LIFESTYLE

Dog Grooming Business: A Short Guide to Becoming Dogs Favorite Barber

Dog grooming business saloon
Emily Young
Written by Emily Young

A dog grooming business is probably one of the most feasible business ideas for an avid dog enthusiast other than a dog breeding business. It is a profitable choice for individuals who are seeking for a business venture in the animal industry, if this is something they are passionate about. Most successful dog grooming establishments nowadays started with a vision that was rooted in curiosity, a need, or even a hobby that eventually evolved into an income-generating venture.

Thus, dog grooming could indeed be considered as a business with an aesthetic heart.

Getting started

Dog grooming is often perceived to be a fun and dynamic dog-related business idea. The concept of trimming hair along with styling and cleaning dogs may look simple and repetitive, but these activities actually require training and commitment. Several dog groomers consider themselves as self-taught, learning from the training guides available in bookstores and online publications.

However, it is highly recommended, particularly for those who would like to learn but lack the initial skill and knowledge regarding in dog grooming dynamics, to attend formal dog grooming courses. These courses provide a systematic approach that will enable enrollees to learn how to perform grooming depending on the needs of the dog being groomed.

Open sign

Generally, training courses are about three hundred hours long. The duration could be longer if you want to learn about the more complicated and challenging grooming methods and principles.

Business considerations

The first step in engaging into any kind of business is to determine whether it is going to be a business classified as a sole proprietorship, an LLC or Limited Liability Company, a partnership, or a corporation. Basic dog grooming businesses are usually classified as a sole proprietorship or partnerships between friends who share a common interest.

Bigger grooming service chains are most likely to be a corporation. This classification will completely depend on the starting capital, the number of people who will be involved in the business, as well as other considerations, such as space and location.

Grooming saloon for dogs

After the first hurdle of business consideration, you can now choose whether your grooming station will be operating as a stationary or retail space or as a mobile grooming salon. A grooming salon located in a commercial space is more common than its mobile counterpart because the latter requires a larger amount of investment, especially in terms of equipment and initial overhead expenses.

When you opt for a rented space, you can operate either as an independent dog service facility or as a member of a particular business alliance. You can also select whether you will be the one providing the services or if you would invite groomers to rent your space and equipment. This situation is quite common because there are groomers who have attended grooming seminars and training but cannot afford the necessary equipment to setup their own salon. This should be discussed thoroughly to avoid conflicts of interest and to ensure smooth operations.

Selecting and purchasing basic equipment

The most significant part of the initial expenses for a dog grooming business is the purchase of equipment. Basic equipment include shears, scissors, clippers, brushers, as well as the initial supply of consumables, such as shampoos, conditioners, sprays, and ear and mouth cleaning products. Fancy accessories, such as dog clothes, bows, and clips, also have to be purchased.

Dog grooming equipment

Grooming salons are generally equipped with machines and tools such as dryers, washing machines, professional-grade grooming tables, pens, and mounted or collapsible cages.

Business marketing

One of the most important marketing strategies for a dog grooming business is to make it stand out from the competition. Business marketing, branding, and a shop name with good recall all form part of a good marketing scheme. Business owners can select from a wide range of advertisement options. Post cards, flyers, catalogs, and other promotional items can be sent to potential clients within your area.

Leaving advertisements and business cards at pet boutiques, veterinary clinics, and dog parks is also a good advertising move. Bear in mind that one of the firm foundations of a start-up business is a good advertising strategy, and this would require proper brainstorming, planning, and execution.

Grooming card

Today, business owners commonly utilize the power of social media. Creating a diverse network of individuals and establishing an online advertisement platform adds a significant boost to the online presence of a business. Advertising online reaches a further and wider audience, and the business owner must really hit the nail right on the head by creating a good first impression.

Publishing and sending out a weekly newsletter is a good strategy for advertisement and marketing, and this action helps keep existing clients informed. Special offers, such as coupons for free stuff and discounts to be distributed to potential clients as a form of incentive, will attract clients to try the services being promoted. Posting advertisements in local magazines and newspapers could reach a wide range of clients with varying needs and requirements.

Dog groomers can engage in a productive network with individuals who share common interests. These individuals include dog trainers, dog walkers, veterinarians, and even dog daycare owners with whom to exchange referrals. Gift certificates can also be used in conjunction with a social awareness drive or animal rescue charity fundraising activity.

