3 Signs its Time to Raise your Dog Walking Rates

#1 You haven’t raised your rates in the past year

When you put off raising your rates, you’ll need to make a bigger increase when you do decide to up your prices. This increases the chance that some of your clients may balk at the increase— so instead of worrying that your clients may not want to pay more and putting it off, it’s much better to raise rates a little bit each year. In most cases, clients won’t mind a small increase. 

I take a look at my rates annually and recommend all dog walkers do the same. That way you can keep your price increases small and have a high level of client retention. A $1 per walk increase is only about $20 per month for a full time client, yet it can really boost your income depending on the number of walks you have per day. 

So don’t put off raising your rates because you’re worried about losing clients. The trick is to raise prices each year so the increases are small. 

# 2 You’re below market rate

If you notice your prices are below the going rate, it’s time to take a look and see if a price increase makes sense. If you haven’t raised your prices in at least 12 months it’s time (see above). 

You don’t want to be the cheapest walker out there. Competing on price is tough, especially with apps like Wag! or huge companies that are able to charge less because they can do a much higher volume than a small, local business. A professional walker who is knowledgable in dog behavior and basic training principles, who is licensed, insured, and educated about all things dog is worth much more than your average dog lover who is just walking dogs for extra cash and doesn't have the skill or know-how you have. 

And if you price yourself too low you’ll end up with clients who are bargain shoppers. They don’t care that you have skills and expertise, they see no difference between you and the teenager down the street that's posting flyers to walk dogs for 5 bucks. You don't want those clients. 

#3 Your expenses have increased

If your overhead expenses have gone up but your rates have not, it’s time to up your prices to cover the added costs. All businesses experience increased expenses over time, and you shouldn’t have to take a pay cut to cover them. And I’m not just talking about business related expenses— you need to factor in your personal expenses too. My rent increases every year, so I factor that in. Living near my clients is necessary to do my job, so staying on top of my most significant monthly expense is vital. One thing to note, it's best not to raise rates more than once per year, so anticipate rising costs in advance if possible.