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Mobile Pet Grooming: How to Start a Mobile Pet Grooming Business

Starting a mobile pet grooming business isn’t too different from a standard pet grooming business. Many potential business owners believe that it’s easier, given that you don’t have to worry about finding a set location. However, mobile pet grooming can easily get more expensive (and costly) than a traditional grooming business.

That said, there is a chance to make a serious profit. Many pets need to be groomed, and many pet owners like the convenience of a come-to-you solution. 

Below, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about starting a mobile pet grooming business. 

mobile pet grooming with small dog.
Source: iStock

What is mobile pet grooming?

Typically, taking a pet to a groomer means wrangling them into a crate, braving traffic, and arriving on time. But mobile pet grooming is different. In this case, the groomer goes directly to the pet owner, eliminating much of the burden for the pet owner. 

Just like it sounds, a mobile pet groomer is a groomer on wheels. Typically, this involves a tricked-out van equipped with all sorts of bells and whistles to help grooming go smoothly. Think sparkling tubs, professional grooming tools, and a stock of freshly scented pet shampoos.

Pet owners love mobile groomers for many different reasons, including:

  • Reduced Stress for Pets: Pets often get anxious in the back-and-forth shuffle to the traditional groomer. In fact, the transportation to the groomer may be more stressful for some dogs than the actual grooming process. Plus, the chaotic, unfamiliar environment of the groomer (filled with unusual dogs) can be understandably stressful.
  • Convenience: Many pet parents are busy these days, so booking an appointment around their schedule can be challenging. Mobile pet groomers are often more convenient, as the owner doesn’t have to go anywhere. Transportation is a huge barrier preventing many pet owners from taking their pets to a groomer. 
  • Peace of Mind: Pet owners can be present the whole time when getting their dog groomed via a groomer on wheels. They don’t have to leave their dogs anywhere. Considering that almost half of pet owners feel anxious when leaving their pets, mobile pet grooming is a huge benefit. 

So, it makes sense to offer mobile pet grooming services. It helps keep your four-legged clients calm and provides peace of mind to your two-legged clients, too.

mobile pet grooming van with dog and client
Source: iStock 

How profitable are mobile pet grooming businesses?

Before you start any pet grooming business, it’s important to consider how much pet groomers make. You must ensure you’ll be profitable, or you won’t stay in business for long. Mobile pet grooming may be a rising trend, but many costs are involved, too. 

Of course, no one can predict exactly how much you’ll make. There are many factors involved, such as:

  • Number of clients: As you might guess, the more dogs you groom, the more money you’ll make. 
  • Services offered: Do you only offer basic baths and haircuts? Or can you accomplish breed-specific trims? Add-on services like ear cleaning and de-shedding can boost your income too. Many of these require skill, though, which you may need to build before offering them. 
  • Pricing: Mobile groomers in areas with lots of competition may need to lower their prices to attract business. However, if you’re the only mobile groomer in town, you may be able to charge higher due to the lack of competition. 
  • Business expenses: Mobile pet grooming businesses can be expensive to run. Factors include the upkeep of your van and equipment. 

Luckily, there is no reason to believe that pet groomers working out of a van make less than any other pet groomer. The average salary for a pet groomer in the US is $42,953. Mobile groomers will likely make around the same amount.

Mobile groomers also have some potential profitability benefits. Compared to a traditional salon, you won’t have the expenses of renting a storefront. However, maintaining a van can be just as expensive. 

You’ll also be able to set your own hours, which can help you make more money. Still, you must set your hours in a way that encourages clients to sign up for your services. No one wants their dog groomed at 2 AM, even if you happen to be a night owl!

How to start a mobile pet grooming business in 6 easy steps.

Before you dive headfirst into mobile pet grooming, some planning is essential. As we’ve uncovered, mobile pet grooming can provide stable profits, but the expenses can also pile up fast if you aren’t careful. 

Here’s a step-by-step roadmap to get your business up and running.

Step 1: Create a business plan.

You can’t go anywhere unless you know where you’re going. Creating a business plan allows you to define your goals, identify obstacles, and secure funding if needed. Here are the key steps to writing your plan:

  • Market Research: What do pet owners need in your area? Are there other mobile dog groomers? What breeders are common in your area?
  • Define Your Services: You don’t have to (and shouldn’t try to) do everything. Consider whether you’ll specialize in certain breeds or do a bit of everything. Will you offer basic baths or full haircuts? What sort of grooming can you do?
  • Financial Projections: Crunch some numbers! What will your startup costs be? What about ongoing expenses? Will you be in the green based on your pricing and potential client base?
  • Marketing Strategy: How will you get new clients? While retaining clients will eventually become very important, getting new clients is essential for your new business. 
  • Competitive Analysis: If other mobile groomers are in your area, research their businesses. What do they offer? Can you offer anything different? How will your business differentiate from theirs’?

Planning is important, and getting everything on paper is essential. However, also be prepared to rewrite parts of your plan as you learn and grow. After all, no plan survives the first contact. The quality of your business plan doesn’t necessarily predict if your business will survive either. 

Step 2: Legally establish the business.

Now that your business plan has some potential, it’s time to make things official. Typically, this involves a lot of paperwork. It may not be a super fun step, but it’s important nonetheless. 

First, you’ll need to decide on your business structure, which will determine your taxes, liability, and other paperwork. Common options include sole proprietorships, which are very simply structured but leave you liable for business debts. LLCs are also common, as they provide you with some extra liability protection. 

When in doubt, consult an accountant or lawyer to choose the best structure for you. 

You’ll also need to register your business name, which can often be done online. In some cases, you may need to obtain a business license. Additionally, you’ll need to look into getting an employer identification number, if only for opening a bank account. 

