Attract Your Ideal Cat Clients With Add-On Services
By Deborah Hansen
Cat owners can be challenging for boarding facilities to attract and maintain for a multitude of reasons. Many cat owners believe they can just leave food and water out, and the kitty will be “fine”.
The cat clientele that is going to pay for boarding has many unique quirks. These owners have a certain way they expect their cat to be cared for and pampered. The majority of cat clients who bring their cats in for boarding have high expectations that can be overwhelming for boarding facilities.
So, how do we not only meet but exceed the high expectations cat owners have of boarding facilities? We offer a menu of add-ons to attract the type of cat owners we dream of serving—while increasing your bottom line.
Feline boarding add-ons range from meeting special requests of cat owners to luxury items. The key to many top-selling add-ons is offering services the cat owner never realized were available. There are many easy and low-cost options when it comes to feline add-ons for your boarding business.
When your business is considering which add-ons to offer your feline boarding clients, there are three areas I like to start with: owner convenience, special requests and creature comforts. These categories will help you focus on the services that give you the best return on investment while meshing seamlessly with your branding to cater to your ideal clientele.
Owner convenience is a great starting point when considering the best add-ons for your feline department. Extended hours for drop-off and pick-up is an added service many facilities already offer. While this helps cat owners, many owners dread the process of taking the cat to the boarding establishment. Offering pick-up and delivery of the cat not only saves the cat owner time, but also eliminates the owner hearing the dreaded “cat car song” on the way to your business. Pick-up and drop-off services help the feline owner start their trip out of town on a positive note, making it well worth the added cost to the owner.
Special requests for cat owners can range from medication administration to unique ways to prepare meals. Many cat owners have a preferred method of feeding their cats which might include a mixture of water, kibble and multiple can foods. While some cat owners have specific feeding times, others are just as happy with the cat free-feeding. Then there are the owners who hand feed their kitty each bite the kitty eats. When catering to these special meal requests, it may be best to charge by the time the task takes to complete.
The add-on category of creature comforts can be very profitable to your business. The possibilities for this category really are endless. I always like to start with background sounds because I believe it is the best way to relieve some of the anxiety felines face in the boarding environment. Offering the owners a menu of music and TV options for their cat is something most appreciate and is simple to implement. Depending on your starting point, the upfront costs can be very low.
How you provide water to the cats in your care can also increase your profits. A popular add-on service that can be offered and will enhance the overall ambiance of your boarding facility is a private drinking fountain. Adding drinking fountains will not only pull in extra income, but will also add the gentle sound of flowing water to your feline area. When choosing a drinking fountain, be sure to research the difficulty level in sanitizing each fountain. Some drinking fountains are easier to clean and reassemble than others.
Litter box maintenance is another easy way to upgrade a cat’s stay. There are several directions your business can take with a litter box upgrade. Type of litter, frequency of cleaning and type of box all can be studied when exploring new add-ons for your boarding business. Some owners scoop every time the cat uses the litter box. These clients will gladly pay for the kitty box being cleaned three times a day instead of the standard once a day.
The option of clients bringing their own litter, or your facility providing an upgraded litter, is also preferred by many owners. When a client brings their own litter, you save on your operating costs, making it a cost-effective option. An upgraded litter box could be one with a privacy hood or larger in size. When it comes to add-ons in the area of the litter box, the possibilities are limitless.
An option with low upfront costs is time in the sun. I don’t know a cat that doesn’t enjoy a nap in a sun puddle! Offering time out of the enclosure in a room with direct sunlight is a big hit with feline owners. You can take it one step further and offer play time or petting time in the sun-room. Any cage-free time in a larger, separate room is a very popular add-on service.
Many cats feel more secure when they have something to hide in during boarding. There are many options of things to add to a cat’s environment that are easy to disinfect while providing the comfort of hiding while in your care.
When considering add-on services for your feline boarding business model, the possibilities are limitless. I always suggest looking at your branding and then begin with options that have a low up-front cost. Once you have established what is popular with your clients, begin to expand your add-on services into that area. Add-ons are a great way to attract and retain the feline clientele your business strives to serve.