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“On the Road” with Mobile Grooming – John Stockman

Special Guests

John Stockman

John's been changing lives over the past 13 years one groomer at a time with Wag'n Tails Mobile Conversions. He is the National Sales Manager at the up-fitter transportation company that helps groomers save time and make money by taking their show on the road. His favorite part of his job is getting that phone call nine months after a new client has purchased a van and hearing how going mobile has changed their whole life. They have time for their kids, their relationship with their family is better, and they have less stress with more profit. John and Wagn' Tails pride themselves on being the go-to educational resource for clients who want to start a mobile grooming enterprise.

“On the Road” with Mobile Grooming

In this episode, Joe Zuccarello is joined by John Stockman from Wagn’ Tails to discuss mobile grooming. With more than 3,300 mobile units and two decades on the road, Wagn’ Tails makes “mobile” grooming “friendly.” John will answer some of the most pressing questions in mobile grooming:

  • How can I make more money grooming fewer pets?
  • How would I avoid spending most of my day in transit?
  • What is an appointment cluster and how do you make more money using them?
  • Is it possible to operate on a 75% gross profit margin?
  • What are the benefits of mobile grooming for pet parents and pets themselves?

Tune in to find out!

Special Offer: Valid through Dec. 31, 2019

“Hey Joe!” listeners who buy a Wagn’ Tail van, bus or trailer receive a free Christensen Kool Dry dryer installed, valued at $486. Just mention the Secret Code “Lucky Leo.”

Transcript
Joe Zuccarello: What’s up everyone? Joe Zuccarello here, and welcome to Hey Joe, a podcast brought to you by Paragon School of Pet Grooming. Check out our site at paragonpetschool.com for lots of really cool information on a variety of programs, products, and to connect to educational resources such as webinars, podcasts, current events, special news, certifications, and lots of other helpful information to help you grow yourself, your team, and of course your business. Let’s get started with this week’s episode.

Joe Zuccarello: Hey there everyone. Joe Zuccarello again, your host of the Hey Joe podcast. This is a podcast where you get to listen in on real coaching calls between myself and an industry expert. We are always answering questions that we get from you, our listener audience, and usually they are starting with the words, “Hey Joe.” This week episode focuses on some choices, some career choices. If you look at that, choices, choices, where do you call home? That is, where do you call your professional home? Where do you groom at?

Joe Zuccarello: Groomers have lots of choices of where they set up camp. That is one of the really cool things about this industry. Pets are everywhere. Groomers get to decide where they will meet their clients, and some choose an intimate and personal space like home grooming or whether you’re grooming in your home or even in a client’s home. Some choose a salon atmosphere, either as an employee or maybe even owning their own shop. Some grooming veterinarians are veterinary hospitals and some even choose multiunit retailer salons where supplies and services kind of blend together to create yet another unique experience for the pet parent. Some choose to go on the road with mobile grooming.

Joe Zuccarello: That’s the topic of our podcast this week, is On The Road Mobile Grooming with Wag’n Tails. We’ll be answering questions like, “Is it right for me? Am I cut out for a career in mobile? Am I cut out to be a solo act? What if I don’t know anything at all about the mobile grooming business? What if the whole thing just intimidates me?” Well, today we’re talking with John Stockman who is with a custom mobile grooming outfitter called Wag’n Tails. It’s a family owned business with over 50 years worth of experience and over 3,300 mobile units on the road today. Stick around to the end of the podcast to hear about something really cool that John is giving exclusively to the Hey Joe podcast listener audience who buys a mobile unit from them between now and the end of 2019.

Joe Zuccarello: John and I are going to be talking about taking your business on the road. I think you’re going to learn more about mobile grooming than you ever thought you would know. For some of you that might be on the fence about mobile grooming, maybe this is the career path for you. Again, just a reminder, this podcast thrives on questions that we receive from our listeners out there. Be sure, first off, to subscribe to the podcast. You can go to paragonpetschool.com and click on the subscribe button to receive notifications of all of the new podcasts as they release the moment that they do release. If you have a question that you would like for us to find a subject matter expert on to interview, to answer your questions, simply email us at, heyjoequestions@paragonpetschool.com. Let’s get started with this week’s episode.

Joe Zuccarello: All right, let’s go ahead and get started. John, thank you for joining us today.

John Stockman: Hey Joe.

Joe Zuccarello: Ha ha. See what you did there. Hey John, I did, probably, a decent job of introducing who you are and your business, but nobody else does that better than themselves. Why don’t you take a moment and tell us about yourself and about all the exciting things going on at Wag’n Tails?

John Stockman: Well, I’ve been around here going on 13 years, which seems like it was yesterday. It’s a great job to have. I mean we’re changing lives one groomer at a time. When you get that phone call nine months down the road and one of our clients tell us how their whole life has changed, they have time for their kids, their relationship with their family is better. No paycheck can make you feel that way. But I’ve been here for 13 years and, I pretty much know the ins and outs of a mobile grooming. We pride ourselves on being a resource for our clients.

