Starting a Pet Business
There is a great deal of opportunity in the pet industry, however, as with many entrepreneurial ventures, it is essential that you obtain the relevant knowledge and expertise before starting out.
Dealing with pets brings with it much joy but of paramount importance for any pet related business is the ethos of responsible pet ownership and care. It is important that you consult with a veterinarian on any important issues to ensure the pets' wellbeing is always a priority.
Within the pet industry, pet services would appear to be the fastest growing area both locally and internationally. While pet training, boarding, and grooming remain popular and necessary, services such as pet photography, portrait artists, hydrotherapy and even pet spa treatments are offered as more and more owners are splashing out on their beloved pets. Innovative new products are constantly being developed for pets, from bacon-scented bubbles to DNA tests that determine the heritage of your “pavement special”.
There are a wide range of pet services and products you could offer the pet-loving public and we will highlight just a few;
Boarding Kennels and/or Cattery
Due to the growing demand for accommodation for pets whilst their owners are away on business or holiday, there has been a steady increase in the number of kennels and catteries available and there are even places that will look after more exotic pets. Taking care of a loved companion animal is a serious business and a huge responsibility, and a number of factors should be considered.
Most animals create noise so you would need to ascertain whether your neighbors would object, whether you comply with your local bylaws and what permissions need to be sought. Your facilities would also need to be secure enough to prevent the escape of an animal and large enough for dogs to have space to run and be exercised.
Animals are also more likely to pick up diseases when in high density, stressful conditions and a lenient intake protocol could result in disaster.
Cats, in particular, are prone to stress and need to be kept in a quiet area far away from any barking dogs. There are some establishments that have gone the extra mile and included televisions and music to both soothe and entertain the pets in their temporary care.
Professional pet sitting has become very popular and whilst there are a number of companies and individuals who offer these services, many are localized so it might be useful to check if there are any operating in your area.
Many owners prefer to have their pets stay at home whilst they are away and would rather have somebody come to their house. Your duties would include feeding the pets and giving them water and may also include walking, grooming, administering medications and even playing with the animals. You could be asked to stay at the property or to visit daily.
In recent times much progress has been made on the psychology of pet behavior and a number of organizations in South Africa offer accredited behaviorist and training courses. These days it's not only horses that are “whispered to” and many a nervous kitty and misbehaving pooch have benefitted from seeing a professional who can provide guidance to both them and their owners!
Pet foods make up the bulk of spending within the pet industry but it requires a great deal of research and expertise and as a result, would require a fair amount of capital expenditure and product development before the actual marketing of the product.
Bedding and Housing
One only needs to visit your local veterinary store or pet shop to see the great number of different products available for your pets to sleep on or in. From adapted tractor tires to custom made homes complete with lighting and under-floor heating, sponge cushions to memory foam mattresses and everything in-between, there are always unique new products entering the market and with some innovation and the right market research, there are certainly opportunities in this area.
Starting a shelter requires much in the way of initial setup and administration, and possibly more good could be done channeling your energy into helping an existing shelter. Running a shelter is both physically and emotionally draining. In most cases, it will deplete your financial resources rather than add to them.
Every animal that is admitted needs to be vaccinated, sterilized, treated for parasites and, ideally, micro-chipped. Even at reduced veterinary rates, these essentials cost more than the adoption fee the public is willing to pay for a rescue animal and most shelters make a loss on each and every animal they home. Organizations that focus on fundraising for animal charities provide a tremendous boost to existing charities.
New moves within the pet industry according to the American Pet Products Association include;
Eco-friendly Pet Products
High-tech Pet Products
Monogrammed Pet Products
Human Product Manufacturers now offering Pet Products (e.g. Paul Mitchell, Harley Davidson etc.)
Advertising your pet business
The old adage goes: “Doing business without advertising is like winking at someone in a dark room. You know you're doing it but nobody else does.” It is important for any business and especially for any new enterprise to advertise. Ensure that you make the most of your advertising investment by asking consumers how they found your product.
This will enable you to calculate the return on investment (ROI) that you are getting from the various advertising media you employ.
“Grief is like a raging river. In order to get to the other side, you must swim through it!
Like humans, pets are vulnerable to a slew of injuries and illnesses. Some are simple, such as arthritis, sunburns and ear infections. Others are more complex, such as kidney disease and cancer. Most, though not all, are preventable!