Use Your Space

If you have your own space, you know the responsibility of carrying monthly overhead and the extra chores involved in keeping a facility running. But are you making the most of it?

Brand it.
Clients having a good experience in your space is the most important thing– that they enjoy and benefit from your classes or private training, that they feel their dog is well cared for in your daycare or boarding facility. But how your space looks will also impact their impression of you, your business, and your services.

We don’t all have budgets that allow for a state-of-the-art facility fully decked out in matching furniture with avant-garde lighting and chrome bathroom fixtures. But a little creativity and some paint can go a long way. Simple things, like using paint colors that match your logo, help to create a branded, high-end feel.

Complete the branding by borrowing a light projector to project an image of your logo you can stencil and paint onto the main wall of your space. If you have a recognizable shape or smaller image you can also paint in other places, that will add depth to the design. For example, as you can see in the picture above, years ago when dogbiz was a physical location we painted varied sizes of flat molding pieces in dogbiz colors and nailed them to painted walls, re-creating the stripe motif that’s part of our visual brand.

Keep it clean and pleasant.
Seems obvious, but it makes a big difference. Smell is a critical consideration for dog businesses. Polls have indicated smell is a large part of dog guardians’ decision making when choosing a facility, particularly for daycare and boarding. So take extra steps to keep things fresh, including liberal use of enzymatic cleaners and training staff to dispose of accidents quickly and thoroughly.

But there’s more to it than smell. Take a look around your space with a fresh, critical eye. Does it feel organized and calm? Clutter can make a space feel disorganized, which gives an impression of being run poorly. Get rid of everything that’s not necessary. Stack chairs when they aren’t being used. Hang x-pens on the wall when not in use. If your desk is visible to clients, place a nice basket on your desk that you can drop whatever you’re working on into to create a clean work space.

In short, find places to put everything away. Make them easy to use, like the basket on the desk or hooks on a wall, or a cabinet placed in just the right place. (You don’t actually have to suddenly become an organized person—you just have to look like you are!) And watch for branding opportunities. If you use open-faced cubbies, use matching plastic baskets in a logo color or colors to keep things looking neat and branded, too.

If you find that janitorial duties are taking too much time, hire them out. You may feel like it’s an extravagant expense, but it’s not. You’ll make much more money using that time to actively market your business than you’ll ever spend on a janitor.

Keep it occupied.
If you’re not using your space full time, invite other dog pros to share. Your overhead is fixed, so it makes sense to enjoy some passive income while you can’t be there. For example, if you’re using your facility for training classes nights and weekends, perhaps there’s a colleague who’s looking for a Monday-through-Friday daycare space. Or if you’re running a daycare, ask local trainers if they need a place to teach classes.

In addition to the extra revenue to put toward your monthly expenses, another business bringing clients into your space exposes them to you, too. Take advantage of this by keeping literature about your services readily accessible in your lobby.

If you bring other businesses in to share your space, follow a few simple steps to make sure it works well for everyone. Actively support and cross-market each other; you’ll both do better. Have a detailed, frank conversation about money and other terms, responsibilities for cleaning, what parts of the space may or may not be used in what ways, etc., and set everything down in a contract.