If you have an interest in pet care and would like to start a business of your own, you may want to think about opening your own doggie daycare. Doggie daycares are becoming increasingly popular–and with the growing demand for this type of service, it can be a very rewarding one to get into. Here are the steps you need to take as well as some important things to consider if you think this might be the right business for you.
A Passion for Dogs
In order to operate a doggie daycare business, you must be a dog-lover and possess certain personality traits that are suitable for pet-care. Patience, kindness, and confidence are important characteristics for a person to have when dealing with different doggie personalities–if this doesn’t sound like you, it might not be the right business to get into.
In addition to a passion for animals and their care, it helps if you have some previous animal care experience. Pet-sitting, dog-walking, volunteer work at a local animal shelter, or the care of your own animals will give you a good foundation to build upon. Potential clients will want to feel comfortable leaving their pets in your care, and previous pet-care knowledge and experience will help you establish the credibility and trust necessary to make your business successful.
Establish a Business Plan
Like any other business, a doggie day care should start out with a solid business plan to back it. You will need to figure out what your start-up costs will be, and approximately how much it will cost to maintain your business each month. Once you’ve determined those costs, you’ll know what kind of funding you’ll need, if any. Work closely with an accountant or business consultant to make sure you’re on the right track–the choices you make in the beginning can make or break your business in the long run.
Besides determining costs and funding, your business plan should include establishing hours of operation, prices for your services, the need for additional staff, an emergency plan (for both pets and care-givers), business insurance, and licenses required to operate your business. Ask your insurance agent what types of insurance your business should have and check with city officials to find out what kind of licenses you need to operate a doggie daycare in accordance with city and state laws.
Choosing the right location is critical for a doggie daycare. Dogs can be noisy–and this is something you need to consider when looking at possible locations. A daycare out in the country is optimum, but if you are looking for property in town–be sure to think about neighboring residents and businesses and how the noise will affect them. The building you select should have several rooms so that you can separate animals when you need to. The rooms should be large enough for the dogs to roam around in and contain comfortable accommodations for sleeping, playing, and eating. The facility should have proper air conditioning and air-flow to ensure the comfort of the dogs that will be in your care. Some dogs may require an occasional bath, so be sure there is a “wet area” for you to bathe them when you need to. Your doggy daycare should also provide plenty of outdoor space for animals to exercise, socialize, and play. Designated outdoor play areas should be adequately enclosed and offer both sunny and shady areas so that the dogs will be comfortable in various weather conditions.
Comforts and Supplies
After you’ve selected the perfect location, you will need to fill your daycare with all of the comforts and supplies necessary for the overall health and happiness of the dogs you will be caring for. Dog beds, toys, food and water dishes, brushes, extra leashes and collars, bathtubs, pet care products, cleaning products, waste removal products, and medical supplies are just some of the things you will need so that your daycare is ready and stocked for your many doggie clients. Although most pet owners prefer kennel-free daycares, you should also have several kennels available in case you need them. Make a checklist so that you have everything ready to open your doors for business.
When you’re ready to start caring for dogs in your daycare, you will need to have a policy in place for acceptance into your facility. All dogs should be vaccinated–suggested vaccinations include rabies, kennel cough, distemper, and Hepatitis Parvovirus–and should be spayed or neutered. For further information on vaccines, consult with a veterinarian. Provide an application for dog owners to fill out that includes the owner’s name and complete contact information, the dog’s name, the dog’s health and vaccination history, the name and number of the animal’s veterinarian, behavioral habits or concerns, and any special medical care the dog requires. If an animal is brought to you that you are unable to care for, be honest and upfront with the owner about your concerns. Your safety, as well as the safety of your staff and other dogs in your care, is of the utmost importance. If a dog has a serious medical issue, behavioral problem, or is not up-to-date on vaccination requirements, it’s too risky for you to accept that pet into your care.
Advertising Your Business
Print up some colorful fliers and brochures complete with the services offered, hours of operation, location, and contact information and ask if you can display them at local pet supply stores and animal clinics. If possible, add pictures and positive client testimonials to your brochures–they may leave a lasting impression on someone that picks one up to look at. Have plenty of business cards on hand as well, and ask satisfied pet owners to hand them out to friends and family that may be interested in your services. Word of mouth is the best form of advertising–it’s free and it speaks volumes about your business practices.
A doggie daycare can be a fun way to make money running a business of your own. If you love dogs and have what it takes to care for them on a regular basis, a doggie daycare might be just the right venture for you to get into.