Opening A Cat Hotel - Nightmare
We operate what is called "The Pussycat Hotel" and yes - this is a legitimate cat hotel (on Facebook) specifically designed for the feline kind. It wasn't ever our intention to dive head first into this business. It just happened out of the blue and so here we are in a new location with a new adventure. That happens sometimes when you're self-employed. You must be able to pick up, pack up and move on out into something new at the drop of a hat.
We already had a booming dog resort business going when suddenly, I was thrown for a loop when the wife said it was time to move into a smaller house and at the same time, change careers. Change careers! To What? We were making an excellent steady income for the past seven years. Then, Judy had to go into the hospital to have a knee replacement at 51 years old. Most people are well into their sixties before that operation is required. But the damage was in the X-Rays and so it was to be. Twenty years in the cleaning business does funny things to your body and Judy's knees were first to go. The dogs had become much too hard a job when you're looking after 20-30 dogs at one time, especially when they bowl you over outside in the play area which happened on several occasions. Not too good for the limbs. The business sold in less than a week and a good dollar was turned over. Now it was time for something new.
We decided to stay in the animal business because that was our passion and the income is decent. However, it takes a good three years to build up a new business. The dog business had over 500 clients with most being repeat customers over and over again. But 500 clients built up was over a period of seven years. This new business had zero clients and the new facility was yet to be built. The move took us further away from the city limits which is something not always advisable, but the house was a small bungalow and it had six acres of peace and quiet. The term "Build it and They will Come" was about to be tested.
We hired on a new contractor who I really liked, but the promises from him to bring in a lot more helpers never panned out and the jobs kept backing up and delayed week after week. Some of the ideas we had for the new facility were never implemented because time was no longer on our side as the winter was about to fall upon us. Eventually, I had to let this fellow go and along with that, we took a big financial loss as another crew and another had to be brought in. This was becoming a nightmare. In over thirty years of being self-employed, I had never gone through something like this. The first contractor was very likeable and believable but also, very slow (meticulous like) - a perfectionist shall we say and he just plainly didn't want to bring anybody else in on the job because in his words, "no one could be better than him and he didn't want to be fixing up their mistakes". Well --It was a mistake to have hired him, let me tell you. I needed a fast working crew now of at least five strong bodied men to do the job that I wanted done.
The photos above show you the transformation of an old barn into a luxury palace. Two men could not do this job in the time frame allotted. It was impossible but the original contractor thought he could even though knowing in the back of his mind that it would be real tough. His helper was going through a marriage breakup and began showing up only half the time. The other half was either spent at his lawyers or with his small boy.
Eventually, the hotel was 95% completed even though the outside balconies have not yet been built. But that's for another day. Time to start earning an income from this dream, turned into a financial disaster.
It was coming on Christmas, 2010 and I needed to get the advertising out. It didn't take long for all the online surfers to eventually find us and then the rooms started to book for the holidays. Coming from a business that accommodated over 30 dogs at one time in our home, this should be a breeze with all the visitors now fully accomodated in their own building outside of our house. We had done it! New clients had been established and with that a much needed income to pay the bills.
Now here we sit again, in the Springtime of 2011, and it's becoming increasingly difficult as the hotel sits empty much of the time. The calls come in every odd day or so and bookings are made for the upcoming weeks. But this is not like the dog business. Dogs need constant supervision and with that said, our last business flourished. Cats can pretty much be left alone for a few days on their own with a neighbour popping in every once in a while to check.
The Hotel has Vacancy and is absolutely breathtaking, inviting and cozy comfortable for any spoiled cat. But for now, we'll have to settle for whatever we get until the people find us and realize that Heaven awaits their pet --and believe me when I say, it is like heaven to some of the places I've seen online and the comments I've heard from our new customers.
Opening a cat hotel should never have been a Nightmare, but in our case we should have named our street, Elm Street, from the movie "Nightmare on Elm Street".
Maybe I'll become a mason now. With thousands of members in our region, I bet a lot of them are cat owners and I've heard that as a member, the brethern sticks together and supports their own. Yeah -- that's what I'm gonna do -- become a mason.