If you are thinking about starting your own dog grooming salon or mobile grooming business one of the hardest things to determine is how much you should be charging for your grooming services. Determining HOW to price and how MUCH to price is part math, part preference.
Before you even think about how MUCH you should be pricing your services, you have to decide HOW you are going to price them. Many groomers opt to leave off any public pricing of their services as they prefer to quote each new client based on a better understanding of all the factors that go into figuring out the price of a grooming service.
In order to do this, you have to evaluate each new client first (either over the phone, through text/DM with photos, or a form on your website) then base the price off how long you think it will take to complete the groom and multiply that by your hourly rate. Estimating how long you think it will take to complete a groom is just that – an estimate. So always be sure to communicate this to the client and let them know if during the groom it seems like it may take longer than you originally anticipated (i.e. the coat is much more matted than you thought, or the dog is being difficult).
If you decide you would like to have more of a menu of services that list your “starting at” prices (never lock yourself into a set price with grooming services) you will most likely be charging based on size (i.e. toy, small, medium, large, giant). Charging based on size leaves things a bit up to interpretation for the pet parent, so you may come into issues where they get upset because they consider their dog small when it is really medium-sized. You can list weight ranges under the sizes to better define them, but to keep people honest you will have to invest in a scale and weigh the dog before each visit.
The issue with charging by weight/size is that dogs come in many shapes and coat types. One 50lb dog breed (let’s say a Bulldog) may require much less time to groom than another 50lb dog breed (let’s just go with a Doodle ). On the same note, a 10lb dog (Shih-tzu in full coat) may require far more time to groom than a 50lb dog (that same Bulldog). Unfortunately, there is no easy way to determine pricing based on weight/size so you may have to adjust your pricing and add disclaimers as needed.
Whatever you decide, you want to make sure it is as simple as possible and easy to understand for a pet parent. It is also good to note visibly by your menu of services (whether it has pricing or not) that: “Pricing is determined by your pet’s coat condition, temperament, time since last groom, and other factors and can change from appointment to appointment.” Every pricing structure for dog grooming has its pros and cons. You must determine what will work best for you and your grooming business and adjust accordingly and regularly.
How MUCH to Price
Now that you have decided HOW you will price (hourly/per-pet vs. size/weight) you now have to figure out the actual prices. What you charge should be based on multiple factors including your cost to operate, your salary, how many days per week you plan to work, how many hours/dogs per day, your experience level, your business structure, the area you are servicing, and more. The same groomer working out of Podunk, Mississippi is going to be charging much less than if they were working out of Boca Raton, FL. On the same note, that same groomer working out of a mobile van is going to charge more than if they were working out of a salon in the same area.
Pricing is largely subjective, but luckily there are ways to figure out at least the minimum of what you should be charging. To start – total up ALL of your business expenses (or projected expenses) and round up. Think long and hard about every little expense you have including rent, insurance, utilities, and supplies, and don’t forget about taxes and write-offs like continued education and sharpening! Knowing your total monthly business expenses gives you a minimum goal of what you should be bringing in each month.
Now take the # of days you plan to work each week and multiply by 4.5 (average # of weeks per month) to figure out about how many days per month you will be working. Do you ever plan to take a day off? (You should, you deserve it.) Think about how often you may need to take off or vacations you may want to plan throughout the year and come up with a certain amount of days per month you will be “taking off” even if you don’t take them off each month, they will accrue over time.
Once you have your adjusted “working days per month” multiply that by how many hours per day you plan to work to get your total working hours per month. Take your total expenses and divide that by your monthly working hours to calculate your minimum per hour rate. If you are in an affluent area, raise that amount. If you are very experienced/skilled, raise it even more. If you are a mobile groomer or have a high-end all-inclusive salon…you guessed it – raise it more! If that still doesn’t feel right, raise it until it does. The idea here is to make sure you are not underpricing yourself.
If you are a Groom Haüs Member, you can utilize our handy-dandy Pricing Calculators in your Business Tools library on the Member Dashboard to quickly and easily determine your minimum per hour pricing, average per pet pricing, as well as how many total regular clients you will need to meet those minimums. Not a Member yet? Click here to learn more about member perks and sign up today.