Starting a Dog Grooming Business: The Ultimate Guide

A dog grooming business can be a lucrative and rewarding opportunity for dog lovers looking to start a business in the pet care industry.

Pet services are the fastest-growing division of the pet industry, according to the American Pet Products Association (APPA). The APPA reports people spent $95.7 billion on pets in the US in 2019, a number expected to reach $99 billion in 2020.

A dog grooming business is an excellent career move if you enjoy working with dogs and will work like a dog to make your furry clients and their owners happy. Enjoy this guide to help you through every step of starting your dog grooming business.

Write your dog grooming business plan.

The first step to starting a business is to write a business plan. You need a business plan to secure funding. And studies show that a business plan increases the odds of starting a successful business. Form a business entity.

The next step is to form a sole proprietorship, corporation, partnership, or limited liability company (LLC). Consult with a lawyer to evaluate which option is best for your dog grooming business.

  • Sole proprietorship: A business owned and operated by one person. There is no legal distinction between the owner and the business entity.
  • Corporation: A group authorized by the state to act as a single entity. The corporation functions as a legal entity, separate from the owners.
  • Partnership: A business owned and operated by two or more parties and share its profits. Partnerships vary. In some, all partners share liabilities and profits equally. In others, partners share liability and profits differently.
  • Limited liability company (LLC): Exclusive to the US, owners of an LLC are not individually liable for the company's debts or liabilities. LLCs combine the attributes of a corporation with those of a partnership or sole proprietorship.

Choose an operating concept for your dog grooming business.

The next step is to decide where you will run your business. You have several options:

  • Rent a space in an established salon
  • Operate out of your home
  • Open a salon as the sole groomer
  • Open a salon and invite groomers to rent space
  • Operate a mobile grooming salon

Since dogs can be loud, check zoning regulations and covenants to make sure you choose the right location.

While operating out of your home might be the most cost-effective option, it may limit the scale and image of your business. If you go this route, verify whether you can operate a business from your home.

If you decide to rent or purchase space, consider size and layout as a critical determining factor. Dog grooming businesses have distinct spatial needs. A typical floor plan for a dog grooming business contains four areas: lobby, pet holding area, bath and dry room, and a grooming room.

If you are up for a challenge, take your dog grooming business on the road. Mobile dog grooming is experiencing growth due to its convenience for pet owners and the freedom for the business owner. While it’s relatively easy to find a van, the most common issue mobile groomers face is faulty equipment, like the van or power generator. Another issue is wasting time and gas traveling from client to client.

Apply for business licenses, permits, and insurance.

The types of licenses, permits, registrations, and insurance required to start a dog grooming business vary based on location and services offered. Common local, state, and federal registrations businesses need include a sales tax permit, Employer Identification Number, and Occupancy Permit.

If you are operating out of a salon, you likely need general liability insurance to protect yourself from a client slipping or a dog bite.

If you’re operating a mobile grooming business, you likely need an additional policy to your personal auto insurance policy, as most don’t cover commercial activity.

Obtain certifications and training.

While you can jump into dog grooming with little-to-no knowledge and experience, it’s beneficial to market your business and tell prospective customers you are qualified to groom their dogs.

While you may have shampooed and trimmed a golden retriever before, there are dozens of other breeds who require specific haircuts. Other necessary skills include how to handle aggressive dogs, nail trimming, and ear cleaning. Several schools (both online and in-person) provide certification. Formal training makes you look official, and it validates your business even if it isn’t legally required.

Purchase dog grooming tools and equipment.

Perhaps the highest startup cost for your dog grooming salon is the purchase of equipment. Dryers, tubs, and tables can cost thousands of dollars depending on size, style, and quality. Necessary purchases include:

  • Grooming tables
  • Dog brushes and combs
  • Shears
  • De-matters
  • Fur dryers
  • Grooming clippers
  • Nail clippers
  • Nail grinders
  • Ear cleaning products
  • Bandanas and bows
  • Grooming gloves
  • Bathing tubs
  • Grooming hose and shower attachments
  • Dog shampoo and conditioner
  • Washing machines and dryers
  • Kennels

Choose pet care business software.

There’s a lot to keep track of with a dog grooming business: Appointments, client preferences, groomer schedules, client communication, payments, and more.

Revelation Pets upgrades your day-to-day operations and improves business productivity. Our dog grooming software is packed full of time and money-saving features in an easy-to-use interface.

Establish pricing.

Research rates by checking out local dog groomers. Keep your prices in a comparable range so your business is competitive. But, it’s wise to start slightly lower to encourage customers to give you a chance while you build your reputation and client list.

Remember to consider dog breed, the type of service required, and the time it takes to complete the grooming service when establishing rates.

Your pricing menu should reflect real costs, including taxes, insurance, and a rainy day fund. Pandemics happen, equipment fails, and the cost of tools rises. The more prepared you are, the better you can handle the unexpected.

Market your dog grooming business.

In order to be successful in the booming pet care industry, you need to stand out from the competition. Implement a marketing and advertising strategy to generate buzz, and be sure to include special offers to incentivize potential clients to try your grooming services. Some ideas to get you started:

  • Create a memorable name and logo.
  • Create a professional website.
  • Establish a social media presence.
  • Mail or email flyers and coupons to potential clients in your area.
  • Leave advertising materials and business cards at dog parks, pet boutiques, veterinary clinics, animal rescues, dog trainers, and doggie daycares.
  • Create ads with coupons on Craigslist and Facebook.
  • Share promotional messages in local Facebook groups.
  • Offer gift certificates to your salon as a part of a charity or fundraising event.
  • Start a referral program.
  • Create branded chew toys or dog bandanas.

Opening a dog grooming business can be a whirlwind of emotions and stress. You’ll inevitably run into obstacles along the way, but if you’re genuinely passionate about dog grooming, you can make it through!

Stay focused on your goal, take your time, and have fun! And, with Revelation Pets by your side, you’ll have wiggly tails and happy pet parents in no time!

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