Steps to Start a Doggie Daycare

Once you’ve decided to open a doggie daycare, you’ll probably desire to be operational as soon as possible. The promise of new animals is hard to hold back for!

However, there are very a few steps between choosing to open a daycare and actually accepting reservations. From finding facilities and employing staff to setting standards ensuring safe dog play, there are decisions to make.

Understand the business enterprise model of your dog daycare.
Secure your facilities.
Hire qualified staff members.
Price your services.
Create a system for animal evaluation.
Mitigate risk for your business.
Are you set to open your doggie daycare? Let’s begin.

1. Understand the business model of your dog daycare.
Before opening a puppy daycare, you will need to develop a clear understanding of the particular model because of this kind of business entails.

Much unique of other service industries, day care for dogs businesses rely on repeat business- something you’ll have to account for in most areas of your operations.

This can be generated by:

Memberships. For particularly regular clients, like the ones that will be returning weekly, would benefit from memberships at either a discounted rate or with additional services and benefits thrown in.
Punch cards. This identifies selling packages of services (ex: 12 stays at your pet daycare) to clients in bulk for a low price.
Additional services. Whether grooming or training, additional services allow you to provide more value to customers and retain their business beyond yet another stay.
When starting your pet daycare, incorporate these facets into your planning. This could mean building out grooming facilities, hiring a certified dog trainer to your staff, or creating discounted bulk pricing.

When you navigate through the steps following this one, do it with repeat business in mind.

2. Secure your facilities.
Once you’ve truly evaluated your final decision to open your dog daycare, you can get started to really construct the business enterprise. If you’re going from the ground up, securing facilities comes first.

A couple of two main ways to secure physical facilities for your pet daycare:

leasing an area
building/buying an area
The first option is generally more accessible for businesses without huge startup funding available (buying/building facilities is incredibly expensive!).

However, leasing an area means you will need to find a pet-friendly facility (or one you’re allowed to make changes to) and likely an insurance policy listing your landlord as an additional insured party.

When evaluating your facilities options, consider the following:

Location can play a huge role in the facilities you select. Often, location plays an enormous role in the purchase price and kind of facility you’re in a position to secure.

When you may feel tempted to go after a prime storefront space, realize that professional and mixed-use spaces can be equally successful as far as location can be involved.

Zoning Regulations
Explore zoning regulations in your vicinity to make certain you’re operating a location that you’re legally permitted to. There tend to be regulations around where businesses, and even more so businesses with animals, can be located.

Physical Premises
Explore the premises through the eyes of your animal. Will there be space to explore just like a fenced-in play yard? Is the flooring acceptable so far as disease-control and slip-resistance standards? Is there plumbing to aid baths and deep facilities cleaning?

3. Hire qualified workers.
For pet parents to leave their dogs in your care, they have to trust that you’re having a competent staff of dog care experts. There are many key characteristics you should look for in your internal hiring processes, and a few that will make you stick out to external customers considering your services.

When hiring staffers, look for the next characteristics:

A love for dogs. This goes without saying- if someone is more of a cat person or has an awful dog allergy, they’re not the right fit for your business.
A variety of specialties. Consider employing staff members across a number of specialties, such as grooming and dog training. This will allow you to comfortably give a wider selection of services, rather than MacGuyver-ing solutions when the necessity arises.
Basic training and certification. Dog daycare employees should have a knowledge of canine CPR and other basic medical necessities. Consider looking for official pet care certification, such as that provided through PACCC.
Capability to adapt. Every day in petcare can look different. Hire workers with an ability to adapt to changing conditions, like the incorporation of new dog daycare management software or new tasks in case of unexpected circumstances (like the current COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the U.S.)
Mindful hiring right away will prevent disastrous issues down the road, so being particularly careful whenever choosing associates is a good decision.

4. Price your services.
How you choose to price your services can have an enormous effect on your procedures overall. When pricing your services, keep carefully the following at heart:

Mindful Pricing
While your business must be profitable (attracting more income than your costs of operation), setting your pricing is more difficult than that fact.

Setting prices too much will be exclusionary to customers unwilling to pay such extravagant prices, while setting prices too low can make your services seem sub-par by association. Try to set prices that reflect your services, so if you’re pricing things higher, make sure you’re truly providing that value to customers.

