The best way to start a dog daycare and boarding business is to think small. If you’re new to this and low on funds, start with the basics. Do you own your own home or live in an apartment that allows dogs?
Looking for the best dog boarding sitters isn’t always easy. In an idea world, you could trust anybody with your dog. If you’ve got a little space in your home and a spark of entrepreneurial spirit, you can easily start your own doggy daycare, dog boarding, or dog sitter service.
As long as you do your due diligence and make sure everything’s on the up-and-up (bylaws, licensing, insurance, etc.), you’ll be making money hand over first in no time.
Due Diligence and What it Means For You
Make sure your paperwork is in order. That means a little due diligence on your part. Before you can start a dog daycare and boarding business from home, you need to make sure it’s viable.
Ask your local Chamber of Commerce, town office, or business centers for entrepreneurs whether you need any kind of licensing.
If you start with a very small business (let’s say 3 or 4 dogs to start) certain business bylaws might not apply to you. Do not just assume that is the case.
Register Your Business Name
Choosing a catchy business name for your dog sitting service is a lot harder than it sounds. However, once you’ve got that figured out, be sure to register it. If you’re in Canada, visit: Government of Canada for details on sole proprietorship. In the United States, visit this 50 State Guide to Establishing a Sole Proprietorship.
When starting a business, it’s important to pay yourself first. You will make money once you’ve established yourself as someone who can be trusted with their dogs, and when the money starts to roll in, you’ll want to put some aside for you.
House Insurance Coverage
Before you start a dog daycare and boarding business make sure to consult with your home insurance broker. There are safety considerations and liabilities to take into consideration.
Starting a small business from home may bump up the overall cost of your insurance.
Don’t get discouraged. Remember that expenses are a part of any business. Keep receipts and keep track of what money is going out and what money is coming in.
Quickbooks -- Intuit
I recommend Quickbooks for small business bookkeeping. When you start a dog daycare and boarding business, you’ll want to have ultimate control over everything. Keeping receipts in a shoebox is not the answer my friend. I use Quickbooks and it is the easiest thing I’ve ever tried.
Quickbooks requires a little preparation to get started. All you need to do is have your banking information handy. It’s a little like setting up a direct deposit. After entering your banking information, Quickbooks will automatically upload and categorize all revenue and expenses for you!
If you have an emailed receipt, just forward it to Quickbooks and it will automatically be categorized and saved. Got a hard copy of a receipt? Just take a picture of it with your phone and email it to [email protected]
If you’re going to start a dog daycare and boarding business, you better have a plan for safety. That means keeping yourself safe and keeping the dogs in your care safe.
Step outside and have a look around the yard. If you were looking for a dog sitter would you keep driving by? Appearance is more important than you might think. A little paint, a fresh-cut lawn, and a well-made fence go a long way in making potential clients feel secure.
You will only get business if you can assure potential clients that their dog will be as safe as possible. Live in an apartment or condo? Be sure that windows are secured and/or well-screened to avoid accidental falls. Have a fully stocked first aid kit visible so that clients can see you take their dog’s health and safety seriously.
Basic Dog First Aid
It’s important to have a recent course in basic dog first aid. A good first aid course should provide you with the following basic skills:
-Treating Heat Exhaustion
-Safely moving an injured dog
-How and when to get emergency assistance
Pet Sitting Services Should Include:
Detailed Registration Forms
House sitting is serious business and you will need to know as much as possible about the dog you are taking into your care. A good registration form should include questions about the dog’s health, proof of vaccinations, emergency phone numbers, the address and phone number of the dog’s veterinarian, and details on any medications the dog is currently taking.
Clearly Stated Pick Up and Drop Off Times
This can be added to your application/registration form with a required signature from pet owners.
Dog Walking Agreements
Depending on the size of your business and number of employees (if any!) dog walking could be part of the overall agreement. If you’re not able to walk dogs safely, at least offer a safe, gated yard big enough for adequate exercise.
It’s important to decide early on whether you’re going to just offer pet sitting through the day, whether you’re going to offer overnight boarding services and how many dogs you’re able to safely manage at any given time.
Peace of Mind for Pet Parents
As you start a dog daycare and boarding business, make sure to include regular photo updates. Live doggy daycare cameras are also a nice touch.
Background Checks -- A Business Necessity
When hiring employees, make sure to do adequate background checks. This could include doing a criminal record check, phoning previous employers, etc.
On the other side of the coin, YOU might be the one being checked out. That’s normal and okay. Pet owners just want to make sure that they’re leaving their beloved pets in good hands.
You’ll want to get as many references as possible. The best dog boarding sitter is one who is known as absolute animal lover.
Of course, love isn’t enough. Make sure that any courses and/or credentials you take are on your business cards, website, and other advertising.
Is a Lawyer Necessary?
This is up to you. Establishing a waiver for your client’s to sign could be a lifesaver if something goes wrong.
Unless you have experience with the land of the law and know how to avoid loopholes, you might want to consider hiring a lawyer.
He/she can help you draw up an iron-clad waiver that is easy to understand and will stand up in a court of law.
What is Success to You?
If you start a dog daycare and boarding business from home, success will be defined in many ways.
First and foremost is the safety and happiness of the dogs in your care. Understanding the needs of the pet parents and having the ability to listen is vital.
People worry about their dogs and you will need to reassure as many ways as you can. As mentioned above, that might mean regular photo updates or access to a live dog cam.
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