I’m setting myself a challenge to come up with 10 ideas per day.

So, for this first post, I’m brainstorming 10 questions that you should ask yourself before buying a dog washing business.

A lovely friend of mine recently told me she’d seen a fantastic idea for a dog washing business franchise that’s for sale. It was a very convincing sales prospect, and they made the offer sound fantastic. They were opening up a new region for this franchise and it’s going to be awesome and they would make all this lovely money just washing dogs.

So I started thinking about is what makes someone good at dog washing? And what would make someone successful in purchasing a dog washing business?

10 things to consider before buying (or starting up) a dog washing business
1. EXPERIENCE
What experience have you had with dogs? have you ever washed a dog before and what sort of dogs have you washed? If you’ve only ever washed your family pet, who knows you, I imagine it’s very different washing big dogs and small dogs in a cramped and unfamiliar environment. And the experience would be very different to washing your family’s small terrier out in the backyard, hosing them down with a bucket and some shampoo. Then there’s how much experience you’ve had with doggy skin conditions, clippering a dog, or nail and ear care that would go along with the job.

2. TIME
How much time do you have, and how much flexibility do you have for appointments? Depending on the clientele, they may prefer late nights, weekends or middle of the day. There would be a period of time when you would probably not be able to take extended holidays without getting staff in, so you don’t lose regular clients.

3. RESEARCH THE MARKET
Your local council should be able to provide some information on pet ownership in the area – or the ABS. Or look up your local dog parks and pay them a visit on the weekends – take note of the types of dogs, are they big/small, are they generally well groomed?
Consider the socio-economics and culture of the area you’ll be working in – are there lots of apartments (meaning smaller dogs and maybe less room for washing) or bigger backyards (bigger dogs and families who will do the washing themselves).

4. COMPETITION
How many dog washing companies are already in your area? How established are they? What sort of marketing are they using? What prices are they charging? How would your business be different to what dog owners are currently using?
Give some of them a call and check out their availability – are they free any day, or can’t squeeze you in for a month? If you call three places and they all have lots of available spots, then maybe there isn’t enough work for everyone.

5. MONEY
Don’t get caught up in the magic turnover figures presented. Consider the expenses of the business, how much you personally need to make to survive and how much time you have free.
If you know you can only work x hours per week, then you can work out how much you need to be charging per dog to make your desired income.
Consider all the possible expenses – insurance, advertising, council registrations, business registrations, consumables (shampoos), tools, water, electricity, signage, uniforms, promotional materials, freebies and promotions. If it’s a franchise, you’ll have additional costs from the franchiser too. Once you have added all these up, divide that by 52. That will give you an idea of how much you need to make per week to cover your costs. Divide that figure by how many possible dog washing hours you can do.
For example – $1000 per week expenses/40 hours dog washing @ 1 hour per dog = each dog costs you $25 to wash. If you only get to wash 20 dogs, then each dog is going to cost you $50.

Once you’ve worked out your costs, then consider how long it will take you to make a return on your investment, so to have paid off the business start up costs. If you’ve paid $50,000 for the business, you would need to be making at least $1,000 additional to your costs per week to get to a point where you’ve paid off the costs and are making a profit.

6. MONEY 2 – Costs and clients
Consider what your ideal client looks like – wealthy, time poor, pampered pets. Does that describe the majority of pet owners in your area?

Building on from how much the service cost you to run, you then need to start thinking about how much is the market willing to pay. This is also part of your competitor research – what are other companies charging? How often do these clients return? How many regular clients would I reasonably get.

7. PRICING
What pricing structures are other services using? Do they account for the size of dogs? Extras like clippering? How could you structure a package to maximise your value to customers, while making a profit?
When you consider how much people are charging – consider how often they getting their customers back, so for someone just getting their dog washed – how often would they get their dog washed? is it a weekly thing? Or a monthly thing? Or a seasonal clippering? Or more often during winter if the dogs like to go and play in the mud, or less in summer if they go swimming a lot.

8. When buying a franchise in particular – Look at the statistics and case studies provided – Consider
What area were they working in? Is this area similar to the one you’ll be setting up in?
What’s the culture of that area like – a lot of older people who might have money and less physically able to wash their dogs? Or a lot of young families who may be willing to wash the dog themselves?

9. QUESTIONS
You can’t ask too many questions – Go to the council and ask what their regulations are – can you put the water in the storm water drain? Can you park on the kerb? Can you use certain types of shampoos? Can you run your generator any time of day? What insurances and licences do you need?
Go to the state government and find out their regulations and registering a business. Find out about advertising in the local area – what are the best ways, what are the costs?

10. YOU
One of the most important things before all of this is to consider why you want to start a dog washing business.
What is it about you about the washing that lights you up that excites you that motivates you?
Is it that you’ve seen a gap in the market and you seen that you can do this dog washing business better than anyone else that is out there?
What will make people come and use your services is you and your point of difference and your passion for the industry.
I imagine someone starting a dog washing business would be the person who has a beautiful dog for themselves, no matter what size, but that they love to groom that dog. They love to put ribbons in her hair and putting little jackets on it and clipping her toenails and tying bows in it.

You would be doing all the dog grooming activities that you’ll be doing in your everyday work and you love doing that so much that you offer to do that for your friends and it excites you. You make time out of your busy day to groom your dog and to wash your dog, and take care of your dog. You do all this because you love it and you can see the benefits of doing that for your dog.
Having that natural passion, skill and interest is what would make you a successful dog washer.
If you’ve never held a dog in your life, if you’ve rarely touched dogs, and don’t pat every dog you see on the street, if you’ve never held a pair of clippers, and rarely even do your children’s hair, or offer to walk the family dog, then I would suggest you reconsider 100 million times before going out and purchasing a dog washing business.

Stay tuned for 10 ideas of different businesses that dog lovers can start that aren’t dog washing.

What is the 10 Ideas Project?  Inspired by a TEDx talk given by James Altucher, I am on a mission to make myself an ideas machine.  Every day, I will write down 10 ideas for different things.  These might be business tips, inspiration, content ideas, strategy ideas, things I love, things I hate, and all the millions of ways that I can think of to inspire, motivate and encourage mothers who want to change their lives, by either getting a new job, a new career, start a business, or grow their existing business.   They’re quick, flow of thought pieces that map out the 10 first things that come to my mind on a particular topic.  Some days, I’ll expand on them.  Other days, I’ll keep them short.  Some days they’ll be great and some days not so much.  Other days, I’ll make them pretty and use lots of pictures and headings and lovely things.  But I’m making it my mission to keep writing and keep on getting better at them.

If you’ve got a topic or idea you’d like me to brainstorm ideas on, please let me know.  I’m always on the hunt for new inspiration.  I’ll be posting them here, and on my other site, Employment Avenues. If you love my ideas, please tell me (and the whole world), I love to hear what you have to say.  If you think my ideas are terrible, please tell me that too, and I’ll keep trying to get better.