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Buying an existing grooming business

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  • Buying an existing grooming business

    Has anyone ever bought a grooming business that was up and running for a long time? I am working on going to business classes and getting a small business loan. I saw an add in my local paper that says the owner is injured and must sell and will work with you to train you for success. My only reservation is that the whole reason for wanting to own your own business is to start doing things the way you like. Also I have only been grooming for only 2 1/2 years and the thought of buying a business from someone who has been grooming for 25 years and does a lot more "hand scissoring" and show trims is very imtimidating. Where I am now it's mostly short cuts a lot of #1 puppy cuts but not too many hand scissor jobs just like lamb trims with s/o combs on the legs and such I am worried that I would not be able to meet their customers needs and expectations but at the same time once I make the purchase want to be in charge of things. Just wondering if anyone has mad a transition this way and the easiest way to make it happen.

  • #2
    I have not bought an existing business, I did start my own. But there are advantages and disadvantages. Ill tell you one friend's experience, but I think she went about things incorrectly. You cannot go into an 'existing' business and change things around YOUR way immediately. It has to be gradual.

    She purchased the business and the former owner did stay on for several months. The week after the former owner left she changed the name and the signs, raised the prices (Some as much as $18 on small breeds) and missed the yellow page ad deadline by 3 weeks. If anyone called 411 and asked for the old name of the business it didn't exist. If they were smart enough to retain the old number they were met with a name that sounded like a sports club or bar. Not a name that sounded like a grooming salon.

    She also decided to change the days she was open because she lived 30 miles away from this salon. Hours were not posted, etc. After 2 years she is trying to sell this salon at a loss of almost $20,000.00 Why? Because the change was not gradual it was immediate.

    Yes, I believe you can buy an existing business but the best way to think of it is like buying a franchise - You can run it your own way, but people expect a sandwich (Comparison) just the way theyve been ordering it and receiving it for years. Offer more of yourself in personality and icnrease prices gradually. Making a "Clean Sweep" of things only works on dog hair and dust.

    Just my 2 cents here.


    • #3
      I bought an existing shop. Best thing about doing that is that you will have income from the get go. Not every client is going to stick with you, and some customers will like your work better.

      If the shop you want to buy has a good reputation, it may be a good idea to keep the same name and ph # if the prior owner allows you to and if it doesn't have her name in the shop name obviously. That way, people can still look you up in the phone book or information.

      I left my shop name the same. But I really didn't know the groomer or her reputation other than she had been there for 20+ yrs. I was sure to put Under New Ownership on everything for the first year. But some people still do not realize I am a new owner. I had someone tell my sister the other day that she would never come back because I called her and told to come get her f'ing dog, the bast*rd just bit me. Sis asked when that was...owner said 5 yrs ago. I've only been there going on 4. I know I would never say anything like that to an owner! After hearing that, I am wondering how many other people do not realize I am new(er) and maybe I should have changed the name right away??
      But on the otherhand, I had one lady call me and ask if I was the new owner. I said yes. And she went on and on about how she didn't like the way the other girl groomed her dog..shaved it bald and that she charged too much. But wanted to make an appt with me. I asked her last name and pulled her file. Then I told her that I was the one that shaved her dog down because it was matted and charged her way too much. LOL She was speechless. Guess she found one of my under new ownership cards LOL Like I said...can't please everyone!

      I agree some changes should be made gradual..prices at least. The place I took over was really undercharging. For new clients I charged my prices. I left those prices the same for existing clients until the beginning of the year (10 months) and let everyone know prices would be going up to $XX. That way, they could see what kind of work I did before they decided to up and leave over a few bucks. I lost some people over it, but oh well...can't please everyone.

      I changed hours right away. The other groomer was only open 2-3 days a week. I went to 5 days. I also started doing big dogs, where the other girl didnt. So that was a plus. I also tore the whole place apart and redecorated, remodeled and did my own thing...but it bettered (is that a word? lol) the place.

      If you are a fairly new groomer, and the owner is willing to stay on for a little while and is a good groomer, I would take advantage of that. Maybe just a couple weeks or a month is all. Let her show you a few things. She can also help you out with tips on how to run the place. Even though you want to do things your own way, hearing others suggestions doesn't hurt..especially if you are a new business owner.

