Starting a dog grooming business
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In 2018 I made the decision to start up a dog grooming business again. A dog groomer for around 30 years, I have groomed dogs in many different types of places and set ups for grooming dogs. Only once in that time was I employed to groom dogs which was for about 1 year. I prefer to be my own boss!
How I set up my dog grooming business
This post is about how I set up my dog grooming business I have today K9 Dog Grooming. If you are thinking about how to start a dog grooming business. Read through this post and take what you need from it. Whether you want to set up a dog grooming business from home, go mobile dog grooming, buy or rent a salon this post may help.
Dog grooming business from home
The first dog grooming business I set up in 1998 was from home in my Mum’s bathroom for a few years. Believe it or not this worked and I had a part time car parts delivery job which helped to build up the number of grooming dogs needed in the beginning. I would groom dogs in the morning then drive a delivery van in the afternoon.
Dog grooming from your own home
Once I left home my Mum carried on the dog grooming business I started from home. But moved it outside into a 15 foot by 12 foot log cabin. She has run that dog grooming business ever since.
The steps I took to set up K9 Dog Grooming
Make a decision
I made the decision in 2018 to start a dog grooming business again. I had always groomed dogs from home, but this wasn’t possible this time round. So I had to look for somewhere local, suitable and at the right price to work as a dog grooming salon. This proved to be quite difficult to find somewhere local at the right price. Like a lot of dog groomers this profession can work really well around school hours.
Build up clients
Previously I was used to grooming dogs the conveyor belt style and was used to grooming a lot of dogs in a week. I was starting from zero number of grooming dogs again and I had forgotten how slow this process can be.
Dog Grooming Website
Before I had found premises I set up a website for the new business. I wasn’t getting anywhere finding premises but I was determined this business was going to happen. Already familiar with using SmugMug, a photo website platform. Which I was already using for the event dog photography I do for The Kennel Club. I set up a dog grooming website using a SmugMug website at the time I had no
Professional dog bath
I had a look around for a professional dog bath and found the Redcape Hydrobath, a hydrobath for dogs. I’ve used a house bath, a £5 plastic dog bath in the past. You really can bath a dog in anything and it will look better than it did to start with.
Cheap dog bath
I know my worth and I also know what using a cheap dog bath will do to your health in the long run. So I ordered the Hydrobath from Redcape, a great dog bath. But Redcape was reluctant to take the order because I had no premises. At the time they wanted a £500 deposit to start the bath with 6 weeks lead to make and deliver. I wasn’t put off and said “I will pay the full amount for the bath now if you won’t make it and I will have premises in 6 weeks to deliver it to”. Redcape took the £500 deposit.
In the past my dog grooming business name was K9Cutz then I had Upperwood Grooming. What I learnt from both of these is it doesn’t matter what your dog grooming business name is. All your clients will recommend your business as you, your name. Rebecca grooms my dogs, I use Rebecca. Just like the hairdressers you usually say the hairdressers name rather than the business name.
As I had my website and I couldn’t think of a business name I had a look at domain names. A domain name is the address of your website. I found k9doggroomer.com, thought to myself “that’s alright” I’ll call the grooming, K9 Dog Grooming. Connecting your domain name to SmugMug is dead easy, when you buy a domain from GoDaddy.
Once I had a business name I could create a logo. I made mine own in photoshop. Your logo wants to be really simple and bold. The first logo I did was not very bold and simple at all. I have changed my logo over the years to the simple Setter logo which I use for everything. YouTube, TikTok, Facebook etc
Starting a new business I wanted my own uniform, I prefer to wear shirts. The shirts I use for dog grooming are great because the dog hair doesn’t seem to stick to them.
I found premises
The original premises fell through, I had a dog bath arriving in 2 weeks time. I was actually starting to panic just a little bit then a miracle happened. I found my dog grooming room, the local pet shop at Tansley which is in a really big building. Had a spare room at the side, and the owners agreed to let me rent the room for dog grooming. It was full of junk and their Son used to play his drum kit there at night.
Years previous the room was rented out as a kind of communications room which apparently was full of landline phones. There must have been a thousand holes in the walls which I filled in. A carpet which must of been about 30 years old which seemed to have been superglued to the floor. The landlord was great. He let me in the week before I opened to decorate and get it ready.
