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Selecting a Location to Start a Dog Daycare

How to Select a Location to Start a Dog Daycare.


One of the hardest things about starting a Dog daycare is choosing a location. This will not only affect the type and number of customers that you receive but your build-out costs as well. The single most important factor is zoning. There is nothing that I nor anyone else can provide to you, that will allow you to place a dog daycare in an area that zoning will not permit.


You are first going to have to do your research, and that involves either looking online at your local city and county zoning ordinances or physically going to the local government office and looking there. You will more than likely find that Dog Daycare is mentioned nowhere in the codes. This is due to the fact that the Dog Daycare is still  relatively new in nature. 


Study the codes and look for zoning that allows businesses that you feel a dog daycare would be comparable too.  Write a well put together letter, citing codes, and likening your business to one that is already specifically mentioned in the codes, be it a pet store, poodle parlor, groomer, etc.  Explain your Dog Daycare in a light that makes it compatible and comparable to the business that are listed in the codes.  I promise that your local government will be more than happy to charge you large fees for a special exemption or zoning hearings if you present your business as something new and unheard of.  If grooming is allowed push that you groom and mention that you offer Daycare.  If they only allow pet stores in your zoning district push that you will provide retail and mention that your will offer Daycare.  Get the picture, don’t push hard on a new idea or you will run into difficulty while spending a lot of money to get where you could have been for a lot less.  Once you have the approval or a letter from you local government concerning the zoning district it is time to start seriously searching for a location.


The next decision that you are going to have to make is whether you would like to lease a facility or purchase it outright. This is going to depend on the amount of cash that you have available to start your facility and what your long term goals are.  Below is a comparison of the two options.


Factors Favoring Leasing a Building for Dog Daycare

  • Cash flow. A business can conserve a lot of its cash by leasing. With a lease, the initial cost will be limited to a month's rent and a security deposit.

  • Credit rating. Being a new company it will not have sufficient credit rating to support a mortgage or the mortgage interest rate will be exceptionally high.

  • Maintenance. The landlord not you is generally responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the property, lowering you monthly expenses and limiting your financial exposure to unforeseen maintenance issues.

  • Property. You have been unable to find a suitable property that is for sale and within your price range.

  • Real estate values. The building meets the needs of your business and you are not affected if the property values in the area decrease.

  • Mobility. The building works at the moment but may not accommodate the future growth of your business. With a lease you can move to a better location at lease expiration.

  • Tax Savings: Rent is deductible as a business expense.



Factors Favoring Purchasing a Building for Dog Daycare

    • Long-term savings. Generally speaking, purchasing a facility is usually cheaper than leasing in the long run. With a lease, the landlord attempts to not only cover the holding costs of owning the building but to build a profit into the rent as well. You can avoid payment of this “profit premium” by purchasing the building.

    • Location. For a Dog Daycare Facility location and convenience can be the most important factor. If you've found the perfect location for your Dog Daycare and established the business there, purchasing the property will ensure that the business will never have to move.

    • Control. In doing the build-out for a Dog Daycare there are substantial renovations that you will make to the property. You may also need additional space as your business grows or you may want to control your own business hours and the way you do business. By purchasing the property, you have control over all of these matters (subject, of course, to local ordinances and zoning boards).

    • Property. There is a lack of suitable properties in your area to lease.

    • Real estate values. The building meets your needs and is located in an area of appreciating land values, which entitles you to an additional profit at the time that you decide to sell.

    • Tax savings. By depreciating the property over time you will have tax savings. In addition, if the property is financed, deductions based on interest are also available.

In either instance you gain the use of an asset whether you lease or purchase your facility. The advantage to leasing is that if you have a strict budget your initial cash outlay is going to be less than if you decide to purchase an entire building. The advantage to purchasing is that in the long run you will end up paying less than if you had leased, plus you will get the benefit of any appreciation in the value of the property.


What to look for when evaluating a building to Start a Dog Daycare


When you are actually begin the process of examining individual properties to determine which is the most suitable for starting a Dog Daycare,  you need closely examine the following factors.

