How You Can Knock out Your Single Greatest Competition
By Danny Engelberg
The single most dangerous threat to the pet boarding industry is the growing trend of house sitting.
More and more people are buying into the illusion of personalized care that, in most cases, is promoted by amateur home sitters looking for an easy buck.
Pet ownership statistics (American Humane Association) show that most dog owners consider their pet a member of the family. They give their pets holiday presents, have their pet’s picture at their place of work or carry their pet’s picture in their wallet or purse. Dog owners endow their dog with human qualities, influencing two main emotions when leaving them in boarding kennels: yearning and guilt.
In the eyes of a pet owner, it is very easy to fall into the personalization illusion sold by home sitters because the illusion is based on the number of pets that are taken care of simultaneously, and not on the professionalism or experience of the pet sitter, or on the facility structure and layout and its adaption for pet care.
Together with the humanization of dogs and the growing demand for personalized care, the use of internet–enabled unprofessional people who promote their amateur business is growing. The blooming of home sitters even created a business model for websites that operate like brokerage between home sitters and pets.
It sounds like our industry is in great threat and that home sitters will destroy the boarding kennels business. How can a boarding kennel that contains hundreds of dogs actually provide 24/7 personalized care without going bankrupt? How can a dog owner be truly convinced that his beloved pet is taken care of as if he was the only one that existed? Seems to be impossible to do so, and unless boarding kennels have the tools and means to provide a significantly higher standard of personalized care, they are doomed to failure.
Well, almost as poetic justice, the natural course and development of the internet itself is the key for the boarding kennel industry to overcome the so-called advantage that home sitters promote; “personalized care”. These days, we are witnessing the beginning of a new technology area called the Internet of Things (IOT). IOT is the network of physical objects, devices, vehicles, buildings and other items which are embedded with electronics, software, sensors and network connectivity, which enables these objects to collect and exchange data. The Internet of Things allows objects to be sensed and controlled remotely across the existing network infrastructure, creating opportunities for more direct integration between the physical world and computer–based systems, and resulting in improved efficiency, accuracy and economic benefit.
Recently, we have seen many new inventions that deal with the pet industry and they are all based on the “Internet of Things”: Smart collars, cameras, and other devices that collect and exchange data. This newly available technology is the only answer to the home sitters’ threat to boarding kennels. Implementation and use of technology in kennels will allow kennel managers to have 24/7, full and live–situation status and analysis. Only by the use of technology we will be able to provide the highest standard of genuine, professional care to each and one of the pets that we host.
Danny Engelberg is second generation in boarding kennel management, owning Uncle Moshe’s Farm, the largest boarding kennel in Israel that was established in 1978 by Danny’s father, Mervyn (Moshe) Engelberg and for the last 10 years they have run the business together.