Is starting a pet grooming business profitable?
Yes, starting a pet grooming business can be profitable. Knowing how to become a dog groomer starts with an appreciation of what makes this a unique entrepreneurial endeavor in South Africa.
According to Euromonitor International, spending on pet care in South Africa has shown "above inflation value growth" since 2020. The pet industry is now worth R7.1 billion, with an expected growth of 2.5% over the next few years, making it an excellent time to start a pet grooming business in South Africa
South Africans love the great outdoors (with their pets for company, of course), and dogs are considered personal security guards. There is always going to be a market for looking after our furry companions, as there is a 'non-negotiable' mindset that comes with their inclusion into our families and everyday lives.
The answer to ‘how much money can you make owning a dog grooming business’ will depend on whether or not you can visit your clients in their homes, as more South Africans work remotely and longer hours, leaving less time to groom their pets themselves.
A pet grooming business will require warm water for washing and rinsing, electric clippers for trimming, 'fur dryers,' and washing and tumble drying machines for towels and mats – all of which will require electricity.
Loadshedding has become a regular, challenging facet of daily life in South Africa. So consideration must be given to your electricity consumption if you are an aspirant small business owner. Rising inflation costs can be added to this when calculating how much it will cost to wash, trim, rinse, and dry a pet.
How to become a dog groomer also involves learning how to adapt to fluctuating loadshedding schedules and ideally having a backup generator so that you aren’t reliant on Eskom!
Find out more: Need funding? Check out our guide on small business grants.
Why should you start a pet grooming business?
When considering why you should start a pet grooming business, you’ll need to understand more about the benefits, risks and required personality traits:
Let's start with the benefits:
- You can turn your love for pets into a profitable business. Job satisfaction!
- There are various ways to establish your business: going mobile, specializing in one niche area, linking with a vet, or linking with a local pet hotel or kennels.
- With more people owning pets in South Africa, your business will have room for growth.
- Once you establish your business, you could even form a franchise.
Now let's look at some of the risks to be mindful of before you start a pet grooming business:
- Startup costs can be high if you are buying all new equipment.
- If you are starting out, there is little to no brand recognition or customer base.
- Emergencies such as dog bites, and injuries to pets or staff can happen. Prepare for high insurance costs!
- Unhappy customers can damage your reputation.
The pet grooming industry is not for everyone, so we have identified some of the most critical personality aspects that an entrepreneur who wants to start a pet grooming business should have:
- Like animals, preferably love them! A pet grooming business will involve a lot of time spent with other people's pets; you must enjoy working with them.
- Take pride in excellent service and work quality, so clients are happy.
- You’ll need to be organized, as overseeing a pet grooming business will include managing staff, ordering supplies, checking on accounts, and more.
- Able to manage staff if you decide to take on employees.
- Friendly and have good people skills.
- Able to stay calm under pressure and in emergencies.
What are the start-up costs for starting a pet grooming business?
All new businesses will require an initial outlay of capital to get started, and if you plan to start a pet grooming business, this is no different. Your specific start-up costs will depend on how you decide to structure your business and if you will specialize in one particular service.
Start-up costs could amount to roughly R300,000 if your equipment is new and you offer a mobile service (i.e., a van that goes to the pet owner’s home). You’ll need to be careful with your budgeting.
Here is a list of some of the costs to start a pet grooming business:
- Workspace: rental for premises from which you operate, or adapted vehicle if you offer a mobile service
- Equipment for pet grooming: nail clippers, brushes, dog grooming scissors, shears, combs, fur dryers
- Supplies: shampoo, conditioner
- Infrastructure for workspace: grooming tables, bathtubs, cages, kennels
- Office equipment: phone, computer, printer, payment device for card payments
- Advertising and marketing: flyers, newspaper adverts, social media adverts, posters
- Website design
- Licenses and permits
- Business registration fees
- Employees Salary
As entrepreneurs, we know you may have the best ideas and business plans, but access to start-up capital can be challenging. Our guide on small business grants in South Africa is a great starting point for additional information on how to access grants.
Additionally, our guide on small business loans in South Africa can provide you with financing options available to start your new business venture.
How to start your pet grooming business
Now, let’s get into the first steps you’ll need to take to get your pet grooming business up and running.
Research your market and customer demographic
How do I start a dog grooming business from scratch? The answer: research! Start by researching your ideal market and customer demographic. Find out what’s out there and who your competition is likely to be.
Understanding what type of pets your potential customers own will give you a good idea of where to specialize. Chatting with your local vet or pet store may help you find this information. You can also get a good idea of the local pets by visiting your neighborhood parks or pet hotel/kennel.
Do you need a license or training to start a pet grooming business?
What qualifications do I need to be a self-employed dog groomer? The good news is that you will not require a specific license to start a pet grooming business in South Africa. And while training in pet grooming is not a requirement, it is highly recommended that all people who will be actively involved in the grooming of pets receive some basic training.
Various websites offer in-house training and online courses in pet grooming. Understanding the temperament of pets, as well as learning skills of how to cut pets' hair or nails would be necessary to be successful in this industry.
What regulations do you need to know to start a pet grooming business?
Do you need a licence to run a dog grooming business? No. Regarding animal care, the industry is largely governed by the South African Veterinary Strategy and the Animal Health Act and so no specific dog grooming licence exists. If you opt to go the bricks-and-mortar route, then the usual rules around business zoning and licensing will apply.
Do you need insurance to be a dog groomer? While dog grooming insurance is not mandated by law, it would be well advised to protect you and your staff in the event of any accident, as well as the pets themselves.
