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Charging by the hour

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  • Charging by the hour

    How many of you charge by the hour? I was thinking of doing this. Being mobile, I don't have any distractions. Do you change every one over to hourly or just the bigger dogs?

    My problem is I groom just 3 standard poodles. I charge a certain amount, which seems like a lot but I feel like I'm getting ripped. If I can groom a yorkie, or maltese in 45 min to an hr and charge xx amount.. and 2 of the standards take me 2.5 hrs.. for the price I charge, if you break it down, it's less per hr than the price of the yorkie.

    So I don't take on new st poo clients, because it's just not financially beneficial. I also don't groom many dogs over 50 lbs either. I am tired of the big hairy dogs that take way too much time with cleanup in the van. I thought I would change my web page and charge new clients with the st poos and doodles by the hour. Most small dogs I can do in an hr or less anyway so would it be worth posting an hrly rate or would that scare people off?

    What do you all think?

  • #2
    I groom out of my house, but I figure it takes about an hour to complete a small dog groom (Okay, maybe it doesn't take that long, but I figure my small dog price is the same as my hourly rate.) I double that for doodles, standards, or hairy things that take double the time. When I have a big hairy that I don't know how long it will take, I tell them I'll charge my hourly rate and I'm estimating it will take xxx hours. People seem to appreciate that because I tell them how I charge.


    • #3
      Yeeeahhhh, but.....

      I kind of charge by the hour, but that's not how I present it to my clients. I know how long it take me to groom most breeds that are on a regular schedule and I'll quote the owner a range of about $10 on either side of my average price for their breed, explaining that until I actually see their dog and the condition it is in that's the closest I can quote over the phone. I tell them things that would make it be on the higher side and things that can make it be on the lower side (i.e., condition and disposition). I stopped asking too many questions regarding condition and disposition because everyone's dog is sweet and wonderful apparently and just has one or two little mats if any. I just ask if it has ever bitten or nipped a previous groomer (and I don't believe them first time anyway) and when the last groom was. I am always extra cautious of mouths the first few grooms, especially when doing nails.

      Most breeds take me 45 minutes to an hour to groom and I charge my average rate, for sake of argument let's call it $80. If I do a little yorkie pup that dries fast and cooperates and it take me less than 45 minutes I drop the price $5-$10. So If I am going to charge $80 for a Shih Tzu that takes me just under an hour, I'll charge $85 for one that takes closer to an hour an fifteen minutes. If a Standard Poodle takes me almost two hours, I'll be charging $150-$175 based on my "hourly rate." But that is basically for me to come up with my price -- as far as the owner is concerned, they ask me how much and I figure out the price. I don't want to give an owner an hourly price and have them timing me or noticing I am taking a phone call through the window and asking me if I took off the time I was on the phone, etc.



      • #4
        I know what I need to make per hour to pay the bills and make a profit now, but I had to figure that out over the course of a year. Now that I know what I need to make and know how long it takes me to do a dog, the computer figures it out for me. I figure an hour for a small dog from start to finish.

        My rates are based on weight, with a surcharge for pets that require hand scissoring or work to meet a breed standard. I have four base rates, small,medium, large, and extra large for bath and brush, and four more base rates for a full groom.

        The computer program (123Pet) automatically books out the time needed for the groom, so it keeps me from overbooking.
        "With God's help, all things are possible!"
        Laura Lee Ray
        I am kats_melody on eGroomer. Follow my Twitter tweets - @ZOOMGROOM on


        • #5
          I have charged by the hour for my entire time in mobile, 5 years. I have 2 stylists including myself. Over and above the hourly charge we charge a trip charge. I pay my stylists a percentage of the hourly rate. We charge a minimum charge of one hour. So we don't charge 45 min. It always starts at 1 hour and goes from there. This has really been beneficial because you have no idea what condition the dog is in before arriving. We let our clients know this when they call and approx. how long it will take and we are booking out a month right now. In our area people will pay for good stylists who take care of their dog. This hourly charge allows me to compensate my stylists and in turn they like what they do. If you start out to low you will not be able to pay yourself what you are worth. There is nothing like working your rump off and not getting paid to do it. I hope this helps. Good luck!


          • #6
            How do you explain it to people who call and ask your rates? I don't want to lose new clients by scaring them away. But I am getting tired of not charging enough for my time. I also don't want to lose the clients I have...or maybe I do if I'm not getting paid enough. hehe

            This is such a big step to take. I can't afford to make a bad decision and lose income. What if it doesn't work out? I will look bad telling my clients..oops, changed my mind again, we're going back to set prices. lol Can ya tell I'm nervous about this? lol

            Kats_Melody, I have 123 also...but haven't figured it all out yet..I finally got all my clients info on there and set up some prices, but that's about as far as I have gotten. I bought the software hoping to make things easier, but now I have to take the time to learn it.


