About Me:

I am a professional Pet Groomer. I have been grooming for 28 years. This Blog is a kind of diary of my work. I wish I had started years ago, writing some of the experiences I have had while grooming. Most days are fun, some can be sad, some can be just down right crazy. If you are a pet owner and come across this blog, I hope it helps you understand how your pet is groomed. If you are a Pet Groomer, I hope you can relate to some of the stories. Maybe even learn a grooming tip or can leave a friendly grooming tip for me. There is always something to learn, no matter how long you have been grooming.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Pricing Your Grooms


 I hate it.
I hate when price shoppers call.
I hate it when other groomers call pretending to be a potential customer, just to get some prices.
I hate when I under charge for a dog because I think the customer is going to think I am charging too much, only to have them stand there and say, "Is that all. Wow, your cheaper than the last person I went to."
I hate charging what I think is a fair price for a dog, then find myself defending it to a customer that thinks the price is too high.
I can not stand a customer who thinks that they can tell me what they will pay.

Giving prices over the phone almost always backfires also.
You ask all of the right questions over the phone, but the owner does not always give all of the right answers, and you end up giving the wrong price without seeing the dog.

So give a ballpark price right?

Between 40 beans and 55 beans.
That usually backfires on you also, because the customer only hears, or remembers the lower price that you said of 40 beans.
They conveniently forget that you also said that the price could  also go as high as 55 beans.

I try very hard not give prices over the phone, but that is not always possible.
I understand that some people want to have an idea so that they will know what to expect, and if they can afford it.
We try to make it very clear that the price quoted over the phone is only a rough estimate, and that we need to actually see and feel the dog to give an exact price.

There will always be price surfers and hagglers out there that want to try to find or get the cheapest price they can.

I have learned that it is best to be very direct and firm.
Not rude and nasty.
Use a pleasant, but firm tone of voice that says this is the way we price, your welcome to take it or leave it.
Don't let anyone bully you about your prices.

I do not give discounts.
My Landlord does not give me a discount.
The Gas and Electric Company does not give me a discount.
The phone company does not give me a discount.

Dogs are not a necessity of life.
They are a luxury.
If you can not afford that luxury, you should not get one.
Or they should have gotten a dog that is low maintenance.

It is not your fault that a customer owns more than one dog.
No discount for multiple dogs.
You still have to do the same work on each dog.
You still have to spend the same amount of time on each dog.
You did not tell the owner to get more than one dog.

It is not your fault that the customer bought a high maintenance dog.
They could have gotten a short haired dog.
They could have gotten a small dog.

It is not your fault  that they can't afford to have the dog groomed on a regular bases.
Talk to them about keeping the dog short so that they don't have to have it's hair cut as often.

Charging extra.
My basic grooming and bathing prices includes everything that a dog needs for a good grooming.
I don't like to knit picking my customers with a lot of extras.
My basic prices include bathing the dog in whatever shampoo they need, even if they need a Medicated, Hypo, or a Hot Oil treatment.
It also includes clipping the nails, cleaning and plucking ears, and emptying anal glans, fluff drying, and body clip up to a 4F blade.

There are things that should be charged extra for the extra time and work involved.

It is not your fault that their dog is matted.
You work five days a week.
They could call you anytime.
It is their responsibility to make sure the dog does not get matted.

It is not your fault that the dog is difficult.
More than likely the dog was not born that way, they made it that way.
It will take you extra time and care.
Working on a difficult dog is a hazard to you.

Retail would be so much easier.
You but a product.
You set your prices.
The customer buys the product.

Pricing service work.

For me pricing is a pain in the a**.
I have tried pricing by the breed, but that does not work because so many dogs, of the same breed, come in so many different sizes and coat types.

Take a Golden for example.

I could set a Breed price at 50 beans. 

Two Goldens come in, one is on the smaller side, with a thin coat and no undercoat.

 Another could be almost 125 pounds, full of undercoat, and extremely long hair.
It would not be fair to charge both of these Goldens the same price.

I could line up 5 Goldens next each other and everyone of them would be a different size and, or coat type.

