How to Start a Dog Grooming Business

Dog Grooming Business FAQ

Note: If you click some of the links in this article we may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.

Is Dog Grooming A Good Business?

Absolutely. Most dog groomers make between $10 an hour on the low end when doing their first apprenticeship to earning $63,480 per year owning an independing mobile dog grooming business.

We break down the costs for training, licensing, and other business setup expenses here. Those costs are specific to owning a mobile dog grooming business.

If you work from home at first expect to pay less. If you lease a commercial space, expect to pay and earn more.

Is Pet Grooming Hard?

Do you like dogs? Are you good with people? Can you do marketing? Do you enjoy being a jack of all trades?

Learning to run your own dog grooming business is a lot of work. You’ll need to like people and dogs. One you pay and one you serve.

Is it hard? Not really. Is it a lot of work? Absolutely.

On average you’ll spend 1-2 hours a day just bathing, brushing, and trimming each dog. You’ll have to have basic dog skills to calm overly excited dogs and get them through it.

Then on top of that you have marketing, bookkeeping, and a host of other odds and ends like taxes and insurance. Little tasks that by themselves don’t take much time but together eat up a huge chunk of your energy.

Still, is it worth it? If you can make it through the learning curve, keep your costs low, and get procedures in place you can eventually start to minimize your hours and maximize your profit.

If you are good with people and can train some employees while still keeping expenses under revenue you can start to add a good amount of profit with a lot less time.

Though a dog grooming business isn’t your typical “muse” from Tim Ferris. There’s no reason you can’t use his time saving tips to save you time and make you more money.

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What Do I Need To Set Up A Dog Grooming Business?

At a minimum you will need the following:

  • Dog shaving kit
  • Dog shears
  • Dog nail clippers and/or grinder
  • Bathing setup
  • Carding brush (to remove thick undercoat hair)
  • Slicker brush (for general brushing)
  • Comb (for scissor trims around ears, feet, and the head)

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You can get the above for anywhere between $50 (for just a basic shaving, scissor, and comb kit) up through hundreds of dollars if you include all the brushes, nail equipment, and professional bathing equipment.

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Those are the bare minimum items need – dog grooming tools.

In addition you need a space. We recommend running a home-based business if your zoning allows. If not we recommend a mobile dog grooming van. We go over van costs here.

Renting commercial space is a last resort. Expect to pay $2500 and up for a decent dog grooming location plus you need to outfit it with everything you need.

Lastly you need customers which you’ll get initially through fee cuts to friends and family following by begging for referrals and word of mouth.

Once income comes in you’ll want to setup your online presence through a website, a google my business page, and possibly some Facebook or Google advertising.

See the rest of this article for other odds and ends like licenses and training.

Do You Need A License To Open A Dog Grooming Business?

Yes, most states require a business license to legally operate. In addition if you sell shampoo or other retail products you will almost definitely need at least a state sales tax license. You may also need one for your local city or county.

Check with a local certified public accountant to confirm just what you need to get setup legally.

How Do You Train To Be A Dog Groomer?

We cover training in an article of it’s own.

In short we recommend you seek a local paid apprenticeship and earn $10/hour or more to get trained. Petsmart and Petco both have training programs.

Your local salon or retail outfit with grooming may have a training program.

Beyond that you can pay for online certifications or in-person classes. Those range anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars.

How Much Does It Cost To Start A Dog Grooming Business?

The bare minimum to start a dog grooming business would be about $100. This uses Colorado as an example. It assumes you pay $50 to the State to get a business license and $50 on Amazon to buy a very basic dog grooming kit.

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It also assumes you hustle to groom a few dogs for free then seek referrals and video testimonials from those first customers.

You’ll have to check with your CPA to make sure you don’t need additional licenses and such.

After you have momentum we recommend getting more equipment such as a dog bathing kit for $150 and possibly even investing in a mobile dog grooming van with full branding. We ran the costs on an outfitted used van and it came out to $18,000 which you can get small business financing for (usually).

How Many Dogs Can You Groom In A Day?

Expect to groom about 1 dog every 2 hours. Smaller dogs will take less, bigger dogs or longer trips out to them will take longer.

At 1 dog every 2 hours you can do about 4 to 5 dogs a day.

How Much Does A Pet Groomer Make An Hour?

Pet groomers working for larger companies make $14 an hour on average. That comes out to $28,000 per year.

Groomers working for small independent retail stores sometimes can make much more. We found a local store near Denver paying anywhere from $25 to $45 per hour.

These rates are based on a commission plus tips.

If you own your own mobile dog grooming van and business we calculated you can pull in over $63,000 a year after expenses including financing the purchase and outfitting of the van.

Dog Grooming Business Plan PDF

There are a ton of free resources online for writing a dog grooming business plan.

We recommend using them only if you already have business experience or existing dog grooming customers and you are seeking a small business loan to grow your business.

Otherwise you don’t really need a business plan.

The most simply plan for grooming business always remains the same:

  1. Get Tools
  2. Get Customers
  3. Groom Dogs
  4. Get Paid
  5. Ask for referrals and repeat

Again, you can find free business plans online but we don’t recommend going that route.

Instead, join your local small business development center and get free training there. As an example, here’s the site for Denver’s Small Business Development Center. They even run their own “trout tank” which is based off the Shark Tank TV show but built for local Denver product ideas.

Your local SBA can help connect you with standard small business loans as well as alternative funding. Plus it’s great networking with other new, small businesses in your area.

You’ll likely learn more from a few friends there than any online business plan PDFs.

Dog Grooming Business Names

When it comes to business names you want to follow the following:

  1. Brainstorm names.
  2. Check that they are available with your State’s Secretary of State
  3. Check that it isn’t trademarked
  4. Check that the website URL is available

We cover all these steps in depth and how to do them in our article on dog treat business names. The same philosophy applies to any business name so we won’t repeat it all here.

It’s the same path we used to start our business in Colorado.

Is Mobile Pet Grooming Profitable?

Yep, we calculate based on Colorado dog grooming rates and costs to buy and outfit a van that you can make over $63,000 a year in profit after expenses and van loan fees.

See our full breakdown in this article.

Pet Grooming Business For Sale

Our favorite place to find local businesses for sale is Bizbuysell.com.

A quick search of dog grooming businesses showed the following:

Multiples (cost divided by annual cash flow) seem to range from less than 2 to 3. Three is pretty typical when buying businesses on average.

Note that it’s unlikely to find a business in your town for sale using bizbuysell. As of June 2020 they only have 196 dog grooming businesses over the whole country listed. You can check their most current listings here.

You can contact sellers directly through the website and sometimes even use your IRA or 401K to make the purchase. Read the fine print on that one though!

While buying businesses seems like a good idea only do this if you already own a dog grooming business or have significant experience in one. Knowing how to groom doesn’t count. You need to know the financials of a business so you can understand if you’re getting a good deal or not.

Buying a business is a great shortcut if you know what you are looking for. If you are new to the dog grooming business it’ll likely be faster and more profitable to just hustle with word of mouth advertising and grow as you go.

Can I Do Dog Grooming From Home?

Yes, if your zoning allows it. Check with your counties zoning office to confirm or ask your CPA for help.

Also, check your Home Owner’s Association, if you have one. Often they’ll have rules against home-based businesses. This is especially true for a retail style or service business where you have people coming and going all day.

How Much Does A Mobile Dog Grooming Van Cost?

We calculate that you can purchase a used van and outfit it with dog grooming equipment and company brand ad wrapping for about $18,000 in the State of Colorado. See our breakdown on revenue and costs for mobile grooming equipment here.