Start a kennel business by following these 9 steps:
You have found the perfect business idea, and now you are ready to take the next step. There is more to starting a business than just registering it with the state. We have put together this simple guide to starting your kennel business. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
Check out our How to Start a Business page.
STEP 1: Plan your business
A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:
- What are the startup and ongoing costs?
- Who is your target market?
- How much can you charge customers?
- What will you name your business?
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.
What are the costs involved in opening a kennel business?
There are many costs associated with starting up a kennel business. The two largest costs are usually securing a facility for the business and finding insurance for it.
A facility should have room for crates, several runs for individual dogs and at least one large play area, where dogs may run around alone or with other dogs. The crates should be indoors or in dog houses so that dogs are sheltered during inclement weather, and there also ought to be a small indoor play area if the main area is outdoors.
When looking at insurance policies, kennel owners should pay careful attention to each policy’s exclusions. Many policies will exclude certain dog breeds from their coverages. In order to accept all types of dogs, kennels should have a policy that doesn’t exclude any breeds.
Additional startup expenses include purchasing crates, food bowls, leashes, dog food and similar items.
Kennel business owners that are trying to keep their initial costs minimal may want to look for a facility in a rural area and only start with enough equipment to keep a few dogs. Boarding rates at kennels in rural areas, however, are typically lower than the rates that kennel businesses near airports and major cities charge.
What are the ongoing expenses for a kennel business?
A kennel business’ primary ongoing expenses include its insurance premiums, license fees (if any), and the occasional maintenance that’s needed to repair fences or other facilities. Of these, insurance is often the largest cost.
Who is the target market?
The ideal customer is a dog owner who frequently travels, either for work or leisure, and has discretionary income. Such a person will need their dog watched frequently, and they have money to pay someone to board their pooch. A dog owner who has multiple dogs will need to pay even more, as most kennel businesses charge for each dog.
How does a kennel business make money?
Kennel businesses are paid a flat amount to house dogs for a set period of time. Dog owners may leave their dogs for anywhere from one night to a month or longer.
How much can you charge customers?
Like hotels, kennel businesses’ rates vary depending on how many amenities they provide. Kennels that provide no-frills accommodations for dogs typically charge between $12 and $26 per dog, per day. These kennels often include little more than a cement floor, and fenced-in run or play area. Kennels that are a little nicer usually charge $22 to $55 per dog, per day, and a few extremely high-end kennels charge as much as $110 per dog, per day. The fanciest kennels have rugs, actual furniture, fancy food, comfortable beds and even art for the dogs they board.
It’s also common to vary rates according to the weight of a dog, with large dogs paying as much as 50 percent more than small dogs. Some kennels provide a discount for boarding more than one dog at a time.
How much profit can a kennel business make?
A kennel business’ earning potential is limited by the rates for boarding dogs in its region and how many dogs it can hold. A low-end kennel that is able to host up to 30 dogs and charges $20 per night can bring in as much as $600 in one night. The kennel may not always be full, though. On average, it might have 10 dogs every night, thus earning an average of $200 per night. Over the course of a year, that would add up to $73,000. A fancier kennel could earn much more, possibly several hundred thousand dollars in a year.
How can you make your business more profitable?
Kennel businesses can increase their revenue by providing add-on services. Some common add-ons including baths, premium food, extra play time, special treats and medication administration. Kennels can either charge extra for these services, or provide these services as complimentary services but increase their per-night rates.
What will you name your business?
Choosing the right name is important and challenging. If you don’t already have a name in mind, visit our How to Name a Business guide or get help brainstorming a name with our Kennel Business Name Generator
When registering a business name, we recommend researching your business name by checking:
- Your state's business records
- Federal and state trademark records
- Social media platforms
- Web domain availability.
It's very important to secure your domain name before someone else does.
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC or corporation protects you from being held personally liable if your kennel business is sued.
Form Your LLC
Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC
Recommended: You will need to elect a registered agent for your LLC. LLC formation packages usually include a free year of registered agent services. You can choose to hire a registered agent or act as your own.
STEP 3: Register for taxes
You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!
You can acquire your EIN for free through the IRS website, via fax, or by mail. If you would like to learn more about EINs and how they can benefit your LLC, read our article, What is an EIN?.
Small Business Taxes
Depending on which business structure you choose, you might have different options for how your business will be taxed. For example, some LLCs could benefit from being taxed as an S corporation (S corp).
You can learn more about small business taxes in these guides:
There are specific state taxes that might apply to your business. Learn more about state sales tax and franchise taxes in our state sales tax guides.
STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Additionally, learning how to build business credit can help you get credit cards and other financing in your business's name (instead of yours), better interest rates, higher lines of credit, and more.
Open a business bank account
- This separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- It also makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Recommended: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank, credit union, business-loan friendly banks, one with many brick-and-mortar locations, and more.
Get a business credit card
- This helps you separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
- It also builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money and investment later on.
