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Are you starting a new dog grooming business? You are entering a challenging and highly rewarding venture. According to a recent survey, 76% of pet parents are frustrated by the behavior of their dogs while trying to bathe their dogs at home and, because of this fact, over 56% don’t bathe their dogs often enough (

For these reasons, taking one’s dog to a dog grooming business is increasingly becoming a regular part of the routine for pet parents.

With growing popularity in sight, it is important to construct a new dog grooming business to secure stability and long-term growth. Consider the following steps to build a business plan that cements your dog grooming business in place.

Step 1:  Research Potential Customers

Before trying to market or sell services to potential customers, it is important to know who your customers are and what they want or need from a dog groomer. To determine this, create a demographic or image of your customer. Does your customer want regular dog grooming services or is the individual looking for one-time service? Is your customer an owner of more than one dog? How price sensitive is the potential customer? Will your potential customer want to buy dog food, toys, furnishing and medical items at your location? Asking such questions will help form an image of the customer that can be used in marketing messages or sales campaigns.

Step 2:  Assess Competitors

If your business has already secured a location, it is vitally important to assess any competitors with dog grooming services in the region. Search for any mobile grooming services, as well.

Conduct research about all competitors discovered and determine the answers to questions, such as “What are the pricing models?” “Does your competitor offer special packages or bundles?” “What tools and methods do they use to bathe and groom the dog?” Discover everything you can about the competition so you can set up your business to overcome the efforts made by competitors. Start looking for niche services you can offer, or unique items to sell in addition to the service provided.

Step 3:  Create a Financial Plan and Forecast

To complete this step, construct a full report of all expected income for the first year of business. Following that, construct the anticipated expenses of the first year of business. Clarify any questionable expenses or income and add to the business plan. If funding for the startup is necessary, you may want to approach lenders or investors with the request for funding.

A lender will loan with the caveat that funds are repaid with interest on a set schedule. When repayment is complete, there is no further obligation. An investor will offer funds without the need of repayment; however, the investor will want a certain percentage of the ownership of your company. This is often a non-starter for business owners. In either case, consider the offers carefully and choose the best terms possible.

Step 4:  Plan Marketing Strategies

Marketing strategies for a startup should include banners for the front of the dog grooming facility, signage near the location with the company name and location prominently displayed, a regional series of drop-in cards in local newspapers or periodicals, and community-related efforts to introduce the company to the population.

Visit every veterinarian office within the greater region to introduce your services. Create a collaborative relationship with a vet provider to suggest the services of each other during the course of business. Such introductory efforts will be to help customers recognize your business and kickstart customer retention.

Step 5:  Outline an Operational Plan

An effective operational plan is a multi-part element of the business plan. In the permitting part of the operational plan, the dog grooming business will need to obtain required licensing for the business, permitting for the facility and any certifications or regulatory compliance for the business. In addition, business insurance should be purchased for liability, accidental death (of dogs), and other potential incidents that may arise. Planning for contingencies is always a better choice, rather than facing a difficult situation and being forced to respond.

In the operational plan, you’ll place the roles and responsibilities of each staff member, including the management team and all owners. This is the structure to be used across the board that will identify and specify roles to avoid confusion or misdirection of responsibilities. The operational plan will also include maintenance schedules. There should be a contingency plan included in this section for any medical needs of staff in case a dog bites or injures a staff member. Protocols for reports of such incidents, care procedures or medical visits as required, along with reports that indicate if the injuries were treated and any case file was closed. Other contingency plans, such as dog owners who don’t return for their dogs, and other incidents should be outlined and written into the operational plan as a cautionary measure.

Step 6:  Construct the Final Business Plan

Although this takes time, it will be well worth the effort to have a structural roadmap for the start and future of your dog grooming business. In fact, after compiling this document, you may choose to pursue the role of business plan consulting for other dog grooming owners or related businesses.

Finalize the plan by compiling in one document the customer demographic image and the assessment of competitors already prepared. Add the financial forecast, marketing strategies, and operational plan to the final document.

You are fully prepared to present the business for seed funding, if needed, or take the plan to others as a franchise opportunity. View the business plan regularly and revise it when needed. This integrated, comprehensive guide will lead you directly to sustained growth and long-term success in your dog grooming business.