The pet grooming business is quite popular today. Society encourages people to accessorize with pets just as they do with jewelry and clothing. Celebrities have famous pets, leading more people to adopt or buy animal companions of their own.
And all these people want their pets to look as great as possible, making pet grooming an almost $6 billion a year industry in the U.S. As such, running a pet grooming business is a good way to earn part-time or full-time income.
12 Quick And Easy Steps To Starting A Pet Grooming Business
Starting a pet grooming business is not as difficult as one may think. In fact, it’s just like starting any other business. Don’t get me wrong — starting a pet grooming business or any business for that matter is hard work. But you don’t need a degree to become a pet groomer and the cost to start a pet grooming business is relatively small.
There are very few things in life as rewarding as being your own boss, and if you’re an animal person, running a pet grooming business is a perfect blend of opportunity and passion. With a little planning and research on your end, you can even focus on starting a pet grooming business from home.
Step 1: Learn How a Pet Grooming Business Works
As with any business, the first step is to understand your industry. For example, although pet grooming is associated with dogs 99% of the time, the market is so much bigger than dogs. The more your service knows and offers, the larger your potential earnings will be.
Cats are often overlooked because they clean themselves, but are great customers. Any animal can be groomed because you’re focusing on hygiene, not just a haircut. Aside from trying to determine who your potential furry customers could be, you’d need to look at your business model as well.
Of course, you can always start a pet grooming service in a standard storefront and offer full service to your clients where they can drop off their animals and pick them up once you’re done.
These all have pros and cons.
A great perk of starting a pet grooming service is the flexibility in your model. You can operate a self-service pet grooming facility where customers bring in their animal and you provide them with everything they need to handle the dirty work, then simply clean up after them – or you can operate a mobile grooming service and deliver top-tier service to your clients.
A mobile service is far cheaper to operate but, you are limited in how many animals you can groom per day.
A self-service model is more appealing because of the low cost of labor needed since the customer does everything themselves. However, many customers aren’t interested in doing it themselves, so you may be leaving money on the table.
A full-service pet grooming business offers massive appeal to customers and can bring in more customers and revenues at a time, but also has much higher operating costs as far as rent, supplies, and labor go.
To really understand the ins and outs of running a pet grooming service, the best idea is to go work at one. Don’t simply be on the phone. Be present and work every step of the business.
In large hotels, management trainees must spend months in every single department of the hotel including housekeeping and maintenance. If it’s a good enough plan for Hilton and Marriott hotels, it’s a good enough plan for you and me.
Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty and understand what’s needed to run a pet grooming service. Ask questions. Volunteer for the dirty jobs. Clean up the messy stuff.
The more involved you are in all aspects of the operations from cleanup to hiring and staffing to payroll, the more equipped you will be to start a pet grooming business on your own.
Step 2: Create a Plan
Most businesses fail within three years of opening their doors due to a lack of a plan. While you don’t need an actual corporate business plan to ensure your venture succeeds, you do need some sort of a plan. You can’t just jump into a pet grooming service without a plan.
If you’re looking for tips to write your own actual business plan, here’s a great example of a business plan template you can follow along with to help you get started. Or you can read this article and fill in your own answers to my questions for each section.
The important thing is for you to think about what you need to start a pet grooming business. You have to have a plan or at least an idea for your business.
- What kind of business would you want to run?
- Who is your target market?
- What will your budget look like?
- What is your plan for marketing and promotions?
- How will you handle taxes?
- What is your plan for hiring and staffing?
Do not start any business until you can answer these questions.
Grooming may be a hobby for you which brings in a little extra money at the moment, but it can become a full time business for you with a little planning and research.
Step 3: Discover Earning Potential
An average pet groomer can make about $30,000 per year.
But that’s a pet groomer.
If you own the service, your only limitations are how many customers your business can handle. Other than that, you control the earning potential by how many customers you can bring in.
Think of it as a formula. If you can handle six animals at a time with each service bringing in on average $50 and each service takes an hour, your pet grooming service can bring in $300 per hour. If your business is open and operating at maximum capacity for 10 hours a day, that’s $3,000 in revenue per day.
But that means shuffling in 60 animals per day. Is that realistic? Maybe not to start off, but you can build up to that.
Plus, many pet grooming services cost considerably more than that. And some services are significantly quicker than that, such as if a customer comes in just to have a cat or dog’s nails trimmed.
Once you have that figured out, you can work on your marketing and see what your cost per customer is. If you know it takes $10 in ad spend to bring in one customer spending $75, then how much do you spend on ads? As much as it takes to bring in as many customers as your business can handle. The sky’s the limit when it comes to how much your service can earn. You just have to bring the people (and animals) in.
