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For anyone who loves to spend time with dogs, a dog day care or dog park can be an ideal business. The cost to start an indoor dog park can range between $10,000 and $20,000 in addition to the cost of leasing a property, so it's not a business you should jump into without first doing some market research.
Profitable Dog Park Ideas
There are essentially three ways to turn a dog park into a business idea. You can walk dogs for a fee, charge a fee for using your own park (either indoor or outdoor) or combine the two by walking dogs in a private park for a fee.
Starting off with a dog-walking service would be the better choice if you are short on capital but have lots of time. There are many people who make a good living doing this. Find out how many dogs you are limited to walking at the same time in your city and then charge an appropriate fee for a daily walk for each dog.
If you want to set up your own private dog park, you will need to buy or lease a building or a plot of land. This could be ideal if there aren't a lot of places in your community where people can bring their dogs. You can also promote it as a dog day care where customers can leave their dogs while they're at work for the day.
Research Your Market First
Before you can start your business, find out what others are charging for services like the ones you plan to offer, including dog walkers, dog day cares and private parks. Ideally, there shouldn't be too many dog day cares or parks in your immediate vicinity already. If there are, you will need to find a way to make your business stand out from them.
Research what level of interest there may be for a private dog park in your area. Stop by the local veterinary clinics, public dog parks and pet stores to talk to people. Look for dog-oriented groups in your city on Facebook and ask people there what they might think of your ideas.
Finally, take a look at what dog-related businesses are doing in other cities. Examine their websites, look at the layouts in pictures and videos they post and jot down the ideas that you can use for your business.
Business Registration and Licensing
You will need to register your business and select a business structure. In most cases, a limited liability company should suffice. It gives you some personal protection from your company in the event that you have debts or get involved in a lawsuit, with less paperwork than what is needed for a corporation. However, you will still need to look into business insurance, including liability insurance.
Make sure you understand the registration and licensing requirements for your business from the state and local government. You will also need to ensure that zoning laws make your dog park permissible at your desired location. In most cases, dogs are allowed indoors provided that food is not being served. However, local laws can vary.
Setting Up Your Dog Park
If your dog park has an outdoor element to it, you will need to ensure it is fenced properly. If a dog should escape from the park, you could be held liable. For an indoor park, you will want to stock it with equipment to keep the dogs and their owners satisfied, including dog park necessities like:
- Teeter totters
- Dog waste bags and bins
You will need to make sure that you can charge enough people for the services you offer to legitimize the startup costs and property lease, not to mention your time. This is another reason that researching your local market is vital before making any investments in your dog park business.
A published author, David Weedmark has advised businesses on technology, media and marketing for more than 20 years and used to teach computer science at Algonquin College. He is currently the owner of Mad Hat Labs, a web design and media consultancy business. David has written hundreds of articles for newspapers, magazines and websites including American Express, Samsung, Re/Max and the New York Times' About.com.