Starting a business is an exciting time – doubled with working with dogs, well that’s enough to get everyone’s tails wagging.
With over 13 million dogs in the UK alone, the dog grooming industry was worth £432 million in the UK at the end of 2022. And by setting up your own dog grooming business, there’s no reason why you can’t also have a piece of this profitable pie.
So, to help you know how to start a dog grooming business, we’re here with all the information, advice and steps it takes to set up your own dog grooming business in the UK. Ready to get started?
Do you need a license to become a dog groomer?
No, in the UK, you don’t need a special dog grooming license to set up a business, provided that you have public liability insurance and follow all the rules and regulations set out in the Animal Welfare Act 2006.
In other words, ensure you follow all recommended guidelines for health, wellbeing and safety.
Although you don’t need a license, it is recommended to complete dog grooming training before setting up a business – as this will make your company more trustworthy to clients.
As well as public liability insurance, you may also want to take out other levels of business cover to help protect your business, including:
- Care, Custody and Control Cover
- Non-Negligent Cover
- Equipment and Tools Cover
- Key Cover
- Employers’ Liability Insurance (if you have employees)
- Building & Contents Cover (make sure you have a separate policy if you’re setting up your business from home)
- Personal Accident Insurance
Find out more about business insurance here.
How do I train to become a dog groomer?
If you haven’t already obtained dog grooming qualifications, you might want to consider enrolling on a course.
This will ensure that you follow the industry standards when it comes to the health and well-being of your furry clients, as well as building trust from your customer base.
On the national careers website, available training courses in dog grooming include:
- Level 2 Certificate for Dog Grooming Assistants
- Level 3 Diploma in Dog Grooming
- Level 4 Higher Professional Diploma in Dog Grooming
These can be done part-time if you want to build your qualifications around an existing job – or while you’re setting up the business.
How to start a dog grooming business
Setting up a dog grooming business takes just three key steps.
- Making a plan and getting all your ideas together
- Registering your business (or registering as a sole trader)
- Start promoting and attracting your customers
Now, there are a few different aspects going on in these steps, depending on what you decide is the best move for your business. To cover all the bases, we’ll talk you through the options available to help you make the right decision for your business.
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Make a plan for your dog grooming business
You want to start a dog grooming business. Great! Before you jump in headfirst, you will need to sit, pause (not paw) and gather all your ideas and excitement into a bonafide business plan.
A business plan will detail every aspect of your business, how it works, what your goals are and how you will reach them. It can be daunting to get this all out on paper, but it’s such an important step to do.
After all, businesses with a plan are more likely to grow and less likely to fail (which is ultra important as 1 in 5 businesses fail in the first year in the UK!)
If you want some help crafting your first plan, StartupHive has a free tool to get you started – all you need to do is fill in the blanks.
For now, let’s go through each of these sections of your business together.
1. What’s your USP?
A USP is a unique selling point. It’s basically the thing that makes you different and the reason why someone would pick your business over others.
When setting up your dog grooming business, your USP could be anything from:
- The location (especially if the nearest competitors are far away!)
- Other services included, such as Painting or clipping nails, ear cleaning, gland expression, teeth descaling or doggy perfume.
- Your level of experience or training, i.e. if you’ve done this role for ten years already or if you have a level 4 diploma under your belt
- An environmental pledge, i.e. only using eco-friendly products and recycled water systems.
- A celebrity or prestige endorsement, i.e. you groomed the 2022 Crufts winner.
And so on. Knowing what sets you apart will be invaluable for helping you craft your business plan and how you will market and promote your business to customers.
2. How will your business be run?
An important aspect of a dog grooming company is how you will operate it. Are you going to start a dog grooming business from home? Do you want to rent a salon or space to work from? Or are you planning to go remote?
There’s no one right answer here. Each of these operating methods has its own pros and cons – it just depends on which one is right for you.
Starting a dog grooming business from home is a great idea for those who have the physical space for it and are located in a popular dog area or a place that is easy to travel to.
