Hey, hey – I made it!
12 years experienced dog walker in San Francisco! This is what my customers got from me on my anniversary!! Aren’t they lucky!!!
Let’s Talk About Wag
Posted by The San Francisco Dog Walker
A few years back a dog walking company by the name of Wag moved into the world of dog care providers. What made them different from other existing dog walking companies was that they were not a small, local company managed by professional dog walkers, but rather they came in brandishing their guns and tried to monopolize the dog care industry. Wag is a giant, national tech company which was started with 2 million dollars.
By making themselves appear trendy with celebrity endorsements, slick advertisements and an app for quick online scheduling they were off to a fast start. Wag’s marketing strategy included the phrase “Uber for dog walkers”. It was clever to say the least, given how popular Uber has become. Wag recruits thousands of people without experience and places them on an app, which is very easy to use and it schedules on-demand dog walking services in a snap. Quick, easy and no strings, what more could you want?
When a dog walker can be found instantly in one click on a gimmicky website such as Wag, it’s important for you to understand that these people, who are signed up to be dog walkers, do not necessarily have any training in dog care. Wag and Rover hire anyone to do their dog walks and are not allowed to provide any training to these people because they are hired as contractors.
What stands out most about Wag’s hiring process is that there doesn’t seem to be any attempt to get to know their walkers. Wag employees should spend a week or two shadowing them out on the job to see how they relate to animals, how dedicated and reliable they may be and how they handle the stress of being in charge of someone’s pet. You have to see them in person to be sure they are capable of doing the job correctly.
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Wag’s may have taken the on-demand dog walking business by storm, but what they didn’t count on was the scrutiny and backlash they would get from their participants. Glassdoor is a website that give employees a place to share their insider info and a place to air their dirty laundry. The hiring process consists of filling out a multiple choice questionnaire, watching a video, and attending an exam in which the object is to fit three kinds of harnesses to a dummy dog. It is reported that anyone can fake who they are on the tests and still pass the scrutiny of Wag.
Would you really want to give the key to your house to just anyone? Sure, you read over their bios, but do you really know them? Are their references people that live in your neighborhood and have used this person before? Who are their friends? Sure they look trustworthy in their pictures, but you are leaving your key in a lockbox and you have never even met the person that is coming into your house to walk your dog. These are things to think about before hiring Wag to walk your dog.
Let’s Talk about YELP
Posted by The San Francisco Dog Walker
Let’s face it, we all look at YELP when we are looking to do business with an unknown firm. I know I do it every time, just to see what others say about them. I recognize that most of us view YELP as an encyclopedia and make our decisions based on what others say. I know I use YELP especially when I am curious to find out if they have any bad reviews, how many, and how important or believable are the claims.
When I started my business over 10 years ago, I really had no intention of growing into a large enterprise, even though this concept seems to be the all American Dream. When I would have doubts as to whether or not I was going down the right path, I would moan that it seemed like my competitors were doing really well with a more profit driven business model, and my sister would remind me that this is not a race to the finish line, but rather, that I was creating something that I could be proud of and it is commendable to not follow the herd. Having the courage to use my brain power to design the critical concepts of my business model instead of being driven by what the competition is doing, was an important component to my confidence as a business leader and to my future success. By staying small, I could offer a higher quality service, which would be driven and shaped by my ethics, not my desire to be a successful dog walking business entrepreneur.
It seems funny to say this now, but I have had only 8-20 customers over the last 10 years, while other successful dog walking businesses have had hundreds of customers. The reason I have survived, even with so many fewer clients than my competitors is because I do not have a high customer turn-over rate. Most of my clients have been with me 10+ years and that is why I have only a few reviews on YELP and GOOGLE. I don’t have a lot of clients, but if you look at it from a different perspective, that can be a good thing! It’s not quantity, it’s quality!!
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So, what is so important about being such a small sized company?
