Moving A Business Across The Country

I’m moving across the country, how will I know if the area will support my business? It really doesn’t matter if I was moving a couple of towns or even blocks over. Moving is moving.

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There is some work on that needs to get done. It begins with demographic research.

  1. Remember all those pesky census bureau questionnaires we filled out? All that information regarding the population of the United States can be found at gov. Everything from age, sex, income, education, and so forth is right at your fingertips.
  2. The Small Business Administration (SBA) makes demographic (https://www.sba.gov/business-guide/plan-your-business/market-research-competitive-analysis) information available to us as well.
  3. Trade Associations publish demographics particular to their industry. Didn’t know you had a trade association? Here’s a list of them. (https://www.marketing-mentor.com/pages/trade-list.)
  4. Once you have an area in mind, contact the local Chamber Of Commerce. They will have demographic information specific to their coverage area.
  5. Use the SBA’s SizeUp (https://www.sba.gov/tools/sizeup) tool to compare yourself to similar businesses in your chosen area. This app is a little dated, however, it still offers valuable insights to other providers in your area.
  6. Before taking the plunge, visit the area and see for yourself if it’s a good move for you and your business.
  7. Are there businesses that I complement or do I fill a void in similar businesses? For myself, complementary would include human wellness such as massage, yoga, health studios and so forth, as well as veterinary offices that do not offer grooming. Similar businesses would be other grooming shops that do not want to groom elderly pets or cats.

While we don’t always get to choose where we live, there are always choices when it comes to our businesses. Better business decisions come when you have more information to work with.


You Can Do It

 

There was a time when I thought I could never speak in front of an audience, but then Binngo happened in 2005.

Binngo was a 9 year-old Maltese with a known heart condition. His veterinarian cleared him for grooming. But he had a heart attack on my grooming table and died later at the vet’s office. Even though I had taken a pet first aid class 6 years prior, I didn’t remember what to do.

It was probably the most helpless I’ve ever felt in my grooming career. The next day I began looking for local pet first aid classes. I couldn’t find a single one and none of the upcoming trade shows were offering them either.

By chance, there was an upcoming instructor training class about 2 hours south of me. I knew that I didn’t want other groomers to feel the way I did that day and I overcame my fear of speaking in public and signed up.

My goal had always been to bring back pet first aid classes to the trade shows. It was scary stepping out of my comfort zone and I wished I had had better guidance than me just winging it and seeing what would work.

It’s been over 13 years since I took that instructor class and it was one of the best business decisions I’ve ever made. It has led to some awesome opportunities, including speaking at pet conferences and launching my own industry nominated website of the year membership site.

All because I just did it. So my question for anyone reading this: Do you have a message you want others to hear? What’s stopping you? If you are considering speaking and would like my PDF of 3 Elements Of A Good Seminar, click this link: http://bit.ly/3SpeakingTipsForYou.


7 Ways To Find Your Ideal Client

Build it and they will come marketing only works in the movies. Add in people need to see an ad 13 times before recognizing it and marketing to the masses is not cost effective as it dilutes the message. The result is a depleted or an overextended marketing budget when trying to reach the general population.

The American Pet Product Association estimates that there are currently 66.75 billion pets in the United States to the tune of seven out of ten pet owning families. Danbury, Conn alone boasts over 9,000 licensed dogs. Include a couple of surrounding towns and that number jumps to around 30,000.

There is plenty of pie to go around. The pet industry is a huge market to tap and the bottom line is that most small businesses cannot accommodate that volume. Instead, spend those marketing dollars wisely by targeting your ideal clients.

But first, let’s Identify Who Your Ideal Client Is

 

  1. What is their demographic? This includes type of pets, number of average pets per household, age, sex, income, spending habits. The smaller the demographic group, the more focused marketing becomes. A single mobile pet groomer needs less than 150 regular pets to be successful. Three sites to find demographic information: suburbanstats.com , https://www.avma.org/KB/Resources/Statistics/Pages/Market-research-statistics-US-pet-ownership.aspx, and https://www.americanpetproducts.org.
  2. What do they want? This can be approached in 2 different ways. The first is to find out what is needed and then provide it. The second is to offer what you are passionate it about and convince clients (marketing) they want it. Figure out either or both with a Client/Competitor/Your Business Venn Diagram.

