“Clear Up” with a Self-Serve Pet Wash


Would you want to spice up your earnings with out grooming extra pets? Effectively, that’s a no brainer—who wouldn’t??

Providing self-serve bathing may very well be the right addition to your enterprise in the event you’re trying to enhance your backside line with out including a variety of further give you the results you want and your employees.

I not too long ago spoke with homeowners and groomers at a number of institutions that provide DIY pet washing. They offered a variety of perception that may enable you to decide if including self-serve is a viable possibility for you. Their experiences, and the insurance policies they put in place, could enable you to keep away from issues and errors if it is a path you resolve to take.

Mary Jo Vaskorlis determined so as to add a self-serve pet wash when she was on the lookout for a approach to convey extra prospects (and earnings) into her salon:

“My mother was a groomer for over 40 years, so grooming was in my blood,” says Mary Jo. “A buddy and I opened a grooming salon in my storage. The time got here that we would have liked to discover a totally different location. As a result of there have been many grooming salons in our space, we knew that we needed to supply one thing that nobody else had.

“We drove to Virginia and talked to a groomer who provided self-service and to take a look at their setup. We discovered a location for our new salon, then opened with two stainless-steel tubs that we bought at Groom Expo that 12 months.

“We greet every self-serve buyer and assist them get their canine safely and securely within the tub. We give them a water-proof apron, clear the pet’s ears, and placed on the facial as we clarify how the whole lot works. Our motto is, ‘No matter mess you make, we clear it up!’ And imagine me, we get some big messes.

“Self-serve shoppers use the identical high-quality bathing merchandise as our salon does, and so they have entry to brushes and combs, however not scissors or clippers. We provide nail trims as an add-on service. Typically, after making an attempt self-serve just a few occasions, folks resolve it’s not really easy to do and we acquire them as full-service grooming shoppers.

“We’ve met so many great households by way of this service,” Mary Jo continues. “Sadly, when the pandemic hit, we couldn’t have prospects within the constructing. COVID modified lots for us.”

In a daring transfer, Kim Novak opened her self-serve pet wash in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. She simply celebrated her first 12 months in enterprise by being awarded “2022 Finest New Enterprise in Placentia, California.” Kim shares her expertise and recommendation:

“I had zero expertise going into this aside from my love of canines. I opened my self-serve pet wash with cash from my financial savings, however it has supported itself from day one,” says Kim.

“We’re a storefront, so even the self-wash is full-serve to a degree. We greet the shoppers, stroll them by way of the directions, clarify every product, set the water temperature, and hand them an apron. 

“I solely have one pet peeve about self-wash and that’s the buyer who desires to remain all day and use the bathtub for over an hour (which is our most). Serving to them alongside limits loitering and permits extra shoppers to make use of one in every of our 5 tubs. That brings in additional income for me because the proprietor. 

“Once I opened, I anticipated to supply self-wash solely, however quickly realized that having a groomer would create extra earnings. The purchasers who use our self-wash shortly acquire a brand new respect for the groomers of the world and for the way laborious they work.

“We’re presently open 5 days per week,” continues Kim. “I’m truly including a second crew in July and shall be open seven days per week. I’m doing this to increase income choices with out opening one other location. Working one location to capability appears smarter to me than making an attempt to open one other.”

Daybreak Kinney has had expertise with multiple self-serve pet wash operation. She not too long ago helped a salon proprietor arrange and function the DIY pet wash division of her enterprise:

“We noticed a necessity for this service in our space,” Daybreak shares. “Pet mother and father with massive canines need to have the ability to bathe them with out the additional chore of getting to clean down their rest room afterward. There have been no different salons within the space providing self-serve, and we noticed this void as a possible for further earnings.

“The salon is principally divided down the center from entrance to again. The consumer enters the foyer, and on the reception desk, canines both examine in for grooming companies on the best facet or self-serve on the left. At check-in, self-serve shoppers are supplied with slip leads so their very own leash doesn’t get soaked, two massive towels, and pre-packaged specialty shampoo and conditioner concentrates in single-use containers with a lid (like the sort used for single-serve condiments and salad dressing). Shoppers could convey their very own shampoos, however there is no such thing as a low cost in the event that they do. Earlier than we went to pre-packaging shampoos in little containers and limiting towels, there was a variety of product waste and pointless laundry.

