Are You Working Your Rear Off But ‘Just Getting By’?

September 11th, 2013 by ificore

Standard poodle w_3 shihtzues_edited-1

I was having lunch the other day with a couple of groomers. One of them was complaining about how hard she was working yet she barely made enough money to scrape by. Does this sound like you?

I was puzzled by this. She has a Standard Poodle that she shows in confirmation. She’s been in the competition pet styling ring and won. She was a talented stylist. Her clients loved her. She had a full roster of pets every week. She was totally immersed in grooming.

Then I asked her a key question,” How much do you charge for a Standard Poodle?” She told me, “Somewhere between $70 and $80.” I cocked my head and asked, “Is that for a shave off for something more stylish with hand scissoring?” She very proudly responded, “Oh no, that’s a full and scissor job.” I then asked her how long it took to groom the Standard Poodle on average. She told me she normally works on them for about 3 to 3 ½ hours. I thought to myself, “Wow, her clients are getting a great deal.”

I then went on to ask her how much you charge to groom an average Shih Tzu in her salon. Her response was, about $45. OK… I then asked, “How long does it take you to groom an average Shih Tzu?” She responded with, “About an hour.”

Hmm… I saw the problem. She loved the Standard Poodles so much, she simply enjoyed grooming them – and she did a knockout job with them. The word spread. She had no shortage of Standard Poodles in her clientele. However, her pricing was way too low for Standard Poodles. She could easily groom three Shih Tzus in the time it took her to do one Standard Poodle. Yet she charged between $70 and $80 for Standard Poodle while she got about $45 for the little Shih Tzu. Her math wasn’t working.

For that same block of time, she would earn about $135 for three Shih Tzus to one Standard Poodle at $80. No wonder she was barely making ends meet! Her eyes grew huge as the light bulb went off in her own head. When presented in this manner, the problem was crystal clear — even to her. Her prices were way too low for a Standard Poodle! And considering she did at least one Standard Poodle a day, she was losing a considerable amount of money each week. No wonder she was working her rear off and just getting by. Sound familiar?

What I suggested to her was not to charge by the hour but to look at her work overall. Have an idea of how long it takes to groom each dog in an ideal setting without interruptions. Set a pricing structure that parallels that ideal time. She knew the Shih Tzus took about an hour to groom and she earned $45 for each of them. If she were to carry that same pricing structure through to her larger dogs like Standard Poodles and Doodles, she should be getting approximately $135 for each one of those dogs.

Most proficient pet groomers and stylists can turn a small and medium-size dog in about an hour or less when working solo. That’s bath, dry and haircut. Standard Poodles take between 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours to complete.

Your rates might be different but you get the idea of how the system works. If you’re one of those professional groomers that has a full roster of pets every week (25-30 pets) yet barely making enough to pay your bills — I strongly suggest you look at your pricing structure. My guess is that it needs some tweaking to make it fair to both the client and to you. If you can’t groom a pet profitably, why groom them at all? There is nothing wrong with getting a fair wage in exchange for your skills!

Happy Trimming!

– Melissa

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