Starting your own doggy daycare or overnight boarding facility is a daunting task. There are many things you need to consider before deciding on your kennel system.
Row of Double-stack kennels on wheels with glass gates.
The first thing to keep in mind is cleaning.
Most people, when starting a daycare/overnight boarding facility consider the fact that a good clean kennel system is a good thing - but many don't understand fully as to 'why'. Yes, a good clean facility lowers the risk of spreading disease and keeps your critters happy - but it also keeps your customers coming back. If your human customers do not like the look or smell of your facility, they will find another daycare center to drop their animals off. After all, you are providing a 'home away from home' for these beloved pets. If your facility does not look and smell as nice as home, then your customers will find a different place to visit.
A kennel system that is easy to clean - built from materials that are also easy to clean, really add up to savings in the long run. Many kennel manufacturers use laminates to build the kennels. These laminates are usually wood covered in a material that does not absorb water and is easy to clean. Many states have outlawed the use of wood (including laminates) because it simply cannot be cleaned as well as other materials.
Other common kennel materials are:
- powder-coated steel
- galvanized steel
- stainless steel
Each of these materials has advantages and disadvantages in the kennel-world. For example, while it may be tempting to use stainless steel, the cost is incredibly high. Additionally, you have to be careful how you clean the kennels as certain cleansers (including bleach) can etch the stainless steel - removing the protective layer and allowing the steel to rust.
Another thing to keep in mind with materials is how they will look. This includes how the materials will "age" over time. Everything looks great when it is brand-new - but some materials seem to wear better than others. Many kennels are manufactured out of steel with some sort of coating to keep it from rusting. This coating can be scratched off, chewed off, or certain cleansers can dissolve it off! This causes the steel underneath to be exposed to the water or urine and things start to rust!
There are kennels made from materials that cannot rust (aluminum or plastic). These tend to cost a little more up-front, but should look less run-down after a few years.
Combined with the materials the kennels are made from, the kennels themselves can have fun colors, custom logo/designs on them or other fun features to make them look less like "jail" and more like a fun place to visit! Check out our blog post about kennel customizing: here.
Ease of cleaning not only makes your life easier - and keep your customers coming back, it also saves time. Time is very important as it is in limited supply. Your days will quickly fill up with dealing with human customers, phone calls, feeding, watering, playing with the critters, more phone calls, and cleaning. If you don't want to work until the wee hours of the morning keeping everything ship-shape, you should probably consider the ways you can save time.
One time saver is a way to feed the critters fast. Each time you have to open the gate, the animal wants to either play or escape. This means, you will at least have to block the animal from escaping. However, by blocking the animal,you don't have as much room to hold the food and water and dishes, and pet the dog or cat while trying to get food in the bowl. A feature such as the Fast-feeder system saves more time than you think.
Obviously, you will need room to house the critters, but a feature that many daycare / overnight boarding facilities overlook is the need for extra storage. You will need a place for the animal's food, medication, toys, and any other personal item that your customers will bring. You will be surprised what your customers will bring in for a one-night visit - and you should be prepared by having ample room to store these items. Some daycare / overnight boarding facilities choose to store these items in a separate area from the kennels, while others integrate the storage with the kennel system to keep the critter with his/her personal effects. Regardless of which method you chose, you will need a way to label the items. The last thing you want is for the human customer to be waiting while you and your employees look everywhere for Spot's favorite toy.
There are many different options for the structure of your facility. You can either build the building from scratch - which will allow you to add in specific features you want. Or you might be taking an existing building and working around the structure that is already in place. Either way, there are some features you shouldn't overlook:
Good light is a welcome sign for your customers. It makes your facility seem more inviting - and less like jail.
Good ventilation will keep smells from building up - which your human and non-human customers will like. It also helps lower the chance of diseases spreading from one critter to another.
Effective use of space will make your facility look less cluttered and more inviting. First impressions are everything. If you have to crawl over a stack of dog food and squeeze past your computer desk to invite the guest who just walked in the door - your facility will not score very high on first-impressions. Conversely, if your facility is laid out in an orderly fashion and everything seems to have a place (see 'storage' above) then your customers will see you as professional and orderly.
There are also some things to consider when laying out your facility. Some layouts can actually save you money (compared to others) - and some make it easier to handle the dogs! We discuss some of these kennel-specific layouts in another blog posts here.