Do you want to start a dog grooming business from home? If YES, here is a complete guide to starting a mobile dog grooming business with NO money and no experience.
Okay, so we have provided you an in-depth sample dog grooming business plan template. We also took it further by analyzing and drafting a sample dog grooming marketing plan backed up by actionable guerrilla marketing ideas for dog grooming companies. In this article, we will be considering all the requirements for starting a dog grooming business. So put on your entrepreneurial hat and let’s proceed.
Why Start a Dog Grooming Business?
According to the American Pet Product Association (APPA), the pet industry in the United States generated revenue of more than $60 billion in 2015, and other pet services of which grooming is a part of generated more than $5 billion out of the total revenue generated by the industry.
According to APPA, these pet services grew at a rate of 8.4 percent in a one year period (2011 to 2012). It is expected that dog grooming businesses will continue to achieve profitability as more owners increase how much they are willing to spend when it comes to paying for pet services.
While starting a dog grooming business might look to be fun, there are certain decisions that you will have to make and lots of things you have to take into cognizance. First, you will be dealing with a variety of dogs with different personalities and so it is necessary that you are prepared to handle them, which is why it is necessary to first meet with the dog in order to gauge their personality before offering your services. If the breed is one that you cannot handle, then you can easily decline to offer your services because as a groomer you will be held liable if anything goes wrong.
Regardless of where you intend to operate your business from, it is important that you make some major financial considerations regarding the business especially as you will need to get the equipment you need, get a business license, buy insurance policies and pay for utilities.
When determining what prices you should set for your grooming services, it is important that you conduct a thorough research regarding the rates in your area so that you do not end up giving rates that are either too high or too low.
Also, the rates that you set should take into consideration your overhead and running expenses, the breed of dog, the kind of grooming services that you will be offering and the time you will take to complete the grooming service. You might need to offer a special discount when just starting the business in order to attract new clients.
Due to the fact that you will be handling several breeds and sizes of dogs, it is important that you are physically fit. The repetitive motion of brushing, scissoring, hand stripping and continuous lifting can lead to back problems and so it is necessary that you are not caught off guard by engaging in plenty of exercise, getting a brace for your wrist and sitting down on a stool as opposed to standing all the time.
Starting a Dog Grooming Business from Home With No Money – A Complete Guide
- Industry Overview
The pet grooming market is growing at a rapid and consistent pace due to the increase in pet groomers especially the mobile ones who are able to deliver pet grooming services at the convenience of their clients, and the cost and convenience associated with their mobility has made this sector continue to expand rapidly.
The overall pet grooming market is increasing due to the growing adoption of premium pet products as well as increase in pet parents as many single parents or those without children have adopted pets, an act that will see the market boom for at least an 8 year period.
The pet grooming market according to product type is segmented into combs and brushes, conditioners and shampoos and scissors and clippers. In 2015, the dominant segment was that of shampoos and conditioners and it is expected that this segment will continue to dominate till 2024.
The reason is due to the fact that varying types of conditioners and shampoos were bought by pet owners to combat a variety of conditions from allergies to color enhancement, from control of odor to coat care and protection of natural oils. The increase in demand for products that are deemed healthy and safe will likely also propel demand and sustain it for a long period of time.
Even though the pet grooming market spreads to all regions – North America, Europe, Latin America, Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa; according to statistics, North America in 2015 dominated the market and this is expected to continue till 2024.
North America’s dominance can be attributed to increase in ownership of pets that has led to an increase in discretionary expenditure for pets, especially as more pet owners have adopted the use of premium and specialized products in the grooming of their pets. The United States has the majority market share in the North American region.
According to an industry group, the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, it is expected that about $5.4 billion will be spent by Americans in 2017 for boarding and grooming services. Statistics from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics has it that the job category in this segment will grow at about 11 percent from 2017 to 2023, which is faster than the average growth that the economy as a whole will likely experience during the same time period. The reason for this is tied to an increasing number of pet owning households as well as quick turnover that creates room for new workers.
The pet grooming industry is not only a lucrative one according to the American Pet Product Manufacturing Association; it is also one that has experienced a steady increase in its profits from $2.7 billion in 2008 to nearly $3 billion in 2007.
