Carolyn Young is a business writer who focuses on entrepreneurial concepts and the business formation. She has over 25 years of experience in business roles, and has authored several entrepreneurship textbooks.
David has been writing and learning about business, finance and globalization for a quarter-century, starting with a small New York consulting firm in the 1990s.
Published on February 26, 2022 Updated on November 24, 2023
$3,550 - $14,100
$46,800 - $390,000 p.a.
Time to build
1 – 3 months
$42,000 - $78,000 p.a.
People adore their pets, but they’re often unable to bring them on vacation. That’s where kennels come in, which these days are almost like hotels for pets and make up an $8 billion US industry. If you love animals, you could start your own kennel, even a small one in your own home, and make good money while taking care of people’s cuddly cuties.
But starting a successful business requires a great deal of planning and preparation. Fortunately, this step-by-step guide lays out all you need to know and walks you through the process of starting a kennel from beginning to end.
Looking to register your business? A limited liability company (LLC) is the best legal structure for new businesses because it is fast and simple.
Average level of education – The average kennel worker is high school educated.
Average age – The average kennel worker in the US is 32.5 years old.
How much does it cost to start a kennel business?
Startup costs for a kennel range from $3,500 for a home kennel to $14,000 for a physical location. Costs include crates and other equipment as well as a deposit on a kennel space on the high end.
You will also need to get a kennel license for your kennel and pet boarding business. Requirements vary by state, and licenses usually need to be renewed annually.
You’ll need a handful of items to successfully launch your kennel business, including:
Setting up a business name and corporation
$150 - $200
Business licenses and permits
$100 - $300
Business cards and brochures
$200 - $300
$1,000 - $3,000
$0 - $5,000
Crates and other supplies
$2,000 - $5,000
$3,550 - $14,100
How much can you earn from a kennel business?
The average price of a kennel is $50 per day. If you start the kennel in your home, your profit margin should be about 90%.
In your first year or two, you could work from home with 6 crates and fill each crate for 3 days a week, bringing in $46,800 in annual revenue. This would mean $42,000 in profit, assuming that 90% margin. As your brand gains recognition and you get repeat customers, you’d rent a commercial space and hire staff, reducing your profit margin to around 20%. If you can fill 25 crates 6 days per week, you’d have annual revenue of $390,000, and you’d make a tidy profit of $78,000.
What barriers to entry are there?
There are a few barriers to entry for a kennel. Your biggest challenges will be:
The startup costs to rent a space and purchase equipment
Competition from established kennels
Related Business Ideas
If you’re still not sure whether this business idea is the right choice for you, here are some related business opportunities to help you on your path to entrepreneurial success.
Now that you know what’s involved in starting a kennel, it’s a good idea to hone your concept in preparation to enter a competitive market.
Market research will give you the upper hand, even if you’re already positive that you have a perfect product or service. Conducting market research is important, because it can help you understand your customers better, who your competitors are, and your business landscape.
Why? Identify an opportunity
Research kennels in your area to examine their services, price points, and customer reviews. You’re looking for a market gap to fill. For instance, maybe the local market is missing a kennel that also offers grooming and training.
You might consider targeting a niche market by specializing in a certain aspect of your industry, such as cat boarding.
This could jumpstart your word-of-mouth marketing and attract clients right away.
What? Determine your products or services
In addition to boarding services you could offer:
Pet spa services
How much should you charge for pet boarding?
The average price for pet boarding is $50 per day. Once you have a physical location, your expenses will be rent, overhead, and labor. You should aim for a profit margin of at least 20%.
Once you know your costs, you can use this Step By Step profit margin calculator to determine your mark-up and final price points. Remember, the prices you use at launch should be subject to change if warranted by the market.
Who? Identify your target market
Your target market will be pet owners, which is broad. You should spread out your marketing to include sites like TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn. You could also distribute flyers at pet stores and veterinary offices.
Where? Choose your kennel location
In the early stages, you may want to run your business from home to keep costs low. But as your business grows, you’ll likely need to hire workers for various roles and may need to rent out a kennel space.
