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Start a mobile dog grooming business by following these 9 steps:
You have found the perfect business idea, and now you are ready to take the next step. There is more to starting a business than just registering it with the state. We have put together this simple guide to starting your mobile dog grooming business. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
STEP 1: Plan your Business
A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:
- What are the startup and ongoing costs?
- Who is your target market?
- How long it will take you to break even?
- What will you name your business?
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.
What are the costs involved in opening a mobile dog grooming business?
While ongoing expenses are significantly lower, start-up costs can be high. Your first investment should be your mobile grooming vehicle. Be sure to weigh your options and facility requirements when considering what type of vehicle you’ll invest in.
Vehicle requirements include:
- Power generator
- Water heater
- Water tank
- Waste containers (both solid and liquid)
- Proper lighting
- Washing space
- Table (with lift is preferable)
- Proper ventilation and flooring
Some entrepreneurs prefer to invest in a fully outfitted van, while others choose to invest in a trailer and convert it themselves. Initial costs range anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000, depending upon your needs and what you already have available.
If you plan to perform grooming services yourself, you will also need the following items:
- Clippers - $100 to $250 each
- Clipper blades - $13 - $100
- Shears - $89 to $300 each
- Brushes and combs - $5 to $99
As a rule, any groomer you hire will come with their own set of grooming supplies. You should, however, plan to offer a variety of shampoos, conditioners, and other “spa” treatments.
What are the ongoing expenses for a mobile dog grooming business?
Unlike a fixed location, your ongoing expenses are minimal. Standard costs include:
- Vehicle maintenance - Oil changes, fluid top-off, and tire checks should be performed regularly.
- Fuel costs - Specific costs vary, depending upon the radius of your service area.
- Equipment maintenance - Blades and sheers, when cared for properly, should last several years. Set yourself up on a regular servicing schedule, which can range anywhere from $5 to $150 quarterly, depending upon your needs at the time.
- Replenishing supplies, such as shampoo, conditioner, etc
- Marketing costs - As word of mouth spreads, your marketing costs will go down.
- Payroll - Most groomers work as independent contractors, which will eliminate this portion of your budget.
Who is the target market?
Busy animal lovers who have enough disposable income to pamper their pets are your primary target audience. Your ultimate goal is to build a following of repeat customers.
How does a mobile dog grooming business make money?
Mobile dog grooming businesses generate revenue from each animal they care for. Basic services are offered, with additional fees for any “extras.” There are several advantages to offering a mobile service - overhead is significantly reduced and clients are willing to pay higher fees for the convenience factor.
How much can you charge customers?
Mobile grooming fees will vary, depending upon where you live. Fees range anywhere from $30 to $70 (extra services not included). Most grooming fees vary, depending upon the breed and size of dog.
How much profit can a mobile dog grooming business make?
If you plan to hire a groomer, they will earn 50% of each grooming. The average mobile groomer reports grooming six dogs a day, at an average of $65 per dog. This comes out to $390/day if you are your own groomer, $195/day with an outside groomer.
How can you make your business more profitable?
There are a number of ways to ensure maximum profitability for your mobile dog grooming business:
- Make your own shampoo
- Offer a variety of different services and extra “treatments” that increase the overall cost of each grooming
- If you live in the area, offer pet sitting and boarding services
- Open a brick and mortar shop in an area with high demand
- Service different areas on different days, or invest in multiple mobile units
- Offer grooming training, both online and in person
What will you name your business?
Choosing the right name is very important. Read our detailed guide on how to name your business. We recommend checking if the business name you choose is available as a web domain and securing it early so no one else can take it.
After registering a domain name, consider setting up a professional email account (@yourcompany.com). Google's G Suite offers a business email service that comes with other useful tools, including word processing, spreadsheets, and more. Try it for free
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC prevents you from being personally liable if your mobile dog grooming business is sued. There are many business structures to choose from including: Corporations, LLC's, and DBA's.
Form Your LLC
Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC
Check out the Top Business Formation Services from our friends at StartupSavant.
You should also consider using a registered agent service to help protect your privacy and stay compliant.
STEP 3: Register for taxes
You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!
You can acquire your EIN for free through the IRS website, via fax, or by mail. If you would like to learn more about EINs and how they can benefit your LLC, read our article, What is an EIN?.
STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Open a business bank account
- This separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- It also makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Recommended: Find the right bank for you, read our review of the Top 5 Banks for Your Small Business
Get a business credit card
- This helps you separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
- It also builds your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money and investment later on.
STEP 5: Set up business accounting
Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses
Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
Certain municipalities also require pet grooming licenses. For instance, Connecticut municipalities require such a license.
For more information about local licenses and permits:
- Check with your town, city or county clerk’s office
- Get assistance from one of the local associations listed in US Small Business Associations directory of local business resources.
