Introduction: In this article you are ready to get specific about money. You've developed your ideas, gotten the plan laid out so you can see the whole picture and now you are ready to add it all up. You have to know what this is going to cost you, how you will afford to get it off the ground and most importantly, where that money will come from. You also have to balance the cost with income. After all, a business is about making money. Your products and services, if welcomed by the community will be something they will want to pay you for. You have to know and understand what the worth of your business is to the people who will be customers. Always put yourself in their shoes. What do they want or need? How necessary is it? What would they be willing to pay for those things?
People are willing to pay for good care and good products for their pets. You want to offer that to your customer. You want what you sell to be high quality. Don't settle for a good location but a building that is really too small. Don't order cheap materials and products because in the long run it will cost you. Don't cut corners to save money. Do what you need to do to gain the trust and confidence of your customers with excellent products and service and then charge them for those costs. A good reputation will bring in more of those customers who are willing to pay for excellence. Why go into business to be less than excellent? Success is more than money. Success is having a business you can be proud of, one that people love and one that is financially sound.
Financially speaking, there is a difference between profiting and price gouging. People expect to pay for what they get. What they get must be quality if you want a long term successful business. But people know if you are taking them to the cleaners, so to speak. In other words, be fair. Don't take advantage of the customer because you are the only store in town or the only one that offers what the people want. Charge enough to pay your bills, your employees, for up-keep, maintenance, and your own salary. No one expects you to profit nothing, but there is a wide spread between a fair profit and price gouging.
If you need to or want to improve profit, look at adding services and products, extending hours, connecting with other people who offer pet services for a recommendation fee. There are lots of ways to increase income without robbing your customer. However, your customer will understand that as costs everywhere are increasing, your costs are increasing and your charges will be increasing. Try to keep it gradual and offer package deals to help offset some of the pain.
Goods or products are the concrete items you sell that the customer actually carries out in a bag. Nutritious food, specialty toys, books and magazines, clothes, health supplies, grooming tools, dog beds, and carriers, car restraints, and other novel items. There is no end of supplies to offer but knowing your customer and what he wants is the key. You cannot stay on top of what is new and different that customers will want if you don't stay involved in the world of dog business through the internet, professional organizations and conversations with your customers and employees. You can read magazines, articles and books to make sure your business is up-to-date and current with the trends, health research, and care of dogs.
Listening to people about things they've seen on television, or heard about from a friend in a different part of the country is part of your job. Keeping products that your customers love and want is important. It makes your customer appreciate you and it says you pay attention to them and keep up on what is current. Each of those adds to the success of your business. Being willing to meet competitor's prices, and on line pricing without the cost of shipping are only two ways to beat out the competition. Many businesses today use the internet as a savvy way to increase their profit with little costs. Having a place to order what they need and to pay their fees easily and once was a luxury to pet customers that has now become essential.
Tracking what you sell in goods and services will give you a visual of what to order, what to change, and what the customers like and need. Manage your income wisely. Never let it simply float or assume the income will take care of all your costs. Your cost will rise and so must what you charge to stay even. Know where your greatest income is and how to increase it. You cannot scrimp to increase profits without losing quality of services, products or good employees. Keep quality and raise your cost or fees as is necessary.
Expenses: Just as you charge money for goods and services, those both also costs money. Expenses, or what you must pay for those goods and services will rise over time and as discussed in the previous section, keeping a finger on those costs will keep your business flourishing.
Costs include more than meets the eye. Taxes, employee benefits, rent, utilities, building maintenance, insurance, and supplies are often forgotten to a new business owner when counting the costs of his business. Technology up-grades will be an expense that you cannot afford to pass over. Today's customer expects to be able to see his pets on a smart phone from real time cameras you install. They should be able to read your website, find your fees, recommendations for vet and training services, current health information and products you sell by clicking on their mobile devices. This is an expense that will keep you in the swing of today's techy world.
What can appear to be a cost that is just too high, is often the cost that has the biggest payoff. Someone may tell you there is no need for a dog scale, but if you regularly give your customer personal information about their dog, their appreciation will include positive word of mouth referrals, loyalty, and a willingness to pay for your services when the costs must go up. There are a lot of expenses that can be nixed from the budget but stop and compare the cost with the benefits for your customers. So often it is the little things that increase your income. The comfortable lounge area for pet owners, free information, access to Wi-Fi, photographer discounts, preventative health care, and access to all the products they need may be the ticket to pull in more customers.
