The foundation of any good grooming regimen, whether done at home or in a salon, starts with the right tools. However, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution in this category. The key is matching the comb, brush, shear or clipper to the dog’s coat and to the owner’s desired outcome, and the needs of the pro in the grooming shop differ widely from the needs of the casual, at-home or between-appointments groomer.
Gary Angell, owner of and groomer at My Two Dogs, Inc., in Brooklyn, New York, listed his salon’s must-haves: a stainless-steel Greyhound Comb, brushes from Miracle Coat and shears in eight-inch, six-inch ball tip curves, 32-tooth thinning shears and ball tip baby shears. He also keeps de-matters and flea combs on hand. In the shears, Angell said he utilizes a range of different brands that offer reliable performance.
While some customers choose to groom their pets entirely themselves, there are many more who do basic upkeep at home between visits to the pros. For those who groom at-home between appointments, stock your shelves with products that your customers can use safely and effectively. Be prepared to demonstrate, or at least, educate your customers on how to properly use the tools at home.
“We recommend all our clients to have a steel comb—we sell these in our shop—and at least one size-appropriate Miracle Coat brush,” Angell said. “This way they can brush and comb out their dog daily and before and after bathing at home to keep the dog from matting up.
We do not recommend our customers to use any type of shear or scissor at home on their dogs,” Angell continued. “We have had customers admit to using their kitchen scissors to cut their dogs’ faces—that’s never a good idea. We don’t recommend our clients to buy their own sheers because home grooming doesn’t usually go well, so we offer face and butt clean ups in between grooming to keep the dogs safe. And grooming is always harder than it looks.”
Brand recognition helps in this category. For instance, Andis is a perennial favorite with beauty brand recognition. Available in two styles, the regular line and the premium line, Andis is a cost-effective option for most customers, as well. The premium line has a larger, more substantial handle than the regular, but both lines offer an ergonomic design.
Innovations like the newly-launched Bump It Off make it easy for dog owners to maintain their pet’s coat at home. The Bump It Off is a silicone grooming tool designed to fit in the palm of the hand so that it’s simple for the pet owner to gently brush out the coat. It’s a two-sided tool, one with bristles for de-shedding and one with bumps for massaging. What makes this an innovative product, though, is that it’s designed to also de-shed a pet owner’s sofa. With the same brushing action, it works to remove fur build-up from furniture. The product is dishwasher safe, too, so it can be cleaned and reused, and it’s available in several bright colors.
While brushes like the Bump It Off are not designed for the rigors of professional use, these fun and functional brushes serve as a transitional sale for dog owners who are interested in keeping up with their pet’s coat without the investment of professional-grade tools. A silicone tool can help the reticent or nervous at-home groomer feel more comfortable learning the skills of coat maintenance.
Despite the range of professional and trendy products on the market, according to Angell, there’s still room for product development in this category. The item he feels is missing?
“A magical, miracle mat remover,” he said.
Don’t forget the importance of cross-selling. A comb or a brush can’t take care of all your customers’ at-home grooming needs, so be prepared to make product recommendations across categories. However, grooming products aren’t the only items that retailers need to keep in mind when interacting with pet owners.
“We recommend they use a nice, gentle natural shampoo at home, too,” Angell said. “We use, recommend and carry some Espree shampoos and TropiClean Spa products. We do carry the TropiClean Spa shampoos and conditioner and just started using Espree.”
Understanding the needs of your customer is the key to selling this category. Many dog owners know they want to groom their pet at home, but they probably don’t understand that their dog’s specific coat—is it single- or double-coated, for example—requires specific tools. There are specific brushes and combs for every task, so help your customers understand the type of tool they need to purchase to achieve their at-home grooming goals.
Finally, because there are safety risks inherent with at-home grooming, in-store demonstrations of the tools you stock can go a long way in helping to ensure pet owners are grooming their pets safely and without risk of injury.