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A Piece of the Pie

This blog post was originally published in Perfect Pointers Magazine, and on the National Cat Groomer's Institute Blog.


The idea of going feline-exclusive with my business scared me to death.  As a dog groomer I had the luxury of seeing potential clients dragging their owners around the local park.  I saw them ‘shopping’ with their owners at the local pet store, accepting cookies and belly rubs.  I saw dogs hanging out car windows, tongues flapping in the wind.  There are rarely any cats being walked at my local park, and I don’t see many kitties getting belly rubs or cookies at the pet store.  If I ever see a cat hanging out a car window, tongue flailing in whimsical glory, I promise to take video. 

As a cat groomer I may see cats roaming my neighborhood, but they are not attached to a customer.  There is no other end of the leash to hand a business card to and start a...

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Starbucks Customers

A Starbucks grooming business focuses on high-end clients who may be more fussy but they are dealing with less of them.  They focus more time on customer service and making the client happy. These clients may, or may not require complicated, technical haircuts... but they DO require a solid haircut, no hack jobs will be accepted.

Customers may proclaim "do whatever you want", which is misleading because what they really want you to do is figure out the most flattering haircut on their dog.  High end clients vaguely expect you to magically know their preferences and ideals. When these customers have healthy boundaries they respect your time, and your schedule. They tend to work jobs where they are under a lot of time / pressure so luxury or convienant grooming options like Mobile, start to finish cage-free or grooming where their dog can go to daycare beforehand is generally best.

Depending on location I'd assume a shih tzu haircut would be $55 - $85 at this salon.

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Dunkin Donuts Customers


I would say this is about half of the grooming industry, Dunkin Donuts reminds me of the typical local shop. Their work is good, maybe there is one or two amazing artists who can preform specialty skills but for the most part the customers are here for their "coffee and doughnuts". Customers are ordinary people, they want their pet clean, well groomed but most owners don't expect a hand scissored finish.

A 4 all over so their dog can swim in the family pool and go camping all summer. Depending on the owner of the salon these customers can be loyal, or fickle. Customers may or may not be on a regular schedule, the ownership would have to set healthy boundaries with clients to create that sense of urgency. These shops tend to be one or more employees, sometimes they are mobile but it is hard to charge lower prices and afford a top of the line grooming van.

Sometimes they're at home groomers or house call groomers. Semi-retired groomers who just want to flex their scissor...

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McDonald's Coffee Customers


We all know these shops.  The chop shops.  The "sure you can come in now, or later, or whenever" shops.  The area's "oh God tell me you didn't pay someone to do that to your dog" shop.  Now, if this is your business model please remember it is not realistically a sustainable model.

McDonalds can sell a cup of coffee for $1 because they're trying to get you to buy other things.  Their $1 cup of coffee is called a "loss lead" which means they lose money on one item to get you in to hopefully buy more items.  If grooming is your main service, having a loss lead grooming operation is never going to last.  When you're grooming 2-3 dogs compared to Dunkin Donut's and Starbuck's one dog, you are burnt out waiting to happen.  

Petco and Petsmart use their grooming as a loss lead to sell their dog training, food and other retail.  That's how they can afford $10 - $15 bath specials.  The ONLY way this works is if the groomer is a Hobby...

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They're Not all your Customers


Starbucks.  Dunkin Donuts.  Mcdonalds.
They all sell coffee

The product is the same.  The branding, ideal client and price point is totally different.

Photo credit: Business Insider


Known for its high-end brand, elaborate lattes and particular customers. Standing in line the orders are for extra wet, no foam, red eye, breve, with soy or hold the whip lattes.

Dunkin Donuts    

Focusing on everyday people getting their coffee and getting to work. Medium Iced Regular, Large Hot Extra Extra, Double chocolate doughnut, Bacon Egg and Cheese on a Croissant. While recently they've added lattes; their main focus is the daily commuter getting their coffee and breakfast.


McDonald's coffee is known as "surprisingly good" for it's price point and the fact that it's, well, McDonalds. Hungry commuters or weary travelers can get a cup of coffee, a breakfast sandwich...

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