A “Tipping Point” Business Worth Barking About

Start your own dog-sitting theme park. It’s the latest thing. You drop off Lassie on your way to your business trip, your cousin Sally’s wedding, the annual ski jaunt, etc. Instead of being cooped up in a cage for days on end, she’s treated to fun and freedom in a wonderland of doggie delights, including a large, open, play area where she can frolic with other captive canines; an obstacle course for fitness training; a grooming center; a training facility; and more.

Troublesome dogs are segregated and given “special attention.” Bathing, grooming, housebreaking, and other services are provided at extra cost. Aging yuppies who feel guilty about putting Fido in a cage while they sip Cabernet in Napa Valley are going bonkers over these guiltless dog jails where so much more is provided at very competitive rates. A typical rate for overnight lodging is $20 plus extras. You’ll pay half that much for a daytime stay.

The secret to the program is that it ends up costing less than a conventional facility to house the dogs in groups — yet, because of the seeming benefits of all that freedom and mobility, you can actually charge a little more. If you can get 100 dogs at an average of $15 a day each, you’ll have revenues of $45,000 a month. Rent on an 8,000-square-foot facility might be $4,000. Three full-time employees might set you back another $7,000 or $8,000. Food, insurance, utilities, and extras would come to maybe $5,000.

And advertising — that’s always the big “if.” Ultimately, it’s a real-estate play (as so many retail businesses are). If you can get a good location — preferably near a major highway or airport — at a good price (think warehouse-space pricing), it’s just a matter of making your warehouse look like doggie heaven with cheap props and cement floors and some good hoses. Sublet the pet shop, bathing, and grooming services. Keep an attendant working 24 hours a day to keep the mutts from killing one another.

That’s it. (I say this with the confidence of an outsider.) I checked out one such business in my local area. I can see the potential in it. I’m going to see if I can make a deal with someone. If so, I’ll clue you in. In the meantime, keep an eye out for a doggie camp in your neighborhood.

[Ed. Note.  Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]