Remember, don’t be afraid to ask for help! All of these steps can be complicated and vary heavily from location to location. Your local Small Business Administration office is a great place to start. 

Step 3: Build a mobile grooming vehicle.

The center of your mobile grooming business will be your vehicle. After all, it’s how you stay mobile! Here’s what you need to do to purchase and outfit a fantastic grooming van:

  • Vehicle: Pick a vehicle that fits your budget and needs. Popular options include trailers, vans, and even box trucks. All you need is a big enough van that can navigate tight driveways and is inexpensive to maintain. Consider purchasing a grooming van that is already decked out. 
  • Equipment: You’ll need to invest in lots of equipment, and it’s important to choose quality, long-lasting grooming equipment. Grooming tables, professional shears, shampoos, dryers, brushes, combs, and disinfectant supplies are all must-haves. Don’t forget to invest in cozy towels, treats, and non-slip mats to make the experience more enjoyable for you and your furry guests. 
  • Safety: There are a few safety considerations to keep in mind too. Proper ventilation is essential, for instance. You may need a ventilation system or strategically placed windows. Secure all your equipment down, too. After all, you don’t want it banging around in the back of the van when you're driving!

Step 4: Gather grooming supplies.

Equipping your mobile salon with the correct grooming supplies helps you deliver on your promised services. This step may be pretty straightforward if you’ve been a groomer before. You may already know what you need for the most part. 

Here’s a list of suggestions to get you started:

  • Clippers and Shears: You’ll need clippers for different coat types and lengths. Also, remember replacement blades and sharpening tools, which can keep your clippers functioning optimally. Take care of your clippers, and they will take care of you!
  • Cleansers: Most groomers provide bathing services. If you plan to, ensure you have a variety of cleansers for different coat types and allergies. You may even consider ear cleaners and medicated shampoos for certain pets. 
  • Brushes and Combs: Invest in quality brushes and combs for detangling and removing loose fur. Slicker brushes, undercoat rakes, and dematting tools should all be on your shelf. 
  • Nail Trimming Supplies: If you offer nail trimming, ensure you have nail clippers or grinders available.
  • Towels: If you’re doing any sort of bathing, plan on having stacks of towels available. 
  • Cleaning Products: All your clients will be groomed in the same area. Therefore, it’s important to disinfect the area between each client. 
  • First-Aid Kit: You never know what will happen! It’s better to be prepared with some basic first aid supplies than not prepared at all. 

Step 5: Market your pet business. 

Next, you need to get clients! Pet grooming can be very competitive, so a strong marketing strategy is vital to grow your dog grooming business. There are many ways to go about this, and you’ll probably want to implement several strategies for a well-rounded marketing plan

Online marketing is often very inexpensive and accessible today. Here are some ideas:

  • Website: Create a website that lists your services, pricing, and other information. A website makes your business seem more real to potential clients. Consider investing in local SEO to help your business appear on search engines. 
  • Social Media: Be active on platforms that your clients are on, like Facebook and Instagram. Post engaging content about your clients and special promotions.

You should also consider networking. Partner with veterinary clinics and pet stores. Distribute flyers advertising your services where pet owners might hang out, such as at dog parks. 

Consider investing in a professional van wrap with your business logo and use it as a mobile billboard. After all, you’ll be driving around town anyway! 

Step 6: Subscribe to pet grooming software.

Finally, streamline your operations and scheduling by using pet grooming software. Of course, not just any software will do. It must be high-quality and packed full of the features you need. 

PetExec offers a robust set of features that can help you get your mobile pet grooming service off the ground, such as:

  • Effortless Appointment Scheduling: Manage appointments online or through the mobile app. You can easily book, reschedule, and cancel appointments in a few clicks. 
  • Client Management: Store detailed client information, like pet profiles and preferences, to help you personalize your services.
  • Automated Reminders: Ensure your clients remember you’re coming with reminders. 
  • Online Booking and Payments: Allow clients to book appointments on your app and pay for services online, allowing you to spend more time grooming. 
  • Marketing Tools: PetExec even has marketing tools to help you promote your business. 
  • Financial Reporting: You can also keep up with your finances by exporting detailed reports of your revenue and expenses. 
  • Customer Reviews: PetExec integrates with Broadly to make getting reviews much easier. This is essential for building trust with potential clients.
  • Client Updates: With Unlimited two-way texting, you can easily communicate with clients and send photos of their groomed pups.

Pet business software can help you provide excellent customer service from the beginning, helping you retain more clients. 

mobile pet groomer washing a dog.
Source: iStock

Final thoughts.

Mobile pet grooming offers a convenient service for pet owners with the potential for high profits. While some startup costs are involved (like buying a van!), you can avoid the high overhead of a traditional brick-and-mortar salon. Still, careful planning is important to help your business get off the ground and thrive. 

While all the planning may not be the most fun thing you do, crafting a business plan and acquiring all the right equipment is vital to your business’s success. 

To learn more about how PetExec can help you with your mobile pet grooming business, book a free demo today!

Commonly asked questions.

How to become a dog groomer?

Becoming a dog groomer often involves training through a program or apprenticeship. You can also get on-the-job training, which many pet salons and mobile groomers offer. Online courses are becoming more and more common these days too. However, they don’t provide the hands-on experience you need when becoming a dog groomer. 

How long does it take to become a dog groomer?

Professional dog grooming programs typically take six months to a year to complete. On-the-job training is more flexible. While some salons offer very structured training over a period of time, others may promote you based on skill alone. In the end, both methods often take a few months to a year to complete. 

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