Joe Zuccarello: Yeah. That’s one of the things I think that has always impressed me. In fact, we’re going to be… John you’ve agreed to do a couple of podcast episodes with us. In one of the podcast we talk about the seven keys to success so that we take… We kind of peel the onion back a little bit further and talk about just that level of support that Wag’n Tails provides business owners who choose to go what we like to… what we’re calling this podcast, On the Road with Mobile Grooming.

Joe Zuccarello: Let’s talk about those folks for a moment. Kind of from an overview, what in your opinion are some of the, maybe the characteristics of each one of these… I kind of divided up in what I thought was three different groups of folks. You have the individual, right? You’ve got who I like to call, Betty Pet-groomer out there who might be a sole proprietor. She might want one unit. Sometimes that… You’ve told me that they buy multiple units, which is really cool. Then you’ve got salon owners and managers out there who, they’re either looking to make a change and go mobile or start a mobile business or they have a brick and mortar business and they look to expand that by maybe augmenting that or supplementing that with mobile, which I’d like to learn a little bit more about.

Joe Zuccarello: Then, the pet services businesses out there, like daycares and boarding facilities and so on, that might not offer grooming at all, or that offer grooming, but also want to supplement their business by offering mobile. That’s a lot of different types of career paths for people. A lot of different opportunities.

John Stockman: That’s correct. Yeah. Those main customer groups, they make up the business, they’re able to see the value in mobile. Everything from an owner operator to, like you said, pet services that expand. You look at the pet sitters or the doggy daycares or the pet resorts, that dovetails really well in a mobile because the clients are the same. They’re the exact same people. They’re a little more affluent, and the pets are really members of the family, and they will take care of little Fluffy and Fido, that’s what they do. Those clients are really the same.

Joe Zuccarello: I could see that, those folks that are coming in and spending 10, 20, 30, $40 a day, say on some really nice daycare offerings that I’ve seen. I could see where they could be the same. They might truly appreciate the convenience in such, and now we’re going to go really deep into some of the benefits for everybody here in a little bit. You’re a groomer, you’re out there, you’ve got your mobile unit, or maybe you’re… Well, let’s take a step back. Big step backwards. If you’re contemplating getting a mobile unit, and making that your career path, what kind of characteristics make up what you see as a good mobile groomer, business owner?

John Stockman: Right. Well, I think we’ve discussed before, there’s pros and cons and some pros are cons, and some cons are pros, depending on who the person is. You need to be a self-starter, and that’s true with any business owner. I tell people all the time, there’s so much demand for the service. If you can get out of bed in the morning and groom a dog, you’re going to be successful, and that’s not being facetious. That’s really because of the demand. But, self starter is first and foremost.

John Stockman: Also, if you’re a social animal and need human interaction all day, every day, mobile’s not going to be for you. If you like the shop and the interaction with customers coming in and out and, and your fellow groomers, you don’t like being by yourself all day, it’s probably not for you. But if you want to get away from that drama that sometimes happens in shops, maybe it is for you. But, it’s not where you spend all day driving around from point to point. You’re interacting with your clients, you become, really, a member of the family because you’re the one taking care of Fluffy. I would say the most important thing is, if you like being on your own, you like independence and you’re a good self-starter, those are the main characteristics.

Joe Zuccarello: I can see that definitely. Some of those characteristics ring true. Just letting you know and letting our podcast audience know, the Hey Joe, listener audience out there. I had the pleasure of managing and operating several brick and mortar grooming salons, over my career. After I did not have those salons anymore, after I left that for a different career change in the pet industry, we became that customer. We became the person that was bringing our pet into the grooming salon and we loved them. We loved everything about it, and then we got to the point where our lives just got a little too busy and time got a little too crunched. Now we thoroughly enjoy, Stephanie, who is our mobile, not our mobile groomer, I guess, our dogs mobile groomer who pulls up in our driveway every four or five weeks.

Joe Zuccarello: I got to tell you man, I am spoiled rotten by her. I go down, I grab a cup of coffee… I work from a home office, which is another real luxury, but I go down, I grab a cup of coffee, I come back up to my office and my dog is scruffy. I go down to get lunch, which seems like a half an hour later, but it’s a while later. I go down to get lunch and he’s been completely groomed and there’s a card on the table telling me when my next appointment is. Dude, I don’t know if it gets any better than that in pet ownership. I mean, that makes my parenting very, very easy. That’s a really special thing. But, I understand that it’s a convenience factor. That’s probably my largest influence or my largest catalyst for going and being a mobile grooming customer.

