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Big Dog Grooming?

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  • Big Dog Grooming?

    I have given up the majority of my big dogs over 50 pounds. I stopped taking any big dogs at all since I work alone. But I find myself turning down alot of business and there is no one in my area that even does big dogs that are mobile.

    So anyway, my brother has been looking for work and very unhappy to find anything after being laid off from his job in vending work. He loves big dogs and has offered to help me.

    I've been thinking alot about this lately, since I have a pet pro van 2002 he and I wouldn't really be to comfy in there together, but a nice new trailer built big enough for two to work would be great since I still have a truck to haul it with.

    Has anyone ever changed their business like that before? I feel that in my area, we could make alot of money. I also felt that maybe after 3 or 4 months after he learned alot about grooming, that maybe we could be in business 6 days a week, where we each work 4 days - 2 with each other and 2 without.

    That way, we could share the financial responsibilities and we would benefit by being in business together that way. Of course the fuel and mileage would be more than I have now, but the insurance and vehicle maintenance and payments could be shared.

    Does this work for others? I'm just scared to take that plunge, worrying about the what if's... Or if we didn't agree on something, and decided to split than I would want to go back to a van...

    Any input?

  • #2
    I think the last paragraph in your post deserves a lot of thought. If you would be happy in the trailer on your own, that is one thing. But, if you would regret having the trailer vs the van should your brother leave....I would really think about this. This could have very negative impacts on you and your relationship as well, it is a big burden and obligation. It sounds very risky for something that he may not stick with. I would reconsider making the pet pro thing work. You could stay up front while he does the big dogs in the back if space is an issue back there. Or double your opportunity by investing in a trailer and keeping your van. But I would not get rid of my beloved van on the gamble that my brother, or anyone else, would be joining me and working with me ad infinitum. Chances are he will really like it for a while, then be off to something else leaving you with the trailer. But, you might find that you like the trailer. That would be my concern though.


    • #3
      Going into business with family or friends is a very risky thing. What if he does not like you telling him what when or how to do things? I wish I had the clients that you are turning away. I love the big dogs. That is where I make my money. I have a ramp for them to get into the trailer, and my table goes down to 22 inches. If they can't or won't get on the table, I have the owner help me get them up. then up goes the table to the tub and just a shove and their in the tub. I hook them to the ring and wash and dry, then they are all more than happy to get out of the tub and on the table. That does not hurt me anymore than a little guy. but if they are a total spaz and trying to get out of the tub and such, I make the owner stay and help. Never had a complaint. In fact they appreciate me more because they see how much I do.
      If your dog is fat, you are not getting enough exercise!


      • #4
        Before you do anything, let him tag along and help you. Find out if it is even cut out for him before you worry any longer.


        • #5
          Be cramped for a while. Train him to groom in your current van, see if he likes it. Being a vender, he knows the area and drives well. Why not, (after he gets trained), open 7 days a week. Have him do weekends and evenings? Daylight savings time is almost here.


          • #6
            Book the BIG DAWGS!

            Definitely start off with what you have and build a need for expansion based on booking all those big dogs you are turning away. Why not have a Big Dog promotion? Announce to the community that BECAUSE YOU DEMANDED IT WE DELIVERED. Then book those appointments and get that money into your pocket!

            Use those bookings to measure your success and whether or not the big dogs are going to justify the trailer. Those bookings will also help you determine whether your brother is really going to enjoy working as a groomer. Let's face it - plenty of people love dogs, but won't succeed at grooming (being bitten, being analed, the novelty wears off, they find something new to focus on).

            So whatever you do - don't put the cart before the horse. Measure the need and see if the cash flows in before making the investment. I would rather work in a cramped van than the Taj Mahal if it meant I could continue building my business and seeing whether I really need to spend a dime.
            Last edited by k9krazy_2050; 02-23-07, 09:44 AM. Reason: typo


            • #7
              maybe have a big dog day? and have your brother help you that day? if your cramped for a day then hey its no big deal...have him wash/dry/and groom these dogs this for awhile...have a special big dog day only day...
              this way you can see if its going to work out and if its not then you didnt waste any money on buying a trailer. AND make sure you tell the clients that this is a trial basis only. it MIGHT NOT BE PERMENENT. and if you decide its not going to work you will be more than willing to recommend them to another groomer who will do their dog.


