How to start a pet grooming business

Your step-by-step guide to turning your love of pets into a successful pet grooming business.

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Australians spend an estimated $13 billion on their pets each year, including $700 million on grooming and clipping costs. So if you're looking for a career that lets you work with animals, you might be considering starting a pet grooming business.

But starting any new business isn't easy, so this guide will take you through the key steps of becoming a pet groomer.

What is a pet grooming business?

Pet grooming businesses provide grooming services for dogs and cats. These services range from essential tasks, such as bathing, nail clipping and hair trimming, through to breed-specific clips for the show ring and even doggy day spa services.

How to start a pet grooming business

Want to run your own pet grooming business but don't know where to start? Here's a quick rundown of the key tasks you'll need to complete to get your business off the ground.

  1. Decide what services you'll offer. The first step is to think about what type of business you want to run. For example, will you operate from a business premises or offer a mobile/in-home grooming service? Will you groom dogs only or also offer services for cat owners? Will you offer basic services like washing, brushing and nail trimming, or more advanced services like special clips for show dogs?
  2. Choose your business structure and name. Will you be a sole trader, form a partnership or create a company? Check out our guide to the pros and cons of different business structures further down the page. You'll also need to choose a unique and memorable name for your business — be sure to check that it hasn't already been taken and that an appropriate web domain name is also available.
  3. Create a business plan. When you've decided on your niche, create a business plan that outlines your goals, business strategy and profit forecasts. This will help you establish a blueprint for success, and is also an essential document if you need to apply for finance.
  4. Invest in equipment. Next, think about what equipment you'll need for your grooming business. From pet clippers and shampoo through to a mobile grooming trailer, there's plenty to consider. Check out our guide to business loans if you need to apply for finance.
  5. Sort your legal and tax requirements. You may need to seek specialist legal or financial advice to make sure you comply with all laws and regulations. For example, you'll need an employment agreement if you're hiring any workers, while you may need website terms and conditions drawn up. You'll also need to consider your tax requirements and whether you need to register for GST, as well as protect your business with the right insurance cover.
  6. Calculate pricing. Now it's time to sit down and work out how much you will charge for your services. Research your competition to find out what they charge, then consider all the costs of setting up and running your business. You'll then be able to work out prices that allow you to make a profit but still remain competitive.
  7. Build a website. A professional and informative website is crucial to business success. You can put together a website yourself if you've got the necessary skills, or hire a web design service to help build your online presence.
  8. Find customers and grow your business. Tapping into your personal network of contacts will help you get started, and providing quality service at an affordable price will help you earn new customers by word of mouth. But you'll also need to consider spending on advertising and marketing initiatives — from community noticeboards to email marketing and social media advertising, there's lots you can do to promote your business.

To help you thrive in the pet industry, you might like to join an industry association, such as the Pet Industry Association of Australia (PIAA) or the Australian Companion Animal Council (ACAC). Joining an industry association helps you keep up with what's happening in the industry and learn best practice principles.

Skills needed to start a pet grooming business

workers grooming pets

Think you've got what it takes to run a pet grooming business? Let's take a closer look at the skills, knowledge, qualifications and equipment you need to set yourself up for success.

Skills and specialist knowledge

First and foremost, pet groomers need to be competent and comfortable working with animals. It is also very important that you have a good knowledge of animal health and welfare requirements.

Other key skills and qualities of pet groomers include:

  • Recognising and managing skin conditions, rashes or irritations as part of the grooming service.
  • Being able to read a dog or cat's body language, and manage temperamental pets.
  • Impeccable customer service.
  • Being physically healthy and able to carry out grooming services.

As a pet grooming business owner, you will need to be able to coordinate and schedule your workload by estimating how long each grooming session will take, how many workers you'll need and how much to charge your customer.

To help you thrive in the pet industry, you might like to join an industry association, such as the Pet Industry Association of Australia (PIAA) or the Australian Companion Animal Council (ACAC). Joining an industry association helps you keep up with what's happening in the industry and learn best-practice principles.

Courses and qualifications

To become a professional pet groomer, you'll need to be certified through TAFE or a Registered Training Organisation. A good place to start is with a Certificate III Pet Grooming, which teaches you essential grooming skills, such as brushing, trimming and bathing. You will also learn operational skills in housekeeping, customer services and equipment maintenance.

Beyond a pet grooming certificate, you can complete a more advanced Certificate IV in Pet Styling, which allows you to expand your skills to become a full-fledged grooming salon owner or manager. You may even decide to study for further qualifications, such as obtaining International Certified Master Groomer status.

Remember, no matter what course you choose, it's crucial that it allows you to get plenty of hands-on experience. This is the best way to hone your skills and put the grooming techniques you learn into action.

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    Equipment and software

    The first major decision when opening up a pet grooming business is where you will run your business. You can either operate from your home or retail space, or set up a mobile grooming service. How your business is run will impact the type of grooming equipment you will need.

    This equipment may include:

    • Grooming tools, such as clippers, scissors, shears, brushes, grooming tables
    • Cleaning tools, such as sprayers, dryers, bathtubs
    • Cleaning products, such as shampoos, conditioners, ear cleaners
    • Mobile grooming vans/trailers (if you are offering a mobile service)
    • Office supplies, such as a desk, laptop and printer

    To operate the business efficiently, you may also consider the following types of software:

    How to structure your business

    Before registering your business, you'll want to be clear on the type of business you're operating. The standard business structures in Australia are sole trader, partnership and company (public or proprietary).

    Starting out as a sole trader is a common and uncomplicated approach, but if you're entering into business with someone else you might want to share responsibility with your co-founder through a partnership. A company can be set up as a separate legal entity to the business owner, but starting a company is a more expensive and complex option. Check out our detailed guide for more info on how to structure your business in the right way.

