If you love animals, you could consider earning a living by caring for other people’s pets. Running a pet daycare can be a fun and profitable business for the right entrepreneur.
Let’s look at why the pet industry offers a tempting opportunity for animal lovers and what factors might influence how much income you can earn.
Starting a doggie daycare business
Most pet owners spend a good portion of their paychecks on their furry companions.
On average, Canadians spent $2430 on their pets in 2021, an increase of over 17% over the past three years.
This 30% increase shows that pet parents are buying more toys and accessories, while focusing on products and services related to pet health and well-being. Common purchases often include:
- Enrichment toys
- Designer bedding
- Gluten-free or raw food
It’s also common for dogs to visit a grooming service or dog spa regularly. This type of service, combined with a dog daycare business, has the potential to draw in additional business.
The market size of the pet grooming and boarding industry in Canada is expected to grow 2% this year, totalling over $830 million in revenue in 2023.
In many households, a pet is an integral part of the family. As a result, there‘s a solid opportunity for business owners to offer quality care for pets when owners can’t be around to take care of them.
People who spend all day at work feel guilty leaving their pets alone and are happy to pay for the care, attention and exercise that a pet daycare provides. Starting a doggie daycare could be the perfect fit for someone who loves animals and wants to run their own business.
8 key factors for a profitable pet daycare
The biggest question you should have when considering any business opportunity is profitability. Can you turn it into a money-making business?
First, you’ll need to calculate what you could charge, add up your potential earnings, and see if you can cover the likely expenses.
If you crunch numbers before taking the plunge, you can protect yourself from starting a business that loses money.
Here are eight factors that could affect your income when opening a pet daycare:
- Population and density of pet owners in your location. Research how many people living in your area are pet owners.
- Competition and market rates in your area. You’ll need to compete with existing pet daycares. If you want to charge more than the market rate, you’ll need to offer more value.
- The level of service and rates you are willing to offer. Once you research what competitors are charging, you can consider what types of services you want to offer and how much you could charge.
- Operational expenses. This includes the cost of rent, utilities, supplies, marketing, business insurance and whatever you pay staff if any (details below).
- Franchise or startup costs. Will you start your own business or pay franchise fees? Of course, there are pros and cons to both, so do your research.
- Payroll and management costs. Who will manage the business? Will you be there every day, or will you hire staff?
- Number of pets you can care for at once. Each building or location you consider will be able to house a different number of pets. Therefore, for each potential site, estimate how many pets you can reasonably contain.
- Types of pets you want to allow. Will you welcome dogs, cats, or both? Will you accept small pets for more extended boarding? You’ll need enough space for each type of animal you allow.
Although many people look at this opportunity as a passion project, it’s important to weigh out the expenses before committing to a business in pet care services — especially if you want to make a profit.
How much can you earn running a pet daycare?
We now know that a pet daycare could be a viable business option, depending on a few variables. So let’s look at how much income you could bring in if you opened a pet daycare.
Rates for pet care can vary across the country, especially when you compare urban and rural areas.
Let’s have a look at daycare rates for dogs first. It’s more common for families to opt for daytime care for their dogs, who likely need more exercise and supervision than their cats or small animals.
Daycare rates for dogs can range from $23 to $55 per day. So, if you care for 15 dogs per day in your dog daycare facility, you could bring in $345 to $825 per day or $10,350 to $24,750 per month.
On the other hand, if you can manage 25 dogs per day, you could bring in $575 to $1,375 per day or $17,250 to $41,250 per month.
Overnight boarding can bring in even more income, with rates ranging from $80-$100 per 24-hour stay. During their owners’ week-long vacations, welcoming 10 canine guests could earn you another $5,600 to $7,000 per month.
Rates for different species
To care for different animals, you’ll need separate areas to ensure you’re offering your furry guests the best care. For example, you might decide to have a cat room so people can board their cats with you for overnight travel or vacations.
Boarding fees for cats can range from $20 to $49.50 for overnight stays. If you were to care for 10 cats in a portion of your facility set aside for cat play and comfort, you could bring in another $200 to $495 per day, or $6,000 to $14,850 per month.
The expenses you’ll need to cover
Once you calculate potential income levels, list all possible expenses and see how many animals you’d need to care for to cover all your costs.
You may want to map out a few different scenarios with different options.
Doing so will allow you to compare different sizes of facilities with their respective costs and see what combination works best for you.
