Luxury Living for the Canine Contingent In The Boarding/Training Business
By Nikki Alvin-Smith
Is the New Year 2022 the time to start a new business? Have you thought about starting up your own entrepreneurial effort? The pandemic has resulted in many people considering quitting the proverbial ‘ rat race’ and starting afresh with something new. For some, the idea of an animal related business offers a special appeal.
It is no surprise that urban areas have a consistent requirement for pet care. It is also true that rural areas have seen an increase in the need for pet care too. In particular, canine training, grooming and boarding business is on the rise. Migration to a country lifestyle with folks opting out of the challenges of expensive city living has occurred throughout the nation. Family pets come along for the ride.
The modern day commercial kennels that are available for use in dog boarding, dog grooming and dog training businesses, are a far cry from the cold concrete kennels of yesterday. Both dog and business owners in the canine world want the best of care for the animals. Luxury living spaces with inside/outside freedom and easy clean surfaces with proper drainage are high on their priority list.
Daily canine caregivers appreciate how fast and easy clean up is with Polyurea seamless sealed floors and stainless steel drain channels. The improvements in kennel design such as well-ventilated and temperature controlled spacious living, light and airy boxes with covered exterior decks that drain, are just a few of the changes that entice entrepreneurial dog lovers to start a canine boarding, grooming or training business.
Set up of a canine business may require special licensing and permits/zoning compliance in certain States in the U.S.A., and a compassionate yet pragmatic approach to animal care is a good attribute in a prospective operator of such a business.
There is money to be made in the pet world, especially in the realm of boarding and training that can encompass many add on services such as daily dog day care, bathing and clipping, social behavioral training. The growing need for canine rescues and sanctuaries is sadly evident.
Starting a dog care company can offer an attractive stay at home occupation that can suit a range of individuals. Although there is an increase in the number of folks that make up the remote workers in the labor force, the need for doggy day cares and vacation boarding services continues to grow.
Whether you are have a current dog care business that requires an upgrade in tired, old-fashioned facilities to compete with up and coming dog centers or are planning a brand new enterprise, it pays to have a business development plan before embarking on a large capital spend on a fabulous up to date commercial kennel to set up the company model for success.
Here are a few guidelines to help prepare your individual business plan:
Dollars and Sense
Any business development needs money to fund it. A keen entrepreneurial spirit is not enough to pay the bills that come along with not just the start-up and marketing of a business, but also the daily direct expenses for food/water and labor plus expensive overheads such as insurance.
The metrics of the region or area in which you live will directly affect the potential income your business might enjoy. So begin by researching the need for your canine business idea by reviewing the population that might be your target customer audience.
Ask friends and family how they handle their dog boarding needs when on vacation, visit competitive operations in your area to assess the profile and success of their offerings and consult with the existing professional community that works with dog owners. Small animal veterinarians and their staff are a good resource for information and online services that detail the demographic of your particular town and neighborhood are a valuable resource.
Find out what the competition are charging for the services they offer and read reviews from reliable sources of how they are managing their companies.
Based on your findings determine what services you expect to offer. Build in some business development stages to your overall plan. For example, if you know you can source enough clients to board 6-8 dogs at a time, consider the income and costs at that level as a jumping off point. You can design the site and prepare it to add another bank of kennels later as the business grows. Many commercial kennel companies do offer a multiple building purchase discounts so don’t forget to ask.
Allow some down time for vacancy in your plan. A 30% vacancy rate/year is a good place to start. It is unlikely you will have residents to board every day of the year and expect holiday periods to be the busiest seasons.
Income and Expenses Both Balance The Budget
Ascertaining the expected income from a new enterprise is difficult. Keep your estimate conservative and plan to do lots of legwork on the marketing side to get the message out about your new business before and after it is launched.
Join local your local Chamber of Commerce to network with other business owners in the neighborhood. Community groups can do much to help others succeed in their business with word of mouth recommendations. Consider approaching hotels and tourism promotional groups, event organizers such as wedding planners, to offer dog care services for their guest’s pet needs.
Operating an active social media platform is essential in today’s marketing channels. A website that is kept up to date with news/events as well as provide a landing page for visitors to find general information should be planned too. Much of the marketing needed can be done relatively inexpensively at the start if you are savvy about online presence and will put regular time into keeping it relevant. If that isn’t you, consider hiring a remote professional content provider to keep you on track.
The expenses and how you manage them obviously directly impacts the bottom line and profitability of the business. It doesn’t matter how much money you yield from your efforts if you are spending it as fast as it comes in.
Set realistic well-researched cost basis for each aspect of the costs of doing business and then adjust them where you can each quarter of the year with a regular and honest assessment. You may need to increase your rates or find better options for supplies by buying in bulk to save money etc. Don’t overlook any single cost when doing this analysis, as money saved is as you know, money earned.
This doesn’t mean skimp on services you provide. You do want to establish a reputation for your business as one that does not nickel and dime the client and that can be trusted to fulfill all the duties promised with integrity. Good reviews and bad both travel equally fast in the community.
If your dog business relies heavily on local trade and is not a destination kennel such as a dog breeding/show training operation, realize that you must be transparent and trustworthy.
Position the capital expenses such as the actual kennel itself and any site preparation and service access/hook up that will be required. Remember that many larger commercial kennel companies offer attractive financing options to help you fund the initial expense.
Consult an attorney for advice on how to set up a company (L.L.C, Corporation, 501(c) 3 etc.) to give you liability protection, and a qualified accountant to advise you on how to certain expenses can be best managed. For example, amortization and depreciation of the capital expenses and business deductions such as loan interest. Employing/consulting with these professional services will save you money in the long run and are well worth the investment.
Be A Smart Kennel Shopper
Given that you have the property on which it can be placed and can meet the local zoning code requirements for its build, the kennel itself will likely be the largest expense in the business plan.
There are many options when it comes to buying a commercial kennel. It will pay dividends to learn about the options available in dog housing and investigation of the details of the construction is essential to ensure you make the best decision.
Start by reviewing resources available directly from the entities producing the kennels to the marketplace. Websites with extensive blogs that detail dog care and that explain the various facets of the kennel design are a useful place to begin.
Explore both the outside and interior of commercial kennel design and all the features that are currently available with virtual walk-through visits such as this one on a beautiful 24’ x 60’ kennel design.
Review the size options and availability. Check the upgrades or design ideas that the website provides. You want the kennel purchase to go as smoothly as possible so assess reviews and experiences of previous clients. Don’t forget to check the product warranty details and ask for a ‘to the penny’ quote. Ensure the purchasing contract is easy to understand and clearly and fairly laid out before parting with any money or signing on the dotted line.
On site kennel builds are an option. But remember on site work will be subject to materials availability and the experience of the crew in specific dog kennel needs in both construction methods and design. Almost inevitably there will be weather delays and possible budget overruns.
The sooner you have the dog kennel up and ready to use the better from your business perspective and no-one enjoys working on a major project with unknown variables, especially when they may cost additional money.
The upward trending popularity of prefabricated commercial kennel structures attest to the consistency of craftsmanship and quality plus convenience that factory manufacturing provides.
It is useful to note that leading commercial prefabricated kennel producers also offer case study feature articles that share inspiration and knowledge from professionals in the canine business who are generous in helping industry colleagues along.
The diligent research you do now will improve the likelihood that you make good decisions in crafting your business plan and following it through. Don’t be shy to ask lots of questions of those ‘in the know’ of both specific canine business aspects including the staff at the commercial kennel construction company and other local service enterprises in your region. Some advice will obviously be industry specific but all business owners face the same issues in development of their companies.