Not to mention that some of them only get a little trimming and others get a lot of trimming.
Some hardly any comb-out, some a ton of comb-out.

The same can be said about Labs, Bichons, Schnauzers, Cockers, just about any Pure Breed dog.
So setting prices by breeds just does not work.

I have tried pricing by the hour. ( actual hands on time)
That is not fair either, because everyone grooms at different speeds.

As of January I will be raising my prices for my regular customers.
Most will only be going up 1 to 2 beans, except for my large dogs that are grossly undercharged.
They will be going up 5 to 7 beans.
I know that some of my large dog owners will have something to say about this, but it can't be helped.
Actually, I would be very happy to see them call around and see that they are already getting their dog groomed for a great price.

My large dog prices are not low on purpose.
I stopped grooming large dogs for a while, and when I started taking them again...

Oh, I don't know what the heck I was thinking.
I have no excuse other than being temporarily insane.
Or being too chicken to ask for the price I should have.

So now, I find myself trying to play catch-up with my prices for large dogs.
And the large dog owners being upset with me.

I am starting with a new slate with my new customers.
I have decided to write down a list of  basic ballpark prices for the most common breeds of dogs that I see in my shop.
This price list would be for my husbands eyes only since he is the one who answers most of the calls.
The ballpark prices will be on the higher side, for customers who insist on getting a price over the phone.
This will also keep my husband from coming back to ask me a price, and I have to quickly come up with one off of the top of my head.
I usually end up regretting the price I quoted, once I have time to think about it.

I have done the math to find out what my lowest price for a dog should be.

I am by no means a math expert.
It could get really confusing here for the next few minutes.
This is how I figure up the lowest basic price to meet my overhead.

First, add all of your overhead (bills) for the year, this includes your salary.
Divide that by 12 months.
Now take that new total and divide it by 4 weeks. (I know that there are 5 weeks in a few months, but we will pretend that they are vacations)
Take the weekly total and divide it by the number of days you are open a week.
Now you will have the total amount that you need to make a day.
If you only want to groom 7 dogs a day, divide 7 into the total that you need to make a day.
That is the basic, or lowest price that you should be charging a dog.

Yearly overhead  80,000
Months 12/80,000 = 6666.61 dollars a month needed.
Weeks  4/6666.61 = 1666.66 dollars needed a week.
Days    5/1666.66 = 333.33 dollars needed a day.
Dogs   8/333.33 =  41.66 dollars per dog.

So if you were running a shop, and the overhead was 80,000 a year, you would need to groom 8 dogs a day, 5 days a week, 48 weeks a year, at 41.66 beans a dog.
Round it up to 42 beans.
That would be the lowest groom price that you would charge, per dog, in your shop.

If you are a groomer, who's boss allows you to make your own prices, use the same math.
There is only one difference.
If you are paid by commission, figure out what you need to make a year to pay your bills.
Say 40,000.
If you are paid 50%, double the 40,000 = 80,000
Then do the math the same as above.
In this case if you wanted to make 40,000 a year, you would need to groom 8 dogs a day at 41.66 a day.

Remember this is the base price for your smallest dog grooming.
Your prices will be higher for larger dogs, difficult dogs and matted dogs.

The base price is a price that helps you make sure you are making at least enough money to cover your overhead for the year.

Are you still there?

Tap, Tap, Tap

Is your head spinning yet?

Just reading it again made my head spin, and I wrote it!  :)

I can not write exact prices on my blog, but this is how my price list will be broken down for new customers. 
All of the numbers shown are just examples.
Grooming prices will vary around the country, depending on the economy in your area.

Bathing & Brush: Short Hair  (no clipping or trimming)
Basic Price Includes: Bath, Brushout, nails, ear cleaning, anal glans
Small               Medium            Medium/Large            Large            Extra Large
30 beans          35 beans            40 - 45 beans            50 beans          60 beans
Chihuahua,  Jack Russel (smooth),  Dachshund (smooth),  Pug,  Pointer,  Doberman, Great Dane,  ect.

