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  • new to grooming/mobile grooming

    Hello I am training right now to be a groomer and am getting ready to buy my first van. I am buying a used van and after reading some of your blogs I am a little nervous. This van is a 1995 E250, its cheap and I want to start out as cheap as possible since I dont have a strong client base. I have been taking notes on things different people say to have. Can someone please give me some advice on purchasing a used van and mobile grooming itself. Thanks again for any input.

  • #2
    I personally would NOT buy an E250

    They don't have the strong suspension to carry much weight;especially water weight. Save for an E350 or try to finance. I read ads here and there are many and mostly E350 for sale at various prices. Don't settle for less. My rig was used and it still has more worth than many and is an E350.

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    • #3
      I would make sure and read a couple posts below this one 'groomers van catches fire and explodes'. Insurance, insurance, insurance!
      A friend of mine totaled her van, only had auto insurance on it, no gap, no business insurance...well, she lost her entire business. So make sure you have all of the insurance covered, I would even check into lost time insurance in case you get injured and cannot work.

      When I get ready to buy my mobile, I am going new and plan to attend wagntails seminar, buy Jodi Murphy's DVD on mobile and get Ellen's book 'Go Mobile and Succeed' awesome read.

      I wish I was mobile and could offer more help.

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      • #4
        Bring a auto tech

        with you to view the van, they can also help you to make sure all the electric and plumbing is working good too,if you don't know s someone who is a mechanic,go to a local auto shop in your town ,some guys might look it over for 20 bucks or so,it will be worth it and might even save you a few headaches later,and if something is wrong they may help you drive down the price.good luck remember there are also mobile pet grooming trailers out there too,Where let's say if something goes wrong with the van,your stuck for a few days or more,with the trailer you just hook it up to another truck,That's why I purchased one plus they are cheaper then a van. My husband is a mechanic and so are my 3 brothers and my brother-in law.between all of them they have close to 150years experience.




        .
        Originally posted by babenurse View Post
        Hello I am training right now to be a groomer and am getting ready to buy my first van. I am buying a used van and after reading some of your blogs I am a little nervous. This van is a 1995 E250, its cheap and I want to start out as cheap as possible since I dont have a strong client base. I have been taking notes on things different people say to have. Can someone please give me some advice on purchasing a used van and mobile grooming itself. Thanks again for any input.

        Comment


        • #5
          Thank you for the advice

          Thanks for the advice, I definately have insurance at the top of my list after reading about the van fire. I am sad to hear that the E250 isnt good. I have no client base so trying to keep costs as cheap as possible. I am going to have a friend who knows alot about cars to go and check it out before I drive 7 hours to go see and hopefully pick it up. My initial though was to go with a trailer but I dont have a truck so I would be buying two things verses one. Trying to keep cost low just in case things dont work out for me. I feel that they will just might be a slow start. If anyone else has thoughts on this E250 let me know. The owner says its been dependable for her, she has set up a salon in her garage, so no more mobile grooming. One other thing is the blue book value of the van is about 9,000 less than what they are asking. Does all the extras really cost that much. I wish I could buy brand new just cant afford it right now, need a dependable starter van. Thanks everyone

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          • #6
            Cheap is as cheap does. DH says that an E-250 with the right set-up is perfectly capable of hauling the weight. We've looked at all the vans and it is my personal opinion that the Waggin Tails vans are far too overloaded therefore they only get 3-5 MPG. (Unless you go with the Sprinter conversion and they are heavily weighed down, too, per DH) The normal MPG on that van should be in the 12-14 MPG range not 3-5. This tells you that the motor, transmission and suspension are being overworked. It will last for a while but not the long haul. He said to querry the owner and ask for proof of MPG and service records. If they are not available or the seller cannot provide this info he said to pass. DH also said to make sure that whatever van you buy has a metal radiator and a transmission cooler or you'll have problems out of those parts sooner rather than later. Smart man my DH

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            • #7
              Ultimate Groomobiles uses the E250's to build their units. Is this one of theirs? It really depnds on what the van is carrying. If you are trying to lug around a gene or inverter with a ton of batteries vs shoreline only, that can make a huge difference. It can be done with an E250 if you pay attention to how much weight is put in there. The ultimates use the engine to heat the water so there is no water heater, but I know the 2 groomers who have Ultimate have generators and both are built on E250's in my area. You need to check out how much weight an E250 can carry and then see what is in this particular van. If it is a private conversion you need to make sure it was done very well and that the person knew what they were doing, especially when it comes to weight. For insurance purposes you need to make sure the van is not over it's load capacity because if you were ever in an accident and they found you had overloaded it you could negate your insurance easily.
              I started out used and cheap. I bought a 1989 Ford E350 grooming van. I think I wrote a post called "going mobile on a budget" that may help. I am now upgrading to a newer unit, once it's built.
              What a caterpillar considers the end of his world, we call a butterfly.