STEP 7: Get Business Insurance
Just as with licenses and permits, your business needs insurance in order to operate safely and lawfully. Business Insurance protects your company’s financial wellbeing in the event of a covered loss.
There are several types of insurance policies created for different types of businesses with different risks. If you’re unsure of the types of risks that your business may face, begin with General Liability Insurance. This is the most common coverage that small businesses need, so it’s a great place to start for your business.
Learn more about General Liability Insurance.
Another notable insurance policy that many businesses need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If your business will have employees, it’s a good chance that your state will require you to carry Workers' Compensation Coverage.
STEP 8: Define your brand
Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
How to promote & market a mobile dog grooming business
When first starting out, offer your services free of charge to friends and family. If they are happy with the result, encourage them to spread the word. Approach veterinarians, dog breeders, and pet stores in your service area and ask them to display your fliers. Until your calendar starts to fill up, consider setting up shop in the parking lot of a vet’s office or pet store. This is a great way to let people know about the services you offer.
Give back to the community and build a reputation for your company by volunteering with a local rescue or shelter. Adoptable pets get a fresh new look, ready to go to their new families.
How to keep customers coming back
In this industry, reputation is everything. Each animal should be handled with respect, as should their “parents.” If an animal shies away from you when greeted, chances are their owner will seek out another groomer.
STEP 9: Establish your Web Presence
A business website allows customers to learn more about your company and the products or services you offer. You can also use social media to attract new clients or customers.
Start a Mobile Dog Grooming Business In Your State
Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.
Is this Business Right For You?
While you will have some interaction with pet owners, much of a mobile dog groomer’s day is spent alone with the animal. Therefore, this business venture is best suited for the individual who is comfortable working solo a majority of the time. If your plan is to manage the business and hire an experienced groomer to care for the animals, it’s important that you understand the intricacies of the industry and carefully consider a groomer’s portfolio during the hiring process.
What happens during a typical day at a mobile dog grooming business?
Greeting clients and their pets will be an inevitable part of each day and is a critical aspect of creating a strong client base. The rest of your time will involve care and maintenance of your vehicle, physical spaces, and your marketing and online presence. Normal duties will include, but are not limited to:
- Performing dog grooming activities, such as: wash, dry, haircut, and nail trim. Additional services should be available upon request.
- Since you are a mobile unit, part of each day will be spent on the road, traveling from location to location.
- Service and maintenance of your vehicles and workspaces.
- Administrative duties such as taking appointments, answering phone calls, accepting payments, and paying bills.
- Implementing marketing strategies
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful mobile dog grooming business?
While no formal eduction or licensing is required in most states, it is critical that you gain hands-on experience before opening a mobile dog grooming business. Either for your own personal knowledge, or to help in the hiring process, you must understand how to read an animal’s signals. Each personality is different and dictates how the grooming session proceeds. Since the mobile dog groomer is working alone, they must be able to pick up, move, and handle dogs of every size, requiring both strength and patience.
The National Dog Groomers Association of America, Inc offers a variety of workshops and classes. They are also a great resource for marketing your business and networking with other grooming professionals. Industry leaders also recommend gaining experience through volunteer work at a local shelter. This will help in becoming familiar with different breeds, what goes into running such a business, and will help you build relationships with potential customers and business partners.
What is the growth potential for a mobile dog grooming business?
Since space is limited in your mobile unit, one groomer is the most you will want for each workspace. This does not, however, have to limit your business’ growth. As profits increase, consider building a fleet, with at least one unit for each area of town. You could also increase your business to include permanent locations, based on the area’s demands.
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Take the Next Step
Find a business mentor
One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.
Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.
Resources to Help Women in Business
There are many resources out there specifically for women entrepreneurs. We’ve gathered necessary and useful information to help you succeed both professionally and personally:
If you’re a woman looking for some guidance in entrepreneurship, check out this great new series Women in Business created by the women of our partner Startup Savant.
What are some insider tips for jump starting a mobile dog grooming business?
Since this is usually a small, independent business in the beginning, work to keep your overhead costs low. Additionally, have a business plan and prioritize your needs to become successful and well-known within the industry relatively soon.
- Carefully consider your service area. Spend some time at local dog parks, talk to veterinarians in the area, etc. This can offer valuable insight into what services you can offer that set you apart from the rest.
- When shopping for a vehicle, do your research. Check out both new and used mobile units.
- Proper pricing is critical. Remember, you’re offering a convenience service; price accordingly.
- To maximize profits, stay aware of industry trends and innovations.
How and when to build a team
With limited space, your business usually only needs one groomer per vehicle. Many entrepreneurs opt to handle administrative duties as well, eliminating the need for a team. If you do not plan to groom the animals yourself, carefully consider each grooming candidate. Check out their references and work history, requesting a portfolio when available.