How to start a cat flap fitter business
Cat flaps are an important piece of equipment for any pet-loving homeowner, especially if their cat is going to be able 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…
Cat flaps are an important piece of equipment for any pet-loving homeowner, especially if their cat is going to be able 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 of course be a daunting prospect, which is why this guide will take you through everything you need to know from necessary tools through 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 the professional skills and training you’ve acquired, which will make your service appear more reliable.
Cat flap fitting can involve working with 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. You’ll need to 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.
While you may be wary of start-up costs, it’s vital that you invest in high quality tools. Shoddy equipment will only increase the likelihood of you having to fork out for costly replacements and experiencing delays on the job.
Here are the essentials for cat flap fitting:
- Drill bits
- Tape measure
- Spirit level
Keep in mind that you’ll also need a vehicle large enough to transport all your tools between jobs.
What are the most important skills for starting a cat flap fitting business?
As a self-employed tradesperson, you’ll be faced with challenging scenarios both on the job and in managing your business. That’s why a wide range of skills will be valuable for overcoming these challenges and keeping things running smoothly. 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
Skilled tradespeople get your business started
Join Checkatrade today
How do I set up a cat flap fitter business?
There are several areas to take care of when laying the foundations of your business.
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 here 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. You don’t want to charge too much and cause customers to go elsewhere, but 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 cost guide here for a general idea of cat flap installation rates.
Protecting yourself and your business
In the rare instance that 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:
- Public liability insurance – Covers legal and compensation fees if a customer claims you’ve damaged their property or caused injury.
- Professional indemnity insurance – Provides protection in the event you make a mistake with your work that causes the customer financial loss.
- Tools insurance – Covers the cost of replacing your tools if they’re lost or damaged.
How do I manage my finances?
Staying on top of all your finances will be essential for keeping your business running smoothly.
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. As a part of managing your cashflow you might find you have to adjust your expenditure or revenue if you’re not seeing the expected returns. For more advice, check out our guide here.
As well as cashflow, taxes are a major part of your finances that you’ll have to monitor closely. Keep in mind that different structures have different taxes, so you’ll need to understand which taxes apply to your business and document these regularly. If you’re not sure which apply or you’re struggling to keep on top of your taxes, you could hire an accountant to help. For more information on employing accountancy services, read our article here.
In the beginning, you may find your operating at a loss due to initial start-up costs. This is perfectly normal, but if you’re worried by the lack of turnover you could 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.
How can I grow a cat flap fitting business?
To grow your start-up and secure more opportunities, you should look to promote your service. Marketing is a really effective tool when used correctly, so you’ll need to gauge what strategies will be the right course of action for your business. Signing up to Checkatrade is bound to open the door to greater opportunities as your business will become 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 open up your business further, you should look to build a profile on multiple social media channels. Not only is it a great way to showcase your best work, but you can also 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. You could create posters and strategically place them near pet stores to catch the eye of cat owners that may be in need of your services.