Every morning as I am tidying the kitchen, planning what I am going to cook for supper and enjoying a cup of tea, I think, “Oh, I need to go to work.” Then I take 12 steps, open the door to my front porch and say to myself, (delightedly!) “I’m at work!”
Over the course of my career, I have groomed at veterinary practices, brick and mortar groomer shops, a kennel, and have even done house–call and mobile grooming. I learned much from each experience but have to say that this final chapter of home–based grooming is everything I dreamed of—and more!
I am not alone in loving this grooming–from–home lifestyle either. Scores of groomers across the U.S. have opened grooming shops in their homes, and love working this way.
Shannon Bishop says, “For the first time ever I have a solid work/life balance. I’ve been grooming for 11 years. Home–based for two. I have the ability to be there for my kids, schedule however I want, and actually see the people I care about because I’m not spending 10+ hours working for someone else every day. My mood is better, my clientele is better. It’s just very freeing.”
Home–based groomers also list the following as bonuses of operating their business this way:
- No time lost commuting
- Reduced business expenses
- The ability to design a schedule that works for them
- A relaxed work environment, which is appreciated by the groomer and the pets
- The option to choose which pets they want to work on (For instance, I only work on pets 50 pounds and under.)
- The freedom to schedule time off as desired
- A gap in the schedule, last–minute cancellation or a late pick–up allows time to tend to a chore, care for their own pets or just relax in comfort until the next pet arrives or the owner picks up their pet.
The small list of negatives include:
- Pet owners that let their dogs soil your property and don’t clean up
- The occasional owner that does not respect the privacy of the homeowner and listed business hours
- The chance of contaminating your property with fleas, ticks or other parasites.
In order to get started with a home–based pet grooming business, here are some suggested steps to take:
- Check with your local government to make sure your property is zoned to allow a business.
- Follow all local guidelines for signage, parking and noise ordinances.
- Ideally your business will be in an area of your home that is separate from the living space. Some home–based groomers work out of converted garages, outbuildings or a room that has its own entrance.
- If the bookkeeping side of running a business is not your forte, consider hiring an accountant to help you manage this aspect.
- Arrange for appropriate professional insurance for your business.
- Check with your homeowners insurance to make sure your private insurance will not be affected by a business on the property.
In order to make your grooming space functional and practical, here are some ideas to consider:
- Make sure to have excellent ventilation. Pet grooming creates a lot of humidity so a serious vent fan is necessary in most climates.
- You will need appropriate climate control for your part of the world. I am in chilly New England, so in addition to installing a lot of insulation, we also had a heater put in. Since we only have a handful of oppressively hot days each year, a portable air conditioner is all we need.
- Figure out how many electrical outlets you will need, then put in lots more. I thought I went overboard putting in outlets, but still find myself wishing for more than I have.
- Talk to your electrician about putting in a few dedicated plugs for tools that draw a lot of amperage, like high velocity dryers.
- Good lighting is important. Make sure you have enough lighting that you can really see the pets you are working on, even on cloudy days or late winter evenings. I put in recessed ceiling lights, and after a few years had my electrician come back and add a few more.
- Consider a washer/dryer set just for pet laundry. With washing/drying all those towels, you will be glad you did.
- Put some thought into installing walls that can take high moisture without being damaged. Most home–based groomers have bathtubs designed for pet grooming installed, but even so, water gets splashed about with reckless abandon during bath time so you’ll want to be sure your walls can withstand the moisture.
- Appropriate flooring is important. I started out with painted wood floors. They looked great, but every few years I had to empty the studio, scrub, sand and repaint them. I finally put down industrial grade linoleum. It looks good, cleans like a dream and I wish I had done it from the start.
Successful home–based groomers will tell you that in order to be able to enjoy your home business, you will need to be firm about setting up some guidelines. Post your hours clearly, make sure the business entrance is clearly marked and separate from private areas, and only answer your phone during business hours. It can be tempting to be “on duty” all the time, but that is a sure way to develop burnout and begin to resent your customers.
The motto, “Begin as you wish to continue,” is a good one. Think about how you want to balance your home and work life and set your plan into action from the start. Then join the many groomers who have no commute, low overhead and a job designed just the way they want to work. Home–based is great! ✂️