5 Signs that Professional Dog Grooming ISN’T Right for You

Woman with her dog - Signs Pet Grooming Isn't For You

Although it sounds like a blast, puppy pampering is no walk in the park! Dog grooming of any kind takes patience, as well as a certain knack for dealing with animals and their owners. Creative groomers also need a healthy appreciation for the latest in dog grooming styles!

But as challenging as it is, professional dog grooming is also a very rewarding career. Proper grooming plays a huge role in the health and well-being of our pets. Do you adore every four legged friend that you see? Or do you hate dog fur and constantly find yourself reaching for a lint roller brush? One part customer service and one part a passion for pets, find out if you really are well suited for the professional dog grooming industry after all.

1. You don’t like animals

Row of animals - Professional Pet Grooming

The number one job requirement: you must like dogs. After all, you can learn technique, but how can you learn to love the little creature you are about to groom? Dog grooming is a bizarre career choice for people who dislike dogs—or, even worse, people who are afraid of them! You can look at your job in terms of sales, but most dog owners want to work with a groomer who truly cares about their pet

Some people become a dog groomer because it gives them the chance to be close to their favorite species in the world. Others do it because they want to combine their entrepreneurial spirit and creativity with their love of keeping man’s best friend happy and healthy. While it can extremely lucrative, professional dog grooming takes patience and a real passion for getting dogs nice and clean. Did we mention that you get hang out with animals all day?

2. You don’t like people

We have to break it to you: becoming a professional pet groomer means you’ll also be working closely with humans. Just like a human haircut, the grooming process involves a consultation before you go anywhere near your clippers. And sometimes clients can get very vocal about what they want done with their precious animal companion.

In fact, you may find interacting with your human customers more challenging than working with those of the canine variety. You’ll learn to coordinate and juggle multiple drop-off and pick-up times when you first offer your dog grooming services. So be prepared to assess a dog and find a balance between what he needs and what his owner wants very quickly. The good thing is that more than anything, most clients just want their pet clean and comfortable. Happy dog, happy owner!

Groomed Pet - Professional Pet Grooming Industry

3. You’re squeamish

Dog Being Bathed

Accidents happen, especially when you are trying to groom a moving, squirming live animal. Sometimes there will be the occasional nick, which means you have to be okay with the sight of blood. Most times, a nick is just a scratch. But you still need to be able to think quickly on your feet and have a plan in place for handling an injured animal. Pet first aid is an important skillset for professional pet groomers.

There are also accidents of another sort to consider. Since animals are unpredictable, be prepared to deal with strange smells, loud noises, and urine and fecal matter. Yes, an accident may even happen right AFTER you have worked so hard to make Fido spic and span. The savvy groomer will handle accidents with patience and compassion. A true champion of the professional pet grooming industry!

4. You get stressed easily

Working with dogs is a lot of responsibility, especially when your work involves clippers and scissors. Your clients entrust you with the health and safety of an important member of their family. Yes, you will have a work-space, but many factors will change on a daily basis. You may be working under a tight deadline, you may have to spend an extra hour gently cutting off some particularly challenging mats, or you might have to deal with an unreasonable client (or two).

However, no two grooming sessions are the same! If the smallest change in plans sends you into meltdown mode, dog grooming may not be the best career option for you. Plus, animals are very sensitive to mood and emotion. Losing your cool is NOT an option for dog groomers. Both the safety of your client’s dog and the quality of your customer service depend upon your ability stay calm under pressure and manage stress appropriately.

Sad dog - Professional Pet Grooming

5. You don’t like to learn

Becoming a professional dog groomer takes discipline and a passion for pet care. In addition to learning the basics of dog grooming, you’ll have to stay up-to-date on the latest trends in the dog grooming industry. Each breed comes with its own specific method of grooming. Using the wrong grooming technique can actually cause more harm than good to a pet.

But after training, you’ll get to work with four-legged friends all day! In fact, you’ll be working so closely with a pet that you may be able to pick up on health conditions that a vet might miss. You’ll also learn on a lot on the job. The more you dogs you work on, the more experience you’ll build. And soon showing off your handiwork while you reunite a happy dog with a thrilled client will become the best part of your day!

Are you thrilled by the thought of working with pets all day? Stay tuned for our online pet grooming course coming soon!

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Pricing and Packaging Your Grooming Services

You’ve got your certification in hand, your dog grooming kit built, and you’re ready to take the professional scene by storm! People are interested in your grooming services and you can’t wait to put your skills to use. There’s only one problem: you haven’t priced your services!

Many new professionals feel nervous about pricing their services and building service packages. It’s a fine balance between charging enough to make a living, but not so much that clients take their business elsewhere. Your packages should offer a full range of services without including “extras” that clients don’t need.

