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 step guide to starting your pet taxi business. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
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 long it will take you to break even?
- 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 pet taxi business?
Startup costs for a pet taxi business are relatively low, ranging from $15,000 to $40,000, depending upon the supplies you already have on hand. Your initial investment should include the following:
- Vehicle - Large enough to fit several crates and easy to get in and out of for those animals that have difficulty getting around. Proper climate control is also imperative.
- Location - While you won’t have a lot of visitors throughout the day, experienced pet taxi business owners recommend having a small brick and mortar shop in a visible and easily accessible location.
- License - Under the Animal Welfare Act, you may be required to acquire a license through the United States Department of Agriculture. Visit their website for rules and guidelines. Be sure to check with your state, city, and county guidelines as well.
- Insurance and bond - Your insurance agent can recommend the best policies and bonds to ensure you are fully covered.
- Business software - Since you are on the road most of the time, having the ability to take payments from your mobile device is essential. There are a variety of options available today, including Square, PayAnywhere, PayPal, and QuickBooks GoPayment. Booking software will help you keep track of appointments and store essential client data.
- Pet essentials - Various sized crates, dog harness seat belts, toys, treats, water bowls, etc.
- Website - Try one of the free website builders or hire a professional, depending upon your budget and skill level.
Many new business owners prefer the peace of mind of investing in a franchise. There are a number of franchising options available, with fees ranging anywhere from $12,000 to $21,000, including franchise fee, setup, training, and orientation.
What are the ongoing expenses for a pet taxi business?
Your greatest ongoing expense will be fuel costs and insurance. If you choose to have an office, plan to budget for standard expenses such as rent, utilities, phone, and Internet. While you’ll likely start out as the sole employee, payroll expenses should be considered before you start building a team.
How does a pet taxi business make money?
A pet taxi business charges a fee for services rendered. Fees are charged by the hour, with additional charges for special services and last minute requests.
How much can you charge customers?
When setting your rates, consider factors like mileage, time per trip, number of animals you can transport at once, ongoing costs, and additional services you plan to offer (e.g. dog walks, trips to the dog park, medication administration). Rates are typically a set amount for the first hour, with an additional charge per half hour after that. Additional fees apply for after hours services, last minute bookings, holidays, and short notice cancellations.
How much profit can a pet taxi business make?
If each transporter was able to take four animals to their appointments and work five days a week at $47 per animal, your business will collect $3,760 per month. Deduct your standard expenses to determine the business’ profit. As you start to gain traction, you can add team members and improve profits.
How can you make your business more profitable?
Consider offering additional services, such as cat and dog sitting (overnight or just daytime), dog walking, picking up pet food and other necessities, and walks to the park. Get to know your client base and learn if there are any retail items they would be interested in purchasing from you.
What will you name your business?
Choosing the right name is very important. We recommend checking if the business name you choose is available as a web domain and securing it early so no one else can take it.
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC prevents you from being personally liable if your pet taxi business is sued. There are many business structures to choose from including: Corporations, LLC's, and DBA's.
You should also consider using a registered agent service to help protect your privacy and stay compliant.
For most small businesses forming an LLC is a great option, but if you still want to weigh all your options check our our article, What Structure Should I Choose for My Business?
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?.
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.
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.
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.
STEP 7: Get Business Insurance
Insurance is highly recommended for all business owners. If you hire employees, workers compensation insurance may be a legal requirement in your state.
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.
How to promote & market a pet taxi business
In this industry, reputation and word of mouth is critical to your success. Get involved in the community and build partnerships with other organizations that cater to animals. Fostering these relationships will help both parties garner more business. The Internet is a useful marketing tool, offering a number of options for free advertising. Build a simple website that offers potential customers relevant information. Advertise on blogs, social media, local online directories, and public sites such as Siggy’s Paradise. Customized car magnets are also effective ways of getting your name out in the community.
Recommended: Get started with local advertising for your business with a $300 credit from Yelp.
How to keep customers coming back
Encourage referrals and repeat customers by providing incentives such as discount days or “buy ten, get one free.” The animals you are charged with will be your biggest advocates - treat them with love and respect and their owners will take notice.
STEP 9: Establish your Web Presence
A business website allows customers to learn more about your company and the products or services you offer. You can also use social media to attract new clients or customers.
Start A Pet Taxi Business In Your State
Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.
It is important to remember that pet taxi customers have high expectations; and with good reason. They expect you to show their pets the same love and compassion they would. Therefore, taxi business owners should naturally be drawn to animals, hopefully having a pet themselves. Throughout the workday, drivers will handle multiple animals, each with their own personality and special needs. Understanding body language and cues will help in building a successful business.
What happens during a typical day at a pet taxi business?
Your day will vary depending upon the level of service you offer, the type of animal you are transporting, and where you are transporting them to. Some pet taxi businesses offer a whole suite of services, including trips to the park and long distance travel. For the most part, your days will consist of collecting the animal, securing it in your vehicle, and transporting them to the desired destination. Once the client’s pet is transported back home, it may need a walk and some fresh water before the house is locked up.
In addition to caring for clients’ pets, there are administrative duties to handle and phone calls and emails to answer. You or a member of your staff must remain vigilant with the organization’s marketing efforts to ensure the business’ success.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful pet taxi business?
While a pet taxi business doesn’t require a specific degree or training, there are a number of skills that would prove beneficial. Like humans, each animal you come in contact with will have a unique personality and set of needs. Familiarizing yourself with animal behavior and health will help keep both you and your client’s pet safe. Consider working/volunteering at a veterinarian’s office, groomer, or shelter to gain invaluable hands-on experience.
It is also recommended that you familiarize yourself with the basics in business management. Your business’ brand and growth are reliant on your ability to effectively communicate with both your two-legged and four-legged customers. Strong interpersonal skills and patience are critical. Additionally, show the public and your colleagues that you are committed to safely and humanely transporting each animal by becoming a member of International Pet and Animal Transportation Association (IPATA).
What is the growth potential for a pet taxi business?
Reports indicate the pet industry is a $70 billion industry, promising continued growth well into the future. While this business concept is gaining traction around the world, it is still a relatively new service. The market is not oversaturated and promises significant growth in the coming years. This, coupled with the low startup costs, ensures a profitable business venture for entrepreneurs working their way into the industry.
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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.
What are some insider tips for jump starting a pet taxi business?
When developing your business plan, consider the following advice:
- Start out with a small servicing area, expanding further as the business gains popularity.
- Draft a standard contract to be signed by the pet owner. It should address liability issues and explain the terms of service, including: cost, pickup and drop off details, pet’s information and medical history, emergency contact information, and veterinarian’s contact information.
- Before opening your doors, conduct thorough research. Learn your competition’s strengths and weaknesses. Identify areas that are lacking and create your own niche.
How and when to build a team
The quality of your staff is important for long-term success. Complete background checks, run driving reports, and work to make sure your staff is trained properly. Additionally, it is recommended that you retain an attorney to assess the legality of your business and receive guidance regarding client contracts, etc.