This example is to illustrate how to figure out your service’s earnings potential. You need to evaluate your own potential by understanding your service offerings, your cost, and your market reach. Then simply follow your budget to reach your goal.
Step 4: Set a Budget
You cannot operate a business without a budget. While it may feel like an enemy at times, your budget is actually your best friend. It will keep you grounded and should factor into any financial decision you make.
You may get swept up into the idea of blasting a radio ad campaign during rush hour because you got a great deal from the station since you’re buying so many spots, but your budget may tell you not to. When that happens, your budget is telling you to be more creative with your promotions budget. And that’s okay.
When creating a budget, you have to understand the cost to start a pet grooming business. You’ll need to decide if you’re jumping right in full time or if you want to start a pet grooming business from home. It costs more to open a commercial grooming business than a mobile grooming service or even becoming a backyard groomer.
Remember, your salon will grow and there will be costs associated with that growth. So even a home based grooming service should budget for an office eventually.
For a true, full-time pet grooming service, an owner should aim for $50,000. This covers:
- Office/Salon space
- Business permits
- Hiring employees
- Supplies such as shampoo, conditioner, bandanas and fragrance
- Employee costs including taxes and onboarding
- Training that should always be ongoing
- Equipment such as scissors, shears, brushes, nail clippers, washing stations and cash registers
- Marketing and promotions
Fifty grand may sound like a lot of money, but sadly, it disappears all too quickly. This cost is meant to ensure your service can survive up to six months with zero revenue.
Hopefully, you won’t need to worry about that. But regardless, you should set and follow a budget to ensure you are living within your means and that the funds will last as long as projected.
And always keep costs down where you can. Invest in a washing machine, and reuse rags and towels instead of buying single-use items. Pay attention to utilities. Don’t leave lights on overnight and shut machines off when not in use.
Schedule appropriately. Labor is always the largest cost a business owner faces. When you schedule appropriately, your business saves money.
Always compare prices for services.
Whether it’s marketing or equipment or supplies, make sure you’re getting the best bang for your buck.
Do it yourself (when applicable). If you can roll up your sleeves and do a deep clean instead of hiring a cleaning service, you save your store hundreds of dollars. If you can do that for multiple areas, then those savings add up. Just be careful to not do too much. For example, don’t try and do your own taxes if you’re not comfortable or trained in doing so!
Utilize your budget to guide your business and all financial decisions to give your business its best chance to succeed!
Step 5: Decide Which Products/Services to Offer
Deciding on which services to offer can be tricky. Some services may not be worth your time due to cost or time commitment, but can be included in packages to increase revenue.
Here is a list of services you can offer:
- On-Site Grooming Assessment
- Clip Nails
- Brush Out Knots and Debris
- Shampoo in Hydrobath
- Initial Rinse
- Brush/Massage in Hydrobath
- Final Rinse
- Towel Dry Face
- Hand Blow Dry Body
- Trim Paw Pads
- Final Brush and Fluff
- Light Fragrance (with your approval)
- Tasty Treat (with your approval)
- De-shedding Treatment
- Aloe Remoisturizing Treatments For Skin and Coat
- Pad Treatment
- Puppy Cuts
- Flea and Tick Shampoo
- Frontline Flea and Tick Applications
- Teeth Brushing
- Therapeutic Shampoo
- Pawdicures for Special Occasions
You can also decide to offer all natural products such as shampoo and conditioner.
Research other pet grooming services in your area and even around the country to see what other services there are and what to charge for your services.
Step 6: Decide On a Location
Deciding on a location is not just a matter of “oh, this place looks nice.” You absolutely want a location for your business which you like but you must also think about other factors.
Will you be offering a mobile service or opening a shop?
Where is the largest population of animals you can service? The city? The suburbs?
One trick is to think about where animals may get dirty.
So,opening a location next to a popular park would be great for business but may cost a bit more on rent.
Things to consider when choosing a location:
- Cost – Never forget your budget.
- Location – Easy to find, easy to get to.
- Visibility – Can people see your service from the road?
- Foot traffic – If you’re in a pet-friendly area with lots of foot traffic, you can pull in lots of customers by standing outside with coupons.
- Target demographic – You want to be as close as possible to your target customer without breaking the bank.
Ideally, you will find a location you love with a great blend of cost vs. traffic.
While your location will not make or break your business, having one aligned with your plans gives your business a better chance to succeed.
Step 7: Find Suppliers
Again, this depends on what type of business model you run with, but you’ll need the proper equipment regardless.
