Do you want to start a dog boarding business at home? If YES, here is a complete guide to starting a dog kennel business with NO money and no experience plus a sample dog kennel business plan template. A dog kennel is a sanctuary for dogs where pet owners who are leaving for work, are going out of town, are sick or are not able to take care of their dogs for any other reasons, can keep them till they can come and retrieve them.
Therefore, kennels offer dogs a place where they can get fed, rest and also get some exercise. The business is one that is suitable for those that love dogs, so if you do not like dogs or can’t handle them, then this is not the business for you. As one running a kennel business, you will be spending a lot of time with dogs. You will ensure that they get up in the morning, undergo the necessary grooming, get fed and played with. Apart from the dogs, it is necessary that you are also fit or you will not be able to handle them.
Asides from taking care of yourself, your facility has to be in good condition as you have to ensure that the kennels and fences are in good conditions at all times. Running this business alone can be tasking which is why it is necessary that you hire others who are in line with your goals and aspirations.
In order to build your business to become successful, you should not only be comfortable around dogs and know all the different breeds with their accompanying personalities, you should also ensure that you have the necessary experience as well. If you or your employees do not have the experience required, then it might be necessary that you volunteer at an animal shelter.
Asides from the experience and knowledge of drugs, it is essential that you strike a relationship with local veterinary clinics so that should there be any medical issues regarding the dogs, you can get emergency vet services.
Before starting this business, it is important that you conduct a thorough research regarding the business so that you will know who your customers will be. Ideally, any dog owner who travels regularly on business or pleasure and has disposable income will be your ideal target market, but this does not however mean that you should be limited to only this segment as you should strive to discover more than just one segment of those who would need your services. Remember that the revenue you intend to generate for your dog kennel business will be hinged on how well you are able to determine your target market.
17 Steps to Starting a Dog Kennel Business at Home
Table of Content
- 2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- 3. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On
- 4. Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry
- 5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch
- 9. Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You
- 10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents
- 11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification
- 12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate
- 13. Raise the Needed Startup Capital
- 14. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business
- 15. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs
- 16. Write a Marketing Plan Packed with ideas & Strategies
- 17. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity
1. Understand the Industry
According to the American Pets Products Association (APPA), the ownership of pets grew tremendously even during the economic downturn. Annually, expenditures relating to pets moved from more than $43 billion in 2008 to nearly $53 billion in 2012. One area of the business where owners are spending on are pet services as there are many niches in this franchise industry from dog groomers, dog trainers, boarding services, dog walking services, dog day care services to pet stores.
There are no companies in this industry with a dominant market share according to IBISWorld. The industry is valued at $8 billion and has seen a 9 percent growth between the periods of 2011 to 2016. There are more than 110,000 kennel businesses employing more than 194,000 people in the united states.
The kennel service industry has consistently grown over the past decade even as other industries have faltered. The growth has seen the industry nearly doubling in size as customers look to purchase services for their dogs that border on the side of luxury. It is expected that this trend will continue over the next five years as more people will own pets.
The barriers to entry into this industry is quite low especially as there are no licensing or training requirements needed in order to start the business. Most of those who have gone into this business have either started as apprentices or undergone training. Asides from low entry barriers, the cost of establishing this business is quite low.
There are more than 340 dog breeds that are being recognized by the Federation Cynologique Internationale, the largest canine organization. This therefore means that these different breeds will have different needs and will require special grooming procedures which kennel owners have to be aware of.
Even though the pet industry has seen a tremendous growth over the past years, it is predicted that this has slowed down from the earlier years of the industry. According to a survey that was conducted in 2010, there was a reduction in the money spent on pets between 2008 and 2010.
2. Conduct Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- Demographics and Psychographics
The demographic and psychographic composition of those who require kennels for their dogs can be said to be households, business and corporate executives, veterinary clinics, pet stores, pet shelters, business people, celebrities and wealthy personalities.
