Love your dog groomer? Show it.

While we’re owning and grooming more dogs today, the average pay for groomers is barely a living wage. If we want true professionals to pamper our pooches, we need to make sure they get paid what they’re worth. At Green Whiskers, we’re doing something about that by guaranteeing minimum commission levels. It also boils down to that age-old question affecting those in the service industries: tip or no-tip?

Outside of the big box pet stores, with their one-shave-fits-all grooming departments, most dog groomers who don’t run their own businesses are paid on a commission. This can run anywhere from 30% - 50% after a house fee to cover operating expenses. So, that $80 you’re handing your groomer at checkout can end up being as little as $25 in their pocket. With mobile grooming, factor a 90-minute groom plus drive, prep and clean-up time, and they’re barely making minimum wage. The question is, do you want someone who’s being paid the same as a fast-food worker giving your Goldendoodle a haircut?

With business models that run on very tight profit margins, mobile groomers in particular are caught in a tight spot: we could charge more to pay groomers more (we’re already paying ours well above the average salary) and price ourselves out of the market, or we could just hire unskilled groomers. This at a time when dog ownership in the United States is exploding while the pool of highly skilled groomers is shrinking.

Waiting tables in a fine dining restaurant is a career profession. Hairstyling is a career profession. So, why would someone who might spend $150 plus a nice gratuity on a special night out or to have their own hair done price-shop for their pup and then stiff their groomer? Most don’t, but it’s common enough to beg the question: if we want truly experienced people dedicating themselves to a career pampering our four-legged loved ones, then it’s important that we show them some of that same love for a job well done. That way, your pooch will have a great groomer, and it might just ensure you can get a coveted spot on increasingly busy grooming schedules.

Greg Robeson is the director of fetching and founder of Green Whiskers, a Portland, Oregon-based earth-friendly mobile dog grooming business that uses all organic products and up to 90% less water than traditional methods.

Greg Robeson