The number of dogs in millions of homes in the United States has brought a level of importance to grooming services, as there are an estimated 75 million dogs in the country. The grooming service segment has two kinds of set-up – which became necessary due to the varying lifestyles of customers – the mobile groom shop and the retail-based groom shop.
More customers are increasing their demand for mobile groomers due to the fact that the elderly population is growing, and older pets and pet owners are not able to most times handle the stress of having to go to a retail-based groom shop. However, mobile groomers are limited as to the number of pets that can be attended to as opposed to a retail based groom shop.
According to IBISWorld, the pet grooming and boarding industry is one that generates annual revenue of $8 billion and has had a 9 percent growth rate from the period of 2011 to 2016 due to the rising per capita disposable income as well as an increase in pet ownership.
There are more than 110,200 dog grooming and boarding services in the United States employing close to 195,000 people; which means that most of the businesses are run by less than three people with only a few employing more than three. The industry is highly fragmented as there are no companies with a dominant market share.
Starting a Dog Grooming Business – Market Research and Feasibility Studies
- Demographics and Psychographics
The demographic and psychographic composition of those who own dogs in America cannot be limited to families or high income earners as single adults, senior citizens, baby boomer and Millennials also own dogs for varying reasons. However, the fact that majority of households in America own a dog does not mean that most are willing to pay others to groom their dogs.
However, the demographics for your dog grooming business should not be limited to only high income earners, as there are others that will require your services. Therefore, it is best to engage in thorough research before deciding to define your demographics.
List of Niche ideas Within the Dog Grooming Business That You Can Specialize in
The fact that many American households have at least one dog has enabled the rise of so many dog related businesses to which dog grooming is one. However, the fact that you intend to offer dog grooming services does not mean that there are no niche services that you can engage in so as to stand out from others in the same field.
The fact that this industry is a lucrative one does not mean that you should not engage in thorough research before specializing in any niche ideas so that you do not end up wasting time and resources. Below is a list of niche ideas within this particular business that you can specialize in;
- Dog Grooming Services
- Dog Walking
- Dog boutique
- Dog Training
- Dog Sitting
The Level of Competition in the Dog Grooming Industry
The level of competition in the dog grooming industry is stiff due to the fact that the market is largely fragmented with no company dominating the market, thereby leaving competition to be concentrated in regions where the businesses are based.
Due to the fact that dogs are now regarded as part of the family, more dog owners are therefore very particular about the grooming services that their dogs receive. What most clients want when it comes to paying for dog grooming services is that the products are premium, considered safe and healthy and that that quality of service is top notch.
Therefore if you are looking to start your dog grooming business in the United States of America, you should be aware of the various types of competitors that you will be facing and also be prepared to compete with small and large scale retail based groomers as well as mobile groomers.
List of Well – Known Brands in the Industry
There are major players in every industry and their popularity could be due to how successful they are the quality of their services, their publicity and advertising strategy and so many other attributes. And so as one who intends to start a new business, it is your duty to know who the major players are, what they do to remain on top, what their weaknesses are and how you can exploit them.
Below are the well-known brands in the industry not only in the United States but all over the world;
- Chelsea Dogs
- Tulsa Pet Grooming Salon
- Preppie Pooch
- Pooches Kitties & Kisses Mobile Grooming Salon
- Doggie Doo’s Pet Services
- Canine House of Style
- Jenn’s Pet Grooming
The revenue generated by the pets industry has shown that the industry was one of the few unaffected ones especially during the Great Recession in 2008 and 2009, which means that the industry is recession proof and will only continue to grow especially as the economy has achieved stability.
According to the American Pet Products Association (APPA), spending for specialty pet services increased the revenue generated by the industry to $620 billion in 2016 as opposed to the $510 billion it experienced in 2013. It is expected that the demand for premium pet grooming services will continue to be on the increase.
One major highly demanded service has been mobile pet grooming as operators in this sector make use of vehicles that are specially equipped to travel to the homes of pet owners and offer a full range of services in such a way that is convenient for the customer and reduces stress for the pets. Even though startup capital for this service is usually higher, returns are usually considered high as well.
