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How to start a cat flap fitter business

As demand for pet-friendly solutions continues to rise, there is a niche waiting to be explored by savvy door fitters: cat flap fitting. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the steps of starting your own cat flap fitter business, from qualifications to finances.

Cat flaps are an important piece of equipment for any pet-loving homeowner, allowing their cat to come and go as they please. But installing a cat flap takes a certain degree of skill and know-how that only particular tradespeople possess.

Starting a business in cat flap fitting is the perfect way to capitalise on this trade niche. Not to mention you’re bound to receive steady demand from the abundance of cat owners.

Going self-employed can be a daunting prospect. That’s why this guide will take you through everything you need to know from necessary tools to marketing strategy.

Read on to find out how you can get your cat flap fitter business smoothly up and running.

Will I need qualifications to start a cat flap fitter business?

When starting a business, it’s always important to have some form of credentials you can present to potential customers. Qualifications are a way of demonstrating professional skills and training, making your service appear more reliable.

As a door fitter, you likely already possess a solid foundation in carpentry and craftsmanship. This will position you well to embark on this niche new venture.

Cat flap fitting can involve working with a range of different materials such as glass, wood, and brick. So, qualifications in carpentry, fenestration or construction will be very useful for attracting clients to your business.

This can include:

  • Level 2 or Level 3 Diploma in Carpentry and Joinery
  • Site Carpenter apprenticeship
  • Level 2 NVQ Diploma in Fenestration Installation
  • Level 1 Certificate in Construction Skills
  • Level 2 Certificate in Construction Operations

What tools are required for cat flap fitting?

Having the right tools is essential for providing a top-quality service. Make sure you have a full inventory of equipment so you can be fully prepared in every scenario. Not only will you come across as a professional, but it also makes your life easier.

Your existing door fitting toolkit is a great start but adding a few specialised tools for cat flap installation might enhance efficiency.

While you may be wary of start-up costs, it’s vital that you invest in high quality tools. Shoddy equipment will likely lead to you experiencing delays on the job or forking out for costly replacements.

Here are the essentials for cat flap fitting:

  • Drill
  • Drill bits
  • Screwdriver
  • Tape measure
  • Spirit level
  • Jigsaw
  • Pencil
  • Sandpaper

How to fit a cat flap

What skills do you need to start a cat flap fitting business?

Having already started a door fitting business, you’ll likely already possess the skills required to start a cat flap fitting service.

As a self-employed tradesperson, you’ll be used to facing challenging scenarios both on the job and in managing your business. Here are the most important attributes you’ll need to succeed:

  • Numeracy skills for precise fitting measurements and managing your business finances
  • Dexterity for accurate cutting, drilling, and screwing
  • Attention to detail for flawless fittings
  • Mechanical knowledge for installing different types of cat flaps with various locking mechanisms
  • Interpersonal skills for building client relationships and providing a high standard of customer service
  • Market knowledge for targeting your audience effectively

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How do I set up a cat flap fitter business?

There are several areas to take care of when laying the foundations of your cat flap fitting side hustle:

Putting a name on it

First of all, you’ll need to think of a name for your business.

Try coming up with one that is short and catchy as this will make your start-up more memorable for potential clients. It’s also a good idea to make the name relevant to your trade so people can quickly recognise the service you’re offering.

Sorting the legal side of things

Once you’ve come up with a name, the next step is to register your business with HMRC. During this process, you’ll have to come to a decision on how you want to structure your start-up.

Sole trading is easier to set up, but keep in mind that you’ll be responsible for any debt or loss your business incurs. A limited company, on the other hand, will take some more legwork to set up and manage, however you’ll benefit from better financial protection.

These are just some of the pros and cons to weigh up when choosing a business structure. You can check out our handy comparison guide on sole trader vs limited company to help you decide.

Mapping out your business

Organisation is key to any start-up, which is why you should come up with a thorough business plan that covers the ins and outs of your service.

It’s a good idea to base your service around your expertise and experience to ensure your work is of a high standard.

This could mean you choose to specialise in certain types of cat flap fittings like microchip, magnetic or infrared mechanisms, for example. By doing so, you can establish a niche and benefit from a constant stream of demand for your business.

Making sure the price is right

Setting the prices of your service will require a bit of thought. Charging too much could cause customers to go elsewhere. However, you also need to make sure you don’t set your prices too low and end up struggling to make profit.

That’s why it’s best to research the competition and find out what their pay rates look like. This way, you can keep your prices competitive and attract enough business without undercharging.

You can also read our cat flap installation cost guide for a general idea of cat flap installation rates.

Protecting yourself and your business

If something goes wrong, or a customer is left unhappy with your work, insurance will be vital for protecting you and your business. Here are the main types of insurance you should have in place:

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How to install a cat flap

How do I manage my finances?

You might think that running a side business might be confusing when it comes to the finances. But there are just a few financial areas you need to make sure you’ve covered to ensure your cat flap fitting business runs smoothly.

Managing cashflow

Cashflow is, essentially, all the ingoings and outgoings for your business. You’ll need to keep a close eye on these numbers to ensure you’re making profit at the end of the day.

If you’re not seeing the expected returns, you might need to adjust your expenditure of revenue. For more advice, check out our cash flow guide.

Filing taxes

As well as cashflow, taxes are a major part of your finances that you’ll have to monitor closely. Different structures have different taxes, so you’ll need to understand which apply to your business and document these regularly.

If you’re not clued up on business taxes, you could hire an accountant to help. For more information on employing accountancy services, you should definitely read our article on how to find an accountant.

Covering costs

In the beginning, you may find your operating at a loss due to initial start-up costs. Don’t worry, this is perfectly normal.

However, if you’re worried by the lack of turnover, consider taking out a business loan to cover the costs while you find your feet. Just bear in mind the interest rates when going down this avenue.

Separate finances

If you haven’t already, open a dedicated business account to keep personal and business finances distinct. This will simplify tax reporting and financial management.

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Cat passing through a cat flap

How can I grow a cat flap fitting business?

To grow your side business and secure more opportunities, you should look to promote your service through marketing. Marketing can be an effective tool when used correctly.

So you’ll need to gauge what strategies will be right for your business and look to leverage your existing door fitting clientele.

Signing up to Checkatrade is also bound to open up opportunities, making your business accessible to a huge online audience. Not to mention it will enhance your reputation as potential customers recognise the credibility of businesses associated with Checkatrade.

  • To promote your business further, you should look to build a profile on multiple social media channels. This is a great way to showcase your best work and interact with other users to expand your client base.
  • Keep in mind that traditional print marketing is still a useful approach for promoting your business, especially in your local area. Create posters and strategically place them near pet stores to catch the eye of people that may be in need of your services.
  • Finally, encourage satisfied customers to leave positive reviews, either online or via word-of-mouth. You could even take advantage of your existing door fitting customers, who might be willing to kick start your positive reputation.

By combining your door fitting expertise with a demand for cat flaps, you can seamlessly diversify into this new business. Use this guide to turn your new side hustle into a profitable venture that boosts your door installer salary.

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