Therefore if you are looking to define the demographic of your business, you should try not to be limited to just a few set of people as there are a whole lot of people that you should take into consideration. Also, the income level of those who demand these services are from middle to high income brackets.
3. Decide Which Niche to Concentrate On
In every business, there are niches and this sometimes comes about when the industry is huge or where there is complete saturation in the general business, leading to entrepreneurs going into niches in order to stand out or carve a name for themselves.
While going into a niche or more might not be bad, it is important to note that not all niches will generate revenue for you and so it is essential that you take a thorough survey of the niches you intend going into to determine if there will be a customer for it and how much you are likely to make.
Below therefore are some of the niche areas that you should consider exploring in a bid to stand out and also generate revenue for your business;
- Kennel Services
- Dog hotel service
- Pet Sitters
- Dog training services
- Dog walking service
- Dog spa services
- Dog boutique
The Level of Competition in the Industry
The level of competition in the kennel business is such that one has to be physically present in order to compete with others in the same industry. This therefore means that the business cannot be run from just anywhere except one has multiple locations.
The dog kennel business can be said to be a very lucrative even though the market is saturated with competition and this is because there are a number of people who own pets but cannot be with them all the time due to personal or work reasons.
What customers are expecting when they seek the services of a dog kennel business is that their dogs are well taken care.
4. Know Your Major Competitors in the Industry
In every industry, there are brands that stand out and the kennel market in the pet industry is no different. Even though the market is one that is filled with intense competition, there are still those that stand out due to their marketing and publicity strategies, their quality of service, their rates and the relationships they keep with their customers.
Below therefore are some of the well-known dog kennel brands in the industry;
- Top Dog Kennels Inc
- Karnovanda Kennels
- Westminister Kennel Club
- American Kennel Club
- Paws in Soho
- We kare kennels Inc
In the United States, more than $34 billion is being spent annually on pets. According to statistics, more than 61 percent of households in America own a pet which therefore means that nearly 62 million households in America own a pet.
The kennel market is one that is regarded as stable and recession proof even as other industries experienced major difficulties during the same period. Pet owners are still traveling a lot with 78 percent of the population in the United States taking a vacation in 2014.
There are nearly 7,000 kennels scattered all over the United States with many located in areas that are not so convenient for the vast majority of customers. The kennel market is however experiencing low customer confidence as several kennels in the past have had their reputations soiled due to poor maintenance and inadequate staff.
It is presumed that dogs that have been used to hunt can better handle the stress that is associated with a kennel and this is due to the fact that kennels usually put a large volume of pets in close quarters thereby breeding fleas and other health related problems.
5. Decide Whether to Buy a Franchise or Start from Scratch
One decision that you must make as an entrepreneur is whether to start your business from the scratch or whether to buy a franchise. While each option might have certain benefits that you might lean towards, your decision should be hinged on what your corporate set goals and objectives are. If you are starting your business on a small to medium scale and do not mind having to make several mistakes during the course of starting your business, then starting from the scratch is not a bad idea at all.
Buying a franchise is what most entrepreneurs who do not want to worry about startup headaches do, as buying a franchise affords them a jumpstart. Before buying a franchise, you should however have conducted your due diligence by checking out several franchises, their capabilities and prices so that you get to choose what’s best for you in the end and not end up wasting money and time in buying a franchise whose goals do not align with that of your business.
6. Know the Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face
Every entrepreneur starting a business knows that no business environment can be totally predictable no matter how much research has been conducted about the business and the industry, and so you must be prepared for any threats and challenges that might crop up during the course of starting or running the business. Not being prepared shows a lack of seriousness as regards the business.
Therefore some of the threats and challenges that you are likely to face when starting your kennel business in the United States are; economic downturn which means less people are likely to have the extra income to buy stuffs for their dogs, intense competition from already existing competitors, industry trends and changes as well as competition from new entrants into the industry.
