House Call Grooming for Felines: Is In-Home Cat Grooming Right for You?
By Deborah Hansen
A house call grooming business is a great way to quickly start a small business if you have limited up–front funds. When I started my grooming business, it literally grew penny by penny. Every penny made was reinvested into the business.
How to Get Started
Startup expenses for a house call grooming business should include insurance, taxes, business license, website, basic tools and some way to transport your equipment. After these basics are covered, additional funds may be invested as they become available.
Insurance for a house call grooming business can be obtained from most companies that insure grooming salons.
Depending on how you structure your business, taxes may be due before the following April 15th for those living in the United States. Make sure you check with a professional to determine the best way to structure your business, then make sure you know all your filing dates. Missing any filing date may be accompanied by a large financial penalty. Another thing to be aware of is that some tax forms may be due every few years. Check your state’s website for more information.
Business licenses vary by city or county. Check your city’s website for business license information.
After you have your business structure, taxes and licenses set up, it is time to advertise and promote your business. A strong searchable website, along with social media will go a long way in helping your ideal client find you. After you start your website, you can continue working on developing content while you are waiting for your phone to ring.
Cat grooming requires minimal tools. You can find the tools I recommend in the July 2018 issue. A variable speed dryer, shop vac, combs, nail clippers, cordless clipper with blades, shampoo, ear and face cleaner, trash bags and cotton balls will get you underway.
What you transport your equipment in is very important. I like the professionalism of bringing all of my equipment into the home in one trip. It is important to have your hands free because you never know what you will encounter on the other side of the door. When choosing your method, be sure to consider the width of doors and gates and if you will need to maneuver stairs. While many choose something with wheels, I personally developed tennis elbow from pulling my equipment. I recommend a hiking backpack for equipment and a lunch box for liquids.
Is House Call Grooming A Good Idea For Cats?
I believe house call grooming is the best environment in which to groom felines. Cats, by nature, prefer to stay in their homes. Felines feel safe in the environment they know best. They also do not like to do things they do not think is their idea. The very nature of a cat makes the idea of being forced to go outside their home environment an event that causes stress.
Owners prefer house call grooming for the convenience of not having to transport the cat or get it ready to go outside to a mobile unit. By having the cat groomed in its own environment, the owners do not have to struggle to get the cat into the carrier. Owners are spared hearing the cat’s vocal expressions while waiting for the groomer to arrive or during the car ride. Most importantly, the owners do not have to fear the cat eliminating on themselves during the journey home— or the possibility of having the cat escape during transport.
Since house call grooming occurs in the feline’s home environment, the grooming process starts with much less stress on the cat. This starting point allows the groomer to successfully complete more of the groom before the feline’s anxiety becomes an issue. This is especially important for cats that are easily stressed, have medical conditions or are elderly.
Another benefit of house call grooming is the cats usually return to their normal behavior immediately after the grooming process. The total time the cat is stressed is shorter with house call grooming than any other form of grooming because the wait and travel times are eliminated.
When Is House Call Grooming Not Ideal For Cats?
I believe when you are working with a highly aggressive cat, you need every advantage you can get. For aggressive cats, I recommend salon grooming. When these cats are groomed in an unfamiliar environment, they do not have the escape route or hiding places planned out. They tend to fight relatively less in a salon because they are not assured in their escape plans. I also believe that cats living in homes with construction or other loud random noises are not candidates for house call grooming.
What Are The Struggles Of House Call Grooming?
The down side to house call grooming is not having control over your work environment. This can affect the quality of the final product. Not being able to control humidity and temperature of your work space sometimes leaves your groom below the quality you would be able to achieve in a salon. Additionally, you need to set up, clean up and pack up after every house.
The biggest concern of house call grooming is personal safety. When going into the homes of multiple strangers every day, the chance your safety may be jeopardized is much higher than working in a salon or mobile unit. Before beginning a house call business, you need to have a safety plan in place. Make sure someone always knows where you are going. Have a system worked out that you can easily signal someone to call local law enforcement if you are in danger. When you walk into any home, always make a mental note of two escape routes. There are many personal protection products that are disguised as common items that offer additional protection and peace of mind.
House call grooming is ideal for most cats. Felines feel safer and allow the groom to continue longer in their home environment. With lower startup costs, owner convenience and less stress on the feline, house call grooming is an ideal way to open your grooming business. ✂️
Deborah Hansen, CFMG, CFCG, is the owner of a successful feline exclusive house call business, Kitty’s Purrfect Spa in California. She is the creative talent behind Feline Artistic Creations and founder of “Deborah’s Programs,” a complete rebooking program for cats. Deborah is also the owner and creator of Kitty’s Kopy Kats, a stationary store for cat groomers, and author of multiple articles in Groomer to Groomer magazine, Purrfect Pointers and local publications on the topics of feline grooming, issues that affect felines, and business growth. She teaches, speaks and consults on the topics of all things feline, including grooming, environment, behavior, and creative grooming. Additionally, she teaches business and online presence for groomers.deborahhansen.com