Word of mouth can be a double-edged sword. That is why it is extremely critical to provide a good and lasting first impression. Satisfied customers will refer the business to other pet owners or friends. This could become one of the major income-generating drivers of the business.

Pricing the offered services

Pricing plays an important role on how the business will be received by consumers. It is a smart move to conduct research on the prevailing rates in the area. If a newly opened grooming salon shares a similar price range as the more established facilities, this could be a disadvantage because pet owners tend to rely on more tenured salons because they are already tried and tested.

The best thing to do is to place your introductory rates slightly lower than those of the competition. This opens the opportunity to give a good impression with the services that you can offer and provides the chance to exceed the expectations of the clients. Strategies such as a discount for new clients will create enough buzz to attract more customers to try your services.

Aside from these methods, it is also important to identify the limitations of the services that your business offers. Bluffing that you can accommodate most grooming jobs will not yield any good fruit, especially if you fail to satisfy a client, and the word of mouth did not turn out as planned. You can provide a list of breeds and services that your business can cater to in an attractive services list with the corresponding price. The process involved in the services being provided depends on the dog breed and size, as well as the complexity of the service.

For example, grooming a poodle will take more time to complete than grooming a bulldog.

Dog grooming business growth

It is not a surprising fact that the pet services industry earned more than fifty billion dollars in 2012. The category in which grooming is included merited a generated income of more than four billion dollars in 2012. There is a constant increase in the demand for dog services; this is due to the increased owner awareness of the needs of their fur babies.

Pet parents are becoming more cautious and meticulous about keeping their dogs clean and presentable. This is why the demand will always be there, and such demand is expected to continue to rise for years to come. In fact, pet services have been considered as one of the fastest-growing business segments.

Dog grooming saloon for more dogs

Pet services, along with pet supplies and consumables like dog food and medication supplies, are also on a constant rise in terms of demand all over the country. The dog grooming business will always present the opportunity for continuous profitability because dog owners nowadays are more receptive to increasing their spending budget to improve the overall health status of their pets.

Tips for starting dog grooming business owners

We were able to get quick and helpful tips from established dog grooming business owners to help you with your initial steps in this industry.

Scan the community for companies that provide similar services. It is very important to check the community and nearby cities for establishments that you envision yourself owning. This is like the “testing the waters” phase to give you a preliminary feel of what you are planning to do. Through this experience, you will also be generating ideas on how to start a dog grooming business and how to improve your current business plan by adopting the good points and correcting the bad points of the established businesses.

The store should be visually appealing to customers. Put your feet in the customers’ shoes and go inside your store. The total feel of the store should be appealing enough to make customers stay and continue availing the services your store provides. Decorations should be well appointed and just right. Over-decorating a store can be displeasing to the eye, whereas under decorating defeats the entire aesthetic purpose.

The store should be well maintained. When we say well maintained, we mean that the store should always be clean and presentable. You will never know when a new customer will enter the store premises, and you wouldn’t want a potential customer to find the place dirty. Also, if the store has a regular set of customers and they always observe the disorganized appearance of the store they’ve been patronizing for quite some time, this can actually drive them away to look for stores that have better maintenance.

The appearance and maintenance of a store reflects the store owner’s personality. If you care about your workplace or the store from which income is being generated, then maintaining it should not be considered as hard work that is compulsory. Rather, it should be one that you would willingly as an extension of your services.

The beauty of personalized service. Personalized services are welcomed in any kind of business. In the dog grooming industry, personalized freebies are well appreciated by new and returning clients. It signifies that the business is rewarding them for their continued patronage.

A conversation between the dog owners and the shop employees gives the impression that the dog owner’s opinion is valued and that they actually matter. A staff member who keeps an eye on the customers and their pets when the service is being rendered signals that everything is being taken care of, from bathing to brushing and styling.

The importance of a good location. The store location can make or break your business.               If the store is not in a convenient location for pet owners, then you might have a hard time establishing a regular set of clients. The location should be convenient enough to be reached easily, not located in some downtown alley after several turns from left and right. When a store is located in a place where there is a lot of foot traffic, the store actually advertises itself on its own.

Utilize the power of social media. Social networking sites are considered as the easiest way to gain a good reputation. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other online platforms can be utilized to promote your services to a bigger audience. You can receive real-time inquiries from these sites, and you can gain popularity and establish your business name.

Be visible. One of the things that can promote your business is visibility. Attend pet fairs and conferences to meet veterinarians, dog experts, dog trainers, and enthusiasts who can act as a channel of promotion for you, especially if your network expands further when you meet professionals and owners in every gathering that you attend.

