It’s no secret that many individuals acquired or adopted dogs during the pandemic, making them their pets. Pet-related businesses, such as pet grooming, are therefore flourishing and seeing more strong growth than other business owners.
Having financial objectives is acceptable. Your pet grooming business is meeting a need since pet owners lack the time, resources, or space to complete this activity themselves. Pet grooming enterprises typically have cheap overhead and the potential for a high profit margin. For a tested business idea, you can also research pet franchises.
But if you want to make a profession as a dog groomer on your own, you should fall into two key categories: you love animals, and you enjoy interacting with people.
In the US, the industry for dog grooming services is estimated to be worth $8 billion. There are around 130,000 grooming firms and 230,000 employees nationwide. Pet ownership is quite high, driving an increase of roughly 8% annually. The 8% yearly growth is anticipated to last until 2026.
Grooming is not a one-time thing when it comes to pet services. Animal grooming is a recurring business with regular demands for washing, nail care, ear cleaning, and other services.
As any business owner knows, you need to know your job. You’ll be competing with other groomers to get a piece of the target market. Here’s how to get started:
1. Complete all the Necessary Training
You can earn while you learn to be a dog groomer by apprenticing at a major chain such as Petco or PetSmart. To apprentice with those companies, you’ll sign a non-compete agreement and must stay with the company for two years. You’ll undergo a 20-week training program of 800 hours.
There are also on-line schools with costs ranging from $400 to several thousand dollars. You could choose that option and practice on pets owned by family members. There are also in-person schools, with similar costs, but you may have to temporarily relocate to attend.
The National Dog Groomers Association of America offers in-person workshops and testing. Again, you may have to travel to complete the workshops and testing. Getting professional training is the best choice for pet groomers. Potential customers are going to seek proof that you have the necessary skills before they drop off their dogs with you. Accreditation from a school is a way to attract customers and very important in business considerations.
2. Decide on a Dog Grooming Niche
One stage in choosing your business specialization is deciding whether to offer in-home, mobile grooming or actual storefronts.
Another is selecting the type of grooming that will be your priority. Are you going to take a bath, tidy up, and do your nails? Are you planning to specialize in presentations fit for a dog show? Are you planning to focus on cutting hair for particular breeds? Or a certain breed of dog, like terriers and toys?
Are you going to offer cleaning services for pets’ teeth and ears as part of your business? What about trimming your nails?
3. Create a Business Plan
The pet industry is not unique in the business world – you’ll need a business plan with the typical components:
- Business license
- State sales tax license (if you sell products)
Make plans for exactly what steps you’ll take to grow the business and increase your client base.
Make honest projections of costs and expected profit. You may spend up to 2 hours to properly groom one dog. Given your hours of operation – and travel time if you’re doing mobile grooming – how many dogs can you expect to groom each day?
4. Decide on a Pet Grooming Business Name
Brainstorm with friends and family. You’ll want a name that is catchy and easy to remember, such as these actual dog grooming business names: Scalawags and Fur-pection.
5. Form a Business Entity
Nearly all pet groomers that start a business choose the LLC – a limited liability company. When you’re operating a sole proprietorship, your personal assets will be protected by the formation of the LLC.
What if you bring another person into the sole proprietorship, changing it to a partnership? That’s not a good choice, since each of you can be liable for the actions of the other.
Taking steps to form and register as an LLC is an important step in your business plan. According to statistics from the National Dog Groomers Association of America, the LLC is the top business entity choice for businesses grooming dogs.
6. Choose a Location
Your existing zoning regulations may dictate your choice of location. If you’re not permitted or don’t have the space to do a home based business, your choices for a dog grooming business are mobile or storefront.
A mobile grooming truck is going to be large. Make sure you’ll be comfortable driving a large vehicle. Depending on the size of the vehicle, you may need to upgrade your driving license. You’ll need commercial insurance for the vehicle.
If you’re shopping for a storefront, seek a location that will allow for safe delivery and pickup of dogs. For example, although a busy strip mall may give you greater visibility, customers may not enjoy walking or carrying their pets a significant distance to and from their vehicles.
7. Look into Licenses and Permits
In general, businesses groomer pets are not subject to special licensing. Proof of professional training and certification can help you establish and grow your business.
Check state and local laws for business permits that are needed. Your local Chamber of Commerce will be a good source for that information.
8. Open a Business Bank Account
Keep a separate business credit card that connected to the account.
9. Start a Marketing Campaign
In addition to a website, FB page and business cards, you can take other opportunities to reach new customers with special marketing efforts.
One of the best ways to market your business is to volunteer services with a local animal shelter or rescue. You’ll be promoting yourself to prospective customers as a dog lover, and also have impressive “before” and “after” pictures of makeovers.
10. Purchase Business Insurance
Basics you’ll need:
- Commercial general liability insurance, to cover you for any injuries to a dog or to a person, such as a customer slipping on a wet floor.
- Professional liability insurance will cover you if a dog is injured.
- Property insurance will protect your business from unexpected damages or events. If you operate within your home, you’ll need separate insurance in addition to your homeowner’s insurance.
- If available, consider a BOP (Business Owner’s Policy) which includes general liability and property damage.
- Workers Comp – If you hire employees.
- Health Insurance – Make sure you have a robust policy. Dog groomers often are beset by sore backs. You could also be scratched or bitten by your four-legged customers. Pet groomers can even get a malady called “Groomers Lung” in the business – a congestive issue caused by hours working in a moist environment. Find a policy that will protect you if you’re injured or sick and unable to work for a period of time.
11. Acquire the Necessary Equipment
Start-up costs include basic equipment essentials such as:
- Crates – to keep dogs away from other dogs while they’re waiting to be groomed or waiting for pickup.
- Grooming tub
- Grooming table – An elevated table with a raised arm to attach the dog’s collar.
- Grooming Equipment including Dog shaving kit, shears, replacement blades.
- Specialized brushes for removing undercoat, combs.
- Flea and tick products, shampoos and conditioners.
- Nail clippers or grinders (professional Dremels)
12. Hire Staff
As needed, and remember you’ll need Workers Compensation insurance if you do. Many groomers, once established, begin to specialize in specific types of cuts and services.
They employ a trained person who can handle the customer prep work, such as the shampooing. That way the specializing groomer can have more time to provide those services, as someone else handles the prep work.
13. Open Your Business
As part of your marketing plan, launch the business with grand openings.