Benefits of Opening a School of Pet Grooming

by Grooming Business in a Box®

Most career seekers have little knowledge of the pet grooming industry. Often to their surprise they discover there are relatively few schools of pet grooming in the United States, and outside the U.S. In fact, at least ten U.S. states don’t have one school of pet grooming Some states with schools have only one. There are major metropolitan areas with millions of residents, of which 60% of the households own pets, yet there are no schools of pet grooming.

For many career seekers without local onsite school options education becomes a hardship. A large majority of career seekers are simply unwilling or incapable of traveling 50 miles daily (one way) to grooming school. Tens of millions of U.S. citizens are not within 50 miles of a grooming school. The areas vacant of grooming schools include some major metropolitan cities too. This state of affairs is perhaps very surprising, very difficult but perhaps the adversity is a hidden opportunity for grooming business owners in commercial locations.

Pet superstores have attracted employees offering various forms of grooming training. The remaining choice for career seekers is distance learning (home study) or apprenticeships. The latter is problematic at times and the has become rare. It is our opinion that the market for grooming schools is somewhat open except where well-established schools have already taken charge and brought opportunity to thousands that want to become a pet groomer.

Are there really thousands that want to become a pet groomer in the U.S.? We think so. In a typical year at PetGroomer.com we welcomes a few hundred thousands unique visitors to one or more of its many web sites. Figuring there are about 80,000 to 100,000 groomers in the U.S. as some estimates state, that leaves a few hundred thousand other non-grooming visitors of which many are considering a career in pet grooming. Based on surveys we have taken of our visitors we estimate 2,000 to 3,000 different career seekers visit PetGroomer.com weekly. We’re confident then that it is correct to say that there are tens of thousands of people in the U.S. interested in a pet grooming career and educational opportunities.

Opening a school of pet grooming, usually by expanding an existing grooming business, offers three major benefits for the best candidates.

Personal Satisfaction

One of the best reasons for opening a school of grooming is the satisfaction of helping people achieve their goals to start a new career and to be successful at doing that. As consultants we lectured to students at grooming schools for a few years. We provided the with the Becoming the Business Person That Grooms Workshop™ which balanced their how-to grooming instruction with a 3 to 5 day seminar on the “business side” of grooming. Now years later we still keep in contact with many and enjoy seeing the fine businesses they quickly established with our seed knowledge. There were plenty of hugs, smiles and happy times along the way as they achieved their goals through school and beyond; we would never have traded that experience for anything and even today that is one of the reasons we love our PetGroomer.com; it’s helping people and it’s a feeling money cannot buy in the same way. If this appeals to you, and you’re very patient and intent on finding the professional teacher in you, you may find tremendous pride and personal satisfaction in owning a school of pet grooming.

Reduce Physical Wear & Tear

You cannot be in any trade as physical as pet grooming without being concerned about the wear and tear on your body. It’s simply natural there is wear and tear, and you can do a lot to mitigate it by taking care of your health, learning how to properly stand, sit, hold scissors and clippers, lift pets, etc. However, there’s more. If you are one of the few who develop a large grooming business you can at some point start “putting down the clippers and scissors” more and letting a hired staff generate the income and you manage. How you do that takes very special knowledge, and we’ve given much of that knowledge in our book, From Problems to Profits-The Madson Management System. There’s another way, you can be paid for teaching. Neither direction fully eliminates the need to do some grooming, but you will not be grooming full-time at your workstation and instead demonstrating part of the time, and supervising part of the time if you manage your school program correctly. How to do this should be learned from your getting education from groomers who have done this evolution of their grooming business.

Increase the Net Worth of Your Business

Without being too technical here you should understand that every business has “revenue sources.” For pet groomers, they have a primary source, their grooming services. Some grooming business owners add retail sales, and that’s a second revenue source. Others offer some pet sitting, training or dog walking etc. All of these are additional revenue sources. A well organized business plan for an expansion of pet grooming salon into a school will document the financial expansion clearly showing how revenue from tuition becomes a new revenue source. If the overall business is run properly, and profitability, the net worth of the business can be expanded as well its operation as both a grooming business and a school of pet grooming.

Is Grooming School Tuition Expensive?

Whenever anyone considers the expense of something, from low to moderate or expensive, the viewpoint expressed is personal. In our opinion, most schools of pet grooming providing a comprehensive education and hands-on experience are not expensive, but coming up with the tuition in a lump sum payment or perhaps even payments is certainly going to seem expensive to some career seekers. Let’s take a closer look at a 400 hour program for $5,000 tuition not including the initial toolbox.

Start here. How many hours is the school program? Let’s assume 400 hours. Divide the tuition dollars by the number of hours. The result is $12.50 an hour to tuition. In our opinion to learn the basics of a trade that can lead to a job or self-employment earning $20,000 to $50,000 a year for $12.50 is an amazing deal. CNN Money reported in 2013 that average student debt was nearly $30,000 per student. Four years in college often exceeds $50,000 to $100,000. Compare the cost of college with $5,000 grooming school tuition plus a tool box for $750.00 to $1,500. College is expensive, not grooming school. Further, there are college graduates that may never make the annual income of skilled pet groomer in some metropolitan areas even after spending tens of thousands more than for a college education.

