So you are thinking about launching a dog grooming business; it’s not a bad idea because there are many dogs in every city and town that require trimming, cutting and a host of other grooming services on a routine basis to keep their health up. Your next step in planning is to learn how to write a dog grooming business plan, and do it accurately.
Although not all owners do it, every dog should be groomed at least twice a year. With the rapid growth of the pet industry, this guarantees dog groomers a steady stream of clientele.
When people think of pet groomers, they think of doggy haircuts and facial cleaning, but there is actually much more to it than that. Many of the services that dog groomers offer are needed by all canines, not just long-haired breeds, including:
- Nail Trimming
- Ear Cleaning
- Flea and Tick Treatments
- Teeth Brushing
Dog grooming is the type of undertaking that pretty much guarantees there will be a large amount of potential customers close by to wherever you want to set up shop. A word of caution to the wise though, even though it may seem like a simple business to start, there is a lot more that goes into starting a dog grooming business than meets the eye.
If you’re just beginning to think about starting a dog grooming business and you’d like a little more information, check out our column How to Start a Dog Grooming Business. You’ll find lots of information about what to expect when starting your business and what you can do to ensure it is a success. We're currently expanding our Business section, so be sure to check back with Top Dog Tips for the most up to date dog business information, dog product reviews and dog supplies news.
RELATED: How to groom a dog at home?
If you don't believe that you will need a business plan for your dog grooming business, you are mistaken! Creating a business plan will ensure that you understand what will be required of you in starting the business, becoming licensed and certified, and it will give you a plan to follow to put your business on the track to success for the future.
How to Write a Dog Grooming Business Plan
Your dog grooming business plan is essentially your business's first impression to investors, business partners, and the bank. Just telling someone about your plans and hoping for the best is not going to cut it. You need a concrete plan with researched evidence that proves your business has a good chance of success. That's what will be included in your business plan.
Even if you're planning to fund the business yourself and you aren't going to have a business partner, you still need to create a business plan. This plan will include your goals for the future of your business, and you will be able to use it as a guide to get your business where you want it to be in 12 months, 3 years, 5 years, or even more.
Access the Need for Dog Grooming
The first thing that needs to be done before even thinking about how to write a dog grooming business plan is to access the need for a business of that type in your area. When assessing the need, you have to look at such things whether the area is already saturated with that type of business or if the area has the proper income level to support that type of enterprise.
You'll also want to see just how many dog owners live in your area. Grooming services may be something that people are willing to travel a small distance for, especially if there are no dog groomers in the towns around you. If you live in a rural area, you can get information on the number of dogs licensed in your town, or surrounding towns, by checking with the local animal control office or at the town office.
RELATED: How to Become a Dog Groomer?
If you live in a more urban area it should be even easier to find out how many dogs are in your neighborhood. Take a walk down the street, visit a local dog park, or swing by a doggy daycare in your area. If there are a lot of dogs around you, chances are a dog grooming business would do very well in that area.
If there is another groomer in your area, don't count yourself out just yet. Is there enough of a need that two groomers could both run successful businesses in your area? Would you be able to offer different services or something unique that would help your grooming business stand out and gain attention from dog owners? You may still be able to make it work, it might just take a little more planning.
Your business plan needs to clearly state that you've researched the need for a grooming business in your area. Investors want to see that your business has a good chance of success. They aren't going to waste their money on a business that looks like a failure right out of the gate.
State Your Pet Grooming Business Goals
The fist part of your business plan will be where you state your short and long term business goals. You can tie in the need for your business here. Where do you see your business in 6 months, 1 year, 5 years, and what is your ultimate goal? This section should be short and to the point. Investors aren't looking for specifics in this section, just a broad view of what you would like for your grooming business.
If there is a large need in your area perhaps you see your business expanding quickly. If you're in a more rural area, maybe you don't want to expand your business at all and you just want to gain enough loyal customers to turn a decent profit. Whatever your goals are, make sure to state them clearly so investors will be able to see exactly what you want for your company's future.
Listing out these goals will help give you a perspective on the business startup and also give you some concrete goals to focus on for the future. These goals will show the bank or your investors exactly where you plan to take this business, and they will be looking for details in other parts of your business plan about how you will get there.
In this section you should also include whether or not you will have a business partner(s) and what type of entity your business will be. Will it be a sole proprietorship, a single member LLC, or an S-Corp?
RELATED: Do You Tip Dog Groomers?
Most of the time, dog grooming businesses start out as a sole proprietorship for the first year or two. Then once you have all the paperwork, bills, and tax requirements under control you can start looking into filing for an LLC to separate your personal assets from your business.
If you have decided to start your business with a partner, you need to decide now if you will run it as a limited liability company (LLC), a corporation, or a partnership. You need to discuss all of this with your business partner and be sure to make all major business decisions together.
Dog Grooming Business Scope
The next step is to define the scope of the business. You need to plan such things as what breeds you will groom and how the dogs will get to your grooming salon; will you offer a pick-up service or will the customers come to you? Are you planning on offering a mobile grooming service or having a commercial location?
