Today we’d like to introduce you to LeAnna Quartuccio.
Thanks for sharing your story with us LeAnna. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I worked for a fantastic dog walking company on the north-side called Chicago Dog Walkers all through college. I always said it was the best job I ever had. Fresh air, exercise, solitude and best of all, I got to work with animals every day! When my son was born, I became a stay-at-home mom. As he approached school age and I began to think about what I would fill my days with once he started school, I kept coming back to being a dog walker again. Originally, I was just going to work for somebody else, but I found there really wasn’t anybody offering service in my beloved neighborhood of Hyde Park. So, I spent the next six months attending various free small business classes like those offered by the stellar Chicago group SCORE, and earning certifications in as many animal-care related topics as I could, such as Animal Psychology and Animal Training. My husband, Brandon, designed our logo in a single afternoon as we tossed ideas back and forth. Let’s make it a French bulldog! Can you put shoes on him? How about Red Converse sneakers?! I think I knew the name before anything else and I often joke I started Hyde Bark solely because the name was too good not to. When I started the business, I thought maybe, MAYBE, I would need to hire one or two people eventually. I ended up hiring my first additional dog walker, Aaron, less than two months later – he is the one in the sunglasses holding the smiling dog – and he is still with me today! Within four months Brandon quit his office job and joined me full-time in running Hyde Bark. He takes care of a lot of the behind-the-scenes stuff, like answering emails, tracking finances and scheduling, as I still like to get out there and be with the doggies as much as possible. Today, we have ten walkers and I am currently looking for more!
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Learning how to be a legitimate legal business has been the hardest! Making sure we are doing everything right and paying the correct agencies the correct amount and at the correct times. Learning to “let go” and trust others to represent me as Hyde Bark was extremely hard in the beginning. Right now, I am completely confident in my team and most of them have been with me for at least six months to two years (we are only two years old as a business). If I do not feel like somebody’s heart is in their work, I let them go. Saying no is something I am still working on – I want to help everyone all the time and sometimes I overextend myself to the point I will be walking dogs for 12-14 hours a day, and let me tell you, your body (feet especially) will only put up with that kind of treatment for so long! I have learned a lot of valuable stretches and invested in a lot of expensive foot aids!
Hyde Bark Dog Walking – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
We try to keep it simple. We focus exclusively on dog walking and pet-sitting, though I often fantasize about opening a small doggie daycare someday! I want to be great at one thing and not try to offer too much and cost us quality. We service exclusively Hyde Park and the immediate surrounding neighborhoods, like Woodlawn, Kenwood and Bronzeville. It has always been very important to me to keep Hyde Bark local and almost all of our walkers live in Hyde Park as well. I feel like we set ourselves apart by being small, local and offering top-notch service from walkers that truly love what they do. We also pay significantly more than a lot of dog walking companies which I think helps us retain good happy walkers. I believe my business is only as good as the people I have working for me and I will never hire somebody just to “fill a need”. We have indeed had waiting lists for taking on new clients several times! We are strong supporters of the LGBTQ community and the diversity of our team reflects that. We also use a fantastic app that emails the clients in real-time when their walker arrives and departs and includes a report, photos, and GPS-tracking so clients always know their pet was taken care of!
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
There are so many! I cannot leave the house anymore without seeing clients and their dogs and I love it! The other day, I was on my way to walk a dog about ten minutes away (everything in Hyde Park is about ten minutes away) and it took me nearly half an hour because I kept running into clients and their dogs! I am proud every time a new client tells me they have heard great things about Hyde Bark from a friend or neighbor. I am proud every time a client writes me to thank us for the wonderful service they received from their sitter or walker. A client once told me I am the “guardian angel of pets” and I think that is the most wonderful thing anyone has ever said to me!
- $9-$10 for 15 minute visits/walks for cats and dogs
- $14-$16 for 30 minute visits/walks for cats and dogs
- $19-$22 for 45 minute visits/walks for cats and dogs
- $24-$28 for 60 minute visits/walks for cats and dogs
- $50-$65 for stop-in sitting, in-home sitting and private boarding
- Website: www.hydebarkchicago.com
- Phone: 312-256-6886
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/hydebarkchicago
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/hydebarkchicago
- Twitter: twitter.com/hydebarkchicago
- Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/hyde-bark-dog-walking-chicago