A feline exclusive environment makes cat grooming easier than when attempting to groom in a salon full of dogs.
There’s an entirely different energy and noise level between a dog grooming salon and a cat grooming salon. I have been in 100s of both and can tell you the difference between the two is something quite significant.
Some of the most common struggles that a groomer deals with when grooming cats in a dog salon can be alleviated. You can stop this simply by creating a feline-exclusive environment.
Cats that were previously thought aggressive or deemed un-groomable will usually become calmer. They tend to be more compliant, and easily managed by a single confident groomer. Of course this is not always the case, because we are talking about cats here. But the majority of pet cats, if placed in a quiet, calm environment suited specifically to their behaviour and reactive nature, can be groomed without too much hassle by one knowledgable groomer working alone.
Over the years I have worked with thousands of dog groomers who have sought to incorporate cat grooming into their businesses. Or who have started a brand new cat grooming business alongside their existing dog business. The best way to promote success is to create the feline-exclusive environment.
This can be done simply (and with little cost involved) in one of two ways:
Create a separate time for cats to be the only animals in the salon.
This could be done on any day that the salon is normally closed. Or this could be done by blocking out a morning, afternoon or evening whereby no dogs are on the schedule. (Hence eliminating some of the dog groom appointment slots).
Create a separate space just for cats.
This is done by turning a small room within the dog grooming facility into a separate cat grooming room. Since only about 200 square feet are needed for the necessary equipment, the room does not have to be very large. A completely separate entrance to the cat room is ideal but not necessary.
Going with option #1 above is relatively low cost or even completely free. I have seen this done multiple times by members of the National Cat Groomers Institute. They either choose a day the salon is closed to become their cat day or they block out a timeframe on a normal operating day to be exclusively for cat clients.
The beauty in this approach is that the rules of “supply and demand” come into play, giving the business a fabulous opportunity for pre-booking clients and creating rapid growth.
Simply put, If there are more clients than there are spots available on the calendar, it’s like a game of musical chairs. He who waits too long is left without a chair!
Here is an example of how this works.
A business opens up a 6-hour time frame once a month exclusively for cat grooming. A trained cat groomer can easily groom 6-7 cats during that time frame (allowing 45 minutes to 1 hour per cat). This means there are only 6-7 groom appointment slots open each month for cats.
If there are 8 or more cat clients already for this business, someone is going to get left out every month. Those who pre-book their next appointment in roughly 4 weeks (when the next monthly cat groom day is) get a coveted spot while those who do not, get left out. Clients need to know this principle is in play.
Communication here is key for this to work. feline
To add to this, if a cat is booked on a monthly schedule it will be in great shape. And not require de-matting and other additional work to fix whatever problems have developed over the course of time between grooms.
The groom will be fairly simple as time goes on and the cat is in better shape and becomes more accustomed to the process while also learning to trust the handler. If a client elects to skip an appointment and book 2 or 3 months out (or more), the price for the groom should go up. Because it will include additional fees for mat-removal, fecal-removal, dandruff issues, and so forth. So there are two penalties if an owner does NOT choose to pre-book and keep that next monthly appointment:
Thecustomer will have to wait longer to get on the schedule. They don’t get a “seat.” AND…
They will pay a higher price for the now-more-difficult groom (a price that hurts just a bit).
Also, the cat will be grumpier (due to neglect). And disgusting issues such as a stinky cat or dandruff in the coat, poopy butt, or matting will also be a part of their lives. Prevention is always best, and a groomed cat is a happy cat.
As the number of cat clients grows, so do the hours available for cat groom appointment spots. This can grow as much as a business owner desires. Cat grooming almost always nets a much higher pay-per-hour than dog grooming. It makes great financial sense to replace dog groom appointment slots with cat grooms.
Some of the students I’ve worked with started out with this transitional method with only 2-3 cat clients.
They eventually turned their initial 2-3 hours of feline-exclusive appointments into 2-3 DAYS. Feline
Some have transitioned into 100% cat grooming by using this exact method.
To utilise option #2 above, there simply needs to be a 200 square feet of space to accommodate a cat-size tub. A table that is approximately 24”x36” max. And a drying station as well as some space to stack a few cat crates.
Last year I included three separate articles in The Groomers Voice entitled “Why This and Not This?”. It details specific equipment and tools well-suited to cat grooming. I recommend referencing those articles for more on that. Alternately, the information can be found at http://nationalcatgroomers.com/why-this-and-not-this/
Obviously the cat room will need a door to separate it from the dog grooming salon. Also, exposure to the dogs should be minimised as much as possible. Either by building a separate entrance for the cats or at least avoiding the need to walk through noisy dog areas.
Another idea (if you are so inclined toward building a grooming empire in your town.) Is to open a separate cat grooming salon next to or very close to your dog grooming salon. feline
Reeda Close in Brisbane, Australia did this. She opened up Nose2Tail Cat Grooming directly next door to her Nose2Tail Dog Grooming salon. Michell Evans also did this. She acquired the space next to her salon, Canine Perfection for the purpose of having a feline-exclusive facility. She continued building her cat clientele and catering to folks in the Lake Oswego, OR area.