Price – should I charge a lower fee until I feel confident in what I am doing?
I could write a book answering this question in its entirety. Here’s the very condensed version…….
First of all, I think a better question would be “Should I charge a lower fee until I turn out excellent grooms?”
I don’t think that confidence should be the determining factor for how much our work is worth. Confidence surely comes with time and experience for most people. But sometimes the confidence levels of some groomers remains relatively low despite their abilities. Conversely, some groomers are lousy and yet very confident in their work, as crappy as it is.
So how do we determine the value of our work? A good question really.
My opinion is that it should be based primarily on skill level. So then, the thing that must be determined is what IS an individual groomer’s skill level. How is it measured?
First, there has to be a standard in which to measure skill levels by…….something that is consistent and as objective as possible. In 2007, with the formation of the NCGIA, a standard for cat grooming was created. Previously there was no standard for cats in the grooming industry. There existed a show standard already, which is what the NCGIA’s cat grooming standards are founded upon. After all, if dog grooming standards are based on dog show/breed standards, then shouldn’t this also be the case for felines as well?
So to begin with, determine what will be the “measuring stick” with which you measure any level of grooming quality. Anything not founded on show standard is arbitrary and subjective and probably lacking in quality. Competition and the act of being judged have a way of maintaining a quality of standard, much like competing in races keeps a runner in top condition and better able to set a world record or win a gold medal.
Looking at the measuring stick, a comparison of one’s own grooming can be made. How does it stack up? This is something each groomer will have to determine themselves unless they are pursuing certification and faced with the challenge of passing exams. In that case, a certifier would determine just how a groomer’s work stands up against the standard. This is one of the many good things about certification with an organization of good repute; the comparison is not subjective to the one doing the actual work.
The problem with cat grooming is that, for so long there wasn’t a standard. Combined with the fact that cat grooming has not been hugely sought after by cat owners, and the fact that there are few groomers willing to actually handle cats, cat owners are more likely to settle for less. They have bought into the idea that they should be happy with whatever they get, no matter how good or bad it looks.
The cool thing about it all is that when a groomer is really good at turning out awesome cat grooms, they’ve got it made! They have little or no competition. It may take awhile for clients to find the quality cat groomer, but eventually they will. And they will never go back to the inferior because they have seen the difference for themselves.
So perhaps in the beginning, as you practice and build your skill level, offer to those first clients a discount of sorts. Let them know you are working toward bettering your cat grooming skills and could really use the practice. As your skills develop, increase pricing to reflect the value therein. When you obtain your CFMG (Certified Feline Master Groomer) title, charge even more. Because at that point, you will have proven your skill level and shown that you trained hard, ran the race well, and crossed the finish line ahead of the rest. A gold medal for cat groomers! Oh yeah – a great feeling it is!
The few, the proud, the CFMGs~
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