Starting a Dog Boarding Business? What You Should Know

Published by Martha Pierson at April 19, 2022

According to IBIS World, the pet grooming and boarding industry has already accounted for $8.5 billion in 2022. And the market size is projected to increase further. If you love dogs and are interested in becoming your own boss, you may consider opening a dog boarding business. To begin, research the industry, calculate the business-related costs, build a plan, and offer consumer financing. Let’s discuss how to start a dog boarding business in the article below.

Pet Grooming and Boarding Market

Groomer bathing dog with tongue out

The pet grooming and boarding sector is witnessing consistently strong gains over the last ten years. The industry offers various pet care services, such as grooming, boarding, dog walking, and training.

Many pet boarding businesses are geared towards pet owners who travel. While owners are away, their pets can get proper care from professional pet boarding service providers. Weekends and holidays are in high demand for pet boarding.

According to PR Newswire, the global pet care market is forecast to make up $241.1 billion by 2026. This growth is caused by the rise in the number of pet owners in the country. Based on the 2021 to 2022 APPA National Pet Owners Survey, 70% of U.S. households are pet owners, accounting for 90.5 million homes.

How to Start a Dog Boarding Business

When starting a dog boarding business, you should have the proper skills, experience, and education to work with animals. Specifically, this means knowing how to provide care for the types of pets you’ll be offering services for, pet first aid experience, customer service, and management experience.

What steps should you take?

Research the Market

Carry out market research before getting your business off the ground. This means studying your target audience, obtaining customer data, comparing your competitors, looking into your industry outlook, analyzing the gathered data, and implementing it. Market research can help you build a business strategy and maintain competitiveness.

Calculate the Costs

Entrepreneur calculating business costs

The costs depend on the size and location of your business. If you’re considering a small location, it can cost about $20,000 to start. A larger store can cost up to $80,000 or higher based on how much you’re going to spend on the facilities.

Prepare Your Business Plan

A business plan gives a detailed description of how you define your business objectives and how you will achieve these goals. You’ll need this plan when applying to your bank for financing. Additionally, a thorough plan serves as a guiding document to help you make strategic decisions.

The plan should be based on the dog daycare market research to show how you will serve an existing need in the market. It should include several points such as an executive summary, company description, market analysis, organization and management structure, marketing and sales goals, funding requests, and financial projections.

Structure Your Business Entity

When starting, you need to select a business structure. A legal entity enables you to protect your business legally. You can choose from among the following structures:

  • Sole Proprietorship

A sole proprietorship is best for individuals who run their business alone. In this case, you’ll have all your business activities under your name. However, you can bear personal responsibility for your business-related debts.

  • Partnership

One or more business partners can opt for a partnership. Each partner contributes to all business-related aspects, such as money, property, labor, or skill, and shares in the profits. However, each partner is liable for the losses.

  • Corporation

If you want to set up a separate legal entity, you should opt for a corporation. Unlike a sole proprietor, a corporation owner can’t be held personally liable for debts or lawsuits. However, this structure is preferable for large businesses.

Licenses and Permits

Close up on hand signing form

Different business activities, locations, and government rules come with requirements and fees. You need to get licenses and permits from both federal and state agencies. Specifically, dog boarding facilities require licensing in almost all states and are under the state’s Department of Agriculture regulation. Moreover, some counties and cities have other local laws, regulations, and inspections that you’ll have to follow. 

The cost of these licenses may vary from $50 to hundreds of dollars, depending on your business and the state. Additionally, if the license has an expiration date, you’ll be charged associated costs to renew your license.

Name Your Business

The name of your business will reflect your services, so choose a proper name. The name should resonate with your customers, be unique, and easy to use. To make your business memorable, pick a catchy and descriptive name so consumers will recognize it online or in ads. Moreover, with a properly chosen name, you can stand out from the competition in your field. If you’re having difficulty coming up with a creative name, you can use online business name generators.

Choose a Location

Make sure to choose a location that is accessible and close to foot traffic. When picking a location, consider some critical business-related costs, such as taxes, renovations, upgrades, and wage requirements.

Offer a Business Model to Your Customers

Dog trainer training two dogs

The benefit of offering a business model to your customers is that it can boost customer satisfaction and loyalty. Here are options to consider:

  • Pre-paid Packages

Consider offering your customers convenient packages. For example, one of your pre-paid packages can be for those working customers who like to drop their dogs off at daycare before going to the office.

Such packages can offer services for three, four, or five days of daycare per week. This way, your customers won’t need to pay each time they bring their dog to your office, and you can enjoy a streamlined customer experience.

  • Memberships

Another option is to create exclusive loyalty rewards programs and offer your customers a discount when they sign up for the daycare services.

  • Unique Services

This is about offering your customers something they can’t find with the other daycares, such as training or grooming services.

Pet Care Financing for Your Customers

For added convenience, you can offer pet care financing. By including this payment option, you can gain an added competitive advantage over your competitors. Additionally, it can give your customers the flexibility to pay in installments for high-cost services. Consider offering your customers in-store point-of-sale (POS) financing for pet care services.

