Dog lovers treat their dogs like children, and they want to keep them clean and looking good. Dog groomers fill that bill by washing, trimming, and sometimes even pampering dogs with facials and other spa-like services. Dog grooming is part of the pet grooming and boarding industry which is worth nearly $9 billion in the US You can start a dog grooming business from your home, brush out a piece of that market, and put some cash in your wallet.
To start a dog grooming business, however, you need to understand the challenges and the process to be successful. Fortunately, this step-by-step guide has the inside scoop on everything it takes to be successful with your dog grooming company.
Step 1: Decide if the Business Is Right for You
Pros and cons
Starting a dog grooming business has pros and cons to consider before deciding if it’s right for you.
- Hang with Pups – Give loving care to the dogs you love
- Great Flexibility – Work from home or as a mobile service
- Room For Expansion – Add other services like dog walking
- Equipment Needed – Many supplies to purchase
- Liability – Dogs could get hurt or escape
Dog grooming industry trends
Industry size and growth
- Industry size and past growth – The pet grooming and boarding industry in the US is worth more than $8 billion. The industry has grown over 40% in the last decade.
- Growth forecast – The trend to treat dogs as family members and consumers’ willingness to pay for pet care services present growth opportunities for the pet grooming industry.
- Number of businesses – There are more than 130,000 pet grooming and boarding businesses in the US.
- Number of people employed – The industry employs more than 230,000 people.
Trends and challenges
Trends in the dog grooming industry include:
- Pet adoptions were through the roof in 2020, which is great for dog grooming businesses. Dog ownership among millennials is also increasing.
- Eco-friendly pet products, including grooming products, are in demand.
- Mobile grooming services are increasing in popularity since people are still staying home more than pre-pandemic.
Some challenges also exist in the dog grooming industry which include:
- Liability exists if a dog is injured during grooming. Litigation against dog groomers does occur, so it’s important to be properly insured.
- Dog grooming is an industry with low barriers to entry, so it is very competitive.
- Average consumer spend – Dog owners spent $442 on average on pet food in 2020.
- Potential customer base – Nearly 70 million US households owned at least one dog, according to a 2021-2022 survey.
- Average prices – A grooming package costs between $100 and $150.
What kind of people work in dog grooming?
- Gender – Nearly 85% of dog groomers are female, while about 15% are male.
- Average level of education – 40% of dog groomers finished high school and 20% obtained an associate degree.
- Average age – The average age of dog groomers is 32 years old.
How much does it cost to start a dog grooming business?
Startup costs for a dog grooming business range from about $3,500 to $10,000. The main expenses are for equipment and a website. The high end assumes that you will do a mobile service and includes the cost of a down payment on a van to transport your equipment and supplies.
You’ll need a handful of items to successfully launch your dog grooming business, including:
- Grooming tables
- Bathing tubs
- Grooming hose and/or shower attachments
- Brushes, combs, shears, clippers
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Ear cleaning products
|Start-up Costs||Ballpark Range||Average
|Setting up a business name and corporation||$150 - $200||$175
|Business licenses and permits||$100 - $300||$200
|Business cards and brochures||$200 - $300||$250
|Website setup||$1,000 - $3,000||$2,000
|Dog grooming supplies and equipment||$2,000 - $3,000||$2,500
|Van to transport equipment - down payment||$0 - $3,000||$1,500
|Total||$3,550 - $10,100||$6,825
How much can you earn from a dog grooming business?
A full grooming package that includes nail clipping and ear cleaning costs between $100 and $150. Add-on services such as a facial can add $15 to $20 more. Working by yourself from home, your profit margin should be about 90%.
In your first year or two, you could work from home and do 10 groomings a week at $130, bringing in over $65,000 in annual revenue. This would mean over $60,000 in profit, assuming that 90% margin. As your brand gains recognition, sales could climb to 25 groomings a week. You might hire a helper at this stage, reducing your profit margin to about 60%. With expected annual revenue of nearly $170,000, you would make just over $100,000.
What barriers to entry are there?
There are a few barriers to entry for a dog grooming business. Your biggest challenges will be:
- Having the skills to be a dog groomer, and being good with dogs
- Facing competition from large pet stores that do grooming
Related Business Ideas
If you’re still not sure whether this business idea is the right choice for you, here are some related business opportunities to help you on your path to entrepreneurial success.