Further, understand that a simple pricing structure will always win out- neither you nor your visitors benefit from an elaborate pricing structure.

Accepting Deposits
The ability to accept deposits is especially important as it pertains to scheduling for pet care businesses.

Consider incorporating deposits into the pricing structure (finding a percentage of the payment in advance) to ensure that customers that make reservations follow through.

Recurring Payments
For daytime dog daycares, it’s common for owners to bring their pets to the facility frequently. This may be every day of the week, a few days of the week on a regular schedule, or even once weekly on a single day.

Consider offering a recurring payment structure to people customers, so they don’t have to keep in mind to pay each and every time. For instance, offering day packages (similar in concept to punch cards), allows owners to buy multiple days of care with one transaction.

Ideas to Staff
Accepting tricks for dog daycare service is somewhat controversial on the market, so it’s your decision to decide whether to encourage them or not.

On one hand, some pet care customers resent being asked to tip for the service- particularly if they’re regular customers and paying an increased cost range to get started with.

However, there can definitely be personal relationships forged between pet care staff and animals, and customers may want the possibility to express their gratitude via tip. A similar rule pertains to tipping dog groomers too!

Think about your pricing overall and decide whether accepting tips will be a positive decision. To find out more about pricing and profit, check out this guide to making a dog daycare business plan.

5. Create a system for dog evaluation.
Earlier we mentioned that customers need to trust your workers to be able to entrust their dogs to your care. However, there’s another aspect compared to that consideration- the other dogs at your facility.

While workers can be instructed and managed, that can be somewhat harder regarding animals, particularly if they’re a lttle bit unruly to get started with.

It’s essential that you evaluate each animal which will be in your care to make certain that your staff members and the other animals in your facility will be safe across the newcomer. That is true over the board for just about any job which involves dealing with dogs – and also other pets!

Here are some tips when evaluating dog clients:

Complete a short evaluation. As a customer needs to trust your staff prior to booking, you need to trust their pet. Create a short evaluation that’s standard across all animals which come into your care, and avoid accepting any animals that fail this initial check.
Make sure your workers recognize the signs of dog aggression. Whenever your staff members feel safe recognizing the first signs of distress in dogs in your care, they can respond and record the interaction accordingly.
Maintain a continuing conversation. Evaluation should be a continuing process, as there’s always the opportunity a dog’s temperament can transform. If you’re dealing with pet care software, staffers can easily leave notes and notifications for other workers to see before interacting with a dog.
The safety of your workers and clients is an essential consideration for just about any dog daycare business. Putting thought in to the evaluation process in early stages can help prevent mishaps going forward.

6. Mitigate risk for your business.
Finally, just like any other business enterprise, early understanding and mitigation of potential risk is crucial. Actually, because you’re going to be working with live, and at times, unpredictable animals, this is particularly important!

There are a few different factors that play into this:

Insurance is exactly what will protect your dog care business in the event of the worst-case scenario- whether it’s covering legal fees, funding essential repairs, or even covering lost revenue.

While you’ll want to invest in common business insurance options, such as commercial and professional liability and property coverage, there are also pet business-specific coverage types.

This consists of animal bailee insurance and even lost key coverage.

Technology is taking a variety of industries by storm, from nonprofits tracking time and energy to events heading to the digital sphere. In your pet care industry, there are software answers to help your pet daycare mitigate risk as well.

With reservations, scheduling, and payments online, your business will have a picture of what’s to be expected at every point of your operations. This oversight ensures you’re never over-booked to the idea of danger.

Further, several solutions allow for easy communication of alerts and notes. Which means each employee is aware of a dog’s history in your care. Any behavior conflicts will be quickly communicated.

Disaster Preparations
Inside the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic currently sweeping the U.S., businesses large and small are noticing how essential proactive thinking is.

Consider how your business could be afflicted by this or similar conflicts, and aim to create an idea of action for when these issues strike.

Have you any idea how you’d look after animals in longer-term (perhaps weekly) boarding care? Have you got pet food available? Have you contemplated how your staff will be looked after and compensated? Try to have answers to these questions before you actually need them.

Opening a dog daycare is a worthwhile effort, but there are many steps to take before you welcome your first furry guest. Utilize this guide to kickstart your preparations and you’ll be off to a great start!