Featured Image by Mauri Taylor, Owner of Kennel Me Not Pet Care.

All across the country, including “Mom and Pop” businesses in the Pet Care Industry, pet business is booming. From pet food and supplies to services such as grooming, veterinary, boarding, sitting, and training, explosive growth continues thanks to the ever-increasing volume of pet parents across the country and around the globe.

Our intention in this blog post series, with this being the second post after an overview (https://respacedesign.wpengine.com/design-veterinary-hospitals/), is to highlight trends in architecture and design as they affect a pet care business.

This article, however, morphed into something else—a different animal, if you will. Whereas we started out looking at the reports and stories surrounding corporations versus mom and pop businesses in the pet care space, we came to realize that our audience had perhaps been sent to the doghouse. So, with a bit of reorientation, we picked up the trail again, believing that we needed to focus the laser-pointer on you, the potential owner of a small business or unincorporated sole proprietorship, a.k.a. a “mom and pop” business. (Luckily, the resident REspace feline fam enthusiastically agreed with that laser-pointer idea.)

With that said, we sincerely hope you’ll find value in this how-to as you steer your business toward the solutions in architecture and design that will work best for your particular situation.

Several Questions You Should Ask Yourself Before Creating a Pet Business

1. Do you have a business plan for your “Mom and Pop” business in the pet care industry? You’ll really want to flesh this out before beginning anything. Look at your budget, in conjunction with a CPA and a tax attorney, to work the plan to its best effect.

2. Once you have concrete ideas about your budget, consider this. Where do you intend to offer your pet care services or products?

  • If the pet business is located in your home, will you need to rehab, rebuild, or otherwise add on to the residence or work vehicle?1

  • Will you need to purchase an existing building or will you buy land and build your pet business from scratch (pardon the pun)?

    If your pet business aims to serve large animals such as horses or livestock, your location will be a key factor. Image by Skeeze on Pixabay.

  • What, if any, zoning restrictions are there on the land you intend to use? Would a rural, urban, or suburban location work best for your services or products? Find this out before completing any purchase (this is one area in which an architect can advise)!

  • How do you ensure your existing home business or new property and building meets all applicable codes and is safe, sustainable, and cost-effective for all involved?

3. Which services or products do you plan to offer in your pet business—which will relate back to the location, design, and architecture in no. 2, and what would your business’ hours look like? Do you need to consider hiring employees—if you do, you’ll want to be cognizant of OSHA regulations, best practices, and other employee-centered laws as they pertain to the functioning of your business?2

4. Have you found a mentor or talked to others with “Mom and Pop” businesses in the pet care industry? Get them to elaborate on what makes their pet business successful. What would they do differently if they were starting over today?

Drawing an Early Path to the Design and Architecture

We want to ask you to do one thing right now, if you haven’t yet. Break out your pencils or pen and papers. Find a comfy place to spread out said papers and draw.

One note: If you’re about to head out into your own practice, you’ve likely worked in the pet care industry for a time now. So this task might be easier than if you are just starting out in the world of pet businesses. Either way, now is the time to sit down, brainstorm, and sketch out your dream “Mom and Pop” business in the pet care industry, from architecture to design, based on what you have liked about your own experiences, those of your colleagues, or those you have researched.

Start with a basic plan. Is it single-level or more? What type of area does it have? How sustainable do you want your “Mom and Pop” business to be in terms of using renewable materials, alternate energy sources, and/or high-efficiency systems in the design and construction process? Does your vision include a chandelier and walk-in grooming tub for pet parents to bathe their own dogs or an indoor arena for dog-training services? Be as specific as you can visually. Add as many notes as you want. If you have ideas as to the dimensions you are considering, write or sketch them.

Are you a “mom and pop” pet business providing services such as birthday-party planning? If you’ve grown out of your current space, an architect can help!

What an Architect Can Add to Your Planning

If you’ve read the post this far and done all the thoughtwork mentioned in the previous section, we believe that you’re now ready to take your mock-ups to an architect. Your planning and sketches will prove invaluable as the architect moves forward on helping you realize your business dreams and goals in line with your budget and any other wishes. A skilled professional will be able to guide you on the best location with regard to the following:

  • available services

  • utilities and amenities

  • location viability based upon traffic and demographics

  • quality and viability of the structure and/or parcel itself

An architect or experienced architectural firm such as ours can also instruct you regarding other issues affecting your pet business. Pertinent factors include what design, architecture, or material solutions will be necessary owing to your business plan, zoning or codes, and which solutions are best practices in the industry.

Armed with all the information presented in this brief how-to, we think you will be well on the path to building your “meowm and pup” pet business. Plus, this insider knowledge will help you bound over other “Mom and Pop” businesses in the pet care industry as a whole. So, with just a little extra help in architecture and design, you’ll have a space that is highly functional, safe, easy to access, and aesthetically pleasing while serving pet parents and their furred, feathered, or finned families.

1Overall, this article is not intended to address mobile pet businesses, such as a pet-grooming service or veterinarian who does only house/barn calls.

2For instance, in the veterinary field, there are multiple employee concerns, including the newly enacted USP 800 rule to safeguard patient, client, and employee safety. USP, according to dvm360, “was created to keep everyone safer in the veterinary environment. It involves facility changes, like adding additional rooms, but it also involves a change in operations and how you deal with drugs in your facility.” In the veterinary, grooming, and other pet service fields, ergonomics and work-related musculoskeletal disorders, or WMSDs, also come into play because of the continuous standing, lifting, stretching, grasping, and pulling or pushing involved (https://www.cdc.gov/workplacehealthpromotion/health-strategies/musculoskeletal-disorders/index.html).