Step 2: Hone Your Idea
Now that you know what’s involved in starting a dog grooming business, it’s a good idea to hone your concept in preparation to enter a competitive market.
Why? Identify an opportunity
Research dog grooming businesses in your area to examine their services, price points, and customer reviews. You’re looking for a market gap to fill. For instance, maybe the local market is missing a mobile dog grooming business.
You might consider targeting a niche market by specializing in a certain aspect of your industry such as spa-like treatments.
This could jumpstart your word-of-mouth marketing and attract clients right away.
What? Determine your products or services
Determine what grooming services you want to offer. You could offer things like:
- Baths and brushing
- Eye and ear cleaning
- Hair trimming
- Nail trimming
- Teeth brushing
- De-shedding treatments
- Anal gland expression
- De-matting treatments
How much should you charge for dog grooming services?
Prices for a dog grooming package range from $100 to $150. Baths-only cost about $30. For add-on services, you can expect to charge about $15 to $20 each. Your expenses should be limited to shampoos or other supplies, plus fuel, so you should aim for a profit margin of about 90%.
Once you know your costs, you can use this Step By Step profit margin calculator to determine your mark-up and final price point. Remember, the price you use at launch should be subject to change if warranted by the market.
Who? Identify your target market
Your target market is a broad one – dog owners. However, the people who can pay for dog grooming are going to be more established people, so you can find them on sites like Facebook or LinkedIn. You can also distribute flyers at pet stores that do not offer dog grooming.
Where? Choose your business premises
In the early stages, you may want to run your business from home to keep costs low, and it’s likely that you will continue to do so. But if you really want to expand, you might want to rent a dog grooming facility. Find commercial space to rent in your area on sites such as Craigslist, Crexi, and Instant Offices.
When choosing a commercial space, you may want to follow these rules of thumb:
- Central location accessible via public transport
- Ventilated and spacious, with good natural light
- Flexible lease that can be extended as your business grows
- Ready-to-use space with no major renovations or repairs needed
Step 3: Brainstorm a Business Name
Your business name is your business identity, so choose one that encapsulates your objectives, services, and mission in just a few words. You probably want a name that’s short and easy to remember, since much of your business, and your initial business in particular, will come from word-of-mouth referrals.
Here are some ideas for brainstorming your business name:
- Short, unique, and catchy names tend to stand out
- Names that are easy to say and spell tend to do better
- Name should be relevant to your product or service offerings
- Ask around — family, friends, colleagues, social media — for suggestions
- Including keywords, such as “pet grooming” or “dog grooming”, boosts SEO
- Name should allow for expansion, for ex: “Jim’s Bakery” over “Jim’s Cookies”
- Avoid location-based names that might hinder future expansion
- Use online tools like the Step by Step Business Name Generator. Just type in a few keywords and hit “generate” and you’ll have dozens of suggestions at your fingertips.
Once you’ve got a list of potential names, visit the website of the US Patent and Trademark Office to make sure they are available for registration and check the availability of related domain names using our Domain Name Search tool. Using “.com” or “.org” sharply increases credibility, so it’s best to focus on these.
Finally, make your choice among the names that pass this screening and go ahead with domain registration and social media account creation. Your business name is one of the key differentiators that sets your business apart. Once you pick your company name, and start with the branding, it is hard to change the business name. Therefore, it’s important to carefully consider your choice before you start a business entity.
Step 4: Create a Business Plan
Every business needs a plan. This will function as a guidebook to take your startup through the launch process and maintain focus on your key goals. A business plan also enables potential partners and investors to better understand your company and its vision:
- Executive Summary: Brief overview of the entire business plan; should be written after the plan is complete.
- Business Overview: Overview of the company, vision, mission, ownership, and corporate goals.
- Product and Services: Describe your offerings in detail.
- Market Analysis: Assess market trends such as variations in demand and prospects for growth, and do a SWOT analysis.
- Competitive Analysis: Analyze main competitors, assessing their strengths and weaknesses, and create a list of the advantages of your services.
- Sales and Marketing: Examine your companies’ unique selling propositions (USPs) and develop sales, marketing, and promotional strategies.
- Management Team: Overview of management team, detailing their roles and professional background, along with a corporate hierarchy.
