How to Start a Dog Daycare Business In 2023
Many dog owners work long hours, have unpredictable schedules, or just simply need to be out of the house all day. For most of them, spending all day every day with their dogs is their dream, but for many, this simply isn’t possible.
That’s where you and your new doggie daycare business step in! Lots of pet parents are in search of a caring and reliable person to look after their fur babies and you may be just the person they’re looking for!
Keep reading to learn how to start your very own doggie daycare and become the number 1 choice for busy pet parents in need of a loving pet professional.
How to start a dog daycare in 8 easy steps.
Step 1: Perform market research.
Before you start dedicating hours to building a doggy daycare business, you first need to research the local market. Market research is the analysis of businesses in your area and focuses on the demand for dog daycares, information about the competition, and any legal and zoning requirements.
Your research is vital for setting up your business as a true competitor in the space and ensuring you aren't hit with any fines or violations down the road.
In your market research phase, you need to also look into what qualifications and experience you would need to start a doggy daycare. For many businesses that work with animals, you need to have, at minimum, experience with those animals and their behavior. You may also need to receive training in first aid and dog CPR depending on the area you are in.
Step 2: Create a budget.
You're likely starting a dog daycare center because you have a special fondness for dogs and want to spend your days playing and caring for them…who wouldn’t!
You probably want your facility to have the best equipment to ensure the dogs have a wonderful experience. But spending without a budget can be harmful to your business' success. Over 20% of businesses fail within the first 2 years so it’s important to look after the dollars right from the get-go.
Creating a budget will detail your business’ finances to help you better understand what's coming in and going out monthly and annually. This is to ensure you remain profitable and have enough income to cover all of your expenses.
Budgets can seem intimidating, but they give you a detailed plan of what you expect to earn versus what you actually bring in. With a budget, you can have the tools you need to control your cash flow and avoid overspending.
So, what should you include in your business budget? You don't need anything fancy; you can start with a simple spreadsheet, but here is a list of items to include in your budget for your dog daycare.
- Estimated revenue: Your estimated revenue will be what you expect to make monthly. This number is a rough estimate and will come from your market research. Be realistic about your expectations and try to make an educated guess on conservative earnings.
- Fixed costs: Fixed costs are the items you know you will have to pay for monthly that are consistent. These items include rent, insurance, dog daycare software, accounting software, and banking fees.
- Variable costs: Variable costs are expenses that can change from month to month. These are going to be things like utilities, dog toys, cleaning supplies, marketing costs, and advertising fees.
- One-time costs: These costs are going to be an expense that you only pay once, such as buying new equipment, paying for training, and obtaining your business license and permits.
It’s a good idea to open a business bank account to keep your personal finances separate from your business finances. This is important to be able to protect your personal assets should anything go wrong.
Step 3: Write a dog daycare business plan.
Creating a business plan for your dog daycare is essential for setting you up for success. A business plan is a detailed strategy that summarizes your goals and plans for operations, helps secure financing, and forecasts the future of the business. There's a lot that goes into building your dog daycare business plan, and it is the perfect third step on your journey to becoming a business owner.
With a business plan, you don't want to leave anything out. Here's what to include:
1. Executive summary: The executive summary is a quick outline of your business plan for your dog daycare. It will provide the details of your vision for the business, the services you'll offer, marketing strategies, and what you'll need financially to achieve your goals.
2. Company description: As you move through your business plan, the next section will provide information about your company. This will include your experience, years in the industry, what you'll offer, and a more detailed plan for the future of your dog daycare.
3. Services: This section should include the dog daycare services you plan on providing for your clients. You will want to include what each service will cost and any plans for growth or changes in the future.
4. Competitive analysis: In most industries, there's always going to be a competitor you're going up against. The best way to ensure your success is to analyze your business and see how you will differentiate from all the others in the doggy daycare industry.
5. Marketing plan: Marketing is a broad term that covers all aspects of how you're going to get your business in front of your target demographic. Your marketing plan will cover social media, customer reviews, special promotions, and anything else that will drive your clients to your business.
6. Financial summary: Your business plan will need a financial summary of your current finances and what you expect in terms of sales and growth. It's an opportunity for you to provide information to potential investors or lenders to get the money you need to open your business.
7. Management and team: Who is going to be on board to help you execute your business plan and help you reach your goals? Detail the people in your organization and their roles in your company. If you don't have someone in a role, you can outline the positions you plan on filling in the future.
Step 4: Plan your daycare facility.
You've got your market research, business plan, and a solid budget. You now get to take on the exciting task of planning out your day care centre for dogs.
The first thing to consider is the location of where you want your dog daycare business to reside. Many people choose to start caring for dogs in their homes, and as they grow their client list, they choose a larger commercial facility.
If you start in your home, you want to ensure you have the right equipment, facilities, amenities, and space for the number of dogs you hope to care for.
You'll need space for:
- Multiple kennels
- Indoor and outdoor play spaces
- Comfortable bedding
- Sanitary waste disposal and management system
- Feeding areas
- Multiple water bowls
Your doggie daycare can be set up as a basic care facility, to begin with, but it’s also a good idea to consider how you can scale your business to include other services. Does your facility include a space for grooming and training? Perhaps you won’t be needing those spaces in the beginning but it’s good to have them available for when you want to scale.
