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Need some advice on expanding

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  • Need some advice on expanding

    I have been really having a hard time making a decision on adding boarding and daycare to my business. I do think I have found a groomer (YIPPPPPEEEEEEEE!!!!!) and that will make doc very happy. (he has told me I have to waaayy cut back on grooming) I have found out that one of the local boarding kennels is going to close soon, not due to the economy but for family reasons. I have clients ask all the time WHEN will I add boarding and daycare, but it seems like such a big responsibility 24-7. The space next to me in my building is empty and last week my landlord gave me the keys so I could go in and look around to get a picture in my head what I could do. He has also dropped the rent on that space $800/month if I take it. It is a large space that would work out great for a dog hotel, and there is a door between my salon and this space that could be opened back up very easy. Great location, great price all that. I guess I just dont have a guage on how boarding is going now days. Are those of you that offer boarding busy, slow, or just so-so? Is it silly to try to expand in this economy? Is it silly to think I can get to the point where I can have enough groomers, bathers, and kennel help so that I can do the phones, books, manage, and still make a little profit for myself? Any thoughts or ideas? Advice?

  • #2
    Could be good

    If you have been really busy and do not have to make huge overhead right away, plus a nearby kennel is closing, you may have a great opportunity.

    Also, you say your clients have asked when you will do boarding, so the demand seems to be there.

    Sounds like it could be just the ticket. Good luck.


    • #3
      You should check with your county/state department of ag and see what is required to operate a boarding facility.

      The Animal Welfare Act (which is federal) is very specific in there requirements as to how a facility is set up and run (fencing, space, etc etc etc). Of course, every state/county will have additional requirements. Checking these first maybe the best place to start so you'll know if you can afford the build out on the space next door. Also, you'll have annual inspections to deal with.

      Perhaps and I'm just throwing this out there, the boarding kennel that is closing up could be a great opportunity for you? I mean, it's already set up as a kennel


      • #4
        Check your local regulations first before committing. Here in the county I live in Virginia, to open a boarding facility, you must have two acres and then also get permission from the county.


        • #5
          Just for reference, I thought I'd post a link for APHIS

          The AWA is a federal regulation governing animals in commerce. All boarding/kennel facilities (with the exception of veterinarians) MUST follow AT LEAST these regulations. Your state/county may impose additional rules/regs, but these are federal, so states and counties MUST adhere to AWA (minimum).

          There is a lot of other good info on that site.


          • #6
            I agree with NeaNea and Doc, plus if the runs are indoor only you need enough staff to walk,pooperscoop, do check the other facility if it isn't at their home.
            ~~Everyone is entitled to my opinion!~~


            • #7
              I have checked regs and requirements, the other facility is not an option, if I do this I am going to lease the space next to me in my building to do it. Im kinda looking for feedback as far as how boarding and daycare is going for those of you that offer it. Thanks


              • #8
                I grew up in a kennel environment. It was hard. When my parent retiered they offered it to me, I said "no way in HE double LLs). Really think about your commitments outside of kennel. A kennel really is 24\7 and them some. Nice dogs, shy dogs, aggressive dogs, tiny dogs, hugh dogs, and so on. Boy, I could write a book on the things I experienced. Not trying to scare you or lecture, but it is a really really big commitment. You probably already know this but just reinforcing.
                Is good, reliable help easy to find where you live?
                How are you going to be able to step away and take mental health breaks?
                Are you prepared for the 3am calls, can I come get my dog, can I drop off my dog?
                ( yeah yeah you have a machine, but what about emergencies?)
                Dogs dyining in your care (it does happen) through no falt of yours?
                Dogs so crazy you can't, feed, clean, or find it difficult to help in any way.
                Disposing of waste.
                Food & water.
                Pest control.
                And on through infinity.
                All are major issues with a kennel.
                And Most Important Is Your Family On Board With This?
                How Will It Effect Your Family.
                Just throwing out things that effected My childhood growing up in a kennel environment, dont really mean to poop on your parade.
                There are many positives too but I figure to think on negitives to help guide a real tough decision.
                Good luck.


                • #9
                  canine crazy, we bought a boarding/grooming facility just over 4 years ago. It's something that should be researched very seriously. You're right - it's 24/7 and we knew that when we bought it - but it's far better than not working at all and that's the boat we would have been in. All the points you made are valid. My husband and I have not been able to go anywhere together since we bought the place. When my husband's father died 4 years ago, only he could go to the funeral - I had to take care of the business. When my mother died earlier this year, only I could go to the funeral - he had to take of the business. We were finally able to hire a part-time person this fall, but we still are responsible for 90% of the work. We do enjoy the work, as hard as it can be at times, but it certainly isn't for everybody. I'm just glad our kids are all grown up now and there are no grandkids (probably won't ever be any either). I don't see how a family could run a boarding kennel as their sole support and raise a family, it must be really, really difficult.


                  • #10
                    We have a daycare & kennel

                    I agree w/most the posts. It is a huge endeavor. Yes, boarding is down as people are not going away as long, taking their pets on vacation or having the neighbor kid next door help out. Daycare has been doing ok as many wives have had to go back to work and feel guilty so bring the pup in for daycare.

                    It is 24/7. Our kennel is on the property so it makes it easier. Someone needs to be there at 6am for let out. Someone needs to be there 9-11 pm for late let out. If not, there is poop and lots of it to clean up. If the place smells, no one will be staying. They will just think you don't care for the animals. Plus some one needs to stay the night otherwise many people will not board. The majority of the cost is personnel on the daycare and kennel side. The training on how to introduce dogs and keeping playtime safe is huge. You must be an expert and then train accordingly. 5 minutes of someone not on top of it will mean a huge dog fight. A dead or injured dog is a lawsuit ... it does not matter what your waiver says. Everyone will need to know about giving meds and how not to forget, how to get a pill or several down a dog that wants to take you on instead of the pill, recognizing when a dog starts not feeling well from the stress of not being home and when its appropriate to get the dog to a vet, etc, etc. (I had 3 this year on Christmas eve). Every holiday is your busy season, yes you work Christmas eve, Christmas day, New Years Eve, New Years Day, Easter, etc. Guaranteed your minimum wage help will call in sick and you and your family will be working. It is a tough business.

