For dog lovers, few jobs are more satisfying than becoming a dog groomer. As a pet groomer, you'll manage tasks like clipping nails, handling ear cleaning, shampooing and trimming fur, styling, and conducting similar services that dogs might need. With this type of job, you get to form relationships with doggy clients and help them feel and look their best. You might also have opportunities to help dogs in shelters who need tender care and can help owners keep an eye on their dogs' health by alerting them to any skin problems.

Starting your own pet grooming business is a great way to be your own boss. When you're in charge of your own business, you can decide how many dog clients you take on, whether you want to work full or part time, and what types of services you want to offer. If starting your own dog grooming business sounds appealing, we'll walk you through the steps you should follow.

Training and Licenses You Need to Become a Dog Groomer

The first step to becoming a dog groomer is making sure you have the education and experience needed to excel in the position. To start your own dog grooming business, you may find it extremely beneficial to enroll in a training program. Quality ones can offer benefits for aspiring groomers by teaching:

  • The best ways to manage and handle dogs
  • Caring for the fur and nails of different dog breeds
  • Learning how to spot signs of skin and health problems emerging in dogs

Speaking with others in the pet care industry can help you find the right training program for you. For example, local veterinarians or trainers may know of schools that do a great job training groomers.

If you want to learn more about the industry but don't have access to a quality program, you can also immerse yourself in the field by working with dogs you know and shadowing others in the business. They can provide you with tips and advice about succeeding as a groomer. You can practice administering shampoo, trimming nails, and styling fur to give you a better understanding of the type of work you will eventually do as a dog groomer.

Although a particular license is not required, you can pursue a certification from the National Dog Groomers Association of America (NDGAA). The certification requires participation in specialized workshops and an examination to test your skills. This helps you appear even more professional to clients, particularly when finding new work.

Determining How to Organize Your Dog Grooming Business

Once you have pursued your desired education and ensured that you feel confident working with four-legged clients, your next step is to determine the details of your business. To go through this process, you want to figure out the types of packages and services you will offer.

For example, you might offer a basic or standard package that includes shampooing, conditioning, and a fur trim. Deluxe packages might include styling options, such as incorporating bandanas, and nail care. You might also consider packages that are unique to certain breeds, such as poodles. Some dog groomers even incorporate full-service options like dog walking or pet sitting into their business model.

Consider the amount of experience you have with particular services and compare that to the most sought-after services in your local area. Market research and knowing what pet owners want are both critical to your success.

The time has now come to figure out how much you will charge your clients for your dog grooming services.

Figure Out Your Rates

Determining rates can present a challenge for many new business owners. Those new to the industry don't want to risk frightening away potential clients due to high prices. On the other hand, no professional wants to undersell their expertise and talent. Fortunately, there are a few strategies you can use to set accurate dog grooming pricing:

  • Begin with the average prices of other dog groomers in your specific area. Nationally, dog groomers cost about $60 to $90 per session. This number will vary, however, based on your location, your experience, and the types of services you provide.
  • Take overhead expenses (e.g., rent on your business space and insurance) into account. Even if your business idea includes mobile dog grooming, you need to account for the vehicle needed for mobile groomers.
  • Next, consider how you will structure your packages and how long the work will take. This can help you determine the price per package as you combine different services.

Calculate Your Startup Costs

To get your dog grooming business started, think about your startup costs. It's important to properly account for each expense so that you can make sure your prices cover your costs. You will likely need to consider expenses in the following areas:

  • A place to meet with your furry clients
  • Insurance to cover you and the people who enter your place of business
  • Funding to get initial grooming equipment (e.g., a grooming table, nail clippers, fur conditioners, shampoos, brushes, and a dog kennel to hold dogs waiting to be picked up)

How to Make Your Business a Reality

You have now gone through the process of determining the types of grooming services you want to provide, how you will set your prices, and the funds needed to start your business. You have created the basis for your business plan. Next, we'll walk you through the process of putting these different parts together to create a business.

Select Your Name, Logo, and Business Structure

We will begin with an enjoyable step: choosing your business name. Your name should be unique and reflect your business. You want it to be easy for customers to remember so they know exactly who to call the next time they need a dog groomer.

Once you have selected your name, create a logo to go along with it. Your logo should incorporate elements of dog grooming so customers can instantly recognize it and understand the type of business when they see it. You can use color wheels, like this one from Canva, to select colors that reflect your business and complement each other nicely. If you don't feel confident in your logo-designing skills, freelancers on platforms like Fiverr can help you with the process.

Finally, decide which type of business you want to be. There are several options for creating a legal business entity that all offer a means of organizing your business so that you can accurately track your taxes and maintain your business as a separate entity from yourself. Your main options are:

  • Sole proprietorship
  • Limited liability company (LLC)
  • General partnership
  • Corporation

Each option has its benefits and drawbacks in regard to taxes, regulations, and the organization of the business. If you aren't sure which type of business structure will fit you best or how your decision will impact your taxes, speak with an accountant who has experience with similar business questions.

For certain business structures, you'll need to formally register with the state where you plan to do business. You may also need to apply for an employer identification number (EIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). This will be especially important when opening a business bank account.

Attracting Referrals

As a dog groomer, one of the best strategies to bring in new customers will be through word of mouth. When one customer feels pleased with the services provided for their dog, they may recommend you to others. This customer loyalty can help power your business growth. To encourage referrals, consider the following tips:

  • Focus on providing superior customer service for every visit, every time.
  • Let customers know that you appreciate their referrals and positive reviews.
  • Offer discounts for customers who refer others to your business.
  • Print plenty of business cards (with your recognizable logo) to hand out liberally. After an appointment, offer one to pet owners so they can easily find your contact information the next time they want an appointment. Offer them at dog parks when you are out with your own pet. You can even give extras to existing customers so they can hand them out to friends and family who might be interested in your services.

Make Yourself Visible Online

You also need to make sure your business can be found online when people search for dog groomers in your area. As a dog groomer, you rely on people within your immediate geographic area to become customers. Therefore, local search will be important for you. To help yourself appear in local searches, consider:

  • Designing a website where you can discuss your services and the areas you serve
  • Claiming your profile on Google My Business and any other local review sites, filling them out, and adding high-quality photos that show you grooming dogs
  • Using social media to help communicate with potential customers. You can discuss news and information related to dogs, offer tips that overlap with your areas of expertise, and otherwise cast yourself as an authority to build trust and encourage people to bring you their dogs.

Managing Your Books

You have officially created a pet grooming business! The next step is to remember the importance of balancing your books and keeping careful financial records throughout the year. You don't want to spend the last few weeks before tax time scrambling to make sure that you have accurately accounted for every expense and every paid invoice. You also don't want to miss payments from customers because you failed to notice that they hadn't paid.

Get Started With Your Accounting

To succeed with your accounting, it's important to set yourself up with accounting software that has been designed for small businesses, like that from Skynova. Our platform was created specifically to make it easy to manage the books associated with running a business just like yours.

Carefully pay attention to your invoices. You might have some customers who pay immediately and some who wait until the last possible moment. If you need to issue invoices, it's imperative that you track them to make sure they get paid in a timely manner. Have a system for following up on invoices. Skynova can help you create and send invoices, which will help keep you even more organized.

Don't Leave Your Business to the Dogs

Starting your own dog grooming business is an exciting venture. If you follow the steps and information outlined here, you'll be well on your way to making your dream a reality.

As you begin building your business, see how Skynova can help simplify your accounting. Our small business software was designed specifically for owners like you and makes it easy to manage tasks like invoicing and tracking expenses. See the value it can add to your business setup today.