Wondering how to start a kennel? We take you step-by-step from start to success.
The Pet Boarding & Kennel Industry
Americans love their pets. But unfortunately, they can't always take their pets with them when they travel. So to meet a need in the marketplace, industrious entrepreneurs offer overnight (or daily) boarding and other services designed to accommodate dogs and cats of all shapes and sizes.
It's estimated that pet boarding and grooming is approximately a $3.5 billion industry in the U.S. with dog owners spending an average of $225 per year in boarding expenses. Cat owners are somewhat less likely to board their pets, spending around $150 in annual kennel charges.
Entrepreneurs interested in opening a pet kennel should have firsthand kennel experience before they commit resources to their business concept. The idea of opening a kennel sounds attractive to pet owners, many of whom are eventually disappointed to discover that a kennel operation is requires a lot of hard work and an around the clock time commitment.
Finding the Right Location for a Kennel
Kennel startups frequently encounter community resistance due to the potential for excessive noise, waste removal and other nuisances. So during the planning stage, you will need to make facility and location concerns a high priority.
Ideally, you will be able to find an existing kennel facility that is available for lease. But since the likelihood of that is slim, you'll need to explore available facilities that can be converted to a kennel with a minimal amount of investment.
Along the way, you will need to research zoning to make sure it's legal to operate a kennel at your desired location. If not, it's possible to petition for a zoning variance -- but don't invest a dollar in any facility until you're absolutely certain it can be zoned according to your purposes.
How to Hire Knowledgeable Staff for a Startup Kennel
Thinking about operating your new kennel by yourself? Although it's more cost effective, a one-person kennel operation isn't realistic. Remember, a kennel is a 24/7 commitment and it just isn't possible (or healthy) to work every single day.
Hiring qualified staff, even on a part-time basis, is a startup requirement. Based on the number of pet owners across the nation, you shouldn't have any problem finding applicants who are intrigued by the idea of working with animals.
But a love of animals does not a competent hire make -- before you green light any potential hires, make sure they have a proven track record working with other people's pets and are willing to commit to the demands of a professional kennel work environment.
Business Plan Mechanics for Kennels
Haven't created a business plan for your kennel yet? You could be in big trouble.
At Gaebler, we advise new business owners to keep your business plan simple. Ultimately, your business plan is intended to be a resource for you, the business owner.
If your time is limiting, outline the essentials of your kennel's business plan now and make a commitment to come back to it later.
Take a Look at Competitors
Long before you open a kennel in your town, it's a smart move to determine what the competition looks like. Try our link below to generate a list of competitors nearby. Just enter your city, state and zip code to get a list of kennels in your community.
Gain a knowledge of how existing firms have positioned themselves in the marketplace, and then design your business in a way that sets you apart from the others.
Getting Advice from Experienced Entrepreneurs
After you've evaluated your local competitors, the next step is to learn from folks who are already in business. Local competitors are not going to give you the time of day, mind you. The last thing they want to do is help you to be a better competitor.
On the other hand, an individual who has a kennel in a location that is not competitive to you can be a great learning resource for you, once they realize that you are not going to directly compete with them in their community. In that case, the business owner may be more than happy to discuss the industry with you. It can take a while to find an entrepreneur who is willing to talk, but it's well worth the effort.
Where would you find somebody who runs a kennel in a different locale who can assist you?
Here's one way to do it. Just use our link below, find somebody and call them.
Why You Should Buy (Instead of Start) a Kennel
We know . . . From the time you were a kid you dreamed about starting a business from scratch and growing it to a position of market dominance.
Yet a healthier and safer strategy may be to purchase an existing kennel.
Existing kennels are proven operations with dependable revenue streams. When you buy, you also gain the ability to sidestep all of the trial-and-error that comes standard with any kennel startup.
Franchising May Be a Better Way to Go
If you are a newbie entrepreneur, it's smart to think through franchise options in your industry.
As part of your process in starting a kennel, you should determine whether purchasing a franchise might simplify your entering the business.
The link below gives you access to our franchise directory so you can see if there's a franchise opportunity for you. You might even find something that points you in a completely different direction.
These additional resources regarding starting a business may be of interest to you.
If you sell to kennels, this isn't the right place for you. These resources are more appropriate for you:
If you are interested in starting a different kind of business, please browse our directory of guides below.