How To Start A Dog Boarding Business

Michael Grenier
Michael Grenier June 6, 2024

How To Start Your Own Dog Boarding Business: A Step-by-Step Guide For Pet Care Pros

Whether you want to transition your passion for dogs into a career or have a growing dog walking business and are looking to expand your services, opening a dog boarding facility may be the perfect option! You get to enjoy the company of lovable pups, provide a much-needed service to pet parents, and you get to be your own boss. Sounds great, right? In this guide, we will review all the steps required to start your dog boarding business!

starting-a-boarding-facility-summary

Step 1: Research and Planning

Now that you can't get the idea of your very own dog boarding business out of your head, what's next? The first step is to research and plan your new venture carefully. Some essential checklist items here include exploring the demand for boarding services in your area, reviewing your competition (and remembering that this may not just be other boarding facilities), and determining what your business will offer and what will make it stand out.

Understanding the Market

Having a good understanding of the opportunity and the market is critical. You may have the best idea and execution, but your business may never take off without a demand for your services. A great way to determine how many pet parents there are in the area is to look for other pet-related businesses. You can also review various pet ownership statistics. The best way? Ingrain yourself in the pet community, and you will know how people feel about their pets in your town. Some easy ways to do this is by spending time at your town dog park or by volunteering at your local animal shelter.

Some other aspects of the market you should familiarize yourself with include understanding how other boarding businesses operate. What services do they offer? Are there any gaps in the services pet parents need? Talking to pet parents is a great way to get answers to these questions.

Review Locations

Like with any business, location can be one of the most important factors determining success. Research locations in areas with a need for pet care services, but also include areas near transportation hubs (to make it easier for pet parents to pick up and drop off their pets). We will have more information on choosing your perfect location later.

Creating a Business Plan

Now that you have familiarized yourself with the market and the opportunity, it's time to work on a business plan. The SBA (the U.S. Small Business Administration) has helpful information on Writing a Business Plan. Your plan should include:

  • Executive Summary: A brief description of your company and what will make you successful.
  • Description: Similar to the executive summary but with significantly more detail.
  • Market Analysis: See above. Review your findings in your market research.
  • Organization: What will the humans do at your business? How will they be organized?
  • Services: Review what types of services you plan to offer. Our guide has a section on services below.
  • Marketing Plan: How will pet parents find your business? We will have more information on marketing later.
  • Capital Requirements: A boarding facility will require resources (i.e., money) to get up and running. Be sure to review these closely.
  • Projections: Make some projections (ideally, multiple scenarios) on how your business may perform.

Step 2: Legal, Licenses and Regulations

A dog boarding facility will have some legal requirements you'll need to meet (including licenses and permits) before you'll be able to open up shop.. These can (and will) vary based on your location. The best resource here is your local government and zoning office.

You should also have a good understanding of any regulations related to animal care standards. These can also vary, but it goes without saying that your top priority should be holding yourself and your business to the highest standards of animal care.

Obtaining Licenses and Permits

To operate legally, you must obtain the relevant licenses and permits your local government requires. These are important legal documents for your business, so we highly recommend contacting your city hall and a local legal professional.

Understanding Animal Care Regulations

In addition to general business licenses, you must comply with any animal care regulations. These rules can vary widely depending on where you live, so getting this information from local authorities (like your city hall) is crucial. Adhering to these regulations keeps you legal and ensures the safety and well-being of the dogs in your care.

pomeranian-playing-at-daycare

Step 3: Find the Perfect Location

Location, location, location. There are multiple factors to consider when choosing your facility's location. You need to make sure it is easy for pet parents to find your business and is in an area with plenty of space for the services you plan on offering.

Choosing a Convenient Location

Your facility should be located in an area of town that is convenient for pet parents to get to but also has the space needed to provide the services you are looking to offer. Many pet parents will drop off their pets as they are heading out of town and pick them up as soon as they get back, so finding a location near major transportation hubs is a great idea.

Other Factors

When choosing your location, you should factor in what types of services you will offer. Are you looking to offer daycare services in an outdoor play area? Do you plan on having a stream of cars for drop-off/pick-up each day? Be sure the location you choose can accommodate your entire business.

Designing Your Space

When reviewing buildings, you should consider the layout of your boarding facility. This should prioritize the pets' safety and comfort. Be mindful of where pets will sleep, eat, and play, and be sure to have enough space to get dogs in and out efficiently.

Step 4: Set Up Your Facility

After finding your perfect spot, you can move on to designing the perfect facility. Be sure to keep in mind the safety and comfort of the pets in your care and the humans taking care of them. Investing in quality kennels, comfortable bedding, and interactive toys is a great idea. You'll also want some areas for exercise and play and other areas for quiet time and rest.

Creating a Safe and Comfortable Environment

Any pet care provider's top priority should always be maintaining the safety of the pets in their care. A close second is ensuring that all of the pets in their care are comfortable and relaxed. Your design should focus on these two goals first and foremost.

Maintaining Cleanliness

Your cleaning schedule should include daily tasks like disinfecting kennels, play areas, food and water dishes, and other regular maintenance. Maintaining cleanliness is vital to maintaining a safe environment (see above).

siberian-husky-in-kennel

Step 5: Services and Pricing

When deciding on the services you will offer, you should consider your customers' needs and your vision for your business. Many boarding facilities also offer services like daycare, grooming, or training. Another great option is offering in-home services (such as dog walking or pet sitting).