Depending on the type of kennel services you plan to offer, you may also want to consider the proximity to residential areas or parks. Find commercial space to rent in your area on sites such as Craigslist, Crexi, and Instant Offices.
When choosing a commercial space, you may want to follow these rules of thumb:
Central location accessible via public transport
Ventilated and spacious, with good natural light
Flexible lease that can be extended as your business grows
Ready-to-use space with no major renovations or repairs needed
Step 3: Brainstorm a Kennel Name
Your business name is your business identity, so choose one that encapsulates your objectives, services, and mission in just a few words. You probably want a name that’s short and easy to remember, since much of your business, and your initial business in particular, will come from word-of-mouth referrals.
Here are some ideas for brainstorming your business name:
Short, unique, and catchy names tend to stand out
Names that are easy to say and spell tend to do better
Name should be relevant to your product or service offerings
Ask around — family, friends, colleagues, social media — for suggestions
Including keywords, such as “kennel” or “pet boarding”, boosts SEO
Name should allow for expansion, for ex: “Playful Pooch Kennels” over “Medical Care Kennels”
Avoid location-based names that might hinder future expansion
Once you’ve got a list of potential names, visit the website of the US Patent and Trademark Office to make sure they are available for registration and check the availability of related domain names using our Domain Name Search tool. Using “.com” or “.org” sharply increases credibility, so it’s best to focus on these.
Finally, make your choice among the names that pass this screening and go ahead with domain registration and social media account creation. Your business name is one of the key differentiators that sets your business apart. Once you pick your company name, and start with the branding, it is hard to change the business name. Therefore, it’s important to carefully consider your choice before you start a business entity.
Step 4: Create a Kennel Business Plan
Every business needs a plan. This will function as a guidebook to take your startup through the launch process and maintain focus on your key goals. A business plan also enables potential partners and investors to better understand your company and its vision:
Executive Summary: A concise summary of the entire business plan, highlighting key points and objectives.
Business Overview: A brief introduction to the kennel business, its mission, and the problem it aims to solve.
Product and Services: Details about the specific services offered, such as pet boarding, grooming, and training.
Market Analysis: Examination of the target market, its size, demographics, and trends in the pet care industry.
Competitive Analysis: Assessment of competitors in the local area, their strengths, weaknesses, and how your kennel will stand out.
Sales and Marketing: Strategies for promoting the kennel, acquiring customers, and generating revenue.
Management Team: Profiles of key team members and their roles in running the kennel.
Operations Plan: Information on day-to-day operations, including location, facilities, staffing, and processes.
Financial Plan: Projections of financial statements, including income, expenses, and funding requirements.
Appendix: Supplementary materials, such as resumes, market research data, or additional documents that support the business plan.
If you’ve never created a business plan, it can be an intimidating task. You might consider hiring a business plan specialist to create a top-notch business plan for you.
Step 5: Register Your Business
Registering your business is an absolutely crucial step — it’s the prerequisite to paying taxes, raising capital, opening a bank account, and other guideposts on the road to getting a business up and running.
Plus, registration is exciting because it makes the entire process official. Once it’s complete, you’ll have your own business!
Choose where to register your company
Your business location is important because it can affect taxes, legal requirements, and revenue. Most people will register their business in the state where they live, but if you’re planning to expand, you might consider looking elsewhere, as some states could offer real advantages when it comes to kennels.
If you’re willing to move, you could really maximize your business! Keep in mind, it’s relatively easy to transfer your business to another state.
Choose your business structure
Business entities come in several varieties, each with its pros and cons. The legal structure you choose for your kennel will shape your taxes, personal liability, and business registration requirements, so choose wisely.
Here are the main options:
Sole Proprietorship – The most common structure for small businesses makes no legal distinction between company and owner. All income goes to the owner, who’s also liable for any debts, losses, or liabilities incurred by the business. The owner pays taxes on business income on his or her personal tax return.
General Partnership – Similar to a sole proprietorship, but for two or more people. Again, owners keep the profits and are liable for losses. The partners pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
Limited Liability Company (LLC) – Combines the characteristics of corporations with those of sole proprietorships or partnerships. Again, the owners are not personally liable for debts.