However, if you don’t want people in your home or want to be set up in a better location, having a physical store might be the better option for you.
If you don’t mind travelling and want to go remote, you can also travel to clients’ houses to groom directly from their homes. This will save cost on renting a space but will involve a lot of travel time and will depend on you having a vehicle to fit all needed equipment inside.
To help out, here’s a little summary table of the pros and cons of each option on offer:
|Home dog grooming||Least expensive – no rent needed to use the space|
Already available to you
|Clients will be coming to your personal home & could look less professional than a store|
|Physical dog rooming store||More professional and allows you to separate work and home life. Can choose a space in a more attractive location||The most expensive option, with property prices and overheads to factor into your finances|
|Remote dog grooming||Offer a more convenient experience to clients while protecting the privacy of your home. |
Could cover a wider area
|Will require lots of travel time, limiting the clients that you’re able to take on. Also means equipment will have to be portable, and fuel will need to be factored into your finances.|
And, of course, you could opt for a combination. If you could have a physical space at home that you operate a few days a week, then also offer remote appointments on other days to get the best of both worlds.
As you grow your business, you might also change from a home setup to a physical store – or hire more members to operate the remote arm.
But for now, think about what the best option for your business to start is and how you’ll achieve any other changes in the future.
3. Give it a name!
The answer to “How to start a dog grooming business?” tends to begin with a name. The best names tend to be short, easy to remember, and tell your customers exactly what your company does.
All while staying away from any registered trademarks or existing names.
Try not to overthink the name. It’s much better to go with something simple like “Emma’s Dog Grooming” rather than “Waggles”, as there’s no mistaking what the former does.
If you’re struggling, find some of our tips on how to come up with a catchy business name here.
4. Set your prices
Now, we’re approaching the scary finance side of your business. It’s time to think about pricing. And yes, this can be a difficult one to come up with.
When trying to know how to start a dog grooming business, it can be tempting to look at what your competitors are doing and go cheaper. But just being the cheapest isn’t always the best plan to go with.
Especially if the prices you charge aren’t going to make you a profit.
To set your pricing, you need to think deeply about your finances, the level of service on offer, what your competitors are doing and any rainy-day emergencies (i.e. that piece of ultra-expensive equipment breaks down and nears repairs).
If you’re not sure where to start, use this list as a starting point:
- Extra small dogs from £25 to £35.
- Small dogs from £30 to £40.
- Medium dogs from £35 to £45.
- Large dogs from £45.
- Extra large dogs from £65.
On average, dog grooming prices range from as low as £20 to £90, depending on the dog and service. Generally, the bigger the dog, the higher the charge.
As well as thinking about dog breeds, you’ll need to think about any extra services that you might offer on top – and whether you can run any deals when combining services or a loyalty system for your repeat customers.
5. What equipment and funding do you need to get started?
This is where we think about the startup capital (money) you’ll need before opening up shop as a dog groomer. Depending on what operating model you’ve gone for (i.e. home or remote), these costs could include property rent or purchase or vehicle hire.
As a dog groomer, equipment will be one of the biggest investments you will need capital for. The exact equipment you need will depend on the services on offer, but you should think about:
- Dog shampoo is priced at an average of £25 per 4L bottle (and can be up to £80 for premium brands).
- Clippers range from £130-£350 depending on the model. Plus, you’ll need to buy a range of clipper blades for all dog and fur types, which cost £30 per blade. (Comb attachments will be an extra £20-50) per set.
- Dog nail clippers can cost £18 for a set of three, which will need replacing or maintenance if the blade goes dull.
- Scissors can range between £250 to over £1000 for a complete set
- Ear powder for cleaning out and disinfecting ears can cost £6.50 per 25g.
- De-shedding tools can cost £40 for two, while slicker brushes for matted hair can cost between £12-£25
- A dryer can cost between £400-£700, while a blaster (to remove excess dirt before drying) can cost between £200-£800.