Clients

 

 

It’s easier to start with competition. What are they doing/selling that is working well for them? What can you do better or with a twist? This exercise can identify both your similarities and differences to other local businesses. It becomes your choice to design a marketing plan that appeals to what makes you the same only better or one that highlights your unique perspective. This exercise can also help to identify types of customers that are not your ideal clients.

Now you know who your clients are and want they want. How do you find them?

 

  1. Tell your friends and family. Practice your elevator speech with them. An elevator speech is a term that refers to a brief conversation in which you describe what you do in the amount of time it takes to go from one floor to another in an elevator. It’s more just a statement. It conveys your passion and why a potential client would be interested in your goods or services. A mobile groomer’s might be “ I groom cats and dogs in a nurturing, respectful spa-like environment in my state of the art mobile grooming van. Conveniently in your driveway.” These two sentences clearly indicate the benefits of what is offered as opposed to simply stating a profession.
  2. Target your message in niche and weekly publications. If you’re not sure if the publication is a good fit, contact the publisher for audience profiles. And if you have never designed an ad, let their design team do it for you. It’s worth the investment.
  3. In any given day, there are 3.5 billion searches on Google by people looking for a website to solve their problem. While you can put up a quick and cheap website on your own, it may not be effective if you are unfamiliar with what brings your website to the top of a search. In addition, consider adding a blog to your website. Blogs can extend your reach by offering sought after information that is connected to your website.
  4. Set up a Facebook business page along with other social media sites. Each platform has it’s own way of reaching potential clients. Research which sites will be to your advantage to spend time on. There are plenty of online programs that can help you navigate through the maze and confusion of using social media effectively.
  5. Get out in the real world and meet people. Almost any live event may be a good fit as 70% of all household’s own pets. That means that 7 out of 10 people walking past your booth is a potential client. Pet shelters usually have at least one event every year. Join a MeetUp.com local pet or business group. While there is a yearly charge if you organize a MeetUp group, it’s free to join any one already set up.
  6. You are going to need printed material such as business cards, brochures, and flyers to hand out at events. Local printing shops can offer an experienced hand in helping you design marketing materials. But services like Vistaprint are cheaper.
  7. Network with local business referral associations such as Alignable and Chamber Of Commerces.

 

Putting the time and effort into identifying who, what, and where your ideal client is can help you focus your marketing dollars into an effective plan.

 

Next online Marketing 101 for Pet Professionals is Sunday, November 25th at 6 PM Eastern Standard Time. For more information or to register: https://www.pawsitiveed.com/marketing-101/


How Many Clients Do You Need?

There is no magic number as many factors contribute to the overall formula.

 

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To determine how many clients you need, start with what you need to earn to meet your business expenses and live comfortably. Cost of living is different from one region to another, as well as are lifestyle choices.

Let’s say your target is $4,000 a week based on a 50-week year ($200,000 for the year.) Prices for shop, mobile, and housecall can vary widely even within the same area. I’ve chosen three price points: $45, 65, and 85 an hour.

The formula is Weekly Target Amount/Hourly Rate.

 

Per week based on one hour or less grooms 

$45 = 89 pets

$65 = 62 pets

$85 = 47 pets

Number of regular clients needed if on a 6-week schedule

 

Formula is: Weekly Number Of Pets X 6.

$45 = 534 clients

$65 = 372 clients

$85 = 282 clients

 

Let's tweak that number for 4 vs 8 week clients:

$45   356 vs 712

$65   248 vs 496

$85   188 vs 376

 

All figures are whole numbers, so either rounded up or rounded down. But you get the idea. You can see that there is a huge difference in the number of clients you need based on amount and frequency.

Being at the higher end allows you to work at a much easier pace with less stress on your body. Having clients commit to a more frequent schedule keeps the pets in more manageable coats reducing that wear and tear on you, as well as encourages a pleasant experience for the pets. Adjust the amounts and targets to suit your needs.