C Corp – Under this structure, the business is a distinct legal entity and the owner or owners are not personally liable for its debts. Owners take profits through shareholder dividends, rather than directly. The corporation pays taxes, and owners pay taxes on their dividends, which is sometimes referred to as double taxation.
S Corp – An S-Corporation refers to the tax classification of the business but is not a business entity. An S-Corp can be either a corporation or an LLC, which just need to elect to be an S-Corp for tax status. In an S-Corp, income is passed through directly to shareholders, who pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
We recommend that new business owners choose LLC as it offers liability protection and pass-through taxation while being simpler to form than a corporation. You can form an LLC in as little as five minutes using an online LLC formation service. They will check that your business name is available before filing, submit your articles of organization, and answer any questions you might have.
The final step before you’re able to pay taxes is getting an Employer Identification Number, or EIN. You can file for your EIN online or by mail or fax: visit the IRS website to learn more. Keep in mind, if you’ve chosen to be a sole proprietorship you can simply use your social security number as your EIN.
Once you have your EIN, you’ll need to choose your tax year. Financially speaking, your business will operate in a calendar year (January–December) or a fiscal year, a 12-month period that can start in any month. This will determine your tax cycle, while your business structure will determine which taxes you’ll pay.
It is important to consult an accountant or other professional to help you with your taxes to ensure you’re completing them correctly.
Step 7: Fund your Business
Securing financing is your next step and there are plenty of ways to raise capital:
Bank loans: This is the most common method but getting approved requires a rock-solid business plan and strong credit history.
SBA-guaranteed loans: The Small Business Administration can act as guarantor, helping gain that elusive bank approval via an SBA-guaranteed loan.
Government grants: A handful of financial assistance programs help fund entrepreneurs. Visit Grants.gov to learn which might work for you.
Friends and Family: Reach out to friends and family to provide a business loan or investment in your concept. It’s a good idea to have legal advice when doing so because SEC regulations apply.
Crowdfunding: Websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo offer an increasingly popular low-risk option, in which donors fund your vision. Entrepreneurial crowdfunding sites like Fundable and WeFunder enable multiple investors to fund your business.
Personal: Self-fund your business via your savings or the sale of property or other assets.
Bank and SBA loans are probably the best option, other than friends and family, for funding a kennel business. You might also try crowdfunding if you have an innovative concept.
You will also need to get a kennel license for your kennel and pet boarding business. Requirements vary by state, and licenses usually need to be renewed annually.
Federal regulations, licenses, and permits associated with starting your business include doing business as (DBA), health licenses and permits from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), trademarks, copyrights, patents, and other intellectual properties, as well as industry-specific licenses and permits.
You may also need state-level and local county or city-based licenses and permits. The license requirements and how to obtain them vary, so check the websites of your state, city, and county governments or contact the appropriate person to learn more.
Keeping your business finances separate from your personal account makes it easy to file taxes and track your company’s income, so it’s worth doing even if you’re running your kennel business as a sole proprietorship. Opening a business bank account is quite simple, and similar to opening a personal one. Most major banks offer accounts tailored for businesses — just inquire at your preferred bank to learn about their rates and features.
Banks vary in terms of offerings, so it’s a good idea to examine your options and select the best plan for you. Once you choose your bank, bring in your EIN (or Social Security Number if you decide on a sole proprietorship), articles of incorporation, and other legal documents and open your new account.
Step 10: Get Business Insurance
Business insurance is an area that often gets overlooked yet it can be vital to your success as an entrepreneur. Insurance protects you from unexpected events that can have a devastating impact on your business.
Here are some types of insurance to consider:
General liability: The most comprehensive type of insurance, acting as a catch-all for many business elements that require coverage. If you get just one kind of insurance, this is it. It even protects against bodily injury and property damage.
Business Property: Provides coverage for your equipment and supplies.
Equipment Breakdown Insurance: Covers the cost of replacing or repairing equipment that has broken due to mechanical issues.
