Dog fields are good business for those who have the land and resources to invest in the set-up of a secure dog facility, but there are lots of factors that affect how much you can earn from a dog field.
Most secure dog fields in the UK can expect to earn between £25,000 and £35,000 a year but those in a particularly good location, with long operating hours, and offering an exceptional level of service and security can earn upwards of £55,000.
What you charge customers might seem the obvious way to determine how much money you can make from your dog field but here we’re looking at the factors that you should use to determine the market value for your dog field sessions and allow you to do the numbers for a business plan.
What affects how much you can earn from a dog field?
Your geographical location and where your field is positioned within your local market area plays a big part in the success of your dog field.
Perhaps surprisingly, if you are located in the North of England, you are currently able to charge around 20% for your fields than say for example if you are in the Midlands.
Why this is, is not crystal clear but there are currently fewer fields in the region and there is a higher level of dog ownership per household than almost anywhere else in the UK – so simple supply and demand economics is no doubt playing some role in this pricing disparity. This may of course change and dog field owners across the country are seeing overall booking numbers slightly lower than at the height of the UK lockdowns when dog fields offered a welcome sanctuary from busy public parks and rural footpaths.
Fields that are easily accessible (within 15 minutes drive) of a sizable urban community and those with good and easy road access are also more likely to see higher revenues.
Fields that are in a truly rural environment and those where access is harder to navigate should look to offer something special to compete with a field where it’s just that bit easier to get to.
There are exceptions to this – we describe them ‘destination fields’ – those that are worth a long drive or located in a holiday spot where seasonality can also play a big role in the revenue you can make from a dog field.
The number of other local fields plays a part in the success of every field. Where there are lots of good quality fields, with a dog owner population that is familiar with the concept, there can be room for everyone to do very well. Fields that buck a trend – that are bigger, or better in some way, or are significantly different from those in their area are also likely to do well.
There is however a threshold – an area can only support a certain number of dog fields before the revenues of all or some of the fields are diluted and this should be considered when you are deciding just how much to invest in a dog field enterprise.
There are ‘black holes’ where very few dog fields exist. In these areas there may be high demand but supply is restricted by an unsupportive planning authority or where large areas of the available land have a protected status that precludes this type of development, albeit low impact.
There are also ‘black holes’ that present enormous opportunity – if you are in one of these areas you are very lucky! What you will have to do is educate the market – when we started our first dog field, the nearest competition was over 20 miles away and in order to open with a busy schedule we did 3 months of hard work to ensure that local dog owners were ready for us!
People will travel further to beautiful secure dog fields but it isn’t all about the field itself – it’s as much about the surroundings. Setting up a field in an area with background road noise, buzzing overhead cables or adjacent to public footpaths to name a few things, can reduce your appeal. That’s not to say that these fields can’t be successful – they can. In many more urban areas, these things are unavoidable and don’t influence users but with more fields opening and customers becoming far more discerning, a peaceful, isolated experience is what many users will favour where choice is available.
Any field can be improved to make it more appealing. Some fields have the benefit of having a lot of natural enrichment for dogs and other create this with planting, obstacles, agility equipment and other dog friendly features.
Environment does not trump our next factor, security, however it will play an increasingly dominant role as the quality of dog fields increases and the security of fields is more standardised.
Fencing! The number one thing that core market dog field users are concerned about is your fence! Regardless of height, dog field fences must be inspected daily, maintained well, and regularly tested for security. Diligent dog field users know the difference between fields that are inspected and maintained and those that aren’t.
There is such a things as ‘too much fence’ and there is no such thing as ‘totally secure’ so we strongly advise that no field owner uses this in the description of their dog field – in fact we encourage you to highlight that there is no such thing! There are dogs that will scale a 10ft anti-climb fence without breaking a sweat. If you have one of these animals, you will know about it! However, installing towering fences (anything over 2m really) or ones that are extremely dominant in the landscape can just make people feel incarcerated. They are also more likely to cause you to stumble in the planning process.
The cream rises to the top when it comes to dog fields and those dogs that require good security will travel further, pay more, and book months in advance for fields that they trust. They simply won’t go to those that they do not – regardless of price and convenience.
You can read more about dog field fencing here.
Fields with in-field parking report an average of 15-30% higher occupancy than those with parking that is not within the secure or enclosed area.
Due to planning restrictions or the location of a field, it’s not always possible to achieve this but if it is possible to make a secure pen (that matches the fence height of the main area) this is advisable of you want to maximise your income.
The design of your parking area matters so be sure to get stuck into the smallest details of this when planning your field. Getting it wrong can be a very costly mistake.
The size of a dog field doesn’t play as big a part as you’d imagine when it comes to how much money you can make from a secure facility. All the previously listed elements are far more influential however, there are some exceptions.
Enormous destination fields require far greater levels of upkeep and daily inspections can take hours out of available opening times, so it stands to reason that these fields are more expensive to run. The margins aren’t necessarily greater, but they are usually more robust when it comes to the impact of competition.
Smaller fields in urban areas are more likely to get consent for flood lighting which gives them the benefit of standard year round opening hours without as much impact from seasonal fluctuations in their bookings.
How much money you make is in your hands
There is a ceiling of what you can earn directly from your dog field. The number of sessions you have a day multiplied by the price you charge, multiplied by the number of days a year you are open.
Dog fields do suffer from seasonal fluctuations so if you’re drawing up a business plan you need to be mindful of this, it’s not just shorter winter days that reduce your occupancy, it’s also hot summer days, windy autumn days and soggy spring days!
Finding the optimum rates to charge and configuration of session times is dependent on a lot of variables and there isn’t one size fits all. Every field has different costs, markets and environmental considerations to address. Those that do their homework, understand their local market and anticipate changes and influences on that will do significantly better than those that pick a number out of a hat.
Managing costs; considering how many discounted packages you make available and at what price; and deciding how to work with professional users can make thousands of pounds worth of difference across a year.
We have experimented a lot with timings, offers, packages and incentives and we have learned a heck of a lot!
If you’re just starting to consider the idea of setting up a dog field and you want to know more about how this might work for you in your circumstances (owning or renting), we run Initial Consultation sessions via Zoom or call that are designed as an introduction to this business but tailored to you. You can find out more about those and how to book here.