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How to Start a Mobile Dog Grooming Salon

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Toy poodle being trimmed
Toshiro Shimada / Moment Open / Getty Images

Mobile dog grooming salons have become increasingly popular in recent years. By following a few simple steps you can successfully start and operate your own mobile dog grooming business.

Experience

The first step to opening your own mobile dog grooming salon business is to gain experience grooming a variety of dogs, either through a professional training course or a hands on internship with an experienced groomer. While certification is not required to become a dog groomer, some groomers choose to seek certification as a National Master Groomer through the National Dog Groomer’s Association of America.

Working for an established grooming salon before starting your own will likely prove beneficial, as this exposure will introduce you to the ins and outs of running this type of business.

Prior experience working with animals in other professional roles such as veterinary technician, pet sitter, or dog trainer is an additional plus, as it familiarizes you with canine behavior and how to handle dogs effectively in a variety of situations.

Business Considerations

Before opening your mobile pet grooming business you must consider various business and legal issues. It is important to consult an accountant or other experienced advisor regarding the advantages and disadvantages of forming your business as a sole proprietorship, limited liability company, or other entity.

You should also be in touch with your local government with regard to any permits that may be needed to operate a mobile grooming salon in a particular area. Requirements for operation of a mobile business may vary from one town to another. You should also consider obtaining a business insurance policy in addition to the basic vehicle insurance policy.

Mobile Vehicle & Equipment

Most mobile groomers operate out of a large van or trailer. These are usually specially converted vehicles which have been outfitted with a generator, electrical outlets, lighting, grooming tables, running water, and a bathtub. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration sets the standards for vehicle manufacturers and converters.

Mobile grooming salons must be equipped with all standard grooming tools such as clippers, scissors, shears, shampoos, brushes, blow dryers, nail clippers, ear cleaning products, bandanas, and bows.

Define a Service Area

The next step is to define a specific area within which you will travel to service clients with your mobile grooming business. You may be willing to travel throughout a small town, or perhaps just focus on one section of a large city or metropolitan area. Another option is to take appointments in different areas on specific days of the week.

Mobile dog groomers may benefit from planning visits to apartment complexes, condominium buildings, office complexes, or assisted living centers to service several clients in one location on a particular day. This provides great time and travel savings for the mobile groomer.

Price Your Services

When pricing the cost of an individual grooming visit, you must consider the breed of dog, type of cut, and the time it takes to complete the appointment. If there are other mobile grooming units in your area you should be sure to price your services competitively.

Your prices will likely be higher than those found at brick and mortar businesses because of the additional operating costs for gasoline, maintaining the vehicle, and time spent traveling between appointments. This extra convenience charge is usually expected by clients who value the fact that the service comes to their doorstep and saves them time and travel.

A $15 to $20 surcharge on top of a standard (non-mobile groomer) price seems to be acceptable to most mobile grooming customers. Early morning, evening, or weekend appointments may command an additional convenience premium.

Advertise

The best place to for your advertising is on the mobile grooming vehicle itself. You should prominently feature your business logo and contact information on the sides and rear of the vehicle, whether through a custom paint job or utilizing large magnets affixed to the doors.

Additional advertising can be posted on the bulletin boards of vet clinics, animal shelters, pet stores, or other animal related businesses. You may also be able to develop a reciprocal referral arrangement with local animal service providers such as dog walkers, pet sitters, doggie day cares, and pet photographers.

You might also consider giving a special discount for first time customers as well as customers who refer their friends to you. Creating a website or email newsletter can also create additional advertising exposure and keep your current clients up to date on your schedule and promotional offers.

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