The demographic trend that has continued to favor the growth of the industry are the Millennials and the Baby Boomers. For the latter, the fact that the kids are no longer available to be pampered has led to the adoption of dogs in order to have something to cater for. The former do not have the time – either deliberately or not – to form human relationships and so have adopted dogs to fill in the void.
Starting Your Dog Grooming Business from Scratch versus Buying a Franchise
One tough decision that you will be faced with when looking to start your dog grooming business is whether to start your business from scratch or to buy a franchise. While each option has its pros and cons, only the one that will help you achieve your intended goals and objectives faster will be the best option for you. Starting your business from scratch affords you the opportunity to control the pace of the business and grow it to achieve your goals and objectives in only the way that suits you. Even though starting a business from scratch can be overwhelming to a newbie entrepreneur, if you are determined and smart enough, you will learn from the challenges that you will face instead of succumbing to them.
In choosing to buy a franchise, it means you do not want to be bogged down with having to learn how to run your business as the franchisor provides guidance and support – in terms of advertising and publicity, rates and customer support – to its franchisee. However, it is best that you conduct a thorough research on what franchise options are available, the popularity of the franchisor, the amount you will be paying and what you are looking to get from the franchisor – in terms of support – before making your decision.
Possible Threats and Challenges you will face when starting a Dog Grooming Business
Every entrepreneur starts a business in order to make profit and due to this has strategies that will ensure that success is attainable, they should also be aware of the threats and challenges that the business will face that might threaten the profitability or success of the business. However, being prepared for threats and challenges does not mean that all will be easily handled as there some that are uncontrollable and so the best that the entrepreneur can do when faced with these sort of challenges is to remain focused.
Below are some of the threats and challenges that should be expected by the entrepreneur when looking to start a dog grooming business; arrival of major competitors in the same location, having to deal with freelance dog groomers and economic downturn that will cause customers to spend less on discretionary items.
Best legal entity to use for this type of business
As one who is looking to start a business, one thing you should take into cognizance is what legal entity you would be choosing for your business because the legal entity you choose will have a profound impact on your business. Therefore, choosing a legal entity is not something that should be treated lightly if you intend to achieve your set goals and objectives.
Those that are looking to start their business in the United States often have at least five legal entities which they can choose from and they include; sole proprietorship, partnership, S Corporation, C Corporation and Limited Liability Company (LLC). As one who is looking to start a dog grooming business, your intended scale of business and what you intend to achieve in the long run will need to be taken into consideration.
In making the choice of what legal entity to choose from that will be best for your business; you will need to take certain factors into consideration as this will help you in making the right choice. The factors are; the ease at which you can set up and control the legal entity which you intend choosing, the flexibility of the legal entity when it comes to certain aspects of running the business, the extent of liability the entrepreneur will be exposed to and how you will be required to pay tax.
Many entrepreneurs starting their business in the United States usually prefer to start as sole proprietors or if they have someone to partner with, a partnership legal entity. These two legal entities are regarded as the simplest to start up with as they are flexible, can be easily set up and controlled with an easy tax payment structure. On the other hand, these legal entities have unlimited liability which means that should there be any sort of debts incurred by the business, the entrepreneur can be personally held liable.
The corporation and LLC kind of entities are somewhat similar in nature. One thing that often distinguishes them from the sole proprietorship and partnership sort of legal entity is the fact that the former are regarded as having a distinct entity different from their owners. However, while the LLC is regarded as more flexible, corporations are usually tougher. Ensure that you get a lawyer to help you choose the right legal entity for your business.
Catchy Business Name Ideas Suitable for a Dog Grooming Business
One of the least thought about but also important thing that most entrepreneurs do not put much effort in is what to call their business and yet this is a very important aspect when looking to start a business because the name your business will be identified by must not only be unique but will make you stand out from your competitors. Your business name must be simple, easily pronounceable, and memorable and also must not be used by anyone in the industry.
Therefore, some of the catchy business name ideas suitable for a dog grooming business include;
- Sloan Dog Grooming Inc
- Woof Groomers
- The Fur Groom Shop
- Paws Top Groomers
- Petsky Groomers
When looking to start any business in the United States, entrepreneurs are usually encouraged to buy insurance policies. While this is not mandatory, it helps to protect the entrepreneur from being personally exposed to risks that might occur to the business. While there are several insurance policies available for various types of businesses in the United States, it is usually best to seek the advice of an insurance agent regarding what insurance policies to purchase for your dog grooming business within your budget.