Thanks to this type of financing at checkout, you can enjoy repeat customers. As a result, you’ll gain more consistent revenue.

Open a Business Bank Account

Avoid keeping your business and personal finances together. Instead, use different business bank and credit card accounts. As a result, you’ll be able to easily track your income and business-related expenses.

Acquire Equipment

Dog food, toys, leash, brushes, and collar in front of a yellow background

When starting your dog boarding business, you’ll need to invest in various equipment pieces and items. The equipment is different for large vs. small dogs. The associated costs may be as follows:

  • $700 to $2,000 for each kennel
  •  $1,000 to $8,000 for fencing
  •  $20 to $50 per pet dish
  • $30 to $60 per bed
  • $5 to $20 per toy
  • $10 to $500 for treats and food
  • $500 to $4,000 for grooming equipment
  • $500 to $2,000 for disinfectant and cleaning products

Obtain Insurance

Before opening a dog boarding business, purchase insurance that’ll protect your business from liability if an accident or injury occurs. You can choose from among various options. For example:

  • General Liability Insurance

This type of insurance is best for an accident associated with your day-to-day operations. This type of insurance covers potential injuries that may affect customers.

  • Professional Liability Insurance

Professional liability insurance covers the accidents or injuries connected with your daycare activities. For example, a dog could break free and run away.

  • Commercial Property Insurance

This one is associated with your physical daycare facilities and equipment. The cases may include a natural disaster, robbery, or a fire.

Pricing Your Dog Daycare Services

The issue of how to start a dog boarding business is closely related to deciding on the right pricing policy for your dog daycare services. A pricing policy represents a systematic approach to determining the prices of various products in the market. For this, you need to conduct careful price-related research. Such investigation will ensure you’re in the right ballpark for the prices.

You can offer enhanced services at higher prices. Also, consider promoting membership or loyalty programs that provide discounted rates to loyal customers. However, remember that a complicated pricing model will make your prospective clients go to your competitors. Therefore, keep the right pricing balance to be appealing to a broader range of customers.

Specifically, in large cities, you’re likely to come across more expensive daycare services: they fall in line with the cost of living. On average, full-day service prices range from $12 to $38, and the half-day ones vary from $6 to $25.

Hire Employees

Groomer hugging dog with another groomer cutting dog's hair in background

You can run a small pet boarding facility without much help. However, growth requires hiring employees. According to Salary.com, the average hourly wage for a dog daycare in the U.S. is $18 as of February 25, 2022. Typically, the salaries vary from $15 to $22.

Market Your Dog Daycare Services

You can push your business across various platforms and reach out to new customers with proper marketing efforts. Here are platforms and methods to use to market your services:

  • Point-of-Sale (POS) Advertising

With point-of-sale advertising, you can target your customers at checkout to encourage them to use more of your services or purchase additional items, such as doggy treats, leashes, and toys. As a result, you can drive more sales and improve customer experience by keeping them engaged.     

  • Social Media

Open a business page for the services you offer on Facebook and Instagram. Then, connect with similar service providers and dog owners in your area. As a result, you’ll enlarge your customer base. In addition, you can also buy social media ads to market your services directly to your customers. 

  • Email

You can create an email list by encouraging people to sign up for your newsletter on social media pages. Email can help you effectively reach your customers. Your customers can get an opportunity to ask questions and get answers, thus engaging with your business.

  • Direct Mail or Flyers

Direct mailers or flyers are another option to try. This way, you can directly reach your target audience. When sending materials, make sure to include your contact details, hours of operation, website, and social media channels.

  • Local Radio or TV Ads

You can also use ads on radio and TV as an opportunity to talk about your services to boost your visibility.

Work on Customer Retention

All companies lose customers, and dog boarding businesses aren’t an exception. However, you can take specific steps to retain your customers and increase your revenue. Some of the reasons why a business loses customers are poor customer service, wrong pricing policy, and poor relationships with customers. So, you should work on delivering excellent customer service, determining the pricing policy, and improving your relationships with your customers.

Sum Up

The pet industry is on the rise. When starting a dog boarding business, you’ll need to take specific steps, such as conducting market research, figuring out business-related costs, creating a plan, applying for licenses and permits, and marketing your services. However, despite steep startup costs and meticulous planning, a dog boarding business can be a rewarding career for any animal lover.


Martha Pierson

Martha Pierson

Editor-in-ChiefMartha is Editor-in-Chief at Finturf.com. Her career began in 2003 when she started as an investment banking analyst. Martha continued her career path as a financial advisor for investments. She has a passion for writing and is mainly focused on covering financial and business management topics.

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Starting a Dog Boarding Business? What You Should Know

According to IBIS World, the pet grooming and boarding industry has already accounted for $8.5 billion in 2022. And the market size is projected to increase further. If you love dogs and are interested in becoming your own boss, you may consider opening a dog boarding business. To begin, research the industry, calculate the business-related […]

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