The love and money people lavish on their pets has made dog grooming and dog training increasingly profitable businesses, according to data published by the U.S. Department of Labor. Pet owners view their pets as family members, and they are willing to pay the tab for quality services. A professional dog groomer whose clients can see that he cares about animals can fulfill his dream of opening his own successful grooming shop if he has the start-up capital he needs, obtains the needed training and certification, and develops a solid business plan that includes advertising, location and equipment.
Choose a grooming school in your area, and obtain a pet-grooming certificate or diploma. There are a variety of ways to get the training you need. Ten-week apprenticeships with on-the-job training in dog grooming are offered by some established pet groomers, according to the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics. Diploma programs offered at some colleges instruct students in the pet grooming and business management skills they need to run a grooming shop. Stand-alone pet-grooming schools offer certification to their graduates. The National Dog Groomers Association of America offers certification to members who attend at least one NDGAA workshop and pass the certification test at one of the association's test sites.
Develop a step-by-step business plan for opening your business. The plan should include start-up costs for grooming equipment and rent or mortgage payments; the grooming services you will offer; a marketing plan, and a daily business operation plan. It's a good idea to seek help developing a sound business plan from the U.S. Small Business Association. Your local district SBA office has counselors and business-development specialists whose job it is to help you start and grow your business.
Apply to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service for an Employer Identification Number, either online at irs.gov or by mail. The IRS uses the EIN to identify your business for tax purposes. Your EIN must appear on all your business tax returns such as your 1040 and Schedule C, Profit and Loss Statement, and on your tax payments. Consult the IRS for all required business tax forms. As a business owner, you also will be responsible for paying self-employment taxes, which are your Social Security and Medicare contributions.
If you employ other workers in your shop, you will be responsible for paying unemployment taxes, withholding your employees' federal and state income taxes, Social Security and Medicare contributions, and supplying them with a W-2 form by Jan. 31 each year, detailing what you paid them and the taxes you withheld. Contact your state tax department for the state tax forms required for businesses. If you will have employees, consider paying an accountant or bookkeeper to keep your business finances and taxes in order.
Choose a location for your grooming shop in a business zone that allows animals. Research the competition in your area, and locate your shop where you know there will be a demand for your services. Try to find a location convenient to customers that will accommodate your long-range expansion plans as well as your start-up needs.
Research grooming equipment suppliers in your area and online grooming supply stores. Make a list of all the supplies and equipment you will need to bathe, dry, clip, comb, strip coats and trim nails, as well as pest-control products for all types of animals. Make a list of the furniture and money-handling, telephone, computer and other equipment you will need, as well.
Consult appropriate agencies of your state and local governments to learn about required business licenses and permits. These permits vary by state and local jurisdiction. You must acquire the permits you need before your shop opens its doors.
Contact your insurance agent to formulate an insurance policy that will protect your personal assets and your business from property damage, theft, and lawsuits from customers as well as insurance to cover injuries that might occur to you, your employees or your customers. Your insurance agent can tell you about your state and local requirements for business insurance. If you plan to hire groomers, inquire about workers' compensation insurance, which covers employees' medical expenses and replaces their wages if they are injured on the job, in exchange for mandatory relinquishment of the worker's right to sue.
Begin marketing your grooming shop one month before opening day. Have a business sign made with your logo and business name, large enough to be seen as people walk or drive by your shop. Use the same logo and business name on your business cards and advertisements to help people recognize your business name. Place advertisements in local newspapers, on radio stations and on the local cable television channel. Hang signs in your shop windows to advertise current specials and services offered.
Before you start any small business, be sure you have enough working capital behind you to cover the first two or three months of operating costs while you establish a flow of regular customers and reliable income. Do not count on income from the business to be sufficient to run it right from opening day.
Stock your pet-grooming shop with assorted scented dog shampoos, conditioners, bandanas and bows. Pet owners enjoy having the option of choosing a specific scent, bandana or bow for their pets as a finishing touch.
If you offer quality grooming and outwardly show your love for animals, your grooming business can grow as your regular customers spread the word.
Volunteering your grooming services at local shelters can help build your customer base.
Items You Will Need
- Grooming certificate
- Business plan
- Employer Identification Number
- Business insurance
- Grooming supplies
- Bureau of Labor and Statistics: Occupational Outlook Quarterly: Careers for Creature Lovers
- Penn Foster Career School: Pet Grooming Certificate
- Pierce College: Mistakes Every New Business Should Avoid
- National Dog Groomers Association, Incorporated: Workshop and Certification Program Guidelines
- IRS: Employer ID Numbers (EINs)
- IRS: Business Taxes
- University of Maine: How to Insure Your Business
- with dog image by Westa Zikas from Fotolia.com