6 Essential Steps to Starting a Pet Cemetery Business

Updated March 1, 2022
pet cemetery headstones

Have you wanted to know how to start a pet cemetery business, but didn't know where to begin? Explore the information you need to get a successful pet cemetery business up and running. As long as you can secure land that can be used for this purpose, all you need is the desire to care for pets and people, and a little business know-how.

How to Start a Pet Cemetery Business

Like any other business, there are some basic steps that should be followed in order to get a new business off the ground. However, unlike other companies, running a pet cemetery has its peculiarities.

Check State and Local Laws

If you are going to inter animals on your property, it's important to be aware of any state and local requirements that apply to your budding enterprise. You'll need to follow all applicable requirements, including registering your business, obtaining a business license, and/or securing the appropriate permits prior to opening your business. Start by visiting your Secretary of State's official website, then review your town or county's business regulations. Before you buy land, check for deed and zoning restrictions to make sure you can legally use it for a pet cemetery and crematorium (if you plan to offer pet cremation services). Verify your plans with the local planning commission before moving forward.

Create Your Business Plan

All businesses should have a business plan. It should describe your vision of how you see your business forming and performing now and in the future. The most basic plans include an executive summary, mission statement, organizational players, potential risks, a financial plan, and projections for future growth. Review a few sample business plans to get an idea of what's involved, then use what you learn to write your own business plan. Having a great business plan is key to getting financing from a bank or investor. Make sure your business plan is ready to stand up to the scrutiny of a lender or investor.

Engage a Small Business Lawyer

It is definitely a good idea to enlist the services of an attorney when planning to start a pet cemetery. The sooner you meet with a lawyer after you decide to start your business, the better. A lawyer with expertise in setting up a small business can help you correctly navigate the laws and regulations that apply to your business, and guide you through the process of business incorporation or forming a Limited Liability Company (LLC). They can also help you set up an appropriate estate plan that includes provisions for what happens after you are gone, such as transfer of ownership and perpetual care of the land where people's beloved pets will be buried.

Plan the Pet Cemetery Design

You'll need to decide what the layout of the cemetery will look like, including special fountains, gazebos, and a chapel. Decide how large each plot should be, taking into consideration the sizes of animals you will accept. You may want to designate special areas for certain animals or spaces for animals that are cremated. Some pet cemetery owners even offer mausoleums, which will take up less area in the cemetery than individual burial plots. You may want to start small by building out a portion of the land, then add additional features as the pet cemetery begins to bring in revenue.

Find Product and Equipment Suppliers

pet urn decorated with paw prints

You'll need to source pet memorial wholesale suppliers in order to run a pet cemetery business. They can provide you with items like grave markers, headstones, pet urns, pet caskets, and keepsakes to sell to customers. You can purchase stock to keep in inventory or secure models that customers can see before purchasing items to be shipped in after purchase. You'll also need suppliers to provide the equipment you need, such as an incinerator for cremation services along with digging and maintenance equipment for pet burial sites.

Develop a Marketing Strategy

Word of mouth is one way to let people know that you've opened a pet cemetery business. However, you will also need a more structured approach to marketing your new business. Use a variety of guerilla marketing strategies and consider advertising in local publications or on radio stations. It is also important to let local veterinary hospitals, pet shelters, and other pet-related businesses know that you are operating a pet cemetery business, as they will be important referral sources for your company. Print professional business cards and brochures to leave at other pet-related businesses as a way of promoting your business.

Professional Associations

Once your business is up and running, consider joining professional local clubs or associations. These affiliations can help you network and make your business the best it can be. The International Association of Pet Cemeteries & Crematories is the largest professional association for pet cemetery business owners. You can get a lot of ideas from networking with others in your same line of work. It's also advisable to build your local network through local groups like the Chamber of Commerce or community service organizations (such as Kiwanis, Civitan, or Rotary clubs).

Operating a Pet Cemetery Business

If you love animals and enjoy working with the public, you may find that starting and running a pet cemetery business is your ideal path to entrepreneurial success. The rewards are numerous, including being able to help many people deal with the death of a pet and navigate the grief after such a loss.

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6 Essential Steps to Starting a Pet Cemetery Business