Becoming Essential: How to Pandemic-Proof Your Business
Grooming Business Basics
By Khris Berry
The year 2020 has been filled with many lessons—none as poignantly learned as those experienced by small business owners. This year has shown many groomers and grooming business owners that there was needed change within their businesses and the grooming industry as a whole.
In short, there’s nothing like a pandemic to make you rethink and re–evaluate your business. From business plan to basic business structure, from pricing to staffing, every element of the grooming salon is being examined by savvy grooming business owners based upon lessons learned and experience gained over the past few months.
One of the key elements that arose during 2020 was which businesses were considered essential. These decisions were determined by governing authorities—sometimes local and other times statewide, depending on the legislative culture where you live. While some groomers were taken back at being mandated to close (and thus being deemed non–essential), in reality, these are governmental agency terms to help make determinations about public health and safety. Your business’s assigned designation by a governmental agency does not speak to your passion, your service or your value to your clients. There were variables in every district, county, city and state based on governance which made allowances for some pet businesses to remain open.
Post–COVID, it may be a wise move to look into which pet businesses in your area were considered essential and build a new business plan which includes those services which deemed them essential (and expand your business footprint).
Let’s look at some of the services or features you could consider adding to your business which, executed correctly, could increase your profits as well as your scope and range of services.
Some localities allowed pet daycare services to remain operational during COVID–19 to service the needs of first responders. There are a lot of considerations—from proper oversight to floor space—but when this service fits your business, it can be a great additional source of income. Other considerations include staffing, proper care for the dogs, acceptable amenities and experience in handling pets in an off–leash environment. Are you prepared to manage altercations between dogs, a new influx of clients and increased stress on the infrastructure of your business?
On the other hand, daycare is a welcome addition for clients who like to offer their pet an opportunity to socialize with other canines. Daycare offers a more relaxed schedule for groomers when utilized as an add–on because the dogs are spending more of their day in our salons. Additionally, groomers who are already offering all–day care for pets while owners are working can easily use daycare as a way to monetize the convenience.
When discussing the addition of services, retail is king. Literally, this sector is the reigning champion of COVID–19 as pet retail services were deemed essential nationally. Pets enjoy a new, elevated position in the household and our lawmakers have recognized this by determining that pet owners should attain uninterrupted access to purchase needed pet supplies. One of the easiest ways to diversify your salon is to redesign your business plan to include retail.
While not for the faint of heart, the world of being a retailer should not be leapt into until you’ve done some homework and planned properly. Do you have staffing which allows for proper service, inventory control, order management and front–facing customer service? Do you have enough space to properly showcase products? What about storage for product inventory? Do you have enough foot traffic in your salon? Do you have enough financial cushion to manage ordering and stocking product comfortably? Do you have a point–of–sale system in place and are you comfortable managing sales tax and reporting?
These are merely the tip of the iceberg of considerations you should weigh. However, the lure of keeping your doors open during public health and safety crises may be enough to warrant investigating retail.
Rethinking your business plan should not be done on a whim. Adding any new services to your existing business should be executed with thought, planning and strategy to ensure that you understand this new adventure you are undertaking. The rewards of diversifying your business have never been greater than now. And these lessons we have all learned in 2020 are giving business owners plenty of reasons to take a second look at our business plans and find new frontiers. ✂️