Isn't That Price Gouging

Isn’t That Price Gouging?

If you’ve followed along with the Savvy Groomer at all, you probably know by now that I am a huge advocate for price increases in the grooming industry. Over the years, prices have barely increased across the industry. That means that prices are not keeping up with inflation or the latest trends and many groomers are suffering financially because of it.

I am a strong advocate for groomers to strategically increase their prices based on their needs and goals, and then yearly price increases after that to at least keep up with inflation.

This can mean that many groomers might increase their prices from $35 a dog to up to $150 a dog.

This is quite the price increase and many people have an emotional reaction to these numbers. “Isn’t that price gouging?” they ask.

In this article, we’ll take a look at what makes for fair pricing and why I believe that strategic price increases are not price gouging.

Let’s start by defining some terms.

What is price gouging?

It is important to define what we are talking about. According to Wikipedia, price gouging occurs when a seller increases the prices of goods, services, or commodities to a level that is much higher than what is considered reasonable or fair. Usually, this event happens after a demand or supply shock, such as a dramatic price increase on basic goods after a natural disaster.

We all experienced how the price of basic goods such as toilet paper and face masks went up during the Covid-19 pandemic!

What is inflation?

Inflation is a general increase in prices and a fall in the purchasing power of money. Basically, the value of the dollar goes down. Inflation rates change from year to year, but on average, inflation is about 2–3% yearly.

A great example of inflation is the housing market. The value of homes has gone way up over the years. In 1965, the average cost of a home was about $21,500. Today, the average cost is about $348,000. For an industry example, groomers in 1980 charged about $20 per dog. To understand this figure in today’s terms, we have to adjust for inflation. That $20 from 1980 would be worth about $73 today.

How can we determine what’s fair?

When determining a fair price, we often compare ourselves to others in the industry. But before we can determine what a fair price is for a dog groom, we need to determine if we’ve been fair to ourselves as an industry and if the market is fair.

Because I don’t think that the market is fair! In general, as an industry, most groomers have not raised their prices to even keep up with inflation, let alone to reflect their time, effort, and skill. It is common for groomers to have the same prices for 20 years!

In the industry, we struggle with the race to the bottom — meaning that we try to outcompete and get customers by having the cheapest prices. A groomer will leave a business to open their own shop, and either match or undercut the prices of their old boss (who already hadn’t raised their prices in decades!). They’ll hire a groomer to join their business, and then that groomer will eventually leave to do the same thing. I call this the “cycle of suck.” We see this happen over and over in the industry and prices suffer because of it.

Groomers also try to compete with big businesses like Petco and PetSmart, but these businesses actually offer their grooming services at a loss. They make their money off of getting customers in their stores and buying things, not from grooming. So why would we try to compete with their prices if they are losing money on grooming? That is definitely not fair.

When considering what’s fair, we also have to consider the most popular dog breeds today. Dog breeds are trendy, and groomers are not getting the same breeds that they did decades ago.

For example, doodles are a newer, insanely popular breed. Some days, all we get might be doodles. These dogs have a very challenging coat and difficult personality. Grooming 5 doodles all day can be much more mentally and physically draining than grooming 10 pugs or shih tzus in a day, and I believe that our prices should account for those differences.

Some people might call this price gouging, but I don’t think so! I think that is entirely fair.

Why we shouldn’t be afraid to raise prices

Change can be hard, and many people might not understand your price increase right away. But in order to survive as an industry, we need to stand up for ourselves, create an industry of respect, and charge prices that allow us to hire and pay people fairly. If more groomers learn about the importance of charging a fair, modern price, then these higher prices will no longer be seen as shocking. Instead, our new prices will become the industry standard, new groomers will be attracted to the industry, and groomers will thrive.

Learn more:

If you want to learn more about pricing, watch this replay of The Savvy Groomer Live on YouTube on this topic and please subscribe to my channel! You can also sign up for my self-paced Price Increase Masterclass.