In setting up Hillguards, we learnt that it is not the costs you foresee that really make the difference, but the one’s you had no idea would show up. A piece of good advice would be to budget some 30% over your initial costings to cover these surprise costs. That and read our guide of course!

Have a location?

Assuming you have found your ideal location and already have a piece of land in mind, the next step is planning your facility. Will you, your family or your staff need accommodation on site? This depends of course on how far away the facility is from your hometown. Will you be focusing on cats, dogs or both? Your decision will determine how many buildings you need.

It makes good financial sense as well as helpful to the environment to make your facility as green and eco-friendly as possible. Invest in photovoltaic panels. Prepare water storage facilities to supplement your supply with rain water. While it may not be a good idea to drink it, rain water runoff is perfect for cleaning outdoor areas and equipment.

Quality first approach

Quality fencing should be high on your list of priorities – it is what keeps your boarders safe and your boarders are the most important part of your business. Closed circuit cameras might also be a good investment, depending on your neighbourhood.

Furnishing your kennels is not a difficult task, once you know what to look for. Use materials that are easy to clean or are disposable. We use old shipping pallets to create raised sleeping platforms for our dogs. These are replaced for free every couple of months, thanks to some friends down at the lumber yard. Our floors are polished concrete with plenty of drain points, making them easy to clean and dry quickly.

Most of our boarders bring their own bowls with them. If they don’t, we provide biodegradable paper bowls that are quite sturdy but break down readily in the compost bin. Water is provided in each kennel via dispensers, though we have occasionally had to block these off if particular boarders discover they enjoy making a mess in their lodgings.

Another feature you may want to consider is a sick bay or isolation area. Occasionally, you will have animals that become ill during their stay or even just a case of fleas. This is sometimes due to owner negligence or unwillingness to have the animal seen to before their long-awaited holiday. In any case, you will need an area away from your other boarders where these animals can be treated. Our sick bay has one kennel and one cat pod, without outdoor access and with a live stream camera in each, allowing staff to keep a close watch on any occupants from the staff station in the main building. We charge our clients extra for each day their animal spends in quarantine, to cover the costs of a thorough cleaning and disinfection once their stay is over. This condition is outlined in the boarding contract, so it should come as no surprise to clients.