In this video, Certified Master Groomer Melissa Verplank discuses the challenge of fair pricing. Do you sometimes feel like you’re not getting ahead, despite a full roster of grooms? How are you pricing you “big dog” jobs – the Standard Poodle and Doodles and other time-intensive grooms? Learn how to tweak your pricing structure to get ahead of the game.
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We had a couple of stylists, we were having lunch together, and this one particular stylist was frustrated, but as she was telling me about her salon, and she was really proud of the fact she was unbelievably busy, and she was booked out weeks in advance, she was cranking through a lot of dogs every single day, and all of that was really good, but she said, “Melissa, at the end of the day, at the end of the week, I just don’t feel like I’m getting ahead,” and I thought, “Okay, something’s not right here.”
If you are as busy as what you say you are and you’re doing as many dogs as you’re saying you are, you should be doing pretty well. When you’re running that hard and gunning that hard, this is where you make it sometimes to carry you over some of those slower time periods, so I thought, “Something’s not right here,” so I started asking her some questions.
Now, she was a really talented stylist, and she not only did competition level styling, but she was also showing dogs in the confirmation ring. She was a very knowledgeable stylist. Timing of doing the dogs really wasn’t an issue for her. She was being efficient with her time based on the type of trim she was doing, but I said, “What kind of dogs do you see a lot in your salon, and what do you really enjoy doing?” and she said, “Oh, I love Standard Poodles.”
I said, “Okay, I could understand that. You show them. It’s what you’re out in the ring with a lot in the pet grooming competition.” That made sense to me, and I said, “How long does it take you to do one of your Standard Poodles?” and she said, “Oh, depending on the size of the dog, the type of haircut and how often I see it, it could take me anywhere from two and a half hours to three and a half hours from start to finish, and that would include the bath, the dry and the haircut,” and I went, “Okay, and what are you charging for those dogs?” and she said, “Somewhere between 70 and $80,” and I thought, “Oh, okay.” That math wasn’t working out initially in my head, and I thought this potentially could be the trouble spot.
Like I said, she does a lot of these dogs each week. As I’m telling you the story, I want you to realize that we’re not just talking Standard Poodles. We’re talking any big dog. If that is your price point on any big dog, be it a Standard Poodle, a Doodle, anything else, and you’re running between the 70 and $80 mark, and it’s taking you two and a half to three and a half hours to do, there’s an issue.
I said, “Okay, let me ask you a couple more questions,” and I said, “If you were dealing with a smaller dog, say, a Shih Tzu and just a no-nonsense, but cute little trim, how long would it take you to do?” She said, “Oh, about an hour.” I said, “Okay, and what do you charge for that little Shih Tzu?” and she said, “$45,” and I went, “Mm-hmm (affirmative), there’s your issue,” and she looked at me like, “What are you talking about?”
I said, “Let’s take a look at this from a time standpoint. The Shih Tzu takes you about an hour to do, yet… and you’re getting $45 for it. Yet, the Standard Poodle takes you between two and a half and three and a half hours, and you’re getting somewhere between 70 and $80 for that dog. Do you realize that you could do two or three Shih Tzus in the same amount of time it takes you to do that Standard Poodle?” I think that light bulb went off in her head, and she went, “Oh.”
If you were doing two Shih Tzus at $45, that would be $90. With just two Shih Tzus, you’re already above the one larger dog that you’re dealing with, and if you were to do three Shih Tzus, three hours worth of work, you’re going to get about 135 bucks for that same timeframe, so my question is why would you want to do a larger dog that you’re only getting 70 or $80 for when you could do three smaller dogs in the same timeframe and get a lot more cash for it?
Basically, numbers don’t lie, gang, and so I’m going to really challenge you. If you are dealing with those dogs like the Standard Poodles, the Doodles, the big bathroom brush, the big furries, take a look at how long they’re taking you to do and think about it. If you could do three, two or three smaller dogs in the same amount of time, you should be getting at least equal the amount of money, and it’s going to fall through straight to your bottom line.
It doesn’t matter whether you own your own business or whether you work for somebody else and you’re getting a commission. It’s going to fall straight to your bottom line. It’s going to fall straight to your paycheck. It’s going to fall straight down to your profitability if you’re a salon owner, so, if you’ve got those larger dogs that aren’t priced appropriately, I’m going to really encourage you to take a good hard look at your pricing structure and raise those prices, and get them to the point where they’re fair, they’re fair for your salon, they’re fair for you or your staff member to do and, bottom line, gang, it’s fair to the customer.
Honestly, if you’re afraid to raise your prices because you’re afraid they’re going to go somewhere else, and especially if you’re already busy and you’re booked out weeks in advance, wouldn’t you rather do a smaller dog and earn more money for it? I mean, yeah, I get it that the Standard Poodles are really, really pretty and they’re fun to do, but at the same token, you got to pay your bills at the end of the day. We don’t do this profession to lose money. We need to be able to make a fair wage, and I don’t know any professional pet groomer that gouges or overprices for their services. If anything, we underprice what we do, and so put some value on yourself and put some value on the work that you do.
If you’re one of those folks that just doesn’t have anymore bandwidth to give, you’re running and gunning just as hard as you can, take a good hard look at where your pricing structure is, and if you want to reduce the amount of hours that you work while raising your profit levels, raise your prices, but really look at those larger dogs and make sure that they’re priced appropriately.