Welcome to the grooming salon, where every pet receives the royal treatment, and every owner seeks the perfect balance between quality care and reasonable pricing. In the bustling world of pet grooming, where scissors snip and clippers hum, understanding the intricacies of pricing becomes a crucial part of the grooming experience. Join us in unraveling the mysteries surrounding grooming costs, exploring transparent pricing, common misconceptions and effective communication strategies.

Currently, the pet industry is undergoing a period of change. The demands of customers are different today than they were 20 years ago. People feel a deeper connection to their pets now than ever before. Some even express a love for their pets that rival their affection for their children. While this statement may be an exaggeration, it shows the necessity for the industry to transform how we communicate with pet parents to meet their current needs.


The Significance of Transparency

The secret to building a reliable and loyal clientele is not a secret at all. Being transparent in your policies and pricing and providing phenomenal service are the tools to build that clientele. Along the way, there will be missteps, but they serve as learning opportunities that foster growth. 

Transparency with pricing helps build loyalty by providing a known variable. At Smoochie Pooch, our customers know that if they come in after eight weeks, their price will increase. They understand that we will offer our monthly special and make recommendations based on which service their pets would benefit from the most. Our customers also know that we will provide a quote for the service before they leave, ensuring they know what to expect when they come in to pick up their best friend. 

Providing transparency with grooming pricing does not mean that you have to publicly display your price list. However, it does require that pricing inquiries are easily understood and logical. In our company, we implement a tiered pricing structure. This approach not only encourages customers to schedule appointments less than eight weeks apart but also ensures fairness in pricing across clients. It is not fair for a client that comes in every 6 weeks to pay the same amount as it is for a client that comes every 12 weeks. It is also not fair to the groomer to receive equal pay for dogs requiring significantly different levels of work, particularly if the groomers are compensated based on commission.


Strategies for Transparent Pricing

In an effort to be transparent in grooming pricing, follow these steps to help your customers fully understand your pricing structure.

Clearly Define Basic Service Packages
  • Clearly outline what each basic service package includes, ensuring clients understand the foundational grooming services offered.
  • Use straightforward language and avoid industry jargon to make information accessible to all clients.

Create a Comprehensive Pricing List
  • Develop a comprehensive pricing list that covers all potential grooming services.
  • Categorize services logically, making it easy for clients to find relevant information based on their pets' needs.
  • If you choose not to have your full price list available, you can market your grooming packages and add-on services with “starts at” pricing. 
  • If you do not make your price list public, make sure the price list is easily understood by staff members and can be relayed properly.

Utilize Technology for Accessibility
  • Leverage technology, such as a user-friendly website or mobile app, to make pricing information easily accessible to clients.
  • Confirm the online platform is responsive and optimized for both desktop and mobile devices.

Implement Online Booking Systems
  • Consider integrating an online booking system where clients can view services and associated costs when scheduling appointments.
  • Online platforms also allow clients to choose additional services and see the cumulative cost in real-time.

Provide Estimates for Additional Services
  • For more complex or customizable services, offer estimates to give clients an idea of potential additional costs.
  • Clearly communicate that these estimates are subject to change based on the specific needs of each pet.

Use Visual Aids and Infographics
  • Incorporate visual aids or infographics to illustrate the different grooming services and their associated costs.
  • Visuals can enhance understanding, especially for clients who may be more visually oriented.

Offer Package Deals and Bundles
  • Introduce package deals or bundled services. Clearly outline the cost savings associated with those packages.
  • Clearly state the individual services included in each bundle to enhance transparency.

Regularly Update Pricing Information
  • Arrange to have the pricing information regularly updated to reflect any changes in service costs.
  • Clearly communicate updates to clients, and highlight the effective date of the new pricing structure.

Educate Clients on Industry Standards
  • Take the opportunity to educate clients on industry standards for grooming services and pricing.
  • Provide resources or FAQs that address common questions about pricing practices in the grooming industry.

Offer Consultations for Customized Services
  • Encourage clients to schedule consultations for pets with specific needs.
  • During consultations, provide personalized recommendations and clearly communicate the associated costs based on the pet's condition and requirements.

Implement Loyalty Programs
  • Introduce loyalty programs that reward repeat customers with discounted services or special promotions.
  • Clearly outline the criteria for earning rewards and the corresponding benefits.

Encourage Open Communication
  • Foster an environment of open communication, inviting clients to ask questions about pricing without hesitation.
  • Train staff to address inquiries transparently and provide additional information when needed.