Worker’s compensation: Provides compensation to employees injured on the job.
Property: Covers your physical space, whether it is a cart, storefront, or office.
Commercial auto: Protection for your company-owned vehicle.
Professional liability: Protects against claims from a client who says they suffered a loss due to an error or omission in your work.
Business owner’s policy (BOP): This is an insurance plan that acts as an all-in-one insurance policy, a combination of the above insurance types.
As opening day nears, prepare for launch by reviewing and improving some key elements of your business.
Essential software and tools
Being an entrepreneur often means wearing many hats, from marketing to sales to accounting, which can be overwhelming. Fortunately, many websites and digital tools are available to help simplify many business tasks.
You may want to use industry-specific software, such as Easy Busy Pets, Kennel Link, or PAWFINITY, to manage your bookings, service packages, inventory, invoicing, and payments.
If you’re unfamiliar with basic accounting, you may want to hire a professional, especially as you begin. The consequences for filing incorrect tax documents can be harsh, so accuracy is crucial.
Develop your website
Website development is crucial because your site is your online presence and needs to convince prospective clients of your expertise and professionalism.
You can create your own website using website builders. This route is very affordable, but figuring out how to build a website can be time-consuming. If you lack tech-savvy, you can hire a web designer or developer to create a custom website for your business.
They are unlikely to find your website, however, unless you follow Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices. These are steps that help pages rank higher in the results of top search engines like Google.
For your kennel business, the marketing strategy should focus on showcasing the quality of care, comfort, and safety you provide for pets. Emphasize your commitment to animal well-being, the expertise of your staff, and the range of services you offer, such as grooming, training, or specialized care for pets with specific needs.
Professional Branding: Your branding should convey trustworthiness, care, and a pet-friendly atmosphere. This includes a memorable logo, business cards, and a welcoming design for your facility.
Direct Outreach: Network with local veterinarians, pet stores, and pet clubs to introduce your services. Offer referral discounts or partnerships to build relationships.
Digital Presence and Online Marketing
Professional Website and SEO: Develop a website that outlines your services, pricing, and facilities. Use SEO best practices to rank for local searches related to pet boarding, dog kennels, and pet care services.
Social Media Engagement: Utilize platforms like Facebook and Instagram to share photos and videos of pets enjoying their stay, customer testimonials, and information about your services.
Content Marketing and Engagement
Pet Care Blog: Share informative content about pet care, boarding tips, and pet health. This helps position your business as a knowledgeable authority in pet care.
Email Newsletters: Keep your clients informed about any new services, seasonal pet care tips, and special offers.
Video Tours: Create videos that provide virtual tours of your facility, showcasing the space, amenities, and the care pets receive.
Experiential and In-Person Engagements
Open House Events: Host open house events where potential clients can tour your facility, meet the staff, and learn about your services.
Participation in Community Events: Engage in local pet-related events, fairs, and shows to increase visibility and connect with potential clients.
Collaborations and Community
Partnerships with Pet-Related Businesses: Collaborate with pet groomers, trainers, and local pet shops for cross-promotion and referral incentives.
Community Involvement: Participate in or sponsor community events, pet adoption days, and local animal charities to build goodwill and brand recognition.
Customer Relationship and Loyalty Programs
Loyalty Rewards Program: Implement a program offering discounts or special services to repeat customers.
Referral Incentives: Encourage word-of-mouth marketing by offering discounts or added services for clients who refer new customers.
Promotions and Advertising
Targeted Local Advertising: Use local newspapers, pet magazines, community bulletin boards, and online platforms to reach pet owners in your area.
Special Offers and Packages: Create special offers for holidays, multi-pet families, or extended stays to attract customers.
Focus on USPs
Unique selling propositions, or USPs, are the characteristics of a product or service that sets it apart from the competition. Customers today are inundated with buying options, so you’ll have a real advantage if they are able to quickly grasp how your kennel meets their needs or wishes. It’s wise to do all you can to ensure your USPs stand out on your website and in your marketing and promotional materials, stimulating buyer desire.