Below are some of the basic insurance policies that you would need to take into consideration when looking to start your dog grooming business in the United States;
- General Liability Insurance
- Health Insurance
- Property Insurance
- Hazard Insurance
- Workers’ Compensation Insurance
- Casualty Insurance
- Loss of Income Insurance
- Business Owner Policy Insurance
- Umbrella Insurance
Intellectual Property Protection/Trademark
In running a dog grooming business, you will be offering grooming services to dogs in accordance to the wishes and requirements of the dog owners. This is therefore hardly the sort of business that will require you to apply for an intellectual property protection as the services offered are not usually unique.
If you have however built your brand to a successful level and intend to protect your business name, logo, slogan or any other property you deem worthy, then you will need to apply for an intellectual property protection or get an attorney to help you out. However, you should note that most entrepreneurs in this industry do not usually consider this as a priority.
Is Professional Certification Needed to Run a Dog Grooming Business?
If you intend running a dog grooming business, a professional certification is not something that you should worry yourself about as all that is needed from you by your customers are quality services.
If you however are looking to run a business that will enable you to stand out, then acquiring certain relatable professional certifications from organizations such as the National Dog Groomers Association of America, might be something for you to consider, as it proves to your customers that you might have achieved a certain level of expertise; thereby making you stand out.
List of Legal Documents You Need to Run a Dog Grooming Business
No matter how non-technical the business you are looking to start is, you are still required by law to have certain documents in place that will help you not to run afoul of the law. This is why it is important that you conduct a thorough research before starting the business so that you might be aware of what you will need and how to get it. If you are still in doubt, you can ask competitors, visit your city council or get the help of an attorney that has knowledge about the industry.
Some of the legal documents that you will however need in order to run your dog grooming business include;
- Certificate of Incorporation
- Operating Agreement for LLC
- Business Plan
- Business License and Permit
- Insurance Policy
- Service contract documents
- Employer Identification Number (EIN)
- Federal Tax Identification Number (TIN)
- Sales Tax Permit
Financing Your Dog Grooming Business
Even though the dog grooming business does not require a lot of funds to start, this does not mean that it will not require funds that will cover running and overhead expenses till the business starts to generate revenue. If you intend to run a small scale business, then you might easily fund the business with your own money but if you intend to open a large scale dog grooming business
Then you might need to source for funds from external sources who will want to see a concrete plan about your business written down before you can be loaned any money. This is one of the reasons why entrepreneurs are often encouraged to have a business plan.
Below are some of the options that the entrepreneur can explore when souring for start-up capital;
- Generate startup capital from personal savings
- Source for soft loans from family members and friends
- Get a business partner and split startup capital with them
Choosing a Suitable Location for your Dog Grooming Business
One important decision that you will be making when it comes to running your dog grooming business is where you should locate your business as the location of one’s business plays a very important role in how much of a success the business might become. One factor that will however have a major impact on where you locate your business is whether you intend to become a mobile groomer or open a retail-based grooming shop.
Even though this business can be started from home especially if you have adequate space to store your equipment; running the business from home will depend on the local zoning laws, and so if the zoning laws forbid locating such business at home, you might need to either buy or rent a facility to run your business or you become a mobile groomer depending on what your startup budget is.
If you intend to lease or buy a facility, consider your target market so that you don’t end up locating your business far from the hub of your target market and then losing your share of the market to your competitors; this is why it is important to engage in a thorough research about the business.
Because this business depends on zoning laws, it is best that you engage the services of a real estate agent with thorough knowledge about your kind of business, the zoning laws and appropriate locations to help you with choosing the right location for your business in accordance with your budget.
Starting a Dog Grooming Business from Home – Technical and Manpower Details
Due to the humanization trend where dog owners see their dogs as part of their families and so deserving of regular pet services such as grooming, and the increase in per capita income of pet owners, the dog grooming business industry has continued to grow and become lucrative.