Well, for one thing, I give my San Francisco client’s more personalized service. They feel very important and they are very important to me. I treat my clients vey well and that is why they have stayed with me for many years. For example, at the end of every year, I give my clients a beautiful, professionally published photo book with their dog’s picture playing with their friends at the park or beach. Do the large companies do this for their clients? Probably not or probably not for very long. It is expensive to do this and it eats into the profits. In order for it to work for them, they will have to walk even more dogs everyday. Many dog walkers feel that this business is already a burn out for them with the number of dogs they have to walk every day, and it is for most. If you do the profit model, you need to charge less than your competitors, walk more dogs to make up for the loss and enjoy making yourself crazy.
As I mentioned in one of my other blog posts, I go out of my way to provide the best possible service for my clients, but it is a subtle thing. For example, I use only rubber ball on my dog walks. These rubber balls save your dog’s teeth. Regular tennis ball are like Brillo Pads and wear down your dog’s teeth quickly, causing problems later in life when the their teeth are completely filed down. And on a regular basis, your dogs lose these costly balls at the park, but I replace them because I care about your dogs. Other dog walkers tell me that they don’t use balls out in the dog parks because it causes problems, such a jealousy between dogs, loud barking of joy, and oh yes, loss of income. But why do they think that a dog’s joyful, loud bark is not an important factor? Just how horrible is a dog’s bark at a dog park?
Ask your San Francisco dog walker if they use rubber balls rather than tennis balls on their walks? My guess is, no, they do not. Again, it is the bottom line that shapes their businesses.
So then, why do I think that some of the very best dog walking companies may not be surfacing to the top of YELP’s list? The answer is, the algorithms. Let me talk more about this in my next blog. Stay tuned!!
Janet is such an amazing dog walker! I have a little westie, Finn, who has a lot of energy and he always comes home tired and ready to snuggle. This is the first dog I have owned and Janet is extremely knowledgable about food, fleas, and anything else you might have questions about and she is always ready to help! I have also used her for boarding multiple times and she takes such good care of my dog. She has a cute backyard where they can run around and play and she always sends me photos so I’m not missing him too much. Needless to say, if you’re looking for a dog walker who really cares about the wellbeing of your dog Janet is the only choice!
Our dog, Maya, is so happy when she sees the Doggie Business van. Janet is a wonderful person with a real affinity and understanding of dogs. We highly recommend Doggie Business!!
Janet has been walking our dog Baileys for over two years now. Janet is a god send for both Baileys and our family. Janet treats Baileys like she is part of her family and Baileys cannot wait for Janet to take her for a play date because let me tell you, Janet does not merely walk the dogs, she plays with them, interacts with them and makes sure that they are safe. Baileys comes home a very happy and exhausted dog. Janet also walked our other dog Roscoe until he passed-he would wait by the window at the front of the house each day for Janet’s dog safe truck to pull up. That is a true testament to the effect that Janet has on dogs-they adore her and she adores them back. Janet also uses towels in the crates in her truck-this reduces the amount of water and dirt that normally would wind up in your home. We highly recommend Janet to anyone looking for a kind, capable and wonderful dog walker.
Janet is amazing! We tried several dog walkers before her and our 1 year old (at the time) would run away because he was scared and used to being only with us, those dog walkers would give up immediately. Janet took our dog in and really worked with him; spent the time getting him comfortable and acclimated to both her and her group. One year later and he’s in love with not only Janet (Auntie Janet) but loves to play with all the dogs in her group and runs out the door excited when she comes to pick him up. He always comes home dirty and tired (which we love!). Janet is very professional as a business owner. I appreciate she has the dogs in a large comfortable van with cages so they can have their own space. She communicates well in advanced when she will not be able to walk our dog and gives us enough time to make other arrangements. We highly recommend her to anyone who loves and wants the best for their dog.
I don’t know what I would do without Doggie Business! I am a busy professional with a very hectic schedule and I also happen to have a dog with way more energy than I have! Luckily, I found Doggie Business about 2 years ago. MJ is in love with Janet and I am thrilled because MJ gets plenty of exercise on the days she goes out with Doggie Business (here is a picture of her after a 2 hour walk with Doggie Business). MJ has also spent many nights at Janet’s house – I love knowing she is with Janet rather than at a big kennel where she is just one of many dogs. Thanks Doggie Business for taking such good care of MJ because I can’t do it all on my own! Sara S.
