How to buy a kennel business
Our second focus on businesses for animal lovers, during National Pet Month
In the main, we’re a nation of animal lovers. And, for anyone interested in working in this sector, there are a wide array of animal and pets businesses for sale. We’ve already taken a look at catteries so, as National Pets Month draws to a close, this time we’re focusing on buying a kennel business.
It goes without saying that if you’re thinking of buying a kennel business you’ll probably have an interest in dogs and their well-being. But you’ll also need to focus on the commercial aspects of the business with the same vigour. The same financial rules apply in a kennels as they would for any other small business, so keeping an eye on the books, maintaining margins and caring about the wellbeing of the business itself is vitally important too.
Buying a kennel business means buying into a lifestyle choice as well. It’s highly likely you’ll be living on site, and there are two very good reasons for that. The first is that it is a 24/7 business. That doesn’t mean you have to work 24/7, but you’ll need someone around to keep an eye on things, or even to react to an emergency, around the clock. The second reason is that most kennels businesses are built with residential facilities on site, or the kennels themselves are added to a domestic dwelling. This will be factored into the sale price of the business, which means buying a kennels isn’t a low-investment opportunity.
Speaking with veterinary professionals, most will advise that in buying a kennel business, you should build up your knowledge of dogs, their behaviour and first aid. Most ailments can be handled by someone with a base, but not a professional, knowledge of animal first aid. Anything more serious, though, and you’ll need to call on a vet, so it might be prudent to build a good relationship with your local veterinary surgery.
Like humans, dogs have their idiosyncrasies and can display behavioural problems. If you’re buying a kennels business, you’ll want to familiarise yourself with these too. You might also need to cope with challenging owners, just like you would in any service-related business. As the kennels owner you are more than a pet hotelier, you are care provider too. You are being trusted to protect the prized family pet, and there is a lot of responsibility on your shoulders to look after it while in your care.
It will come as no surprise to you that dogs need plenty of exercise. So, when buying a kennel business, make sure there is a secure exercise area for the dogs to walk. Think about the space required. If the kennels are cramped and there’s little room for the dogs to exercise, then both dog and owner will be unhappy. You’ll need good sized kennels with outdoor runs included, and ideally provide indoor heating too.
Catering for your guests includes food, of course, and you’ll be amazed at how much space dog food takes up. It’s important, therefore, that you consider how much storage there is on site, and whether you might need to add something at a later date. All of which will impact your investment, working capital and timescale on returns.
Using materials that are easy to disinfect and keep clean is important and will save you money in the long run. So, if you’re thinking about buying a kennel business that has been trading for some time, take a look at the equipment and determine whether you might need to update some of it. And on the subject of cleaning, you won’t be surprised to know that a boarding kennels has a substantial laundry load every day. Does the kennel business you’re looking at have sufficient laundry capacity, or will this incur even more investment from yourself? If so, it’s something to consider when making your offer.
Pet-sitting is a growing marketplace. And pet owners are the most discerning of customers. After all, as the business owner, you will be responsible for looking after their loved ones. When buying a kennels business, then, the smart operator will recognise the need to offer quality home comfort for their canine guests. The even smarter operator will think creatively, perhaps offering radios, television and sofas to take the facilities above and beyond any competitor’s kennels. Get things like this right and you will build a good client base with something that most business owners crave: regular and returning customers.
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