Mobile dog grooming businesses can be very enticing to pet owners that don't have the time or the means to get their dog to regular grooming appointments. Commercial locations work well too, but you need to make sure that the location you choose will be convenient for customers to get to and that it is located in a high traffic area where lots of dog owners will see it.
Another piece to add when talking about the scope of your business is what services you will offer. If you want to stand out you may want to offer some specialty doggy spa services, or something similar, so your clients know you are different than other local groomers.
You want your business to stand out, but you don't want to offer so many services that your scope is too large. This can be confusing to dog owners who are just looking for a standard grooming for their furry friend. Select a handful of services that you are good at performing and grow from there.
RELATED: How to Start a Dog Walking Business
Decide how big you want your business to be in the beginning. Will you hire employees or do all the grooming yourself? Doing everything yourself will save you money, but it will also limit the amount of dogs you can take. Remember, more clients doesn't necessarily mean more money.
The larger the scope of your business, the more it will cost to run. Extra supplies and employee salaries will get quite expensive. Also, the larger your business, the more space you will need. More space leads to higher rent and utilities. Make sure to weigh the costs against what extra money you will be making if you start your business on a larger scale. It may be more beneficial to start small and grow over time.
Competition and Pricing
These two aspects of a business plan go hand-in-hand. You need to establish who your competition is, what services they provide, and what their prices are. You can easily do this by performing a quick internet search, making some anonymous phone calls, or stopping in to your competitors establishments and asking a few simple questions.
You already know what services you will offer, now it is time to set prices. You need to price your self competitively with similar businesses in your area or you may not have any business at all. If your prices are too high it will drive customers away.
When thinking about prices figure out how much the supplies for the service will cost you, and make sure that you are paid for your time as well. You may not want to price your services too high, but you still need to pay your bills as well. It's a fine line in the beginning, but as your business expands and your reputation grows with it, you will able to start increasing your prices to make a greater profit.
Advertising and Marketing
Now you need to plan for the advertising and marketing that you'll do to promote your business. Don't be intimidated. You won't need to take out billboards in Times Square. Your marketing plan can be as simple as handing out business cards and brochures. You just need to come up with a plan that will work in your area.
Advertising can get expensive. Radio slots and television advertisements are great, but they also cost a lot of money. Try to keep things simple in the beginning. Maybe you could start by posting flyers at your local dog park, pet store, or other location where dog owners frequent. You could spend an afternoon handing out business cards in these locations as well.
If you're going to offer a specialized service, like mobile grooming, think about your target market before you advertise. Dog owners that would be interested in mobile grooming are probably do not have the means or are unable to take the time to bring their pet to the groomer. Try advertising at senior centers where many residents may not be able to drive or in the business district of your city where lots of busy businessmen and women are likely to be. Thinking outside the box while advertising will be more beneficial in the long run and will probably save you money too.
Here's where things get tricky. You need to plan for your future expenses. Nothing has to be set in stone, just a ballpark figure of how much startup capital you'll need and what you'll be spending it on. You will likely need quite a bit of startup capital for your business, even if you're running it out of your home.
Some of the expenses you'll need to plan for are:
- The facility itself including rent and utilities
- The cost of renovating the space, if required
- Equipment (bathing tubs, dryers, grooming tables, etc…)
- Grooming supplies (shampoo, brushes, clippers, etc…)
Those are your major expenses. These will vary, of course, depending on your particular business. If you'll be running your business out of your home, your expenses may be a little less, and if you need to buy and convert a van into a mobile grooming parlor, they may be a little more.
When figuring your finances, don't forget to include your advertising costs as well as your office expenses. You will need a computer, business telephone, and other office equipment. Don't forget about the desk, chair, and other furniture you may need for your human clients.
When planning your finances and creating your initial budget, leave no stone unturned. Think about every aspect of your business and all the day to day duties you will be performing. Make sure to list as much as possible, so your budget will be as close to accurate as you can get it.
When writing your dog grooming business plan, it is best to over estimate in this case. You don't want to underestimate and then have your business fail quickly because it was underfunded. Do your research and be as accurate as possible, but make sure to leave yourself a little bit of wiggle room. There are bound to be expenses that you didn't plan for when starting your dog grooming business.
This is the last section of your dog grooming business plan, but it is also the most important. Making sure that your legal responsibilities are taken care of needs to be a top priority. If you don't take the proper legal precautions, it could mean big trouble for yourself, your employees, your investors, and your clients. Not to mention it would quickly ruin your reputation as a groomer.
Your legal responsibilities will vary depending on where you live. Different states and cities have their own rules and regulations for business owners, so make sure you abide by the ones that govern you and your business.
Be sure that your dog grooming business plan addresses:
- Your licensing and certification responsibilities
- Liability waivers for your clients
- Any specific laws in your region
- Client contracts
Again, and I can't say this enough, your business plan is not set in stone. You don't need to stick to your plan 100%, in fact, I don't believe there are many business owners that have. This is your guideline to make sure that you've thought your plan through fully and you know where your business is headed. Once you begin to research and write your dog grooming business plan, you will realize that there is a lot more to it than you thought.
The more serious you are with your business planning, the more serious you will look to the bank and potential investors. A solid business plan will be the foundation of your success, so it should not be taken lightly.