                    I personally love the grooming because they come and go home. You set the schedule and hours. No one expects to get their dog groomed on Christmas day. It is wonderful.

                    Anyway, you can pm me and I will give you some advice on policies, procedures, etc which we have learned over the past decade. I have some other friends in the kennel business as well. They are always willing to share ideas as well.

                    Only you can decide if it is the right new business endeavor, if your geographic and economic climate will hold up until the economy returns, etc.

                    Good luck.


                    • #11
                      The PCSA (Pet Care Services Association) formerly ABKA, has an incredible program that they put on multiple times a year that is an outstanding introduction to building/running a boarding kennel or daycare. They also have all the statistics you need to help build your business plan. Their next one is in March in Denver.

                      Anyone who is thinking they want to open a facility really needs to attend the PCSA seminars. Anyone who feels they cannot afford to go, well, quite frankly, isn't ready to open a boarding kennel. It's pretty expensive to get started and until you are really established, it can be boom months followed by several very lean months.

                      There is a huge step between having a grooming shop and running a daycare/boarding, assuming you are going to run one correctly.

                      If you run the numbers and it still makes sense, then yes, expand even in this economy. But you have to consider everything for your own area and your own town/city. I close at the end of this month on 13 acres that will allow me to start building the facility I want to build. The numbers made sense. There is good money in boarding, and yes, still a huge demand. People still go out of town on trips and if your area is underserved, there is a good chance you won't have any trouble keeping a kennel full.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by neanea View Post
                        Just for reference, I thought I'd post a link for APHIS

                        The AWA is a federal regulation governing animals in commerce. All boarding/kennel facilities (with the exception of veterinarians) MUST follow AT LEAST these regulations. Your state/county may impose additional rules/regs, but these are federal, so states and counties MUST adhere to AWA (minimum).

                        There is a lot of other good info on that site.
                        neanea, I cannot find where it says boarding kennels have to meet their requirements, and in fact all I can find says they are EXEMPT

                        Boarding Kennels—Anyone housing animals for others is exempt,
                        except for intermediate handlers and holding facilities. You must be
                        registered as an intermediate handler if, as part of your services, you
                        receive shipment of regulated animals traveling on public carriers. You
                        have to agree in writing to observe USDA’s standards of animal care if
                        you operate a holding facility—meaning that you board regulated animals
                        for licensed dealers or research facilities. APHIS inspects regulated
                        animals in holding facilities to ensure that they receive the required care;
                        dealers or research facilities need prior APHIS approval to board
                        regulated animals with you.

                        NOW I spoke to a USDA inspector this morning (he is the hubby of a good friend here in GA) and he said the same thing. Boarding facilites are exempt from their rules.....if you can find something else, let me know. I would love a direct link to it.
                        Last edited by Particentral; 01-09-10, 02:21 PM.
                        <a href="" target="_blank">My Blog</a> The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why. –Mark Twain


                        • #13
                          24/7 365 days committment

                          I have been away from the boarding/kennel side of things for a year now. I have several friends still in the business, and they are slow right now. I live in the Houston Tx area, economy has not hit as hard here as it has other places, but it has slowed down. People will still board their pets, may not be as long or as often as they use too, but they will still board them. I can tell you first hand, I was very relived when I left the kennel. I lived on site, and I never slept a full night. Always listening for dogs barking or fighting. I was never comfortable when i left the property but was tied to it all the time. Holidays....your holidays will not be the same..this is the busiest time of year along with summer. You will spend your holidays bathing dogs going home the next day. Really think about it....if I had the facility, I would go with a doggie day care...dogs go home in the afternoon and you can usually close atleast one day a week. With a kennel, you can never close or if you do, you have to deal with customers wanting their dogs on the day you are closed...
                          good luck with whatever you do!


                          • #14

                            You are right. I was getting the NC department of ag and the Aphis regs and AWA all mixed together. I studied all of that in animal law and since I'd done so much work in an exotic animal sanctuary and with wildlife AND pets, I was totally combining all of that. I knew you didn't need a USDA license for a boarding kennel, but was thinking the husbandry requirements were in there on the federal level.

                            The NC animal welfare act does contain wording referencing the fed. regs in respect to boarding, but that's NC. They are pretty strict with boarding facilities here.

                            Again, I'm sorry I was so mixed up and didn't mean to come across as snotty or hateful.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by neanea View Post

                              You are right. ....

                              Again, I'm sorry I was so mixed up and didn't mean to come across as snotty or hateful.
                              You did not sound that way, I was just concerned, I do boarding. I meet GA requirements, but having read up on USDA rules a long time ago, I was making housing currently EXCEEDS what USDA requires for breeders or pet shops, but MAN I was thinking maybe they had done some new rules I was not aware of. I know they are cracking down big time on hobby breeders and bybs that sell to pet shops, and it wouldn;t seurprise m e to find out they had expanded. They are now saying if you have a puppy in a pet shop on consignement, which some of my breeders do, are being required to either stop doing it or get a USDA license. I am not for or against it, as I do not do this, but it is happening. SO like I said, I would not put it past them. I was honestly looking for the information, and GLAD it doesn't exist!
                              <a href="" target="_blank">My Blog</a> The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why. –Mark Twain