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Retail Resources

Just the advertising alone in these favorite magazines may lead you to unique specialty retail not commonly found in pet stores. Plus, great articles! Grooming trade magazines can be found here.

Bark Magazine

Modern Dog Magazine

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Retail Tradeshows

In addition to pet grooming trade shows here are some pet retail tradeshows to consider. Some of these shows do have grooming features but they are primarily retail product oriented with growing emphasis on boutique trends.

Global Pet Expo

Luxury Pet Pavilion

H.H. Backer Shows

Pet Fashion Week


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Since 2000 pet owner spending on high-end pet products has shown marked growth in the U.S. Many pet groomers that have participated in broadening their sales of upscale pet products have been pleased with the results. Where the results haven't been impressive we often find a common mistake. Simply adding upscale pet retail to a traditional grooming shop environment is not enough doesn't provide the best venue to move upscale pet retail. Luxury products, and even add-on services using premium pet care products, requires a grooming shop to rethink its image, and communicate "pet salon" and "spa."

Personally we've helped oversee projects radically transitioning shops into pet boutiques with grooming departments. It's been a winning move for pet groomers with 10 to 20 years experience and a desire to groom less without a loss of income. Without expanded retail sales most of these owners had no other choice except to significantly expand their grooming staff to make-up profits lost by their no longer grooming, or to sell their businesses.

Many first time business owners are also going the route of a boutique with grooming department. However, some of them don't want to groom either. Having written over 500 business plans we know that few grooming businesses can support $30,000 or more annual salaries to non-grooming owners until the business grows significantly usually with a staff of 3 to 5 groomers and bathers. By changing their focus and priorities to a boutique with a grooming department, the story changes.

The non-grooming owner has time to master retail sales procedures that work best in upscale environments. Successfully operated the retail sales department offers the potential to pay the owner's compensation expectations. The net income of the grooming department becomes bonus income, and of course, the foot traffic of the grooming department typically boosts retail sales by 30% where grooming is not present.

Retail sales in a grooming environment requires that management or client relations staff sell, and the upscale image. Retail doesn't move itself in a grooming environment where pet owners are focused on reunions with clean, smart looking pets. But in the midst of that joy trained sales staff has the ideal opportunity to sell that retail.

Pet groomers adding retail can do the same. To every client picking up their pet they can start conversations, "Have you seen our newest items?" and "Wouldn't your pet (name) look great in this, or enjoy this bed, etc." Yes, The Madson Management System for Pet Grooming Businesses in the business book, From Problems to Profits relies on client relations scripts spoken naturally to sell and support grooming services, why not the same for upscale pet product sales? We will take a closer look at sales language in a separate article.

The Planning Process

The first step in adding a retail department to a grooming business, or creating a new or transition boutique with a grooming department is to write a business plan.

In the process you will identify if your market area has sufficient factors to support the  venture. For example, is there an adequate supply of upscale pet owners willing to purchase specialty pet retail and/or luxury add-on services. You also must identify who will do the selling, remember, it takes customer service skill to move stock, and customer service is already a weak point in thousands of grooming only businesses. Further your plan will need to identify the types of retail and add-on services, their cost and sources, and financial projections must be based on measurable retail sales goals usually stated in number of units sold.

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Boutique with Grooming Business Plans

It's important to remind our pet grooming readers that selling grooming services is not the same as selling upscale pet retail. For this reason it works best to have client relations staff when selling retail, and they can also be trained to take grooming orders with some patience while they learn. Unfortunately client relations staff is missing in grooming shops where the owner, groomers and bathers also fill customer service requirements. All too often these positions have one thing in mind when serving pet owners, "I've got to get back to my workstation and finish Mrs. Smith's pet. She is coming back at 3pm and it is already 2:45pm." No time to develop retail sales even in a gorgeous pet spa or salon is a dead end street.

Today's grooming business relying on bathers and groomers to do client relations duties is a key source of groomer burnout stress. In reality they are covering multiple job descriptions but their official title is "Groomer" or "Bather" and those titles certainly don't communicate active client relations duties.

Retailing takes time. Sales in a grooming business requires that you and your staff initiate suggestive conversations about the products for sale, and to have product knowledge too.

