If you love canines, becoming a dog groomer can be incredibly rewarding. It allows you to interact with dogs of all breeds, sizes and personalities. You get to make them look and feel their best while their owners are delighted about a fresh-smelling and clean pet.

If you’re ready to take the leap and turn your dog grooming dreams into reality, this guide will cover how to set up your own business from home, including:

  • Qualifications and license requirements
  • How to register your dog grooming company
  • The insurance you need
  • How to organise your finances
  • How to market your new business

Qualifications and license requirements

License

You do not need any specific licenses in the UK to set up a dog grooming business. There are specific licenses and regulations you should be aware of, such as Health and Safety – particularly the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health laws, which cover cleaning products like shampoos – and licenses to make music or sell merchandise. You can use the government’s Licence Finder to see if you need one for your business.

Qualifications

In the UK, qualifications aren’t strictly required to become a dog groomer. But undergoing training can still be beneficial. You can strengthen your understanding of pet care and grooming, and you having formal training will reassure your customers that their pets are in professional care. Consider getting professional training to ensure the high quality of your services and minimise any risks of hurting a pet or yourself.

The National Pet College offers various OfQual regulated courses in pet care and grooming from different training providers, including specific Level 2 and 3 dog grooming certifications for assistants and stylists.

You could also get a membership from the Pet Industry Federation, which represents people in the pet industry, including groomers, walkers, sitters, boarders and retailers. By joining PIF, you’ll automatically become a member of the British Dog Groomers’ Association, which shows your commitment to upholding pet industry standards and striving for animal welfare. In addition to discounts on courses, you’ll have access to HR, legal, and health & safety helplines and stickers to show your membership to customers.

How to register your dog grooming company

To start running your business correctly, including opening a bank account and paying the correct tax, you need to register your business with the HMRC. If you’re working alone, you probably want to register as a sole trader. But if more than one person will own your future company, you need to set your business up as a limited company.

Learn more about the differences between sole traders and limited companies and how to set up either of them here.

Self Assessment tax return

If you’re registered as a self-employed sole trader, you must file a Self Assessment tax return. 

If you know you need to file a Self Assessment tax return, the first step is to register with HMRC before 5 October of the calendar year that the tax year ends. 

Sole traders must keep records of business income and expenses for their tax returns. As a sole trader, you must also keep a separate record of your personal income since any money you make from sources like investments or property may affect the tax you pay.

For more information, check out our detailed guide on How to Do a Self Assessment Tax Return.

The insurance you need

As someone who handles dogs (and needs to impress their owners), it’s vital to get the right level of cover to protect you, your business and your finances if something happens to an animal in your care.

Your dog grooming business could probably use the following types of insurances:

Public liability insurance

Public liability insurance is arguably the most critical type of insurance for any business owner. As someone who cares for canines and services their owners, public liability insurance for dog groomers is essential for your line of work. It protects you from claims of accidental injury or property damage to the public and the death, harm to or disease of any animal in the course of your business.

Contents and equipment insurance

From adjustable tables to top-of-the-range clippers or dog grooming vans, professional dog grooming needs a lot of specialist equipment. Business contents insurance is designed to cover the costs of replacement or repair if the things you use to run your business get lost, stolen or and damaged. Contents insurance is also handy for things like computers, laptops and phones. 

Employers’ liability insurance

If you hire people to help out with your grooming services, employers’ liability insurance (EL) is a legal requirement in the UK for you. 

EL covers the costs you have to pay if an employee gets injured or becomes ill while they’re working for you. For example, if a dog bites and injures your employee and the employee pursues legal action against you. This cover would pay your court fees and any compensation.

Cyber insurance

The nature of your business means you’ll most likely hold some personal data of your customers (for example, contact information and card details). This means you may want to consider cyber insurance. Suppose a claim arises from cyber and data liability, or you experience a security breach. In that case, cyber insurance covers you for legal and compensation fees as well as financial loss as a result of a breach.

How to organise your finances

Organising your finances is an important part of running a successful business. However, many self-employed small business owners fall into the trap of mixing their personal and business banking. 

If you use your personal bank account for company expenses and income, your finances can become intertwined and cause confusion and errors in your tax return. To avoid paying an incorrect amount of tax or even a fine when you get audited, you might want to put some thought into keeping all your records straight.

