Starting a Dog Grooming Business

Congratulations on your decision to start a dog grooming business! 

Now is an exciting time to start a pet care business, as the industry is successful year over year. Americans are spending more on pets than ever before, a number expected to reach $99 billion this year.

But now that you have made the courageous decision to start your business, you may be overwhelmed with what to do next. There are many steps ahead on your journey to creating a dog grooming business, from legal paperwork and licensing to selecting a name and designing a logo. 

We created a guide to lead you through the process of starting a dog grooming business. Twenty-Two things to do to open your business and the order to do them in. Read on for some ideas that will motivate and encourage you to fulfill your dream!

Create a dog grooming business plan.

To start a business, you need to write a business plan. This comprehensive document is necessary to secure funding and includes crucial information about your business, such as market and financial analyses and management structure. There are many free business plan templates on the internet.

Every business needs a plan. Have a plan and work the plan! Do yearly evaluations to see if you are reaching your goals. The business should grow every year.

Select an operating concept.

When it’s time to decide where you will operate your dog grooming business. 

Your choices include:

  • Rent space in a salon
  • Run a mobile grooming salon
  • Run a dog grooming salon from your home
  • Run a dog grooming salon as the only groomer
  • Run a dog grooming salon and invite groomers to rent space 
  • Run a dog grooming salon and hire groomers to work for you
  • Work for an existing salon
  • Rent a space from a veterinarian
  • Buy a building and invest in your future
  • Become a stylist for dogs in the American Kennel Club show circuit

Size and layout are significant factors when renting or purchasing space. A dog grooming business floor plan typically includes five sections: reception, sound proof holding space, bathing, drying and grooming space.

Operating out of your home might be the most cost-effective choice, but there are things to consider. Running a business out of your home can limit growth opportunities, making expansion both in physical and staff size difficult. You also might anger your neighbors, if you decide to run your business out of your home, first verify if you can legally do so, city, county and HOA permits. 

A growing trend is the mobile dog grooming business. Mobile dog grooming is convenient for pet parents and provides freedom for the business owner. While there are benefits, operating out of a free-standing building is more lucrative.  

Establish a business entity.

Establishing a business entity is a crucial way to protect yourself from liability and save money on taxes. Consult with a lawyer to evaluate which option is best for your dog grooming business. The way you will be taxed is a crucial difference in each selectin. Options include: 

  • Limited liability company (LLC): Owners of an LLC are not personally liable for the business’s liabilities or debts. LLCs are exclusive to the US. and have one or more owners. Corporations have minutes, meetings, record keeping and shareholders, even if there is only one owner.
  • Corporation: A corporation is generally a group acting as a single legal entity. 
  • Sole proprietorship: A sole proprietorship is a business owned and operated by one person. There are no legal distinctions between the business and the owner. (Not recommended)

Obtain insurance, licenses, and permits.

Dependent on your location, the types of licenses, permits, registrations, and insurance required to start a dog grooming business vary

Standard local, state, and federal registrations include:

  • Sales tax permit
  • Employer Identification Number
  • Occupancy Permit

If you are working in a salon or your home, get general liability insurance to protect yourself from a dog bite or pet parent slipping.  

If running a mobile grooming business, you most likely need to add a policy to your personal auto insurance policy since most don’t include commercial activity.

Buy dog grooming tools and supplies.

Be prepared for sticker shock. Tubs, dryers, and grooming tables can cost thousands of dollars. But you can’t operate a dog grooming business without the necessary equipment. Some of the essential investments include:

  • Grooming tables
  • Dryers
  • Washing machine and dryer
  • Tubs
  • Kennels
  • Dog brushes 
  • Combs
  • Shears
  • Grooming clippers
  • Nail clippers/ grinders
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Ear cleaning products
  • Bandanas, ties and bows
  • Face masks
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Cleaning products
  • etc.

Earn certifications and training.

There are no legal certifications required for dog groomers, but training helps ensure you do an exemplary job and show customers you are qualified. Clients do look for your credentials.

Training ensures you know necessary skills like:

  • Breed-specific haircuts
  • How to handle senior dogs
  • Compassion grooming
  • All-natural grooming
  • How to handle aggressive dogs
  • Nail trimming
  • Proper bathing
  • Ear cleaning

Online dog grooming and in-person schools offer training and certification. You might also consider training in supervision, bookkeeping, data software…

Establish pricing.

Set your rates in a similar range to local dog groomers to ensure your business is competitive. Keep in mind breed, type of service, and the time it takes to complete the service when establishing rates. Don’t be afraid to be a few dollars more if you have the biggest, nicest, cleanest shop.

Consider bundling services together for special packages, offering punch cards, and offering first-time promotions. 

Pricing should reflect actual cost, taxes, insurance, supplies and a little extra for your savings. The more prepared you are for unexpected expenses like equipment failure or a pandemic, the better off you will be.

Promote your dog grooming business.

When starting, it’s crucial to spread the word. Marketing generates buzz, and you want people talking about your dog grooming business. Promote special offers and incentivize potential clients to try your grooming services. Some things to try:

  • Create a memorable business name.
  • Design a catchy logo.
  • Design a professional website.
  • Email coupons.
  • Launch a referral program.
  • Give business cards and flyers to pet boutiques, vet clinics, animal rescues, dog trainers, and doggie daycares.
  • Get active on social media.
  • Launch advertising on Google and Facebook.
  • Be engaged in local Facebook groups.

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