Registering your company with the appropriate national or local, provincial considerations in mind will form part of your pet grooming business strategy as you look to cut through red tape so that you can start cutting animal hair instead!
Setting up your pet grooming business
Let’s get into the nuances of setting up your new pet grooming business.
You can choose between renting a space or running a mobile service. If you can convert a spare room or a garage, you may even offer the service from your home. You may be wondering, “ do I need planning permission to start a dog grooming business from home?”.
Loud, barking dogs may annoy your neighbors, so if you are in a densely populated suburban area this would be ill-advised. Chat with your local ward councillor to see if planning permission can be obtained before starting a dog grooming business from home.
What equipment will you need?
Here is a list of some of the tools that most pet grooming businesses use:
- Grooming equipment (brushes, dog grooming scissors, shears, nail clippers, fur dryers)
- Grooming table
- Bathtub and grooming hose
- Consumables such as soaps, shampoos, and conditioners
- Ear cleaning products
- Gloves, sanitizers, and facemasks
- Kennels and cages
Registering your new business
Income tax filing
You can make use of SARS E-Filing or the MobiApp to file your tax returns online. This is the most convenient way in which to file your tax returns. You can find comprehensive information on how to go about filing your income tax on the SARS website.
Decide on your pricing model
In order to ensure your success when you start a pet grooming business, you will need to work out a pricing model that guarantees profit at the end of each month. Offering discounts or rewards for loyal customers or customers who refer friends may help ensure that your business retains its current customers and grows by word of mouth.
To decide on your prices, you will have to have a clear knowledge of all your running costs, as well as an estimate of how many pets you can realistically service per week.
You may need to offer different prices, depending on the service provided. This should be related to the time spent on the pet and the level of expertise required to perform this service.
For example, washing and brushing may require less expertise than a stylized haircut for a long-haired dog. Aggressive animals that may need sedation pre-grooming would be another obvious consideration.
Preparing a contract for clients
It is very important that all clients making use of your pet grooming services sign a written contract and indemnity form. This will protect you, your clients, and their pets if something goes wrong while the pet is under your care.
Registering a domain name for your website
Because social media has become crucial in how we market our businesses, your website domain should be linked to your TikTok, or Instagram handles.
With cat videos on YouTube and crazy animal TikToks being all the rage these days, the opportunity is huge to create a strong online presence – perhaps even using some of your client's pets. With their permission, of course!
How to grow your pet grooming business
As we all know, most people adore their pets and will spare no expense when it comes to them. Fortunately, nowadays, there are many ways in which an entrepreneur can grow their business through marketing. Let's take a look at some of how you can do this:
Design a logo
Here you can let your creativity flow as you design a logo representing your business and your brand at a glance.
Social media is the perfect avenue to create and grow a following for your pet grooming business. People on social media love looking at animal and pet videos, and the number of Instagram accounts dedicated solely to animals is enormous.
You can use Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook to post videos of happy animals being groomed (again, with permission from their owners) and beautifully groomed pets after visiting your grooming parlor.
Choose something special to gift each pet that visits your parlor – be it a pretty bow, a yummy treat, or an opportunity to be chosen as "pet of the month." All of these, along with photos and cute stories about your pet customers, can be posted on your social media to create fun and engaging content.
Website and SEO
'YouTube University' is the name given nowadays to how we can improve our education online, for free, at the click of a button. Increasing your website's SEO rankings is just a few online tutorials away!
Positive customer reviews can promote your business and attract new clients. You will have to create an extraordinary environment for pets and their owners – where owners will see that their furry babies are loved, pampered, and treated with kindness and patience.
You will also have to ensure that the services you provide are of excellent quality and that owners are happy with the appearance of their pets after a visit to your grooming parlor.
Consider niching down
Niching down can help to set you apart from your competitors. You will be able to attract more clients within your niche if the service that you offer is specialized and caters to a specific grooming demand in your area.
Perhaps you only deal with exotic breeds of animals – or ‘pet day care’ can be included as part of your service? Including organic pet treats and healthy pet food could also be an extension of your offering.
Find out more: Need more advice on this sector? Read our sector-specific articles.
Starting a pet grooming business is not your only option
While the idea to start a pet grooming business might be quite exciting, it is important to remember that this is not your only option. Consider buying an existing pet grooming business.
If you decide to buy an existing pet grooming business, you will save on some of the startup costs and acquire an existing clientele base. You could decide to keep a few of the staff which would be an asset to the continued smooth running of the business.
If the idea of owning a pet grooming business appeals to you, but the thought of starting your own is too daunting, look at some existing South African pet grooming businesses for sale.
Buying an existing business can be a challenging but rewarding experience in itself. And for the creative entrepreneur, there will still be many avenues to pursue to grow and develop your new business without the effort of starting from scratch.
There are some very important factors to consider should you wish to consider buying an existing business. It is just as important to educate yourself about these before proceeding.
Pets are an immense source of joy and love for their owners, and owning a booming pet grooming business will bring much satisfaction and reward.
In summary, here is a checklist for starting a pet grooming business.
- Develop a good business plan.
- Decide how you wish to operate and what equipment you will need.
- Register your business.
- Secure startup funding.
- Decide on your pricing model.
- Ensure you have good client contracts and indemnity forms.
- Promote your business using various platforms (especially online).
- Enjoy the fruit of your labor as you offer a welcome service to grateful pet owners while making money!
You may be interested in reading this article on how to run a pet grooming business in South Africa. It will provide further information about what to do once your business is up and running and how to maximize its potential.
If you need some advice or guidance before starting or buying a pet grooming business, you are welcome to reach out, and we will be able to assist with whatever questions and concerns you have.