With more than $43 billion spent on the pet industry last year, it is certainly possible to make money building dog houses. Dogs are frequently perceived as part of the family, and most pet owners wouldn't send a family member to sleep under the porch. The market for both low- and high-end dog houses is continuing to increase and wise business people will be quick to meet the demand.
Things You Will Need
Obtain the proper business licenses for your area by checking with your county's business division, often found at the local court house. Purchase business stationery to enhance the professional image of your dog-house selling business. Assess the competition by researching the dog-house market in your area as if you were a customer interested in buying a dog house. Identify what is available, in what price range, with what special features. Make note of what segment of the dog-house market has not yet been adequately addressed in your area.
Develop your designs for two or three basic dog houses and list all the materials needed to construct these units. Consult with a local veterinarian to make sure your designs are totally safe for dogs. Research the material costs and the value of your time for each of the designs. Speak with local building-material suppliers to determine at what point you would qualify for volume pricing. Consider whether you could safely utilize recycled materials, which would both cut back on costs and add a "green" selling point to your products. Calculate what your minimum selling price would need to be in order to make money building and selling your dog houses.
Build several sample models of your dog houses. Take them to special events and use them to show potential customers the quality and unique features of your products. Develop a marketing plan to make the public aware of your product line. Consider donating some of your dog houses to the local animal shelter either for them to use or to auction off as a fundraiser; this will generate positive publicity for your products. Place fliers on bulletin boards at area veterinarian offices, pet supply stores, groomers, and stores that sell dog feed. List your business on computer directories of pet products for your area and consider developing a website to showcase your work. Send fliers to home design companies advertising your ability to provide custom dog houses created to mirror or complement dog owners' homes.
Consider adding accessory products to enhance your dog-house business, such as dog-proof yard fencing, dog beds, attached feed and water bowls. Figure the costs for offering a delivery and set-up service for customers within a certain distance of your home base. Track demand and manage inventory carefully so that you will be able to provide quick turn around on orders.
Follow up by sending seasonal greetings to the pets in families who have purchased your products and include coupons for accessories and additional dog house purchases. Consider offering a coupon that customers can give to friends to earn a free accessory if the friends purchase a dog house--word of mouth is some of the most effective advertising . Track seasonal fluctuations in your business and consider offering related holiday packages that would include several of your products.
Keep accurate records for both income and marketing purposes. Identify your most popular items and offer more like those. Phase out items that are not selling well or find a new way to market or repurpose them. Continue to keep tabs on the pet and dog industry in your area in order to be able to respond to developing needs and special situations to keep your business profitable.
Don't limit yourself to dog houses only. Cats, ferrets, birds, rabbits, reptiles, and other pets need places to live and addressing their needs might provide an additional income stream for your business.
Consider offering annual spring cleaning certificates for sale that would include a thorough disinfection of the dog house, repainting, roof repair, a fresh new interior cushion and perhaps a small toy for the resident.
Educate yourself regarding any dangers or health hazards associated with your category of products and make an effort to guard against those problems, such as toxic paints, splintering wood, or entanglement areas.