Joe Zuccarello: But, I know that, John, there are a number of misconceptions out there. With the day of the Internet, we… Again, I think doctors’ worst nightmares is WebMD, right? But that probably holds true for most businesses that our biggest nightmare is the internet feeding, not necessarily the most accurate information. That’s one reason why the Hey Joe podcast is so important because we bring those subject matter experts such as yourself dead center, right to the heart of the topic, right in front of our listeners. These misconceptions that kind of float out there, that concern mobile pet grooming, I think one of them… I’ll ask you some of these questions just to kind of help vet this out and bring this information to the listeners. But, do you spend all day driving around appointment to appointment?

John Stockman: Well, you can, if you want to do it wrong. Really, what you do is you… We call it routing and scheduling, one of the things that we teach. There’s some good routing and scheduling software out there, NaviGroom for instance, but the misconception is, you spend all the time on the road. Well, you don’t. Now, when you’re first starting out, you’re going to do a little zigzagging around your territory because you’re filling your book. But, you’re going to go to one area, sometimes one neighborhood, in some cases one house, and groom all day there. That way you’re not zigzagging all around the territory. You go to one area, you’ll have a spot on Monday, you’ll have another area Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and so on. When somebody calls for an appointment, you slot them into where they live on the day.

John Stockman: Because, as you said, this whole business is convenience driven. It’s easy to do that because the pet parent doesn’t have to do anything other than say, “Here’s Fluffy.” It really makes it easy to get your routing and scheduling plan put together. It’s the old adage, ‘If you fail to plan, you plan to fail’. When you’re starting out… One of the things we counsel on all the time is, “This is how you set things up, and you’re going to have certain areas of your territory that you’re going to service on certain days of the week,” and it works out pretty well.

Joe Zuccarello: Again, from firsthand personal experience, our mobile groomer, she, I guess, had to reorganize her, I think you call them clusters. Appointment clusters. She had to reorganize her cluster of appointments for our area because, I guess, she was getting busier, which was awesome for her. She was happy enough to call us and ask us if we would get our dog groomed a week earlier. Otherwise, it would be two or three weeks later because… I understand the business, so I was very patient and flexible with that, but, for her benefit, really ultimately for the customers’ benefit, to make sure that she’s at where she’s going to be when she says she’s going to be there. These appointment clusters are very important. I’ve had experience there.

John Stockman: Yeah, it’s true. That just drives the importance of setting yourself up, to start with, correctly. Because, once you start getting busy and then you say, “Well, can you start going on Wednesdays instead of Fridays,” or whatnot, then you’re working on trying to get everything put together. If you do it right at the start, you’ll have a little bit of that, but it won’t be as pronounced. The key to, again, is plan. Plan, where you’re going to be and when you’re going to be there, days of the week, and you’ll be fine. You’ll have to do some adjusting along the way. That’s going to be driven by you plus it’ll be driven by your customers too. Mrs. Johnson may not be able to have Fluffy groomed on Mondays anymore, she needs a Wednesday. Well, hopefully she’s on a borderline of one of those things, but it all works itself out in the end because, you’ll have those clusters and you’ll work the clusters.

Joe Zuccarello: No, I think that’s a perfect word, and it’s an easy thing for people to remember. Inside those clusters, you have the customers, right, with the pets in their homes, the pet parents. I do realize that I also pay a higher price for that convenience. Again, it’s not exclusive to pet grooming, there’s a lot of things that customers pay a premium for, especially as it relates to convenience. But, as we talk about misconceptions, it’s got to be the handful of groomers out there that are worried that there won’t be enough customers to pay that premium.

John Stockman: Right. Yeah. Yeah. The way I explain that is I just say, “Well, look around you, there’s… People, they don’t clean their own pool. They don’t clean their own house. They don’t cut their own yard. Some of them don’t shop for their own groceries, pick up their own dry cleaning. It’s all driven by convenience.” People expect to pay a higher price for convenience. Basically, what you’re giving that customer… The reason convenience is so important is because everybody’s just so busy. Most of the time both parents work or the kids have activities. What you’re giving them is a gift that no one else can give them, and that’s the gift of time. I tell people all the time that, “You’re providing a premium at-home service, which people expect to pay more for. Then on top of that, you’re freeing up their time.” I tell them all the time, “They’ll smile when they write that check simply because, you have gone in there and given them a gift nobody else can.”

Joe Zuccarello: Oh, that’s a great point. I mean, to drive the point of convenience home, and a premium for convenience home a little bit further, look at the ride share apps right now that are delivering food. I take advantage of it every time I fly or every time I travel. I’m in a hotel, I go to my app, I push a few buttons, and half an hour later… For a fee of five, six dollars extra now it’s, do I place a… does that equal the value I place on it? Heck yeah.

John Stockman: Sure. Yeah.

Joe Zuccarello: What about having to do more dogs a day? When they’re thinking about all the costs involved and this, that and the other, and they’re thinking, “Oh my gosh, how am I going to pay for this van? How am I going to do… I must have to do 12 dogs a day.”