Bath & Brush: Short/Medium Hair Double Coated  (no clipping or trimming)
Basic Price Includes: Bath,  15 minute Brushout, nails, ear cleaning, anal glans 
Extra Charges: 5 beans for every 15 minutes after the first 15 minutes.
Small              Medium           Medium/Large             Large           Extra Large
Shepard,  Huskies,  Labs, Akita, any short hair mix with a double coat, ect

Bath & Brush: Long Hair (trimming feet, rear only)
Basic Price Includes: Bath, 15 minute brushout, nails, ear cleaning, anal glans, trimming of feet and rear.
Extra Charges:  Add 5 beans for every 15 minutes of brushing/dematting after the first 15 minutes.
                            Add 10 beans for extra trimming of outline
Small           Medium          Medium/Large             Large            Extra Large
Brittany Spaniel,  Cavalier, Daushund (wire, long hair),  Clumber Spaniel, English Setter,  ect

Bath & Brush: Long Hair, Double Coated  (trimming feet & rear only) 
Basic Price Includes: Bath, 15 minute brushout, nails, ear cleaning, anal glans, trimming of feet and rear.
Extra Charges:  Add 5 beans for every 15 minutes of brushing after the first 15 minutes.
                            Add 5 for Small/Med. 10 beans for Large/XLarge for extra trimming of outline.
Small           Medium           Medium/Large            Large          Extra Large
American Eskimo,  Collie,  Golden, Samoyed,  Keeshond,  Pomeranian, ect

Full Body Clipping/Scissoring:
Basic Groom Price Includes: Bath, 15 minute Brushout, nails, ears cleaned & plucked, anal glans, full body clip with a blade.
Small             Medium         Medium/Large          Large           Extra Large
42 beans        45 beans          50- 60 beans          80 beans         95 beans

Extra Charges:
Clip Comb& Hand scissor / Style Clip: Add 5 beans for Small/ Med size. Add 10 beans for Large. Add 15 beans for X-Large.
Full Hand Scissor Cut: Add 10 beans for Small/Medium dogs. Add 20 beans for Large dogs. Add 30 beans for X-Large dog.
De-Matting: Add 5 beans for every 15 minutes for Small/ Med. dogs. Add 10 beans for every 15 minutes for Large dogs. Add 20 beans for every 15 minutes for X-Large dogs.  De-Matting not to exceed 30 minutes.
Excessive matting/Overgrown:  Add 10 beans for Small/Medium dogs. Add 20 beans for Large dogs. Add 30 beans for X-Large dogs. (these are your once or twice a year dogs)
Difficulty:  Add 5 - 10 beans depending on time spent and difficulty.

So lets use my chart for a minute.

A small short hair comes in for a bath... 30 beans.
That bath also includes high quality shampoos specifically for that dogs hair and skin, even Medicated and Hypo shampoos.

Next, a Shih- Tzu comes in for a Lamb clip, legs and ears are a little matted.
Basic Price Small/ Medium dog...42 beans
Lamb Style cut for Small/ Medium dog... + 5 beans
De-Mat ears and legs, 10 minutes...+5 beans
Total groom price:  52 beans

Standard Poodle comes in for a Kennel Cut with a Clip Comb& scissor all over.
Basic Price for Large Clip...80 beans
Clip Comb & Scissor...10 beans
Total Groom price: 90 beans

I will admit that I do not charge very often for de-matting because most of my de-matting is done with the creme rinse and the HV dryer, so there is not much left to brush out.

I also believe that customers, who only bring in their overgrown, matted mess to be clipped once a year, should pay more than the customer who faithfully brings in their dog every 4, 6, or 8 weeks.

Well, there it is.

Don't under charge for your skill.
Good, caring groomers can be hard to find.
You are worth your weight in gold if you are good at what you do.
You should not be afraid to charge for all of the work you do on a dog.
At the same time be fair about it.
Charge high where it is deserved.
Remember that your grooming is a skill and an art.
Customers that really care about their dog will pay your prices if they know that you also care about their dog.

Now, I just have to keep reminding myself of this also.


You can wake up now.

