Feline Financials

Cat-focused professional groomers must be willing to institute price increases if they want to protect—or enhance—the profitability of their business.

In general, professional groomers tend to undercharge for their services—and those who focus on felines are no exception. When cat grooming was still in its infancy, the median charge for a lion cut and bath was around $65, which was not a bad price at the time. But that was more than 10 years ago. If you are still charging just $65 for a lion cut today, you are almost certainly losing money. In fact, you’ve likely lost a lot of money over the past 10 years, but it’s not too late to change course.

Simply considering the impact of inflation should be enough to convince grooming business owners that price increases are inevitable. If your fixed expenses, supplies and retail products cost you more each year, you have to charge more just to maintain a consistent profit margin. And that is before you account for several other factors that should influence your pricing. 

The price of a groomer’s work should be based on a number of considerations, including the local demand for your services, as well as your grooming experience. If you have furthered your education and have become certified, you deserve to make more money than a groomer who does not have the same credentials. Likewise, if you’ve been grooming for more than five years, you deserve more money than a groomer just starting out. 

If you have an established grooming business and want to increase your income without necessarily working harder, consider the following: Let’s say your overhead has increased by five percent, a recent certification has earned you a five percent raise, and you want to add one percent to your pricing to adjust for inflation. That original $65 price should theoretically be increased by 11 percent (or $7.15), to $72.15.

Another way to look at your pricing structure is with a big-picture approach. Let’s say your total expenses for any given month are $4,500, and your target net profit margin is at least 30 percent. To achieve this, you would need to generate about $6,500 per month. At $65 a groom, that would mean grooming 100 cats per month (about 25 cats per week). Obviously, raising prices will reduce the workload—for example, raising your prices to $72.15 a groom would bring your target down to 90 cats groomed per month.

Instead of working more cats into your day and burning yourself out, charge a fair price for your services and watch your bottom line blossom. Consider the following equations, which feature rates that are still well on the low end of the pricing spectrum when it comes to cat grooming:

5 cats a day @ $75.00 = $375.00/day x  5 days  = $1,875.00/week x 52 weeks = $97,500/year

5 cats a day @ $80.00 = $400/day x  5 days  = $2,000.00/week x 52 weeks = $104,000/year

5 cats a day @ $85.00 = $425/day x  5 days  = $2,125.00/week x 52 weeks = $110,500/year

Of course, established groomers who specialize in feline-only services can easily charge higher rates than these. So can mobile groomers, house call groomers and groomers who offer pickup and delivery—all of which offer a convenience factor for which clients will gladly pay a premium.

To those who fear losing customers due to price increases, I say that is where your business savvy and grooming talent must come together to forge a strong relationship with your customers. Cat owners, for the most part, do not shop around for price as frequently as dog owners. Once cat owners find a gentle, competent cat groomer, that cat can—and should—be a lifetime client. For those groomers who are able to build this type of loyal customer base, the only limit to profitability is their willingness to charge a fair price for their work.

Kim Raisanen is president of the Professional Cat Groomers Association of America.

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