By Jonathan David
I love to travel—whether it’s for work or for pleasure, I love seeing different cities around the country and around the world. But no matter where I go, one of my pleasures is coming across a local grooming salon and going in to check it out.
I love this industry and I love to see how different grooming businesses represent themselves and our industry, as well as what types of services they offer. I have seen some beautiful grooming salons and boutique stores that offer a few add–on services and some retail. But what surprises me the most is how many grooming salons I’ve come across that don’t sell retail products or offer add–on services—or the retail and add–on services they do have could use a definite boost.
But why should a grooming salon put effort into promoting add–on services or adding retail to their existing business?
Many of the groomers that I have met in person at trade shows and in my seminars have expressed an interest in adding retail to their existing salons, but the idea of taking on the task seems overwhelming to them. I can see the nervous look on their faces as they ask me questions about venturing into selling retail products. I can completely relate to the stress of the idea of having to deal with obtaining a resale certificate, collecting and paying state sales tax and worrying about laying out a substantial investment to bring retail products into your salon. But the truth is that it’s really not that difficult and the benefits are not just financial.
Let’s explore some things to consider ahead of time to form a solid business plan so you know what types of things you’d like to sell based on the needs of your customers and to understand the costs involved.
What Should I sell?
The first thing I would consider is what items you’d like to offer to your retail customers. You should think about what your customers in your area are likely to need and purchase, but also think about the profit margins. For example, the mark–up on food and treats is considerably lower than that of things like toys, beds, bowls, collars and leashes. But unless you’re selling high volume, you won’t profit that much from these items alone.
Know your customers and understand your market to better choose your merchandise for resale. For example, I’m located in south Florida and our weather is warm most of the year, but in the winter months, we carry warm and cozy winter coats for dogs. You might think, ‘Why would a salon in south Florida carry winter coats?’ Well, aside from a few cold nights here and there, in south Florida we get a tremendous amount of tourism in the winter months and we sell a lot of coats to people who are heading back to the cold. And when it comes to beds, we sell a lot of floral and palm prints, cool–feeling colors and softer materials. Plaids and darker flannel prints and wool textures are far less popular because they don’t go well with our climate and scenery. That’s what I mean about knowing your market; carry the things that will sell well to your clients and don’t carry things that don’t really work in your area.
You should carry the things your clients genuinely need and are likely to buy again and again. And in doing so, you create customer loyalty and a lasting partnership in the care of their pet. The financial benefits of a retail mark–up are obvious, but the convenience and knowledge you provide for your clients creates a loyal customer—and that’s far more valuable to the success of any pet care business.
How Will I display Everything?
Once you’ve decided what things you’d like to carry, you need to think about how you want to display everything to your customers. You want to choose displays or shelving that suit the décor of your salon, and will hold all the items you’ve decided to carry. Be careful not to overcrowd a space; this can be unwelcoming and deter people from shopping.
Displays can also be quite costly, but with a little imagination you can come up with some great and inexpensive ways to display merchandise. You can find some nice shelving at local stores or you can create shelving by stacking decorative boxes for a fun display. Another fun idea is to use decorative bins or baskets to display toys around the perimeters of your store or near the point–of–sale area as an impulse buy. You can also create a great display area for collars and leashes and other hanging items using pegboard with a nice wood trim—not very costly, and if done well it can look fantastic!
Think about the space you’ll be utilizing for retail and how you’d like to lay it out. Drawing a layout on paper can be very helpful to plan your retail area, and help you visualize how it will look. Think about which items will take up room and allocate space for them while keeping smaller items near the register as impulse buys while the customer is checking out. Create signage that’s appealing and choose a font that goes with your salon logo or business cards—it’s the details that count!
Should I Be Offering Add–On Services too?
Add–on services are another great avenue to bring up profits and provide very beneficial services to your clients. Becoming educated about specialty products to help with the treatment of allergies, skin conditions or coat issues will help you to better serve your clients—and at the same time, add to your bottom line.
We offer a variety of specialty shampoos and conditioners as well as skin treatments that aid in the relief from allergies, itchiness and flaking, or to help restore strength and moisture to skin and coats. We also offer the application of touches of color to ears or tails, and feather extensions or bling, all for a nominal upcharge. The clients appreciate the selection of additional services and add–ons available to them.
Creating a nice menu board of add–on services displayed near your check–in area helps to advertise the services and let your customers know they exist. The more eye–catching the sign is, the more people will take a moment to read it. I also advise that you make suggestions to clients about specific services you think would benefit them.
How Do I Get Started?
Now that you’ve got a plan, the last thing you’ll need to do is file for a resale certificate that enables you to sell items and collect sales tax on taxable goods. This is a very easy task. In the state of Florida where my business is located, a resale certificate is just $5 to register and $5 to renew annually, and you can do it online. The forms are easy to fill out and you just need to provide some of your business information.
If you’re ready to take the steps to bring retail to your salon, make a plan, figure out your costs and start the fun and exciting part of merchandising! You don’t have to start big; you can begin with the items you know will sell the most and build your retail as your customer base grows. Make wise choices. And if something doesn’t sell well, mark it down, get it out and try something new!
If you can run a salon successfully, you can run retail too. So start selling and enjoy the benefits of your hard work and dedication! ✂️