After 15 years as a veterinary technician, starting his own pet business was natural for Frank Weag, founder of Professional Mobile Groomers International in Union, New Jersey. When the vet he worked for retired, Weag bought a struggling mobile grooming business and turned it around--to the tune of $125,000 a year.
If you're starting from scratch, you have to build up to that income, says Weag, who charges $50 for a basic shampoo and clip and typically handles eight to 10 dogs per day. Making the rounds of vets' offices and pet shops to generate referrals is key to success.
Weag suggests keeping costs low by buying a used van; a converted van with fewer than 75,000 miles on it goes for about $15,000. Keep the van looking sharp, though, because it's a moving advertisement.
Cynthia Albritton, 24, owner of Albritton's Quick Clips Mobile Grooming in Montgomery, Alabama, used a $5,000 bank loan to buy a used van and a generator. A friend helped her cut a 50-gallon drum in half, mount it on a steel frame and lay down molding to make a bathtub.
Mobile grooming may be in its infancy, Weag says, but one visit to a trade show will convince anyone it's a rapidly expanding segment of the pet industry. In a world clamoring for convenience, that's no surprise.
Frank Weag, 56
Professional Mobile Groomers International
Year Started: 1997
Start-Up Costs: $25,000
1997 Sales: $125,000