In the current Age of Isolation brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, many consumers are giving preference to services that arrive on their doorstep, so that they never have to leave home. And mobile pet grooming salons offer a service that’s right on target in this convenience category.
The Perks of Mobile Grooming
Apart from the practicality such at-home grooming services provide, pets definitely can benefit too. When a groomer arrives on the doorstep, it removes the stress factor related to the overall grooming experience as the pet doesn’t have to be temporarily placed in a cage in a bricks and mortar grooming salon environment and is not exposed to the barking of other dogs waiting their turn too. Further, there is no car ride involved eliminating any travel anxiety for the pet too.
For anyone who loves animals and is looking for a career to work with them, the goal of operating a mobile grooming service offers the independence of working your own hours to suit both yourself and your clients. There’s freedom to select grooming products used and ranges that you feel comfortable recommending too. Surveys done in the grooming industry from time to time continue to highlight that pet owners who prefer to use a mobile groomer are happy to pay more for the convenience which can directly influence profit margins.
To support these plus factors, Keli Fritz, program manager for ABC’s Grooming Instruction Program who was quoted in an article about the high demand for mobile grooming services that published in Pet Product News International magazine late last year, confirmed that many pet owners are definitely willing to pay more to enjoy the convenience of having grooming services brought to their doorstep. She also outlined that on average, mobile grooming costs anywhere from $70 to $90 (depending on the region of the country) with some groomers charging an additional convenience fee of $10 to $15 for their services.
A mobile grooming van is its own self-advertising billboard as it travels suburban streets and parks in a particular neighborhood. Plus, pet parents often know each other because they walk their pets on similar routes. So apart from seeing the van parked on a neighborhood street and someone jotting down the number, there is also the opportunity for great word-of-mouth recommendations to keep business coming in. The ultimate goal/best case scenario being building individual neighborhood clientele bases in various places and doing several pets on a street or within walking radius on the same day.
How to Become A Groomer
The Animal Behavior College offers a year-long online course to become a certified pet groomer. The curriculum also including a hands-on grooming component at one of 1900 grooming locations in the US and Canada in order to expertly learn from professionals how to work with a large variety of grooming tools and simultaneously make the pet on the grooming table feel comfortable and relaxed with positive reinforcement techniques.
Students, apart from having the flexibility to study either part-time or full-time, work under the guidance of the program manager on a one-on-one basis so they can benefit from someone who has years of expertise and knowledge of the business. The curriculum also includes a very important business component so that ultimately graduates have been schooled on all the day-to-day running and financial aspects needed to run a successful grooming business.
Being a groomer is a very essential pet service because in essence, a groomer also becomes an integral member of every pet client’s care team as they are trained to look for certain conditions such as lumps, parasites and skin infections so they can immediately bring them to the pet parent’s attention. Consequently, it’s important to develop great people skills too.
Overview of the ABC grooming certification:
Introduction to Grooming covering the history of cat and dog grooming as well as canine and feline anatomy.
The Groomer’s Toolkit: A breakdown of all the different pet grooming tools and their specific uses. An in-depth knowledge of the various tools helps to make the grooming experience a pleasant one for the pet on the grooming table.
Health and Safety: This part of the program instructs on how to safely handle and restrain pets in order to achieve a pleasant grooming experience. A knowledge of pet CPR is important should any medical emergency present itself.
Cats: When it comes to grooming pets, cats are truly a different species in both temperament and grooming needs. The course covers the fundamentals with regard to handling, restraining comfortably, bathing, brushing, drying techniques, dental care and clipping excess feline hair.
Dogs: When it comes to dogs, the course covers the preliminary steps in the pet grooming process, including nail clipping, ear cleaning eye care and dental care.
Bathing, Brushing and Drying: The importance of understanding different coat types highlights how to bathe, brush and dry to meet such individual needs. Canine coat types are vastly different from one another and essential for a groomer to understand and have a working knowledge of in order to efficiently deal different grooming needs.
- Smooth coat (e.g., beagles, boxers, bulldogs). The hair is sleek, shiny, and close to the body. Some dogs with shorter smooth coats still need to be brushed daily to reduce shedding. A groomer needs to know this in order to communicate such a need to the pet’s parent.
- Double coat (e.g., Border collie, Labrador retriever, Siberian husky). They wear a short, thick undercoat beneath a longer top coat of guard hairs. Double-coated dogs with wiry guard hairs (such as the Lakeland terrier) need their coats to be hand-stripped to remove dead hair by the root.
- Wire coat (e.g., Airedale terrier, Brussels griffon, Scottish terrier). Hair texture ranges from coarse and wiry to smooth.
- Silky coat (e.g., cocker spaniel, Irish setter, Yorkshire terrier). The hair is long, straight, and silky.
- Curly coat (e.g. Bichon Frise, poodle, Portuguese water dog). Coats range from tight curls to wavy fur. Corded coats (dreadlocks) are a variation of curly and thus require expert attention.
Breed Profiles and Mixed-Breed Styling: Important step-by-step instructions on how to groom based on a dog’s musculature and bone structure and illustrates specific dog- breed cuts.
Understanding the coat: Along with a variety of hair types, dogs display a variety of shedding patterns influenced by seasonal conditions such as hours of daylight and temperature. They’re also governed by hormones, metabolism, reproduction cycle, and age. This is all knowledge that a groomer has to have at their fingertips.
Clipper Use and Scissor Control Techniques: Step-by-step instructions on how to use and control clippers and shears while grooming.
Career Building Skills for the Professional Pet Groomer: This portion of the course prepares for a career in the grooming industry (as both a grooming shop owner and employee).
Hands-on Externship: Students receive 150 hours of hands-on grooming experience at a professional grooming salon.
The Costs from Head to Tail
The cost of tuition for the ABC dog grooming course ranges from $3,999 USD to $6,195 USD. This covers the study materials, the externship and a 40-piece grooming toolkit. However, financial arrangements are available and there are also a variety of discounts for students to research in order to ascertain if they qualify.
Every business has startup costs along with every day business expenses. And for a mobile groomer, the first business decision is going to be whether to buy or rent a grooming van. They certainly aren’t cheap. Apart from the basics, groomers can look to adding all kinds of upgrades. Because the mobile grooming business has become big business, grooming professionals have lots of options in terms of finance availability and designs in vans to best suit their personalized business needs and requirements. There are also opportunities to purchase a pre-owned equipped grooming van. There is in fact a thriving second-hand marketplace.
Further, there are companies that specialize in kitting out vans and have both the knowledge and expertise to help groomers in making decisions regarding equipment that will best suit their needs. They also have facts and figures such as charts that indicate how many dogs need to be groomed in a day or a week to cover costs so that its easier for a groomer to make the right business decisions in setting up.
A survey run by Groomer to Groomer magazine on their social media pages highlighted the pros and cons of mobile grooming by asking professional groomers to weigh in on the topic. The main disadvantages highlighted turned out to be having to deal with traffic and emptying/ filling water tanks. But these inconveniences were outweighed by the benefits of working to your own schedule, setting your own prices, the freedom to choose products and be more discerning regarding clientele. Because a grooming van is self-contained, there is also less cleaning involved when compared to the square footage of a store. Other pluses highlighted noted that there no stress and pressure knowing there are barking dogs waiting anxiously to be attended to and no everyday contentious issues related to dealing with staff …
A dream job on wheels …