    How much control you decide to have over the business, costs and tax implications are among the most important factors to consider for your business structure. If you're not sure which path to choose, speak with an accountant who can help you out in this area.

    You'll want to ensure you have a number of legal documents in place before you launch your company.

    Some of the documentation you might need to set up a pet grooming business includes:

    • Services agreement, which outlines the services you'll be providing and the amount the customer will be paying. This may cover terms and conditions around liability for any damage caused, the use of subcontractors, payments and refunds.
    • Employment agreement if you intend to hire workers.
    • Website disclaimer to limit your liability and protect your copyright.
    • If you intend to gather any data from your customers or website visitors (such as email addresses), then you'll need a privacy policy. This legal document outlines how this personal information will (and won't) be used.

    On top of that, you will need to comply with the code of conduct for your relevant state regulatory body before you can start operating your business. For example, in New South Wales you will need to comply with the Animal Welfare Code of Practice No 8 - Animals in Pet Grooming Establishments.

    You can access free templates online in order to get started. You may choose to consult with a lawyer to get a full picture of the regulatory requirements for your business. You can request a free, fixed-fee quote through various legal services sites. These include:

    • Lawpath. This online subscription service can help you make the right steps as you set up your company.
    • SprintLaw. Get pre-packaged, online legal services for your SME or startup.
    • LegalVision. Take advantage of unlimited access to online legal solutions with LegalVision.
    Name Product What's offered? Starting price to become a member Annual Fee from Free legal documents available?
    Lawpath
    Legal documents and templates, Access to lawyers, Legal guides, Legal advice
    $79 per month
    Essentials: $288, legal advice: $828
    You can view samples for free and you can create your first document for free.
    Choose an annual plan from just $288 and get unlimited revisions to your legal or business documents. Plus, unlock exclusive partner offers.
    LawDepot
    Legal documents and templates, Legal guides
    $4.99 per month
    $59.88
    Free one week trial available which gives access to hundreds of documents.
    Customise and download legal documents in as little as five minutes. Plus, LawDepot offers peace of mind with two service guarantees.
    Legal123
    Legal documents and templates, Legal guides
    Varies per template
    N/A
    No
    Legal123 offers a range of individual templates or document packages for consultants, app developers, personal trainers and more.
    LegalVision
    Legal documents and templates, Legal guides, Legal advice
    $49 + GST per week
    $2,548 + GST
    No
    Your business can take advantage of unlimited lawyer consultations, fast turnaround times and free legal templates with LegalVision.
    Law Central
    Legal documents and templates, Legal guides
    Free for the Silver membership
    Gold: $99
    You can view samples and create your own document for free with the Silver membership.
    Law Central offers a large number of legal templates for super, trusts, estate planning, employment and commercial uses.
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    Tax requirements

    It's also important to consider the tax obligations of your new business. Any income you earn will obviously need to be reported to the ATO, but registration and reporting requirements can vary based on your business structure.

    For example, if you're operating as a sole trader, you can keep your individual TFN. But if you're setting up a partnership, company or trust, your business will need a separate TFN.

    GST is another consideration. You must register for GST if you have an annual turnover of $75,000 or more, or if you expect your turnover to reach this level in your first year.

    If you need assistance or advice, speak to an accountant or registered tax agent.

    Business insurance

    Taking out insurance cover may not be one of the most exciting parts of starting a business, but it is one of the most essential. Some of the policies you might need include:

    Check out our business insurance guide for more information.

    How to calculate pricing

    It is important to research competitors in your area before setting your prices. If you're new to the business, you can consider offering a slightly lower price than your competitors or a first-timer promotion to attract new customers. You may also want to offer discounted rates to customers who make a recurring booking.

    Some of the other factors to consider when quoting your customers include the size and breed of the animal, the type of fur it has and the overall level of service required. Groomers generally offer a range of packages, from a basic bath and towel-dry service to an all-inclusive grooming and pampering session.

    Rates for a standard dog grooming service can range from $50 onwards for a small dog, whereas for a larger dog you can be charged up to $150.

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    How to find customers

    From social media pages to online reviews, there are many ways you can grow your customer base. Some simple and practical options include:

    • Building a website. A professional-looking website is a must for any business. Hiring a search engine optimisation (SEO) specialist can also help boost your visibility in search engine results.
    • Listing on online directories. You can list your business in an online business directory such as Yellow Pages or Local.com.au.
    • Listing on Google Maps. List your business on Google Maps and include up-to-date information on your operating hours, phone number and website. Encouraging your customers to leave reviews is also highly recommended.
    • Building your social media presence. Maintaining a regular social media presence can help spread the word about your business. Competitions, promotions and lots of cute animal content can all help you attract eyeballs.
    • Email marketing campaigns. Offer something to your customers for free in return for their email address. For example, you could offer a free home grooming guide to download if a visitor to your website gives you their email address and contact info. You can then add them to your mailing list and start marketing your services.
    • Word of mouth. You can encourage or incentivise your frequent customers to spread the word about your business. But if you're offering a good service at a fair price, word of mouth will spread organically.

    Is owning a pet grooming business profitable?

    One of the advantages of operating a pet grooming business is that you offer a repeatable service that will be required time and again. Like hairdressers, customers also tend to stick to the same business if the service and costs meet their expectations.

    Australia also has one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world. And because many pet owners simply don't have the time or expertise to groom their pets, the demand for professional pet grooming can be very high.

    However, there's no guarantee that your business will turn a profit. Thorough research and planning are essential to maximise your chances of success.

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