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How to Start a Dog Grooming Business

Dog grooming salons are popular (and potentially profitable) animal businesses.  There are many popular breeds that require regular grooming, so there is usually solid demand for grooming services in most areas.  Let’s take a look at some of the steps involved in starting a dog grooming business:

Name Your Business

A catchy or memorable name can help give your dog grooming businesses a jump on the competition.  There are thousands of dog grooming businesses out there, so do your due diligence and check to make sure there isn’t already an established business with one of the names you are considering (especially if it is in your geographic area).

It is best if you find a business name that also has the matching “dotcom” internet domain name available so you can create a website.  You can check for available domain names on DreamHost, GoDaddy, or many other web hosting services.

Find a Location

You can operate your dog grooming business in a traditional retail space or out of a customized mobile vehicle.  The vast majority of dog groomers work out of retail locations.  You can operate a small salon on your own, but it is much more common for several groomers to band together as a group.  A common model is where a primary owner rents out space in a location to other groomers, charging either a set weekly rate or a percentage of profit from each client visit.

Mobile grooming salons have become quite trendy in the past few years and pet owners love the convenience, but it is a significant cost to fit-up a van to function as a salon.  You will certainly save on rent and insurance by going mobile, but you do need to factor in expenses like travel time, gas, and vehicle maintenance.

Determine Pricing and Services

To be competitive you need to research the prices for various grooming services in your local area.  Keep your prices in line with the going rate to give your business the best chance to develop a regular client base.  You can also have promotional rates for a new client’s first visit or other special days to grow and retain your client base.

The rate must take into account the size of the breed, the type and difficulty of the desired cut, and the total time needed to complete the service.  You should also determine what additional services are to be included or made available for an additional fee (bathing, nail clipping, ear cleaning, boarding for the full day, etc).

Purchase Grooming Equipment

Grooming equipment can be pricey, and there are many items that are necessary for a salon to be successful.  Traditionally a salon will be stocked with a variety of grooming tools (shears, scissors, electric clippers, brushes), shampoos, conditioners, grooming sprays, blow dryers (both hand held and cage mounted), ear cleaning products, nail clippers, and finishing touches like bows and bandanas.  Salons also need a washer and dryer for laundry, a bathtub or bathing area, professional grooming tables, and cages for pets to wait their turn or dry off after a bath.

Secure a Business License

Most jurisdictions require a business license to operate any commercial enterprise.  Be sure to research the requirements and costs of licensing in advance.  Grooming facilities may be subject to additional inspections from the health department or other entities.

You should also take out an insurance policy to cover yourself against any injuries or damages that might occur involving humans or pets on the premises.

Develop a Marketing Plan

Marketing will take a lot of effort in the early stages, but once you establish a client base you will receive a great deal of referrals and word of mouth recommendations.

It is important to put a website together right from the start.  Most pet owners search on the web when looking for products and services, so you want to be able to reach them.  Create a weekly newsletter that website visitors can subscribe to (and be sure to have special offers and coupons available to those who subscribe).  Your newsletter can also include grooming tips, general pet health information, and more.  Be sure to use large, high resolution digital images (preferably taken by a professional) on the website to showcase the facility, and try to get a few testimonials from satisfied customers during the first few weeks you are in business.  A photograph of each groomer with a profile detailing their experience and specialties is also a plus.

Once the website is established, be sure to include the web address in all promotional materials.  Send out flyers or postcards to neighborhoods close to your location.  Put an ad in your local magazines, newspapers, and church bulletins.  Network with local veterinarians, dog walkers, dog trainers, dog bakery businesses, pet shops, or doggie daycares and ask to include your business card or flyer on their bulletin boards.  Referrals between business owners can be a great way for everyone to grow their client lists.

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