Putting time and effort into building great pet grooming packages and pricing them well is one of the most important steps to start your career as a dog groomer off on the right foot! Check out these key steps for doing just that!

Step 1: Define your services

Dissect your talents and figure out what you actually have to offer your clients. Are you an expert nail clipper or shampooer? Do you fare best when it’s all about the haircut? What extra services—such as teeth brushing or de-skunking—have you been trained to do? Lay your skills on the table and analyze exactly what you have to offer your clients.

Step 2: Create appealing combinations

Now that you see what you’re capable of, assess how you should market each service. Choose combinations of services that go well together and build packages based on which combinations might interest your target clients most.

For example, you can have different packages such as a standard bath package (brushing and bathing), a more advanced option that also includes nail clipping and ear cleaning, and a third “full-service” option that also includes a full haircut.

You should also consider the size and breed of the dogs when creating your packages. Larger dogs would typically be charged more than smaller dogs for the same grooming combinations because it would likely take more time, (sometimes) more hands, and more work. Same goes for difficult dogs, or dogs with special needs who might require more time or a different approach altogether.


Don’t forget the Add-Ons

Be sure to include a list of à-la carte services in case, for example, you’re de-matting a dog and you find fleas. When something unexpected pops up, you can contact the dog’s owner to let them know about the issue. Add-ons like flea baths let owners address surprise grooming situations, while you still earn a fair wage for your extra work.

Get Creative

It’s never a good idea to become a “bargain” business (more on that later), but consider coming up with some meaningful discounts that are valuable to your loyal client base. Maybe you can offer:

  • A discount for clients with multiple dogs. Since you didn’t have to advertise to get the second dog, you can offer your client a slight (maybe 5%) discount on a groom for their second pooch.
  • A client referral program. Why not turn your clients into your marketers! Consider a program that rewards clients for sending more business your way. Maybe you offer them a free nail trim if they refer a friend for a full groom?
  • Extra flourishes. Bows or finishing sprays can cost you next to nothing, but if you offer them as “free upgrades” with certain packages, they’ll catch your customer’s eye. People love free stuff!

Start Naming Your Dog Grooming Packages

Here’s where it gets fun: You’ll want to name your packages in a way that grabs clients’ attention while still being informative. Take the three grooming packages we mentioned above, for example. You could call them:

  • Brush, Bath, and Save!
  • The Standard Spa
  • The Deluxe Salon Package

Ideally, the more expensive combinations will sound prestigious, while the less expensive ones will have names that make them sound more basic.

Step 3: Research your local grooming industry

Once your packages are built, it’s time to think about pricing. Your prices should be competitive, meaning that they’re similar to the “going rate” or the standard price in your area. Pricing competitively benefits both you and the rest of your local community.

By pricing too low, you could drag the going rate in your area down by forcing other groomers to lower their prices to compete with yours. This causes everyone to make less money. You might also risk being perceived as less experienced or unable to do your job if you’re not charging what everyone else is.
By pricing too high, you’re either pricing yourself out of the running, or you’ll drive the rate up. Driving up the rate sounds like a positive thing at first, but people won’t really make more money if local services become too expensive and clients lose interest in the industry.

Research other pet groomers with packages similar to yours and compare their prices to find the average rate in your area.

Step 4: Consider your level of experience

Pet groomers charging the “going rate” in your area might have been working professionally for many years. You want to charge a price that gives your skills credit, but acknowledges your level of experience.

There’s no shame in being a beginner, but you’ll also lose clients if you charge the same price as the seasoned professionals even though you’re not quite on their level in terms of skill. You might charge just below the going rate when you’re first starting out. Then, you can raise your dog grooming service prices  above the average rate if you’re very experienced and in demand.

Step 5: Stick to your guns

Once you’ve established your pricing, have confidence in the value of your packages! Offering the occasional discount or the option to bundle packages can be a great marketing tool, but don’t haggle or bargain. Your price is your price, and that’s that!

If people learn that your price can be knocked down with a little persuasion, you might find many clients trying to short-change you and you won’t be making what you’re worth as a result. Respectfully decline bargaining attempts, restate your price, and remain confident in what your skills are worth.

Note: If you suddenly realize that all of your clients beg you to lower your prices, investigate your local industry again. Ask yourself whether you’re actually overcharging or whether people just really enjoy discounts.

It’s about balance!

There’s no one-package-fits-all, but you can have fun with it! Think about what kind of packages you’d most like to purchase if you were the client, and combine your skills to offer a really great service. Stick close to the going rate, respect your local industry, and respect yourself as a professional!

Interested in taking your pet passion to the next level? Enroll in QC’s Dog Grooming Course!

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