So you want to start your own dog grooming business? Dog grooming is a wonderful business idea for anyone who loves dogs, but you also need to know what to do to establish your business and see it thrive. 

Here are all the steps you need to take before officially opening your dog grooming business.

Laying the groundwork: officially establishing your dog grooming business

You’re excited to throw open the doors to your new dog grooming salon. But before you do that, you need to carry out the necessary tasks to officially establish your business and make sure that you’re ready for long-term growth. 

Choose a business structure 

One of the first big decisions in starting your own dog grooming business is choosing a business structure. The four main options are:

As a sole proprietor, you operate the business yourself, which is simple but you’re personally liable for debts and liabilities. A partnership splits ownership and liability with another partner. Corporations and LLCs establish your business as a separate legal entity to protect you from business liability, but require more paperwork. 

Prepare a business plan

Every small business owner should develop a detailed business plan. This is a document that maps out how you’ll start and operate your pet grooming business. You should include your chosen business name, details about your target market and any competition in your area, your likely expenses, and predicted income. 

Decide on your pricing 

Figure out your pricing strategy by considering factors like the breed and size of dogs, the types of grooming services you offer (bath, haircut, ear cleaning, nail trimming), and what other local groomers charge. You’ll also need to budget for essential equipment like grooming tables, clippers, brushes, and a proper grooming space.

Obtain the necessary licenses

Next, obtain the necessary licenses and business insurance to legally operate. Register your business with your local Chamber of Commerce. In some states, you’ll also need to apply for a specific dog care license or animal care license. Don’t forget business insurance and liability insurance, to protect you in case of accidents or unhappy customers. 

Find the right location

You’ll also need to find a good location. Look for areas with lots of dog owners and little competition. You’ll need somewhere with plenty of space for bathing and grooming dogs of all sizes. Check your local zoning regulations on home-based businesses, commercial spaces, and mobile grooming vehicles, because you may need special permits or licenses to operate.

Obtaining the necessary equipment

Dog grooming equipment

To start a dog grooming business the right way, you’ll need to invest in high-quality grooming equipment. Here are the essentials for a dog grooming salon that’s just starting out. 

Grooming tables

Grooming tables are vital equipment for starting a dog grooming business. Look for sturdy, adjustable tables that can accommodate dogs of all sizes. Hydraulic tables that can be raised and lowered are ideal.

Clippers and blades

Investing in a good quality pair of dog clippers is crucial for a dog grooming business. Look for clippers that come with different blade lengths so you can handle all types of cuts, trims and styles. You’ll also need nail clippers for different types of dog, and clipper oil to properly lubricate and maintain your tools.

Other useful tools

Don’t forget combs, brushes, cotton balls, towels, shampoo, conditioner, cologne, ear cleaning solutions, and any breed-specific tools you may need. You’ll also want a vacuum, mops, trash cans, cleaning supplies and storage solutions to keep your grooming space tidy.

As a business owner, it’s important to spend money on high-quality, professional-grade equipment built to withstand frequent use and last for years. Your tools are the foundation of your pet grooming business, so take time to research brands and products recommended by experienced dog groomers.

Building your skills through proper training and education on dog grooming

To start a successful dog grooming business, you need more than just practice on your own pets. You need to invest in your education and skills. Some states require you to pass an exam and complete a certain number of hours of training before you can get a license to open a dog grooming business. 

Formal certification

Take advantage of courses offered by organizations like Animal Behavior College or Paragon School of Pet Grooming. Their programs provide in-depth, hands-on training in areas like:

  • Breed-specific haircuts
  • Handling difficult dogs
  • Proper use of grooming equipment (clippers, tables, ear cleaners, nail clippers, etc.)
  • Health and safety standards

You can complete courses online or in a physical classroom. Pursuing ongoing learning will ensure you stay up-to-date with the latest tools, techniques, and trends and provide the best care and service to your clients.

Build your skills

In addition to formal education, build your skills through practice and experience. As a new business owner, you’ll want to start by focusing on the basics. Learn how to properly bathe, brush, and trim different types of dogs. Develop efficient techniques and find what works best for you. Over time, you can advance to more complex styling and breed-specific haircuts.

It also helps to follow pet grooming experts and salons on social media. You can get inspiration from photos and pick up useful tips by seeing how the pros operate their businesses. Interacting with other groomers in the industry is a great way to swap advice, ask questions, and grow your skills.

Marketing your new dog grooming business

Once you’ve set up your dog grooming business, it’s time to start reaching pet owners and building your customer base. 

Build a professional website

The first step is to create an attractive website. Make sure that it’s easy to navigate and makes it simple for visitors to get in touch with you or book appointments. An online booking widget is a great way to invite new clients to schedule a dog grooming session. Include full information about all the services you offer and your prices. 

Nurture your social media presence 

Creating business profiles on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter is a great way to raise awareness of your new venture. Post pictures of happy clients, share grooming tips, and highlight new services or products you offer. Engaging with your followers by liking and commenting on their posts helps to build personal connections and trust in your business.

Focus on Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Having an attractive website is important, but if people can’t find it, it won’t do you much good. Employing small business SEO best practices, like using relevant keywords in your content, internal linking between pages on your site, and optimizing page titles and meta descriptions, helps to improve your search ranking in Google. This makes you more visible to people searching online for “dog grooming near me.”

Offer promotions and discounts

Run special promotions like discounted first-time grooming packages or loyalty programs to attract new customers. You can also bundle multiple services together at a lower price to increase the value to pet owners. For example, offer nail trimming, ear cleaning and a bath and brush out in one package. 

Establish a customer referral program

Happy customers are one of the best ways to grow your business. Offer existing clients a discount or small gift as a thank you for referring a new customer to your salon. This incentivizes pet owners to spread the word about your grooming services to people they know.

Planning for future growth

As your business grows, you may need to hire additional dog groomers and support staff. Create a hiring plan to determine how many employees you need based on your projected number of clients and services. 

It’s also important to make sure that your new dog groomers and assistants have proper training and certifications. Provide ongoing training to ensure high quality and consistent grooming, and encourage your employees to continually improve by keeping up with trends, techniques, and safety standards. 

Finally, keep expanding your business. Learn the latest grooming techniques and trends. Consider offering breed-specific haircuts or additional services like daycare or training, and work to build a loyal customer base through exceptional service and community outreach. 

Your new dog grooming business is on its way

Starting any business is challenging, but if you have a passion for dog care you want to serve and a vision for the experience you want to provide for pet owners and their furry family members, you’ll find a way to make it work. It will take time to establish yourself, but if you provide consistent, high-quality dog grooming with a personal touch, you’ll be well on your way to operating a successful dog grooming salon.