As a business owner in the animal care industry you no doubt understand the value of keeping your kennels clean. The tricky thing about “clean” is that it is in many ways subjective, and in other ways not. Good sanitation is vital to the health of the dogs in your care. With several dogs coming in and out of a doggy daycare or boarding kennel, there are plenty of opportunities for illness to spread (not to mention many opportunities for messes to be made).
Even if your cleaning procedures are strictly followed, your customers still may perceive your kennel as unclean. Things like decoration, smell, and even noises can give a customer the wrong impression. And, let’s face it, sometimes with the daily complexities of running a business certain cleaning procedures can get overlooked, which can add up over time.
The result may be the loss of a customer or worse, a knock on your reputation. The goal of this article is to emphasize the importance clean kennels make to your business and offer proactive suggestions to make the process quick and effective.
5 WAYS CLEAN KENNELS ARE IMPORTANT TO YOUR BUSINESS
1. FIRST-TIME CUSTOMERS
First Impressions count. In fact, it’s said that customers make an initial decision within the first 7 seconds of walking in the door. Oftentimes, the rest of your interaction is spent affirming or reversing this opinion.
For the pet owner, this decision will likely be based on how safe they feel their beloved pet will be in your care. Noises, smells, visual signals, and a host of other factors may inform this initial impression. Subtle cues such as an overwhelming odor, visible dirt, or even a cover smell like potpourri can communicate that the facility is unkempt or untrustworthy. Alternatively, a reasonably clean kennel area or predictable smell can convey confidence and safety.
Managing these factors is a sure way to create a more positive impression and, very likely, a new customer.
2. CUSTOMER RETENTION
Did you know that, across industries, 92% of customers said that the cleanliness of a business is an important factor when deciding whether or not to come back? If you have been struggling with retaining customers, this may be the reason.
Take a photo of your lobby area. Is it inviting? Does anything appear worn down? Repeat the exercise in the kennel or play areas. While a wall with paw prints doesn’t actually pose a health risk, it may prompt a customer to look for other messes.
We often hear pet owners refer to themselves as “pet parents” or say things like, “I’m my pet’s advocate.” If they get the feeling that they were kept in unsavory conditions or that their health was at risk in any way, they won’t be coming back.
3. REVIEWS & REPUTATION
While researching this article we read dozens of Yelp and Facebook reviews of animal care facilities, doggie daycares, and other pet-related businesses. The quotes below were copied directly from these reviews (without names and other identifying features). We’ve included some negative and some positive just to show the range of emotions communicated online.
“For as foul smelling and dirty as the place was, I wasn’t about to leave kitty overnight.”
“As soon as we walked in we smelled aroma spray mixed with an untaken care of environment. I understand shelters have dogs who use the bathroom so often but this place just smelled so bad.”
“[On arriving] we were blasted with the smell of bleach. The day following our return home, we noticed that our pup had a very dry nose and trouble breathing…”
“There are some doggy daycares in the city that smell before you even enter the facility; [kennel name] is super clean and DOES NOT SMELL!!!
This is just a sampling of countless similar reviews. You’ll notice that customers are pretty savvy and pick up on things like bleach or cover “aromas” that might mask the problem but don’t fix it. One thing that certainly stood out was that words like smell, clean, dirty, etc. were some of the most common keywords among all reviews. It goes without saying that keeping a clean facility can go a long way in building your business’s reputation.
4. WORD OF MOUTH
If customers don’t feel safe coming back to your facility they certainly aren’t going to recommend it to their friends. Alternatively, if they had a positive experience and anticipate returning, guess whose name is going to be mentioned next time their neighbor goes on vacation and needs to board their pet?
As a local service or hospitality industry, there aren’t many advertising options that produce as much ROI as word of mouth. If customers aren’t talking about you, perhaps it’s time to make a change in the way they perceive you.
Experts conservatively estimate that once trained and brought up to speed, it costs thousands of additional dollars to add a new employee rather than do what it takes to keep a current one.
Many employees consider their workplace a second home. You may be a wonderful employer and pay a fair wage but, if your employee’s “second home” isn’t well maintained or smells funny, it may be hard to convince them to stick around. In the long run, you may find that the extra time and expense of keeping a clean environment could save you a bundle in HR costs.
HOW TO KEEP YOUR KENNELS CLEAN
We’ve established that there are massive business benefits to keeping your kennels clean. So, what is the best way to do that?
For starters, it’s important to continuously maintain your kennels. Remove any waste, clean up accidents, wash and replace any soiled bedding or towels, and clean dirty food dishes and toys.
Depending on their use, kennels will likely need to be sanitized on a daily basis and given a deep clean once a week. Make this a habit, don’t wait until there is a mess or a bad smell to sanitize your kennels. Having a proactive, repeatable process ensures that harmful bacteria and other pet-related viruses don’t have time to spread.
Next, the #1 thing that the UC Davis Shelter Medicine Program recommends for clean kennels: Use effective products. Not all disinfectants are created equal. Many commonly used kennel cleaners and disinfectants, like alcohol and quaternary ammonia products, are not effective against parvovirus and other non-enveloped viruses.
Many common kennel disinfectants and cleaners require dilution or batch mixing. If used in the wrong concentration or not given enough time to dwell, these harsh chemicals have been shown to cause animals to get sick, develop burns, or worse. In addition to this, customers tend to associate the smell of harsh chemical disinfectants to their negative effects.
On the opposing side, many espouse the use of common household items like vinegar and baking soda. Both are effective in their respected uses and completely safe to animals. In small applications these products are wonderful, however, they are no match for non-enveloped viruses like parvovirus.
Regular kennel cleaning is very important but, it’s time-consuming and tasks like mixing cleaners and preparing tools — like mops and towels — certainly don’t expedite the process. In fact, they add new challenges like cross-contamination and unnecessary costs. Choosing a solution that is not only effective but easy to utilize will ensure that your kennels get cleaned more often.
To make cleaning more efficient, companies like Wysiwash have simplified the process. The Wysiwash Sanitizing System makes cleaning kennels as simple as hosing them down. Its biodegradable and pet-safe formula is effective against parvovirus, bordetella, canine flu, and many other viruses and bacteria, without using any harsh chemicals.
Wysiwash’s deodorizing abilities are a reputation saver, inside and out. Many reviewers write that visitors to their kennels, “Can’t believe there are dogs there!” Not to mention all the praise for Wysiwash’s ability to deodorize artificial grass and gravel pee areas.
Besides, at only a penny per mixed gallon, Wysiwash is one of the most cost-effective kennel cleaners on the market.
We hope this quick guide is a help to your business or at least a good reminder to make kennel cleaning a priority.