As a groomer gains more experience and notoriety in the grooming world, many feel that the next logical step is to begin their own grooming business. Opening your own grooming salon, whether in one location or mobile, can be a great way to expand your client list, show off your talents, and ensure that more pets are feeling happy, healthy, and beautiful. However, it is a big undertaking, and some help can be appreciated.

Wahl Animal interviewed Jay Scruggs, who owns a mobile grooming salon called “Here Comes with the Groom” with his wife. Jay has won multiple Best in Show, Best All Around Groomer awards and helped GroomTeam USA win the Gold medal in Calgary, Canada in 2001 plus: American Groomer of the Year 2001, Groomer of the Year Award at Westminster Dog Show 2002, and 2004 Grooming Judge.

Where should I begin when building my own grooming business?

Jay shared that one of the most important things you can do before starting your own grooming business is to apprentice and get experience at an established salon first. While it can be tempting to jump head-first and become your own boss, Jay found that his time working with other groomers helped him gain skills both in the actual grooming and in the process of working with clients. He highly suggests “getting your feet wet first before opening your own business, because there’s more that goes into starting a business than you think.”

What are some things you wish you knew when you were starting your own business?

This transitioned perfectly into Jay’s next piece of advice, which is to place importance on your knowledge and professionalism when working with clients. He shared:

“I wish I knew better how to deal with customers…Just that interaction with the customers and figuring out what they want, what best fits the kind of breed they have, and trying to get them to understand what goes into the grooming process, that’s one of the things I wish I would’ve known more about. I think the more educated you are in what you do, in your knowledge of grooming, the dog itself, and the breed, that lets you talk to the customer in a way that they see you as more professional instead of them being full commanders.”

With this knowledge and advice in hand, we can move on to starting a business from the bottom and trying to find success.

What are some of the most important things to consider when creating my own grooming business? Customer service? Getting in as many clients as possible?

Jay shared that while having a large number of clients may seem impressive, those clients aren’t going to return if the quality of the grooming is low. Instead, he believes that it’s important to pay attention to details and ensure that you are gathering the upper echelon of clients who are going to return to get their dog groomed and be satisfied with the result.

“It’s being on time, being honest with the client, those are the things that will take you the furthest. You can spend thousands of dollars on advertising but word of mouth is better than any money you’re going to spend. So if you do a good job, you’re honest about your work, just good clean work, I think that goes a long way with the customer.”

If your grooming business begins to see success, you’re naturally going to want to expand your client base, which takes us to our next question.

How do I begin expanding my client base?

Jay again explained that you should focus in on the most frequent and reciprocative clients. As he said earlier, word of mouth can be the most effective marketing tool, and your repeat customers who care for their dog’s groom will inevitably share information about your salon and the good job you do to their friends who are looking for a good groom. However, Jay said that there are things you need to keep in mind when expanding.

“You don’t want to overload your employees just to have more customers. You want to give employees a good amount of numbers that they’ll still do a good job and if you get to the point where you want to expand, you obviously have to hire either more bathers and brushers, more finish groomers, something like that, but I would say try not to overload the groomers themselves.”

This brings us to the last question we asked Jay:

What are some of the realities of expanding?

He explained:

“You have to weigh out, you know, when you start hiring employees and taking on more customers, you have to weigh out the employees’ insurance you’re paying, the expenses, you have to figure out what percentage you’re going to make more and if it’s worth expanding. A lot of people expand thinking they’re going to make more money when they could’ve been better off staying small and dedicated to those clients. The difficult part is managing employees. You know the more customers you have, the harder it is, the key is having a really good manager on staff who can communicate well with people and is good with animals, as well.”

Opening and expanding your own grooming business can be a difficult process, but it can also be one of the most rewarding and enjoyable career paths. There are so many pet and pet owners out there looking for the perfect groomer for them, so if you have the experience and drive, we highly encourage spreading your talent and your love for grooming! Following these tips will ensure that you can keep animals happy, healthy, and beautiful while also owning your own successful business!

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