Purchase Decisions

When purchasing a salon’s high-cost basics, groomers may become anxious, but with a lot of research and some sound advice, there is no need to fret.


Some of the toughest decisions a salon owner has to make centers around buying the salon’s necessary but high-cost basics, such as tubs, cages and tables. What’s the answer? Research. Lots and lots of research. As with any major appliance that you would purchase for your home, there are a lot of basic questions that need to be asked before you buy. For example, find out what the equipment is made of and where it is made, if it’s durable, and if it is easy to service and maintain. In addition, find out what the equipment’s expected lifespan is under normal use. And find out what is considered normal use? Does the product come with a warranty? What’s the industry standard for the product? Does it have to be shipped? What does it cost to ship, and who pays?

Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions of the manufacturers. Pose scenarios and ask what the company’s response would be. For example, say “What if I use the tub for six months and it begins to rust?” or, “If the doors on the cage break, can they be replaced or is a new cage required? Are the doors under warranty?”

Pamela Richardson, president of Wgroom Worldwide in Peyton, Colo., a distributor of grooming equipment and supplies, says that the single most important piece of advice she would give prospective purchasers is to look carefully at the company that manufactures the equipment. How long have they been in business? What is their warranty like? How is their customer service? “A warranty is only as good as the people backing it up,” says Richardson. “The best manufacturers will not only stand behind their product and warranty, they’ll help problem solve if necessary.”

The way to avoid making costly mistakes is to plan ahead as much as possible. What suits your needs now and where will the business be in three years? Five? Ten? This will impact your decision.

When purchasing a tub, it’s always a good idea to spend what is necessary. This is an item that should last–consider it a permanent installation, at least until you move or renovate down to the walls. Buy tubs that are made from the best materials, that are durable, that won’t scratch and that are rust resistant. I once thought it would be economical to purchase a tub made for people and install it in my salon. I think it may have cost me more in chiropractor visits (after bending over the four-foot wide sides) than it would have to buy a high-quality stainless steel tub made specifically for dogs.

Spend time deciding what you want from a table. Every groomer’s work habits are different, and there are tables to accommodate many styles. For instance, if you stand in one place and turn your table while doing finish work, an electric table that doesn’t turn may not be right for you, even if it has the convenience of going right down to the floor for big dogs. Also consider getting different tables for different tasks. Perhaps an electric table for drying and a turning hydraulic table for finish work is the answer.

There are great, economical stacked wire cages available from many distributors. Often made in China, they are adequate but not meant to last for 20 years. Fiberglass cages are wonderful, but seem to be less available than in years past. Quality stainless from a known manufacturer is probably the most popular option, as they last a long time, are easily cleaned and sanitized, are virtually escape and injury proof, and look professional to customers. Stacked plastic crates or wire crates meant for in-home use are not only hard to clean, but can be unsafe to use in a salon.

The Price is Right
If the equipment you want to purchase is a bit too pricey, consider asking the salon’s 10 best clients to pay the next year of grooming in advance in exchange for a discount and guaranteed preferred appointments. Also consider a lease-to-own program. 

When purchasing fixtures for the salon, do research, explore options, ask questions and remember that upgrading salon equipment is easier than you may think.

Carol Visser is a Nationally Certified Master Groomer and Certified Pet Dog Trainer. Formerly a pet product expert for PetEdge, she and her husband Glenn now own Two Canines Pet Services in Montville, Maine, which provides grooming, boarding, training and day care services to Waldo County.

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