STEP 5: Set up business accounting
Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses
Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
State & Local Business Licensing Requirements
Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a kennel business. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.
Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.
In addition, certain local licensing or regulatory requirements may apply. For more information about local licenses and permits:
- Check with your town, city or county clerk’s office
- Get assistance from one of the local associations listed in US Small Business Associations directory of local business resources
STEP 7: Get business insurance
Just as with licenses and permits, your business needs insurance in order to operate safely and lawfully. Business Insurance protects your company’s financial wellbeing in the event of a covered loss.
There are several types of insurance policies created for different types of businesses with different risks. If you’re unsure of the types of risks that your business may face, begin with General Liability Insurance. This is the most common coverage that small businesses need, so it’s a great place to start for your business.
Learn more about General Liability Insurance.
Another notable insurance policy that many businesses need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If your business will have employees, it’s a good chance that your state will require you to carry Workers' Compensation Coverage.
STEP 8: Define your brand
Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
If you aren't feeling confident about designing your small business logo, then check out our Design Guides for Beginners, we'll give you helpful tips and advice for creating the best unique logo for your business.
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How to promote & market a kennel business
Word-of-mouth recommendations and referrals are the most effective way to promote and market a kennel business. Building relationships with dog walkers, pet sitters, dog groomers and veterinarians can help a new kennel business get referrals.
Placing local advertisements in a newspaper, on Craigslist and on bulletin boards can also be effective.
How to keep customers coming back
A kennel business can set itself apart from other kennels in the area with its prices, location or level of care provided. Dog owners love their dogs, and many will pay a little more or drive a little farther to take their pooches to a kennel where the dogs will have plenty of time to play and exercise.
A certification or associate degree in a dog-related field can also help instill confidence in customers.
STEP 9: Create your business website
After defining your brand and creating your logo the next step is to create a website for your business.
While creating a website is an essential step, some may fear that it’s out of their reach because they don’t have any website-building experience. While this may have been a reasonable fear back in 2015, web technology has seen huge advancements in the past few years that makes the lives of small business owners much simpler.
Here are the main reasons why you shouldn’t delay building your website:
- All legitimate businesses have websites - full stop. The size or industry of your business does not matter when it comes to getting your business online.
- Social media accounts like Facebook pages or LinkedIn business profiles are not a replacement for a business website that you own.
- Website builder tools like the GoDaddy Website Builder have made creating a basic website extremely simple. You don’t need to hire a web developer or designer to create a website that you can be proud of.
Using our website building guides, the process will be simple and painless and shouldn’t take you any longer than 2-3 hours to complete.
Start A Kennel Business In Your State
Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.
Is this Business Right For You?
Anyone who loves dogs may be well-suited for owning a kennel business, as most of the work involves taking care of dogs. Owners often have to play with dogs, and they sometimes need to physically move stubborn pooches. Therefore, owners should be in decent physical condition.
Want to know if you are cut out to be an entrepreneur?
Take our Entrepreneurship Quiz to find out!
What happens during a typical day at a kennel business?
Kennel business owners spend much of their time looking after dogs. This includes putting dogs to bed at night, getting them up in the morning, letting them out as needed, feeding them, exercising them and playing with them. It also involves cleaning up after them as necessary.
When not spending time directly interacting with dogs, owners often take care of administrative items and repair any damaged kennels or fences.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful kennel business?
Kennel business owners should be comfortable around dogs and know how to interact with a wide array of dog breeds and personalities. Owners who don’t have a lot of experience around dogs may want to volunteer at their local SPCA or another animal shelter.
While there aren’t any certification requirements for kennel business owners, owners may want to take a certificate or associate degree program in small animal care. These programs teach students how to safely treat and handle dogs and other small animals. There are programs offered at schools throughout the country. There aren’t many online programs available, though, because learning to safely handle animals is a hands-on activity.
Kennel owners should also have a relationship with a local veterinarian who provides emergency vet services for dogs, in case a dog has medical issues while boarding. Business owners can build this relationship by contacting a local vet to make sure they will take dogs on an emergency basis.
What is the growth potential for a kennel business?
A kennel business can be as small as a one-person operation or as large as a national chain. Many independent kennels have just one location, while national chains often operate through franchise structures.
Not sure if a kennel business is right for you? Try our free Business Idea Generator and find your perfect idea.
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Take the Next Step
Find a business mentor
One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.
Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.
Resources to Help Women in Business
There are many resources out there specifically for women entrepreneurs. We’ve gathered necessary and useful information to help you succeed both professionally and personally:
If you’re a woman looking for some guidance in entrepreneurship, check out this great new series Women in Business created by the women of our partner Startup Savant.
How and when to build a team
A kennel business can be run by one person, but it also can grow to have several employees. Having multiple employees lets the owner of the kennel business be less involved in the kennel’s day-to-day operations. Many kennel business owners hire their first employee when they can no longer take care of all the dogs that come to their kennel, and then continue to hire additional employees as needed.