7. Choose the Most Suitable Legal Entity (LLC, C Corp, S Corp)
choosing a legal entity for your business is one of the most important decisions that you will take when intending to start your business as the legal entity you choose can have either a positive or negative impact on your business. If your intention is to grow your business to very known in the country there are some legal entities that will not be favorable to your business.
Also, when choosing a legal entity for your business, there are several factors that need to consider and they are; the taxation structure, the limit of liability, how flexible the legal entity is and the ease with which you can set up the legal entity. This is because while some legal entities may allow you to expand your business as you please; others may not, so it is necessary to speak with a lawyer when it comes to what legal entity you should choose for your kennel business.
In the United States of America, there are five basic legal entities that are open to an entrepreneur looking to start a business and they are; sole proprietorship, partnership, S Corporation, C Corporation and Limited Liability Company (LLC).
The sole proprietorship and partnership kind of legal entity are somewhat similar as they are businesses that are not regarded as separate entities from their owners. Taxation under this kind of legal entity is on the personal income returns of the owner. While the sole proprietorship stands for one owner, the partnership stands for two or more persons. The issue with these kinds of legal entities however is that expansion of businesses is limited.
The S Corporation, C Corporation and LLC are all similar in the sense that the business is regarded as a separate entity from the owners. The S Corporation and the LLC are quite similar and are easier to set up than the C Corporation.
8. Choose a Catchy Business Name
Once you have decided to start any business, one thing you need to get right is the name of your business and this is because your name not only identifies you, it gives a personality to your brand. It is important that you choose a business name that is catchy, unique, memorable, and indicative of the industry you are in, as well as easily pronounceable.
You might need to have several names listed down in case the name you intend for your kennel business has already been chosen by another entrepreneur. You also can look at existing names for inspiration on what to call your own kennel business.
Below therefore are some of the catchy business names you might need to consider when looking to start your kennel business;
- Woofs Kennel Service
- Waggy Kennel Inc
- Special Paws Kennel Services
- Awoof Kennel Inc
- Top Kare Kennel Inc
9. Discuss with an Agent to Know the Best Insurance Policies for You
No matter the business that you are looking to start in the United States, having insurance policies is very important because they protect you from paying out of your pockets should there be an incident of any kind during the course of starting or running the business.
It is important that you set aside an amount to purchase your insurance policies with but if you however are not sure of what insurance policies you should get, you might need to engage the services of an insurance agent or broker to help. It is important to note that attention must be paid to each policy’s exclusion as you must have a coverage that will not exclude any breeds.
Below are some of the basic insurance policies that you should consider getting before starting your dog kennel business in the United States of America;
- General Insurance
- Liability Insurance
- Health Insurance
- Hazard Insurance
- Property Insurance
- Worker’s Compensation Insurance
- Auto Insurance
- Business Owner Policy Insurance
- Overhead Expense Insurance
- Umbrella Insurance
10. Protect your Intellectual Property With Trademark, Copyrights, Patents
In order to be able to apply for intellectual property protection in the United States, you must have a product or create a service that is new and unique to your industry. Once this is done, applying for intellectual property protection on this new invention will be needed so that others that intend to use it will have to pay a certain amount of money to be able to do so.
While the dog kennel business is a pretty straightforward business, there are entrepreneurs who have sought to apply for an IPP on the names of the company, their logo, slogan and any other material they deem distinctive enough, but these brands have usually achieved a level of success and are well known. If however this is your intention regardless of the fact that you are a start-up, then you might need to apply for one for your business by engaging the services of a lawyer.
11. Get the Necessary Professional Certification
The kennel business is one that provides services to dog owners and therefore requires no professional certification whatsoever in order to successfully run it. To succeed in this business, you will need to however have certain technical skills.
Even though there are certain organizations offering training in this industry, there are no standard requirements where it is compulsory that you get a professional certification before you can be a success. However, acquiring professional certification in an animal or dog-related field can help give you leverage over your competitors.
