The pet industry is currently following an upward trajectory, and its compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) is projected to expand at 6.8% from 2022 to 20301. So, starting up a doggy daycare may be a viable option for you if you have some experience working with dogs, have a passion for pet care, and are business savvy.
Of course, it’s going to take some practical planning to turn your dog daycare dreams into reality. With some hard work and dedication, you can start running a successful dog daycare.
Before You Start
Familiarize yourself with the market. It’s important to know about your competitors as well as the dog owners in your area. Doing some research on current dog daycares near you can help you get more information on competitive prices and services. You can also talk to dog owners in your area and ask them about specific things that they look for in a dog daycare.
It’s helpful to start thinking of how your dog daycare will stand out from the rest. Consider any unique ideas you have that other dog daycares may be lacking. Having competitive prices and services and an additional special touch will help draw more dog owners to your business.
The 7 Steps How to Start a Dog Daycare Business
1. Determine Your Dog Daycare Services
Start listing dog daycare services that you’d like to provide to your prospective customers. Some common services include group play sessions, mentally stimulating activities, and meal breaks.
Dog daycares can offer more advanced services, like obedience training, outdoor excursions, pick-up and drop-off transportation, dog walking, and individualized care.
It’s important not to stretch yourself too thin and offer too many services, especially in the beginning stages of your business. Dog owners will appreciate consistently good care and customer service. As your business reputation grows, you can generate more revenue and start to offer more services.
Make sure also to set clear boundaries on the types of dogs you can care for at your dog daycare. Puppies and senior dogs will require varying levels of care, so you may need to put age restrictions on your daycare if you don’t have the personnel to provide specialized care.
2. Set Up Your Business Model
Different dog daycares will operate under their own business models. A common business model that many dog daycares use are tiered packages. They’ll offer a basic package and have one or two premium packages that include more exclusive services. So, a basic package may include group playtime, potty breaks, and a midday snack. Premium packages might add individual dog walking and special outdoor excursions.
Some dog daycares may operate on a membership model, while others will offer pre-paid packages where customers will pay a lump sum for a set number of days. Pre-paid packages usually have discounted rates, and the discount increases as the number of pre-paid days increase.
You’ll also want to start looking into dog daycare software that will help you with office administration and business operations. Software can help with tasks like scheduling employee shifts, processing customer payments, and tracking recurring customers.
3. Establish Your Dog Daycare Rules
Setting clear rules will both protect your facility and give customers realistic expectations. Many dog daycares will interview dog owners and have trial days with dogs before admitting them into their program. This ensures that the dog is a good fit and doesn’t display any aggressive behaviors that make them a liability to the program.
Make sure also to be clear on vaccination requirements and request proof of vaccination. Most dog daycares will additionally require updated Bordetella vaccines and stool sample test results to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.
Lastly, be clear about your hours of operation and drop-off and pick-up times. It’s important to be firm, fair, and consistent with these times so that you don’t have employees working overtime. It’s often helpful to place a charge on late pick-ups to prevent customers from taking advantage of leaving their dogs at facilities past daycare hours.
4. Find a Facility
Finding a facility will depend on your budget, projected profit, and target population. It’s also important to consider the maximum number of dogs allowed in your dog daycare at one time. It’ll be helpful to keep an eye on facilities that have a little bit of room that can support your business’s growth. However, make sure to refrain from buildings that are too big and have space that you won’t end up using for a while.
Make sure also to consider any remodeling projects that will come with the space. You may have to repaint walls, build kennel spaces, and install gates and other safety features in the building.
5. Purchase Facility Equipment
Once you have your list of dog daycare services and your facility secured, you can start to fill it with equipment.
Here are some basic things to purchase:
6. Hire Dog Daycare Employees
Dog parents will be very protective of their dogs and prioritize their safety when looking for dog daycares. So, it’s important to staff your daycare with employees that have experience with dogs. Look for people who have experience with dog sitting and dog walking. Dog daycares also often have a dog behaviorist or trainer employed to monitor dog behavior and prevent aggressive fights.
You’ll also want to consider hiring an administrative assistant to help you answer calls, schedule clients, and manage employee shifts. Another helpful role is a facilities manager, which would help keep the facility clean and maintain all the equipment.
7. Market Your Dog Daycare
Building a social media presence is a great way to market your daycare. You can use social media to show off your facility’s features and services and also introduce your staff to prospective clients. It’s also helpful to show dogs playing and having a fun time at your dog daycare.
It’s also important to have a website that provides all the essential information and highlights your dog daycare’s strong points.
Make sure also to have an easy way for people to contact you to schedule a visit. Most prospective customers won’t have the patience to comb through your website to look for a way to enroll their dogs in your daycare. So, put your business’s contact information in noticeable areas on your website and provide clear instructions on how to get a dog into your daycare program.
Starting a dog daycare will be appreciated by many dog owners as they’re a big need for them. It’ll take a lot of work to set one up as you need to invest in a facility, equipment, and employees to run it. However, with an organized plan and budget, you can work towards establishing your own dog daycare. If you keep at it, you can end up providing a fun space for dogs and relieve dog owners of the stress of finding a safe place to keep their dogs while they’re away from home.
Featured Image Credit: rosemaryandpine, Shutterstock