Pet Boarding & Daycare

5 Areas to Consider When Planning for a New Facility

5 Areas to Consider When Planning for a New Facility

By Dan Nyberg

As with any building project, a successful pet boarding and daycare facility depends on a well thought-out plan. Properly designed, the project should provide a safe, caring place for pets, a welcoming environment for their owners and a comfortable, efficient workspace for employees.

The following are some recommendations to consider when planning a new build or an addition to an existing boarding/daycare facility.

1. Level of Care: For many years, the standard pet boarding facility offered simple 4- by 6-foot indoor kennels attached to a 4- by 12-foot outdoor run. Today, it is not uncommon to find upscale facilities that include large rooms with beds, carpeting and even televisions to play recorded messages from their owners.  When planning a new boarding facility, begin by conducting market research to determine the type of care that will best align with your potential customer base. Viewing competitor websites or asking to tour their facilities can be good sources of intel.

2. Space Allocation: When allocating space within the facility, take into account auxiliary services you might want to offer, such as dog grooming or training, that can provide additional revenue opportunities and build customer loyalty. Dog training typically requires more space, which may necessitate construction of a stand-alone building separate from boarding space. You may also consider an indoor area for daycare or group play.

The customer-receiving area could also include room for retail sales, such as pet food, toys and other supplies. If cats are to be boarded, they will need inside exercise rooms with carpet-covered posts and climbing structures. The kitchen space should be sized and laid out for efficient food preparation and delivery to the enclosures.

3. Sound Control: Boarding facilities are inherently noisy places, but the use of sound-absorbing building materials can help provide a more comfortable environment for employees, and reduce stress for the animals.  Sound-absorbing materials on upper walls and ceilings can produce a noticeable difference in the noise level. Similarly, plan to install a sound barrier between the enclosures and receiving area to create a more pleasing environment for customers dropping off and picking up their pets.

4. Visual Barriers: Customers want to know their pets are comfortable and being well cared for. Dogs that jump up and down in their enclosures are not necessarily experiencing emotional discomfort, but it can be unsettling to customers who see it. The use of visual barriers that block customer views of the dog areas can help reduce customer concerns. 

It’s also an accepted fact that some dogs simply do not get along. For enclosures with outdoor runs separated by a transparent material, the use of a solid material for the bottom four feet of the runs can prevent dogs from seeing each other. And, it will help reduce or eliminate hostilities that otherwise could be seen by customers from the facility parking lot.

5. Building Size and Growth: One of the most important decisions is building size, which is a factor driven by your business plan. Based on projected occupancy, determine how many enclosures are needed to generate the required monthly income to fund the project and meet operating expenses. As noted above, a good understanding of the local market is critical to gauge potential demand. Failing to also take future expansion into consideration is a costly mistake. Be sure that the auxiliary service areas are large enough to accommodate projected growth, since expanding those areas is considerably more expensive than adding enclosures.

A well-conceived design will help ensure an efficient project that meets the needs of pet owners, employees and customers, while also providing a steady cash flow to owners. Pet boarding and daycare is a business built on customer trust and loyalty, and a high-quality facility plays a key role in achieving that. 

Dan Nyberg, sales training manager for Morton Buildings, has been a company employee for over 30 years. Previous roles includes director of sales, regional manager covering parts of the Midwest, and sales consultant for north central Illinois. Prior to joining Morton, he wrote environmental impact statements for the Idaho Department of Highways, worked in public relations and recruiting for Trinity Western University, handled on-air and sales duties at Denver radio station KLIR / KRKS and was a farm manager in Lafayette, Colorado. He enjoys raising grass fed cattle on his small farm in northern Illinois.