How To Solve One-On-One Pricing Concerns

I've had small one-on-one grooming business owners ask me how they can compete with big box store prices — and the short answer is that they can’t and they shouldn’t try to!

The fact of the matter is that one-on-one grooming businesses are not very scalable. To make things work, they need to be small, boutique-style salons with a specific and loyal clientele.

People don’t like when I tell them this, but it’s just the truth! So, let's dive into one-on-one pricing and how it needs to work to be successful.

One-on-one grooming salons need to be small by nature

Some of the major attractions of one-on-one grooming are the ability to minimize the number of dogs in the salon at once, create a quieter environment, run a kennel-free business, and overall maintain a more relaxed atmosphere.

Some traditional grooming salons might advertise these benefits, but if the business has 2+ groomers then it is probably hard for them to actually maintain a quiet, relaxed environment simply because of the number of dogs and groomers in the salon at once. Therefore, it is really hard to scale and grow a one-on-one grooming business because, by nature, it has to be a small business that doesn’t groom that many dogs in a day.

Schedule limitations with one-on-one grooming

It can also be hard to scale a one-on-one grooming business because it requires you to keep a very tight schedule. Since each pet needs to be checked in, groomed straight through, and then checked out before the next pet comes in, both the clients and the groomer need to keep a tight schedule and be on time.

If a client is late checking in their pet, then your groom time might spill over into the next client’s slot, pushing the entire schedule and messing up the system. It also doesn’t allow much time to deal with difficult pets or for any of the pets to have a bad day. Therefore, you have to be prepared to tell someone that you can’t groom their dog on time and still charge full price.

If you operate your business from 9–5 and allow 1.5 hours for each groom, that would allow for you to groom 5 dogs per day and have 30 minutes dedicated to clean up and administrative tasks at the end of the day. That is not a lot of dogs per day, which means that the one-on-one model will only work well if you have great clients and charge a really high boutique price point.

How one-on-one pricing compares to other models

Alternatively, a traditional grooming salon might have everyone check in in the morning, allot 1 hour to groom each dog, and then have to check out in the afternoon. This schedule can allow for more flexibility and means you are less reliant on each client showing up exactly on time and their dog behaving perfectly. It also allows you to take advantage of things like drying kennels, express grooms, and more. With this model, your schedule can run from 9–3:30, allowing for a shorter, more relaxed day. You can go home at 3:30, or spend the last 1.5 hours of the day cleaning up and doing administrative work. You can groom up to 6 dogs per groomer and easily scale the business, adding another groomer or bather to the system.

Another alternative is mobile grooming. Mobile grooming is a type of one-on-one grooming, but you have much more control over your schedule. Instead of relying on the clients to drop off their pets on time, you can provide them a 2-hour window of when you will show up and then it is up to you to follow your schedule. This model allows you to groom the same number of pets but with a lot more wiggle room and control.

How much to charge for one-on-one grooming?

I can’t tell you an exact number of what you should charge for one-on-one grooming, because that depends on the specific numbers for your business. You can use my resources to help figure out what you should be charging specifically for your business.

But, in general, one-on-one businesses should be charging 75-100% more than traditional businesses. You should aim to price the same or even above what mobile prices would be. Each pet is the only pet in your salon for an hour and a half, and that is worth a lot!

Will people pay boutique prices for one-on-one grooming?

Many groomers worry that their clients won’t be willing to pay high prices. The key here is finding clients who will value the benefits they get from their pet being groomed one-on-one. If they truly value this model, then they’ll be willing to pay.

You should find clients who value your work for the experience that you provide, and they should choose you for your work rather than your low prices.

A good analogy is hair salons. There is going to be the Supercuts-type places, and there are going to be high-end, boutique salons. The high-end salons might charge double or triple what a discount place is going to charge, but they are also going to have clients who value the service and experience that they get so they are willing to pay the higher price. You can think of your one-on-one grooming salon like a high-end hair salon and go after the market that is willing to pay your higher price point.