      Good Luck


      • #4
        Groom salon - I don't intend to make a clean sweep just meaning that I would want to change things like the hours right away. Right now she does 8:00-5:30 tue-sat I would want to do 7:30-5:00 tue-Friday and 7:00 - 2:30/3:00 on Saturdays and then after I got things up and rolling I have some people in mind who might like to do part time a couple of evenings per week and add that to the hours. The only other thing I really want to be in control in right away is the number of dogs and types I would book for myself in a day. Other than that I would appreciate having help from someone with so much experience but being fairly new makes it a little intimidating. They also do pick up and delivery which I personally wouldn't be interested in doing right away. Well I drove by the location in question today and that solved that an out of the way road in an industrial park and a run down old building with cracked windows, hot pink walls and the inside very outdated not to be rude but I was hoping to start a little more modern. Not that I wouldn't mind having the instant customer base. Has anyone just bought client information from someone- names and haircuts?
        Last edited by ; 02-13-07, 11:53 AM. Reason: something to add


        • #5
          I bought my equipment second hand, the dryers and she gave me her client list. I paid less then the cost of a new HV dryer. Ging through the files I found she barely charged anything, a chihuahua was the same cost as a std poodle!! Everything was done with a #10, a #7f was a LONG trim, a comb out was a puppy trim. And of all the clients, only 30 were really regualrs! That was out of 300 names!
          She was in business for about 3 years and never had any training.


          • #6
            Dapper Dawg, don't give up on this place just yet. It could be a diamond in the rough. I would go in and introduce myself. See what kind of work is done there and who the clients are and how many. Doesn't sound like she will have tons of offers. You may get a really good biz for a song. You can always re-locate at a later date if necessary. Also check who owns the building and what the plans are for it.
            Old groomers never die, they just go at a slower clip.

            Groom on!!!


            • #7
              I agree with Karla. If you were starting up your own place, you would be doing your own decorating, painting, remodeling etc etc anyhow. You need to look at the potential the place has.

              The place I bought was a mess. Dark, dirty, dingy. First time I seen it, I said forget it. Then I thought about it some more, and at the price she was asking and the price of the rent, I figured I would give it a try.
              Some paint and modern equipment made a world of difference. I'm not fond of the location, but it has been ok for the time being and I do plan on relocating (not too far from where I already am tho) And I got the place really cheap. Even with all the $ I spent on remodeling/decor etc, I still spent way less than I would have starting from scratch..and, I had an income from day 1.
              I would check and see who would be responsible for the windows. Does that groomer own the building, or lease? You may be able to get those fixed before you took over.


              • #8
                I stopped by the building but I'd have to call her to see if she owns the building. There is just a sign on the front door for her customers that said she had a car accident and won't have any appointments available for a few weeks but no one is working there right now. I was thinking of just giving a call to see if she owned the building. I just don't want to go into big debt for something that needs to be totally gutted and re-done. I don't know anyone with the skills to do walls, floors and such and looks like all need replacing. I was just assuming she owned it because she has a nice new light pole style street sign in front of the driveway. So sad, she's been grooming for 25 years and is now forced out by an auto accident.


                • #9
                  Existing Busines VS New Business


                  It takes years to build a clientele in a new business. 90% of new business fold within the first two years because they cannot meet their fixed costs and make a living out of it.

                  If this business has a clientele and a cash flow do it. Do not worry about what you will change that will come. Worry if you miss the oppurtunity.

                  Find a good accountant and get his advise. The important question is not whether or not it needs a new coat of paint but will it pay for itself and leave enough for you to make a decent living from it's existing clientel and cash flow? That is the question. It is either yes or no.

                  If it is yes drop a small deposit on it to hold it. Then long term the debt as far as you can. Will she hold any paper? It is not yours until you make it yours. Then when it is while you are making a living you can take your time and make it into what you want.

                  If the answer is no then realize that it might be a bad investment. As far as I am concerned it is always better to have a business that can pay for itself when you first start out then one that you have to continually feed money into.

                  I baught a business for 5K it had 6 dogs a day coming in. It is 19 years later and has 30 dogs a day coming in six days a week. 40 a day in the summer. It was able to keep us going while we built it up. It is now worth over 300K

                  You will eventually do everything your way. Get it first. Good Luck.



