The three areas that are most important in marketing yourself as a pet groomer are marketing to clients, marketing to the groomers and the grooming industry, and marketing to employers.
Photos are the best tool when it comes to marketing to clients, as it is important to show potential clients examples of your work. Consider your social media accounts to be your grooming photo portfolio. In this portfolio, you want to show a wide variety of breeds you have worked with, such as terriers, poodles, doodles, small mixed breeds, giant breeds, rare breeds, seniors, puppies, handicapped dogs, etc. You also want to show diverse haircut styles, such as scissor cuts, shave downs, patterns, trim ups, top knots, Asian Fusion, long ears, short ears, lamb trims, drop coats, hand-stripping, etc.
Try to make your photos fun—for example, giving dogs little shampoo mohawks during baths, dogs taking naps, dogs getting hugs from their favorite groomer, etc. The variety in your photos will help clients see the range of your skills, and the fun photos will build your clients’ trust that your salon is a safe and relaxing environment for their pet.
Keep the following points in mind when taking photos:
• Clean background—Cleaning the hair off of your table, making sure your tools are put away nicely and removing additional clutter from the background shows clients that you are clean and organized. Always try to showcase the cleanliness of your salon.
• The “angles”—Pay attention to the angle from which the photograph is being taken. You want to find angles that are flattering to the shape of the dog. Also, pay attention to how the dog is standing. Being hunched over or scared looking doesn’t make for a good photograph. You will also want to pay attention to their legs. Make sure that they are straight and spaced out so you can show off your scissor work.
• Use a good camera—The majority of cell phone cameras today are great quality. I use an iPhone 11 Pro for all of my photos, and I previously used an iPhone 10 XS. I do not edit my photos, and I would recommend avoiding editing. Editing can take lots of time and it is better to show the actual result anyway.
• Lighting—Lighting is a key aspect of taking a good photograph. The entire front of my salon is windows, so I get a lot of natural light. If you have a darker area, I would recommend investing in some lighting. Even painting the walls a lighter color will help in this regard.
• Camera settings—Make sure your photos are focused. Avoid taking any photos with a flash, as it will cause the room to look darker and cause the dogs to have red eyes.
I put a lot of effort into my photos. The fact that people can get a professional grade photo of their pet and see them on social media has won me many clients!
Branding yourself is also extremely important when it comes to marketing to clients. You want them to see a photo and know it’s yours without having to tell them it’s yours. The way I branded myself was by painting the walls in my salon a very distinct, loud color. The colors in my salon are blue, yellow and green. I also have a Paw Mat that adds a pop of color, as well as a nice clean table top. I would recommend choosing a signature prop, background or photo style to brand yourself.
In addition to keeping track of your photo portfolio, social media is a great place to tap into your local community. One of my favorite ways to interact with clients is on a local Facebook dog group. I added myself to the local Doodle, Welsh Terrier, Wire Fox and Golden Retriever Facebook groups. My clients post photos of their dogs in the group, I make fun posts in the group after a member has been in for a groom and I can respond when someone is looking for grooming recommendations. Here’s one more way to use social media to your advantage: Find local dogs on Instagram to follow and interact with. Then if they come in for grooming, I make sure I get a picture and tag their page.
Marketing to the Industry
Marketing to other groomers and to the grooming industry can lead to great opportunities, jobs, education, sponsorship, connections and more. One of my top recommendations is that in addition to posting your grooming photos on social media, make posts about your favorite tools and consumables. Do this without expecting anything in return—make these posts to help out other groomers and share your experiences. Give honest feedback, and be as transparent as possible.
Making posts every two to four hours will help you gain exposure and keep you at the top of the feed. You don’t want to post more than that, as your posts will get too concentrated and will get missed. For example, you don’t want to post six photos consecutively at one time; you want to spread it out posting one photo every two to four hours. Making posts frequently throughout the day will allow you to grow your following and get noticed.
Keeping your content creative is very important. Marketing to groomers is a little different than marketing to clients. I have found that groomers like to see more detailed photos of individual parts of the dog. Some common popular photo types include head shots (both straight on and side profile), legs, paws, full-body side shots and the especially popular before-and-after shots. Short videos of shaving a dog down or scissoring legs/paws are also good ways to showcase your technique.
Reciprocity between groomers is important, too. Be sure to follow other groomers’ social media pages, and be supportive and interactive with them. It’s also good to show that you are human. Try sharing some personal aspects of your life, but don’t focus too much on it. Share little details about your favorite hobbies, pictures of your personal animals, things you enjoy doing outside of work, etc.
I also encourage making YouTube videos if you can; I have made a couple and really enjoyed the experience. I think it is a great way to get you thinking about how you are doing things and why. It’s also a great way for you to share your techniques, experiences, tools and products to reach a new audience!
Being active in the grooming community is important because it will help you get noticed and make new connections. Follow lots of grooming-related businesses, join the grooming groups on Facebook and post to them regularly. Try to discuss ways to make the grooming industry better, share and learn new techniques, and see how others are branding and marketing themselves. It is also important to create good relationships within your local grooming community. Refer clients to other salons if you get too busy, or if the client isn’t a good fit for you, and your colleagues will return the favor.
Marketing to Employers
As a business owner who has interviewed many groomers, I know how important it is to figure out how to market yourself to employers. You want to find a job that pays well, has good management/owners, has good clientele, invests in their stylists, etc. By marketing yourself correctly, you will be able to attract those kinds of salons.
Keeping a portfolio of your grooms is very important. This portfolio should showcase your skill set. You want to have a variety of breeds and haircut styles in your portfolio to show your experience and the range of your skills. A steady job history is also extremely important. An employer wants to hire someone who is going to stick around, especially if they will be investing in your education and skills.
One thing that I look for when I am hiring a stylist is good interpersonal communication skills. Making sure you are constantly improving your communication skills with clients, co-workers and bosses is vital. This skill will not only help you get your ideal job, it will help you build request clientele and eliminate problems or drama within the workplace. Being able to talk to people is a life skill you can carry with you regardless of the industry you are working in, so try to work at it and improve with every chance you get.
Continuing education is also very important to potential employers. Groomers who can bring new techniques, products and tools to the salon and the clients are highly sought after. The grooming industry is continuously evolving, so it is important to stay relevant. Employers look for someone who is passionate and driven in their career. Investing in your education shows them that you have what they are looking for.
Even if you are a great groomer with lots of experience, you can still learn new things. The wonderful thing about the grooming industry is it is always changing. One major thing that will set you apart from other groomers is having an open mind, and a willingness and desire to learn.
I highly encourage you to create your own Instagram and Facebook pages, and post quality photos to them regularly. If you are up for more, try experimenting with YouTube videos. Actively connecting with grooming and pet communities online is another important aspect to self promotion. Getting noticed in these groups will have clients requesting you as their groomer and will allow potential employers to follow your work. Utilizing these social media tools is key to marketing yourself as a groomer. PB
Anna Stowell is a brand ambassador for Wahl. For more tips, tricks, and grooming inspiration, follow Anna on Instagram @zoomgroom_anna.