The PIF has partnered with the City of London

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If burgeoning demand makes this an attractive sector for entrepreneurs, then disruptive new business models are making it an intensely competitive one too.Pet-sitting services like Paws Galore, Borrow my Doggy and DogBuddy, for cat boarding near me  instance, are undercutting traditional kennels, which simply cannot compete on price given the disparity in overheads.Many dog owners also opt for home stays because it seems to offer a friendlier, more reassuring environment for their dogs.For traditional boarding kennels, then, it is imperative to maintain high standards and make the kennels as welcoming and comfortable for the dogs – with plenty of outdoor exercise included – as possible.And conventional kennels still boast a USP that peer-to-peer ‘pet sharing’ sites lack: they are experienced, trained and licensed in caring for animals with, hopefully, a proven track record evidenced by positive online reviews.SupportThe Pet Industry Federation (PIF) provides support to retail, kennel, cattery and home boarding business members across England and Wales.

The PIF has partnered with the City of London Corporation to work on the Primary Authority Scheme. This scheme, which is run by the Department for Innovation, Business & Skills, was set up to help cut red tape, standardise licensing and protect businesses against the imposition of unfair, arbitrary conditions by licensing officers.The Association of Licensed Kennels & Catteries (LiKCA), meanwhile, provides support, education and advice for kennel and cattery owners. Founded in 2016 LiKCA is a non-profit organisation that campaigns to protect the formal licensed boarding industry from what it sees as the unfair loss of business to unregulated competition.Diversification Many pet-care businesses diversify into other goods and services including organic dog and cat treats, obedience classes, agility training, animal taxi services or pet photography, to name a few. Specialist grooming is also on the rise, with boutique salons for dogs and cats generating £220m annually.Luxury boarding kennels and pet hotels are also increasingly popular, with some operators offering a variety of high-spec amenities, such as hydrotherapy pools for dogs with muscular problems or recovering from surgery.The so-called ‘humanised’ pet products market, meanwhile, encompasses pet clothing, training toys or gourmet food and treats, with sales of advanced nutritional pet food alone raking in £270m a year for the British economy.What it takes to be an effective boarding kennels operatorA love and passion for animals isvital, but on its own not enough to make a successful kennel or cattery owner. Experience of working with animals is a big plus too.This is a 24/7 business and while customers’ pets are in your care you must ensure that either yourself or a proficient manager is on hand to care for and keep a check on the animals.

The business, which will be at its busiest during school holidays, public holidays and weekends, will only suit a proprietor who is prepared to surrender the convenience of a 9-5, Monday to Friday working week.Patience is also paramount; there will often be unruly guests that are difficult to manage. Indeed, animals are more likely to play up when faced with unfamiliar surroundings.Remember, animals can be noisy, smelly and, at times, boisterous, so you must be able to calmly manage chaotic situations.Essential skills
High level of confidence in handling animalsWillingness to do practical jobs involved in maintaining cages, runs and grounds (unless you can afford to employ people to do this for you)Ability and willingness to delegatePeople skills: required to reassure anxious pet owners their dog will be looked after and to secure referrals in an industry where word of mouth is pivotalStrong powers of observation to notice any worrisome changes in animals’ behaviourAdding a boarding kennels to your existing businessIf you already run a business in the pet sector, like a grooming operation or dog walking service, you could offer boarding facilities to your establishedclientele too. Veterinary clinics may also benefit from offering petboarding.Staycations are on the rise in the wake of the Brexit vote, makinghoteliers and bed and breakfast owners ideally placed to offer in-room dog beds or outdoor kennels to guests who want to take their dogs with them on holiday but don’t fancy camping or caravanning.