John Stockman: Right? Yeah. That’s a very common misconception. What you have to understand is that, you’re basically doing less dogs but making more money, because of the premium that you charge. Our business model is six dogs a day, five days a week. The way most mobile grooming operations are set up, you break it even, you cover all of your overhead, which is van payment, fuel, insurance, supplies, phone, everything that’s involved in operating the business. You usually cover that within a week. Usually somewhere between 30 and 34 dogs, you’ve covered the entire month’s overhead. Basically, you’re operating on a 75% gross profit margin, which not a lot of businesses do. But, when you factor in the payment and the gas and everything else, like I said, you’re looking at… The first week, maybe the first week and a day you’ve covered all your months overhead.

Joe Zuccarello: Wow. That would even include the unit payment, the loan you have on your grooming unit?

John Stockman: Yeah, generally you’re looking at about a 22 to $2,400 a month overhead. That encompasses everything to operate the business, fuel, gas, insurance, the whole gamut. The neat thing about it is, with that six dogs a day, five days a week, most clients are on a four to six week groom cycle. If they’re going to go over six weeks, you just, you let them go and get somebody else replace them. You basically fire the client. But when you look at that four to six week groom cycle, and you’re doing six dogs a day, five days a week, 150 to 180 pets, fully books the van. I discern between pets and clients because 150 to 180 pets, fully books the van, it’ll be less clients.

John Stockman: It might be only 120 clients or 130 clients, or in some cases, maybe 100 clients. Because, most of the clients… I shouldn’t say most. More than a half the clients will have more than one pet. That’s another convenience factor that mobile grooming provides is, they don’t have to try to hustle two dogs and the cat into the salon. You’re going to them, and it’s not uncommon to do two or three dogs in one house.

Joe Zuccarello: Oh boy. Well that, and two, we’ve got a very good friend in the industry who… I’m at Paragon School of Pet Grooming, and she has a cat grooming academy for professional cat groomers. She, I know, speaks very highly of doing cat grooming in a mobile environment. Even if they don’t have multiple dogs, they might have a cat and a dog, right?

John Stockman: Cats are very profitable.

Joe Zuccarello: As she’s taught us. She’ll be on a number of our podcasts. She’s a returning guest, much like yourself. Let me ask you a question then. Obviously with any business, mobile including, if it’s not managed right, those numbers can go sideways such as if you have an inability to book in clusters or set up cluster appointments.

John Stockman: Yeah, I mean it takes time. I mean, you’re not going to have your clusters lined up in the first month, but generally six to nine months or within a year, you have everything pretty much lined up and have them where you want them. You’ll still do some shuffling around from time to time. But that’s… It goes right back to what I said in the beginning, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. It has to be a situation where you’ve got to be in control of the book and the schedule, and the route right from the start. You’ll work some people in and out from time to time, but if you go about it right going in… We’ll spend a lot of time training you on that when you agree to buy a Wag’n Tails, so that you get that, I guess you would call it… You get the plan in place before you start, and as you book dogs, you just have to book them into those clusters.

John Stockman: Like I said, you could make… Somebody might be on the dividing line between your Monday and your Tuesday or your Wednesday and Friday, depending on how you have the cluster. If somebody is on dividing line between those two clusters, you can move them back and forth between them. But, it all goes back to getting off on the right foot, and we help you a lot with that.

Joe Zuccarello: Well, and to that point, actually. Two mentions on that point. The very first one is, I know, again, from personal experience, when I first reached out to the mobile groomer who we had selected to groom our little dog, we couldn’t get in. She didn’t have a slot open.

John Stockman: That’s not uncommon.

Joe Zuccarello: I felt almost like a transplant recipient for a moment. I had to wait.

John Stockman: You got on the waiting list.

Joe Zuccarello: Right.

John Stockman: Some people can’t even get on the waiting list.

Joe Zuccarello: Oh my gosh. Yeah. That, and season ticket holders at Lambeau Field, right? I feel like I might have to will my dog’s grooming slot to my kids when they have a dog of their own when they grow up, but also-

John Stockman: Yeah. These vans book up quick. I mean, Joe, it’s not uncommon, depending on the area, three, six, nine months, you’re turning business away. There’s just so much demand for the service. It’s crazy.

Joe Zuccarello: Well. To that point of planning ahead of time, and what Wag’n Tails does that just really, really impresses me, and… There’s no doubt why you guys are the leader in the industry with the amount of coaching that you do ahead of time for these business owners that are on the road. Again we’re going to have… You and I are going to… We have another podcast episode that addresses what you call the seven keys to success. That is literally the… Oh gosh, pun intended, I guess, roadmap, right? Is that… I was going say blueprint, but then roadmap kind of popped into my head, but that’s a roadmap to success. There were so many business owners and so many different businesses out there that wish they had kind of that cheat sheet that you offer.

