Navigating the Course
Stay on the boat, my mentor used to say. No matter what happens or how turbulent the waters, he added, do all you can to make sure that you keep the lights on and the business running. The longer you are around, the harder it will be to get rid of you.
Staying in business is the focus of our cover story this month. We think it is a very timely and important discussion, especially given the growing number of factors—from increased costs to increased competition to employment issues—that can determine the success of a grooming salon.
To be perfectly clear here, luck does not play that much of a role in determining who survives and thrives and who goes belly up. Simply put, those with a good plan, one that includes as many potential scenarios as possible—and solutions for each one—are much more likely to stay in business than someone who is doing very little research and development.
Surviving in this, pardon the pun, dog-eat-dog world takes a lot of work. Let’s face it, the grooming industry is a jungle right now, with veterans and newcomers all searching for that perfect consumer pitch to grab market share away from the guy or gal down the street. Often, it becomes a price war where the only beneficiary is the consumer, and even they start to believe that something is wrong as price points get footballed down and service, not to mention quality, suffers.
So it takes a lot of work to survive. As noted in our article, an up-to-date business plan is vital to success, mostly because it gives the owner/operator a benchmark to follow. Keeping up with those goals is imperative too. The benchmark only works when one is watching the results and gauging whether they are satisfactory to their short and long-term financial goals.
But there is so much more to do. Staying flexible enough to change directions if needed can help sustain a company’s longevity and provide enough cover to survive the rough and tumble early days of any business, not to mention the tough economic times that seem to weed out the weak players from the strong.
And, of course, understanding the needs of the consumer, not to mention their animals, will help an operator get an edge over the competition, one that could make the difference between staying in business and bankruptcy.
In the end, groomers are in pretty much the same boat as every other independent business operator. Those who learn how to keep the business fresh and relevant have a much better chance of being around in a few years than those who throw caution to the wind, hoping for a break or two.