Why Do Prices Vary Between Dog Groomers for Dog Grooming Services? 8 Reasons Why Dog Grooming Prices May Vary
Yesterday I had a call from a Shih Poo owner asking for a price for their dog to be groomed. Completely understandable as whether it’s the first or last question that you ask about dog grooming, understanding what is included in your dog groom and how much it will cost, is an important part of deciding where to book your dog groom.
So when you’re faced with substantial differences in pricing from different groomers it can be confusing!!
But, I’m going to take a breath and address the elephant in the room first.
It’s NOT ALL ABOUT PRICE
What??? I hear you say. Haven’t you heard of that there is a cost-of-living crisis!?!?!?
But I’ll be honest and say that when an owner calls and the first thing they ask is price, an alarm bell sounds in my head. I know, shock, horror!
And yes I know and appreciate that we are currently living in a very tough economic climate with the cost of living soaring. And I promise you that as a small business owner, I’m feeling it both personally and professionally too.
Where I can, you’ll find me frequently providing tips and techniques to owners on how to help save costs and ensure they get best value for the money they are spending on all things associated with their furiends care. Just check out our blog on How to Save Money as a Dog Owner HERE.
So why does asking about the price of a dog groom first, ring some bells for me?
To lead with price without any questions about our process, us as a team or what’s included suggest that this is the ONLY deciding factor on which groomer you will choose.
And in an unregulated industry, price can be a very misleading deciding factor on how to choose a groomer and in some cases, can be unsafe. Please do check out our full blog on How to Choose a Dog Groomer HERE which includes a handy checklist of questions to ask a dog groomer.
pssst don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying you shouldn’t ask about price but that it shouldn’t be the only question you ask when choosing where to have your dog groomed.
But Why Do Prices Vary Between Dog Groomers for Dog Grooming Services? 8 Reasons Why Dog Grooming Prices May Vary
There are multiple reasons why pricing may vary (sometimes substantially) between dog groomers, and it may take a little digging to work out the reasons. But the 7 main reasons why they might vary are:
#1 Qualified versus Unqualified Dog Groomers
As mentioned above, the dog grooming industry is unregulated and therefore we have groomers who have professionally qualified costing thousands in fees and exams and even more in time, versus those who haven’t.
Whether they need to recoup those costs and pay for ongoing training will vary the prices that each groomer charges.
As a team, at Millie’s, we more than value professional qualifications and ongoing training and we invest heavily in both. This year alone, we hosted Colin Taylor, Lisa Hart and attended several online and in person seminars and webinars. All enhancing our skills and your furiends grooms.
2023’s training calender already has dates confirmed! This of course has an impact to the prices we charge.
#2 The Level of Dog Grooming Qualification Held by a Dog Groomer
Was it a £40 online course, a £250 college course or a 4-week long City and Guilds or iPET qualification costing £4k upwards? The word ‘qualified’ in the dog grooming world is used very loosely and can represent a wide range of courses.
With comments on posts asking for a dog groomer stating “I just finished my course”, you can understand why this is so misunderstood by customers.
#3 The Quality of Dog Bathing Products
As groomers, we are all passionate about how important the bathing and drying process is in the overall quality of our dog grooms. But when trying to make financial numbers work, it’s no surprise that this is an area that varies substantially between dog groomers both in terms of price but also overall ethos towards the quality of finished dog groom.
For us – it’s not just about the style, it’s ensuring that every product we use enhances a dog groom and that also aligns with our own values.
That’s why we only use Wildwash Natural Pro Range for our main dog grooms. No parabens, phthalates, phosphates, petrochemicals, sulphates, palm oils, or PEGs. They also use 100% pure essential oils and guarantee that none of their products have been tested on animals. They are also a UK based company, with a range of products that meet the needs of all the dogs in our care, with a strong focus on recyclable and refillable options for their bottles.
BUT our approach and ethos to choosing bathing products comes at a cost – yep, my 5l shampoos cost over double the standard shampoos that many groomers use via large wholesale suppliers.
Is it worth it?? Errr… yep! And it’s a non-negotiable cost for me but it does mean our dog grooming prices can vary due to this compared to other groomers.
