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Just got cofirmation for a location for my salon...

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  • Just got cofirmation for a location for my salon...

    So my mom and I have been looking for a location for a salon for me for about six months. I had a place that I really liked but I had to purchase the building in order to make it work and I just couldn't pull an additional 20k out of a hat so I've been sort of treading water. My parents had actually owned a building that was a small art and gift gallery and my mom has decided that it's time to close it because it has never really turned a profit. We're really in a town that is both too small and not polished enough to appreciate what the gallery had to offer.

    I got the news today that I'm getting the building and I just have to take over the mortgage (under $600/mo) and have some lighting and plumbing done and I'm good to go. The building itself is 1200sq feet but not really laid out well for a salon, however, since it's just me I think it will work just fine. I should only run across problems if I want to hire more groomers in the future. I have to pull up carpet that's glued down to concrete throughout the whole building. I also need to put in a washer/dryer hook up but that could wait a bit if it had to. God bless the asbsorber towels. I can just take them home and chuck them in my washer and they're in just a few minutes in the dryer. I have about $10,000 to get all of my equipment and do the refit.

    I'll probably be opening in January (cringe) because it doesn't make sense for the building to just sit there. I may be able to work at my current salon a few days a week but I wonder if I should be at my salon 5 days a week even if it's just making bandanas/bows/collars and putting finishing touches on everything for once I start getting busy. I also figure that every client I pick up during the winter months is much more likely to be a regular groom vs a once a year since it gets cold here so people don't shave their dogs down in the winter except regular grooming.

    I will be working alone except for Wed/Thu when hubby is going to come in and learn the ins and outs of bathing/drying/prepping for me. If I am in a position to hire another groomer, I can think of 4 off the top of my head with good work ethic and excellent skills that would be a pleasure to work with and would come work for me without hesitation.

    The building itself is really cool with all exposed brick and metal. It's got this grating on the walls that was used to hang art and could easily hang retail instead. I'm going to use the winter months to make tons of paracord collars, bows, finished edge bandanas, etc. I've got a couple of friends that make dog related items that I'm going to see if they want to sell on consignment. Eventually I'd like to carry a small line of spa shampoos and conditioners as well as some well made toys and good treats like Zukes or something. My salon is definitely going to have a different vibe than I had been planning on but that's ok too.

    I think I've decided on a name: Downtown Dogs - Pet Spa and Studio. I wanted alliteration and something a man could say without being embarrassed. My husband shot down a bunch of names at the start because he wouldn't have wanted to say them to his buddies. I'm actually thankful for his insight.

    I'll be doing pet portraits on as many finished pets as possible. I'm getting a lighting kit and hope to have a permanent set up so I can just pop a pet into a cute holiday themed set and then sell prints 8X10 prints as addons. Like "Hey I took a quick photo of Phoebe because she looked SO cute today. Would you like to have me email you the digital file for $5 or I can print you out an 8X10 right now for $10" I haven't got the pricing worked out but my mom has a professional printer that does photos REALLY well.

    Anyway that's about as far as I've gotten in my planning. I still have til after the holidays which really means about 2 weeks of planning and then HOLY CRAPMAS and then BAM new salon. I'm shaking in my well appointed boots.

    SO! Hit me with all the things you wish you had known when you opened your first place!

  • #2
    Front of the building sorry the picture is horrid.





    Part of the interior




    Another view




    Sorry the photos are vile in quality but it's all I could find on the web and it came from my mom's blog (god I sound like a teenager not a woman in her mid thirties) and most likely taken with a cell phone in dubious lighting.

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    • #3
      Congratulations!! Think future when you do the plumbing and lighting. You can never have enough outlets. You have lots of room to grow. Best of luck...my favorite part of opening a new biz is the fun planning it out.
      Old groomers never die, they just go at a slower clip.

      Groom on!!!

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      • #4
        How exciting for you! Congratulations on all the good things happening for you right now! It's so nice that your DH will be involved a couple of says a week. You could schedule all your huge dogs on those days... I like the business name you picked out too. Unfortunately, the domain for downtowndogs.com is taken, but downtowndogspa.com is available. That's a good one.

        This would be a good time to get your DBA/corp set up, license application(s), Tax ID number, bank account, merchant account, etc. set up so you hit the ground running. FWIW, I looked at Square, Stripe, Spark, Quickbooks, Costco, BoA, Wells Fargo, Dharma, and several other merchant accounts. The best set up I found was through Chase Bank. They fund next day, take care of PCI compliance without charging extra, provide free credit card reader, have low exchange fee, and they call you to teach you how to use the equipment and services. The problem with a lot of these services (like Square, Stripe and Spark) is lack of customer service, so if you have a problem, you may not have someone to talk to for resolution. Chase has been awesome so far, and the checking account to deposit into is free with the merchant account. I didn't think I could get credit for a brand new business, but they approved me for nearly $20k. Couldn't be happier with them.