I am done.  :)

Happy Grooming, MFF



  1. I like your "beans" talk.
    is that a maryland thing?
    i've never heard beans in Ohio before.
    it's funny :]

  2. LOL I used the word beans instead of dollars, because it seems to be frowned upon to talk about actual prices. I just used beans as an example.
    Lisa, MFF

  3. shouldn't the small bath/brush you say you charged 42? wouldnt it be 30? how is it the same price for a shihtzu lamb cut? thanks.

  4. Anonymous,
    Thank you for pointing out my error. That's what happens when you are typing late at night. :)
    You were correct. I have fixed it.
    Lisa, MFF

  5. i almost cry reading this, haha, im a groomer in mexico and in here the prices have to be really cheap, and its hard to hear the customers said they want a discount when you took like 2 hours with they matted dog :S , we are going to change our prices from now.


    1. I am a groomer and I think a good groomer would never undergo two hours of Dematting . If a dog has many mats you need to go shorter. The poor dog should not have to endure this. Humanity first. If the owner has chosen a dog that requires maintenance then it is his responsibility to visit a nice groomer and / or simply comb your dog regularly to prevent knots. How would you like it if I pulled your hairs?

  6. Hi Nikole,
    I think that customers fight about grooming prices no matter were you are. For some reason they don't think anything of dropping 75 beans on a dog bed, but lets fight over the price for making your dog smell and look good. Go figure. :/
    My customer service is excellent, my grooms are good, and I treat every dog with care and respect. No discount. You either like the service I give you and pay for it, or you find another groomer. I know it sounds a little cold, but I spent way too many years being walked all over. I must say that I work on that backbone everyday.
    Lisa, MFF

  7. i think you are right, many times people underestimate our work, time, care and skills.
    and in here some peolple think its like playing with the dog and they are making me a favor :S ...
    once one customer was so angry because i didn´t want it to groom his schnauzer 5 min. before we close, and without an appointment ... he told me " are you lazy? how long would you take? 15 minutes?! and for that you carge so expensive! ...

    for a miniature schnauzer complete service with clipping and bath we charge 12 dollars...
    i don´t think thats expensive at all... and of course, it doesn´t take 15 minutes...

    i was so damn mad with the guy.

    (sorry for my bad english)
    i still have to be more estrict with the customers.

    thanks for reply! :)

  8. Hi Nikole,
    Don't you just love when a customer comes in and tells you how to do your job?
    Next time someone like that man comes in 5 minutes before closing time, insisting that you groom his dog, you smile and say; "sure, it will be $12 for the groom and $20 extra for an after hours groom."
    No matter how much we may hate to lose the money, sometimes it is just better to let someone like that walk away. Grooming can be stressful enough without customers like that.
    I will admit that I almost fell off of my chair when you said $12 for a full groom on a Schn. Sometimes I have customers tell me my prices are too high, but most of the time they make a comment about them being low. That is most likely because the big corporate pet store down the street is very high for their grooming.
    Are your prices around the same as other groomers close to you? If your prices are lower, work at raising them to match other groomers. Be careful not to price yourself out of work.
    I don't do add-on's. When new customers call, I give them a ballpark price for their dog, and before they can say anything, I follow up by saying; "that price includes a complete brush-out, a bath suited specifically for your pets skin, a fluff dry, the nails clipped, the ears plucked and cleaned,the anal glans expressed if possible, and your pets hair cut.
    By the time I have said all of that, the response is usually; "great!,can I make an appointment?"
    There will always be people out there that think we charge too much for 'just washing and cutting a dogs hair' They have no concept of the work and skill involved to do a good job.
    Lisa, MFF

  9. i know is too low, when i saw your prices i was thinking how great whould it be charge that in here.
    my prices are in the middle. there are grooming salons who charge about 10 or 11 dolars (in mexican peso convertor) and near here are another grooming salon that charges 13.5 dollars. for small dog, like the schnauzer, the expensiver one is in 16 dollars... but in here almost anyone whould like to pay that :S ...
    i try to be different than other salons, i here thing are very diferent, i don´t know any other groomer that really study for the career, the few ones are grooming the show dogs, most of the "groomers" in here just learn how to use the machine to shave dogs because one vet told them. so people doesn't think it is a real profesion, even if they love their dog and bought them a complete store.
    It's been 11 years from i started grooming. When i start i used to groom show dogs,i loved stripping and scissoring but i liked more the creative grooming, so i study and practice more and i open my vet hospital/ grooming salon, with my husband a year and a half ago, so im starting a new concept here in Guadalajara, im getting a lot of customers... and they like the diferent groomings,... but they still dont want to pay a lot for that :P ...
    the most i charge for a old english shepdog full grooming is 26 dollars, and the expensive shop charges 30.
    really chep for the long time of grooming.