(n.b you may also have spotted us mention the premium new shampoos and conditioners from Doglyness. We recommend this for particular dogs who I feel would benefit from an upgrade – we’ve had amazing results!)
#4 Variation in the Quality of Equipment and Working Environment
Whenever I talk to other business owners, they are always surprised at the cost of our equipment.
Our tables cost around £1k (we have four!) and let’s not mention our bath costs! Dryers range from £300 for our stand dryers to £600 plus for our larger dryers.
And well those scissors and blades which regularly need sharpening range from £45 to a few hundred pounds each. Eeek!
Yes, we could have gotten by through installing a basic bath and standard grooming tables versus our extra low and height adjustable versions that we use. And we could have one dryer over the three options we have for every dog groom.
But using higher quality equipment and ensuring it’s all maintained, not only simplifies every groom (less time on a table for your furiend) but allows us to adapt our grooms to suit their needs. For e.g. having a range of dryers available aids us with dogs who aren’t fans of the process and a table that is extra low allows our larger or elderly dogs to step up with ease.
And most importantly I’ve seen salons where the team has to kneel to wash dogs in walk in shower cubicles or even lift dogs up to their own height to put them into a bath or onto a table. Again, this was a non-negotiable cost for me to ensure our teams health is protected when lifting and working with your furiends.
They already have a very physically demanding job so anything we can use or purchase to make it easier, then the better!
And while it comes at a cost, we make it our mission to ensure we are up to date on new equipment and options to enhance every dog groom.
#5 Variations on What’s Included in your Dog Groom
When it comes to comparison of prices, it’s important to understand exactly what’s included in each dog groom.
Many groomers charge adds on for services such as early plucking and cleaning, nail clipping plus any add on spa services like facials.
When setting our own prices, it felt ‘wrong’ to not include some services like nail clipping in our dog groom price.
I put myself back in my own shoes pre being a groomer and asked whether I’d expect certain tasks to be carried out as part of a groom for Millie when I dropped her off. And the answer was that I’d expect anything that should be done routinely to be included.
So, for all our grooms, we check and if required, carry out both nail clipping and ear plucking/cleaning.
In addition, all of our grooms have a personalised facial – a facial cleansing treatment that is tailored to each dog. From our Wild Violet foaming facial to deep cleaning yeasty and greasy shampoo bar, we’ll pick the right one for your furiends coat.
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#6 A Dog Groomers Wage/Salary Expectations (plus Real Living Wage)
Be prepared, grab that coffee. I’m going to do some maths…
A local dog groomer has a full groom and nail clip advertised for £35 (small dog). On their booking form they state this is a 2hr 20 min appointment.
Assuming they have no VAT requirements
£35 income; less
£22.16 wage cost (using current £9.50 for over 23s for 2hrs 20 minutes)
Equals £12.84 profit.
Assume max 9 hr day – therefore four dogs. Equals £50 per working day.
There are two issues and concerns with this:
#1 This assumes the current national minimum wage, not even a living wage, plus we all know this does not cover basic personal bills in the current cost of living crisis. I personally would not expect a fully qualified groomer to be working at a high standard of care for this salary.
Given the cost-of-living crisis, I personally made a decision to pay all the team, including bathers the National Living Wage plus additional payments as they progress through any additional training to increase their skills.
#2 The huge list of other costs not included in this calculation! Let’s start with the basics not included that are a must for each groom – shampoo, conditioner, electricity, gas, insurance, rent of premises (or build and maintaining premises at home or mobile), all of that equipment cleaning and maintenance that we talked about above.
And then there’s a longer list that covers costs such as annual leave pay, national insurance or even a lunch break!
So how do they make it work on these prices? Well there are a few potential ways:
– they don’t pay themselves or their team the national minimum wage;
– they work excessive hours and increase the number of dogs they see per day
All of which increases risk.
But for me, most importantly, would you want to, or have a daughter, son or family member working for little pay and in a very pressurised environment?
When it comes to our own pricing, these are all factors that have been considered. As groomers, it’s important that we do not feel pressured into working in this type of environment due to what is viewed as customers looking to pay as little as possible, rather than paying for what a groom is worth.