Janet is a professional dog walker that takes her job seriously and genuinely loves walking her dogs. Her dog groups are small so your dog stays safe and gets plenty of attention. Our dog Jack has been with Janet since he was a puppy and absolutely loves her, and my husband and I do too. She goes above and beyond her job. For example, she makes sure that Jack is returned home clean by wiping off his paws and body down with a towel or if needed a quick bath in her tub, and brushing out his fur. She pays close attention to foxtails and other things that might harm your dog. I could go on and on about all of the amazing experiences that we’ve had with Janet. UnChu R.
Janet Slissman is the best dog-walker in San Francisco. Hands Down! She loves dogs and genuinely cares about them. Our 5 year old Golden retriever loves her and cant wait to hop in the cool van for a day of fun. Since Having Janet walk our dog, we have seen her better socialize with other dogs which was a big issue when we initially brought her home. 2 years ago when Janet first walked our dog, she immediately let us know that she might have weak hips. When our dog was eventually diagnosed with hip displasia, Janet helped us with all the information about the disease and kept us from panicking. Besides being a phenomenal dog-walker, Janet is a gem of a person, very loving and caring. No matter how many times we changed our schedule, she always accommodated us when she did not have to. We highly highly recommend Janet and Doggie Business. – Biwesh and Suju
I’ve had dogs all of my life, and never had to hire a Dog Walker. In 2011, I called Doggie Business and that was one of the best decisions I have made. Janet Slissman is reliable, dependable and knowledgeable. She is so good with my little boy, who loves his group walks and his Auntie Janet.
You are the Best. Mary G.
Janet is a tremendous dog walker! She is incredibly reliable, flexible, attentive, communicative, and quite the dog charmer. Recently our dog got a foxtail in his ear and she called immediately, took him to our vet, and saved him a painful procedure and us hundreds of dollars! We feel so lucky to have Auntie Janet taking care of our dog and know you will feel the same. Betsy B.
Janet is the best. My dog is so much happier since he started going for his daily walks with Janet. He gets great exercise and has lost weight. He looks forward to hanging out with the pack. Julie M.
My dog is a much happier dog since she has been walked by Janet. She gets three big walks a week and it has helped her mood and keeps her weight down. We have been using Janet for 6 months and will keep using her. When our dog hears the van pull up she runs to jump in. I know she loves it.
Our dog Abby enjoys her “outings” with Janet so much, that we’ve continued them even after my husband and I retired. Abby knows when Janet is close – she runs back & forth between the front window & door…”she’s here, she’s here”…. and doesn’t look back once she’s out the door. And once Abby does get back, she is tired and happy to be home. Thanks Janet for taking such good care of Abby. Bill & Sera
LILY, OSCAR AND ELTON
Janet is a doggie genius! She has been walking our dogs for a long long time and was highly recommended by our groomer. Our Lab has become svelte and athletic at the advanced age of 9. He looks like a young dog and acts like one, too. All due to Janet’s energetic and dog appropriate walks, hikes, swims etc. She even bathes him up when she gets him home. We have a very old dog who is no longer able to walk out but when she could, she would not go with anyone and actually growled at our previous dog walker and hid under the bed. Janet showed incredible patience and hard work and Lily grew to love her and look forward to her walks and outings. I have left my dogs with Janet overnight and they come home happy and content. They are always glad to see her. I cannot recommend her too highly. You are lucky if she chooses you!
After noticing that our poor dog was looking a little bored and a little fat we thought it was time to find a dog walker. Well, along came Janet. It didn’t take long for our puppy to fall in love with her and look forward to the sound of her van. You can tell she loves what she does. Completely trustworthy, reliable and loving. Janet is just amazing! We couldn’t recommend her enough. Now our dog is happier and fitter and we’re harboring a lot less guilt. Reliable, reasonable, accommodating – perfect for dog walks and dog boarding – we adore Janet and Doggie Business. No more guilt about a bored dog left at home just a happy and healthy hound now!
