The signs of a population trying to save a few dollars, or even a few cents, wherever they can, continue. Sales of high-end luxury and impulse items are down, shoppers in every industry are looking for the best deals, and grooming clients are extending the span between their appointments.
Why not take advantage of this trend and stock items that pet owners can use to keep their animals in better shape between grooming salon visits that may be getting further and further apart?
Owners that try to extend a six-week grooming to seven may do fine with it, but trying to save money by extending a standing appointment too far may be a disaster if the pet owner is unprepared or unable to groom the pet at home. Un-brushed, unwashed pets (especially those with long hair) can wind up a matted mess.
Here’s where the retailer can help. Not only can selling the right products for home grooming and bathing bring in profits, these items may make the dog’s life and the groomer’s job easier—and pet owners end up with a sweeter smelling pet.
The Right Tool
Grooming salons and pet specialty retailers can sell many items to make it easy for pet owners to keep their pets’ coats tangle-free and smelling fresh. Salons or stores that offer professional bathing or styling should offer the same brands that are used in the salon. However, retailers that don’t offer grooming services should still aim to sell brands that the staff is familiar and comfortable with. It is far easier for them to sell a familiar product than one that just has a good sell sheet.
Shampoo and conditioner are the obvious sales, and most pet stores already have these on hand in good quantity and selection. Retailers, however, shouldn’t neglect other items, especially those that a consumer new to bathing at home might not think of. For example, brushes, dematting sprays and tools complement an assortment of bathing supplies, at least for the long-haired pet.
Worldly Pets, in Marblehead, Mass., aims to offer everything a customer might need for safe, effective home bathing, says manager Diane True. “Eye protection against soap irritation such as SafeEye by Top Performance, along with tearless shampoos for faces, paw treatments and towels just for the dog’s bath are all good sellers,” she says.
In addition, Worldly Pets keeps brushes (from rubber curries for short coats to slicker brushes for long), dematting tools and The Stuff coat spray on hand. Flea combs are invaluable for gently removing matter from eyes or around the anal area.
“Customers do sometimes ask what to buy, so it’s good to have some grooming information available to advise them, or select products with clear instructions as to what coat type they are meant for,” True says.
Not everyone has a dog that can be popped in the kitchen sink and bathed with the dish sprayer. This means there are pet owners who are in the market for something more suitable for their needs—a tub or home-bathing system for pets.
Paws for Thought, Inc., not only makes the Booster Bath, a portable plastic tub for home bathing, it also offers the Tropic Shower, a converter that connects to a washing machine to provide warm water. A garden hose can be run outdoors for summer bathing, or the Tropic Shower can be used indoors if suitable drainage is available.
Rinse Ace, a division of Idea Factory Inc., carries everything from quick-connect sprayers for the shower or sink, to suction cup tethers for the reluctant canine. Louisa Rank, customer care manager for Rinse Ace, uses the products on her pets and particularly likes the 3-Way Pet Shower Sprayer. “Not only is it great for your everyday dog-rolled-in-the-mud shampoos, but here in the northern part of the country, it helps deal with the snow,” says Rank. “If you have a small pet with long hair, they get their belly and legs full of it and a towel just doesn’t work well. Pop them in the laundry sink, rinse the underneath with the Sprayer and then towel them.”
The company also supplies tub mats, shampoo mitts, hair catchers for the drain and microfiber towels.
Hydrosurge produces the RapidBath Pet Bathing System, a hand-piece with proprietary shampoo cartridges that allows the user to apply a shampoo/water/air mixture to directly to a dry coat, saving time. The system’s 10-foot hose and universal shower adaptor makes this ideal for owners of large dogs.
Tubs are not something that the average pet shop thinks of stocking for their clientele. They’re a bit too big to keep on the shelves and still make a decent per-square-foot profit. Still, retailers should try thinking “outside of the tub” for a way to offer these useful products to customers. Stores, for example, can keep information on a few of the less expensive tubs on a display in the bathing-tools section of the store or right at the counter, handy for a discussion when a customer is seen purchasing bathing aids.
Some distributors or manufacturers will ship tubs the store, or drop-ship the item directly to the customer. PetEdge’s Dealer Services even provides retailers with a catalog that displays custom retail prices or a catalog with no prices. Customers will need to know the plumbing and waste-water disposal requirements for each item.
Another factor affecting purchase price is shipping, which can vary wildly depending on the size and weight of the tub. Make sure to offer a quote rather than showing a firm price.
Some distributors have private-label tubs that are economical, even in the 48 in.-by-24 in. size, while Edemco offers smaller tubs that are reasonably priced.
Most manufacturers have accessories that pet owners could put to good use—not only vital items such as drains, faucets, hoses and sprayers, but also ramps, stairs, booster racks to raise smaller dogs for convenient bathing and restraint systems.
Adding tubs and bathing accessories of all kinds to your existing grooming SKUs can provide a good source of profit, as well as goodwill for the pet owner interested in economizing by caring for their pets at home.
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.