Pantops Pet Salon
Follow us on Facebook

Pantops Pet Salon & Spa
Charlottesville's Professional Dog Grooming

It's what we do -- it's all we do.

(434) 293-2424
Fax: (434) 293-8231
504 Pantops Center
Charlottesville, VA 22911

Grooming and the Economy

Thursday, November 27th, 2008 by Mike Cronk

I’ve been in business since 1975–that’s 33 years of dog grooming and consequently I’ve seen lots of ups and downs in the economy, but nothing like this. While business has been slower for most of this year (around a 5% decrease), August was especially bad. While it is generally slower due to last minute vacations and kids going back to school, it seemed like instead of a gradual leak, someone took the plug out of the tub…..and it was a big plug! Down about 25%! The reality of the market has really come home to roost, and I’m told it’ll be perching for another 1.5-2 years. OUCH!
I started to get concerned a couple of years ago when credit card purchases became the norm and home values experienced annual double digit increases. I dropped my Jeep Grand Cherokee like a hot potato and bought a Toyota Yaris (40 miles to the gallon). Now you can’t give away an SUV. Glad I saw that one coming! We’ve known for years that false increases in real estate appraisals couldn’t be sustained, and we were right. Now we are in a banking crisis that is being financed by loans from China and oil cartels, to go along with a near doubling of energy costs. And where is the money coming from for relief after hurricanes Gustof and Ike? How is California paying to fight all those wild fires?
When I tell people that grooming is taking a hit as well, they seem shocked. After all, “everyone just loves their dog!” Right. You should see the condition of some of the dogs that come in–the horror stories I could tell. Anyway, professional grooming is a luxury item that many of us need to budget for and it doesn’t quite measure up to buying groceries, paying the rent, or buying the gas to get to work. Notice I said “professional” grooming, the quality you get from paying a skilled artist. Just because you may not be able to afford our services doesn’t take you off the hook to take care of your dog. While I obviously can’t sustain my business unless most of you find us within your budget, reality says some of you may do more at home and others take more time between visits. Now is a good time to consider a shorter haircut that’ll last a bit longer. Please take a moment to read our article on Matting so you can understand what we need from you if you do wait longer between visits. Also read our Brushout articlewhich thoroughly describes our process and should give you some tips for maintaining your dog’s coat (and thus health and comfort) between visits.
So, imagine our customers who used to come in 4 times a year are now stretching it to 3, that’s still an annual loss of 25% in gross sales for us-without losing the customer. What are we doing about it? A couple of months ago I gave my employees a $2.00/hour raise to help cover the increase in gas prices so they could get to work – three of them live in Greene County. This resulted in a grooming price increase of between $2 and $4 on most services. Having done that, my next objective was to streamline the business without sacrificing quality. I lost a groomer to pregnancy and she won’t be replaced. Jenna, who was my full time office manager, now lives in Savannah, Georgia. While she still works online for me, it’s only for 5 hours per week. Her receptionist and office duties have reverted back to me. I also had a part-time person close in the afternoons who I let go so I’ve taken on that job as well. I had my windows cleaned and floor waxed twice a month by outside help–a great service that adds real shine to the shop but not a necessity. I’m now taking on that cleaning too. You’ll notice that bandanas, which have increased in price by 30%, are no longer free. While not essential to grooming, they are a nice touch for some and will be available at cost – $1.00. What won’t be changed is our effort to provide quality service and professionalism.
My son Michael, owner of The Pet Motel and Salon, questioned whether we should lower prices to see if we could increase business, but I’m not convinced that we can. My employees and I are just like everyone else. We find ourselves needing more money to meet expenses, not less. And you can bet that the business needs it too–just like bandanas, our supplies are getting more expensive across the board and there are some we just can’t do without.
So there you have it. The economy is in crisis, predicted to get worse and we are all going to have to adjust to stretching our dollars to cover higher costs. Keep in mind, while grooming certainly makes your dog look good, it’s more importantly about cleanliness, comfort and health. Try to keep us in your budget, but if you can’t don’t let your dog suffer. Frequent brushing and an occasional bath can go a long way.

Leave a Reply