Global pizza chain Domino’s is renowned for its USP: “Hot pizza in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed.” Signature USPs for your kennel business could be:
A luxury hotel for your pets
At-home loving kennel care
Your babies will be our babies while you’re away
You may not like to network or use personal connections for business gain. But your personal and professional networks likely offer considerable untapped business potential. Maybe that Facebook friend you met in college is now running a kennel business, or a LinkedIn contact of yours is connected to dozens of potential clients. Maybe your cousin or neighbor has been working in kennels for years and can offer invaluable insight and industry connections.
The possibilities are endless, so it’s a good idea to review your personal and professional networks and reach out to those with possible links to or interest in kennels. You’ll probably generate new customers or find companies with which you could establish a partnership.
Step 12: Build Your Team
If you’re starting out small from a home kennel, you may not need any employees. But as your business grows, you will likely need workers to fill various roles. Potential positions for a kennel business include:
Kennel Workers – help care for pets
General Manager – scheduling, staff management, accounting
Marketing Lead – SEO strategies, social media
At some point, you may need to hire all of these positions or simply a few, depending on the size and needs of your business. You might also hire multiple workers for a single role or a single worker for multiple roles, again depending on need.
Free-of-charge methods to recruit employees include posting ads on popular platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Jobs.com. You might also consider a premium recruitment option, such as advertising on Indeed, Glassdoor, or ZipRecruiter. Further, if you have the resources, you could consider hiring a recruitment agency to help you find talent.
When people travel, they can’t always take their pets with them, but they want them to be cared for in a comfortable setting. You can help by starting your own kennel, and you can even have it in your home in the beginning. You just need a love of animals, some crates and supplies, and you can tap into an $8 billion industry.
You’ve got the business basics down now, so it’s time to get your plan together and start building your kennel empire!
Kennel Business FAQs
Can a kennel be profitable?
Kennels can be very profitable. Prices range from $40 to $60 a day per pet, so if you have space for 20 crates and you can stay full, you can make some good money.
What is the best floor for a dog kennel?
The best floor for a dog kennel is typically a durable, non-porous material that is easy to clean and resistant to stains and odors. Some popular options include epoxy or resin flooring, concrete, or specialized kennel flooring made of rubber or synthetic materials.
What makes a good kennel?
A good kennel is one that provides a safe, comfortable, and clean environment for dogs. It should have secure fencing, proper ventilation, adequate space for each dog, access to fresh water, appropriate temperature control, and a regular exercise routine. Additionally, a good kennel should have well-trained and caring staff who prioritize the well-being and socialization of the dogs in their care.
How can I differentiate my kennel business from competitors in the market?
To differentiate your kennel business from competitors, consider the following:
Specialized services: Offer unique services such as grooming, training, or specialized care for specific breeds or behavioral needs.
Personalized attention: Provide individualized care and attention to each dog, catering to their specific needs and preferences.
Enhanced amenities: Offer additional amenities like spacious play areas, comfortable bedding, webcams for owners to check on their pets remotely, or access to outdoor areas.
Customer service: Focus on providing exceptional customer service, promptly addressing inquiries or concerns, and establishing strong relationships with pet owners.
How big does a kennel need to be?
The size of a kennel depends on various factors, such as the number of dogs it will accommodate and any regulations or guidelines in your area. As a general guideline, each dog should have enough space to stand, turn around, and lie down comfortably. It’s important to consider the size and breed of the dogs you will be housing to ensure they have adequate space to move and exercise.
How to Start a Kennel
Decide if the Business Is Right for You
Hone Your Idea
Brainstorm a Kennel Name
Create a Kennel Business Plan
Register Your Business
Register for Taxes
Fund your Business
Apply for Kennel Business Licenses and Permits
Open a Business Bank Account
Get Business Insurance
Prepare to Launch
Build Your Team
Run a Kennel - Start Making Money!
Kennel Business FAQs
Subscribe to Our Newsletter
Join our exclusive community! Subscribe to our newsletter and gain insider access to cutting-edge business insights and trends.
Thank you for subscribing! We can't wait to share our latest news and updates with you. Get ready for exciting content in your inbox.