What we have to understand is the perspective of people that want to go to grooming school but they don’t have the savings for tuition and related costs to attend, including a toolbox. It is indeed a lot of money for some to come up with; that’s understandable. In this predicament the potential student often translates their inability to invest in their career choice into a statement that pet grooming schools are expensive, and few really are. The field of pet grooming has thousands of such potential students, and it is in the interest of the new school owner to investigate tuition assistance. There are a handful of schools today offering financial aid.

Keep in mind that offering financial aid from government sources is usually not available until the school has been operating for 2 years and earns its accreditation. Some schools accept payment plans they finance, or they find private parties who offer private aid to students. We suggest that school owners explain as we have here just how low the hourly fee really is to give the potential student a more correct perspective.

Are Students Essentially Employees or Students?

There are legitimate arguments against some schools using students more as employees with some instruction instead of a more formal approach in the tradition of a vocational school. Obviously students need to complete lab experience by grooming dogs (and sometimes cats too), but there is a substantial need for classroom time. We estimate that a 400 hour program could have 5% to 10% of that time allocated to the classroom in stages. It is true that we have heard from students that they were given less than a few hours of classroom time and basically were quickly shown this and that and put to work. Worse yet, they got only a modest amount of one-on-one time with instructors and steady supervision. It’s enough here to say that we support a very well-planned curriculum with stages of classroom and lab experience in stages of progression from entry level to advanced grooming. We could never favor students viewed the school owner primarily as a substitute for employees; and fortunately most schools today are operating this way.

It has been our field experience that the wise school and grooming owner will communicate to their employees that students are actually “clients.” They are indeed, just like the pet owners paying for grooming services, students are paying for educational services. They are clients of the business whose satisfaction is just as important as the pet owner patrons. We’ve experienced many grooming schools where this viewpoint was askew from the viewpoint of the employees. It’s understandable; they are not business owners and managers, and it is duty of the owner and manager to enlighten their hired staff to treat students as clients of the business.

Where to Start

We’ve worked as consultants helping pet groomers to expand with a school of grooming and maintain their pet grooming operation; like two divisions of the same parent company. In our opinion you need to reach a steady demand of grooming services before you expand to ensure that you have a consistent supply of dogs (and cats if applicable). Students may have to share dogs sometimes, but they shouldn’t have to share dogs consistently. You may require approximately 12 dogs a day for a small school. It shouldn’t be difficult to obtain that level of clientele in most areas. We also suggest you write a business plan. In fact, some states may require a business plan or “operational plan” as part of compliance with state licensing for vocational institutions.

Consider Hiring a Consultant

There are extremely few consultants specializing in opening grooming schools. We do have leads for you. The amount of work it will take can be moderate to substantial. We assisted a salon to add a school in California, and it took about 9 months. In the end there were over 600 pages of paperwork, and we even had to take courses offered by the State of California to learn how to complete the application. Did the owner really need to hire us as consultants to help? The owner is grooming and managing their business full-time. Where would he or she get the free time to do what took us 9 months? There was no question that it would have taken months more, and probably not have ever gotten done without either a consultant or a business partner. Keep in mind that we have assisted others outside California and the paperwork took about three months, not 9 as in California. Because of budgetary issues the bureau overseeing state licensing in California has even been closed at times.

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Consultants with a proven track record and intellectual properties in grooming can be just what you need, especially if you groom and manage most of the time. You should be able to open your school much earlier, and perhaps writing hundreds of pages of curriculums, tests, files and other documentation is not in present skills, but you know how to groom and how to teach and you have the passion for a school. Well then investing in the right consultant is a strong consideration for you.

Paperwork and audit trails are very important. You need systems to keep detailed attendance and tardiness records, file and archive letters and memos issued to students, record test results, personal notes on the progress of each students and much more. As in all other businesses if there is a dispute, the files are looked upon very carefully to resolve disputes. An effective consultant will help you to setup these systems such that you only have to maintain them. You need to prepare financial projections and budgets for the school too, and again, a consultant can help you to do this as part of their contract.

We strongly recommend that you find assistance from family members with business acumen, perhaps a business partner or an excellent consultant to assist you. That’s where you start, and before you make any decision based simply on what you are reading here, call your state government. Ask for the name of their agency or bureau that state licenses vocational schools of education, and once you locate them request a “new vocational school” package from them to see just how much is involved in your state.

Please note that nearly all U.S. states do state license private postsecondary schools, but there are a few that don’t. if you attempt to open a school without state licensing they will rapidly shut you down when discovered. We have seen notices for immediate shutdown of operations in Texas and other states.

Don’t become overwhelmed if there are many requirements. Complete each project one step a time, like going up one rung on the ladder at a time. Eventually you reach the top. Take the time to do your research and plan carefully; you never rush in opening a school. You are affecting the careers of potentially many people including their working incomes, so it’s an important task not to take lightly yet it is also a joy to help people reach their dreams. Just get the help you need and plan carefully. Remember the long term benefits mentioned here of operating a school. They may help you to groom less with less wear and tear and yet remain in an industry you love helping students to achieve their dreams.   ♦

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