Business cards and leaflets
I had a logo, business address and business name. It was all action stations. The business cards and flyers were ordered and more information was added to the website.
Dog grooming salon design
Simple, clean and white I filled the holes and painted the walls white with normal emulsion. Except one wall which I painted brown with a plan for the back brown wall. I ordered the flooring, what I wanted was laminate wood flooring but with the damp it would have warped. Vinyl is the type of flooring I have down and works with the water which goes everywhere.
I now have found that I need to paint the room at least every year if not twice. Now I use a bathroom emulsion which has mould resistance. Behind the bath the wall has been glossed because of the damp created in there. 5 years on and now even the celling gets mouldy which is something to bear in mind when starting a dog grooming business. You need plenty of fresh air in the space to dry everything out.
Simple cheap plastic signs with my dog’s photos on is what I used to decorate the room with. But what these also do is protect the walls and can be wiped down easily. My Sister precisely put up the original 4 signs. The walls are nearly full with the photos now.
Business bank account
I already had a business bank account set up, you need a bank account ready for your business when you open.
The dog bath arrived
The Hydrobath arrived 3 days before I officially opened, luckily my landlord is a builder and put an outside tap in the room for the hydrobath water supply. He also put in a drain to the outside drain pipe for the bath water to drain away.
Dog grooming equipment
Once the room was in order I started moving in my dog grooming equipment. I’ve collected a lot of dog grooming tools over the years so I didn’t need to buy that much. The table was in my last grooming salon, dog dryers never last that long as I have found out. This time round I bought a dog dryer for over £1,000. A cheap dog blaster, dryer for £60 will do just as well when it’s new. I spent £5,500 on setting up the dog grooming business this time. £2,500 on a dog bath and £1,000 on a dog dryer left £2,000 for the rest. You can do it cheaper. I have a YouTube video on how I started my first dog grooming for £200 here >
I opened K9 Dog Grooming on August 3rd 2018, my first client was Maddie the little Jackapoo she came via the pet shop next door. Maddie still comes for her routine grooming.
Marketing a dog grooming business
Anyone can do the steps above and set up a dog grooming business, making the business work is the next big step. To start from scratch with zero dogs to enough repeat clients took me about 18 months. Which is about normal to build up your client base of dogs as a dog groomer. But this process can be a challenge to some dog groomers who give up too soon.
Here are my tips for starting a dog grooming business client base from scratch -
Don’t charge too little, in short don’t offer cheap dog grooming, or offer cheap baths. It is a false economy, you may feel busy but you will actually be losing money by not charging enough. There is no need to take other dog groomers clients by charging less. 9 times out of 10 they will go back to their original dog groomers or expect the grooming price to be cheap all the time. You won’t be in business long by not charging enough.
Use a website
Use a website, my dog grooming business wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the website I created I’ll explain. The location of K9 Dog Grooming is on an industrial estate, it is next to a pet shop but the road is a dead end at my salon. Therefore there is no footfall, no one walks past and no one knew I was there when I set up. I did have signs out but new clients still have trouble finding me.
The simple SmugMug photo website I created, once I had key worded it up. Brought in all the dogs I needed to build up my client base. Those clients still use my dog grooming services today.
Word of mouth
Once you get clients coming to you then word of mouth will kick in and your business starts to grow
Use Google my business
Use a Google my business listing for your dog grooming business. It’s free. Add your business to Google maps, add the address, phone number and your website all to the listing. You can also add photos and create posts. Any reviews you get copy them and add onto your website for more content.
Social media is free, use social media for free advertising again but understand that not everyone uses social media. 99% of people use the internet (websites) which is where most of my clients come from.
Pet grooming photos
You don’t need a professional camera to take nice before and after dog grooming photos, use your mobile phone. Keep it real and relatable with the photos. Show clients exactly what they will get by using your dog grooming business. What your specialty breeds are etc. Which is all you need on the website to bring in your ideal clients.
Pet grooming web design
There are so many different website platforms to choose from, I used SmugMug because it’s dead simple, easy to use and no codes are required. You just add your writing and photos then publish that’s it. You only need the cheapest plan which is the power plan for just a website. SmugMug is designed for photos and lots of them which is all clients are looking for to relate to and your contact details.