Grooming business owners often overlook the fact that skilled reception staff can sell enough retail to pay their employment costs and as a bonus, they alleviate the need for grooming staff to answer the phones or perform intake and outtake duties reducing groomer stress. Our reception staff not only made retail sales but also fulfilled our Madson Client Relations Program promises to pet owners with innovative courtesy appointment scheduling, grooming reports, medical referrals where needed and more. Our senior reception staff completed data entry on daily management and operations reports and even made up bank deposits for the business. What a relief for the owner/manager and who may even be grooming more pleasantly, with less problems and less stress.

There's more. Retail and service sales conducted by dedicated staff communicated to pet owners that we were an "upscale operation." It set our business apart from comparison with other businesses. Our clientele always got a live person when they called, and not a voicemail service, and excuses we couldn't come to the phone for any reason. Remember, this didn't cost us more. Retail sales profit easily paid for the client relations staff.

It still gets better. Because we didn't have to raise prices to cover the cost of the client relations staff, our prices were mid-range. There were many businesses charging more for grooming and they had no staff dedicated to customer service! Our formula worked and any staffed operation can do the same today. Is this why our hired groomers stayed so many years. They loved being able to stay entirely focused on their art and the pets, except to receive the gratitude of pet owners.

Opportunity is knocking for pet groomers to take advantage of the ongoing growth in the sales of luxury pet products, but there are requirements. Remember, simply placing luxury pet products in a traditional grooming shop won't work well. Upscale shoppers willing to buy luxury pet products demand more. It may mean taking the Eliza Doolittle (My Fair Lady) of grooming shops and transforming it into a polished operation with patience, planning, execution and investment.

What's Upscale

In less than one minute the savvy pet owner knows whether a business is upscale. If you are starting a new business the advantage may be yours because you can choose to locate your in an area already attracting upscale shoppers. If your existing business is in or adjacent to an area losing its appeal, even rundown, you have lost an advantage to going upscale. Don't give up though, the loss of an advantage is not necessarily a lockout. Take a clear look at your clientele and if one-third or more of your clients are deemed upscale shoppers, you can still create an upscale ambiance in your business. Pet groomers know that even upscale pet owners will travel to areas a bit worn if they have faith and trust that their pets will be cared for properly by "their groomers." That loyalty bond doesn't often hold with inanimate retail, but with living beloved pets, that's another story.

Design communicates upscale definitions. There really is elegance in simplicity. Many of today's luxury pet products are creatively packaged. In fact, look at the Pet Head line of products here, and their unique packaging and color. You want to set a stage for such retail, and not over ornament your stage but avoid being bland. You have plenty of room to choose between modern contemporary or cozy warmth. Regardless avoid peg boards, slat boards or unattractive shelving. Do add nicely framed pet art.

Write down one sentence that best characterizes your desired look. Whenever you are in planning mode ask yourself if your ideas support that look. The look must follow through the interior. Distinctive light fixtures are important, rather than banks of fluorescent lighting, as well as window treatments. You do have to keep in mind that the grooming department will create dust so keep your retail area easy to clean.

Most pet groomers don't have a lot of room for display. Don't plan on putting a lot of the same stock on display. If you have the same pet bed in three sizes, put the medium size on display with a sign, "Also Available in Small and Large Sizes." Groomers with minimal storage can maintain stock in a rented storage space, or take orders where delivery can be made quickly by a third party.

Ambiance plays a key role, and it needs to match the design. If your retail area is rife with sound of dryers instead of soft jazz or soft rock to soft Latin, your business is working against your upscale goal. You may actually be disturbing grooming pets too.

In our large grooming business doing 60 to 90 pets a day, we played soft music in the reception area and you could hear it! We "containerized" the Bathing Department with floor to ceiling walls eliminating most of its noise, and the spread of dirt, dander and hair shed. Any grooming noise that filtered front was limited to the soft hum of clippers. It can be done!

We didn't have to raise our voices on the telephone, and callers didn't have to do the same. This aspect alone put clients at ease and made them more willing to stay and engage in conversation about our "upscale offerings." If the mood is not pleasant, why stay? The more your retail environment says pleasant to the eye, nose and ear, the more you justify your claim to be upscale. Personally we know a place is upscale because whether it appeals to me or not, it's obvious that the owners gave a lot of thought to their presentation rather than just putting up some shelves of retail in a grooming shop.