Step 5: Address legal requirements for dog daycares.
Whether you operate your dog daycare from your home or a commercial facility, most dog daycares are required to follow the same legal requirements. These will be stipulated by your local government. In some states, your dog daycare facility (including home-based businesses) may also need to be licensed. Be sure to check your local government’s website to see which regulations you have to be following.
In general, most dog daycare businesses will require you to:
- Select a business structure: Choose your business structure to determine how your business can be taxed. It can be set up as a sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, or corporation. Choosing a certain business structure also offers protection if your business is sued.
- Register for taxes: You'll need to apply for an EIN through the IRS website to register for your business' state and federal taxes.
- Obtain a business license: Your business license allows you to legally operate in your location. You can refer to your local government's website for more information on what permits and licenses you need to apply for.
- Obtain business insurance: General liability insurance protects you in case you are sued for any injuries to pets or escaped pets that might cause damage to property.
- Obtain property insurance: Property insurance can protect your business if the property is damaged due to fires, floods, natural disasters, or more.
- Meet zoning requirements: Your doggy daycare facility may need to comply with zoning regulations in your area. You may find that your facility has a maximum number of dogs it can look after at a time.
- Have contracts and waivers: It’s a good idea to have your clients sign liability waivers and contracts before you commence work. You can store all of these contracts and documents in a pet business software tool, such as PetExec.
Step 6: Address health and safety requirements for dog daycares.
Checking the health and safety requirements for doggy daycare businesses is vital. You may need to follow both local and state requirements and obtain a facility license to be in compliance with all the regulations.
When you're housing multiple dogs, monitoring them at all times is essential in avoiding dog fights and injuries. You can invest in cameras or create a space that makes it easy for your employees to watch all the dogs at once.
Cleaning and sanitation help prevent illness from spreading amongst the dogs in your care. If your state does require your facility to have a dog daycare license then good sanitation will definitely be a requirement. Create a daily cleaning checklist to ensure the entire facility is kept clean and tidy.
Step 7: Create your daycare business marketing plan.
With any new business, you need to have a solid marketing plan to let people know you're open for business. Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, there are plenty of ways to successfully market your new business.
Create a website.
A website can provide potential clients with information about you and creates credibility. When a new client searches for doggy daycare, an optimized website allows your business to appear near the top of the search results allowing you to take in new clients.
Get active on social media.
Social media is a great way to market your business and share more about your passions and day-to-day operations. You can create advertisements that appear in local feeds to get your business in front of more eyes. It's also a great way to connect with other local businesses such as veterinarians and pet stores to gain referrals.
As your business grows, your clients will be able to leave reviews for your business through Google and other review sites. With great customer service, you'll be able to build strong relationships with your clients and earn their trust. PetExec integrates with Broadly to make acquiring reviews a breeze.
Offer discounts and promotions to new clients.
When you're first starting out, your client base will be small, but you can start advertising discounts on services for your doggy daycare to bring in new clients. Then you can dazzle them with great customer service to keep them coming back.
Step 8: Plan daycare operations and hire staff.
Once your doggie daycare is up and running, there are steps you can take to ensure your business continues to run smoothly. Whilst caring for dogs seems like a dream to an outsider, there's a lot to take care of behind the scenes.
When you first start out, you‘ll wear many hats as you grow and scale your business. You'll be greeting clients, regularly feeding and hydrating dogs, organizing schedules, potentially taking dogs for walks, and more. As you grow, you'll need to hire employees to take on some of the responsibilities.
Some positions you'll need to consider include:
- Accounting and bookkeeping staff member
- Employees to manage and look after the dogs
- Dog trainers/dog walkers/dog groomers
- Social media and marketing expert
The employees you take on should be passionate about dogs and have at least some experience working with them.
As you bring in more staff, invest in quality training, starting with customer service. Your clients will appreciate dropping their dogs off to friendly, welcoming staff.
When the time’s right, you can also consider what services you can add to gain new clients and hold on to existing ones. You can add grooming, dog walking, and dog training services. A pet business software tool can help you schedule and manage all of the services you provide.
How can PetExec help your new dog daycare business?
PetExec can help you get your doggie daycare business off the ground. It is considered one of the best business software tools in the pet industry and can help you manage all of your day-to-day operations.
Pet business software reviews.
PetExec has countless positive reviews online from many satisfied customers.
Starting a doggy daycare can be an incredibly rewarding experience as you go into business doing something you're truly passionate about. By using this simple guide, you can learn how to start a doggy daycare and set yourself up for owning a successful business you love.
Book a free demo with PetExec today to see how they can help you on your entrepreneurial journey!
What is a doggy daycare, and what services does it offer?
Doggy daycare is a service for pet owners to be able to drop off their dogs when they are away for extended periods. Dogs are entertained through playtime or outdoor activities, are provided food and water, and are looked after until their owner returns.
Do I need any qualifications or experience to start a doggy daycare?
To start a doggy daycare, you need to have some experience working with dogs, but you do not need any formal training or certifications.
Can I operate a Doggy Daycare out of my home?
It depends on your location. Most cities may not allow you to run your doggy daycare out of your home without the proper zoning and licenses. Check with your local government to find out the requirements in your area.