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5 Steps for Starting a Doggie Daycare or Pet Boarding Hotel

Last Updated: March 13, 2018


It's been said that starting a pet hotel is a great way to make money, and I think they're right. The doggie daycare industry is taking off and if you're interested in starting your own pet boarding business, you're very well on your way to a financially rewarding business endeavor. However, there is a lot more that goes into starting a small business than meets the eye. There's a big difference between owning a business and running a business, and as a solopreneur, you're going to be doing both at the start.

1. Write a Doggie Daycare Business & Marketing Plan

Most business owners don't write a business plan and most small businesses fail. See any connection there? First things first, buy yourself a copy of a good business plan book and get started writing your business plan. This is going to take you at least a couple days. If you're able to write it in one sitting, you're not putting enough thought into it. You really need to dig deep into the feasibility of your business before starting it, and a business plan will help you.

The same goes for a marketing plan. Once you have your business plan laid out and understand the logistics of the business, you're going to need to figure out how to make money as a doggie daycare. People aren't going to come running the second you open your doors, you're going to need to convince them to give your business a try. A good doggie daycare marketing plan will help you map your path to financial success.

2. Analyze Your Financials to See If You Can Afford Losing Money

Most business owners think that they're going to be printing money from the second that they open up for business. The sad truth is that this is far from the truth. You're going to lose money, and you're going to need to be able to lose a significant amount of money before you can start earning. If you're going to rent a simple warehouse to house your doggie daycare, let's figure you're going to pay around $1,500/month in rent. At $25/day for pet boarding, that's 60 "pet days" of boarding for your first month. Since the month has 30 days, that means you need to board 2 dogs per day the whole month just to pay your rent. The chances of that happening are rather slim. So, like I said, be prepared to lose money while you continually building your monthly recurring revenue.

3. Gather the Required Business Permits and Certifications

Starting a pet hotel isn't going to be all fun and games. You're going to need to do some legal legwork as well to get your business up and running. First, get familiar with the zoning regulations in your city. Here are San Diego's rules for example. There might be rules that you don't know about and you need to be up to speed about zoning before you can select your location (read below). Beyond zoning, you're going to need to incorporate your business, buy business insurance, hire an attorney to write your contracts, and the list goes on. Your first meeting might be with a local small business attorney. They're most likely familiar with your state's regulations and can help you start with your best foot forward.

4. Search for a Suitable Location for Your Pet Hotel/Daycare

Choosing the location for your doggie daycare or pet hotel is one of the more enjoyable parts of starting your business. If you're lucky, you already live on a suitable property. Most doggie daycares start out at someone's house, using their lawn as the pet play area. If this is a possibility for your business, more power to you. If not, then you're going to need to figure out where to start your business. Warehouse districts are nice since they offer low rents and simple leases. Make sure you negotiate your rent, never accept the first offer. However, you also need to take into consider your location in relation to your clients. If your clients need to drive 25 minutes to drop off their pets, they might decide not to do it. Perhaps being closer to the city, but paying slightly higher rent, is the best choice. Start your search using a site like LoopNet to find commercial property.

5. Launch Your Business & Start Working Your Tail Off

Once you're done with all the seemingly boring and monotonous parts of starting a business, you get to start the really fun part, running your business. You'll learn more in the first six months than you would doing a 4-year MBA program. I always thought it was funny when I was in college and I'd meet people who had their MBAs, but zero work experience. Just because you're good at writing up case studies doesn't make you a good business person. Be prepared to put in some long hours when you first start your business. It's just going to be you doing everything, so you'll have to wear many hats. However, it's been said numerous times, there's nothing more rewarding than building a business and watching it grow. Get out there and start building your doggie daycare business today. Once your business is up and running, please consider giving DoggieDashboard a shot for your pet daycare software. We offer a free version for new businesses so you can start managing your business without paying a dime.