- Operations Plan: Your company’s operational plan includes procurement, office location, key assets and equipment, and other logistical details.
- Financial Plan: Three years of financial planning, including startup costs, break-even analysis, profit and loss estimates, cash flow, and balance sheet.
- Appendix: Include any additional financial or business-related documents.
If you’ve never created a business plan, it can be an intimidating task. You might consider finding and hiring a business plan specialist at Fiverr to create a top-notch business plan for you.
Step 5: Register Your Business
Registering your business is an absolutely crucial step — it’s the prerequisite to paying taxes, raising capital, opening a bank account, and other guideposts on the road to getting a business up and running.
Plus, registration is exciting because it makes the entire process official. Once it’s complete, you’ll have your own business!
Choose where to register your company
Your business location is important because it can affect taxes, legal requirements, and revenue. Most people will register their business in the state where they live, but if you’re planning to expand, you might consider looking elsewhere, as some states could offer real advantages when it comes to dog grooming businesses.
If you’re willing to move, you could really maximize your business! Keep in mind, it’s relatively easy to transfer your business to another state.
Choose your business structure
Business entities come in several varieties, each with its pros and cons. The legal structure you choose for your dog grooming business will shape your taxes, personal liability, and business registration requirements, so choose wisely.
Here are the main options:
- Sole Proprietorship – The most common structure for small businesses makes no legal distinction between company and owner. All income goes to the owner, who’s also liable for any debts, losses, or liabilities incurred by the business. The owner pays taxes on business income on his or her personal tax return.
- General Partnership – Similar to a sole proprietorship, but for two or more people. Again, owners keep the profits and are liable for losses. The partners pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
- Limited Liability Company (LLC) – Combines the characteristics of corporations with those of sole proprietorships or partnerships. Again, the owners are not personally liable for debts.
- C Corp – Under this structure, the business is a distinct legal entity and the owner or owners are not personally liable for its debts. Owners take profits through shareholder dividends, rather than directly. The corporation pays taxes, and owners pay taxes on their dividends, which is sometimes referred to as double taxation.
- S Corp – An S-Corporation refers to the tax classification of the business but is not a business entity. An S-Corp can be either a corporation or an LLC, which just need to elect to be an S-Corp for tax status. In an S-Corp, income is passed through directly to shareholders, who pay taxes on their share of business income on their personal tax returns.
We recommend that new business owners choose an LLC as it offers liability protection and pass-through taxation while being simpler to form than a corporation. You can form an LLC in as little as five minutes using ZenBusiness’s online LLC formation service. They will check that your business name is available before filing, submit your Articles of Organization and be on hand to answer any questions you might have.
Step 6: Register for Taxes
The final step before you’re able to pay taxes is getting an Employer Identification Number, or EIN. You can file for your EIN online or by mail or fax: visit the IRS website to learn more. Keep in mind, if you’ve chosen to be a sole proprietorship you can simply use your social security number as your EIN.
Once you have your EIN, you’ll need to choose your tax year. Financially speaking, your business will operate in a calendar year (January–December) or a fiscal year, a 12-month period that can start in any month. This will determine your tax cycle, while your business structure will determine which taxes you’ll pay.
It is important to consult an accountant or other professional to help you with your taxes to ensure you’re completing them correctly.
Step 7: Fund your Business
Securing financing is your next step and there are plenty of ways to raise capital:
- Bank loans: This is the most common method but getting approved requires a rock-solid business plan and strong credit history.
- SBA-guaranteed loans: The Small Business Administration can act as guarantor, helping gain that elusive bank approval via an SBA-guaranteed loan.
- Government grants: A handful of financial assistance programs help fund entrepreneurs. Visit Grants.gov to learn which might work for you.
- Friends and Family: Reach out to friends and family to provide a business loan or investment in your concept. It’s a good idea to have legal advice when doing so because SEC regulations apply.
- Crowdfunding: Websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo offer an increasingly popular low-risk option, in which donors fund your vision. Entrepreneurial crowdfunding sites like Fundable and WeFunder enable multiple investors to fund your business.
- Personal: Self-fund your business via your savings or the sale of property or other assets.
Bank and SBA loans are probably the best options, other than friends and family, for funding a dog grooming business. You might also try crowdfunding if you have an innovative concept.
