Starting Your Pet Grooming Business
Americans spend millions of dollars a year on their pets and the number is growing. Pet related businesses are classified as a growth industry. You like pets and you are pretty good with them so why not start a grooming business. You could set your own hours, be your own boss, and work with animals. Win, win situation, right? It could be, but slow down a bit. There is a lot to consider starting any kind of business. Working with dogs and maybe cats sounds great, but keep in mind that these pets have owners, so you also have to be people oriented. Many people are pickier about their dog's hairdo than their own. Don't get me wrong, pet owners are wonderful and their pets are like children to many of them so be prepared to love the owner as well as the dog.
There are a lot of ways to go. There are franchises that can be purchased or you can work for someone else at first. Many people start their grooming business from home to save on start up costs. As the business grows, you can relocate to a larger space. Be sure the area you live in will support such a business. A very rural area might not be suitable, unless you are planning a mobile business. Groomers do not have to be certified, but if you go to a grooming school, you can be licensed and it will set you apart from someone who just grooms because they can do it without any training.
There are a lot of grooming schools and some large chains like Petsmart offer classes at their grooming academy. You can work at Petsmart and learn to groom. It may be a good option for some people. Costs vary from school to school so check carefully to see what is offered and if financing is available.
Maybe you're already working in a pet based job, such as a boarding facility or veterinary hospital. In that case, you have a built in client base. I am not a professional groomer, but I learned to do basic haircuts while working in a veterinary hospital from the groomer who worked there. There are online classes, but it would seem that a hands on approach might better serve you in the long run.
It is important to have a business plan. You won't just be dealing with the pets. There is a certain amount of paperwork and record keeping involved when you run your own business. There are a lot of sources to find a sample business plan. Check your local library or research online. If you have a good business plan, when you are ready to move your business out of your basement and into a commercial space, getting a loan will be easier. Start up costs can be high and equipment is expensive. You also need to see what licenses your city requires, check into zoning for your shop location, and see if the space will need modification to accommodate pets. When you are getting started, it is helpful to make up flyers advertising your services and place in them where the pets go, vet offices, boarding facilities, doggy day care, and pet stores if the owners will allow it. If you have photos of your work, consider posting them on a website or as decor in your shop.
Never underestimate the power of word of mouth. Your satisfied clients will bring you more clients, so pleasing the owners is just as important as pleasing the pets. There is a lot of competition out there to be sure, but if you give exceptional service, you will have an advantage. Pet spas are becoming popular in upscale areas. There's just something about the word "spa" that implies a luxurious experience for your treasured pet. Aside from the usual baths, haircuts, and nail trims, these places often offer whirlpool baths, underwater treadmills, gourmet doggie treats and the like. Now doesn't that sound like a wonderful day for FiFi? Every pet loves attention, right? Most grooming salons also stock a range of products to help your pet maintain their just stepped out of the salon look. These things range from shampoos, colognes, combs and brushes to toys and the aforementioned gourmet treats. What dog wouldn't want some carob and carrot biscuits?
To help the grooming business, you must be professional at all times. you expect your clients to be on time for appointments, so try not to keep them waiting. Greet the owner and the pet with enthusiasm and listen to any concerns they may have. A clean and odor free workplace is essential. People assume that if your work area is neat and organized, you are serious about your work and will do a good job. Not every pet will be a pleasure to work with, but finding something positive about everyone will be music to the owners ears. You don't want to say that Poopsie is an out of control maniac, though she may be. She is spirited and lively. If the pet is truly unmanageable, you are within your rights to politely suggest another groomer might be a more appropriate match for the little hellion. Oops, the little darling.
Ok, ready to start your pet grooming business? Just remember if you are an animal lover, a people pleaser, and have basic grooming skills, your venture will not be like work. You'll be doing something you love every day.
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