When thinking about the pets in your community, some will thrive in a facility environment, and some may thrive in their home environment. Offering services for all of the pets in your city will give you a big leg up on your competition.

An added benefit? When your facility is full, you can offer in-home services to your customers (instead of them going to the competitor down the street).

Setting Your Prices

Setting your rates can be a challenge. You want to ensure you cover your costs and leave a little room for profit. We've got a great guide on setting rates for an in-home pet care business in our blog. While the services may differ, the principles of the matter are very similar for a boarding facility, as well.

Step 6: Hire Qualified Staff

Your team is crucial to your success. Finding pet lovers with experience in pet care will be essential to your business. Look for people trained in pet first aid with excellent customer service skills. Your team is the core of your business, so be sure to take your time and hire smart! Time To Pet has a great Hiring Guide you can pull some lessons from!

Training Your Staff

Not every employee you hire will be perfect from the start. That is why it is important to lead by example and provide plenty of hands-on training for your staff. A comprehensive training program should cover things like your company's expectations and procedures, an overview of your services and how your staff should perform them, emergency situation protocols, and how they should properly look after the pets under their care. That way, your team will fully understand and be able to deliver the level of care you expect.

Another key to your success will be customer service and ensuring your team understands how to communicate effectively with the pet parents who use your company. Depending on how you decide you want to relay updates to your clients on their pet's status, be sure your team is well-trained on what they should and shouldn't include.

starting-boarding-facility-summary1

Step 7: Marketing Your Business

Making it easy for customers to find and love your business will help you grow and exceed your business plan's projections. Marketing is more than a website and a brand (although those are very important). It's about how you build systems to allow your business to grow.

Building Your Brand

Your brand isn't your entire marketing strategy but an important part of it. Make sure your website, logo, and business brand reflect who you are as a person and how you want your customers to feel about your business.

Promoting Your Services

As a business owner, you have to be marketing your company 24/7. This can mean promoting your business to anyone who will listen, creating a great referral program to get your happy customers to tell all their friends about your business, or focusing on your social media strategy to show off all the cute pups you get to take care of. You can even network with other local businesses (like vets, pet supply stores, dog walkers, pet sitters, and more) to get the word out about your business. Whatever your approach, the aim of the game is to get your name out there so it reaches your prospective clients!

Step 8: Using Software for Your Dog Boarding Business

Pet parents expect a simple, straightforward experience when working with your business. Using modern software is one of the best ways to keep your business organized while also delighting your customers on a daily basis. Here are some of the ways boarding software can benefit your business:


Time To Pet helps thousands of pet care businesses generate millions in revenue each month. See how by starting your free trial today!

facility-free-trial-cta-1



  • Client & Pet Management: Customers should be able to update their own information, keep pet details accurate, and maintain a complete booking history for each client.
  • Bookings and Scheduling: Your clients can submit their own requests using software. Checking pets in and out is also a breeze.
  • Pet Parent Communication: Send updates to pet parents that include pictures, videos, and more. Plus, keep all communication in one place.
  • Invoicing and Payments: Automate the process of creating invoices and allow your clients to submit their payments (including adding a tip for a job well done!)
  • Team Management: Manage shifts, track hours, and assign tasks to your team.

Investing in a boarding-specific software product will help you save time, reduce errors, increase your pet parent experience, and grow your business. Time To Pet has created software trusted by thousands of pet care businesses!

Step 9: Opening Your Doors

Your grand opening here! Congratulations on all of the hard work you've put in to get this far! Definitely take a moment to soak it all in and appreciate all your effort.

Once the moment has passed though, it's important to remember that, now that you have opened up your doors for business and the customers are rolling in, it's time to deliver on the exceptional experience you've promised everyone.

To help generate some buzz and increase the number of people walking through your front door, consider hosting an opening event and partnering with other local businesses to increase the appeal. After all, who doesn't love a party?

Gathering Feedback

After your first group of customers pick up their dogs, gather as much feedback as possible. Your entrepreneurial journey is just that - a journey. You won't be perfect on day one, but learning from your customers is the best way to improve.

Negative feedback should be addressed quickly and taken as an opportunity to improve. Positive feedback should be shared with other potential customers (see the information on creating a referral program above!).

Step 10: Ongoing Management and Growth

As your business grows, it's important to continue to listen to your customers, improve your services, and stay updated with what's going on in the industry. You may learn that there is a huge opportunity to add training services or expand your company's repertoire into dog walking. Continuing to understand what your customers are looking for is key to growing your company.

Starting a brand new dog boarding business is not easy. However, you can create an incredibly rewarding and profitable business with careful planning, a commitment to safety, a tireless work ethic, and a passion for animals. By following the guide, using the right tools (like dog boarding software), and building a great team, you will be on your way to success!

Remember, every successful business starts with a first step, and yours could begin today. Good luck, and happy boarding!

Time To Pet is modern pet sitting software trusted by over 3,500 of the world’s most successful pet care companies. We help pet care professionals start, grow and manage their businesses.

See how Time To Pet can help you better manage your business!
Sign Up For A Demo
Ready to get started? Try Time To Pet on a 14-day free trial!
Start Free Trial