Regardless of whether you intend to open a mobile grooming or a retail based shop, you will need basic supplies to start your business. The basic supplies should enable you carry out the duties of a dog groomer such as fur cutting, bathing, tooth and gum care, fur brushing, nail trimming and drying. The tools you will need to carry out these tasks will vary due to the different dogs, fur and body types that you will be grooming.
Some of the basic tools that you will require when looking to start your dog grooming business include; at least two pairs of dog nail clippers, variety of dog grooming shears, variety of dog grooming brushes and combs, dog grooming table (hydraulic or electric), dog bathtub, dog shampoo and conditioner, dog fur dryer, ear cleaning kit, protective eye drops and dog dental kits. On the administration level, you will require a computer, phone, appropriate software, filing cabinet, printer and high speed internet.
The dog grooming business can be run by a single person successfully especially if you are a mobile groomer or running the business on a small scale. If however you intend running the business on a medium or large scale, then you might need to employ some extra hands to help you out. Some of those you might need to hire include; Chief Executive Officer (Owner), accountant, marketing team, front desk officer, office manager, dog groomers, cleaner and security guard.
From the above break down, you will require at least 8 key staff in order to run your dog grooming business successfully.
The Service Delivery Process of a Dog Grooming Business
As a dog groomer, it is important that you are passionate about dogs. Also, you need to know about all dog breeds and their personalities and how to handle them.
Dog owners either take their dogs to retail based grooming shops or have the groomers come to them depending on the circumstances involved. In order to be able to handle several breeds of dogs, it is important that you are physically fit especially as you will be spending a lot of time on your feet while handling the dogs.
Starting a Dog Grooming Business from Home – The Marketing Plan
- Marketing ideas and strategies
One of the aspects of a business that cannot be trivialized is marketing because not only do you get to generate revenue for your business through marketing activities, you also increase the visibility for your business. Good marketing strategies coupled with an appropriate location will ensure that you not only attract new customers but you also retain the ones you have.
Before you can craft a suitable marketing plan for your business, you will need to determine your needs analysis, which will pinpoint the area where you intend to offer your services. One thing that you can use in determining this is a map as it will enable you to critically examine not only the demographics but also locations that will be most convenient to your business.
Once you have conducted your needs analysis, you can then craft a suitable marketing plan for your business by setting various milestones. The marketing plan should align with your core values and objectives so that when creating your marketing strategies, they do not run counter to what you are looking to achieve.
There are several opportunities available to entrepreneurs when looking to market their brands and the availability of online and offline measures mean that entrepreneurs can explore several options when it comes to projecting their business to their intended target market in order to be able to reap the benefits therein.
Some of the marketing ideas and strategies that you can use when looking to start your dog grooming business include;
- Ensure that your dog grooming business is listed in yellow pages and online directories
- Encourage your loyal customers to help spread the word about your business
- Network with other related businesses in the industry such as veterinary clinics, pet stores and the rest so that they can refer their clients to your services
- Make use of your social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Snapchat to increase awareness for your dog grooming business
- Consider creating a professional website and use this to create awareness for your business
- Distribute handbills and fliers in various strategic locations
Strategies to Boost Your Dog Grooming Service Brand Awareness and Create Your Corporate Identity
Embarking on adequate publicity for your business gets you noticed by your target market, and it also ensures that you are able to successfully compete against those offering the same services as you.
Millions of Americans own dogs and this has caused a lot of businesses to spring up in order to catch the attention of these dog owners especially as dogs are being considered by their owners as members of the family and so this means that the industry is extremely competitive and you will therefore need to craft strategies that are effective.
Technology has helped businesses in this era as a lot of businesses can now achieve their publicity goals faster while not having to pay through their nose. Therefore, some of the strategies you can use to boost awareness and create a corporate identity for your business include;
- Participating in and or sponsoring several dog grooming and related events in the community where you are operating your business from
- Deploying your social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to promote your business
- Encouraging your loyal customers to help spread the word about your dog grooming business
- Distribute handbills and fliers in various strategic locations such as dog events, parks, veterinary clinics, pet stores and so on
- Join pet forums and participate in forum activities in order to promote your business
- Use your website to promote your dog grooming business