To begin with, make a list of everything you need to start a pet grooming business. This includes, but are not limited to:
- Nail clippers
- Aprons for your staff
- Cash register
- Treats (don’t forget the treats!)
Again, go check out other businesses to see what they got that you think will come in handy. Then consult your budget and compare prices from various suppliers. The sites https://www.petedge.com/ and https://www.chewy.com/ are a couple industry favorites.
You don’t want to run out of supplies.
There’s nothing worse than having to turn away clients because you aren’t equipped to service them. Not only are you losing money on that trip, but you may be losing long term clients as well.
Find suppliers with high-quality products at reasonable prices. Then just make sure your deliveries are timed to maximize your supplies in order to keep costs down.
Step 8: Promote Your Business
The pet industry is one where customers are particularly active. So try to get involved with local pet events for visibility within the community. This is a chance to mingle directly with your target patrons.
Hand out flyers to dog owners at parks. Again, you’re getting face time with your target market, so don’t be shy about hoofing it.
On the same note, go to other pet services such as vet clinics and doggy day care services to build relationships with the owners and staff.
A strong recommendation from them can bring in a lot of business for you.
And the same can be said for dog trainers, dog walkers and rescue organizations.
Yelp is a must since customers will check your reviews before entrusting you with their precious pets.
You can advertise on Facebook by targeting specific audiences within your area, while Google AdWords will see that your listing shows up on the top of searches for pet related keywords.
Just remember that without customers, your business cannot succeed!
Step 9: Create a Staffing Plan
Keep in mind that your business is only limited by how many animals you can service in a day, and that number is directly linked to how much help you have.
The more staff you have on hand, the more animals you can groom, the more revenue you can bring in.
But you also want to be careful to not over staff as that will cost you money.
Eventually, you’ll find a good balance. One option is to have employees on call, but make sure you’re not required to pay wages to have someone on call as that can vary state to state.
Another idea to help with staffing is to drive traffic to an online appointment book, letting you know how many employees you may need at any given time.
You also need a plan to find these employees. Who will you hire? Where will you find them? Initially, I suggest hiring from your circle of friends and family. But once you deplete that talent pool, you’ll want to have a hiring plan in place.
Think of the traits you want in a groomer and where you may find those traits.
For example, you definitely would want an animal lover and someone who has experience with dogs, both small and large.
My first recommendation would be to visit all local colleges and universities to try and hire veterinary students who may be around for a few years. You’ll find them willing participants. Also, reach out to local rescue organizations to see if they have recommendations or even volunteers who are looking for work. That should give you a strong pool of trustworthy, animal-loving candidates.
Step 10: Decide on a Style/Design
Your decor will say a lot about your company. So you want your style to be a reflection of your brand. So, the key here is to make sure everything is tied together. If your business card has bright pastels and pictures of dogs everywhere, your salon should match that.
As should your website, your logo and your uniforms.
If you’re having trouble thinking of a logo or business card design, check out 99designs.com for help. You pay one fee and have multiple designers compete for that money.
So if you want customers to frequent your business, make sure they enjoy it! Maybe consider giving the animals a bandana or a bow after they’ve been groomed and keep treats out for customers to give to their pets.
Or perhaps you should add some couches for them to wait with bottled water and a nice TV in the waiting room?
Your decor should be inviting to keep both the people and the animals wanting to come back.
Step 11: Create an Accounting Plan
An accounting software is a must for any business. Keeping track of everything via accounting software allows you to:
- Properly track revenue and stick to a budget
- Prepare for taxes and audits
- See when you need to order more supplies
Make sure your profits are correct and employees are not stealing from your business.
While you don’t need an accountant on staff, you may choose to have one.
Regardless of whether you use software or a person, make sure you have a plan in place for accounting.
Step 12: Get Into the Pet Grooming Community
You never know where referrals will come from, so make sure you involve yourself wherever you can.
And while you want to be a part of the pet grooming community by joining associations such as The National Association of Professional Creative Groomers, you should also be looking for local meetups and events to meet pet owners and organizations.
The pet community is a very active and fun community to be a part of, so make sure you are visible within it. Also, make it a point to go to trade shows. Follow Instagram accounts. Join Facebook groups. Just make sure you are interacting with others in the pet community. It can only benefit your business!
The Bottom Line
Opening (and running) a pet grooming service is a lot of work. But it’s a great opportunity to combine your passion for animals with a real, profitable career. You’re surrounded by love and wagging tails all day, and if you’re ever feeling down, the animals are there for you.
Hopefully, you put this guide to use. And if you found this guide helpful and you want to learn more about starting a pet grooming shop, StartupJungle.com has a 21-point checklist for starting your new business. Make sure you download your copy if you’re serious about getting started.