‪(773) 312-5422‬ hello@mypawcare.com

More than Fur & Fluff: Here’s What to Know to Run a Successful Dog Grooming Business

how to run a successful dog grooming business

Are you dreaming of starting a dog grooming business? Your timing is good! The pet industry is growing steadily– as of 2023, 66% of US households own at least one pet. What’s more, according to Forbes, pet owners are spending more on their pets than ever before. Pet-related spending increased by 11% from 2021 to 2022, and this trend is expected to continue.

In other words, there are plenty of opportunities in the pet industry for passionate pet professionals. 

But, running a successful dog grooming business requires more than just a love for animals. You must possess business acumen, customer service skills, and have a solid business plan in place to succeed.

If this sounds overwhelming, don’t worry. Keep reading as we guide you through all the steps you must take to start and operate a successful dog grooming business. We’ll cover everything from developing a business plan and obtaining the necessary certifications to finding your unique place in the market and streamlining your operational processes to supercharge revenue.

Let’s jump in!

How to Start a Dog Grooming Business

Starting a dog grooming business isn’t as simple as printing business cards and declaring yourself a professional groomer. It’s crucial to ensure you know all the legalities and licensing requirements associated with the profession.

Licenses and Legalities

Aestheticians and hair stylists who work on humans must hold licenses, but no such thing exists for dog groomers at this time. However, when operating a business, you must have all the necessary legalities worked out before you begin collecting money from customers. Depending on where your business is located, there may be legal requirements related to safety or hygiene. 

The legal requirements of your dog grooming business may vary depending on the format of your business, too. For instance, if you’re operating out of your home, your safety and liability requirements may differ from running a brick-and-mortar grooming salon or operating out of an existing business. Research the by-laws in your local area to ensure you are compliant. 

Training and Certifications

Groomers may not require licenses, but they definitely need skills. Before launching a dog grooming business, ensure you’re up to snuff on the latest pet grooming techniques and best practices. You can learn the pet grooming trade by shadowing an existing groomer, experimenting with your own dogs, or taking certification classes.

Organizations like PetCo, the American Kennel Club, and Animal Behavior College offer dog grooming training programs. And there are many more options beyond these.

Formal training from a well-known organization such as those mentioned above ensures you’re aware of the latest industry trends and will inspire confidence from prospective customers, too.  You will learn about canine hygiene best practices, how to work with different coat types, the most popular grooming cuts, and much more. 

To further boost the trust of your prospective clients, consider becoming certified in pet first aid so you can offer support if a pet becomes sick or injured while under your care. 

Essential Tools and Equipment

Before providing services, you must source the necessary tools and equipment. Acquiring everything you need will require a significant investment, so plan ahead. Do your research to ensure you purchase quality tools you enjoy working with. Some of the items on your list may include:

  • Brushes
  • Combs
  • Shears
  • Clippers
  • Nail clippers
  • Nail grinders
  • Bathing tubs
  • Grooming tables
  • Fur dryers
  • Grooming hoses
  • Shower attachments
  • Shampoos and conditioners
  • Paw balm
  • Ear cleaning supplies
  • Clean products
  • Linens
  • Cleaning products
  • Kennels
  • Leashes, harnesses, straps
  • Appointment software, Point-of-Sale (POS) systems, and other administrative tools

Types of Dog Grooming Businesses

One of the great things about starting a dog grooming business is that there is lots of flexibility around the format of your business. Your business may even grow and change over time. 

Brick-and-mortar Salon

A strategically located salon can benefit from foot traffic, helping to attract new customers and retain regulars. The physical presence of a salon also provides the perfect opportunity for expansion into other services and product lines, such as pet accessories, food, or even daycare services, thereby increasing the potential revenue streams. 

However, operating a brick-and-mortar salon has its downsides. The overhead costs can be substantial, encompassing rent, utilities, maintenance, and the initial setup of a grooming facility. These expenses require careful financial planning and management to ensure the business remains profitable and sustainable in the long run. 

