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Too Many Choices! Trying to enter mobile grooming...

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  • Too Many Choices! Trying to enter mobile grooming...

    I have been researching and researching and researching... I bought the "how to go mobile and succeed" and found it didn't answer a lot of my questions about the purchasing of my first mobile unit. It only kind of addressed questions about the grooming and clientele (but you still need to get the trailer!)

    I have decided due to low entry cost to get a trailer to start. It needs to be under 3000lbs for easier towing. (I see several companies say this is not a problem). I can't afford a vehicle to start so that is out of the question.

    I reallllly like the GT Trailers (they are so far, though... 2400 in shipping charges alone should I go that route.. I could get so much other equipment that way!)
    I am also interested in the Hitch-ons (I think these are close to me) and the Gryphon trailers (also far away).
    I am ALSO interested in finding out about building out one (am considering purchasing the build-out one but it just so happens that company is in the SAME city as me so I have been emailing them).

    I would love to view some but I see the next closest grooming trade show isn't until Sept. I am due to deliver a baby in May so I am hoping that by the time I am ready to go back to work (3 months or so from now) I can be working on my first mobile appointments, not trying to work for a shop that doesn't care if I have a baby in daycare!!!

    So there are companies that are local so I can see the units... there are ones that I just have to use the internet to view and make a decision.

    I have so many questions that none of these posts seem to address. Inverters vs. generators (portable vs built on; gas vs propane) vs. shoreline.

    Financing! No one seems to give a solid answer on financing unless I pick the final unit I want, but from what I gather, a fully built unit is required for financing, OR, a trailer company that can at least install plumbing and electrical w/ insulation and AC I can finance but then would need to acquire additional cash for the build out of the equipment. I'd prefer to finance the entire unit as a whole but then I pay such a premium. It is frustrating that I don't have a lot of capital to use as start up (unfortunately with my change in income status, this won't change in the near future unless I make the leap). It seems to be one of these "now or never" type things. I'll have the paid "down time" (not that having a newborn will be true downtime, but I won't be required at work, you know?) to deal with the wait on building and build a web page, marketing, advertising, strategize, etc.

    Please help!
    Thank you,

  • #2
    Boy that 's a lot of decisions

    to make in just a few short months, along with a new baby.

    I guess building out one would be my option, but then I have all my own equipment. I chose an RV, (basically because I had one sitting in the back yard, and with the cold and rain, I really just prefer to have something I can heat with the engine and hop in the back, so to speak. I assume you already have the tow vehicle. I know many groomers prefer the trailer option, but for me, I don't think It would work in my area and for me.

    It wouldn't be hard to convert a small Travel trailer, though, and they usually have all the wiring, plumbing, tanks and such. You just have to move things around to make it work. Those little Boler trailers make great little units. Fiber glass trailer as it were. I'd go that route it I were converting a trailer. but then, as you can tell, I'm pretty much a DIY person.


    • #3
      Those of you trying to sell on this thread should not do so please. Thanks.


      • #4
        Yes but Azoci has a very talented and handy husband that a lot of us don't have the pleasure of having around to help her build her rigs.

        I have been trying to find the right used rig for me at the right price for a couple of years now.


        • #5
          Make sure you can back-up and maneuver a towing vehicle (usually a pick-up) and a trailer in the neighborhoods that you will be grooming in. Usually space is at a premium in most communities, competing with mail boxes, driveways, cul-de-sacs, and curving streets. Parking in driveways will probably not be an option due to the length of your grooming vehicle and the incline of the drive.

          Are you really sure you want to start a business with a new baby about to come aboard?? Remember, you will be composing business cards, pamphlets, logo, advertising, website, acquiring equipment, supplies, insurance……the list just goes on and on. I started my mobile business, from scratch, in 4 months, however, I had been grooming since 1980’s (had all my equipment) and I purchased a new WGT, ready to groom the day I received it. My nose was stuck to the computer for 4 months trying to get the business end up and running………no small task, especially with a little bundle in your arms.

          Good Luck with your new adventure !

          Happy days and sleepless nights ahead

          Dolly’s Barking Bubbles, LLC


          • #6
            [QUOTE=Dolly;404055]Are you really sure you want to start a business with a new baby about to come aboard?? Remember, you will be composing business cards, pamphlets, logo, advertising, website, acquiring equipment, supplies, insurance……the list just goes on and on. I started my mobile business, from scratch, in 4 months, however, I had been grooming since 1980’s (had all my equipment) and I purchased a new WGT, ready to groom the day I received it. My nose was stuck to the computer for 4 months trying to get the business end up and running………no small task, especially with a little bundle in your arms.

            I second that one and the having your nose buried in your computer doesn't just end after 4 months it's an ongoing thing until your business is up and thriving.


