Grooming Down Under

By Les Speerin

In Australia, if you are socializing at a BBQ, talking in the local shopping centre, watching TV or directly involved in pet grooming, the word on a lot of people’s lips is how strong and expanding the Australian dog grooming market is.

Watch the ads on television and you will see a lot of commercials with dogs in them, both subliminally and at the forefront of the ad. Current affair shows now have weekly segments on a “doggy something” feel– good or otherwise story.

Over the past few years, there has been an elevated exposure to the many facets that dogs now play in Australian society. From assistance to companion animals, working dogs to drug detection airport sniffers and police dogs, the many roles our trusty four–legged canines now play is ever increasing and being recognized.

The “doodle” explosion has also become incredibly popular in Australia with some pet owners now believing they own a rare breed of dog. How many times in the past year have you heard the phrase, “Oh I own an xyzdoodle, have you heard of them?”

Wherever your head sits with this, the one thing for sure is that doodles are here to stay and it has been quite a learning curve for all of us. Another fact that can’t be denied is that the grooming industry in Australia has never been busier because of it, even though many owners are told that they have a low maintenance coat (which many groomers wouldn’t agree with).

The Australian grooming market has been on the rise for years with more and more independent businesses opening and chain stores growing rapidly, with one of the main stores just celebrating their 150th store opening.

There are many vacancies for grooming positions across the country and great opportunities for all, with many more training outlets now available.

It is hard to get exact figures on numbers of active groomers in Australia as the country and industry is very widespread. An unconfirmed estimate figure in 2012 had the numbers at approximately 9,000 groomers, but with the amount of home–based grooming businesses that fly under the radar, this is hard to confirm.

One very interesting fact I found is the geographical comparison between Australia and the USA. I think it would surprise most people to know that (if you exclude Alaska & Hawaii) the two countries are very similar in land size though the population of both countries is vastly different.

With Australia’s population just under 25 million and the US topping 327 million, by comparison, approximately 1/13th of the US population is spread over a similar land area with Australia being 7.7 million square kms and US slightly over 8 million square kms.

In summary, Australia is a geographically large country with a small, wide–spread population. This provides logistical challenges for suppliers and event organizers that hold events enticing large groups of groomers to attend.

The fallout from this is that smaller, sporadic events are common with more and more independent groomers organizing seminars/contests and a host of social activities. Seminars are almost a weekly occurrence somewhere, so there is always something to be involved in.

Even with everyone trying to do their bit to advance dog grooming, one major hurdle to deal with is to find pet friendly accommodations in hotels. Due to Australian accommodation policies not following the US or European policies where dogs are more readily accepted in public areas, this is quite an issue.

Those few hotels that do provide a dog accommodation service are indeed very expensive with prices showing the cost at well in excess of a $100.00 per dog, per night.

Maybe with a push from “doodle” owners wanting to take their fur babies on holiday with them, this could see more hotels relax their policies and be more readily acceptable of dog friendly accommodations. We can only hope.

As the dog grooming market evolves steadily in Australia, more and more international brands being imported is at an all time high, with major brands such as Les Poochs, Ashley Craig, Artero and a host of others all vying for brand acceptance are available throughout the many independent Australian suppliers.

As with the industry globally, Australian groomers are a very passionate, effervescent group, always ready to step in and help a fellow groomer in need.

If Australia is on your bucket list, then there is no better time than now to come and explore the vast lands of Australia with the many beautiful beaches and natural phenomenons it possesses. September to April is the optimum time and you will be welcomed with open arms!

Even better, why not time it to holiday in Australia and enter one of the many grooming competitions available and claim it as a tax write off with your beloved tax man?

Never has the time been better to get involved in a growing market and explore all that Australia has to offer. ✂

Les Speerin has been actively involved in the grooming industry for over 20 years. As co–founder of Australia’s leading groomer training centre, The Grooming School, with wife Christine, Les has travelled extensively for the past 10 years observing and being involved in many International events throughout the USA, Asia & Europe. He is also the founder and coordinator of grooming contests “groomQuest” & “groomFest” and The Groomer’s Shootout. Les is co–owner and director of AIPG (The Australian Institute of Pet Grooming) & The Grooming School and has been the coordinator of Groom Team Australia since its inception in 2009. Writing, sports and music are his passions and he is a family–orientated person who has also been a business advisor for many of his grooming students and small businesses. His love for the grooming industry is immeasurable and he is honored to have so many genuine grooming friends worldwide.

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