Mobile Grooming & How To Deal With Soaring Gas Prices

Mobile Grooming & How to Deal with Soaring Gas Prices I am sure we’ve all complained about increasing gas prices by now. In California, prices are as high as $7, and prices are universally above $3 across the country. With all the geopolitical factors going on in the world, we don’t really know how high prices will go or how long high gas prices will last. As a mobile groomer, your first instinct might be to get very stressed about this. Increased gas prices mean increased overhead and fewer profits, right? Maybe not. In my opinion, gas prices should actually not affect mobile grooming businesses that much. Keep listening for my perspective on what you should do to deal with soaring gas prices as a mobile groomer. Set a baseline for your pricing Any time the prices of your supplies increase significantly, you should look at your pricing to make sure you’re in a good place. I also recommend evaluating your pricing at least once every 6–12 months. When setting your pricing, a good place to start is to look at the average cost of rent in your area and multiply that number by 3–4. That is the minimum you need to pay your full-time groomers. However, you also need to keep payroll at or below 30% of your gross income. Using these numbers, you can reverse engineer what your pricing needs to be. For example, if rent is $2,000 in my area, then my full-time groomer needs to make $6-8,000 per month. To make about $6,000, they need to groom $20,000 per month (because $6,000 is about 30% of $20,000). If I divide that by 5 days per week, then I find that they need to groom $1000 a day. At 8 dogs per day, that’s $125 per dog. Of course, that exercise only gives you a very rough estimate, because there are so many other factors that go into your pricing, but it gives you a good general sense of your prices. Say you’re currently charging $80 per dog, then this exercise will tell you that you need to raise prices. Factor in travel and gas costs Now that you have a general sense of your pricing, you can take it a step further and factor in your gas estimates. If your groomer is doing 8 dogs per day, how much gas will they use in a month? To figure this out, you need to factor in the type of vehicle, the type of fuel it uses, and what gas mileage it gets. Here’s how to determine your gas mileage: Pull up to the gas station and write down the number on the odometer Fill up and save your receipt Repeat for 3-5 fills If you are using an app like Moego to check in and out to track gas mileage, be sure to check in even while the vehicle is idling If you are using a generator, record generator hours too Determining your gas mileage gives a realistic picture of how much this actually affects you. For example, when I drove my diesel Sprinter van to mobile grooming clients, I tracked that I used about 40 gallons of diesel per month. Say diesel was $3.50 then, and it increases to $10 today (a crazy price!). $3.50 x 40 = $140 per month on diesel then versus $10 x 40 = $400 now. Worst case scenario, that is an increase of $260 per month. So, while an almost 3x increase in the cost of gas sounds like a lot, it is actually only an increase of a couple of hundred bucks per month. To help put things in perspective, groomers commonly spend hundreds or thousands per year on supplies like shampoo and scissors without batting an eyelash. There is just this emotional component that exists around spending money on gas that doesn’t exist on other things. This increase should not hurt your business that much. Is it inconvenient and annoying? Yes. But it is not a major problem. And if it is a major problem, then you’ve got bigger problems with your business! How to deal with soaring prices (if needed) If increased gas prices are breaking the bank, you need to redo your key performance indicators (KPIs). Make sure that your prices are based on accurate numbers and keep up with inflation. It is also a good idea to use high numbers when you are making your estimates. Historically, we’ve dealt with high gas prices before so we should always be planning for this stuff, saving for an emergency fund or sinking fund, and factoring these costs into our business plans. But if you’ve increased your prices and factored in gas expenses, and you are still worried about high gas prices, what can you do? First, you need to be really clear if this is a temporary or permanent change. If you think it is a permanent change to your pricing, implementing a travel fee is a good long-term solution. You can shrink the geographic area that you are willing to service and tell your clients who live outside of that area that there will be a $25 travel fee going forward. For clients even further out, there will be a $50 travel fee. This can be a win-win situation because it is fair to your clients while also tightening up your route and helping you save money on gas. If you think it might be a temporary change, another possible solution is to send clients a courtesy note explaining that you are monitoring gas prices and may need to temporarily increase rates. A good way to do this is to set ranges. When gas costs between $4-6 per gallon, you’ll charge $X for a travel fee, and when gas costs between $6-8, you’ll charge another rate. When gas prices drop below $4 again, you’ll drop the travel fee. This is transparent and helps clients know what to expect. However, I think you have to be very careful not to piss clients off with fees. It can seem like you are nickel and diming them or that you have a lot of hidden fees. Why you shouldn’t charge a gas fee Since mobile grooming is a luxury, all-in-one business, travel is part of the service. Clients cannot buy your services without you traveling. Imagine if a taxi company charged you extra fees for gas. The gas should be included! It is also like selling grooming services but charging extra for shampoo or for water usage. If the prices of water increased, you’d never charge a client a water fee! These things are not actually extras or upgrades, because they are a required part of the basic service itself. People are already upset about increasing gas prices, so don’t add fuel to the fire.