Potential expenses could include, but aren’t limited to:
- Rent or mortgage on a building for your pet daycare
- Building maintenance
- Liability or general business insurance
- Vet fees to have a veterinarian on call
- Employee benefits
- Training for yourself or staff
- Business licensing required by your local government
Be sure to include payment for your own time as well. How much should you plan to pay?
As a guideline, the average salary for managing a dog kennel in Canada is $40,000.
You can use this in your planning for compensating yourself or whoever will manage the facility.
Of course, it would be wise also to calculate the minimum you need to earn to keep your business afloat. As much as any business could be a roaring success, it also will take time to get to the point where you’re fully booked.
In addition, you may have certain times of the year when you are less busy. Calculate a few different scenarios to help get an idea of how manageable this business would be year-round.
The 8 steps to starting a dog daycare business
Once you’ve thoroughly considered your interest in the business and the local market for pet care services, it’s time to get planning. As fun as taking care of dogs all day sounds, you’ll still want to be sure you can start your dream business off on the right foot, manage your costs and price your dog daycare services correctly.
You’ll also want to plan how to promote your business to ensure you can compete in your local market and reach potential customers.
Here are the steps to starting your own doggie daycare business:
1. Write a dog daycare business plan
An excellent first step is to create a business plan to help you weigh all relevant factors before leaping into a new business. A detailed business plan should cover:
- What services your business will provide, the products it will sell
- How it will operate
- How it will make money
A business plan can help you make decisions about how you want to run your business, and which options are most likely to be profitable.
It’s also a handy tool you’ll need any time you want to apply for business loans or grants, or set up other financial supports.
Outlining these details early in the process can help you recognize opportunities or challenges that could affect the success of your business.
2. Choose a business structure
As you map out potential costs for starting your doggie daycare business, you’ll also need to choose a business structure. You may want to run your business as a sole proprietor. Or perhaps you’d like to start it as a partnership or cooperative.
Each option has it’s own rules and tax requirements.
On the other hand, exploring potential franchise opportunities could allow you to get your foot in the door with lower risk. A franchise can also give you established practices to follow and in some cases training. But you’ll trade some freedom for that security.
3. Estimating your startup costs
Starting a business costs money, and you’ll want to assess how much of your own money you can afford to invest as well as any other potential sources of capital such as loans, partnering with another owner, or other investors.
You’ll need to consider:
- Where you’ll want to run your business
- What supplies and equipment you’ll need
- If you’ll rent or build a facility to operate your business
- How many staff you may need and what your payroll costs will be
Consider how many dogs you’ll care for at a time and if you’ll offer services for other pets (keeping in mind some of your customers may have more than one pet at home).
Then estimate the regular operating expenses you’re likely to incur — electricity, water, heating and cooling, etc.
4. Select a space
Whether you rent or lease, a big expense will be the space you need to operate your business. Dog daycare services and pet boarding take up a lot of room, and you’ll need:
- Comfortable spaces for each animal you care for
- Large communal play or exercise spaces
- Dog grooming facilities if you choose to offer these services
There may be bylaws or regulations about where you’re allowed to operate a doggie daycare business, so check into these first to be sure you can start and operate the business without disruption. You may want to also weigh neighbourhood considerations such as parking, noise, and being a safe distance from busy roads or intersections.
5. Hire your dog daycare staff
When starting a doggie daycare business, you’ll need to decide if you want to work in the business full-time or hire someone to manage the business for you.
This may depend on if you feel the business can pay you a comfortable salary and if you can be on the premises most of the time.
Either way, you’ll need to be sure you hire enough staff to offer a high level of customer service (answering phones, greeting dog owners who are dropping off, and handing off happy and tired-out dogs at the end of their stay).
You’ll need staff to care for the dogs, ensuring each receives the care and attention needed for a safe and fun experience their owners will want to repeat. You’ll also need a groomer if you plan to offer this service.
6. Buy equipment and supplies
You’ll need to outfit whatever building you choose for your new business to ensure you have:
- A functional office space
- A place for staff to store their belongings and spend their break time
- Safe and appealing areas for the dogs you’ll care for
You’ll need individual and secure areas for the dogs to stay when they are not directly supervised by staff, as well as toys and play equipment for any common areas.
A doggie daycare needs to be fun and comfortable for its furry guests while also keeping them safe.