    when i read this post i talk with my husband and agreed to set new prices on january :)

    you´r blog is really interesting, i been the hole week reading it, as i said i here there isn't much groomers to talk about ans share tips.

  10. Hi again Nikole,
    I didn't mean to make you think that your prices are too low. I know that prices vary greatly from state to state here, and from country to country. I still could not help but feel bad because of all the hard work that we groomers do. Especially groomers that educate themselves and really care about what they do. It is so hard for all of us to charge for the hard physical work that we do everyday.
    If your grooming is better than most of the groomers around you, (which it sounds like it is if you learned on show dogs) your prices should be on the higher side to reflect your skill. I really think that if it shows how much you care for the customers dog and your work is good, the customers will hear about you and come to you. Some may always complain about the price, BUT they will come back. I would also post a sign (maybe with a before and after picture) listing every single thing that you do for a full groom. This way the people don't just see a clean dog, but they can read everything it took to get it there.
    It's funny there is a mobile groomer that I know of that will not even look at a small dog for under $75, and she has an incredible following, because she really takes care of her customers. It drives me crazy that she gets that much for a small dog. More power to her I guess. :)
    Good Luck in January. That is when I am raising my prices too. Do what is right for your business. Stick to your guns. :)
    Lisa, MFF

  11. hello! it´s ok i didn´t get mad for the pricing, i always complain that is really low in mexico, but the rents aswell here is lower than in the usa for example, but still is really low, y made the example of what we should charge for every dog if we take all the bills we have in a year... and we find out that it have to be 23 dollars for a small dog... so, still is lower than my bills :P but we do ok because ours is an vet / and grooming saloon, so we can do extra money for the medical visits... and if you found out the prices for the medical consult, compare to there it is really cheap in here :S , some people think we do it just because we like the dogs and we dont have to charge, but that is another story.

    thanks for your advices, i been thinking about that about my grooming compare to the others, for example i do stripping and in here almost anyone do it, but i can charge it for what it really cost the work, any one would pay it like you said in other post of yours, but i been started to tell the people who wants a hand stripping that it cost higher than clipping... i only have 4 clients with hand stripping now :P ... i think 4 is a lot in here haha.

    im gonna make that of put the list of the things i do with the service, and we have our facebook page (my saloon´s name is "Borzoi")and there we do a month picture of the clients with a diferent theme :) because a love dog pictures so we decide to take pictures of the dogs every time they come to service... and i also have a "before and after" album, and because of that i have a lot of recomendations.

    you want to see it? i dont have the same experience that you have, you´ll find out all my mistakes, and some cuts are weird done, like the pom poms, in here a lot of people like the bikini cut, but the don´t have the hair long enogh for doing it, any way i try to recomend the better for their dogs, and always try to make some diferent stuff for every one.
    in the album there is a small apricot poodle named "hanami chan" shes my little girl :) i try to make her a diferent haircut style every 2 o 3 months.

    here is the link:


    thanks for the answer :)

    Nikole L.

  12. WOW Nikole,
    I loved your before and after album. I wish that I could read Spanish so that I could read the comments. :p
    I like so many of your dogs. I loved that you don't just shave everyone down. I love the full cuts.
    I think that your best before and after was the little white poodle 'PomPom Lolly pop' with the colorful black scarf. I had to go back and look at the before to make sure it was the same dog. That was a great transformation.
    I also loved the Continental cut on the apricot poo. It that one yours? In all of the years that I have been grooming, I have never done a Continental cut. You did a great job.
    I have to say that I laughed my a** off when I saw the Schnauzer with eyebrows AND eyelashes. I LOVED it! I also loved the purple poodle. VERY pretty. The braided tail with the bow..lol.
    I have to ask..How do you get the tiny, tight curls in the poodles ears? That is so cute.
    Oh, I really liked the Fox Terrier too. :)
    I have a Facebook page too for my shop, but I have to admit that I have not been keeping up with it lately because of spending so much time on my blog.
    You are very creative. I also liked your Valentine's and Birthday pics.
    I have a facebook page for my shop too, but I have to say that I have not been very good about keeping it updated lately, because I spend so much time on my blog. :/


    Keep up the good work.