As you list and calculate the exact costs of running your business each month, you will know what you must charge on fees and products to stay in the success column. Good employees are worth the costs. Give them benefits and training and you will keep them for a long time. Every dog owner likes it when the person who is there to take their dog each morning is there every evening as well. A high turn-over in workers will have a negative effect on your customers. You can't afford to not keep and pay good people. The customer will not expect to get the top services and excellent products without paying for them. You cannot afford the liability of an unhealthy, uncaring, or untrained center.
Where is the Money: You need money to start this business. Depending upon what style of business you decide to start, a boutique, a full scale day care, a pet shop for only grooming and products or a fancy spa, you will need money. At this point in your work, you should know exactly what you want to do, you've figured out what it will cost, have a list of every expense and know what you must profit. You know the laws and zoning, the community and the customer.
Before looking for money, consult with a business attorney and account and go over your plans. It will pay off to have these professionals who knows what you are doing, how you are going about it and who you will trust for future advice. Banks do not always see the legal issues you may incur. An attorney who has experience can advise you on issues you may not even know exist. An accountant will be able to steer you toward the best solutions to decrease taxes. After getting legal advice you will be ready to discuss your options with different financing solutions. You will also want to discuss the possibilities of another loan in the future if you envision an expansion. Collect the information from several different places and if needed, go back to your attorney to help you decide. Don't hesitate to spend money for knowledge you don't have. In the long run that information will result in more positive solutions that will more than pay back that cost. Think of it as educational costs.
Maybe you have your own money to invest. If you do, it is important to remember that your own money into your own investment idea should be treated like that money borrowed from the bank. You have to know and keep track of where every penny goes and expect to earn it back in profits over time. If you decided to crowd fund or raise money from friends who are willing to invest, you must communicate your entire plan and vision with them. It is important that they not simply trust you. You have to be an open book to them. This is accountability and will keep your decision making above board and force you to communicate with your investors. It will require that you discuss any changes with them, which is a good thing.
At this point you should probably hire a professional bookkeeper or accountant. Many work from home and most also do your taxes. The time and knowledge it takes to do this effectively and without emotion, requires a bookkeeper. Don't enlist someone who just has time. You want to protect your investment with a person who is an expert in what they do. Ask for references. A business is an enterprise that will be looked at closely by the IRS. It is better to have clear and easy to read books that track your income and your costs. Your first costs will be for knowledge and services that you are not expert in. Pay for it. You won't regret it - ever.
Dog trainers do not require any education or certification. In other words, any person off the street can claim to be a dog trainer. So how can you know if a person is good at training dogs? There are a few specific things to look for.
Hopefully a dog trainer, when observed with the dogs demonstrates that he cares about the dogs and enjoys working with them. The trainer should be comfortable working with the owners and communicate how he works and trains. He should not be unwilling to tell you his techniques because there are many used by different trainers and some are more holistic than others. Ask questions about any college courses or dog training the trainer has had and then check them out. Often a trainer will have apprenticed with another trainer and that can be as good as schooling. But again, check it out.
Asking people who have used a trainer can help, though often people assume a so called "trainer" knows what he is doing and if they like him they assume he knows what he is doing. Observing the trainer is a must. You have to feel comfortable with how he works and that it is healthy for the dog. Many trainers have a certification hanging on the wall, but take all of those with a grain of salt. Everyone knows you can print certificates for anything off the internet at no cost. Don't be fooled.
Summary: It's time to get that bank account set up, get a credit card, name your business, create a logo and set your business process up with experts in the field. You dog day care is getting close to becoming a reality. Don't let your excitement interfere with good decision making. Make sure you have set aside money for an attorney, a bookkeeper, and a lender who is a specialty in their field. For success in any business, you have to surround yourself with successful support. Use cost free resources like the Small Business Association and the advice of the people there.
Know what it will take financially to meet the expenses of your business including pay and benefits for employees. It is better to start small than cut corners on a large scale set up. Don't trade quality for quantity. Pay attention to everything. Your customers, your employees, your costs, your income, and your knowledge base. Don't think that now that the business is up and running you can drift. Now more than ever your business requires your eyes and hands and a clear mind.
Never just let things go. "Things" do not fix themselves and tend to continue in a negative direction if not stopped. Keep the standards high and up front. Gain the trust of your customers honestly. Keep communication open and listen to what goes unsaid. Sometimes those unsaid words speak louder than spoken aloud words.
You are the model for your employees. They will only work as hard as you do, be as courteous as you are, and care about the business as much as you do. Train them, talk to them, and communicate the expectations clearly. Make them visible. Customers want to know what you expect from each employee. Don't be afraid to post a sign with your expectations for everyone. People need to know the rules and need to know that everyone knows what they are. It is accountability.
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