The old adage is correct, it is all about location, location, location. After twelve years in the pet industry and five locations later we consider ourselves well versed in site selection. Historically, kennels have not been viewed as a part of everyday urban life, and location was not a significant factor when opening a boarding or kennel facility. The Ark may not have been the first, but we certainly realized from the very first Ark location that convenience is key. Long are the days of driving out to the farm or country kennel to board your pup! Society is changing and so is our industry. Our guests expect to have convenient pickup and drop off on there way to and from work, to and from shopping, or to and from school. Below are a few things The Ark’s franchise crew does when selecting a new location.
Survey Existing GuestsOne of the benefits of having several locations and thousands of guests across the Southeast is having a large and ever growing contact list. Several times a year we send out surveys to determine who are guests actually are! Without accurate information it is hard to “scientifically” understand who our target market is. We ask about income, home ownership, travel habits, education levels, number of pets, and type of pets just to name a few indicators.
DemographicsNext, we utilize our survey data and our site selection software to identify similar demographics in surrounding areas. We use heat mapping overlays to find “hot spots”. Once our hotspots are identified we put boots on the ground (or online) to begin identifying properties that are suited for an Ark in our newly identified target market.
Zoning & PermittingOne major hurdle in our line of business is zoning and permitting. It is important to identify the allowable uses in certain zones in your target market. Finding a property that is not properly zoned for “kennel” or “boarding” can break a deal. Zoning can be changed, but it can add months and several hundred or thousands of dollars to a timeline. We suggest only identifying areas in which kennels are allowed, as this will save time and money.
ConvenienceConvenience is a key to The Ark’s success. Each Ark location is located on, or just off of a major street. Our goal is to locate our guest’s paths to and from work, shopping, and school. If we can place ourselves on those major arteries we have a better chance for success. This is especially important for our daycare and grooming guests. The average time to drop off and pick up a pup from daycare is around 3-5 minutes. That’s on par with grabbing a chicken sandwich at Chick-Fil-A!
Size & StyleThe physical building is also very important to think about. The Ark has remodeled and built from ground up. There is no one way to do it. However, purchasing or leasing an existing building and remodeling is typically a quicker and less expensive endeavor. Ark locations range between 5,000 and 10,000 square feet and can house anywhere from 100-200 pets.
If you are interested in learning more about The Ark Pet Spa & Hotel or our franchise opportunity please don’t hesitate to reach out! 423-707-6457 or [email protected]