12. Get the Necessary Legal Documents You Need to Operate
When intending to start any business in the United States no matter how little, it is important to note that having legal documents to back up your business is essential as this would allow you not run into troubles of any sort with the law.
If you are not sure of what legal documents you need for your business, you might find out from others running the same business as you, the city hall, an accountant or an attorney, so that you will know what you will need in order to be able to run your kennel business without hitches of any sort.
Below therefore are some of the legal documents that you might need in order to run your kennel business successfully;
- Certificate of Incorporation
- Operating Agreement for LLC
- Service contract documents
- Business Plan
- Business License
- Insurance Policy
- Employer Identification Number (EIN)
- Sales Tax Permit
- Federal Tax Identification Number
13. Raise the Needed Startup Capital
Finance is one of the major reasons why businesses fail or succeed; this is because there are a lot of things that finance helps a business to achieve before it can be well positioned to start generating revenue for itself. While sourcing for revenue is not a very easy task, a determined entrepreneur who is committed about the business will know how necessary getting all the start-up capital is before commencing the business and so will not mind going all out to ensure that this is achieved.
Having a business plan when sourcing for loan for your business will help greatly as this will help convince potential investors quickly as they would be seeing concrete plans on paper rather than relying on word of mouth. Below therefore are ways by which you can source for start-up capital for your kennel business;
- Raising part of start-up capital from personal savings and sale of stocks
- Sourcing for soft loans from friends and family members
- Get loan from interested investors and business partners
- Source for loan from a local shelter
- Apply for loan from a commercial bank
14. Choose a Suitable Location for your Business
One important factor that could make or mar your business is the appropriate location you should choose for your business. If you are starting your kennel business with just one or two dogs or as a part time business, this is something that you can run from home especially if you are living on your land and it is within the local zonal requirements.
However before you can make the decision of running your kennel business from home, there are certain factors that you would need to put into consideration so that you do not end up making the wrong choice for your business.
One of the factors that you would need to take into consideration when looking to decide on an appropriate location for your business is the nearness of your target market to your location. If you intend to run your business far from your target market, then you need to know that a lot of your target market will prefer to deal with someone closer to them.
If you notice that your competitors are all leasing or renting a commercial facility to not only be close to their customers but appear professional, then you might need to start considering your options as well. If you aren’t sure of what location would best suit you, then you should engage the services of a real estate agent to help you search for the right place for your dog kennel business that meets the local zoning laws.
Setting aside a budget for the facility you intend to lease and sticking to this budget is very vital so that you do not end up causing a strain on your overall budget. It is important that the real estate agent you pick to look for a location for you be aware of your budget. You should also be aware that you might need to carry out certain renovations once you have leased a place for your business.
15. Hire Employees for your Technical and Manpower Needs
The successful startup of a dog kennel business is determined by two factors which are the facility used for the business as well as the insurance policies acquired for the business. Without these two basic aspects in place, you might find your business struggling to establish a footing in the market. If you are however looking to keep costs down or are operating on a tight budget, you might need to consider renting a facility in a rural area and start with few dogs.
You should note that wherever the facility you intend to lease is located, it should be spacious enough to have room for crates where the dogs can be sheltered should the weather not be favorable, it should have an indoor play area and a large play area outdoors where the dogs can either run around alone or in groups.
When deciding on the equipment you need to run your kennel business successfully and efficiently, you should aim at purchasing a vehicle, crates, leashes and collars, food bowls, first aid kits, whistle, water dish, and bio degradable poop bags. Administratively, you would need a phone, computer, printer, high speed internet and office supplies.
Even though a kennel business can be run by one person especially if you are starting off on a small scale, you would need to employ others to help you out as your business grows. This would enable you to reduce your day-to-day activities with the kennel and instead plan the overall strategy for the growth and success of the business.
Therefore, those you need to hire to help run your kennel business include; Chief Executive Officer (CEO – Owner), Admin and human resource manager, accountant, marketing team, front desk officer, purchasing and logistics manager, dog handlers, cleaner and security guard. From the above break down, you will require at least 11 key staff in order to run your kennel business successfully.
