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  1. #1

    Default Business open but no customers!:(

    Hi everyone, I finally opened my home based business. I went to the local veterinarians prior, introduced myself, and left cards for customers. I am boarding and grooming in my home, cats only. I live on a main road so I thought my sign would be a great source of advertising but I also didn't realize it was too small to really read well going 45-50mph. Still, it has cat silhouettes on the top so it's fairly obvious it's something with cats. So far it's been a month since the sign went up and no calls. I was so excited but now I am getting nervous . Any ideas on how to get clients? Should I spend money advertising in a church bulletin or something? Does it take long to get started? I was hoping this could be a full time job? I was wondering if I should take on a part time job while waiting?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Marysville, Ohio
    Posts
    2,895

    Default

    Probably at least 90% of the cat owners don't think Miss Kitty needs groomed, because we've all been told that they groom themselves......in actuality, their licking with their saliva doesn't remove dandruff, dander, clean their ears, cut their nails.....it's a myth that continues to live on....so only long haired breed, that gets mats, usually ends up in a grooming salon.

    Also, most people feel very comfortable about leaving Miss Kitty for up to a week alone while they go out of town or on a short vacation. Most have a neighbor just check on it once to make sure the food bowl is not empty, so the need to have them boarded is relatively low.

    You might expand your grooming abilities/education to include dogs, which require constant grooming, and boarding.

    Good Luck

    Happy getting a bigger sign

    Dolly's Barking Bubbles, LLC

    dollysbarkingbubbles.com

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    4,469

    Default

    Do you have a website? I'd say that is the number one step to take. Use that site to make it clear that you are a legitimate, caring business owner. People are often very scared to entrust their cat to a stranger, because cats can be so sensitive to what it around them. Also, I'd suggest you offer house call cat grooming for claw trims, at least. I get some of my cat sitting clients through doing house call cat grooming. I don't know if people use Yelp much in your area, but in NYC, getting Yelp reviews helped a lot. Good luck! With cat care, you really have to hustle.

  4. #4

    Default

    It's too bad people are misinformed when it comes to grooming their cat. We had an elderly cat which recently crossed the Rainbow Bridge and I could never have left her alone if we went away. I'd be too scared to. But then again, it would have been stressful to board her too. I am doing it in my home so I was hoping it was a valuable service because boarding with me would be less stress than a big box store with dogs and lots of employees etc. I can provide a nice quiet home environment. The local pet sitter charges $52 a day to make house calls. Plus with the grooming, I guess I thought it would somehow work out as a career. I'll have to work on getting a website. I am a bit overwhelmed as to how to go about it. Isn't it funny that there are more pet cats than dogs but cats get so little attention? I get the reasons why cats are easier to not feel the need to groom them or leave home alone than dogs (I have 2 dogs myself), but people dote on their dogs and cats always seem to come second. Maybe I will add dogs but I haven't learned to dog groom and it seems very hard what with all the breed specific grooms, etc. Also, if I board dogs, I need a kennel license, fencing-it's just a lot more room and start up costs which I don't have. I love both but I am more of a cat lady than a dog person. Thanks for your great responses and sharing your insights. They are truly helpful.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    4,469

    Default

    You can make your own website using several different website building tools. There is Wix, Squarespace, Wordpress and more. You pick a template and fill in the text. It's free, but if you want a website that looks more professional, you will have to pay a small annual fee. If you are not comfortable doing that, it's worth paying someone to create a basic site. It doesn't have to be more than one page of text and a few photos. In this day and age, doing business without a website is possible, but it takes time to build up word of mouth clients.
    If you want to try doing a mailing, you can use Vistaprint to make some cute postcards. Only costs about $15. Easy to use. You can mail to pet stores, shelters, vets.
    Yes, if you are trying to do this without a website, it will be slow, so would be practical to take a job while building the business. Good luck.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    308

    Default

    Great idea, I still believe your first year of opening any shop is your worst, but once the word is out, your clientele will grow. Word of mouth is the best.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    Location
    St. Louis, MO
    Posts
    27

    Default

    Try a "Grand Opening" coupon!
    Here are some tips:
    -Distribute a half mile around your location. You can get a bunch of flyers printed pretty inexpensively.
    -Discount a groom service enough to motivate someone to book an appointment (at least 25%). Remember if the discount is not enought to persuade you, it won't others)
    -Offer a Bath Special.
    -2 dogs for the price of one.

    It is better to get folks in at discount than have no customers at all. Be sure to point out this is "Grand Opening" special and will not be offered again.