Yes, There Is A Cat Under That Towel

Yes, there is a cat under that towel.

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I’d introduce you to Henry, but he prefers anonymity. As long as there is a towel covering Henry, I can do anything to him, including bathing, drying, and brush out.

Needless to say, I go through a fair number of towels during Henry’s groom.

But Henry isn’t an unusual cat when it comes to grooming. As a general rule, I use a lot of towels while cat grooming.

How do I use them?

  1. To relieve stress. Cats will knead their paws or grip on to something to relieve stress. The soft towels are purrfect as they won’t hurt their paws or claws. Whether in the tub or on top of the table, the cat sits on a pile of soft towels.
  2. To establish boundaries. Cats take comfort from defined spaces. It’s why they like boxes so much. For much of the groom, I keep the cat close to my body. Even rolling some towels and surrounding the cat may have a calming effect. It’s why towel wrapping AKA Kitty Burrito works so well while drying cats. Let’s not forget Happy Hoodies. In addition to protecting their ears, they are snug against their heads.
  3. To reduce stimuli. The whole “hear no evil, see no evil, do no evil” in action. Or more specifically; inaction. In the case of Henry, as long as he is loosely covered, he is a wonderful boy.

Towels are an important part of my cat grooming tool kit.

Want to learn more about cat grooming? Check out these recorded cat grooming workshops: https://www.pawsitiveed.com/setting-up-cat-grooming-sales-page/ and https://www.pawsitiveed.com/you-had-me-at-meow-description/


Successful Cat Grooming- Client Education

Successful Cat Grooming- Client Education

 

I was sitting with one of my clients who happen to work at one of my local town clerk offices. We estimated the number of cats in a 4-town radius to be in the ballpark of 40,000.

That’s a lot of cats. I can’t groom that many.

There’s a lot that can go wrong with cat grooming which is why I designed this addendum to my normal Terms Of Service. I go over it with the client over the phone before I book their appointment. If it is unacceptable to the cat owner, then I’ve averted a potential problem.

After each point, I have the client sign rather than just initial.

 

Addendum To Terms Of Service For Cat Owners For Pawsitively Pretty Mobile Grooming Salon LLC 1. As cats are physiologically more

Point 1.

“As cats are physiologically more sensitive to grooming, Pawsitively Pretty Mobile Grooming Salon LLC will cease grooming when it becomes detrimental to the health of the cat.”

I pay attention to body language and signs of stress, which include heavy panting and drooling. If, as the professional, decide that continuing with the groom will cause physical harm to either the cat or myself, I stop. I want owners who are aware of their cat’s limitations and will work towards a solution that is beneficial to the cat.

Point 2.

“Minimum charges will apply regardless of completion of grooming.”

The amount is clearly stated in my regular terms of service, which is also signed by the client.

Point 3.

“In the event of matting or coat removal, Pawsitively Pretty Mobile Grooming Salon LLC will not be financially responsible for condition of skin or injury due to the stripping process.”

In addition to signing this, they are also given after care instructions and sign a more detailed matted release form.

I enjoy my cats as well as their owners. I attribute that to setting clear boundaries before they ever became my client.


Pet First Aid Kit Checklist

Pet First Aid Checklist

 

Want to know what’s in my pet first aid kit?