P.s that local dog groomer currently has 20% off advertised and yes, they have premises. I genuinely feel so sorry that they feel they have to work in this way and hope it’s part of an overall pricing strategy that allows them to not only survive but value the worth they do.
#7 Different Pricing Strategy Approaches
Pricing strategies are complex and will vary individual to each business. Each dog groomer may be varying their price based on a unique set of circumstances and their own views on the best pricing strategy to attract or retain customers.
Just a few diff scenarios, may explain the reason for a different price for your dog groom:
- Has a dog groomer just started out or are they in an area where there are lots of dog groomers starting up? Perhaps they live in an area with a lcoal college course offering lower level entry costs? If so, it may be that someone starting up may not feel they can charge a standard rate while they develop their skills (or feel they now can’t raise those prices having started out with low intro prices – see below).
- Or is the dog groomer a specialist in a particular breed and expert in a particular skill? Maybe they offer training to other dog groomers and compete in shows so feel, rightly, that just like hairdressers, their higher level of skills should be reflected in their pricing.
- Is the dog groomer trying to attract puppies onto their books, offering lower prices to start while they grow, recognising they are likely to retain them into their adult grooms? Or maybe offering a discount on a particular breed as they’d like to work more with them?
- Can the Dog Groomer afford to work for lower rates due to wider family financials or are they the sole earner for their household with lots of commitments?
#8 A General Fear or Raising Prices (And undervaluing our own Profession)
I don’t know whether it’s because we work in an unregulated industry with previously limited access to business and financial advice. Current professional dog grooming training doesn’t include specific business or financial training. Or whether when starting out, copying price lists from other local groomers has been the main way groomers have set their own prices.
But there’s no doubt that the current cost of living crisis seems to have further underpinned a genuine fear in many groomers about raising their own prices. Where both small and large organisations across the UK have raised prices, quite often I hear from other groomers that “people won’t pay in my area” and “they’ll go elsewhere”.
So, this underlying fear that you as a customer will go elsewhere if they raise their prices, means that many don’t. This means that prices can start to vary even more substantially at a time when the UK inflation rate is over 10%.
We now have pricing structures across groomers where there are those who have raised prices to survive and in alignment with the current economic climate versus those choosing to take a double pay cut and, in some cases, earn less than national living wage (as per the example above).
In Summary: Why Do Prices Vary Between Dog Groomers for Dog Grooming Services?
Every business owner, no matter what industry they are in, finds pricing HARD!
Even as an ex-accountant, I find it hard to put aside emotion, our love of what we do and our relationship with you as a short- or long-term customer when setting prices.
But we just need to look at the hairdressing and beautician industry or even dog grooming prices in the Netherlands and America to understand that the value associated with dog grooming and the pricing of services here in the UK is both undervalued and not understood.
Customers happily have paid £60 upwards for an hour with their beautician but can question £35 for two hours work when we can easily show this does not cover basic cost and time. And that’s our fault as groomers as we don’t’ talk about the ‘icky subject of pricing enough with you.
Right now, we all recognise that there is a cost-of-living crisis but for many dogs, dog grooming is an essential cost to take care of your furiend. it keeps them both healthy and happy.
However, if you are finding that you need to look at your dog grooming costs, please be aware and informed of the several reasons why your dog groom price may vary between dog groomers and do your research.
Looking to reduce costs associated with dog ownership? Then do talk to your dog groomer if there are ways that you can reduce costs.
For lots of our own customers, regular brushing and grooming with products at home, or going slightly shorter could extend grooms and reduce the time we spend on a dog groom. Do reach out – we’ll not only understand but can help you ensure you get the best value out of every groom.
And if you are you considering learning how to groom your dog at home or would like advice and support in a group environment, I have released dates for our 2023 workshops and 1:1 training days – just head over to our event list HERE to register for more information.
Blogs on similar subjects that you may find helpful:
- How Do I Groom My Dog at Home During COVID-19? Dog Face and Eye Tidy at Home
- What Questions Should I Ask a Dog Groomer? Choosing the Right Dog Groomer
- Why Do I Need to Groom My Dog? 5 Reasons to Groom Your Dog
- Angus Business Award Finalist: Best Angus Pet Care and Groomers
- Millie’s Pet Services Awarded #39 in Feedspot Top 100 Dog Blogs (2023)