  13. thank you so much, i try to do my best making the dog looks better even if they a bit matted, i read your last post and i agree about not hurting the dog, but sometimes i try to make the dog look better, and still some people didn´t see the diference :S

    i made a mistake the last post, i write almost any body do stripping, but i was trying to say no one, isn´t the same righ? in here almost no one made stripping... any way i need to practice more english :P

    last week i travel to san francisco, my brother lives in palo alto, i was with my husband and we saw a grooming salon, i saw that the name was furry land (i dont remember very well) at first i think it was your salon, then i remembered that yours are ¨"furry friends" lol

    in here there are such a beautiful salons and boutiques.

    im going to stay one week more in palo alto i hope i can find a good place where i can find cool stuff for grooming, i already ordered the "happy hoodie" that you were talking about on one of your posts, thanks for the tips, it looks like a really useful tool.

    i add your facebook page, the beautiful poodle on the first picture is yours?

    in the album you saw the poodle with the pet continental cut isn´t mine, the mine is the one called "hanami chan" the smaller one, she apears in varius photos, the one on the red carpet, first with the weird teddy look and after with the lamb puppet look. i only have 2 dogs, hanami chan the poodle and megan my dachshund... and 3 cats :D

  14. i forgot, the curls i do it with a small tubes for hair... is kinda like these: http://images.villageorigin.com/009901-004/001.jpg?s=600

    well i couldn´t find the one i use, when i get back to borzoi ill took a picture and show you. just a bit spray, i put them on the ears at start of the grooming after the bath and brush and keep it till i finish the cut. then ill just add some spray. :) i like the finish look but in dog with heavy hair like the afgan hound doesn´t keep long time :S

  15. this is my hanami chan *___* ---> http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.142767915775495.38950.100001268627113&type=3#!/photo.php?fbid=259135227472096&set=a.142767915775495.38950.100001268627113&type=3&theater


  16. Oh Nikole, I missed that picture. I love reds. What a beautiful dog, and the cut looks great!
    Lisa, MFF

  17. thanks about hanami chan :) , i dont know if there apears my last coments about the curls and thw grooming salon named "furry" on san francisco, because i wrote it at the same time but the internet was falling so i sent them separately :S

    thanks for answer back :)

  18. Nikole,
    Sorry it took me so long to publish all of your comments. I didn't have enough time to answer all of the comments yesterday.
    I think that your English is just fine. I don't have any problem understanding what you write. :)
    I am afraid that my shop is all of the way on the opposite coast. lol
    I think that you will like the 'Happy Hoodie'. We use it on about 20% of the dogs.
    Thanks for visiting my shops facebook page. Yes, the white poodle is mine. She is my heart dog. I really love her. The picture is from when she was a year old. She is 8 now. :(
    I would love to see the tubes that you use for the curls. Are they the ones that you wrap the hair around and then twist the tube closed? I think that those curls are so cute. I tried it with a curling iron, but I don't like the heat from the curling iron being so close to the ear. Plus, the curls were not very tight and fell out quickly.
    Have a good time in San Francisco!
    Lisa, MFF

  19. oh my. nikole, what beautiful work you do for very little compensation.
    another idea for pricing: i implemented a tiered pricing system about a year ago - the more frequently clients visit the lower the base price of the groom & escalates significantly for each outwith the recommended schedule i have determined for each dog. its an effective way to shape behaviour; both recognising loyalty & discouraging the casual/OAY/2xAYers (which i no longer accept).

  20. Your example prices are missing for everything except the short hair bath & brush and the full body clipping sections! How do you price the short/med double coats (no trimming), long double coats (feet & rear) and long hair (feet & rear) please :)