Joe Zuccarello: Hey, just real quick. For the Hey Joe podcast listener audience out there, just a reminder of who we’re talking to. We’re talking to John Stockman who is the National Sales Manager at Wag’n Tails mobile dog grooming units. Custom provider of mobile dog grooming units. John is sharing with us, kind of, the characteristics of mobile pet groomers. This as a possible career path for you, and also the benefits that go along with becoming a mobile dog groomer, not only for yourself as a dog groomer, but also for the pets and the pet parents as well. If you have any questions that you would like answered, this was one of those questions we receive from our Joe listener audience. It was about mobile dog grooming, and here we are talking with John. If you have any of those questions, be sure to visit our webpage at paragonpetschool.com or you can email us at, heyjoequestions@paragonpetschool.com.

Joe Zuccarello: You can also follow along with what John and I are talking about today. You can go and visit their website and you can see what it is that he’s talking about as we’re talking on this podcast. That is, just visit his website, it’s really easy. Just remember wagntails.com. That’s W-A-G-Ntails.com, wagntails.com. Again, if you can’t remember that, or you’re driving and you’ve got your earbuds on, you can’t take a note, just go to paragonpetschool.com, where we’ll give you all of that information.

Joe Zuccarello: John, a couple of other misconceptions. What about those that think that mobile units… I can see where this one comes from. What if they see these beautiful rigs driving around. I mean, you guys create some stunning, stunning equipment and it looks expensive. What about the folks that say that it’s too expensive for them?

John Stockman: Yeah. Well, they’re not inexpensive, but expensive is a relative term. I mean, what you have to do is look at… I have people say, “Cost as much as my house.” Well, your house didn’t earn you $90,000 pretax a year either, but they’re not as hard to buy as people think. I mean, there’s basically a down payment involved, and we have access to financing through the car companies agencies plus banks. I mean, there’s options out there for financing. With good credit and a little bit of down payment you’re in.

John Stockman: It’s not a difficult thing. We walk you through the entire process. There’s no pressure. We just don’t operate that way. I mean, we walk you through it step by step, by step. Anytime you’re uncomfortable with something, you let us know. We take care of it. But, it’s a very simple buying process. It’s not difficult at all. It doesn’t take a long time. Usually from the time we get the credit application, until we get an approval back is usually a couple of days at most. It’s really pretty simple, but going back to the expense, it generates a lot of revenue.

John Stockman: Groomers that are in the entrepreneurship and they say, “Well, it’s scary.” Well, fear is a good motivator. You can’t be paralyzed of course, but a little bit of fear will keep you on your toes. This goes back to the coaching part. We do more than just coaching when you’re getting your van. We coach you as long as you have your van. I probably spend 25 or 30% of my day just working with my clients that have vans or multiple vans, helping them make their operation more profitable or run smoother. It’s not something where you buy them and we kick you out the door. I tell people, “We’re your best business partner. We’re just free.” We offer a lot of things and help people out like a franchise would, but we don’t stick our hand in your pocket every month.

John Stockman: Yeah, the initial expense can be daunting, but when you break it down to monthly payments, and then you look at your total overhead like we mentioned before, it’s very, very doable.

Joe Zuccarello: Let’s talk about, you said that you have your business model figured on… What you coach people on is that, you’ve got the business model figured on doing six dogs a day, five days a week. If my groomers out there, my Hey Joe listener audience out there, the Hey Joe podcast listener audience out there. If they are groomers right now and they’re kind of teetering on that, I can do… Maybe they’re not the most experienced groomer, but they’re also not fresh out of school, but if they’re kind of teetering on that five to six-dog a day number, I think that’s going to be very helpful to them. At Paragon School of Pet Grooming, there are a lot of our schools and a lot of other teaching programs.

Joe Zuccarello: Wherever you learn, even if you learn under an apprenticeship program inside of a salon, that’s typically… No matter where you go, that’s the number. That’s the magic sweet spot number of being able to earn a living in a salon, let alone prosper in a mobile unit. We have graduates that will leave Paragon. They’ll be out in the field for a handful of months or a year, maybe a couple, and then they go and buy a mobile unit as well. That’s the brilliant part about this industry as I had mentioned in my intro, there is lots of career paths, and mobile is one of them. There are, like you said, pros become cons, cons become pro, so it depends on the person that you are.

Joe Zuccarello: Again, if you can make cluster appointments, and then that multi-pet family, Danelle German with the Cat Grooming Institute. She’s a true believer in mobile. Again, being able to satisfy cats grooming in an environment that benefits pets. We’re going to take a little bit of a peek into the benefits for the pet, the pet parent, and the groomer. But one misconception I had asked for, this is kind of out of right field a little bit, but what about big dogs? I mean, it’s a limited space in there, right? How do you do the big dogs?

John Stockman: Well, we’re set up to do that. Now, let me just, real quick, get in this thing you talked about Danelle. She has a Catty Shack Vac that they sell. We do have one, two, three models of vans that we can put that Catty Shack Vac in too, but big dogs… We have an electric table. All of our vans are standard with our Wag’n Tails smart-table. It’s electric, it goes down to 18 inches off the floor. You get the big dog on the table, you raise the table up and there’s a bridge that pulls out of the back of the table to walk them across into the tub, so-

Joe Zuccarello: Oh, that’s cool. Like a drawbridge.