“There are three devoted extra-large self-serve tubs, every in its personal chain hyperlink fence enclosure full with a gate. Every space is about 5 ft broad by six ft lengthy. Each self-serve bay has a rolling cart that’s stocked with ear powder, ear cleaner, cotton rounds for cleansing ears, toenail clippers, brushes, combs, rubber bathtub curry comb, and mixing bottles for the concentrates offered. Every enclosure is absolutely tiled with rubber pool deck tiles for optimum safety from slips. Simply exterior the gates is a rubber-tiled walkway that results in the drying room simply to the rear of the tubs. 

“The drying room is enclosed and has a latchable display door to assist comprise the hair, noise, water, and escapees throughout drying,” continues Daybreak. “There are 5 heavy-duty hookups mounted into the studs at ground degree with grooming loops. We shouldn’t have tables in there for security causes. An proprietor strolling away from a desk might result in potential tragedy. Low stools are offered for the pet mother and father to sit down upon. Disposable ear plugs can be found and are included within the drying-room pricing. All the ground is roofed in the identical rubber pool tiles. 

“Shoppers pre-pay for bathing and any add-on companies on the reception desk after they examine in. Pre-pay took place after just a few people wished to ‘put their canine within the automobile’ solely to hop in and drive off with out cost. Pre-pay additionally eliminates any misunderstandings about pricing or shoppers making an attempt to barter pricing after their canine has already been washed,” she explains.

Daybreak says their add-on companies are prominently displayed on an indication at check-in. Which embrace:

  • Disposable doggy toothbrush and toothpaste (for shoppers to make use of) 
  • Anal gland expression by a groomer
  • Ear plucking and cleansing by a groomer
  • Nail cropping by a groomer:
    “Many individuals have a look at the nail clippers offered on the cart after which ask ‘Can’t you try this?’ Sure we are able to—for $10 further,” Kim provides.
  • Use of the HV dryers within the drying room:

“We priced [the HV dryers] as an add-on as a result of our Labrador Retriever homeowners often wash, then towel off their canine, and go. The Nice Pyrenees homeowners need to dry the canines fairly properly, and this makes use of further electrical energy, and cleanup of the hair within the drying room takes worker time. This prevents the Lab homeowners from making an attempt to work you for a reduction as a result of they aren’t utilizing the dryers,” Daybreak advises.

Daybreak says that one of many issues she likes most about self-serve is assembly extra of the pet neighborhood that she could not in any other case meet as a result of they’ve low-maintenance canines. She additionally likes the boosted revenues, particularly from the add-on companies. 

What she likes the least is folks interrupting groomers at no cost recommendation or free assist with holding their canine in the course of the bathtub as soon as they understand that their canine doesn’t simply stand there for your entire course of.

“Individuals completely admire groomers extra after they’ve skilled self-serve,” Daybreak says. “They haven’t any clue until they’ve bathed in our footwear.”

Daybreak’s remaining piece of recommendation is that this, with regard to defending your self: “It’s actually necessary to have prominently-displayed signage in your salon. It will probably defend your enterprise from potential authorized motion. Additionally, we at all times have cameras educated on the self-serve space.”

As well as, everybody I spoke to agrees on the necessity to have sufficient insurance coverage protection. It doesn’t matter what enterprise you’re in, at the moment’s society is so litigious that insurance coverage protection is a should. The hot button is to speak with an insurance coverage agent who’s educated about and specializes within the pet trade to search out out what is out there and mandatory on your distinctive state of affairs.

Can self-serve pet washing be a worthwhile addition to your enterprise? Completely! A well-thought-out design and enterprise mannequin might add considerably to your salon’s earnings. With self-serve, you would actually “clear up!” ✂️

Kathy Hosler

Kathy Hosler opened her store in 1971 when she was simply nineteen years outdated. She has constructed a terrific enterprise and continues to be actively grooming at the moment. Kathy can also be a function author for Groomer To Groomer and Pet Boarding & Daycare Magazines, and has been nominated twice for the Barkleigh Honors Journalist of the Yr Award in addition to a Cardinal Crystal Achievement Award for Grooming Journalist.


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