Exclusive Home Boarding
During the summer of 2011 we were looking to start up a business that looked after dogs within a home environment. We ourselves were not prepared to put our four Labradors in alternative accommodation whilst away, and with our home being situated in a secure five acre garden, and of a size and layout that would be ideal to cater for guests we took the concept further. We wanted to promote ourselves as a professional business and purposely made the website and business post cards etc. smart portraying the correct image and attracting the right clientele. I had to ensure I had all documentation, licenses and insurances in place prior to launch and applied to the local council to ensure I had all the correct procedures in place.
Running up to our launch I phoned round all our local papers to get editorials lined up (as this is free advertising), I got postcards done instead of small business cards and printed both sides so not to miss advertising space and I placed color adverts in local color magazines including Derbyshire Life. I opened a Facebook Page which I regularly updated and the same with our website. I asked for testimonials and placed these on them and I take pictures of all our new guests uploading them too. On our online booking form we ask "How did you hear about us" so I can monitor what advertising is working and what I miss next time. The post cards have been placed in many local businesses from hairdressers, vets and local shops to garages and Feed Merchants.
From this advertising and word of mouth I have generated 165 new guests in a year many of which are returning on a regular basis and bookings for next year are flowing in. I have also had my license increased from 6 to 8 guests over the summer and this week I have been upgraded again to 10 Guests. I would always recommend that you learn to walk before you try and run and I know that through us taking our time over the past year enabling us to grow with the business has ensured the quality and standards of our product has not been compromised.
I have found a very simple and inexpensive program for running all my accounts – it fulfills all my requirements and is simplistic to run and I have subsequently recommended it to Wag-It Home Boarding in Norfolk who have recently set up on the back of what we have done here and they also agree that Easy Books is just the ticket and certainly takes the stress out of book keeping.
I think that the biggest expense but most worthwhile is advertising and if you get your profile correct and aim it at the correct market then you are onto a winner. There are also many grants now on offer to small businesses but you do have to search for them. I have recently been awarded £2,500 towards media advertising which is my project before Christmas so that I can show my business off to my best ability and ensure I portray a professional, warm, caring, safe and Kennel Free Home Boarding Establishment for our beloved four legged companions.