John Stockman: Yeah. It is basically like a drawbridge. We’ve been in this industry for, going on 50 years, and we’ve been doing strictly mobile for well over 20. At one time we had a fleet of mobiles. We built our fleet up to 22 vans. We understand the ins and outs of the business, that knowledge becomes yours, but one thing we learned is that, you don’t last very long picking up big dogs and sticking them in the tub. This job is physical enough without the grooming van working against you. We have the Groomer of the Century, Dina Perry, who is our company founder, that whenever we come out with a new model or there’s a new van that we have to… When Ford quit building E-350 and went to the transit, we bring Dina in and Dina tells us how to lay everything out. We’ve got somebody with 40 years of experience in mobiles telling us how to lay the things out.

John Stockman: Back to the big dogs, it’s full-size tub. I can send people pictures of, well you name it, great dates, huskies mastiffs, yeah, you can fit them all in there. The table is big enough for big dogs. Now, it’s not a huge giant table like you might find in the salon, it’s five feet long and three feet wide. We don’t give them a playground to run around on, we want them standing still. Big dogs are no problem. But having said that, most mobile groomers once they’ve been out in a while, they weed out the big dogs-

Joe Zuccarello: Yeah I can see-

John Stockman: Some of them won’t take a dog over 35 pounds. Some of them do nothing but little dogs all day. Now, the flip side of that is we have clients that specialize in big dogs, because-

Joe Zuccarello: I was just going to say, what if the ones that go after the… It’s the riches in the niches, right?

John Stockman: Yeah. They’re doing doodles and everything else and they’re cleaning up. People that have big dogs… We’ll get into pricing at some point in one of these podcasts, I assume, but we teach everybody, “You price on the hour.” Now, it’s not what you communicate to the customer, but you figured out how long it’s going to take you to do the dog, and then you probably say that, “Right now, current rates are about $80 an hour.” If you have an hour and a half dog, it’s $120. Now, you can do a lab in an hour easy, or less than that, but because the dog is big, their clients expect they should have to pay more so you let them. We have people that just do big dogs. They may only do four a day, but they charge more for them, so they clean up.

John Stockman: Then we have people that just do cats, and cats are very profitable too. Mobile’s really good for cats, because there’s no barking dogs. There’s none of those smells or anything else, and they’re much more relaxed. True with dogs or cats, but they’re much more relaxed in a mobile because they’re at their house. They can look out the window and there it is. You don’t have that separation anxiety. It’s a lot easier. The dog’s more relaxed, and so is the groomer.

Joe Zuccarello: Right, right. Okay. Let’s take a peek into just that world and to the benefits for the pet, the pet parent, and the groomer of course, right? We’ve been talking a little bit about that and you’re right, we’ll probably need a whole episode on pricing, right, and how to structure that. I’m sure, along with the seven keys to success, we’ll talk about pricing, we can talk about scheduling, we can… I have a feeling John Stockman’s going to be a returning guest.

John Stockman: Happy to do it. I enjoy sharing the knowledge. I mean, that’s what we do. We’ve got a lot of it and we love to share it. I tell people all the time, “Our biggest competitors use Wag’n Tails van. Some on the van. I always tell our clients, “When you sell that to that person, have them call us, we’ll register them as the new owner. It doesn’t matter if you bought it from us, or you bought it from Mary Smith, we’re going to take care of you just like you buy. We’ll help you with the mobile grooming success guide that we give everybody. We’ll do the consulting, we’ll get you in our groomer locator. We’ll treat you just like you bought it from us. Part support, service support, consulting, whatever you need.

Joe Zuccarello: Nice. Nice.

John Stockman: Yeah.

John Stockman: I think I went off on a tangent there Joe-

Joe Zuccarello: That’s okay. No that’s all good-

Joe Zuccarello: Did you hear the reel? I’m reeling you back in, right? That’s okay. You and I, we have the same problem.

John Stockman: Yeah. I’m trying not to make it a commercial for Wag’n Tails. We’re awesome but, I’m happy to share knowledge with whoever.

Joe Zuccarello: No, I appreciate that. One of the things that… Part of it is, we’re not trying to cast a negative light on brick and mortar salons or-

John Stockman: Oh. No, no, no. Of course not-

Joe Zuccarello: Those are all also, whether you’re grooming a veterinarian or a multi-unit retailer, whatever, our job is to bring all of the information to our Hey Joe listener audience so that they can make an educated decision. That’s what you’re doing. I appreciate the information. You are sharing-

John Stockman: We wouldn’t disparage shops at all. I mean, we had six of them at one point. There’s a market for both-

Joe Zuccarello: Oh, absolutely.

John Stockman: If you’re happy in a shop, God bless you, keep going. I mean, we appreciate the groomer, okay? It doesn’t matter if they’re grooming out of their house, out of the trunk of their car, in somebody else’s house, in the shop, it doesn’t matter. We support the grooming industry.

