5 Steps To Start a Pet Wash Business

A pet wash is a popular luxury service that people seek for their furry companions. Many pet owners just don’t have the time, skills, supplies or desire to wash their pets, so they hire trained professionals or visit pet wash stations.

If you’re an experienced pet groomer, love animals and want to start a small business, a pet wash is an excellent opportunity to do so. Like any other business, it will require a good amount of research, planning and investment. Below, we’ll guide you through the entire process.

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Before Beginning Your Business Venture

Before starting your dog wash business, you’ll need to do lots of research about the needs in your area, which will help you decide on the scope of your business. Will you set up a grooming spa or just coin-operated pet wash equipment? Is there an existing kennel in the area that could expand into a pet wash? How about a car wash? Are you close to a popular dog park or a famously dog-friendly area? There are many possible setups, each of which requires different equipment and experience.

Write a Business Plan

One early step is writing a business plan. With this step, you’ll figure out the need in your area, the possible opportunities and potential threats to your business. It will also help you determine your business’s strengths and weaknesses.

While the idea may sound overwhelming, don’t worry — business plans don’t have to be more than one or two pages. But remember to be specific. This plan will serve as a roadmap for your business that you’ll refer back to during the early years of your operation.

Find a Good Location

Another early step in the process is finding the best spot for your pet wash business. You should ideally find a spot in a highly visible, high-traffic area. While this could mean higher rent, you’ll probably also get a better profit for your pet wash business as a result.

If you’re planning to operate within another business, such as a kennel, look for successful partners located in good areas. You might also consider expanding your car wash with a pet wash area to attract more customers, which could be an easier process.

Find a Good Time to Open

Do some research on when would be the best time to open your pet wash. If you were to open it in January, many customers might feel less in the mood to get out, and you may not be as successful. If you were to open during the spring, when the weather is warming up, people are more likely to be in the spring cleaning mode.

Determine How Much Capital You Require

You should also be figuring out the amount of capital you’ll need, which includes the costs of rent, supplies, accessories, building updates and more. Banks in your area might offer special loan rates for small businesses and entrepreneurs if you’re borrowing to start or expand your business.

The Importance of a Positive Attitude

“Have a positive attitude” is valuable advice when facing almost any challenge, and starting a pet wash business is no exception. Here are some ways to keep a positive attitude in business:

  • Keep your mind open: Acknowledge that a major change in your life, which may seem daunting, could be key to making your life better. Your colleagues will likely notice this positive attitude and adopt it themselves.
  • Be proactive: Don’t be reactive — be proactive instead. If you’re reactive, you’re at the mercy of change. Proactive business owners see change as a natural part of the process and take action to make the best of the situation. Being proactive takes hard work — you must think several steps ahead and anticipate.
  • Think big: Thinking small leads to achieving small things. By thinking big, you’re more likely to attain a goal beyond your wildest dreams. Adopt an attitude that explores possibilities and pushes boundaries, and you’ll attract other people who think big.
  • Persuade, don’t manipulate: Use your persuasive abilities to convince other people of your worth — not to convince others that they’re worth less than you are.
  • Act with boldness and confidence: Shying away from a challenge will likely leave you in the same old patterns and resistant to positive changes. As a leader, working with boldness will inspire those around you to achieve more in all they do.

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5 Steps for Starting a Pet Wash Business

Starting a pet wash business involves various steps, but to make the process less daunting, we’ve divided it down into five basic steps to follow. They are:

1. Plan Ahead

As is the case with starting any type of business, you’ll need to do a lot of preparation, which includes steps like writing a business plan and:

  • Deciding on the scope of your business
  • Estimating how many clients you’ll serve at once
  • Having an idea of the pet sizes and breeds you’ll serve
  • Seeking employees to join your endeavor

2. Purchase the Right Equipment

Even with the proper training and experience, you’ll still need to invest in a variety of industry-specific equipment. To start a self-serve dog wash business, you will need to invest in the following:

  • Adequate space
  • Tubs to accommodate pets of various sizes and breeds
  • Pet washing supplies, like shampoos, deodorizers and towels
  • Pet washing equipment, like hoses and brushes
  • Supply of hot and cold water
  • Access to sewer
  • Electricity
  • Non-skid pet ramps
  • General business insurance

3. Select the Right Advisors

Another up-front cost you’ll have to pay when starting a pet wash company is hiring professionals to guide you through the process. These experts will steer you away from common mistakes. The advisors you’ll need to hire are:

  • Lawyer: Hire a lawyer to help with incorporating your business or, if you’re partnering with an existing business, drafting the contract. It’s also critical to register the name of your business with the state government and obtain a tax ID number. Your attorney will assist you with trademarking your business name, getting the proper licenses, evaluating liability insurance and informing you of federal or state regulations to comply with. Before you go through this process, make sure the URL for your business’s website isn’t taken already.
  • Accountant: An accountant will ensure you’re claiming all the possible deductions that could save you money in the end. If you’re planning to run a business with coin-operated pet wash stations, you’ll be dealing with lots of cash. An accountant can advise you about the best ways to set up your cash management systems and bookkeeping.
  • Real estate agent: You’ll also want to consider hiring a real estate agent. Even if you’ve looked all over the area for the best location, a real estate agent is useful for evaluating the best spot for your business’s needs. Is the property you’re looking at zoned for pet wash businesses? Can the landlord add water access and extra plumbing? Your real estate agent can negotiate on your behalf and get you the most reasonable price and accommodations.