As much as possible, stay hands-on with the business. This is something that some business owners tend to neglect. When they hire the right people to do the job for them in terms of operating the store and rendering pet services, they soon are nowhere to be found. This is not a healthy practice, as highlighted by some dog grooming business owners who have been in the industry for quite some time.

When the owner is hands-on with the project, he or she can perceive the problems that can arise and thus address them at the soonest possible time. This will never be the case for a business owner who is away most of the time because there is a hint of negligence on his or her part. If the business owner is managing more than one business, he or she must make sure that enough time is allotted to monitoring the businesses.

Passion should come first before profit. The situation works the other way around for some business owners who tend to focus on profit more than anything. When a grooming salon owner starts the project because he or she has the passion for it and then continues kindling the passion even after the realization of his or her dream, the benefits of doing what he or she truly loves will be countless.

When you do something out of passion, you exert more effort to make sure it is done properly. You commit more to your project, and you are not easily disheartened. Professional groomers believe that part of the perfect recipe for a long-term and sustainable business is passion. There are a lot of more fruitful business opportunities out there, but these ventures may not provide you with the level of satisfaction that a dog grooming business can.

Conclusion

Any project can be planned and discussed among peers and colleagues who share a similar interest. It can even be easy to come up with your startup capital. However, what separates a particular project from others is the amount of commitment, strategy, and effort you are willing to give to ensure that it will succeed. A dog grooming business is something that can start from a hobby or a lifelong dream.

When you have the passion to clean, bathe, and groom dogs as a past time, then you may want to consider engaging into a more productive platform and set up your own dog grooming business. You can develop a level of aggressiveness to learn new trends and achieve something more than what the hobby can initially give you.

Dog grooming statistics

It has been noted that the most successful dog grooming businesses are those that are operated by owners who possess the genuine heart to keep fur babies healthy and clean. The sincerity of these actions will reflect on how the owner and staff members deal with clients every single day. A business owner who is passionate about his or her business will always give his or her best to meet expectations or even exceed them.

A dog grooming business is something that could be your next project as a pet parent. If you are itching for a business adventure, then get your pen and paper and list down the things that inspire you to engage in a particular project. Who knows, you might be building your own dog grooming salon chain pretty soon, and when you look back, you could say that it all started from a stroke of inspiration.

About the author
Emily Young
Emily Young

Emily is originally from China where she graduated from The University of Hong Kong with high distinction learning about fashion and design. During university she opened her own magazine about Dog Fashion as dogs were always in her heart. She was surprised, when she moved to a beautiful British Columbia 10 years ago, to see many great Boutiques with dog's designer clothing and desire of pet owners to make their babies look nice.

  • Leny Brown

    My brother is starting on his first business venture – Groom/Wash/Self-Serve/Retail dog place and so far, business is still slow. Although his place is on a dog-heavy part of town, and his groomer is great, I wonder why they’re still kinda struggling?
    For dog lovers here, what really turns your head when it comes to dog groomers and caring for your dog? Truly appreciate all your help! Thank you.

    • Emily Young

      The first few months are the most critical days in any business. Promotions can help boost interest and positive word-of-mouth that can attract potential new and recurring customers. You just really have to establish a good impression.

  • Missy Carter

    Dog groomers are heaven-sent! Our own groomers are great guys and they
    often tell us not to shave our pets even in hot summer months. I did a
    Google search and it turned out the guys are right. Their fur is the best protection our pooches can ever have.

    • This is absolutely true. Their fur is their first line of defense and has a natural mechanism to shed and regulate growth in order to stabilize the dog’s body temperature. Shaving them and thinking it would help can actually make things worse.

  • Leeanna Edwards

    I’ve been a pet stylist 10 almost 11 years. I don’t think I could ever do anything else to earn a living. At first everyone tried talking me out of it saying it wasn’t going to be a bill paying job. Since I’ve proven them wrong. I’m working on opening my own pet styling business! I have high hopes and big dreams and thoughts. As well I see lots of ways to help my business in its growth and expansion. Anyone with knowledge on business start up and or online college info would be appreciated.

    • Emily Young

      I commend you in following your passion. That’s a huge step already in the success you are heading. There are numerous online groups that support pet styling business startups where you can get tips (aside from the ones we’ve stated here) and how to deal with the important phase of planning and execution.

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