  1. Activated charcoal is used to absorb ingested poisons. Any item in my kit that is intended for poisoning will NOT be used unless directed by a veterinarian. Protocols vary and what will help in one instance can cause harm in another.
  2. Antibiotic cream for wounds. I do not use triple antibiotic as I groom cats. While it is rare, cats may have an allergy to such products. The combination of the three ingredients may cause a fatal reaction in some cats.
  3. Antihistamine and safety pin for minor allergic reactions. I specifically look for diphenhydramine gels with a liquid center. The safety pin is used to puncture the gel cap and squirt the liquid directly onto to the tongue of the pet. It is the fastest way for an anaphylactic pet to absorb the antihistamine. Consult a veterinarian for proper dosing. Not all pets can safely use antihistamines as it may interfere with other medications and medical conditions.
  4. Apps for smart phones. I have two that I like. The first is the ASPCA’s Pet Poison app. It’s FREE and will dial the number for the Pet Poison Hotline. As minutes matter in a poisoning, this is invaluable if you cannot reach a local veterinarian for instructions. The second is a veterinarian locator. This is useful if you are either a mobile or house call groomer and need to find the closest veterinarian.
  5. Baking soda to absorb topical poisons or chemicals.
  6. Band aids for myself. This is the one item that is replenished on a regular basis.
  7. Bandanas have multiple uses. They replace triangular bandages and can be used as slings to take the weight off of an injured limb.
  8. Expired gift cards are always saved. They are a perfect size to cushion pad injuries on larger pets. I place gauze on both sides of the card and securely wrap the cards and gauze to the paw with vet wrap. In addition, the cards can flick out bee stingers. Place the card at the base of the stinger where it meets the skin and lift up and out.
  9. Eyewash serves double duty. It can be used to flush out both eyes and wounds.
  10. Gauze comes in three varieties: gauze roll, gauze pads, and nonstick gauze pads. The gauze roll is wider and is good for larger wounds. The nonstick gauze is more expensive, but I will use it as the first pad on the wound and then place the cheaper gauze on top on it. The nonstick gauze will remove the scab when it is time to replace the bandaging.
  11. Honey packets for hypoglycemic pets. Stress, seizures, as well as an owner giving a pet too much insulin can result in low blood sugar. This is a serious condition that may result in the death of the pet. Signs include listlessness, staggering, tremors, muscle weakness, and seizures. Do not give the pet honey unless directed by a veterinarian.
  12. Hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting in a dog. As this is used for poisoning, consult a veterinarian first. Dosage will vary. Vomiting is not a given for poisoning. If it is caustic, it will burn the throat on its way out. You cannot use hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting in cats. Cats cannot metabolize hydrogen peroxide.
  13. Ice will constrict blood flow and slow bleeding. I do not keep ice in my pet first aid kit. If you have a freezer in a shop, then add ice.
  14. Liquid bandage is an asset if you know how to use it properly. Used incorrectly, it can damage surrounding tissue, as well as trap bacteria in the wound. Your veterinarian can instruct you in proper usage. I do not use superglue. It is not manufactured for medical use and as such, the manufacturer can change ingredients and formulation without consideration for safety on wounds.
  15. Muzzles are a must. If you need to use your pet first aid kit, this pet is likely in pain. Any pet that is in pain is a bite risk.
  16. Plastic baggies to collect a vomit or fecal sample. This may be necessary if the pet has been poisoned and you are unsure of what was ingested. When not in use, it can store smaller items for easy accessibility.
  17. Rubber gloves to protect you from any zoonotic and also to collect vomit or fecal samples.
  18. Sanitary napkins will absorb blood.
  19. Squirt bottle to deliver hydrogen peroxide down the throat of a dog.
  20. Styptic powder for use on nails only. It stings and this pet is already in pain. In addition, styptic powder is not sterile and you may introduce bacteria into the wound. There are newer products on the market that functions as a styptic powder and can be used for wounds as well.
  21. Tea bags contain tannic acid. It is effective in stopping bleeding. While sugar is effective, I do not recommend it because the pet may be diabetic or pre-diabetic.
  22. Vet wrap is wonderful. It keeps the wound secure and dry.
  23. Wound cleanser. You have a couple of options. The first is sterile saline solution, also known as eyewash. The second is a Chlorohexidine based cleanser. This is easy to find. Almost any store that sells first aid items carries it. Do not use alcohol as it stings. Do not use sterile, tap, or bottled water and it disrupts the salt balance of the cells and slows healing.
  24. Many of these items have expiration dates and should be checked periodically.

 

 If you would like a PDF version of the checklist, send me a message.


Important Numbers For Pet Groomers

Do you have a list of important numbers handy for your business?