4. Determine Pricing

The price you charge for pet washing will depend on the kind of pet wash system as well as the services you offer. If you have a self-serve pet wash station with shampoo, conditioner, brushes, combs, blow-dryers, towels and aprons and the clean-up, a price around $15 is reasonable. If you offer coin-operated systems, the price could be around $5 in a rural area and over twice that in an urban area.

When determining your pricing, do some in-depth research on the market, learn about the services of your competitors and see how they’re priced. If you’re going into a market where there aren’t any self-serve operations, study a geographic-economic region similar to that of your location.

5. Expand and Promote Your Business

After you’ve invested in the upfront costs of buying or renting the space, setting the dog washing stations up and stocking your shelves, it’s time to focus on building your client base.

To do this, first figure out who your customers are. Try to narrow down your target audience more than dog owners within a 15-mile radius. Focus on your target audience with very specific demographics. Do men come in, or is it usually women? Is it mostly mothers or teenage daughters? Knowing these details will help you figure out the methods you can use to promote your company most effectively.

If the majority of your clients are young families, for instance, consider putting an ad in your area’s parenting magazine. If your customers are mainly mothers, seek out a recommendation from a popular mommy blogger in your area.

Another great way to increase your client base is by word of mouth, so ensure that every customer leaves satisfied. Make a manageable list of business owners, community leaders and target customers to reach out to with a special opening offer. If you turn just one opinion leader into a loyal customer, this can bring in loads of word-of-mouth customers.

You should also establish a professional presence online, which includes a website, Twitter and Facebook accounts. Photogenic pets make for great content on an Instagram account, as well. Also consider posting before and after photos, which could get lots of likes. If you’re afraid managing multiple social media accounts will waste valuable time, remember these sites enable you to directly interact with clients, unlike advertisements on TV and in newspapers. You could also contract the work to website and social media managers.

A presence online will help you appear when new customers are looking for your services. To improve your online image, post clear, inviting pictures to your site and ask clients to write online recommendations and reviews.

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The Pros and Cons of Starting a Pet Wash Business

Starting a pet wash business, like virtually any business, has advantages and potential drawbacks.

The Pros

The advantages of starting a pet wash business include getting to:

  • Do what you love: One of the greatest pros is that you can turn your passion for animals into a business. If you’re passionate about animals and either have training or are willing to get it, a pet wash business is a great way to make a living doing what you love. Many people regard their pets like family and look for other pet lovers to care for their furry friends.
  • Enjoy versatility: Pet washing also affords various options in terms of how and where you can operate your business. You can run the business out of a storefront or, if you can spare the space, out of your home. Your business could also be mobile, as you could use a trailer or van equipped with grooming equipment and supplies. You could also partner with pet stores, kennels, veterinarians, rescue operations or other pet-oriented businesses by renting space from them on their property.
  • Develop partnerships: Partnering with other pet-oriented businesses helps with marketing your business and building up a base of clients. By starting a cooperative partnership with other pet-related businesses in your area, you can fill a niche in your community, find new clients and allow clients to discover you. There may be a kennel in your area that doesn’t offer grooming services, which would allow you to reach the clients of that kennel. In return, you could refer your clients to the kennel.
  • Grow your business: These numerous options also give you a chance to expand your pet wash business. Because you possess the required training to work with a variety of breeds and animal temperaments, you are qualified to offer other services like dog walking, pet sitting or, if you happen to have the space, opening up a kennel.

The Cons

Owning a pet wash also comes with a number of considerations, including:

  • Startup costs: The startup costs of any business can be high. To run a successful pet grooming business, you will need to purchase and maintain quality supplies that accommodate pets of all breeds and sizes. Certain items, like bathtubs and tables, can cost hundreds of dollars. If you want a high-end tub big enough to accommodate the majority of breeds, you’ll likely have to spend a lot when you consider all the accessories.
  • Additional costs: If you’re planning to run your business out of a van, the cost of the van and converting it can be over $100,000, depending on what amenities you choose to include. However, you can outfit a trailer for under half that cost, and you can also buy used vans.
  • The need for experience: You must be knowledgeable and experienced enough to work with a number of animals, breeds and temperaments — not to mention grooming skills. Some pets are well-trained and will behave well during a grooming session. Others will be more resistant, and you will need the training to deal with them. Although not a requirement, obtaining a certification from associations like the National Dog Groomers Association of America (NDGAA) can help you with training and marketing your knowledge.
  • Insurance and liabilities: You must also be insured to protect yourself from liability. For instance, if an animal becomes injured while in your care or somehow escapes and runs away, the owner could sue you for negligence. Be aware that the costs of insurance vary widely and depend on your location, how many services you offer and the deductible and coverage options you choose.


Contact JBS for the Best Dog Grooming Supplies

For over 40 years, JBS Industries has been manufacturing high-quality car wash and industrial cleaners, and since then, we’ve expanded to manufacture products for all types of professional cleaning. Shop our dog wash products, or to learn about investing in top-quality supplies for your pet wash business, reach out to us by filling out our form.


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