The Service Delivery Process of the Business
When starting this business, it is expected that you are not only passionate about the business, but that you also have the experience necessary to run the business and make it a success.
The purpose of a dog kennel business is to look after dogs for owners who either due to work or personal reasons cannot do so, by ensuring that the dogs go to bed at night, get up at the appropriate time in the morning, are being fed at the right times and with the appropriate meals, get the exercises they need and get cleaned up when necessary.
Aside from carrying out these daily activities with the dogs, kennels ensure that other administrative duties are handled so that the business can run without hitches.
16. Write a Marketing Plan Packed with ideas & Strategies
In every business, it is important that the thought of how revenue will be generated should not be taken lightly as this is the aim of starting a business in the first place. The major way by which a business makes money is via marketing and so a lot of entrepreneurs give a lot of thought to this aspect, because not creating the right marketing goals and objectives, the right marketing strategies or hiring the right people to market the business might make business unable to recoup its expenditure.
Asides from the fact that marketing is aimed at generating revenue, it also helps create awareness for the business and allows entrepreneurs to be able to penetrate the market in order to get a share for themselves and also compete favorably against their competitors. However, before one can effectively create the marketing strategies that will allow for this, it is important that a thorough market research about the industry be done.
When conducting a market research, there are certain things you need to find out to be able to write effective marketing strategies and they are; what niche you will be offering, who your target market is, what they expect from you, what you should expect from them as well as who your competitors are, and how well their weaknesses can be exploited to the advantage of your kennel (dog house) business.
Below are some of the marketing ideas and strategies that you should therefore look into;
- Place adverts in local newspapers and popular pet magazines as well as on radio and television stations
- Use your social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram to market your business
- Empower your marketing executives to physically meet with clients in order to market your business
- Install flexi banners and bill boards in several strategic locations in order to promote your kennel business
- Distribute handbills, business cards and fliers in various strategic locations in order to market and promote awareness for your business
- Ensure that your kennel business is listed in online directories and in yellow pages
17. Develop Strategies to Boost Brand Awareness and Create a Corporate Identity
Every entrepreneur’s intention when starting their business is to generate as much publicity for the business as they possibly can, as they know that a part of this awareness is likely to convert to revenue that will grow and sustain the business. However before one can effectively create publicity campaigns that will be regarded as effective, it is best that one understands the market that they are going into so as to know the right audience to target their publicity campaigns at.
Asides from helping to generate awareness and revenue for a business, publicity also helps to ensure that the business has a leverage and stands out from its competitors, which is why a lot of businesses do not mind setting aside a certain amount of money from their earnings every month or year to ensure that they create a positive buzz about their business and also communicate their corporate identity in a positive light to their intended target market.
Before publicity campaigns can be carried out, you should ensure that you know your market thoroughly especially those that will be affected by your niche offerings. You can check out what your competitors, especially those in your target niche are doing so that you can effectively modify or adapt some of their strategies to your own business.
Any business involving pets in the United States of America is considered a big business and this is because pet owners place a lot of value on their pets. It is therefore important to note that there will be a lot of people you will compete with, which is why most entrepreneurs starting out usually engage the services of a publicity consultant who knows the ropes to help with creating the right strategies that will help you attain your corporate goals and objectives.
Below are some of the strategies that can be used to boost awareness for your brand as well as create a corporate identity for your company;
- Ensure that you distribute handbills and fliers in various strategic places where dog lovers are likely to congregate such as veterinary clinics, public parks, animal shelters and many other such places
- Create a website and add photos and videos in order to promote your services
- Engage in and sponsor several community events and activities especially those that are related to dogs
- Use your social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat to promote your business
- Encourage all your loyal and satisfied customers to help spread the word about your business
- Create a distinct logo and attractive signage that can be noticed by those from afar off, in order to create awareness about your business