                  • #10
                    Buy existing when you can !

                    Hi - I have been open now 5 yrs and have over 1000 regulars - DOCUMENTED with notes and financials on quickbooks. ! (i am an ex techn. executive who decided to quit and open bus. - but went to school and then worked at vet as groomer 1 1/2 yrs before opening) Anyway, i looked to buy an existing store because its much easier to 'build on' existing than start from scratch, especially if you don't have 3-5 yrs cash to live on. I ended up not buying an existing becuase i couldn't fine one so opened my own.

                    Had to wait 7 months for right space - then i put over 50k in space to get it up and running - had 1 cust the first day... who still comes btw., and built from there. But, i had savings so i had the finances to wait for it to build.

                    I didn't get a bus. loan, used my own money, but i can tell you that i have a great relationship now with my banker and I just listed my business, and becuase i have a personal relationship and documented financials, he's really willing to work with my buyers to help sell it.

                    I know there are pros/cons to each. But, having gone thru this, i'd take the bite in getting a loan - don't use your own money and buy something that fits your philosophy of business. I am kennel free which is very unique; and i am the most expensive in my area -we don't want everyone, so i want someone who can build on my existing efforts! good luck - i've never had more fun in my life as doing this business! but i have to move closer to family.


                    • #11
                      I agree with Chuck, check into it, if there is a living to be made, changes can be done as you go. Even relocating when you get yourself going is an option. At least you have a ready made business.
                      I opened March 2006 I was lucky, VERY LUCKY! that I was busy from day one and now a year later have a full time bather and full time groomer, plus myself grooming of course.
                      My location isn't the best in the world, but my salon is sparkling clean, bright, modern, quiet and very comfortable. I'm thinking a few years down the road I can relocate to a nicer area.
                      I don't think I could have made it if I didn't have dogs to groom right from the start. Think about that, if you need income from day one, buying an existing is the answer.


                      • #12
                        Maleary- Thanks for that great advice. Yeah the grooming shop I mentioned is is a town from low income and mostly elderly peoples. It borders on Hartford CT. One of the highest crime ridden cities here in the Northeast so that was that. I thought maybe it was just good timing, that I saw the ad right when I was looking. I am looking for more in the area of middle to higher end income clienele such as the more urban areas in my town and 3-5 surrounding towns. I have done three years of grooming now and am getting ready to take the business clasess and apply for my low interest goverment guaranteed small business loan so that if it flops they pay up to 85% of the loan back. Since I don't own a home without significant savings I have a better chance of securing such a loan.

                        Sorry to hear you are havingto leave the work you love but wasn't it great to have had the opportunity to do it?



                        • #13
                          you are very welcome !!

                          Lori - just a little more advice....don't sell yourself short -- figure out what you really want to focus on ie., little dogs, baths, etc etc and price accordingly. The area i opened the store in is not really real wealthy and there were already have 4 or 5 grooming places but customers weren't very happy with them...which i found out by asking lots of questions about what they weren't getting that they wanted. From day one, I was more expensive but I made sure they got what they asked for -- so now i am 'the'most expensive and therefore don't have to do volumes or walk ins etc etc; but haven't lost anybody because of the upfront work i did with each and every person and dog. Also, just an idea --- at first i had some really slow days...tuesdays, for instance. So I sold the idea that Tuesdays was "little dog day" and it took off like gangbusters...everybody wanted this year i had to add more 'little dog days' and tuesdays are booked for the rest of the year. YOU WILL DO GREAT and make sure you keep me posted with how all goes. so email me or keep talking on here. take care - marcia ([email protected])


                          • #14
                            Buying an existing business

                            Thank you all for the advice in this thread. I am currently contemplating purchasing an existing business. They are asking $5K. The shop is a dive, so is the equipment. I especially like the advice: do it and make changes gradually. The owners don't want me to use their name, but will give me the existing phone number. The value of the equipment is probably only worth $2K; they are figuring $3K is for their client list and endorsement to those clients. Haven't been able to pin them down on exactly how big a client list they have but they say they do 10-15 per day, 5 days a week