Starting a Mobile Pet Grooming Business
Wanna know how to start a mobile pet grooming business? This article talks about why and how starting a mobile pet grooming business might be a good idea for people looking to start a business. The pressures of today’s busy world make free time a rare luxury, so products and services that help us reclaim some of that time are in high demand. For the 85 million American families that own a pet, it’s hard to find the time to take their pets to a grooming salon. When pet owners want to make sure that their pet still gets the best care possible, a mobile dog groomer offers an invaluable service. By coming to their home to groom their pets when it’s convenient, a mobile dog groomer is a perfect solution for busy pet owners.
Mobile pet grooming is still a relatively new business model, one with plenty of room for new entrepreneurs to get involved. Since 68% of U.S. households own a pet, there is unlimited potential to turn mobile pet grooming into a profitable business for anyone willing to put in the hard work. This guide will tell you everything you need to know to start your own mobile pet grooming business.
Hone your idea
When you’re starting a mobile pet grooming business, you should begin by figuring out who your customers will be and how you can stand out from the crowd. Do research in your area to find out who your competition is, and what they offer. Are there any other exclusively mobile pet groomers? Are there any storefront grooming salons that also offer mobile services? Make a list of these competitors and find out what areas they serve, what they charge, what’s included in the price, what kinds of pets they groom, and any extras they offer.
Once you have done this research, come up with ideas of what will set your mobile pet grooming business apart from the rest. If your area has a lot of competition, you might consider opening a franchise of an established grooming business for instant name recognition. Alternatively, you could contact grooming salons and see if they would like to expand their services by contracting you to do mobile grooming.
If you decide to go it alone, brainstorm ways that your company can capture the market. Perhaps you can target a new service area not covered by anyone else, offer additional services like dog walking, or provide grooming to certain breeds or even exotic pets that other groomers don’t accept. Speed and price are also important factors, so maybe you can provide services quicker or more affordable than the competition—as long as you still have plenty of room for your own profit! Once you’ve found your mobile pet grooming niche, you’re ready to start writing your business plan.
Writing your business plan
Even if you don’t plan on using financing to start your mobile pet grooming business, you should still write a business plan. Entrepreneurs who rush into launching their business without a clear vision often find it much harder than they imagined. A business plan will help you answer some important questions that are integral to the success of your new company.
In the last step, you did research on your competition. Now you should get to know your potential customers by doing market research. The easiest way to do this is through surveys conducted online or in-person. Surveys will allow you to talk to a variety of potential customers and find out important data about their preferences, needs, and prices they would be willing to pay for your service.
Using the ideas you brainstormed in the last step, and your market research, your business plan should answer these questions: Who are your customers? What purpose or need will your business fulfill? What goals do you have for the future of your business? How will you pay for the initial start-up costs? What difficulties will your business face getting started, and what difficulties may it face in the future? How would you overcome those difficulties? Once you feel prepared to answer these questions, you can use one of the many free business plan templates online to write your own.
Figure out financing
The next step in starting your mobile pet grooming business is all about money: how much do you need to get started, and where will you get it? Create a list of your start-up needs, including supplies, equipment, personnel, and marketing. Do you already own any of the supplies and equipment needed for mobile pet grooming, or will you need to buy them? Do you need employees, or will you be doing all the work yourself? How much will you pay yourself and any employees? How will you cover your living expenses while starting your business? Will you be working out of your own vehicle to begin, or do you want to purchase a different vehicle or trailer? Make sure you get all of these questions answered before making any sort of financial decisions.
The biggest reason new businesses fail is because they run out of money before they begin reliably turning a profit. Don’t make the mistake of underestimating your costs in the beginning, or you may find yourself hanging up the trimmers for good if you aren’t able to book clients fast enough to cover any shortfall.
When it comes to financing, you can get the money for your mobile pet grooming business in a variety of ways. The easiest method is to pay for it yourself but think hard about whether your pocketbook can afford the hit if your business doesn’t pan out. Loans are the other common way new businesses finance their launch, either from friends and family, private investors, or a commercial loan from a bank or the Small Business Administration. Finally, you could consider a crowdfunding campaign to get started, using platforms like Kickstarter to raise the money while offering supporters special perks for your new mobile grooming business.
Who’s in charge?
Before you can officially register your company as a legal entity, you need to decide how it will be structured. If you will be the only owner and will be responsible for all the business’s debts and obligations, then a sole proprietorship may work for you. However, keep in mind that any outstanding debts you do not pay could hurt your personal credit score if you go this route. If you will be going into business with others, then a partnership works in a similar way, with all partners sharing personal responsibility for the company’s debts.
If you want to insulate yourself from any personal liability your business might incur, then forming a corporation will offer you more protection. Corporations can own all the property and equipment, pay taxes, make contracts, handle lawsuits, and assume liability from accidents or other incidents. Small business owners frequently choose a limited liability corporation structure to set up their new company.
