By Melissa Viera
The first greeting I get as I walk up the steps to the front door is a playful one from a happy poodle. I don’t even have to see her tail to know how much she is wagging.
Her paws are up on the screen door as she waits for us with her whole body wagging in excitement. Her face is relaxed and happy. She could have just came in from the backyard where she was chasing her tennis ball or maybe she was curled up in her favorite spot on the sofa before she was surprised by visitors. Either way, she is happy we are here and she is ready to show off her home to her groomers.
I spend many hours at my academy training dogs and grooming as well as overseeing the other groomers and running day–to–day operations. Sometimes I work 12 plus hour days. There is never a day that I do not love what I do, but sometimes leaving for a few hours to do house calls is a refreshing break in the day.
There are many reasons why groomers might choose to do in–home grooming, which is when they groom the pet inside of the client’s home. Unlike mobile groomers, in–home groomers work inside of the client’s home instead of in a van or trailer.
For me, house calls were not a part of my business model. But with some planning, they have been appreciated by clients who can’t make it to my location.
Groomers might choose to offer in–home services as their main service or as a VIP service. If already offering dog walking or training in a client’s home, grooming visits might be an appreciated add–on service. Some clients are unable to travel. Some pets might have special needs and a trip to the groomer’s is too much for them. Whatever the reason, going to a client’s home to groom can be a unique service that works better for some clients.
In–home grooming has its rewards as well as challenges. Being invited into someone’s home means that this person has a lot of trust in you. It is important that you are prepared to provide the same grooming services you would provide in a salon setting. This means traveling with lots of equipment.
“You can’t really control the environment in which you’re grooming,” explains Genesis Cuen, an in–home groomer.
“Some people have amazing spaces like laundry rooms with the perfect counter top and wash sink, others have tiny bathrooms or kitchen areas,” says Cuen. “Other factors that can affect your grooming environment are nosey, overprotective pet parents; or if there are other dogs or children around that can distract your dog.”
Cuen explains that it is important to be clear about what you can and cannot do as a groomer, and tell pet parents how they can best help you.
Building a bond with family members and pets inside of their own home is something that Cuen has the opportunity to do. “I like the completely unique bond that you create with a dog by grooming them in their home environment. You become a part of the family, not just their groomer. It’s like having an aunt coming over.”
Jun Yun, a groomer and author, finds that when working in clients’ homes, the location can be both the challenge and the reward.
“Sometimes there’s a lot of stairs to climb or a big hill to hike. But other times it’s the dog that is the big challenge,” he explains.
Yun enjoys the opportunity that in–home grooming provides to work in new places. “I crave order and structure, but I’ve also always been spontaneous and a bit of a rebel by nature. I feel like making house calls gives me a sense of satisfaction because I always follow a process, but every day is a little different with different challenges to overcome.”
In–home grooming might not be for every groomer, but if you enjoy building relationships with your clients and being out and about while on the job, then in–home grooming might be an option for you. It’s important to consider all of the challenges that will be involved when grooming inside of a client’s home so you can best prepare. This includes what equipment to bring, how to clean up and how to be upfront with family members that are present so that they do not distract the animal while you groom.
When going into a client’s home it is important to be professional and polite as well as clear and honest about what you can do for them. When planning in–home services you will want to set prices that make sense for the services you are providing. You might be able to take in a few dogs at a time when in a salon, but when you are working inside of a client’s home you are only providing services to that client.
As with all new services you should take the planning stages very seriously when deciding if it will work for you or not. Take all factors into consideration. What benefits can in–home grooming have for you and how will it benefit your clients?
There are challenges we face as groomers in every setting, from mobile to salons, and in–home grooming has unique challenges of its own. No matter what type of groomer you are, being a problem solver will help you stay a step ahead and do your best work. ✂