Chris and Emily from The Ruff Life Mobile Grooming Salon(@therufflifemobilegrooming) in Long Island, New York joined us for MoeGo Live on Monday, November 14 ( watch video).
We sat down with Chris and Emily from The Ruff Life Mobile Grooming Salon to talk about how they started their business, how they grew from 1 van to 13 vans and their most asked topic: PRICING.
Even though we were on a video call you could feel the passion both Emily and Chris felt about their business strategy involving pricing. When they first opened The Ruff Life Mobile Grooming Salon with one van, they didn’t know how much to charge, there was no information to be found, not any outlines to direct them. Chris followed the strategy that he had done in the number of other businesses he had run before, to always use supply and demand.
“Don't ask how much to charge. Use your own judgment of supply and demand to figure out what it costs and what people will pay in your area.”
Supply and Demand
If you’re a groomer and your “schedule is packed out and you’re working like crazy and overwhelmed and working too much. Your prices have to be increased.” Emily, an experienced groomer for 10-plus years, explains that if there isn’t enough time in the day to get to all the dogs, it’s time for you to raise the prices.
Fear they won't get clients at the higher rate?
The fear of losing clients and not getting new clients at the higher rate was there at the beginning but by following the mindset of “supply and demand” Emily and Chris were able to push through. If you don’t believe it from their own experience, Chris gave an example of how Uber utilizes the theory of supply and demand.
If you’re at a concert and you need to get an Uber to go home. Because there are so many people also requesting Uber the fare goes up 10x. But if you were at the same place when there was nothing going on the fare would be 10x less. Getting a grooming appointment should be no different.
So if your phone is ringing off the hook, and you don’t have enough time to schedule all of these pet appointments, you rprices are too cheap.
Unfortunately, when you raise your prices you will lose clients. But don’t be scared. You want quality over quantity. Chris and Emily spoke of their experience of losing customers every time they increased their pricing, even if it was only a 5-dollar increase. They always found there were new customers waiting to be serviced, who are ready to pay because they need a groomer and they do not have one.
It’s always unfortunate when you lose a customer, especially one you really love but at the end of the day, you are running a business. You need to keep paying for your trucks, maintenance, supplies, staff, etc. You have to think like a business owner and think long-term if you want to grow. There are a lot of unforeseeable costs that come with any business, in mobile grooming, it could be your generator breaks or your van breaks down, etc. The price you charge your customers has to cover these inevitable costs. If you charge appropriately then when inconveniences happen, you don’t need to shut down, you can go into your garage and grab the generator you were able to buy as a backup, and you wouldn't have to cancel a week's worth of appointments. You don't have to worry because you're thinking ahead of things that may occur in the future that you have already accounted for.
Groomers are professionals. They have tools. They have to get certified. They have years of experience in knowing how to groom. They show up at your house with tools and a truck, all worth well over $100,000. They are professionals. Plumbers or electricians come with a truck or car and all their tools and while they are expensive they are nowhere near the cost of grooming supplies and a grooming van. But their licenses are making them charge $100-$200+ for just entering your home because you don't know how to do it yourself. Most people don't know how to groom a dog, so they need a professional similar to a plumber, electrician, etc.
However, groomers don't think that. They need to know their worth. "You're worth more. You're working way too hard. You're skilled you have a talent. You are using your tools. On your feet, all day, using your hands all day, getting nipped at, etc. " Groomers are dealing with live animals on top of sharp tools. If people thought of like this they would change the way they think.
Do you have any advice for groomers?
“Yeah, price high. Price high. Price high.”
All of these reasons are why you price high. In the worst-case scenario for whatever reason, if it doesn’t work, you can always come down. Or discount.
Chris gave a great example comparing the restaurant industry to the grooming industry. He wants quality clients, people who are willing to pay for Grade A service, similar to those at Ruth Chris Steak House. You go to Ruth Chris Steak House not only just for the quality steak, but for the whole elevated experience. Everything from the 5-star service, the ambiance, the attentiveness, the entire experience is what you’re paying. At the Ruff Life Mobile Grooming Salon, they want clients who expect that high-quality service and are willing to pay for it.
And while we have only really talked about pricing, “pricing and hiring go hand in hand”.
Price and hiring hand in hand
A lot of groomers are fully booked, they are working 7 days a week, overworked, overwhelmed, and burnt out. They want to hire another person but don’t know what to do or where to start. The first question Chris would ask is “how much are you charging for a small dog?” This confuses a lot of groomers because they don’t know what that has to do with hiring.
But taking the Ruth Chris Stea House example, waiters make money on tips. Since the bill at Ruth Chris will be more than the bill at say Applebees, waiters at Ruth Chris are ending their shift with a lot more money than those at Applebees. A tip on a $50 check is a lot different than a tip on a $150 check.
If you're charging a high number for a ticket, for example, a small dog for $150 dollars (with the groomers commission being around 35% on average). You are more likely to have people who want to work for you because they will get a lot more money at the end of the day than another grooming business that gives their groomers 40% but is only charging $90 for a small dog. It all comes down to pricing. Once groomers realize what you're charging, and they are getting paid on a huge ticket, they will want to work for you.
Once you start charging the right price you’ll have no problem:
- Finding employees to work for you
- Having extra supplies on hand
- Continuing your business if a generator breaks
Everything in business goes back to pricing and your business can thrive if you are priced 100% correctly. It is very nerve-racking at the beginning, and you will lose clients. It will take time but it will pay off. Chris and Emily from the Ruff Life Mobile Grooming Salon are a walking example of this. They took their 1 van to 13 vans with the mindset of supply and demand and are thriving.
Are you ready to price to your worth?