Renting a Space

Renting a grooming space within an existing pet business is a savvy strategy for those looking to dive into the pet grooming industry while keeping startup costs low. You can attract a built-in clientele who already frequent the business for other services, providing a steady stream of potential customers from day one. 

Additionally, it slashes the overhead costs of running a standalone salon, as you won’t be shouldering the full burden of rent and utilities on your own. The flexibility in scheduling offered by sharing a space allows for a more adaptable operation, making it an ideal setup for newcomers aiming to establish themselves in the market. 

However, operating within another business means adhering to their schedule and rules, which can limit your operational hours and impact your business model. The lack of control over the space’s layout and design also hinders your ability to create a fully branded experience. It may also impact your efficiency. 

Furthermore, the opportunity for expansion is limited, as the space you occupy is confined to what’s available within the existing business’s premises.

how to start a dog grooming business

Mobile Grooming

Mobile grooming businesses stand out by offering a premium service that caters to the convenience of clients, bringing the entire grooming experience directly to their doorstep. This model is particularly appealing to busy pet owners or those with pets that don’t travel well to traditional salons. 

However, mobile grooming also comes with its set of challenges. Parking the mobile spa can be challenging, especially in urban areas or communities with strict zoning laws, which can restrict where services can be offered. Additionally, accessing reliable water and power sources on the go can prove tricky, requiring the mobile unit to be equipped with onboard generators and water tanks. 

Purchasing and outfitting a mobile grooming vehicle requires a substantial upfront investment, which may be daunting for new entrepreneurs. 

Home-based Business

Running a home-based pet grooming business reduces overhead costs, such as rent and utilities associated with a separate commercial space. This setup also eliminates the commute, saving time and money, and provides the flexibility to create a schedule that aligns with your personal life and professional aspirations. 

However, navigating the by-laws and regulations surrounding home-based businesses can be complex. Some areas have specific rules that govern commercial activities in residential zones, including restrictions on signage, parking, and the amount of space within the home that can be dedicated to business activities. Compliance with these regulations is crucial to avoid fines or the forced cessation of business operations. 

How to Put Together a Dog Grooming Business Plan 

A business plan guides your decisions in operating your pet grooming business. It should incorporate a market analysis and clearly define your offerings, client acquisition strategies, and financial plan. 

Market Research

Conducting market research provides insights into the competitive landscape, customer preferences, and pricing strategies that exist within the grooming industry. This information helps you identify gaps in the market, tailor your services to meet the specific needs of your target audience, and position your business for success by offering something that distinguishes you from competitors. 

Understanding the dynamics of your local market through thorough research ensures that your business decisions are data-driven, maximizing your potential for growth and profitability.

Defining Products and Services

Do you prefer to work on small dogs? Are wild and artistic haircuts your favorite type of work to do? Articulating your products and services establishes your brand identity and differentiates you from competitors. It helps customers understand the unique value and expertise you bring to their pets’ care. 

Having a well-defined range of services and products enables you to target your marketing efforts more effectively, attracting the right clientele looking for the specific grooming solutions you provide.

Advertising Plan

An advertising plan is crucial so you know how you’ll spread the word about your pet grooming business. You could employ countless advertising tactics and strategies, and it may take some experimentation before you find the best methods for you. 

You might try any of the following:

  • Social media marketing
  • Print advertising
  • Building relationships in your local community
  • Cross-promoting your services with local businesses
  • Offering seasonal incentives
  • Developing a referral program 
  • Paid digital advertising
  • Hosting pop-up events or workshops

To learn more about the best ways to advertise your services, check out our complete guide to marketing a dog grooming business!

Financial Planning

Financial planning is crucial when starting a dog grooming business as it lays the foundation for sustainable growth and financial health. It helps you forecast startup costs, set realistic pricing strategies, and manage cash flow effectively to ensure the business can cover operational costs while still turning a profit. 