    Good luck!
    -

  8. #8

    Default

    Great idea! Thank you so much!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Location
    Capital Region, NY
    Posts
    966

    Default

    Try using Thumbtack to get client referrals. Go to local shelters and see if the will hand out you info with new adoptions in exchange for donated grooms.
    It's not what you look at that matters; it's what you see.
    Henry David Thoreau

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Oklahoma
    Posts
    343

    Default

    Hi Gwendolynd! Cat only boarding and grooming CAN become a profitable business, but it WILL take some time. I started my business 9 years ago and that first year was VERY worrisome. Like you, I left cards and brochures at Vet clinics, but I also did the same with the local dog groomers and dog boarding facilities. I received almost as many referrals from those dog groomers that don't do cats as I did from the Vets. Veterinarians will also want to be reassured that you know your stuff and will do a good job without injuries to the cats before they will recommend you to their clients. If those Vets have a clinic cat, offer to groom it for free as an example of your work. Go to your local shelter and do a kitty make over for an adoption kitty. Leave cards and brochures with those shelters or humane societies as well. Also, as Emma suggested, get a website! Put as many key words as possible for people that may be googling for cat grooming or boarding. On my new client information forms I ask all new clients how they heard about us and approximately 85-90% say Internet search. I still have ads in a couple of phonebooks, but will be stopping those before the next one comes out. The only clients that list phonebook as the method of finding me are usually the boomer generation (60+). Keep in mind, whether you create a website or even get in the phonebook, it will still take some time. Count on 10 months to a year for the phonebook because they only print new ones yearly and depending on when you give them your info, it will still be at least 6 months or more before that new book comes out. Websites will be quicker, but will still take some time before you will show up in searches. As Emma said, when you get some clients, have them post reviews after the grooming and that speeds up how quickly your business will show up in searches.
    My sister started cat grooming from home at first. It took quite some time for her to get business, so she kept her original job as a lab technician and only groomed on weekends. Now, four years later, she moved into a shopping center and quit her tech job. I never started from home. I jumped right into a stand alone facility that at one time had been a residential house, but had been various businesses for many years. It was 1200 sq ft and we devoted most of it to boarding. I had 26 rooms for boarding and a small area for grooming. My tub was in the kitchen! I worked completely alone at first. Two years later, my mother was able to quit her job as an insurance agent and work with me. Three years ago, we realized we had outgrown our facility and purchased the land that our new facility was built on. My new facility is 3700 sq ft. We expanded to 42 boarding rooms. I average 6 to 8 grooming cats a day on weekdays and up to 3 on Saturday. I am still the only groomer, although my mom helps with holding and also blow dries the cats after the bath. We also have a full time employee and two part time employees that take care of the boarding cats, answer calls, and check in and out the clients. I have 31 cats boarding right this minute and that number will increase as we get closer to the weekend. Major holidays are completely full and we have had up to 90 cats for Christmas. My business is in Oklahoma City, decent sized city but not a major metropolis!

    Hang in there! Those cat clients are out there, they just don't know you are there yet. I love it when a new client says "I'm SO glad I found you!"

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    Hudson Valley
    Posts
    16

    Default

    Social media is your friend - even more than a website. Just about everyone with a smart phone is connected to some form of social media, be it Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the like. In minutes, you can create a Facebook page for your business that you can use to post photos, news, announcements, etc. Then share that page on your personal Facebook. From there, you can use the tools that FB provides to advertise your page. You choose what you want to spend and the areas you want your page to appear in and your page will show up on the news feeds of local residents. The more you spend, the more times your page will appear within your chosen region. I did that with my pet sitting business a few years and got many new customers that way. Now I have a mobile grooming business which I recently opened and just this week, I did my first FB promotion. Two days after I started it, I had my first booking and many new likes. Make sure you stay active on your social media too, so people can stay up-to-date on what you are doing. Eventually, either one of your followers or a friend of a follower will need a cat groomer or boarding facility and your followers will help drive that business to you.

    PS - I've been pet sitting for 11 years and I can tell you that I have more cat clients than dog clients. I'm trained for dog grooming but I already have had several requests by my cat clients, so I plan expand my training through the NCGIA in the near future. I just want to get a good foundation before I overwhelm myself!

    Good luck!

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Location
    Bellevue, NE
    Posts
    8

    Default

    I agree with others above. Having an online presence is a big deal right now. Even if you just set up a Facebook page and link it in local Facebook groups you'll start to get their attention. I only used Facebook (without paid advertising) and people started coming out of the woodwork.

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