 

Important Numbers pic


When faced with an emergency and our bodies are pumping adrenaline, having important numbers close by can get the help to us faster. The numbers I have on my list are:

  1. Animal control for each area I service. (I’m mobile.) Could be stray dogs on the road, a pet has gotten away from me, or the pet is what I would consider an abuse case.
  2. Veterinarian on record. While I have a locator app to find the closest veterinarian , the vet on record has agreed to answer questions and help when I need them. If you’re a shop groomer, this vet would also be your go to in the event of injuries.
  3. Utility company. In the event of a gas leak or lines down.
  4. Police Department. Non emergency number in the event of a break in or theft of service. 911 is reserved for emergencies.
  5. Fire department. Non emergency number for inquiries regarding fire safety. 911 for true emergencies.
  6. Insurance company. To file a claim.
  7. Pet poison control. I’ve included space for Credit Card information. This is not a free call. However, in the event a pet is poisoned in your care, this call may save their life. As it has CC information, I would not keep the list visible to clients.

I do write 911 in both the fire and police department slots. Seems like a no brainer, but when you’re in a panic your brain may not offer common sense as an option.

If you would like a PDF version of this picture, send me a PM.


Craft A What To Expect From Grooming Handout

How many times have we heard any of the following:

  • You aren’t going to hurt him are you?
  • Do you cut the nails?
  • You won’t get shampoo in his eyes, will you?

We roll our eyes and assure the owner their pet will be fine. But inside, it pisses us off. Why do owners do that?

Because they really don’t know what we do. They can only equate the experience to when they have bathed their own pet and the ensuing mess and general unhappiness all around. The questions they ask tend to be around the problems they had.

I just signed a building agreement for our home in Washington. They sent me a 111 page what to expect document. I kid you not. 111 pages. The hope is that we read it and don’t bother them with stupid questions.

What if we provided clients with a What To Expect From Grooming handout? I don’t suggest 111 pages, but something that would fit on a 8x11 piece of paper.

A sample:

“After check in, your pet will be treated to a gentle, hands-on experience to assess coat condition, as well as any overt medical/behavioral concerns. Then it’s off to the bath for a relaxing hydro-massage with appropriate shampoo and conditioner selection. Ear cleaning is done during the bath and nail clipping directly afterwards.

Your pet will be hand dried and provided with ear protection. Then the magic happens. Your pet will be combed, brushed, along with the agreed upon styling.

To finish off the groom, there is a selection of accouterments to choose from.”

 

You could add your logos and maybe something about the benefits of regular grooming. Change it up to reflect your shop’s routine. The owners would have a clear picture of what we do, rather than leaving it up to their imagination.

 

 

 

 


One Of The Best Free Trainings Ever

One of the best free trainings I have ever taken is CERT. Community Emergency Response Team. It was free through my local Emergency Management Office and overseen by the fire department. You get a nice certificate to frame and hang in your facility to let your clients know you are prepared for emergencies and disasters.

It was a full 20 hours and was broken up over the course of a week in the evenings and one Saturday.

 

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The program is broken down as follows:

  • Disaster Preparedness: Addresses hazards specific to your community. Helps you prepare for before, during, and after any given situation. As well as your responsibilities as far as local government is concerned.
  • Fire Suppression: This was fun! We got to put out a fire. Covers fire chemistry, hazardous materials, fire hazards and fire suppression strategies. The focus is on the safe use of fire extinguishers, controlling utilities and extinguishing a small fire.
  • Medical Operations Part I: Practice diagnosing and treating airway obstruction, bleeding and shock by using simple triage and rapid treatment techniques.
  • Medical Operations Part II: Evaluate patients by doing a head to toe assessment, establishing a medical treatment area and performing basic first aid.
  • Light Search and Rescue Operations: Learn about search and rescue planning, size-up, search techniques, rescue techniques and rescuer safety.
  • Psychology and Team Organization: Covers signs and symptoms that might be experienced by the disaster victim and workers, and addresses CERT organization and management.
  • Course Review and Disaster Simulation: Review and practice the learned skills.

Plus I got a backpack filled with equipment. It is so worth 20 hours of your time.