            • #7
              I am not trying to discourage you to not start your business now but I am not sure if it is the right time for you to start a business and having a baby. It is not just finding the right vehicle and being a good groomer, it is a lot more involved than that to start a brand new business. I don't know that you will get too overwhelm or not. However, if you are able to live off of your husband/partner income for a while, that may not be an issue. In the beginning, you are not going to make a lot of money right away. It may take some time for the business to take off. My husband and I are not handy people, you can't build anyting so converting our own unit is out of the questions. We purchased a used van and I think it was the right choice for us because we were brand new in the business. We weren't quite sure if the biz will take off. Now I am doing okay and I started to know what I like and don't like about my van. When I am ready for an upgrade, I think can make a better decision. I know that having a very good credit does help a lot. My husband was able to borrow the money from the bank without any problems. So that may be something you need to build up first before you decide to purchase a vehicle. Good Luck.


              • #8
                Thank you so far... The idea of it being overwhelming has occurred to me... My current job however doesn't really seem to care about my situation and need for structure for daycare.

                Here's how my schedule works:

                You get there at 7am, groom boarding dogs first, take in addt'l client dogs until 2pm (that can be 5 more, or 10 more...they don't really ever say no if a client comes in before 2p...HOWEVER... if I am still there grooming (say, I take a big groom in at 1:30... happens a lot lately), Now I'm stuck there until 4-4:30...AND, if I'm still there...they are notorious for continuing to take dogs in even AFTER 2p because hey, the groomer is still in. Your schedule week to week is inconsistent AND you only get it for the Sat-Fri (usually by Wed but sometimes I've left work Friday night not knowing if I'm on the schedule Saturday morning!) the next week.

                How am I supposed to schedule daycare around that??? I never know when I'm getting off work. Mobile would give me control of my schedule.
                Unfortunately my income is the primary income. I've done a lot of research and there are no competing mobile units servicing the area I am surrounded by and none advertise by web (except one, 45 miles away). So I feel like with my business sense I will have a decent start-up.

                I would have to cash in my 401k to get the startup funds... I'm more afraid of going back to my current situation (which pays decent, but works me into the ground... too many 10-12 dog days in a row... ouch) than I am the smaller income and making ends meet during start-up. I'm almost certain the loss in income to start would probably be pretty close to daycare expenses I WON'T have to pay... ya know? I could be wrong...but that's why I'm trying to get some input... see if there is a better way of doing this.

                I have been a groomer for 13 years (since I was 19yo). I was in school for advertising and marketing then changed majors to graphic design. I finished two years of that then had to drop out of school to make ends meet. But I have lots of help in the business side of promoting my business in ability to make my own...well, everything. I can build my own web page, make my own logo, paint the side of my own trailer, promote it, make flyers, and my brother's husband is an attorney so I could utilize him for legal. Putting an accountant on my rotation would be the only "for-hire" I'd need. I have even contributed to increasing the % of $$ made in my current position. When I moved in, found that they offered only 2 spa packages.. I made up signage, a big, pretty bulletin board offering more options, priced easily, and now they are selling them several times daily (as opposed to one or two weekly). I'm an idea person, so I feel stuck!

                I have tons of experience with a trailer, so I feel really confident there. I used to pull a 20' boat and trailer and was able to maneuver it in and out of some pretty tight spots (including living in a culdesac, so lots of to and fro practice!).

                So is having a baby really that hard? I function fairly well on 4 hours of sleep (lifetime of insomnia issues). And lately that's been less being hard to sleep with a big belly and hard to wake-up w/o Decaf!!!

                Thank you everyone for your input! Feel free to PM me if you feel you have some helpful tidbits, too!



                • #9
                  That's true

                  I do have family to help put things together for me. That is a big plus , for usre.

                  Something you can always do , is to go "In-home" in your area to see what the area might produce for mobile. I personally wouldn't want to haul my stuff in and out, but it is an option to get a feel for the area, and how well mobile would go , before you put out the $ for a trailer.

                  It soulds like you really do need to do something different as far as the current job aspect. I couldn't work like that. Hope things go well with the future baby.


                  • #10

                    Just trying to get a handle on your situation. It"s complicated.

                    All I can say I can remember way back to when I was having my first baby thinking that can't be too hard. Well, I was in for a big surprise. Being a Mom is by far the toughest job ever. It makes being a pet groomer a piece of cake. It also depends on the baby you have. You might have a nice sleepy baby or you might have a colicky baby that cries for three months straight. It's a **** shoot. Babies also get sick. They get colds, ear infections. Anything can happen. If you can put off starting the business, I think that would work best. Have the baby, get back on your feet and in the meantime make plans and do your research.

                    Your job situation doesn't sound ideal. I'm hearing like you're working too hard for someone so pregnant. You've gotta take care of yourself, You're going to be a Mommy!

                    On the grooming side, you have a lot going for you. You're experienced, you've pulled a trailer, you have little competition, you're motived. I'm feeling the passion. It's gonna be good. Hang in there.


                    • #11
                      I know when I had my baby it was rough. I did quit work at 7months along to relax & get ready. My baby had other plans. I had to go on bed rest soon after quitting & then at 8months along she said here I come, not much warning. I was all ready to put my feet up, rest & slowly get her room ready only to have her 2 months early, 4lbs 12oz. She was in the hosp learning to eat & grow for 18 long days. Even though it was a rough 3 months with getting use to feedings, what formula food would stay down her & nursing on the side (once in a while). Since she was born early her mouth needed to grow to nurse more. Anyway, I was getting bored at home by 3months, an old friend called me & said she was looking for a part time groomer for her boarding kennel. I was able to come on days my husband had off so he could babysit. Then when my daughter was 6months my boss let me bring my daughter to the kennel because my husband had to work 6days. When my daughter was I'd say one year old is when the stress level was way down. All medical bills were paid off & daughter was growing normal etc.

