After being a dedicated and frazzled stay-at-home mom for the last 7 years, I shipped my last of 4 children off to kindergarten and decided to persue a career as a professional dog groomer. I opened a grooming salon in a very small town in Kansas a year ago and things started off slow-very slow. All that setting around gave me time to dream big about how to make my little business better. The rest is history(in the making). I went out and purchased a mobile grooming trailer several states away in Georgia-sight unseen-and this blog is, in essence, about how NOT to go about starting your own mobile grooming business, all of the mistakes I’m making along the way and lessons I’m learning the hard way in my first years of business. If you’re thinking of “going mobile”, this blog will not only make you laugh, but will also scare and inspire you at the same time. Let me tell you-this business is not for the timid or the faint of heart, follow my blog to find out why.
Oh, the power of the internet, and the big ideas it can plant in the head of a stay at home mom turned struggling business owner. Here’s how it all came to be, how Meg’s Grooming Salon scored its point.
I was setting in my salon one day last January waiting on yet another customer that didn’t bother to show up for their appointment, so I was surfing the net. When what do my eyes stumble across? It’s a beautiful grooming salon on wheels! Could this really be? I’d never seen or heard of such a thing. evidentially, Kansas is really as back-woods as everyone says. The entire nation had these rigs running up and down their streets and I didn’t even know such a thing existed! An idea instantly popped into my head and refused to budge for the next 7 days. I thought about all the clients I had lost because they didn’t want to have to drive to get to my salon. All the clients that had asked if I ever came to “insert town here”. I crunched numbers and it all seemed like a perfect fix for my struggling little one woman show. Think baseball, with peak grooming season on the horizon, I had a limited amount of time to either hit a home run or strike out for the season.
I brought the idea of “going mobile” to my husband, who responded with “You wanna what?” Strike one. He pointed out some flaws in my plan, like start-up costs and maintenance. So I tweaked my proposal for a few days and got another try. Strike two. He cited operating expenses (fuel and insurance to name a few) and the possibility that I wouldn’t make enough to cover them. I called time-out and formulated a more strategic game plan. I put it all into a business plan and had corrected all the mistakes I had made in my figuring, including raising my initial service prices to cover my overhead. One more pitch, we have a hit! She’s off and running to first base at full speed…..Safe!
Next I had to go to the bank. I had found a couple little trailers that would work, but didn’t have any more than a small down payment. I walked into my banker’s office with a big friendly smile on my face and all the fake confidence I could muster. I was shaking like a leaf. I told her about my plan and she smiled and asked lots of questions. She had never heard of a mobile grooming rig either and was a little skeptical. The meeting ended with her saying she would have to take it to the loan committee meeting that evening and would give me an answer the next day. It felt like a kiss-of-death ending to the meeting. That was an agonizing night. The next morning I was up with the rooster waiting by the phone. Finally after lunch I got her call. Yes. It’s a hit, she’s running again-headed for second base with the momentum of a freight train!
So I arranged to go pick up the trailer that I had settled on, in Georgia. It wasn’t much, but it was the best I had to choose from given my budget, and I was excited. The owner agreed to meet me part-way, in the south-east corner of Missouri. Jeff and I took off on a Friday afternoon, planning to meet the owner late that night. The current owner who had the trailer had bought it off an ailing friend to avoid it being re-poed, so he didn’t know what any of the many switches did, or how to run anything, but guaranteed that it all worked. Good enough for me! I couldn’t see anything in the dark through my rose-colored glasses, and wouldn’t have known what I was looking at anyway. We hooked her up and headed out. She’s rounding second and headed for third-base folks, she could go all the way!
When we got the trailer home and started playing with switches, the full weight of my gamble settled in. We couldn’t figure out how to run anything. It took us 4 days to figure out there was a breaker switch on the generator that needed flipped so we could get power to the trailer. It was all down hill from there. She’s stalled out on third folks, and the pitcher’s keeping a close eye on her, determined not to let her get home. After 3 weeks of replacing all the plumbing and a pump, figuring out how everything worked, and wanting to throw in the towel almost every evening, she was finally up and running.
After several weeks of here and there mobile appointments, the pitcher threw a curve ball. Not many clients in my rural area were willing to pay for the convenience of a house call and I was still struggling-now with a loan payment to make. So I revisited my game-plan and made some substitutions. Now, instead of doing high-priced house calls, I was going to lower the prices a little and park at one spot in their town one day a week and let them come to me. In small towns where they didn’t have a pet groomer it was a win/win situation. I got busy in a hurry and was booked out two weeks ahead before I knew it. She’s trying to steal home folks! Run Baby, Run! She slides… the dust clears…. SHE”S SAFE!!! Score one for Meg’s Grooming Salon!