              • #8
                Big Dog Days

                I agree with Houndlover, Try having all the big dogs booked on one day.
                As your brother get more experienced, maybe he can go out that day on his own and you have a day to relax. That way you can book more appointments because you can split the work.
                Example: He take out the van Monday through Wednesday (booking only the big dogs) You take it out Thursday through Saturday (booking the little guys)


                • #9
                  My back is not so great, but there is a HUGE demand for grooming large dogs in a mobile. My husband used to bathe for me back when I had a shop, but not on a regular basis. Just to help out. For the last 8 months, he has been going with me EVERY Saturday and some nights. I book large dogs and multiple pet houses on Saturdays now and its working out great.

                  He can do any breed bath dog from start to finish on his own comfortably and safely. Nails, ears, pads, privates, undercoat removal, stretch drying.

                  It's added a lot to our bottom line and the clients are so, so grateful.

                  Bloodhounds, Newfs, Sammys, Swissies even just Labs and Goldens...People are willing to pay a lot of $$ not to have to transport these breeds in their car as well as the "no cage" thing.

                  I would have your brother ride along with you for a few months. See if he really likes it and has the knack with the animals and maybe have him buy something where he can go out on his own under your direction.


                  • #10
                    First of all, has he ever bathed a big dog? Or any dog? He might learn to hate it very quickly, lol.

                    Tammy in Utah
                    Groomers Helper Affiliate


                    • #11
                      I would not jump into a partnership w/anyone, friend or family! You very rarely hear any success stories about this. Now, if you want to help your brother while he is unemployed and you think you could work together for a while that is another story. I think you could figure out a way to blend your skills for a temporary working relationship. If he is a "handy andy" maybe he could figure a ramp or lifting system to help you.
                      SheilaB from SC


                      • #12
                        I suppose I should have mentioned first that he is starting to do one day a week so I don't have to give up the bigger dogs that I already have. I am trying to get them all together on one day a week now so that he can help and learn. so next week I have a day already worked out, which I'm looking forward to.

                        Alot of the thought is just pre-mature. I did have a trailer before my van, so If I bought one it wouldn't be a problem to drive it by myself if he decided that grooming wasn't for him.

                        I just wondered if anyone ever did a vehicle sharing/partner business before. I care alot about him and want him to be happy, so if he chose not to go further I would respect that decision. He has just shown alot of interest and I am willing to share with him what skills I have learned, even if that meant he just wanted to learn for the sake of learning and that was it.


                        • #13
                          I did just this same thing with my sister back last year. I had a few bad days at my job and she is a mobile groomer in a conversion(small bus). She said come with me, and try grooming. She needs hand surgery for carpal tunnel and was turning away the big dogs because of the drying and her arms and hands. We groomed together on some evenings and entire days together and I was hooked and customers got to know me. Now I'm on my own. What we did is we each have our own business. We run them our own way. But we work together so to speak.She shares numbers with me, and I will with her if i can't get to someone. I have not advertised at all yet, because I am still working my other job until I have enough regulars to leave. I currently have after 2 full months on my own 17 repeat customers. My sister is booked for 2-3 months ahead with repeats. She gives me the labs and other dogs that need evening appts. Customers are happy knowing if they can't get in with her, that because we are sisters that i'm ok. Or I just return the call and explain that I do the big dogs and I had an opening sooner, no one seems to mind. It's working well for us! Good luck!


                          • #14
                            Why not get a cheap starter van and get your brother out on the road doing just bath dogs to start. On his slow days, you can get him in the van with you and train him how to really groom. I have thought of this often and to me, this is the only way that I would get a second truck on the road. I worry about hiring an unknown entity. At least with family, you know what you are getting into. I think it is a great idea!


                            • #15
                              Interesting Littlepaws. That sounds like a nice arrangement. We'll see how this works for a little while and unless he finds a good job or decides it's not for him, we may go ahead with just sharing my van for now.

                              If you think about it, if groomers had a reliable partner or friend who also grooms, it would be so convenient to do vehicle sharing as independent groomers. So know I have some questions for my insurance agent, but we'll see.