensure you’re not starving as you grow your business.
  • Advertising and marketing: If you have the money to invest, you can put in large amounts of money – as long as you do it the smart way. At the very least, you’ll need website hosting and flyers, so put a minimum of $200 aside for this.

How much money do you want to make?

A huge mistake people make when they start a service-based business, especially if this is their first time becoming self-employed, is to think about making money in similar terms to a full-time job.

Let’s say your goal is to make $200 per day.

If you’re a dog groomer who can fit in 6 dogs in a single day, you’re thinking of charging $30-35 per appointment – same deal if you’re dog-sitting at a similar capacity.

But that pricing structure doesn’t take your overhead into account. You’re not just an employee – you’re a pet services business owner now.

Apart from the costs we discussed above, consider other expenses you regularly wouldn’t need to account for as an employee, including:

  • Higher taxes
  • Retirement fund
  • Sick days
  • Vacation time
  • Insurance coverage for dental, medication, etc.

Plus, you need to account for the fact that you won’t always be booked out every single day.

Before you decide on the final numbers, remember to factor all of this in.

How much will it cost your customers?

Now is the time to figure out what you will charge for your pet services.

First, do your due diligence and perform market research in your area. Pricing will depend on a few factors:

  1. The demand vs the supply for your specific pet services
  2. What others are charging for these services in your area
  3. How specialized you are

That third point is key – if you’re a highly specialized professional, you’re more likely to have little to no competition in your area and can price accordingly.

However, you don’t necessarily need to have specialized skills – there are other ways to stand out as a pet service business.

For the time being, let’s take the basic facts and run with it:

  • What is the market price for your pet service?
  • How much do you need to spend to run your business?
  • How much profit do you want to make?

Combining these 3 factors should help you come up with a ballpark figure.

If you need more guidance on pricing, we’ve posted another article on how to price your pet services.

How to manage your pet services operations

The downside to running a pet services business? You don’t just deal with pets all day. There are other aspects of running a business that you need to handle when you’re in between appointments with your furry companions.

Here are just a few of the factors you need to consider when running your business:

  • How do new customers hear about your business?
  • How will you provide personalized quotes to new inquiring customers?
  • How do customers book your services?
  • How will you manage payments from your customers?

Traditionally, pet service providers handle all of these tasks manually.

For example, if a new lead hears about their service via word of mouth, they call the business owner by phone. The business owner asks what services they want, then checks on their calendar for availabilities. The customer can ask about pricing, and the business owner will provide a price based on what the customer wants.

On the day before the booking, the business owner calls the customer to confirm. The customer can then pay for the service via cash or cheque.

It’s possible to manage your business this way, but it’s far from optimal. That’s because you’re doing everything yourself instead of relying on a clear, established, and automated method of managing your business.

What happens when you forget a step, or get overwhelmed with other work and can’t get around to doing all your call-backs?

You lose business. 

When you do everything yourself, you become the bottleneck of your own business. You’re stuck at the bottom and can’t grow beyond your current situation.

Grow your pet service business into an empire

So how can you manage your pet services business more efficiently to scale and make more profit?

Cut down on time-consuming tasks

Make a list of all the tasks you perform on a daily basis for your business.

Include all the tasks related to the actual service, but make sure you include every other non-billable task, as minor as it may seem.

Next, write down an approximate amount of time you think you’re spending on each task on a weekly basis.

Calculate the total time you’re spending on non-billable tasks compared to billable services.

Now, imagine you could drastically cut down on that billable time – and reinvest this time into spending more time taking care of pets, or taking a well-deserved rest.

For instance, how much time do you spend on the phone with customers? In some cases, phone calls are unavoidable – some customers prefer this way of communication. However, your business doesn’t have to run completely by phone.

Tasks like pricing, booking, payment processing, quote creation, appointment reminders, and even employee dispatch (if you’re at that point in your growth) can be accomplished using modern technology.

Software platforms like us can help you automate these tasks online. Instead of calling you directly, customers can go through your website or social profiles to:

  • Browse through your list of services
  • Select the services they want and view personalized live pricing
  • View your availabilities in real-time
  • Book your services and pay online
  • Get automatic confirmations and reminders via email or SMS notifications

When you let technology handle these tasks, you place yourself in a position to spend more time on:

  • Providing quality services to your customers
  • Planning your business strategy to grow
  • Finding, hiring, and training staff to scale further

We’ve broken this down in more detail on our post about saving time as a pet service business owner.

Improve the customer experience

You can manage your business as efficiently as you want, but in order to scale your pet services business, you need more customers.

And when you gain those customers, they need to come back – and tell their friends about you.

This means you need to provide top-of-the-line customer service, from the moment the client lands on your website to the time they pick up their pets after your services.

If you’re automating your business processes on your website and letting clients book and pay for your services themselves, you need to ensure your website is actually providing a positive experience – and not adding more frustration than it should.

Doing business with you should be easy and pain-free.

Hire and manage your staff the smart way

At some point in your growth, even the best software won’t be able to replicate the services you provide to pet owners.

You can hire staff to perform those services, or help you in the back-end with admin tasks like bookkeeping, social media management, or phone calls.

But when managing your staff, take the same approach as you do in the rest of your business – automate what you can and streamline everyone’s workflow.

How is your team’s calendar managed? How does everyone know who should be where at what moment?

If you’re manually handling dispatching and scheduling for your staff, you’re setting yourself up for another bottleneck, which is why automation is your best bet in this case as well.

Concluding thoughts

There you have it – these are the best ways to not only run a pet services business, but also to make it efficient and profitable as well. With the right systems in place, the sky is the limit when it comes to running and growing your pet empire.