            • #7
              You just quote your clients your price. You'll probably be $15-$20 more than the "better salons" in your area. And you sell up what you do -- what the differences are between mobile grooming, good small salons and the PetSomething volume groomers. Different strokes for different folks. If someone is only interested in rock bottom prices and their dog does okay in a hectic environment and it doesn't matter to them how many people are working with their dogs, and they don't care if some high school kid who may or may not be a little rough is doing the bathing, they can go ahead to the big volume groomer. If they want to pay a little more and don't mind their dog spending most of the day in a shop, but at least getting the good attention of a better quality groomer who is likely to be there long enough to see the dog regularly and not have to have a different groomer every time, and the owner is okay with making two trips out to the groomer every six weeks or whenever, a shop would work for them.

              But ... if they want the maximum convenience of not even having to be home on grooming day, if their dog does best with the same groomer each time that it can get attached to, if they want their dog in and out of the house as quick as possible, if their dog doesn't do so great waiting in a cage all day, if they don't want their dog cage dried, if they want a groomer that remembers their dog's birthday with a little present, a groomer that sends them photos of their puppy's first groom that afternoon .... then they're going to pay that mobile groomer what she's worth.

              If you lose a client because of the price you didn't lose anything, you lost someone who was lucky to get a deal for a few grooms at your expense. You will build up a good business with good clients -- and you won't need so many of them to make the same money.



              • #8
                Ok Meesh, you sold me! I have to run to Walmart, but when I get back I am going to change my webpage and get a form letter typed up for current clients on my price change. You guys are great! I'm going to charge what I am worth darn it!
                Thanks everyone.


                • #9
                  Just one more thing....

                  Desertdog, it might be better to tell your existing clients in person -- maybe give them the letter but also just tell them about the price increase. If any of them balk, say something like:

                  "Look, I don't want to lose you over $5, but my expenses have gone up. I met with my accountant and he told me I have to raise my prices or I'm going to be in trouble." That typically does it for me when I am dealing with a price increase. I don't send letters, I tell them in person. If a client continues to whine, I move on to this:

                  "Am I worth it to you to skip a Starbucks latte once every six weeks? If this is really a problem for you, I'll be happy to keep you at your current price for the time being, but when I get a call from someone needing a groomer I'll have to take them on at my current prices and I won't have time to come to you then."

                  I've ONE person continue to pay me my old price -- and before their next groom I had replaced them with an easier dog closer to my house. AND not only did the new client not blink at my price, she over-tips me. In fact I got a $100 cash tip from her before Christmas.

                  Karma is a good thing!!


                  • #10
                    Thank you for the tip Meesh. I will use that if I need to. It shouldn't affect most of my clients. I can groom them in an hr or less anyway..but the ones that I feel I am definately losing money on, I guess I don't care if I lose them. Not when there are 2 more dogs waiting for every ONE that takes twice as long. I wish I knew of other groomers in the area that charge hourly, but I don't think I know of any.


                    • #11
                      Good comments, I agree. I tell my new calls that we charge by the hour because we have no idea what the coat condition is and that we are not like the typical "big box" groomer. We give custom hair cuts and we don't up charge to grind nails, express anals, use oatmeal shampoo, etc. Really, when you get right down to it our charges are the same or even less then those other grooming shops. At first I had new people balk but most of them are very happy to pay. If you think about it a plumber who comes out usually charges $80 to $100 just to step foot in the house. And they don't have to deal with a dog who bites. FYI--I had a call from a client last week, her previous groomer had to retire, she received such a bad dog bite it ruined her had and she cannot groom anymore. This is serious stuff--we are worth every penny!!! I might do a youtube video of what grooming is really like for those clients who think we play with dogs all day. Right!!!


                      • #12
                        Meesh is 100%

                        correct. Listen to her wise words and heed them!



                        • #13
                          Another ?

                          HI, me again. I have another question. Do you guys charge for add ons if you charge by the hour? I don't charge extra for shampoo/condit. But I have been charging for teethbrushing, and blueberry facial, and paw pad treatment. How do you all handle this?


                          • #14
                            I include almost everything, but there is an up charge for tooth brushing, blueberry facials, medicated shampoos (for the extra time required when it has to sit on the coat for up to 10-15 minutes). But I do include nail grinding, anals, hypoallergenic shampoos, oatmeal, aromatherapy, etc.


                            • #15
                              I know teeth brushing is a big add on for most groomers, but I don't even offer it. The reason is: like our teeth, if the dog isn't getting their teeth brushed every day, it does no good to brush once a month or longer. All that does is put a little freshener in the mouth. The only way to combat plaque is to see the vet for teeth cleaning or brush every day.