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              • #8
                A 15 year old “dependable” starter van is an oxymoron. How many hours is on the generator? How many miles is on the odometer? New brakes? tires? antifreeze system?

                My suggestion would be to hold off buying an old van, work in a salon for a couple of years to get the “feel” of grooming…..make sure this is your passion. Then earn enough cash to put a sizeable down payment on a fairly new van, or a new one.

                Happy Graduation

                Dolly’s Barking Bubbles, LLC

                www.dollysbarkingbubbles.com

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                • #9
                  Thanks!

                  Thanks for all the info, giving me alot to think about!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Dolly, I agree

                    with you on the point that it would be wise to groom in a shop with other experience groomers for a while. You as a fresh graduate into our profession will have only the basics. Not the everyday, day to day "what goes on in a shop". Mobile grooming is great, but lonesome. You are by yourself with no one to give a second idea for every day situations.

                    Mobile grooming isn't for everyone, and the cost we charge is many times associated with a higher skill level. (not the case, but the public equates price with quality) You want to present yourself as a knowledgable professional, not everyone coming fresh out of school can do that.

                    As to the rig you are looking at, I know if several groomers using the e250 chassis. Myself, I've used small class B RV's, but my new project is on a e350 chassis. A small shuttle van (yes van sized). It's smaller than what I am driving now (73 Chev P30 Chinook), but same chassis. It never hurts to know your vehicle and the way she's put together. Good Luck with your new venture, and we'll all be here with help and suggestions when you need it.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by THE_Redneck_Diva View Post
                      . We've looked at all the vans and it is my personal opinion that the Waggin Tails vans are far too overloaded therefore they only get 3-5 MPG. (Unless you go with the Sprinter conversion and they are heavily weighed down, too
                      This is simply not true, I have a 2006 WNT van and it gets 12-14 MPG. I am going to agree with the others about getting some more experience before you go mobile. Even 6 months to a year would be good. It is possible to become successful without doing it, but much harder in my opinion. Whenever you do get a vehicle, I would recommend having at least 6 months of savings to keep you going while building the client list. I have never bought a used mobile, so I can't help you there.
                      What does a dog do on it's day off?

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                      • #12
                        I have to agree with others here on working in a shop for a little. Lately alot of my new clients are asking how long I have been "doing this"? I say 3yrs doing mobile & they pause...then I say I've been grooming for 12years. Most then say oh you know what you are doing after hearing I've been grooming longer. So having a little time under your belt is very good in the eyes of the client. When I started grooming I had alot of growing & learning to do. Each person is different though, it took me 9yrs before I had grown enough & wanted to own my own business. Running a business is a big learning experience too.

                        Shannon
                        The Soapy Puppy

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Dolly View Post
                          A 15 year old “dependable” starter van is an oxymoron. How many hours is on the generator? How many miles is on the odometer? New brakes? tires? antifreeze system?

                          My suggestion would be to hold off buying an old van, work in a salon for a couple of years to get the “feel” of grooming…..make sure this is your passion. Then earn enough cash to put a sizeable down payment on a fairly new van, or a new one.

                          Happy Graduation

                          Dolly’s Barking Bubbles, LLC

                          www.dollysbarkingbubbles.com

                          DITTO. I have an '06 and even a reliable van has regular maintenance and breakdowns (or flat tires as happened to me). I personally went straight from school to mobile.... BUT, I'm 50 years old and had some savings for startup costs and other experience. One of the things that would have helped me if I'd been employed first awhile, is knowing more about how to price my work. That's been the hardest part for me and would also have had a bit more confidence starting out. It can be done... but it's a little harder to do it that way. I'm just saying be prepared so you will succeed.
                          A Light exists in Spring, Not present on the Year, At any other period -- When March is scarcely here...~~ Emily Dickensen~~

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                          • #14
                            "....... it is my personal opinion that the Waggin Tails vans are far too overloaded therefore they only get 3-5 MPG"........ARE YOU KIDDING,
                            my 2008 WGT gets between 13-15 MPG........I think your husband has been smelling too much gasoline fumes .......or smoking those funny little cigarettes !!

                            Happy getting confused on fumes.....or smoke

                            Dolly's Barking Bubbles, LLC

                            www.dollysbarkingbubbles.com

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Thanks again!

                              Gave me alot to think about. Questions to ask about the van etc. And my experience level. I am currently a Registered Nurse and make good money. However I have cut back on my hours to pursue this dream. I love grooming dogs, I love dogs, especially small ones period. But my husband and I are thinking maybe I should go back to work full time, and work part time in grooming to gain a little more experience plus save up some extra money. I am still going to send my expert out to check out the van and if it looks good were going to take it. My payments will be small and I am able to make them without grooming a dog. Then we can slowly get things going and build up clientelle without any pressure. Thanks again for all the input.

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