                      She was a sleeper through the night because the long time in the hosp they helped to teach her when to sleep & when to wake to eat, that was one good thing about the hosp stay. One good thing about working in a loud enviroment she was use to all the loud noises & I have a sheltie so she was use to the barking lol. She didn't wake up to those kinds of noises. So other then feeding issues she was an easy baby but being a new mom I was very stressed. I didn't have friends or family near enough to help out.

                      I went mobile when my daughter just turned 3yrs. I brought her with me & still do now that she is 5yrs. When she turned 4yrs I started letting her help me with clean up, getting tools or the ear cleaner on the cotton rounds. For the most part she has been fun to have with & a great help. She will start school next yr, that will be a whole new scheduling adventure.

                      Granted I had no clue about how to run or market a business. I only knew how to groom. So my business has grown slowly but I have some pretty cool clients that have stuck with me. This is my 3rd yr & it is growing like crazy, I have learned alot. I am gaining, so far, 11 new dogs per month this yr. I already have 31 dogs on the books for the month & its early in the month. Its looking like it will be a good month for sure.

                      I hope this will give you an idea of what someone might go through with a new baby. There is no way I could have started the business with new born. I do want another baby but I have no clue how to fit it in with the business. We do have really good neighbors this time at this house but my family isn't as close as I'd like to help out. So I haven't decided if I do want to have another or not.

                      The Soapy Puppy


                      • #12
                        Well if you are going to have capital from cashing out the 401, you should take a look at the used mobiles listed here. I see some nice used trailers in the 10 to 15K range. Thats how I got started and still had money to spend on other things and money to live on while building up clients. I drove 1400 miles RT and a hotel room to get my trailer. Whole trip only cost me 300 to get my trailer and I wrote the whole trip off this year during tax time. All you need to do is ask the owner to send you lots of photos and post a you tube video. If you like what you see take a cashiers check to buy. Just make sure you ask what the level hitch height is and the ball size is for the hitch so when you pick it up you are ready to tow it home.


                        • #13
                          i have been a successful mobile groomer for about 10 years now............i am expecting MY first child in august.

                          word to the wize:

                          have baby first and then sort your life out. There is no way you can accomplish all that before a baby comes and to be able to draw a salary and be comfy with $ in the bank just a few months after a baby is born.
                          being a mobile groomer and handling all the business aspects is hard enough and then to have a newborn and start a biz??????????
                          wow, that IS going to be tough.


                          • #14
                            You sound like me...

                            I was sick of where I worked, and I knew it was time to get out of there. I worked through my whole pregnancy until the christmas rush was over, and I was fortunate enough to be able to take a break. I set up in what would be my son's room, as it was empty, and I told my good clients that they could call me at home. I groomed one or two dogs a day, four days a week until my son was born, and then I still did a few here and there after. I used all that time to get my new business set up... there was much to do, but I was used to working lots, and so being at home with the baby seemed easy, after the first couple of weeks of getting used to things, and I would bring the baby down to the shop, while we did renos, and running all over town, getting what I needed... My son was a really easy baby too, so that was fabulous... Started working at the salon on May 7th. and i was booked for over two weeks before I even started.

                            Things went fairly smooth, but I realized that employees were more hassel than they were worth, and I got pregnant with my second baby in october the same year. I had no energy to be the boss and keep things running the way I wanted them too, and soon my dream of a salon fell back into a typical shop... now i'm ready to leave there, and am planning on going mobile... things have been WAY harder with baby number two. she wasn't as easy a baby, and she demanded a lot of attention, and having two is a whole different ballgame.

                            But here I am. I work full time, I have a 2 year old and a nine month old, I still have two puppies from my latest litter, born over 3 months ago, I have three adult dogs, i take care of my own books, now that I don't have employees anymore, and I'm starting a new mobile business.... it can be done. and at least you skipped the salon stage, and went straight to working alone, and mobile.

                            good luck. I don't know anything about vehicles... i'm be the chicken who just trusts the salesman's oppinion, and ends up buying something too expensive.. hehe... that's why i'm starting with housecall grooming.


                            • #15
                              If you cash out your 401k you will pay a 10% penalty, then around 30-40% hit in could even be more. You'd be better off putting everything on a credit card..and that's not very smart!! If you must take out the money, check out the regulations on taking a loan instead. You will have around 5 yrs to pay it back..but if you don't the penalties apply the same as if you cashed it out.
                              With a new baby on the way, you may need this money, especially since you are the primary income, so I would be hesitant to do anything until after the baby is born. I would also approach my employer now with my schedule of hours available so they know how to accomadate you after you give birth. Then I would save as much money as I can to apply to start up which really isn't that expensive other than the trailer. You should be able to make a budget showing you how much you need to save every month to achieve your goal.