How I Started a Dog Walking Business Turned Tech Company

Nobody understands what it’s like to have your hands so full of dogs, that you don’t even have time to change your pants after a dog lifted his leg on you at the dog park. Or what it’s like to spend time with so many happy dogs all day, but to come home exhausted, then have to worry about dog hair shedding everywhere and slobber all over me was sometimes too much. It’s a labor of love and it can be the hardest and the best job ever.

You might have fallen into dog walking like I did. I have always loved dogs and I’ve always loved people too. When I was at UCSD, I missed my dogs back home so much that I decided to help out my neighbors with their dogs. Before I knew it, I was walking dogs on almost every street in La Jolla. By the time I graduated, I was walking 30 dogs per day and that’s when I decided to turn DogZenergy into a professional business.

My goal:

To create the best and biggest dog walking agency in San Diego so that I could spread my love to hundreds of dogs.

My biggest hurdle:

Fear and burnout.

In the first few years of running my business, I was happy, but tired. After walking all day from 7am-8pm without any breaks, it was exhausting to come home and do the busy work. The last thing I wanted to do was work on the schedule, create invoices, and get back to customer requests. I felt like I was stuck on a hamster wheel of the daily grind.

One day, one of my favorite clients was extremely upset when I handed her a late invoice. She said to me, “Brittany, you are not a businesswoman, you are a dog walker.” These words really stung. I put my whole life into being the best dog walker that I could be, but it was true. I was not running a streamlined business. I was behind on invoicing, I had no systems in place, and I had no help, even just a mobile invoice printer would have helped a long way at that point. No one told me that it was going to be this hard. I went into my business venture thinking that I would have everything organized and sent out on time. But how wrong was I? I thought I was handling the invoices pretty well up until that point as well, but clearly not. You see, when you’re an employee in a company, you are more likely to use an invoicing software instead, so it can be made easier. At least everyone will be sending and receiving their money on time this way. But it’s hard to adapt to running a business when you first start out on your own. Let’s just say that it was a lot harder than I thought it would be. I felt like I was drowning. A friend of mine told me to read The E-Myth by Michael E. Gerber and this book really changed my life. In the book, Gerber explains that you have to work “on” your business and not just “in” it. You can’t just be a dog walker, you have to be a mindful business owner too. You need systems and processes so that you can hire a team and bring on more customers without compromising your quality of service.

It sounded easy enough, I needed to build a team. But how do I trust them? How do I know that every dog got walked and no mistakes were made? How do I not get cut out? That’s when I started searching for the perfect software, but couldn’t find it. When Uber and other on-demand apps came out, I really wanted to get my hands on the same technology for my business. So I decided to pack the last ten years of trying to make my life easier into one easy, simple to use mobile business platform called Handlr.

With the Handlr business dashboard and connected team app and customer app, you can seamlessly handle the following:

  • Automate scheduling and dispatching of your dog walkers

  • Keep track of your client list. See revenue and satisfaction ratings per client.

  • Keep track of your dog walkers’ performance ratings

  • Receive check in and check out alerts and GPS track your walkers

  • Three-way chat between you, your dog walker and your client so that phone numbers are not shared.

  • You and your clients can see photos and updates about their dog’s day and share them on social media.

  • Easy client registration and safe, encrypted, credit card payment

  • No more invoicing. Get paid right away.

  • Always know how your business is performing with revenue reports.

  • See new customers magically drop themselves into your schedule.

Now my business is running completely on auto-pilot and we have 15 dog walkers and hundreds of clients using the Handlr app. Our clients are booking our services on the app 20% more than they did before and we are growing faster than we can hire. We’re on track to do a million dollars in sales this year. And now you can gain control over your business by using Handlr too.

If you’re interested in applying to join Handlr click here.

We look forward to handling business with you!

Britt Alwerud lives in Los Angeles, CA with her menagerie of animals – two goldens, Daisy and Taj, two cats, Tiger and Monkey, and two horses named Gracie and Moo. Britt owns DogZenergy in San Diego, CA. Now she is the full-time Founder and CEO of Handlr. Learn more at myhandlr.com/petprofessionals or email her at britt@myhandlr.com.

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