It's not about discounts. You may have a sale table, but your focus is on the unique qualities of your retail that typically cannot be found at Wal-mart, Target and the like.

It's in your favor if you have an established grooming clientele. You can distribute advertising to them, and we suggest adding to your retail and add-on services expansion to your company brochure.

Upscale pet owners often participate in pet events. Your advertising could be placed in their brochures, or if they offer a booth try setting one up. Again it's your benefit if you are also a grooming operation because you may just pickup new grooming clients from your marketing efforts. Make sure that your advertising and promotional materials always reflect a complete picture of your business, upscale retail, grooming and luxury add-on services.

Pictures! Create an attractive board for pictures of your clientele's pets enjoying the products you sell. Take pictures of pets enjoying your add-on services, such as facials and massage. Pictures do speak a thousand words! Post them on your board and it's sure to capture attention.

Merchandise Selection

Tradeshows are an excellent source of pet retail as well as gift-oriented tradeshows. Pet groomers, don't confuse grooming tradeshows with major retail pet tradeshows. You will find some retail there suitable for your upscale retail and certainly for your add-on services, but the major retail pet shows are many times larger than grooming tradeshows increasing the likelihood that your are going to see much more product. We have attended gift tradeshows and always found inventory appealing to pet owners.

We recommend these pet retail shows:

Global Pet Expo
Luxury Pet Pavilion
H.H. Backer Shows
Pet Fashion Week

We have provided you with a Retail Inventory Shopping List that you can print and make copies. Keep in mind that your retail should address the three stages of pet lives, 1) puppy, 2) adult and 3) senior. People with puppies often need more shopping to equip themselves to be pet parents. Senior pets require more comfort, and we sold for example lots of pet ramps (not steps). Pet parents travel with them and we suggest a travel section, items that make that travel easier like steps/ramps and seat covers. Always keep a supply of the pet care products you use as a groomer available for sale too.

Safe holistic pet foods saw a dramatic increase in 2007 and it's an ideal product because just as pet owners return for grooming on a regular basis, pet owners must restock food supplies year round. Whatever creates repeat visits is essential to meeting your sales goals. In fact, the reason so many vets or retail stores adding grooming was to create foot traffic for their retail. So you as a groomer already have that foot traffic and that leaves you with the challenge of what else you can do to accentuate your advantage, it's specialty pet food. If a bag lasts 4 weeks, a satisfied pet owner that may go 8 weeks between grooming appointments will have to return for pet food between them. Remember, you don't want to sell what is easily available at traditional pet retailers. Your focus is safety and holistic quality, often human grade ingredients only. We have a GroomerTALK Radio Show on this topic.

Add-on Services

Bathing, styling, nail clipping, ear checks, anal gland expression, medicated baths, dematting, flea treatments and de-skunking are traditional services offered by groomers. Since 2000 de-shedding has become such as popular add-on service it wouldn't surprise us if soon we will consider it a given service offered by every groomer. If you haven't got on the bandwagon for de-shedding you should. Besides helping pet owners maintain the cleanliness of their homes, it can help allergy sufferers, so consider that in your advertising for de-shedding.

Spa packages are a natural today and your industry is supporting that with new lines of product especially created for pet spas. You should have at least 2 add-on packages available based on product, such as pet facials and special coat conditioners.

Pet massage is actually a great skill for groomers. Why don't more of them learn it as a method to calm anxious pets before and during grooming? That question aside, pet massage works in some boutiques with grooming and spas. You may want to contract with a pet massage professional to come onsite on specified days rather than maintain them as regular staff. We know pet masseuses that work for several pet spas and on a revolving basis and it brings in the foot traffic for the spa and the opportunity to make additional retail sales. Typically the masseuse pays a commission to the owner out of fees collected, but that is not set in stone.

Product Spotlight

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Click for Pet Head

Short on time? This quick rinsing shampoo lathers and cleans quickly and rinses off in a flash! Makes it easy, even for the most impatient personalities. Mild, non-drying formula leaves the coat feeling soft and supple. Long lasting scent leaves the coat smelling fresh and clean. Ideal for all types of skin and coats. All Pet Head ™ formulas are pH adjusted and free of paraben, petroleum derivatives, sulfate and DEA.

