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Membership vs. One-on-One Pricing Models

Oct 25, 2022

Today’s episode is sponsored by the Membership Model Masterclass, a 6 week masterclass where we teach you all about creating and implementing a membership.

There are many ways you can structure your pet grooming business, including memberships and one-on-one pricing models. But which model is best?

This week, I want to help you figure out what business model works for you.

  • What is a pet grooming membership?

With pet grooming memberships, you offer a set number of spots each month and each client pays for a spot. Clients pay in advance, and they pay every month whether they get their pet groomed or not.

Say I offer grooming spots for 100 dogs each month. If a client goes on vacation one month and cancels their appointment, they will still be charged and I will only groom 99 dogs that month. It doesn’t make sense to add one member for just one month, so the client has to pay for the spot no matter what.

There are different kinds of memberships. Some businesses might prefer to charge clients a fee for the ability to book. We call those our enrollment-fee memberships. Some choose a niche where you really go down and figure out exactly the clientele you want. Some people want people to pay and book for the year. And, of course, we do have our unlimited bath model which we’re not really going to discuss here because I don’t feel like it’s apples to apples. What we’re going to discuss is that membership vs. that one-on-one grooming. Some memberships are just grooming or just bathing services with add-ons. In my business, I offered a membership for unlimited baths plus grooming as a monthly add-on.

We actually discuss this in detail in our membership workshop, our free membership workshop.  

  • Benefits of a membership model

One major benefit of the membership model is you have a month to find new clients if anyone cancels or has their status revoked. I strongly recommend requiring a 30-day cancellation notice. 

Since there are only a select number of spots, you are also likely to build up a waitlist. If anyone cancels, you can easily fill their spot with someone from the waitlist. Just to be clear, that doesn’t mean for just today. So someone cancels for Friday, you’re not going to just say, “I’ll go to my waitlist and add them.” Right?  It depends. Instead of having this person become a member, maybe they can just be a one time non-member groom. 

You can charge higher prices because you are guaranteeing a spot in an exclusive membership. Think of your grooming services like a country club. People will pay a lot more for exclusivity and love to brag about being part of a members-only club. 

Also, memberships can make check-in and check-out much simpler because you already have received payment and know what the pet gets for their haircut. 

  • What is a one-on-one model?

With one-on-one models, you groom each pet straight through one at a time start to finish. As soon as the pet is done, it gets picked up and you don’t start the next pet until after. Mobile grooming can be considered a type of one-on-one business model. 

One-on-one can work well for some businesses, especially solopreneurs, but it can be extraordinarily difficult to scale up.

  • Problems with one-on-one grooming models

A dog might take one hour to groom in theory but pick up and drop off always takes more time. Most people are busy so they might be late. This can seriously cut into your time.

With this model, cancellations and no-shows can impact your business a lot because you can’t groom that many dogs in one day. If someone is 15 minutes late, I can’t just pull this other dog out and start working on them while I’m waiting for this person. Even if you scale your business and add a bather, you still can’t groom that many dogs. It’s not always about how many dogs you groom, it’s about the flexibility of your daily work flow. I know for me, I can groom 5 dogs, and if I have them all at the same time it’s a lot faster and that is through things like having cage dryers or having a bather. Versus when I’m doing one on one I must do everyone start to finish. 

Many people try to hire a second groomer for one-on-one but I don’t recommend that because then you need to allocate time to manage your staff and perform quality control. Even if you hire competent groomers, you should double-check every dog to protect your business’ reputation. Nobody’s perfect. Even in my shop everyone double checked everyone’s dogs. Why? Because people make honest mistakes. If you want to send out a really good quality product, it’s important to do that. There’s no shame in having somebody double check your work. 

Finally, it can be much harder to cover shifts when people are sick, take time off, don’t show up, or quit. We are in a groomer drought right now and it is hard to replace people. For many owners, the only option when they are down a groomer is to work double shifts and take on all their clients — which we all know sounds awful. If you have a lot more dogs and you have a lot more flexibility with your schedule you’re able to juggle those dogs a lot better. If everyone is start to finish and you have 2 dogs coming in I can’t bathe and dry one of the dogs and put them in a kennel dryer and then start the other one. What am I going to do with that second dog? There’s not really an option with that. 

One-on-one grooming is really designed for solopreneur-style businesses. But if you do want to do one-on-one, I suggest that you either find a way to legally groom out of your home to reduce overhead costs or go mobile so that you have more control over your schedule.For better or worse, the cost of commercial spaces is going up and most spaces, unless they’re very reasonably priced, very small, very niche, it’s hard to pay for that overhead with just one groomer. And I do suggest if you’re creating a commercial space for grooming that you should be able to afford that based on one groomer and then all the other money is gravy. One-on-one isn’t really scalable the same way.

So if you couldn’t tell, I strongly prefer membership models for most groomers. But how do you price your membership model? It is highly customizable for each business, but let’s cover the basics.

  • How do you price membership models?

First, you need to determine how many spots you want to offer. If it is just you, offering 100 slots per month would mean grooming 5 dogs per day, 5 days per week. 

Next, figure out how much money you want to earn, including your overhead. Divide that dollar amount by the number of spots you’ll offer. 

This is a very simplified equation, but it will give you an idea of how to price your memberships. In our Membership Masterclass, we go over this way more in depth so I can’t give you all the nitty gritty in this very quick video. But what I can say is that’s basically how we do it. We just add in a lot more factors like: Is this a livable wage? Is this realistic? Is this what we’re doing long-term or do we want to have it even more specialized? Do we want to rotate it in a way where we can add people or add in other services? 

  • Bath-only plus grooming add-ons model

When I ran my grooming business, I offered memberships for unlimited baths and then members could add monthly grooming. I love this model! However, this model is not designed for anyone who does not have employees. 

The reason this model works so well is because bathers will be at the salon all the time anyways. Clients often came in once per week for a bath. This helped train the bathers because they were always busy, and the dogs were well behaved because they got comfortable being groomed each week. And if they wanted to practice their skills they could practice on a dog that they had built a really close relationship with. The dogs were never matted. They were well-behaved. It worked out really well. Even when regular grooming appointments would get canceled, the bath clients would always come in. This helped for my staff to keep things propped up. 

Then for grooming, and again we didn’t offer the grooming unlimited. What we did is we offered the unlimited bathing and then they would pay an additional fee for once a month grooming. I offered members two options: they could pay a flat fee on top of unlimited bathing for monthly grooming or they could get 10% off a groom. Members usually chose to get their dog groomed monthly because they were at the salon anyways. This helped with relationship building and gave the bathers lots of grooming practice. 

It was a win-win situation!

 

If you guys are interested in learning more about the Membership Model Masterclass, be sure to visit me at savvygroomer.com/mm. This is a 6 week masterclass where we teach you how to create and implement your membership model, including knowing your clientele, perfecting your pricing, and handling client reactions.

We also offer a free membership model workshop where you can decide if a membership model is right for you and your business. You can access this by visiting savvygroomer.com/mw.

Thanks for joining me in this episode of Grow Wealthy Grooming. Be sure to visit me at SavvyGroomer.com to see my current opportunities to work with me in growing your pet grooming business plus more free resources for you to learn. See you in our free community on Facebook - Savvy Pet Professionals (facebook.com/groups/savvygroomer)! Happy Grooming!

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