Doggie Business is the creme de la creme of Dog Walking Services in the San Francisco Bay Area. Run by Janet Slissman, a native of San Francisco, Janet combines her 15 years of program management in the corporate world with her life long passion for animals, to ensure that your dog is safe, happy and thriving under her daily care. I have a 13 year old dog who is the happiest and most fit he has ever been in his life! His daily “walks” range from swimming in lakes, to romping through some of San Francisco’s most beautiful parks, and traversing interesting trails. When I go off to work each day, I know my dog has a wonderful adventure awaiting him.
I was referred to Janet by a friend and I gave her a call. Even though I did not live in her service area, she was willing to come and meet my dog. I was a bit worried since, my one and a half year old Portuguese Water Dog is “active” to say the least, and I had been told by others dog walkers that she was “difficult”. Janet came in to our home with the warmest greeting and open arms to my high-jumping dog. We have taken her on as our regular dog-walker. And I cannot say enough good things about Janet. She cares so much for all the dogs and works hard to find them the right playmates. She is always educating us on new information, not to mention the gear available for dogs. Janet also lovingly cared for our pup while we were out of town for a few days, and we came home to a happy dog. Janet is a gem of a woman. An incredible, very professional, Doggie Business Mama! This woman loves dogs and loves her work. I highly recommend her services!
Of course we give Janet 5 stars. Doggie Business impeccable service starts with the van. It is simply cleaner than our family mini van… It comes with rugs and individual crates with clean towels. Nothing to do with those cars packed of barking dogs on top of each other that you see everywhere in the city. Our dog Shasta smells it from the other end of the street, rushes to the front door, and starts whining. And then there is Janet. She clearly has a passion for dogs, and she truly cares about the dogs she walks. Within a week she had figured out Shasta’s personality. She has a genuine interest in our dog: she emails as soon as she notices something new or different in her behavior, and she is full of sound advice . There have been many changes in Shasta: a calmer, more balanced dog, more obedient (no more pulling on the leash!), and, last but not least for an ever hungry lab, a thinner, better looking, healthier dog. So I know it is a cliché, but it is for us one of those situation where we think: why didn’t we do it earlier.
My dog loves Janet!!! She’s a fantastic find! Max, my baby, can hear her van pull up out front and he immediately freaks out! He can’t get out the door fast enough! She’s dependable, professional, and passionate about her dogs! Highly recommend!
Our happy dog has had the pleasure of Janet’s company for one month. Belle was showing signs of her age (10) when the two first met, and now she is back to jumping for joy about walk time AND her appetite has improved. We couldn’t be happier! Janet is extremely flexible, caring, thoughtful, and takes her job very seriously. She came highly recommended and we can see why! Betsy, James, and Belle
If our dog Holly, a small, black lab, could write, she’d be stuck on the stars key, hitting it over and over in praise of Janet Slissman’s dog hiking and walking service. She (the dog) adores Janet and she (Janet) adores the dog. Perfect fit. Holly is a water dog and a ballaholic and she gets wet and blissed out chasing a ball with Janet and the other dogs. I’ve encountered other dog walkers with their dreary packs in enclosed dog parks and can only be grateful for Janet’s Doggie Business, clearly SF’s best. A zillion stars.
FINLEY AND CLIPPER
I met Janet by accident at a dog park where I recognized my neighbor’s dog, whom she was exercising and training. With no reason other than pure generosity, she gave me quite a bit of advice and help with both my old dog and my puppy and even made a special trip back to her car to get me a piece of equipment she thought would be useful to me. I liked her so much, a couple of weeks later I asked her to help me out with a last minute bit of care-taking for my dogs, which she willingly did. Not only did she give me more feedback than anyone else who has ever helped with my dogs, she creatively figured out things like how to mist them during a heat wave. It’s not often one finds someone who is as sweet and good with the owners as with the animals. I hope she gets lots of new customers so she will stay in business forever, because I don’t ever want to have to find anyone else.