Offer Transparent Payment Policies
  • Clearly outline payment policies, including accepted payment methods, refund policies, cancellation policies and any additional fees.
  • Communicate these policies during the booking process and at the grooming salon.

Seek Client Feedback
  • Actively seek feedback from clients regarding the clarity of pricing information.
  • Use feedback to make improvements and address any areas where clients may have found the pricing information unclear.

By implementing these strategies, grooming salon owners can enhance transparency in pricing, creating a positive experience for clients and fostering a trusting relationship that goes beyond the grooming table.


Common Pricing Misconceptions

There are countless misconceptions among pet owners about pricing in grooming salons. Common misconceptions can include things like uniform pricing for all breeds, believing grooming costs should be comparable to human haircuts, assuming all groomers provide the same services, overestimating the value of add-on costs, not understanding time-intensive treatments and expecting a fixed price for matting or behavioral cases. 

All Dogs Cost the Same to Groom

Owners frequently inquire why their pet costs more than someone else’s pet of a different size or breed. Although it may seem like common sense that a giant doodle would cost more than a yorkie, customers seem to struggle to understand this. If this issue occurs, it is important to reassure the customer that you understand their confusion and explain how your pricing structure works. It’s easy to feel defensive when someone asks about pricing because groomers are invested into every part of the grooming process. Unfortunately, customers only see the end result, so it’s unrealistic to expect them to fully understand all aspects of the pricing. 

Dog Grooming Should Cost the Same as a Human Haircut

We’ve all heard in the salon, “It doesn’t even cost me that much to get my hair done!” Even though we’d love to respond to those clients with the details of the difficult side of grooming, we can’t. That would not be ideal customer service. Instead, try your best to educate your customers in a gentle and sometimes humorous way on the differences. Read this blog to help you communicate the various reasons why pet grooming is expensive. 

All Groomers Provide the Same Service

Unfortunately, there is a common misconception that all groomers provide the same types of services. Not all groomers are created equally, and the industry offers various service models. These include mobile groomers, brick-and-mortar grooming salons, one-on-one salons, in-home grooming, corporate salons, daycares and boarding facilities that offer grooming. It is reasonable to expect these services to vary in cost due to their different expenses and service offerings. Communicating what sets you apart from your competitors and allowing customers to see what makes you special really helps with this and also builds trust. 


Believing in Your Service Helps You to Sell the Service

Value-add services are a choice. Introducing add-on services abruptly, especially if they’ve never been offered before, may prompt customers to question why you’re suddenly promoting additional items. However, if you truly believe in what you're selling and can market it passionately, you might be surprised at how many people will jump on board.

A great example of this is a service that we provide: a skin and coat restoration treatment that is made by a reputable company in our industry. I struggled to find a product for my Standard Poodle that wouldn’t cause him to lick himself raw until I discovered this product. Having used it for years, I can confidently say it’s unmatched. This is a service we offer in our salons as an add-on with a higher price tag, but because people can feel my passion for the product, they try the service and love it! The key is to get buy-in from the customer by believing in yourself. It sounds cheesy, but if you believe, they will too. 


Always Communicate Pricing Before Services Begin

Being transparent with customers on pricing as soon as you see the pet is vital. As groomers, we’ve all worked on dogs that are in bad shape, are extremely matted or have extreme behavioral issues - and these grooms result in higher charges. Waiting until after the grooming appointment to tell them you need to charge extra is a recipe for disaster. We should absolutely be charging for these issues, but it is also our responsibility to educate the owners while maintaining composure. Calmly explain to the customer why they are being charged more and go over every service you will be providing at the time of drop-off. 


Transparency, Communication and Education

If there’s one main takeaway you can gain from this topic, it’s the significance of communicating your pricing with your customers. Follow the above guidance to ensure transparency about pricing between your staff and customers to eliminate confusion or frustration while also building trust and lasting customer relationships. Be prepared for customers to express a common misconception; practice active listening and follow with clear explanations regarding why their concern is a misconception and not reality. Through strategically and consistently educating customers about your pricing, packages, add-ons, policies and reasons for extra fees before you begin grooming their pet, you’ll successfully build trust in your customers. You’ll find your clients are happier with their service and are more likely to become loyal, lifelong customers and refer you to their friends.


Elli Bultemeier NCMG, CPAe, PTI 2592