So you want to start a dog daycare? All you know is that you love dogs and want to work with them, but you're not sure how to get started. So what does it take to be a dog sitter? Following this simple guide, you'll be well on your way to running your very own doggie daycare.
Do Your Research
Forewarned is forearmed, they say, so first make sure you know everything you can about running a doggie daycare. Seek out other dog daycare centers and find out what makes them successful. Make a list of services they offer. Next, speak to dog owners. Go to the park and interview people walking their dogs. Find out which services they're interested in. Ask if there are services they'd like to see that are not currently offered by other doggie daycares. Talking to enough people, you'll get a good idea about what sort of services you should offer.
While dog daycares are not federally regulated, there may be local or state regulations or restrictions. Find out what the local laws are before you start a dog daycare. Check with your city courthouse and look into zoning laws. You may or may not be able to run a doggie daycare in your neighborhood. Researching this information well ahead of time can save you many headaches down the road.
Visit a veterinarian. Ask the vet what skills you will need to possess to take care of dogs in a daycare setting.
Licenses and Training
Now that you've done your research, it's time to start getting prepared. If you need any special licensing for your doggie daycare, get them. Get a license for your business. If you require a permit to start a dog daycare in your area because of local laws (you did your research, right?), get that as well.
Write-up Your Business Plan
There're a few business decisions you need to make before you start a dog daycare. Where will you be running it from? What services will you offer? How much is all this going to cost and how are you going to pay for it all?
If you can't run your doggie daycare from home, you'll need a facility to run it from. Regardless on if you run from home or from another facility, there are a few things you'll need to keep in mind. You'll need plenty of space, both indoors and outdoors. Your outdoor area should be fenced off, giving the dogs enough room to play. You'll also need to keep the facility stocked with food and other supplies for caring for the dogs.
Next, decide what services you plan to offer. This is where your research comes in handy. A list of services to consider:
- Hours of operation
- Holiday schedules
- How many dogs to accept at one time
- How to handle dogs with special needs
Your research will give you the best idea of any other services you might need to consider.
Next, you need to think of your marketing plan. How and where will you advertise? Consider purchasing newspaper ads. Word of mouth is a good source of advertising as well, and cheap. Networking can help with word-of-mouth advertising (see Networking below). Also, don't neglect advertising on the Internet: build a website, join social networking site, participate in forums, ect.
By now you should start having a good idea how much all of this is going to cost. Itemize your expenses and write them up in your business plan. Having a business plan when looking for loans and other sorts of capital, it can go a long way in securing the money for your doggie daycare.
When you did your research, you likely met a lot of interesting people. Their helpfulness to your business doesn't need end there. Networking is important to any business, and having contacts with other people in your line of work will be vital to its success. You can go to your contacts if you have any other questions, and they may even be able to send business your way, especially if you are willing to do the same for them. Here are a few types of people you may want to network with:
- Other dog care providers
- Dog trainers
- Dog groomers
You'll need to put in a lot of work to start a dog daycare, but with a lot of preparation, you can make it a successful venture.