Step 8: Apply for Licenses/Permits
Starting a dog grooming business requires obtaining a number of licenses and permits from local, state, and federal governments. Federal regulations, licenses, and permits associated with starting your business include doing business as, health license and permit from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), trademarks, copyrights, patents, and other intellectual properties, as well as industry-specific licenses and permits.
You may also need state-level and local county or city-based licenses and permits. The license requirements and how to obtain them vary, so check the websites of your state, city, and county governments or contact the appropriate person to learn more.
You could also check this SBA guide for your state’s requirements, but we recommend using MyCorporation’s Business License Compliance Package. They will research the exact forms you need for your business and state and provide them to ensure you’re fully compliant.
This is not a step to be taken lightly, as failing to comply with legal requirements can result in hefty penalties.
If you feel overwhelmed by this step or don’t know how to begin, it might be a good idea to hire a professional to help you check all the legal boxes.
Step 9: Open a Business Bank Account
Before you start making money, you’ll need a place to keep it, and that requires opening a bank account. Keeping your business finances separate from your personal account makes it easy to file taxes and track your company’s income, so it’s worth doing even if you’re running your dog grooming business as a sole proprietorship.
Opening a business bank account is quite simple, and similar to opening a personal one. Most major banks offer accounts tailored for businesses — just inquire at your preferred bank to learn about their rates and features.
Banks vary in terms of offerings, so it’s a good idea to examine your options and select the best plan for you. Once you choose your bank, bring in your EIN (or Social Security Number if you decide on a sole proprietorship), articles of incorporation, and other legal documents and open your new account.
Step 10: Get Business Insurance
Business insurance is an area that often gets overlooked yet it can be vital to your success as an entrepreneur. Insurance protects you from unexpected events that can have a devastating impact on your business.
Here are some types of insurance to consider:
- General liability: The most comprehensive type of insurance, acting as a catch-all for many business elements that require coverage. If you get just one kind of insurance, this is it. It even protects against bodily injury and property damage.
- Business Property: Provides coverage for your equipment and supplies.
- Equipment Breakdown Insurance: Covers the cost of replacing or repairing equipment that has broken due to mechanical issues.
- Worker’s compensation: Provides compensation to employees injured on the job.
- Property: Covers your physical space, whether it is a cart, storefront, or office.
- Commercial auto: Protection for your company-owned vehicle.
- Professional liability: Protects against claims from a client who says they suffered a loss due to an error or omission in your work.
- Business owner’s policy (BOP): This is an insurance plan that acts as an all-in-one insurance policy, a combination of any of the above insurance types.
Step 11: Prepare to Launch
As opening day nears, prepare for launch by reviewing and improving some key elements of your business.
Essential software and tools
Being an entrepreneur often means wearing many hats, from marketing to sales to accounting, which can be overwhelming. Fortunately, many websites and digital tools are available to help simplify many business tasks.
You can use industry-specific software, such as DaySmartPet, Pawfinity, or groomsoft, to manage online bookings, appointments, expense tracking, and billing.
- Popular web-based accounting programs for smaller businesses include Quickbooks, Freshbooks, and Xero.
- If you’re unfamiliar with basic accounting, you may want to hire a professional, especially as you begin. The consequences for filing incorrect tax documents can be harsh, so accuracy is crucial.
Some of your business will come from the casual online visitors, but still, you should invest in digital marketing! Getting the word out is especially important for new businesses, as it’ll boost customer and brand awareness.
Once your website is up and running, link it to your social media accounts and vice versa. Social media is a great tool for promoting your business because you can create engaging posts that advertise your products:
- Facebook: Great platform for paid advertising, allows you to target specific demographics, like men under age 50 in the Cleveland area.
- Instagram: Same benefits as Facebook but with different target audiences.
- Website: SEO will help your website appear closer to the top in relevant search results, a crucial element for increasing sales. Make sure that you optimize calls to action on your website. Experiment with text, color, size, and position of calls to action such as “Schedule Now”. This can sharply increase purchases.
- Google and Yelp: For businesses that rely on local clientele, getting listed on Yelp and Google My Business can be crucial to generating awareness and customers.
Take advantage of your website, social media presence and real-life activities to increase awareness of your offerings and build your brand. Some suggestions include:
- Competitions and giveaways – Generate interest by offering prizes for customers who complete a certain action, such as free dog toy with a full service grooming.
