How to start a pet transport business
Pet transportation services are necessary as the number of pets in the US has grown tremendously in recent decades. According to the US Demographics and Pet Ownership Reference Book, there are an estimated 60 million dogs and 70 million cats in American households today. Apart from that, it has been recorded that households that have pets spent 36% more in 2001 compared to 1996. With this, having a business that caters to the pet market, including a pet transport service, has a lot of potential for healthy growth.
This is due to the fact that many Americans move across the country annually and therefore would also require pet transportation services to move their pets. On a smaller scale, pet transportation services can also serve local residents who require these services to transport their pets to and from the vet, within a local area, or even to the crematorium for pets that have died.
Startup Costs and Funding Sources:
Starting a pet transportation business really depends on the scale you want your business to be. If you want to start on a smaller scale, all you really need is probably a van that has been modified to be safe and suitable for transporting animals. Of course, you’ll need to set up an office or operate from home with just a phone, email and a fax machine. All of this will set you back less than $20,000.
On a larger scale, especially when you’re considering cross-border transportation, you’ll probably need to invest in a larger truck that can accommodate a few pets at the same time. Apart from that, the interior of the truck must be suitable, safe and clean for pets, with adequate ventilation and cleaning facilities. For this business to be viable, you may need to quickly expand it to include sales agent offices in various locations. In this way, you can increase turnover to increase profitability. All of these can cost you between $200,000 and $500,000 in initial start-up costs.
Financing can be obtained from investors who may be interested in the potential of such a business. Other than that, lending institutions like banks can be contacted to get a loan for the business. As with any business start-up, an impressive business plan should be developed for potential investors and financiers, outlining the potential growth as well as estimated annual costs and revenues of the business.
Pricing guidelines for the service:
The pricing strategy for a pet transportation service business fluctuates based on the fixed and variable cost of the business, as well as the nature of the service provided. Local transportation services can start with a minimum charge of $20 to $40 for the first 20 miles and an additional $10 for every 10 miles after that.
For interstate or intercity transportation, the distance between origin and destination will be the main determinant of price. With this, prices can range from $100 and up, also depending on the size of the animal and the carrier.
Advertising and marketing:
Since you are targeting pet owners, the best marketing approach would be to advertise in places where pet owners would go. Reading material for pet owners, as well as events attended by the same target group. It would be a good idea to place flyers in pet stores and probably reward pet stores with commissions for every customer they refer to you. It would be helpful to advertise in pet magazines or get an article about your services. Of course, classified ads in the yellow pages are a must for customers to easily locate you.
Other channels of promotion would be participation as a vendor in shows or dog shows. Doing this will help increase awareness of the existence of the business. Also, working with associations like the American Kennel Association would create and improve visibility for pet breeders and pet store owners. Especially when you participate in events organized by these associations.
Launching a website and allowing potential customers to get instant price estimates from your website would also be a great idea.
This business requires a fair amount of equipment, the most important of which would be the vehicle used to transport the animals. Aside from that, other equipment such as crates, kennels, and carriers may be required as some customers do not have these items with them. The size and use of these cages must be in accordance with the guidelines established by the Independent Pet and Animal Transport Association (IPATA).
It will be necessary to employ handlers and drivers to care for the animals while they are in transit. Other required equipment would be built-in sinks inside the vehicle to facilitate cleaning and water refills.
Recommended Training, Experience, or Skills Required:
Extensive training is not required for a pet transportation service business. However, it is necessary to involve good and responsible drivers and animal handlers. It would be best if you have a background and experience in handling animals during the trip so that you can train your staff and make sure they are handling the animals in the right way. Aside from that, your staff should also know what to do if they run into problems while traveling, and should also be equipped with the latest information on the location of the kennel and the vet in case of emergencies.
Aside from that, the business owner must be knowledgeable about all the legal requirements related to pet transportation. For example, there are IPATA guidelines on the size of boxes and wire boxes that are required by law. In addition, all pets must be accompanied by an interstate travel certificate certified by a veterinarian.
The earning potential of this business depends on how big the business grows. A larger company with multiple offices and destinations will be able to maintain a higher volume of sales. With this, the pet transport business will be able to generate at least a six-figure income every year.
Pet owners, pet stores and animal breeders.
A pet transportation business requires investment and a passion for animal welfare for it to be successful. Since it is also a niche market, a lot of marketing and advertising needs to be invested in the business to create awareness of the services.