According to the Pet Age Retail Report, stores offering grooming services have dropped about 20 percent in the past 3 years. At the same time, those surveyed said grooming services was one of the top services they want to offer in the next year.
Retailers, as well as experts, say while a first look at the numbers may be confusing, it’s definitely not bad news, and attributes it to several factors, including new trends that are emerging in that area, such as mobile grooming, as well as the level of skill it takes to perform the trade.
Chris Watts, owner of The Petropolitan in Dallas, said it’s hard to find groomers who meet his store’s standards, because sometimes someone will be great at using a blade, but not so good with scissors.
Even when a store does find a groomer that’s a good fit, many times they aren’t prepared for all the “extras” that offering the service can bring, including contractual labor issues, liability and both the start up, and ongoing costs, like shampoo, he said.
“You are adding a whole additional piece to the management [of the store],” Watts said. “It’s time consuming. For example, if you’re not a groomer you need to train you and your staff about it so they are knowledgeable to the customer.”
Ginny Anziani, the owner of Doggie U K9 Academy in Bayshore, Long Island, has been offering grooming services since she opened her business 7 years ago.
She explained that at first it was convient because people didn’t have to run to two different places – a class and a grooming salon. As the years went on she noticed the industry becoming more personalized.
Some customers want to deal with a groomer who just does puppy cuts, or someone who specializes in poodles, for example. Since it wouldn’t be cost effective to offer all of those in one place, stores need to find a niche.
In Anziani’s case, her business provides the personalized attention dog owners are looking for. Similar to a hair salon, they only make appointments for one dog at a time.
“Sometimes a dog can be in a grooming shop for five or six hours just hanging out in a crate,” she said. “You bring your dog in, then two hours later when your dog is done, the person gets a call to come and pick up the dog.”