5 Pros and 5 Cons to Opening a Pet-Friendly Business
5 Pros and 5 Cons to Opening a Pet-Friendly Business
You know what I love more than anything? When I’m able to go home and pet my dog.
She’s beautiful. She’s a Jack Russel Terrier mix so she’s super hyper, but she loves to sit on my lap and sleep. It’s adorable, I assure you. Even when she drools.
And I know I’m not alone in my beliefs. Many of us here at DEQonline / Douglas Equipment have pets we love to go home too. One lady in our e-commerce department has five dogs and we even featured one of our coworker's dogs on our Insta page around National Dog Day. They’re important to us.
They are also important to any dog mom or dad out there. They understand dogs can feel like family. Sometimes, they’re better friends than people are. Just saying.
So, since our American culture has this new fascination with dogs, and pets in general, what can you do to make it more convenient for dog owners to dine at your restaurant or bar? Food trucks have it easy because they’re outdoor establishments anyway. But for food service establishments that offer sit down meals, is there a way to reach the number of growing customers that don’t want to leave their dogs at home?
Yes, there is! And we’re so glad you asked.
We would like to show you five benefits of having a dog-friendly, pet-friendly establishment. But, to keep the argument fair, we also have a list of not-so-good consequences or challenges that having a dog- or pet-friendly establishment presents.
Dog lovers, get ready to hear what you’ve always wanted to. You have an excuse now to take your dogs to work! Food lovers that aren’t necessarily interested in having furry friends at eating areas, no worries. We’ll give you five reasons to strengthen your argument against switching to a dog-friendly establishment.
Okay, let’s get started. Pros first.
1) Customers will love you!
They will. Having a dog-friendly restaurant has been known to increase customer satisfaction and customer loyalty. They’ll appreciate that you care about them and their families. You’re essentially saying to them they matter, their dog matters. You want them to be happy and you want to create a place that is convenient for them.
Think about it. If your establishment is in a city, customers might be walking by with their dogs. You’re giving them a convenient place to stop in and get something to eat, let themselves and their dogs rest, or just get an energy-restoring drink for them and their lovable dog friend (or friends).
2) Attract more new customers
This fact alone can attract new customers. They’ll see that you’re open to them and their pets and that they can conveniently stop without taking their pets home first or leaving them in a hot vehicle. You’ll be meeting a need in your area, especially if you’re located near a dog park or pet store.
3) The market grows every year
Younger generations especially are open to pet-friendly establishments. The number of people looking for this type of atmosphere grows each year, every time a new person adopts a pet really. Evergreen states that it is “estimated that up to 47% of American households include dogs, so that’s a big, happy demographic” you could be reaching ("The 'Paws' and Cons of Dogs at the Bar"!
4) Fun marketing
Tired of just posting food pics and recipes? Post dog pics! This is social media gold. You have the opportunity to market your restaurant or bar in a way that will reach not only loyal customers or food lovers but dog lovers too. And by growing your following, you increase your chances of reaching more potential customers.
5) Happy work atmosphere
No one can be sad when dogs are at work (unless you’re allergic to dogs. We’ll get to that disadvantage soon). Welcoming pets into your restaurant can create a livelier, happier atmosphere. This type of organized chaos is a beauty to behold and will, once again, attract more customers.
But (don’t you hate it when there’s a “but” in the way?), there are some serious disadvantages you will need to consider before switching to a dog (or pet) friendly establishment.
1) Health codes
Depending on where you live, it may not be legal to have a food service establishment that is pet-friendly. You will have to check any and all local laws related to this subject before taking the plunge into increased revenue. Some areas do not permit animals and foodservice businesses to be mixed because they associate dogs with cockroaches and bugs. Other areas will allow you to host your furry friends, but it must be in an outside area such as the sidewalks outside of your establishment or a patio area (For more benefits of having a patio area, read our blog “Top 6 Dog-Friendly Restaurants in the USA“). Some districts will allow you to bring your dogs indoors as long as they do not come near areas where food is prepared and served.
2) Disruptive guests
Dogs are, well, they’re dogs. Not all have the same manners. Not all have been trained the same way. You could be inviting messes and dog fights (literally, but unintentionally). This could create an atmosphere that is chaotic and that people might find stressful. However, if you set a few ground rules (like the right to kick out disgruntled and disagreeable doggie customers), you should be fine.
3) Alienating Customers
I know. We just bragged about how having a dog-friendly restaurant could increase customers and revenue, but it can alienate customers too. Older customers will most likely not appreciate your efforts. Neither will customers with allergies. Customers with dog allergies might not be able to frequent your establishment. This is a con that should be considered before switching over to a dog-friendly establishment.
4) Insurance Changes
You may have to update your restaurant’s insurance policy. Liljegren Law Group states that “businesses may need to consider specialized insurance to cover potential lawsuits. Even if a business owner does not want to add additional insurance to a policy, an insurer may decide to increase premiums or cease commercial coverage because of the additional risk. Every business owner should talk with insurance providers before agreeing to allow dogs on site" (Read "Should Dogs be Allowed in Stores and Restaurants?"). Definitely, something to consider.
Dogs may increase the risk for lawsuits, since items may get accidentally broken, dogs may get into fights, and, potentially- though hopefully not, a misbehaving or frightened dog might bite someone. You need to make sure that any of these situations, you and your establishment is covered.
5) Increased employee training
Offering to serve animals at your establishment could potentially put an extra strain on employees. They will need to be aware of how to interact with animals and it would be best not to hire anyone for front-of-house operations that has a severe fear of animals or animal attacks. Employees should be trained in basic courtesies toward animals and how to interact with friendly or aggressive furry friends.
Employees that come in direct contact with food are not allowed to come in contact with animals. This would be a health code violation and reduces the sanitation of your establishment. Employees should be made aware of this before interacting with customers.
They should also be taught any specific rules that you decide to make for your establishment.
This type of training shouldn’t take too long but is necessary for the success of any food service establishment that decides to open its doors to our well-beloved pets.
While we cannot decide for you, we hope this information has been helpful to you in determining whether to open a dog-, pet-friendly foodservice establishment or not. We hope the lists of pros and cons have helped you reach a more educated decision about what is best for you and your business. Or, if not, that the information presented has, at least, been entertaining and educational.
Let us know if you have any questions! And if you need any foodservice equipment or supplies, we're definitely the people to call. We are always here for you!