Joe Zuccarello: That’s great. Let’s talk about the pet groomer, right? If we’re talking about the benefits, from, kind of, a 30,000-foot view, again, all of these topics, I just see this thing just continuing to be a whole series on mobile grooming, but kind of from the most important benefits that you feel a professional pet groomer realizes by being mobile.

John Stockman: Well, yeah. I mean, there’s a lot of them. Grooming less pets for more money is probably the big one. You’re charging a premium for the services, but what I get a lot of feedback from in addition to the, “Gosh, I wish I had done this sooner,” remark, which almost everybody says, you set your own schedule. You choose your own clients, you choose the breeds you want to do, the breeds you don’t want to do. You basically get your life back. I tell people all the time, if you’re working too hard, it’s your own fault. If you don’t want to work Tuesday afternoons because Tuesday afternoons you do X, Y or Z, don’t schedule anybody on Tuesday afternoons. It’s not like you’re expected to be there at seven in the morning and seven o’clock at night, and you don’t have those situations where you’ve got a little Fluffy sitting here waiting on mom, and mom forgot and she’s out having wine with the girls. You don’t run into any of those kinds of situations.

John Stockman: But, the once a year pets go away. Everybody’s on a two, four, or six weeks cycle, and you really become a trusted member of the family. A lot of our groomers have garage door codes or keys to the house. That’s not uncommon at all.

Joe Zuccarello: I know mine does.

John Stockman: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it’s not uncommon. But basically, the biggest benefit is that, you’re completely in charge of your schedule, the dogs you groom, when you groom, the entire thing. You’re on your own. Your day is different every day. You don’t feel the grind like you might in other professions. You’re doing a hard physical job, you’re not playing with puppies, like people think, all day, but you’re in control of it. That’s the biggest benefit is that, you set your own schedule and you don’t have to schedule your life around your work. You schedule your work around your life.

Joe Zuccarello: Yeah. Yeah. Now it totally makes sense. Then you’ve got the other half of that equation, and John, which is the pet and the pet parent. I kind of shared some of the benefits that I’ve realized that, but what about kind of those top level things, the top level benefits for the pet and pet parent?

John Stockman: Well, the pet… Like I said before, they’re much less stressed, simply because there’s not strange smells, there’s not other dogs barking. They’re right there at home. It’s not uncommon that you pull up in the driveway, you open up the door, the door to the house opens up and the dog just runs right into the van. It happens a lot. It’s much less stressful.

Joe Zuccarello: Okay, my dog is not that excited. He’s much less stressed when Stephanie’s here, but he knows what’s going to happen. But, I will agree with you, it is… I think part of that stress is, I think they pick up on the stress of the pet parent having to take them up there. “They’re going to get sick in my car? They’re going to… Then it got to four hours later and go get them.” Again, not anything disparaging or anything negative to brick and mortar, because there are some really, really great brick and mortar locations out there-

John Stockman: Oh yeah, absolutely-

Joe Zuccarello: The ones that we really like or the ones that may be a couple of the brick and mortar, the dog grooming with, maybe, daycare that same day so the dog can play as well. There are some cool people providing services in all aspects of our business, but yeah, that stress level for both pet and pet parent, I can see, would be reduced.

John Stockman: Yeah. I mean, and it’s ideal for puppies, geriatric pets and cats, we talked about that before. There’s really no exposure to other pets, and that groomer is one-on-one with that pet from start to finish. They’re not being handed off or assembly line groomed. I don’t know if anybody still does that anymore, but they might. But, it’s basically, there’s no cages in mobile and it’s one of the points you stress to the pet parent, “No cages. I’m with your pet one-on-one from start to finish,” and the pet’s much more relaxed.

Joe Zuccarello: Well. I can tell you something as well with our little dog. One of the things that I think that we get the greatest benefit from is knowing that he’s right outside. My wife, again, dude, we turned into that customer. I mean, we are so… I tell people in the industry, they looking at me like… Even people at work, at Paragon, they laugh at me because, “He wears his little pajamas now and, okay, we do not own a stroller yet, but we have talked about taking him on our Harley with us.

John Stockman: That sounds like Leo the-

Joe Zuccarello: I talked to Ren the photographer, him and his wife. I’m talking to him about, “Hey what do you think about letting our dog on a Harley.” He’s a fellow biker as well-

John Stockman: That sounds like Leo office dog. Amy, our marketing manager brings Leo in every day, and he’s always dressed in something or other every day.

Joe Zuccarello: Yeah, my team does that.

John Stockman: He’s quite a character.

Joe Zuccarello: Yeah. Yeah. My guy likes to participate in our video conferences all the time.

