Photos by Balsam Photography Co
When John and Jennifer Teneyck opened a mobile grooming business in June 2020, they didn’t expect to have a waiting list within six months. And, less than a year later, they’ve added a second truck.
Located in Ponte Verde Beach, Florida, the couple is new to Florida and mobile, but they’re not new to grooming. Jennifer Teneyck ran a salon in Dutchess County, NY for 13 years. But when her husband was ready to retire from area law enforcement, they wanted to trade snow for palm trees, and with it, a new lifestyle.
“I love dog grooming, but I didn’t want another salon. We’re getting older,” says Jennifer Teneyck.
Back in Dutchess County, NY, Jennifer’s dog grooming salon kept her busy. She had six groomers and there was plenty of hustle and bustle.
The move to Florida was part of a three–year plan, but COVID–19 hit a week after they’d moved. After spending a couple of months wondering “what’s next,” the couple decided on a plan.
Jennifer says, “On June 5th, we decided to buy a mobile truck, mask up, and go to people’s houses and do what we do best.”
Pawgrass Mobile Dog Spa was born. “We were hesitant obviously because the world turned upside down, but we implemented all protocols for COVID and quickly became a huge success,” she shares.
The name “Pawgrass” is a nod to a native grass that grows in the area called Sawgrass. Sawgrass is highly recognizable in the community both as a plant and in the name of many area businesses such as a shopping mall, a business center and the Sawgrass Country Club, which is home to a PGA tournament. Customers appreciate the play on words.
The affluent Ponte Vedre Beach community is passionate about their dogs. “It’s a great market here. There are dog parks everywhere. People take their dogs shopping. There’s a brew pub where you can drink beer or wine and enjoy a meal with your dog at your feet,” Jennifer says.
As part of their COVID–19 protocols, Jennifer shared, “We made Pawgrass Dog Spa masks. When we go to the door, the dog is sometimes in the customer’s arms. I’ll take the dog and then step away and we talk. Or sometimes they let the leash go and the dog runs to me.”
The couple has developed a compatible working partnership. Jennifer handles the grooming and John sanitizes the van in between grooms.
John says, “People love the service. People are venturing out less and less.”
“By November/December we were getting a lot of calls. We shrunk our service area and started telling people we couldn’t take them. Now we have a waiting list. We just ordered a second truck. We didn’t plan on that at all,” Jennifer shares excitedly.
Jennifer and John wondered if the mobile aspect was the draw, so Jennifer asked. The answers surprised her: “I’m asking people if they’re looking for mobile grooming because it’s mobile and they say ‘No, it’s convenient. My dog doesn’t like riding in the car and by the time they get to the salon they’re hyped up.’”
Jennifer says with mobile grooming, the dogs stay relaxed, “In Florida, you drop off your dog in the morning and your dog can wait for six hours before it’s their turn. With mobile, the dog can see their house while they’re being groomed which keeps them calmer.”
She enjoys the individualized interaction too. “Mobile compared to a salon is completely different. You’re one–to–one with the dog. I’ve never had so many dogs want to fall asleep while I’m grooming them. I’m enjoying grooming more than ever.”
Jennifer says she likes to keep pre–booked appointments. “I educate my clients on the importance of dog grooming for health and hygiene. I have two–week customers, three–, four–, five–, and six–week customers. I have a standard Poodle on a weekly schedule. Some even say, ‘I’ll leave it up to you.’ Most pre–book two to four appointments. We do reminder calls and my app texts reminders the night before. It also does smart scheduling which groups appointments together in similar neighborhoods.”
Always concerned with the health of the dogs and communication with her clients, she gives her clients a photo with an update if she finds any lumps or abnormalities.
Jennifer’s van serves as a traveling advertisement with the name splashed on the side. She also uses social media to advertise. “I have clients sign an agreement that allows me to share their pup photos on social media. We also give a homemade dog biscuit to every dog we groom. We buy them from a local baker,” she shares.
Jennifer says, “Mobile grooming is beneficial for the dog, the customer, and the groomer.”
Pawgrass Mobile Dog Spa is doing a “pawtastic” job of caring for their growing number of dog clients, and, it looks like they have a bright business future ahead of them! ✂️