Anticipating financial challenges and planning for future investments enables entrepreneurs to navigate the uncertainties of business ownership and make informed decisions that safeguard the business’s long-term viability.

woman working on dog grooming business plan at coffee shop

Finding your Grooming Business Niche

Establishing a niche within the dog grooming industry allows you to specialize in a specific area of the market, making your services more appealing to a targeted segment of customers. This acts as a natural filter, attracting those seeking the unique expertise and offerings your business provides.

You may choose to specialize within the dog grooming industry in many different ways. You could hone in on a specific service, work with a particular breed (or set of breeds), or specialize in using a specific product type. For instance, you could be a green groomer who only uses eco-friendly products on your clients.

Let Your Niche Find You

You don’t necessarily need to choose your niche right away. Your niche may reveal itself in time once you’ve served many clients and gotten to know their needs and preferences.

You might find that you routinely receive referrals for certain services or from certain types of dog owners. For example, let’s say you have a loyal client with a Havanese dog. They love your work and routinely refer you to other pet parents of Havanese dogs. Soon, you may find that you’re an expert in the unique needs of this particular dog breed, setting you apart from other groomers in your area!

Building a Brand

Once you’ve started honing in on a niche, you can build a brand around it. Instead of focusing on general dog grooming, specializing enables you to communicate specifically about certain aspects of the grooming profession.

Niching down enables you to demonstrate your robust knowledge and experience and will help you attract clients who need exactly what you offer. Your brand messaging will resonate more with your ideal customers because they’ll feel as though you’re speaking directly to them and their unique needs.

Ways to Supercharge Business Efficiency 

Once you’ve launched your pet grooming business, refining your processes will help you make business operations more efficient, enabling you to serve more clients and increase profitability.

Streamlining Business Operations with PawCare

PawCare makes it easy to streamline bookings and appointments and backend business administration. The calendar management tool lets you set your availability and auto-accept incoming appointments day or night. If you have a cancellation, you can easily add those openings back into your calendar to replace the revenue. 

And all of this can be managed through a handy mobile app, making it easy to reference and adjust your calendar on the go. 

Additional Tips for Improving Efficiency

Here are a few more tips for improving operational efficiency to boost your earnings.

  • Audit and optimize your grooming workflow: Spend time thinking about how you can make your process easier and more efficient. It may take some time to find the right flow. Everything from the tools you use to the layout of your workstation may help improve your efficiency.
  • Stock products strategically: Keep a well-organized inventory of frequently used grooming products and tools to minimize time spent searching for items, ensuring that everything you need is within easy reach.
  • Train and empower your team: Regular training sessions can enhance your team’s grooming skills and efficiency. Empowering them to make small decisions can also speed up operations and improve job satisfaction.
  • Solicit and act on feedback: Regularly ask for feedback from both employees and customers to identify areas for improvement. Implementing their suggestions can help streamline operations, enhance service quality, and boost customer satisfaction.

Launching and running a successful dog grooming business involves several critical steps, from obtaining the necessary training and certifications to choosing the right business model. Developing a business plan will give you the best chance of success by helping you forecast expenses and position yourself strategically within the market. 

With dedication, adaptability, and a focus on quality and customer service, you can establish a prosperous dog grooming business that brings joy to pets and their owners alike.

Want more tips like this? Subscribe to PawCare’s newsletter!


Forbes – US Pet Ownership Statistics 2024

Petco – PetCo Grooming Certification Process

AKC – ACK S.A.F.E. Grooming Program

Facebook Comments Box


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Why You Need a Customer Service Strategy (And 7 Ways to Build One!)

Learn how developing a customer service strategy and teaching employees stellar customer service skills sets your grooming business up for success.

Dog Grooming Logo Ideas: How To Set Your Business Apart From The Pack 

Here’s what to consider in dog grooming logo ideas and how to decide if you should hire a professional or make your own.

Groomer’s Lung: What You Need to Know & How to Cope

Discover how to protect against Groomer’s Lung. Learn symptoms, prevention tips, and coping strategies for pet groomers.