Ensure you purchase the necessary supplies for first aid, care and cleaning, laundry and feeding of the pets in your care.
7. Define and apply your vision
Opening a new business is just the first step to running the business of your dreams. There will be a big learning curve and many decisions to make as you get started in your business, so be sure to clarify the kind of business you want to run and what that will look like each day.
Crafting policies and procedures for your business can help you stay on track and ensure that your team can deliver the service you envisioned when you started your business.
Consider other businesses in your local market. What will you offer that they don’t? Why should customers choose you? What practices can you adopt to offer a safe and comfortable stay for pets and a reassuring experience for dog owners?
8. Create a marketing strategy
Starting a business is a big commitment of time and money, and you’ll likely only see a return on your investment if you learn to promote your business.
While you may not have a generous marketing budget initially, create an online presence that new customers can find when they search online.
- A website with valuable information that welcomes visitors to book their stay or contact you (see costs here)
- Active social media accounts that give potential customers a window into your facility, your approach to pet care, and your love for dogs
As your business and budget grow, you can begin taking advantage of paid advertising options to attract more new customers.
How to boost your profits
You can also consider other income streams related to your pet daycare business that may offer higher profit margins. Below, we’ll discuss additional services and products you can add to your business model to maximize profits.
Tapping into additional services
There may be related services you can provide through your pet daycare. For example, some pet daycares offer:
- Dog grooming
- Overnight stays
- Dog training
- Long-term boarding for vacationing families
- Dog walking
If you can provide more services that families want for their pets and become their trusted resource for all types of pet care, you can boost how much income you bring in per customer.
Offering related products for the upsell
Many retail products have a higher profit margin than services. Therefore, pet care products can be appealing additions to your pet daycare. Some examples include:
- Specialty food
- Bath products and more
With a curated collection of quality products, you could increase how much pet owners buy from your pet care business each year.
Making your pet daycare stand out
The pet industry is big business and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. There is an opportunity for motivated entrepreneurs to find their niche in the pet care business.
Consider if your location is a good choice for a pet daycare and if pet care appeals to you enough to do it every day.
Additionally, it’s important to plan how you can differentiate yourself from competitors with attractive rates, related services and in-demand products to help boost your profit margin.
If you love pets and have always wanted to start your own small business, there’s a good chance you could run a profitable pet daycare!
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Frequently Asked Questions
How profitable is a doggie daycare?
The profitability of any doggie daycare business will depend on the going rates for pet care in your area and how much it will cost to operate your business.
Taking the time to create your small business plan and estimate your startup costs will help you assess if and how you can run a profitable doggie daycare.
Do dogs actually like daycare?
Many dogs love going to daycare! In most cases, dogs are dropped off at a dog daycare facility while their owners are busy at work or away for long periods of time.
Going to a doggie daycare allows dogs to have exercise, attention, and playtime that helps them burn off energy and stay out of trouble.
What are some good ideas for a daycare name?
When coming up with a new name for your doggie daycare, the first thing you’ll need to do is see what names are already in use in your area. Avoid any business name that sounds too similar to another in the same industry–first, to avoid confusion between the two businesses, and second, because you can’t copy an existing name that’s already been registered or trademarked.
Next, think about the elements that will set you apart from competitors and the way you’d like people to view your business. Then brainstorm words and phrases from those ideas that could be combined into a solid business name.
What are the positives and negatives of starting a doggie daycare?
Starting a doggie daycare could be the beginning of a rewarding chapter, but there are pros and cons to every business.
Some of the positive aspects might include the opportunity to work with animals every day and the freedom of running your own business. You may love working with people and the chance to connect with customers in your local community. You could be mentoring and training employees who want to get into the business and creating a business that builds financial security for your future.
Still, there will be challenges, and starting any business comes with risk. Doggie daycare is a business that supports customers who need service and support anytime an animal is in your care. If you offer overnight boarding, you’ll likely be taking care of pets while other people are on vacation and find it tricky to take your own holidays. You’ll be responsible for the safety and health of the animals you care for and will need to respond swiftly to any emergencies.
Finally, service businesses aren’t for everyone. It’s wise to know your preferences and consider if the day-to-day routines are a good match for your personality.
What is the average cost of doggie daycare?
Daycare rates for dogs can range from $23 to $55 per day. Overnight boarding can bring in even more income, with rates ranging from $80-$100 per 24-hour stay.