All the Downsides of Boarding Kennel Ownership!
No Guaranteed Income
Before you go ahead with your dream of escaping paid employment and becoming your own boss, think of the downsides. The first, obviously, is no monthly pay cheque. You have to earn every penny that comes your way and the bills still need paying whether it's the busy summer season or the dragging late autumn when no-one is on holiday.
People give up their long weekends and main holidays get shortened when times are difficult; kennels are a real barometer of the economy so you have to take the good times with the bad.
No Holiday Pay
The lack of paid holidays isn't so much an issue as the lack of holidays. Without very good and reliable staff how do you plan to take your holidays? The obvious solution is to close at a quiet time of the year - but that leaves you with long-haul holidays if you want some sun and the problem of taking school-age children out of school.
There was a time when Head teachers would be reasonably accommodating to the self-employed who had to work through the school holidays, but not any longer. Target setting by Central Government and the Local Authorities doesn't allow them that sort of latitude any longer, so as a family you may face some real problems.
You will inevitably lose business if you close - not just the boarding income you would have expected, but customers who decide to find another kennel that is always open.
No Weekends, No Evenings
Saturdays and Sundays will always be the busiest days. You may choose to close for a large part of Sunday but you will still have more dogs in at the weekend than any other time.
Evenings are another problem; you are legally obliged to have someone on the premises 24 hours a day. This doesn't mean in the kennels, but does mean an adjoining property, close enough to deal with any emergency. So if you want to go out in the evening, you must arrange cover.
Your Customers - Owners and Dogs
The vast majority of your clients and their dogs will be really nice people, a pleasure to deal with and their dogs biddable and friendly. Unfortunately it is the very small few who aren't nice or have dogs that aren't biddable and friendly that you remember.
You need to develop strategies to deal with difficult people, and that isn't so hard, you just have to acquire a thick skin when dealing with them. It is the unpleasant dogs who are the problem. With experience you learn to cope with and manage most dogs but some are such a challenge and you may decide you would rather not board them again.
Illnesses and Deaths
These will happen, unfortunately. Knowing your boarders well and being sensitive to changes in behaviour helps a great deal in identifying an illness in its earliest stages. As dog owners you have probably already learned to spot the first signs of all not being well, it is something you need to try and instill in your staff as well.
Dogs will also die when they are staying with you. This is hard to cope with, but if you have done everything you possibly could then you have nothing to reproach yourself with. The hardest part is telling the owners, and you can be sure that at some stage you will have that difficult task.