How Do You Decide How To Charge For Grooming?

Hello hello and welcome to Greedy Bitch, a podcast where groomers stop apologizing for charging their worth.  I’m your host River Lee, founder of the Savvy Groomer where I teach you to go from burnt out, broke and broken to healthy, wealthy and happy- building a grooming business you love!


How do you decide your grooming prices?


There are many ways you can charge for grooming services — whether it’s by hour, by breed, by weight, or something else. But which way is best?


Recently, I’ve talked a lot about figuring out how much you should charge. But this week I want to help you figure out what method of charging is best for you.


If you’ve been following along with the Savvy Groomer, you probably know by now that as an industry, we all need to increase our prices. So the question then becomes, how do you go about doing this? How should we structure our prices? 


Should you charge by the breed? Or should you charge by weight? Should you charge per grooming slot? Or should you come up with hourly rates?


I’ll cut right to the chase. Unfortunately, there is no magic formula. And different solutions might work for different businesses. I can’t tell you how you should charge because I do not know about you and your business!


You might have heard me say that we all need to stop doing cookie cutter pricing. What works for other groomers probably won’t make sense for you, because you have to factor in so many variables like location, experience level, type of salon, what products you’re using, how many employees you have, whether you’re a high-volume salon or not, and so on. Every business is unique so your pricing structure needs to reflect that. 


The reality is that you can charge any way you want. It all depends on you and what makes sense for your business goals. 


So we all know that we need to raise our prices and audit our price structure, but to do that you need to decide how you are going to charge your clients. So let’s talk about it.


How should you charge? 

Like I said, this will vary from business to business. There is not one right way to charge for your services. But, there are some things we can generalize about and consider.


Charging by breed or weight

If you have a high-volume business, charging by breed or weight might make the most sense for you because you are going to need to keep things simple. 


High-volume businesses need to minimize the amount of time that staff spends on checking a pet in or out, so it is best to keep things straightforward. Your receptionist won’t be able to spend a lot of time considering other factors and figuring out the scope of work. 


If you charge by breed or weight, this does not factor in any variation of pets. For example, if you charge by breed only, you could have anything from a 4-pound chihuahua to a 30-pound chihuahua (unfortunate, but they exist). These two dogs can be very different. You might make a lot of money on the 4-pound dog, but actually lose money on the 30-pound dog. But since you have such a high volume then things quickly even out and it does not matter. 


Petco and PetSmart are volume-based businesses. They groom a very high volume of pets every day, so they cannot afford to be very customer-service oriented. They also offer pet grooming services as a loss leader. That means it works for their business to charge simple rates per breed.  


But charging by breed or weight doesn’t work for everyone. Lower volume businesses might not be able to make enough money and perform good, complete grooms with this pricing structure. 


Charging hourly

I can say that I don’t recommend charging hourly — or if you do choose to charge hourly, that you do so only on the back end and that you don’t market your rates as hourly to your clients.


The reason I don’t recommend telling your clients that you charge hourly is because clients have no idea how long anything takes. Giving an hourly rate can make clients panic and they’ll probably want to rush you. 


Many people have had past grooming experiences where they dropped off at 9 am and picked up at 4 pm — so they might not understand and they won’t want to pay for 7 hours! It is a sure way to make your clients and your employees nervous and confused.


When I pay for any service, like if I take my car in to get worked on, I know that I don’t want them to tell me their hourly rate — just tell me how much it will cost! I don’t know what I need or how long it will take, and they are the professionals. 


Another problem with charging hourly is that different groomers take different amounts of time. Baby groomers take much longer than experienced power groomers, but everyone is probably working the same hours in a day. That means that you’re probably going to lose money on the baby groomers because they groom less per hour. It also means that you are going to be underpaying the power groomers because they can groom more per hour.


This sets you and your employees up for failure. It is unfair to your groomers but it is also unfair to your customers because they aren’t getting the same service with every groomer. 


Of course, if you are a solopreneur with no plans of hiring or training anyone else, then hourly can be a great option for you. There are no other mitigating factors to consider and you know exactly how long each service takes you. That said, I still don’t recommend letting your clients know that you charge hourly, and instead charge them for the scope of work (like you would if you were working on someone’s car).


Charging with a points system

My favorite method — and what I work with my clients to do! — is to develop a hybrid points method that considers all factors like breed, weight, and time, but also factors things like groomer skill levels, emotional burden, risk, and more. 


Using this system, I assign each pet points. Pets with more points cost more money. Every time a groomer finishes a pet, they get the same number of points. Groomers who earn more points earn more money per hour. This way it is fair to your groomers and your clients, and it fits your business goals. I also find that it is very easy for people to understand and be comfortable with.


Let’s say an average Shih Tzu takes about 45 minutes to an hour. They get 2 points. 


I like to groom about 5 Shih Tzus per day. If each one is 2 points, that makes me a 10 point groomer. My shop owner knows that they can comfortably give me 5 Shih Tzus per day to bathe and groom and I will be successful. 


Now they’ve hired a bather. The bather gets 1 point and I get 1 point. Now I can groom 10 Shih Tzus per day, instead of just 5. 


But say one of my clients is a nightmare Shih Tzu, so they are worth 4 points. As a 10 point groomer, now I can only do 3 other Shih Tzus that day because this one dog took more points, and therefore more time and energy out of my day. The shop also needs to charge this Shih Tzu more than they charge other dogs to make it worth our time. 


This is useful for customizing prices and making sure that you are charging the right price for every pet that comes through your shop.


Now you know that a Shih Tzu is 2 points, so a dog that is much bigger, more difficult, and takes longer — like a Doodle — should be somewhere between 4-6 points. 


For easy math, let’s say you charge $50 for a 2 point Shih Tzu. Now you know you need to charge at least somewhere between $100–$150 for a doodle. Now, if you need to factor in extras like chiropractic care or massages, or you know that your groomer will get burnt out faster on a lot of doodles — then you know that you need to be charging even more.


This point system exercise allows your pricing to be flexible and causes you to pay close attention to how much each dog is worth. It can also help you think about things very mathematically and remove some of the emotional aspects of pricing.


I have used this in my own business and recommended it to many clients. It is easy for everyone to figure out and implement. 


It also helps you take care of yourself because it is not just based on making more money. It helps you understand how you price your services and why you have those prices. It also helps you make sure that your pricing structure works well for you, your business, and your business goals. It is good to charge enough money to be ok financially, but you need to do more than that! Set long-term goals for financial success. 


Hire business coaching services or take my class!

Price restructuring can be scary, but I am here to support you through this transition! 


I offer one-on-one business coaching to pet grooming clients who are looking to restructure their prices and business model. We will go through a full price evaluation and audit, figure out how much you want to make, and create a plan to implement everything.


If you’re not ready to invest in one-on-one coaching, you can sign up for my 6-module Price Increase masterclass. This is an amazing, information-packed course where I will help you develop a personal pricing framework. 


I know that this is a diverse industry with all kinds of unique businesses, so I work hard to look at every business as an individual business and create plans that support all the different types of clients. 


Learn more:

If you want to learn more about different pricing strategies, watch a rerun of my livestream on YouTube on this topic and please subscribe to my channel! You can also check out my live show every Monday at 7 pm ET


I encourage everyone to sign up for my 6-module Price Increase Masterclass. This Masterclass contains 12 weeks’ worth of business coaching packed into an awesome 6-week group class where you will learn all about the market and how to increase your prices the right way. This class is self-study so you can learn at your own pace.

Want to learn more about how pricing and points works?  Purchase my 1.5-hour workshop: Pricing & Points (