- Grooming tables can be between £100-500 if it is non-hydraulic (i.e. at a fixed position) and up to £1000 for a hydraulic one that can be lowered and raised depending on what dog you’re working on.
- A dog bath can cost between £400-1000, with bath equipment (i.e. sponges) can cost up to £50 for a complete set.
- Cages can cost between £35-350 depending on the cage size, with an additional £80 for a set of leases and nooses to keep dogs secure during grooming.
- A steriliser that maintains and cleans equipment can cost up to £80.
That’s a lot of equipment, which could cost upwards of £5000 to obtain – on top of additional startup business costs that you might not have considered.
This means you need a way of getting this money for your business. This brings us nicely to our next point.
6. Acquire and manage your finances
Once you know how much you need to start your business, you need to think about where the money will come from. Now, you can use your personal savings to start a business if that’s an option or take on personal loans from family & friends if you want to.
Alternatively, you could apply for a business loan or attract investors into your business.
For more information, sign up to Startup Hive to get detailed advice on how to attract investment.
7. Choose your company structure
Now you have a plan in place, it’s almost time to register your company. But to do that, you need to know what company structure you will use.
As the final stage in answering “How to start a dog grooming business?” this really needs some thought.
Most startups tend to register as a sole trader, as it’s a lot easier and involves next to no red tape. However, if you want more protection, you could opt to create a limited company, which can provide better tax breaks and allow you to buy and own assets as a company.
Find out more about company structures here, as well as the top advantages of being a sole trader versus a limited company.
Register your dog grooming business in the UK
The process of registering your dog grooming business will be a little different depending on which type of company structure you opt for. If you want to become a sole trader, all you need to do is tell HMRC that you’ll pay your taxes through Self-Assessment.
And, of course, remember to file and pay your self-assessment tax every year.
If you want to set up your dog grooming business as a limited company, this process is a little more complex.
To register a limited company, you must have your name and registered address ready. There are strict checks on names, so you need to ensure that it doesn’t already exist, is too similar to another name, or contains any offensive or disallowed words.
Secondly, you must have a registered company address that will become a public part of the Companies House records.
So, if you want to keep your home address private, you will need to think about using managed address services as an alternative.
Recommended Address Service:
If you’re looking for an affordable address service for your business, we recommend 1st Formations.
They offer Registered Office, Service, and Business Address services either as part of a company formation package or as a standalone service.
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You will also need to appoint a directly (usually you) and assign shares. If you plan on running the business solo, you can assign 100% of the shares to yourself. Once that’s done, you need to create official documents (a memorandum of association and articles of association).
And finally, you can apply to register your business at the Companies House. Just don’t forget the small free here.
Registering your dog grooming business as a limited company can be hard work – but you don’t have to go through this long application process by yourself. Company formation agents will register companies on your behalf to make the whole thing quick, easy and painless.
What’s more, they’ll also check over the details to make sure your application will be accepted and can offer a range of services, including registered addresses, to keep your personal home details private.
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Promote your business and attract customers
Once you’re officially registered, it’s time to open the doors of your dog grooming business. With the business plan that you’ve made, you’ll know why customers will want to go to your business (your USP), which will make marketing and promotion that little bit easier.
There are many tactics that you could use to promote your business, including:
- Creating a loyalty scheme for your business, such as a stamp card to get one free groom for every ten they pay for.
- Creating an email list and sending newsletters (Barking News, anyone?)
- Setting up a website to help customers find you on search engines
- Creating social media accounts
- Advertising your business on Google, or investing in local papers or a billboard in your area
The options are endless – it’s about finding something that your customers will see, interact with and remember you for.
Need more business advice?
At Business4Beginners, we’re here to help with the latest news, tips and advice you need to start your business.
If you’re ready to take your business planning to the next level, then Startup Hive is the perfect solution. The step-by-step platform is created by the Business4Beginners team, offering dedicated advice, easy-to-digest videos, and trackable paths to get your business off the ground and make profit.