Making it official
After you’ve determined your new business structure, you’ll need to get your business name registered with the government and other authorities. Worried about how “Marla’s Marvelous Mobile Pet Grooming” is going to fit on your paperwork and checks? Well, if you decided on a sole proprietorship, you can register using your own name or a false “Doing Business As” name (like MMMPG Co.) instead of the full name you plan on using for advertising. If you’re setting up your company as a corporation, fill out an “Articles of Incorporation” to legally state the structure and participants in your business. Then contact your county clerk to find out what forms you need to fill out to register your business.
After registering your business, you need to also get your business set up to take care of federal and state taxes. Depending on your state, a number of employees, and other factors, you may need to register for an EIN (Employer Identification Number) from the IRS and also fill out forms to take care of various tax obligations at the local and state level. The SBA has a page of resources to help guide you through this process. Also, be sure to check with local and state authorities to ensure no special licenses or certificates are required to be a mobile dog groomer.
Don’t forget the insurance
Once you have your finances and legal requirements in order, you’ll probably be eager to get started promoting your mobile pet grooming business. But there’s still one very important factor to take care of first: what kind of insurance coverage do you need? Mobile pet grooming is quite different from other kinds of businesses when it comes to dog groomer insurance. You’ll be going to client homes, taking care of beloved and sometimes very expensive pets, and constantly traveling on the road—all of which carry risks that can prove disastrous if you don’t have the right insurance coverage.
You need to consider these risks carefully and make sure you purchase the right kinds of insurance to cover you in case the worst should happen. What if you, an employee, or a client’s pet are injured while on the job? Or you are driving to or from an appointment and get rear-ended by a distracted driver? What if you make a quick supply run to the store and come out to find someone has broken into your vehicle and stolen equipment, customer information, or even your entire trailer? All of these scenarios could very well mean the end of your mobile groomer dreams if you don’t have the right insurance policies. That’s why it’s very important to find an insurance agent that understands the ins-and-outs and challenges of your profession so they can get you set up with the best mobile pet grooming insurance plan.
Sharing the load
Even if you will be the only employee at first, you should be planning for the goal of expanding your mobile pet grooming business eventually. The work of running a business on your own will get overwhelming much quicker than you might imagine, especially if you start attracting lots of new pet grooming clients right away. Plan for this now by deciding how you will handle hiring and training new employees, what their role will be, and how much you will be paying them.
You may want to start by training an assistant groomer that can take over appointments eventually, or by hiring a sales and administrative team member to ease the load when it comes to billing, advertising, office tasks, and customer communication. Whichever route you take, make sure you have a plan outlining everything from the hiring process to how you’ll handle disciplinary issues. Having this plan in place will keep things consistent for clients and your workers, and make it easier for you to transition into a new role: the boss.
Working with vendors
Every business needs supplies and equipment to keep things running smoothly, and a mobile pet grooming business is no exception. From office supplies to special dog shampoos and other tools of the trade, you need to find the most economical and efficient way to restock. Sure, you might be able to source a lot of your supplies from big box retail stores, but paying retail prices and making a special trip to the store isn’t a good use of your time and money. Third-party vendors can provide your supplies at wholesale prices and deliver them right to your door. Make sure any vendors you choose are reputable and have experience in your industry, along with a can-do attitude. A good vendor will make it their mission to help you succeed.
Build your brand
Once you’ve gotten your financial, legal, and logistical plans in order, it’s time to spread the word about your mobile pet grooming business and make that money! Figuring out how to get customers is often the hardest part of starting a new business, and you want to find the most cost-effective way to go forward. Traditional advertising methods like radio ads or direct mailing lists can reach a wide audience but are expensive. When you’re just getting started, remember to keep your marketing plan simple.
Develop logos and other branding for your company, then build a website to give customers information and show them why YOU are the best mobile pet groomer in town. Getting a trademark for your business name and/or logo is also a good step to take at this point. Utilize social media and build a presence on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to share news, events, coupons, and a steady supply of cute cat and dog memes. Encourage customers to leave you reviews on Facebook, and leverage the power of a built-in audience that will grow as people share your posts.
Moving on up
Launching your company is just the first step in building a successful mobile pet grooming business. Once you’ve gotten the word out and have a steady flow of new and returning clients, always be looking to the future and ways to expand your company. Think back to the previous steps discussed and be ready to hire additional staff, break into new markets, purchase that radio ad, or even turn Marla’s Marvelous Mobile Pet Grooming into a franchise opportunity for other eager entrepreneurs. It can be scary, but successfully turning your small business into a big one is the most rewarding part of being a business owner. Keep on working your plan and once you’ve hit the big-time, you can help others find success, too.
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