By Kim Raisanen, PCGAA President
One of the many advantages of cat grooming is that you have more flexibility than in dog grooming. You will use less products and less equipment grooming them, too. I’d like to talk about one of those perks, which is adding a much overlooked group of clientele. Senior citizens. In this demographic it’s very likely that their cat is a huge part of—if not the only—member of their family.
These people look to you for guidance and empathy with their cats. These elders are, for the most part, excellent feline parents notwithstanding limited mobility. Every case will be different and that’s where the flexibility comes into play.
More assisted living residences and full–fledged nursing homes are welcoming their patients’ feline companions. These senior living establishments are always open to consider convenience services for their residents. Your ability to assist these communities is actually a great incentive for the establishment. When prospective residents are touring the campus or community they are asking if their pet can live there too. Once they gain approval, the manager or intake counselor can hand them your business card and/or flyer. In my area, my flyer is part of the “Welcome Packet” they hand out at the beginning of the tour. Management will also post your information in the dining hall and activity boards throughout the building.
Not only will these prospects love the fact that they can bring Boots with them, they also know that there is a groomer available to help when needed. All it takes is a visit with the activities director or manager to get in the door to offer your services to their patients. It may be required that you are insured and bonded, but many professional groomers already are. For more enhanced security, they may want to conduct a background check on you too.
For the individuals who have a difficult time trying to comb their cats you may want to offer a Brush and Fluff during your visit. Trimming and filing the cat’s nails is really important too because many seniors are on blood thinners and/or have a compromised immune system. Sharp nails can scratch and puncture their fragile skin and cause serious infections. Offering to add nail caps is a great preventative measure and an increase in revenue.
Even if you are not a house call or mobile groomer, you can add this niche market to your business. The only supplies required for maintenance grooms are cat nail trimmers, ear cleaner, a charged cordless clipper and a comb. For a nice finishing touch you can also add a bow to the cat’s collar or make your own cat safe bowtie. Depending on the individual, they may or may not want a squirt of cologne, too. Just make sure that any products you use on their feline are cat safe! Remember not to use any alcohol based products.
While you sit down with the cat in your lap, you can do a once-over with the comb. If there are small tangles, you can easily remove them before they continue growing into mats. Then trim and file their nails and clean their ears if needed. Obviously, if a cat needs more grooming attention than your initial 10–20 minute appointment window, you can schedule another time for a full groom. After their initial full groom you can then work him in your monthly maintenance program.
For those cats that need more than maintenance you can offer pick–up and drop–off service on an individual basis. If you’re not comfortable about offering this service, the resident may have family or friends willing to bring the cat to your salon. Personally, I offer this service to the nursing and assisted living communities and high rise apartments and have booked monthly visits to their residents. Many of these pet owners are so happy to have a visitor and a caretaker for their cats. Their gratitude is overwhelming and humbling. It’s not unusual to spend a couple of hours at each community because once you’re established, you will make your rounds and see multiple residential felines.
You can design your schedule and fees for these visits based on logistics and degree of grooming. For example I charge $15.00 for ear cleaning and nail trimming and filing followed by a thorough comb–out per visit. I’ve become friends with a few seniors and I truly believe I’m a breath of fresh air for many of them and possibly their only visitor. It’s absolutely possible to add $100+ per community visit to your bottom line but the friendships and happiness goes way beyond the almighty dollar. Empathy and compassion are qualities that many groomers already possess, wouldn’t it be awesome to walk into a room and witness the sparkle of true appreciation?
That’s what makes cat grooming so rewarding. You will become an intricate part in the love and care of their pet. Monthly human hugs and cat head butts make this growth opportunity one not to miss. ✂