Get a business bank account

If you haven’t opened a business bank account yet, don’t put it off any longer. Not having to dig through your personal bank account to separate personal and business transactions manually will make your life so much easier. Having a separate bank account for business dealings is the easiest and best way to keep your finances organised.

Track your income and expenses

Tracking your income and expenses is essential when it comes to organising your finances. Categorising your expenses can help you save money because controlling your expenses is easier when you clearly understand where your money is spent.

You can probably deduct some of your business costs from your taxable income, so it’s essential to keep an accurate record of your income and expenses to make your tax return easier to complete.

Budget for taxes

You probably have a budget for different types of expenses in your business. But a hefty tax bill at the end of the year can take you by surprise if you haven’t been tracking your income and expenses throughout the year.

When you consistently track your income and expenses, you can easily estimate how much tax you might have to pay each tax year. You can learn more about what tax businesses and sole traders pay here.

How to market your new business

Marketing is vital to a new dog grooming business. Before you start thinking about customer retention, which is equally important, you must work on attracting your first clients. Here are some of the initial steps you can take to bring in your first customers and build a steady stream of clients to your new dog grooming business.

  1. Build a website 

Searching online is the primary way consumers look for products and services these days. 85% of customers will research a business online before deciding to make a purchase, and more than half of all searches are done via mobile now. Therefore, your website must be professional and mobile-friendly.

These days, easy website builders like Squarespace or Wix.com allow you to launch a great-looking website at minimum costs and low effort. You can build your own website and start advertising your services and make it easier for customers to find your business. Learn more about how to create a business website here.

  1. Develop a customer referral program

By offering a customer referral program, you can directly approach new customers through existing ones. Incentives such as lower prices or free merchandise will encourage more of your customers to participate in your program, increasing your outreach. 

With the right incentives, you can encourage your customers to advertise for you. As potential customers are more likely to trust recommendations from people they know over traditional ads, your client list is likely to grow. Learn more about how to get referrals from your existing customers here.

  1. Create a presence on social media

In addition to a website, you will also need to be active on social media to help improve your online presence. When it comes to social media platforms, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram will be among some of the best as they will allow you to market your business, connect with your customers and provide visual proof of your abilities.

Learn more about how to market your business on social media here.

  1. Network with similar businesses in your area

Make a connection with local businesses in your area, for example:

  • Pet daycare and pet hotels
  • Dog sitters
  • Kennels
  • Pet shops
  • Dog walkers
  • Veterinarians

You can ask for their help advertising your business and offer to advertise them to your new customers in return. This way, you can easily access local client bases that need your services by establishing relationships with related business owners. 

  1. Take part in community events to increase your visibility

Whether it’s a marathon, a fair, or a local gathering, take part in local events to advertise your dog grooming business. Bring plenty of freebies and informational marketing materials to hand out to locals and pique their interest. You will also be able to build relationships with potential customers and answer any questions they may have using this method.

  1. Plan special giveaways and contests to create buzz

Much like promotional products, giveaways and contests will attract customers who are looking for free things. These giveaways may attract attention, increase brand awareness and give you the chance to collect contact information such as individual email addresses.

Later on, you can use this information to build your email marketing list. Learn more about email marketing for small businesses here.

Make sure to keep your giveaways focused on dog grooming products to attract the right individuals. Learn more about how to run a competition on social media here.

  1. Create special offers for first-time customers

When you’re just starting out, most of your customers will be first-time customers. Targeting them in a special way should be a major priority. You can create special deals, discounts, and additional services for those who go to you for the first time. These discounts can be advertised in your store, on your website and on social media to increase exposure.

Organise your finances and save time with Countingup

When you’re starting your own business, it’s important to keep your personal and business finances separate from day one – to save yourself from time-consuming admin headaches further down the line. 

That’s why thousands of business owners use the Countingup app to make their financial admin easier. Countingup is the business current account with built-in accounting software that allows you to manage all your financial data in one place. 

With features like automatic expense categorisation, invoicing on the go, receipt capture tools, tax estimates, and cash flow insights, you can confidently keep on top of your business finances wherever you are. 

You can also share your bookkeeping with your accountant instantly without worrying about duplication errors, data lags or inaccuracies. Seamless, simple, and straightforward! 

Find out more here.