Size- Is it of adequate size to meet the needs of your facility and will it allow you to expand your business as your client base increases


Location- Location, Location, Location, this is the most important factor that you need to consider when choosing a building for your Dog Daycare. On average people are only willing to drive about 5 miles to take their dog to daycare. So you need to ensure that your Dog Daycare business is located within a populated area. Don’t bank on people driving across town through traffic, in the summer heat, using gas to bring their dog to daycare when it can sit home for free.  Ideally you should know what the local commuter route is for your area, and try to position yourself along that route. The more convenient your location the more people will use its services. Although a location along the main highway will cost more to rent, you will bring in three times as many customers than if you decide to start your business at an inconvenient location that is difficult to get to. One other aspect of location is that you are known by the company you keep. If you start up in an industrial park, complete with half disassembled cars, dumpsters and auto body shops it will not reflect as well on your business as if you opened along the main highway in a retail area. However, you may be forced to take a lower quality location due to the zoning regulations and whether or not the elected officials in your area are dog lovers.


Outside area- This is not a requirement to operate a Dog Daycare Facility successfully, but it is nice to have. It gives the dogs a break from being inside and gives you a chance to thoroughly mop and cleanup the inside area while they are outside playing.  It also adds another dimension to your business that you can sell when you have an outside play area.  One of the most asked questions by potential clients entering the facility and taking a tour is “Where do the dogs go to the bathroom?” So it is useful to have, both as a selling point and as an additional space for the dogs to utilize. The reality of the situation is that even with an outside area the dogs in your care will still relieve themselves numerous times during the day while inside your facility. This is a labor intensive business in either instance.


Air Conditioning- If it is barely doing the job before you open, it will be miserable inside once you have 25 or 30 dogs with a natural body heat ranging between 99.5° to 102.5°F. Having a large number of dogs indoors will raise the temperature inside the building very quickly. Your customers will also feel uncomfortable and it will reflect poorly on the facility if it is uncomfortably hot inside.  You also need to look at the filtration set up for the unit: is the intake near the floor (bad) or on the ceiling (good) and is it accessible for cleaning?  Is there just one filter at the air handler (bad) or two filters, one at the opening in the wall and one at the air handler (good)? Does it have a UV filtration system to kill bacteria? Not a requirement but a plus. 


Plumbing- You need to take note of where all the plumbing fixtures are and how they will fit into your final design. You will absolutely need a deep sink for changing mop water, cleaning bowls, toys and everything in between. Take note of where you can put one in relation to the existing fixtures. Does the current setup allow you to grow your business by adding grooming services or dog washing services at a later date? 


Insulation- There are two main reasons that you want to check the current insulation status of the building, the first being your utility costs. It takes a lot of dogs in daycare to offset a $400 a month electric bill. The second is sound, especially if you are sharing a building with other tenants. The sounds of happy dogs playing can get extremely loud at times and insulation in the walls will help to deaden the sounds coming from your facility.


Electrical- In the beginning there are not a lot of requirements electrically to open a dog daycare facility. You need adequate outlets to run your office and preferably one or two of those outlets on different breakers if you intend on using items that pull high amps, like industrial fans, dehumidifiers, or localized air conditioning units. You should check to insure that the design allows you to grow your business in the future. Is the breaker panel modern? Is additional amperage available in the form of empty breaker space for updating your facility at a later date? 


Flooring- I mention this for one reason, whatever the flooring now, unless it’s bare concrete it needs to go away. This can be a low effort event if it is currently carpet with tack strips in the corners, or it can be a nightmare if it is glued down commercial carpeting, Pergo, or Vinyl Composition tile that you will have to remove. Your play areas will generally be concrete with a two part epoxy covering or rubberized glued down flooring. The floors in your office areas should be tile or another non porous durable surface that is easy to clean and does not provide a nesting place for hairs, germs and bacteria.


Interior- Because dog daycare is unlike other businesses it is unlikely that you will be able to slide in without making fairly substantial modifications to the existing interior of the structure. You need to insure that you have the ability to remove what is currently there and that the building can handle what you plan to install. What anchor points do you have in the ceiling? If you plan on adding chain link style enclosures that need to be cemented into the floor, then where are the plumbing lines in the floor? What restrictions does the landlord have concerning renovation? These are all items that you need to consider before signing on the dotted line.


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