Life's an Itch
Click for Pet Head

Stop your itchin’! This amazing formula effectively relieves skin irritations caused by insect bites and dry skin. It contains no harsh chemicals, coal tar or drugs such as cortisteroids. Oatmeal and Aloe Vera: Work together to soothe the skin. Tea Tree Oil: Helps purify, fortify and moisturize hair follicles. Wheat Protein, Vitamins and Chamomile Extract: Nourish the skin and leave the coat silky and conditioned. All Pet Head™ formulas are pH adjusted and free of paraben, petroleum derivatives, sulfate and DEA.

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Talk is clean, not cheap! Time to take care of that smelly pooch with our effective deodorizing shampoo. This powerful and gentle formula neutralizes odors, not just covers them up! Baking Soda and Ordenone: Work together to deodorize and freshen the coat. Vegetable Protein Extract & Hydrolyzed Soy Protein: Help build body and elasticity and leave the coat looking fuller and luscious. All Pet Head™ formulas are pH adjusted and free of paraben, petroleum derivatives, sulfate and DEA.

Dry Clean
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Get fresh in a flash! This spray-on non-rinsing shampoo cleanses coat without water. Also perfect for trips or just a quick fresh-up between baths. All Pet Head formulas are pH adjusted and free of paraben, petroleum derivatives, sulfate and DEA".

So Spoiled
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Indulge your pet with this luxurious crème rinse conditioner. Works best on short to medium coats. Hydrolyzed oat protein: A natural conditioning agent that enhances moisture retention. It adds softness to the coat while improving texture and manageability. Vitamin E: A potent antioxidant that helps restore vitality and shine to the coat, while providing lasting protection from the environment. Sunflower Seed Oil: Infused with essential fatty acids and vitamins, it is easily absorbed and deeply nourishing to the coat and the skin. All Pet Head formulas are pH adjusted and free of paraben, petroleum derivatives, sulfate and DEA.

Feeling Flaky
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Chase away those flakes and start looking fabulous! This rehydrating formula helps dry, patchy skin. Relieves dryness and restores natural luster. Recommended for pets with sensitive skin. Yucca & Chamomile Extracts and Silk Proteins: Work together to soothe and nourish the skin, leave the coat toned and conditioned. Shea Butter and Vitamins: Prevent dryness while revitalizing and moisturizing the skin. All Pet Head™ formulas are pH adjusted and free of paraben, petroleum derivatives, sulfate and DEA.

Fur Ball
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Spray for tangle free, smooth and shiny fur! This formula uses Essential Fatty Acids, Sunflower Seed Oil, Wheat Protein and Vitamin E to effectively detangle knots and tame flyaways while conditioning the skin. All Pet Head ™ formulas are pH adjusted and free of paraben, petroleum derivatives, sulfate and DEA.

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Experience the magic! This magical spray neutralizes and eliminates odors on contact! Best for applying between baths. All Pet Head™ formulas are pH adjusted and free of paraben, petroleum derivatives, sulfate and DEA.

Click for Pet Head

Make that fur fantastic! This deep conditioning crème rinse combines rich emollients and moisturizing agents to deliver a tangle-free soft coat. Oat Protein: Nourishes and strengthens the hair shaft, and leaves the coat fuller and healthier. Cactus Extract: Helps maintain moisture and provides added elasticity and luster to the coat. Calendula Extract: Helps restore softness and vitality of the coat while soothing the skin. All Pet Head™ formulas are pH adjusted and free of paraben, petroleum derivatives, sulfate and DEA.

Fears for Tears
Click for Pet Head

Quit your cryin’! Our hypoallergenic tearless shampoo is extra gentle and free of harsh chemicals such as sulfate, DEA. So your pup can get a comfy bath without tears! Shea Butter: A fabulously rich emollient helps restore suppleness and elasticity in coats. Safflower Oil: Soothes and nourishes the skin while retaining moisture. All Pet Head formulas are pH adjusted and free of paraben, petroleum derivatives, sulfate and DEA.

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