Terrific news about Roscoe and the stairs!!! Just how did you manage to get him to do it – not only once – but 4 times on his own? What a break through. We’d just gotten your e-mail late last night and while we were in the kitchen talking I watched Roscoe go down the top stair on his own! We couldn’t believe our eyes!
I discovered Janet Slissman and Doggie Business at Ft Funston dog park in San Francisco as Janet was loading her charges into the Doggie Business van. From across the parking lot I immediately noticed this large, clean and well cared for van, a far cry from the usual tiny dog walker vehicles held together by duct tape, bailing wire and dirt. I also noticed that each dog had its own crate, and that there was plenty of fresh water, clean towels and treats available. The dogs were calm, safe, tired and happy. Generally,one would not notice this, it is a normal urban scene, but this was a HUGE step-up from the usual chaotic, noisy, over crowded and dirty conditions of 95% of the dog walkers autos and dogs. I soon discovered that Janet is a conscientious, organized and experienced dog walker. She has decades of experience training dogs reaching back to her childhood in SF when she showed her family’s dogs. Her intake meeting with new clients is thorough. Her reports back regarding your dogs day, his/her training needs, play manners, etc. is straight forward and detailed. If there is a training issue she offers the issue with the solution. Overall, I highly recommend Janet Slissman. Your dog(s) will be safe and happy. Give her call.
Janet is truly first rate. She is reliable, professional and loves dogs. When we first met she gave me tons of info about her service, recommendations, took my dog Demo around the block on a test walk and let me take a tour of her incredibly immaculate van. Within a couple of days of starting her service, Demo (about as hyperactive as they come). was actually more relaxed and happier than I’d ever seen him. One day I happened to be home when she came over. When Janet called my dog’s name upon opening the door Demo let out the little squeal of happiness he usually reserves for only family. Her van (which I wrongly assumed was clean just for the dog-and-pony show of the first intro), was again immaculate! When Demo came home, he plopped down on the floor with tongue fully out-a-pose only seen from Demo after a thorough workout. The best part of Doggie Business, however is the care and attention Janet gives her dogs. For example, she works on Demo’s barking problem when out with him and sends me an email if anything unusual is up (the other day he had gunk in his eye- yuck, which Janet alerted me to). In short, Janet is an awesome dog walker – 5 stars.
Janet is amazing!!! She takes amazing care of my dog. I trust her 100%. My dog goes crazy with excitement when he sees her. Janet is professional and she has so much knowledge when it comes to taking care of dogs. If I need her advice she is always there with a listening ear and always has the best advise and solution. Janet has a great doggy van for bringing the dogs to the dog park and Fort Funston. I called her last minute when an unexpected trip came up and she was more than accommodating! I cannot say enough good things about Janet she is amazing and completely trust worthy. She gives so much love and attention to our dogs and if my dog is happy I am happy!! Sarah
McLaren Park Dog Walker
If you’re lucky she’ll take you As a fellow dog walker, what I know about Janet is what I see out there. I can tell you that she truly cares about her animals, and that I have never seen her running around frantically calling for a lost one yet, because they always seem to be right with her. She transports them like royalty in a very large and very clean van, in kennels, and she is very picky about which dogs she takes on. If your dog is not a good fit for her group, she’ll tell you so. I would send my own Sophie out with Doggie Business in a heartbeat, …if Janet would take her, that is.- Steve H.
Fort Funston Dog Walker
Superb Experience and Service Janet Slissman, the owner of Doggie Business, offers top-notch dog walking backed by experience, skill and true love for dogs. She has structured her business to ensure that all of the dogs she walks are safe, cared for, and get the most out of each and every walk. She crates all of her four-legged clients inside a spacious, well-ventilated van that safely transports them to various wonderful parks in San Francisco. Because she limits her pack size, she can monitor the dogs and give them the attention they deserve. I feel comfortable recommending Janet because I know that she is reliable, experienced and passionate about dogs – Katie A.