All it took for me to know I wanted to be a mobile groomer was working one day in a local shop.
My first day was full of chaos. I walked in fresh out of grooming school, and the shop owner had six full grooms on my list –bath and all. I was used to being given step-by-step instructions, so I was still trying to get my speed up. I had never groomed six dogs in a day.
The boss stood over me pretty much all day and kept rushing me to finish. At the end of the day, she came to me and said, “This isn’t the right profession for you. You’re too slow and trying to be too perfect, so no need to come back tomorrow.” She didn’t have to tell me twice. I was already thinking there’s no way I’m coming back to this place ever again.
It all began the next day when I reached out to one of the local mobile grooming companies. I was hooked! I loved being by myself and working on each dog one on one. No dogs barking in the background, no one standing over my shoulder and no phones ringing.
Three years later, my wife and I started our own mobile grooming business called Here Comes the Groom. We’ve now grown to where we aren’t able to take on new customers, and our business is built on a membership program.
If you are in a business or a shop where you aren’t sure if you are ready to be mobile or not, I suggest riding with a local mobile groomer for a couple of days. You’ll know immediately if you love it or not. There’s really no in-between. I would say the vast majority of people who go from a shop to mobile really love it, but there are some who love being around the people in the shop and don’t like the confinement of being in a van.
Another thing to consider is the area you live. Most of my customers are in certain areas, and I book my appointments to be in that area for the whole day, so I have very little driving time. If you’re in a city where you have to drive all over to go from one stop to the next or where there’s heavy traffic, it may not be beneficial for you to be mobile. Learning to be efficient when scheduling and routing appointments is key to being a successful mobile business.
A lot of times I get asked if the weather is a factor or not. These mobile units are now well-equipped for anything that mother nature throws at them. Extreme heat or cold... these vans can handle it.
Mobile vans are built to last. I recently purchased a new 2023 Wag’n Tails, even though my 2004 Wag’n Tails is still running great and being used every day. The most important thing, in my opinion, when purchasing a van or a trailer is your power source and maintaining it. You definitely want to make sure you can run your dryer and the air conditioner at the same time. I would recommend a generator with at least 6,500 watts or greater to run both. My new van has a commercial diesel generator on it which I have never had before, but so far it really works.
The equipment inside your van is just as important. High on my list is the dryer. I prefer the K-9 II dryers from Electric Cleaner and have both a K-9 II and K-9 Fluffer in my van. I also could not live without my Clipper Vac System from Romani. I use a Wahl KM Cordless attached to my Clipper Vac, so I have one less cord to deal with. A hydraulic table is a must as well, especially if you deal with a lot of big dogs like I do.
A lot of bathing systems don’t work well in mobiles due to the lack of gallons per minute with the pump. So, I have a car wash sudser nozzle hooked up to the main water source that I use as a shampoo system. Personally, I like the ones from Harbor Freight because they are made of metal. They tend to hold up a lot longer than the cheaper plastic ones due to all of the stress we put them through.
Lighting is also very important. My new van has LED lights that work great. If you are building your own, lighting is something you want to make sure you don’t skimp on.
Last, but not least, is products. Being mobile restricts the amount of water you can carry, so you want to make sure your products clean and rinse very easily. If there are a lot of extra suds, then you have to use a lot of water to rinse them out. Also, using products that don’t weigh the coat down allows for faster drying and can help with humidity.
Everything you see in my van comes from Groomer’s Choice Pet Products. I have worked with them for almost 30 years, and they are one of the best companies I have ever been a part of. Dan and his staff have been great to the industry.
If you are interested in going mobile, go for it! I hope you enjoy the ride!