- Flyering – Distribute flyers in your neighborhood and at industry events.
- In-Person Sales – Offer your dog grooming services at local markets, trade shows
- Post a video – Post a video about your dog grooming services. Use humor and maybe it will go viral!
- Email marketing/newsletter – Send regular emails to customers and prospects. Make them personal.
- Start a blog – Start a blog and post regularly. Change up your content and share on multiple sites.
- Seek out referrals – Offer incentives to generate customer referrals to new clients.
- Paid ads on social media – Choose sites that will reach your target market and do targeted ads.
Develop your website
Website development is crucial because your site is your online presence and needs to convince prospective clients of your expertise and professionalism. They are unlikely to find your website, however, unless you follow Search Engine Optimization (SEO) practices. These are steps that help pages rank higher in the results of top search engines like Google.
You can create your own website using services like WordPress, Wix, or Squarespace. This route is very affordable, but figuring out how to build a website can be time-consuming. If you lack tech-savvy, you can hire a web designer or developer to create a custom website for your business.
Focus on USPs
Unique selling propositions, or USPs, are the characteristics of a product or service that sets it apart from the competition. Customers today are inundated with buying options, so you’ll have a real advantage if they are able to quickly grasp how your dog grooming business meets their needs or wishes. It’s wise to do all you can to ensure your USPs stand out on your website and in your marketing and promotional materials, stimulating buyer desire.
Global pizza chain Domino’s is renowned for its USP: “Hot pizza in 30 minutes or less, guaranteed.” Signature USPs for your dog grooming business could be:
- Pamper your dog with spa-like grooming
- Mobile dog grooming at your convenience
- Loving full-service dog grooming for less
You may not like to network or use personal connections for business gain. But your personal and professional networks likely offer considerable untapped business potential. Maybe that Facebook friend you met in college is now running a dog grooming business, or a LinkedIn contact of yours is connected to dozens of potential clients. Maybe your cousin or neighbor has been working in dog grooming for years and can offer invaluable insight and industry connections.
The possibilities are endless, so it’s a good idea to review your personal and professional networks and reach out to those with possible links to or interest in dog grooming. You’ll probably generate new customers or find companies with which you could establish a partnership.
Step 12: Build Your Team
If you’re starting out small from a home office, you may not need any employees. But as your business grows, you will likely need workers to fill various roles. Potential positions for a dog grooming business would include:
- Dog Groomers – provide grooming services
- General Manager – scheduling, staff management, accounting
- Marketing Lead – SEO strategies, social media, other marketing
At some point, you may need to hire all of these positions or simply a few, depending on the size and needs of your business. You might also hire multiple workers for a single role or a single worker for multiple roles, again depending on need.
Free-of-charge methods to recruit employees include posting ads on popular platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Jobs.com. You might also consider a premium recruitment option, such as advertising on Indeed, Glassdoor, or ZipRecruiter. Further, if you have the resources, you could consider hiring a recruitment agency to help you find talent.
Step 13: Start Making Money!
People pay a lot of money to take care of their beloved dogs. The total pet industry in the US is worth over $100 billion, with dog grooming taking in $9 billion of that annually. As a dog lover, starting your own dog grooming business will be fun and rewarding, and it will enable you to make a nice living at the same time.
You can run your business from home, and perhaps later expand to have a grooming facility – maybe even more than one! Now that you have groomed your business knowledge, you can continue on the path to entrepreneurship and being a successful business owner.
Dog Grooming Business FAQs
How much does it cost to start a dog grooming business?
You need quite a bit of equipment to start a dog grooming business which can cost a few thousand dollars. It total, you can start for about $3,500. If you start a mobile dog grooming business, you’ll also need a van to transport your equipment.
How much can I make from a dog grooming business?
Prices for dog grooming packages range from $100 to $150 so even if you do 10 grooms a week, you’re making good money. Your ongoing expenses will be very low, so most of your revenue will stay in your pocket.
Do I need a license to start a dog grooming business from home?
Are mobile dog grooming businesses popular?
Mobile dog grooming became popular after the pandemic started, and the demand for mobile grooming shows no sign of slowing down. People enjoy the convenience of it, so the popularity of mobile grooming should continue to increase.