Learn How to Become a Pet Groomer
If you are considering becoming a pet groomer or adding such services to your existing business, now is a great time to do so. Here are some tips to help you get started.
Pampered pets are all the rage these days, as evidenced by the growing popularity of doggie day spas and pet groomer salons that offer services ranging from high-fashion haircuts to "peticures," massage and aromatherapy treatments, even facials, and pet tattoos!
On the more practical side, many pets merely require simple bathing, hair trimming, nail clipping, and other old-fashioned pet groomer services. Either way, Americans spent $4.16 billion on pet services in 2012 alone, and that number is expected to increase in the coming years. For those who wish to get on the pet groomer bandwagon by offering in-store pet grooming services, here are some basics.
Factors to Consider
First, a prospective pet groomer must really love animals, have a lot of patience and have a good rapport with pets, as well as people, for this endeavor. So start by doing some research on pet groomer careers and the market in your area. Consider how much you will need to make and what you will need to charge for your services. At first, it can be a little tricky to determine a proper pricing strategy. You can start by checking out the competition and evaluating your potential client base.
It's also important to evaluate the area market in terms of potential competition, your location and if you have enough funds for start-up expenses because, initially, at least, this is an expensive undertaking.
Physical Health and Strength Requirements
As this is a very physical endeavor, demanding that you lift pets and engage in other tasks that require strength and stamina, you should determine if you are capable of this. Remember to take your other health factors into consideration. If you have asthma, arthritis or pet allergies, for example, this may not be the right undertaking for you.
Does your establishment have the right amount of space to accommodate pet groomer services? You must also have the right kind of space, preferably tiled or another water-resistant flooring, proper plumbing, convenient access to bathing facilities and well-placed, safe electrical outlets, among other features. Cleanliness and safety are vitally important as well.
What You Need to Start
Licensing and formal schooling are not required in order to become a pet groomer. In fact, many groomers rely on on-the-job training or apprenticeships to learn their skills. However, it's highly advisable to seek professional schooling and certification for greater knowledge and confidence, so that you can safely and effectively service your four-legged customers.
There are a number of online and correspondence courses, plus continuing education programs and vocational schools that offer comprehensive pet groomer training, which can lead to certification.
- Animal behavior and control
- Best safety practices
- Characteristics of different breeds and types of pets
- Recognizing health conditions that a pet's vet should be alerted to
- How to recognize animal skin disorders
- Specifics on parasites such as ticks and fleas
- Bathing procedures
- Hair cutting
- How to use and where to get the right grooming products and supplies
Some states require that groomers obtain licenses to administer flea and tick treatments. A school or program administrator can tell you if you need this, and how to go about becoming licensed.
You'll also need to stock up on some supplies and equipment before you get started. Look into sourcing the following materials and their associated costs:
- At least one grooming table with grooming arm
- Tub with shower attachment
- Manual scissors and shears
- Electric hair clippers
- Nail clippers
- Pet shampoos and conditioners
- Brushes and Combs
- De-matting tools
- Pet steps or ramp
- Grooming cart
- Shelves for storage
- Clipper vacuum
- Ribbons and bows
- Other retail-enhancing supplies such as the Furminator
Business Licensing and Permits
While vocational licensing is not required at this time, your city or municipality may demand that you acquire certain business licenses and permits, even if a pet groomer is doing this out of their home. Check with the city, town or county government offices to learn what is required. Another good resource is the local chamber of commerce.
Insurance is a must, as even the most competent, cautious, responsible pet groomer is not immune from accidentally injuring animals due to grooming mishaps, pets' possible allergic reactions to products and other potentially hazardous scenarios. General business and homeowners insurance does not cover these. So do your homework in regard to what type of small business insurance that's required.
The most common form is liability insurance tailored to this particular business. You may also want to consider adding commercial/general liability insurance. As this is a very specialized business, which presents the potential for accidents and injuries, it's important to obtain the right kind of insurance coverage.
Other Types of Grooming Businesses
Another popular trend is mobile pet grooming, totally self-contained vans that travel to pets' homes enabling a pet groomer to perform services right outside the pet's door. Self-service dog washes, which provide facilities for people to bathe their pets themselves, also are gaining popularity.
Some car washes are even adding these, to expand their businesses. The latter may have a part-time groomer on staff, to provide services the owners can't perform themselves. So this may be a good option for those just starting out.
Types of Furry Customers
While pooches comprise the majority of patrons who seek pet grooming services, be prepared to cater to cats, as well. In addition, you may be asked to service such pets as rabbits, ferrets, guinea pigs, and other small exotic pets. For more about this, please see my article Pet Grooming for Small Animals.