Why do you groom pets? Ask ten groomers and you will find some similar answers; for the love of the pet, for the artistry, for the independence of the workflow or to control your own schedule, just to name a few.
But rarely in the top-three list of “whys” is the actual reason that most of the world’s workforce shows up day after day…the paycheck.
Money is not a bad word, and neither is profit. Even if you are a pet groomer, you are entitled to earn enough money to enjoy a living wage (or better), make a decent living, pay your bills and even afford yourself some luxuries in life.
What does it mean to make a profit?
The answer to that question lies in the role you fill in the chain of the service. If you are a salon owner, a salon manager, a groomer or an assistant, your answer may vary as well as your opinion of “profit,” depending on the function or service you provide and what percentage of each pet’s groom is used to pay for your portion of the service.
If that answer left you confused, read that sentence again and let’s break it down.
One way to look at profit (and your portion of it) is to break down the pet’s overall pricing/service. Depending on the role you play in the pet’s service, you may look at profit from a different point of view, so let’s define profit for the different roles within a grooming business.
Salon Owners are in a unique position. They are employers and have larger scopes of responsibility than any other stakeholder in the grooming salon. They deserve a profit as well. A salon owner carries more responsibility for the overall accommodation of the service than any other role. Salon owners carry financial and legal liability; if something goes wrong, they are on the hot seat for all financial and legal issues that may arise.
Salon owners are ultimately responsible for logistics, operations, staffing and the all-important safety of all persons and pets in their facility. They may be working in the salon as a service provider, but the responsibilities they carry are additional, thus so should their portion of the pet’s grooming profit.
Salon Managers are basically installed to assist salon owners with duties that they cannot or prefer not to attend to themselves. The salon manager is often managing staff, directing work flow, and handling logistics such as supplies and inventory. All of this is often accomplished on top of their already busy schedule or doing the work of a groomer. They should be compensated—either directly or indirectly—for the additional responsibility they assume.
That compensation should be equivalent to the additional work load they are asked to perform. For example: If a salon manager is NOT grooming, they should be compensated fairly for the tasks they perform. If they ARE grooming in addition to handling their managerial tasks, they could expect to receive additional compensation for the amount of time they directly devote to tasks not associated with grooming.
Groomers are often at the central part of the grooming profit debate. The service they provide is necessary and central to the entire process; however, without a facility, supplies, utilities, support in the way of software, scheduling tools or, in some cases, additional staff to provide care for the pets, the grooming service is incapable of being performed. This is the chicken/egg debate. Groomers need salons (or at least a place to work) and salons need groomers to provide the service.
Understanding that all of the things around a groomer (including the intangibles such as cash flow, insurance and legal protection) also come at a cost, groomers are learning to thrive under new, more balanced pay structures. Older business models of high commission are giving way to new, sustainable business models that allow for better products, better facilities, and better care in general for the pets and clients.
Why? Because if groomers take all of the profits from a groom, there simply isn’t enough left over to sustain a business long-term, replace outdated fixtures, invest in continuing education, or even provide basic necessities such as paid time off or personal insurance options.
Grooming Assistants are a luxury for some groomers and a necessity for others. Regardless, their wages are derived from the same pool of money that salon owners, managers and groomers also share. Someone has to pay for them—and ultimately—it’s the client who is paying for everything.
Defining a business model that allows for assistants/bathers is a delicate balance. Many groomers are aware they can make more money in a given day if they have assistance with managing the basic needs (perhaps bathing and drying); however, understand that assistant wages must also be justified in the price structure of the groom.
Whether you are a seasoned salon owner or a greenhorn grooming assistant, you deserve to earn a living wage that will sustain you in the career you have chosen. Finding the right balance in understanding the margins of a grooming business is not an easy chore, but it can be done. Know your numbers and then you can begin to manipulate them to take care of everyone.
Pet grooming as a career can offer great wages, as well as the other benefits listed above. Don’t be bashful about declaring your status as a professional and connect your ability to provide a professional service to earning a decent profit. You are a critical link in the care chain of the pet—make sure you take care of you. ✂️