So you’ve decided to hire a dog walker in Edmonton to help you care for your dog when you need a hand. But how do you decide who to hire?! While budget is part of the factor when searching for a dog walker in Edmonton (which you can read more about here), there are many variables to consider when picking a dog walker that’s right for you and your dog.
1. Know the Difference between a Hobbyist and a Professional
A Hobby Sitter
Hobby Sitters are typically people who love pets but offer pet sitting or dog walking on the side, casually. Most offer to care for your pet on the less expensive end, typically through apps such as Rover. If you haven’t heard of Rover, it’s a large tech platform that connects pet parents with people offering pet care – kind of the Uber of dog walking.
A professional solopreneur or dog walking company will be registered, licensed, insured, as well as, have policies/procedures in place to help keep you, your furbaby, and themselves safe. If you request to see a copy of any of the documents mentioned, they should be more than willing to provide them to you.
2. Does the Edmonton Dog walking Company have Employees or Independent Contractors?
It is important to know who is walking your dog or caring for your cat!
If the company has employees, the business will have specific requirements and expectations of its staff. Requirements can include things like:
- annual clean criminal record checks
- mandatory training
- continuing education
- fulfilling services while following company procedures and policies.
The company will also provide liability insurance on behalf of their entire team and will often provide supplies to their staff that makes the job easier or ensures their safety. You might not have the same dog walker every day (read more about having a backup plan below) but can rely on the team carrying out services at the same quality.
Some companies have contractors carry out their services. Companies can lay out expectations for contractors to fulfill but ultimately, it is up to the contractor. Companies also cannot provide training, supplies, or require continuous learning of hired contractors.
3. Is There a Back-up Plan?
Is there a back-up plan in place if your dog walker in Edmonton has to cancel a visit due to sickness, injury, emergency, or for any reason?
Companies typically have a backup plan since they have a larger team. They will often have more staff hired than actually needed for those emergencies. And often also have office staff who will act as a backup to their backup plan. We call it ‘Plan Z’!
It can be more difficult for independent walkers to ensure they have a backup plan to help cover their services when emergencies come up because it’s just them. But, some solo walkers do have plans in place, such as a friend, family member, or even another dog walking company who can carry out services in an emergency. Have you ever had a pet care provider cancel last minute on you?
4. Read Reviews
Have you taken the time to read through reviews and testimonials of the dog walking company or pet care company that you’re interested in? Reviews can show you a few glimpses inside the business, how they treat their clients, and sometimes, how they treat their dog walking staff.
A few keywords that happy clients might mention in their reviews: professional, friendly, responsive, easy scheduling, provide updates with photos and maps, or excellent customer service.
Do they have any negative reviews? Negative reviews do not necessarily mean not to choose this company. One tip if they do have a negative review, see how they reply. Read through any negative reviews and see how the company dealt with the feedback- were they thoughtful in their response, rude, did they try to provide a solution, or did they not even reply to the client!
5. How do they store your client information and how do you book?!
Does the dog walker you are looking at hiring have an app that helps manage their clients? Does the system allow you to input/update your and your pet’s info as needed, schedule your services, chat with your dog walkers, receive pictures and verbal updates, plus pay your invoices? Or are they still using paper forms and will text or call you to set up your pet appointments?
Keep in mind that many professional companies offer an online portal that helps them manage client information, scheduling, billing, and communications. Not only does it keep things organized, but many of these platforms include an extra level of security and encryption of your personal information and other data.
As with anything, there are many things to consider before committing to the best option for your family. And we understand that not everyone’s needs are the same, as everyone’s situation is different. We strongly urge you to do your research to figure out what your best options are. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions at all.