Grooming the Big Dogs - Groomer to Groomer

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Grooming the Big Dogs

By Michell Evans

“Hello Michell.  I do a lot of large and giant breeds.  Almost all of my groomer friends have given up doing these dogs due to the strain on their bodies.  I also seem to make less money on large dogs than small ones.  I really enjoy them and would love ideas on how to keep doing them without breaking down my body and losing income.” – Kimmy P.

Hi Kimmy. It is hard to motivate yourself or your employees to groom large and giant dogs (XL dogs) when it actually pays less than smaller dogs. Think of them as specialty work and groom them on your own terms or not at all. Consider charging at least 25% more for XL dogs. Or consider tiered pricing, for example, seventy dollars per hour for small dogs, eighty dollars an hour for medium to large dogs and ninety dollars an hour for giant dogs.

When team grooming an XL dog, be sure to charge for each groomer’s time. There is a lot of time, skill, and labor involved. Never mind shampoo, water, and electricity. Make sure to choose an hourly rate that covers the cost of all of these things. Charge for the time you spend grooming the dog and the time it takes to clean up the entire mess.

Factor in the cost of potential injury to the dog. Many XL dogs are orthopedically challenged, over weight, and out of shape. It does not take more than a slip on the wet floor to injure themselves. Not to mention, we put our own backs at risk to aid them when they are in distress. Try to schedule no more than one XL dog per day, per groomer and consider team grooming them. Also factor in the cost of potential injury to the groomer.

Equipment is critical for the safety of the dog and the groomer. Consider getting a hydraulic bath tub or a walk in shower to better serve your XL dog clientele. Also a hydraulic table that is not wobbly or shaky and holds at least 300 pounds safely is a must. You will also need a kennel that will comfortably house a giant breed and or an anchor to tie them. There are a number of aids that you can attach to your table.  There are belly straps, crotch supports, and cross ties galore! Many of these can be helpful when managing an XL dog. Non-slip surfaces for the dog and groomer to walk on are critical for safety.

To improve productivity and increase revenue try using a recirculating bathing system on XL dogs, and all dogs for that matter.  They do an amazing job of conserving water and shampoo while cutting your bathing time in half on a full coated XL dog. Also, your forced air dryers should be in good working condition with good velocity.

Training is another way you can improve your efficiency and safety. Consider having your XL dog owners bring them in to practice getting in and out of the tub and on and off the table on days that they are not actually being groomed. Call it a training session and charge for your time.

The law of supply and demand is on your side. Many XL dog owners find themselves calling salon after salon only to hear that they do not accept large breeds. I say buy the right tools for the job and charge accordingly and make some money doing what you enjoy! ✂

I am a multi-Best-In-Show and Best-All-Around groomer. I am the recipient of many Barkleigh Honors Awards. I am a Silver and Gold medalist for GroomTeam USA. I am the winner of Show Dog Groomer of the Year. I am an educator for Andis Clipper Company. I have been teaching as The Grooming Tutor since 2000. And I groom to make a living, just like you. Please send questions to [email protected]

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