John Stockman: No, definitely. We were talking about some of the benefits. I mean, a lot of those, that parent other than convenience, it’s less stressful on them. It eliminates car time and you don’t have to worry about car time with what I call the three Ps, the pee, the poop, and puke. You don’t have to worry about any of that in the car, and you get regular appointments. Everything’s on a schedule, so it’s easy for you to have your pet taken care of because you don’t have to do anything. You know that every four weeks, every six weeks, every two weeks, whatever, the groomer will be in the driveway. It really lends itself well that, if you’ve got more than one pet, and a lot of people do. I mean multiple pet households are more and more common. Some benefits to the pet parent as well.

Joe Zuccarello: Well, and a benefit to the mobile groomer, I can tell you from the client’s perspective, I dare not cancel my appointment.

John Stockman: Oh, don’t do that.

Joe Zuccarello: Because I might not get back into that rotation again for several weeks, and at that point I’m doing a home grooming job, and that’s bad, bad idea.

John Stockman: I wouldn’t even attempt it.

Joe Zuccarello: No. No, no. I’ve got experts that I am surrounded with every day that do a much better job if I let them do what they do, then I do what I do, and we’re all happy that way.

John Stockman: Exactly.

Joe Zuccarello: John, we’re almost out of time, but I wanted to make sure that we also leave a few moments. Again, this is John Stockman, on the Hey Joe podcast. John is with Wag’n Tails. Super knowledgeable. Family owned business Wag’n Tails is, and 3,300 units on the road. There’s no doubt why you are number one in the industry. But, John, you have agreed to bring a really cool special, exclusive offer to the Hey Joe podcast listener audience. You mind telling the group what it is that you’re going to do for them?

John Stockman: Yeah. Starting today through the end of 2019, so December 31st, anybody that buys a new Wag’n Tails van, bus, or trailer, we’re going to throw in a Christensen Kool Dry. It’s an optional dryer. They come standard with a K9 too, but we’ll toss in the Christensen Kool Dry at no charge, which is a $486 option. But you have to remember the secret code. The Secret Code is Lucky Leo. Leo is our office dog. Lucky Leo, mention that when you’re buying a van, we’ve got a Christensen Kool Dry. A variable speed dryer doesn’t heat up, and its Kool Dry.

Joe Zuccarello: That’s a-

John Stockman: We’ll put one of those in the van at no charge.

Joe Zuccarello: That’s a $500 drier.

John Stockman: 486 from us installed.

Joe Zuccarello: Wow. Wow. When they buy their unit, it’ll come installed. It’ll be ready to roll. They’re going to use the promo code. Lucky Leo. All one word, right? All squished together. LuckyLeo.

John Stockman: Lucky Leo. You can put a space in there. We’re pretty flexible on that.

Joe Zuccarello: Okay. All right. I didn’t know if maybe they can or not. They can even just mention it if they’re calling you, and use that code.

John Stockman: Yeah, yeah, that’s right.

Joe Zuccarello: Very good. That is-

John Stockman: They can tell their friends too.

Joe Zuccarello: Oh. Well, there you go. Okay. Hey Joe podcast listeners-

John Stockman: Anybody that knows Lucky Leo you’re in.

Joe Zuccarello: All right. Hey, Joe, podcast listeners. You heard it straight from John. Tell your friends about Lucky Leo and that deal to get that free dryer. John, I really do appreciate. This podcast thrives on questions that we get from our audience, and this was one of them, which is, “I’d like to know more about mobile as a career option.” For all of you listeners out there, it’s really simple for you to submit your questions to us for coverage for an interview with a subject matter expert in the future on one of our other podcast episodes. It’s really easy to do.

Joe Zuccarello: Again, our email address is heyjoequestions@paragonpetschool.com. You can visit our website at paragonpetschool.com and hit the, Subscribe, button on the Hey Joe podcast, and you’ll be alerted to all of the new episodes immediately upon their release. I’m sure you’re going to be interested in hearing what more John has to say on future episodes. John, I really do appreciate your time. You guys are really knocking it out of the park there, and I’m anxious to get another podcast session recording with you.

John Stockman: Yeah, I’m looking forward to it too. If anybody out there has any questions about mobile grooming or they have a mobile grooming business and need some help with anything, we’re happy to help with whatever you’ve got. I’ve got sample business plans, I mean, all kinds of stuff. If you feel like you need to go invent the wheel, don’t. Call me. We already did, and we’ll supply that to you. We’re happy to help-

Joe Zuccarello: This business, this business is hard enough, and if you take the fear or the challenge of actually doing the business out of that equation, that’s a huge help. That goes well beyond even the special offer you’ve made to us. Anyway, Hey Joe podcast listeners out there, take full advantage of this offer from John and from Wag’n Tails. John, we wish you the best and we look forward to the next time talking.

John Stockman: I enjoyed it very much, and I look forward to the next one too. Thanks, Joe.

About Joe

Joe Zuccarello is VP of the Paragon School of Pet Grooming, leaders in grooming education on campus and online. He possesses more than three decades of experience in the pet grooming, product development and pet business consulting disciplines.

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