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        • #5
          Congratulations! Sounds like you will be very busy

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          • #6
            You at first said that you will be working alone, but if you are doing retail, then you will need someone out front. The ceilings are very high with lighting hanging....unless you close off your area that you will be drying your dogs, then this hair is going to be floating over the entire space.

            I think you should work at your present job as long as you can, because January, for most salons, is not a big money making month. I also do not think that you will make much $$ on the photo sales, since everyone has a smart phone and has a million pixs of Fluffy on it already. I would forget about "finished" edges on the bandannas, just cut them with pinking shears.

            Since you are in a small town, have you checked out if there are enough dogs that will need to be groomed on a regular bases to sustain your business and is there other salons ? Have you thought about mobile, so you could travel to other small towns and fill up your appointment book ?

            Good Luck

            Happy having dreams that come true


            Dolly's Barking Bubbles, LLC

            www.dollysbarkingbubbles.com

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            • #7
              Wow! What an awsome opportunity for you. Congratulations. Love the space! I say yes to sitting at the shop during your business hours doing crafts, even if there are no dogs to groom. There was a shop near me, and they would lock up and take off when they didn't have a dog booked, and more than once I was nearby when a potential client pulled up and was upset and muttering how the groomers were never there. That place didn't last long. I agree about planning ahead with extra electrical needs and even plumbing needs (for adding a future needed tub). Allow extra room in your grooming space for more tables. This is where your main revenue is made, so allow plenty of room for expansion.

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              • #8
                Perhaps I should have made it clear that we have locking display cases for retail. I will be drying hairies in the back room to avoid that issue but anything small or non double coated I'll be drying up front as much as possible unless all my dogs are in the shop. My husband has already figured that we'll put the dryer on a little wheeled cart of his design to make it easier to move.

                The finished edge bandanas are because I like them, not for any other reason. I may do pinking shears but I like the finished edges more.

                I really have considered mobile but I'm terrified of the expenses plus the payment. I'd only have about 15 grand to put down and that makes my payment something like 1300/mo without even taking into account insurance, gas, etc.

                I don't know. I'll give it some more consideration.

                We did have a groomer that was in business 25 years leave town to move to FL last year so I think there are dogs to go around. There are a couple other shops but one puts out really not that great work imo. The other one DOES put out great work but they only have two groomers so they stay booked. I tried to apply there once but they didn't have room for another table. They are really really cheap, too. The other option in town is PetSmart. Folks are always looking for something other than corp even though about half the groomers at that shop do pretty darn nice pet trims. There are several small towns nearby that have to come through my town to get to a groomer either in my town or in Lexington just on the other side of my town so I think the clientele will be there it just may take some time to build.


                Dolly you really hit some of my worries on the head, but I have good support and my family has pledged to help me with the first six months in expenses. I had already planned on staying at my current salon part time. It's 30+ minutes away from where I'm opening my new place and honestly... I REALLY don't want the 45+ doodles I have as clients there so they don't have to worry about me taking them! I'm taking the clients that came with me and that's it (though that gives me a start of about 20-25 regular 5 week clients).

                I don't know this whole business is scary as hell but I really want a shop or mobile salon of my own. I am so tired of being treated like a child because the people I work for aren't groomers. There is a large disconnect and general lack of respect for my profession at my current workplace. There are some great benefits, but I feel dehumanized sometimes. Like for example: If you work at my current employer for more then three years they cover your insurance 100%. This includes vet techs, kennel help, receptionists, whatever. Everyone except the groomers.

                I'm just extremely unhappy where I am and it's burning me out. I want to get out but I don't want to end up bankrupt (though my mom is an excellent bankruptcy attorney. Ha!)

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                • #9
                  Well if your Mom, with her keen legal mind, believes in you and is going to help you, then you should believe in yourself too. It's normal to be scared. That fear is an excellent motivator to work hard to succeed imho. And if you don't try, you'll never know if you would have succeeded or not, and you'd have no one to blame for being miserable and not having done something about it. I know because I'm in the same boat. I left the legal field after nearly 30 years, burnt to a crisp, and went to grooming school. Bought my new van a month ago today with no clients and already have a handful of regulars and a bunch of appointments through the end of the year. It's terrifying and thrilling at the same time, but I believe I can succeed. If others have done it, so can I. Just remember, if you think you can't, you're right. And the opposite holds true as well.

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                  • #10
                    Yea! Takes some time but something always comes about.

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