By Demian Dressler, DVM
Have you been thinking of creative ways to start a new grooming business, or move into a new location, and make it a home run? Some of the most successful groomers have partnered with other businesses that have large numbers of pet–owning clients. And veterinary clinics can be a perfect match for your new venture. But what are the ways to make this a winning relationship, and what are common pitfalls to avoid? In this article, we give you a detailed, nuts–and–bolts blueprint to take out the guesswork—and help make your new career chapter satisfying and successful, from the beginning.
Teaming up with a vet can be a great opportunity. One advantage is that a new grooming business does not have to build a client base from scratch. Vet clients are already in the habit of bringing their pets to the veterinary practice. If a vet practice is the location for a new grooming business, that groomer has a ton of built-in leverage; client convenience and foot traffic. In today’s busy world, convenience matters. Clients love it when a pet can have both its vet and groomer needs taken care of, all in one trip. This can very quickly help the new groomer get a whole lot of business.
Veterinary clients are often in need of professional groomers, and can be invited to take advantage of your grooming service. Instead of advertising to the general public, the vet practice can focus on their existing clientele. Then, everyone that is hearing the news has a pet, and usually takes good care of their four–legged family member. This can make the grooming promotion very successful and efficient.
Vets are usually located in pet–friendly areas, and the neighboring businesses are used to having animals around. There are already kennels and cage space in the facility that can easily be used for grooming pets. The lobby and animal holding areas are normally nice and clean, and the vet staff are used to being professional with the clients.
So, partnering with a veterinary clinic can be a very powerful success formula for a groomer. However, it needs to be done in the right way, or you could end up with some serious headaches. There are a number of things to consider before signing on, so let’s take a look at these next.
First, you want to be sure that the vet practice will follow through on promoting your business. Vets are very busy, and when it comes time for action, you don’t want delays!
One of the best ways to predict whether a vet business will be dependable and speedy in your grooming promotion is to look at other promotions they have done. Is the clinic willing to host a grand opening event for your services? Are they active on social media like Facebook? Do they run other campaigns? Do they send out promotional mailers to their clients? Are fliers or brochures available for the general public? Have they run radio advertising? Do they have on-site promotions that are visible to their clients? By researching what the veterinary clinic is already doing to reach its clients, you can tell what they would do for a groomer, too.
Another good idea is to see whether the veterinary clinic is high quality. Since your reputation and that of the veterinary practice would be connected, you want to be sure you can be proud of your colleagues. This check–up can be done in a couple of ways.
A call or a visit to the veterinary practice is an excellent way to get first-hand information. Are the front staff courteous, knowledgeable and professional? Do they answer any questions in a friendly, helpful and informative way? Are the surroundings clean and pleasant? Do they stock high quality products and diets? Since you want to be sure the team you are working with is a good one, having direct experience with the business can really help.
Doing a little background research on your own is a smart idea. Is the vet practice accredited by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA)? Checking their business website as well as online reviews like Google Reviews can be a good idea, too. Keep in mind though, that the higher the number of reviews, the more accurate the review summary will be. A high or low review summary from only a few reviewers may not give you a reliable assessment.
In your planning with the veterinary clinic, you will want to speak to the owner or manager personally about some important points. By looking at these questions early on, the stage for your success is set! This is a much better way than putting out fires after they flare up.
For example: Are they willing to provide the equipment you need, or do you have to bring your own? Is the practice willing to make any structural changes to make it easier for you? Is a bather available? Who will pay for the products used during the grooming? Are you responsible for a portion of the utility bill, or will the clinic cover it? Will you be paid based on production, and if so, what percentage of gross? Will you be an employee or an independent contractor? Will the clinic pay to advertise the grooming business, or will the groomer have to pay?
It’s good to know that grooming day–to–day in a veterinary practice has a few differences compared to working in a salon. One of the biggest differences is that a groomer will be working alongside the veterinary team, and you will need to decide who is in charge of all the business tasks related to the grooming service. If everyone has a clear idea of the best ways to make that happen, the veterinary staff can be a fantastic support team. Organization can really keep toxicity out of the workplace!
You will need to clarify how to handle incoming grooming calls. Will you provide the receptionists with a scheduling guide, or will you schedule your own appointments? How are the grooming intakes and discharges handled? How will the clients be quoted for grooming services? Are you willing to groom cats? Will the clinic staff make reminder calls for your regular clients to help future grooming business? How about reminder cards? Who is in charge of social media? How will your grooming supply orders be taken care of? Who will sharpen your blades? If you and the veterinary team can answer all of these before your launch, you will avoid many of the most common pitfalls and sail onto a sea of success!
In conclusion, working in a veterinary practice can be fantastic new grooming opportunity. By looking at all the different aspects of a great working relationship before diving in, you can set the stage for a terrific partnership! ✂