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As life becomes increasingly busier, consumers are looking for ways to simplify their lives and get more done with less time. Pet lovers across the globe have proven that they will go to great lengths to ensure their animals are properly cared for. For the busy pet owner, a mobile dog groomer is the perfect solution, offering both convenience and individual attention for each animal.
Who is this business right for?
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 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.
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.
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 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 steps to start a mobile dog grooming business?
Once you're ready to start your mobile dog grooming business, follow these steps to ensure that your business is legally compliant and avoid wasting time and money as your business grows:
- Plan your business. A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. A few important topics to consider are your initial costs, your target market, and how long it will take you to break even.
- Form a legal entity. Establishing a legal business entity prevents you from being personally liable if your mobile dog grooming business is sued.
- Register for taxes. You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
- Open a business bank account. A dedicated checking account for your mobile dog grooming business keeps your finances organized and makes your business appear more professional to your customers.
- 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.
- 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.
- Get business insurance. Insurance is highly recommended for all business owners. If you hire employees, workers compensation insurance may be a legal requirement in your state.
- 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.
- Establish a 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. Save 15% when you create a business website with Weebly.
Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.
Where can I 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.
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 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.
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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.
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.
Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.
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.
Maintain Personal Asset Protection
Don’t think that just forming an LLC, or any other type of business, will save your personal assets in case of a lawsuit or other matter by itself.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your LLC is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Two of the simplest steps that will protect your business, and yourself, are to:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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