Marin, Napa, Sonoma pet groomers face scheduling backlogs – North Bay Business Journal


After 27 years in business, Pet Cuts owner Annie Moore says demand today is like never before.

“It’s crazy-busy right now, ” said Moore, whose Napa shop is located on Lincoln Avenue. “I think we’re looking at the beginning of March” for the next appointment.

Moore saw demand for grooming pick up about a year ago, when many people started moving to the area.

“Napa is getting bigger and bigger all the time, and we have people calling us like every day wanting to get in, ” Moore said. “And I have to apologize and just say, ‘I’m sorry. We can’t take new clients right now. ’”

Moore also has been the recipient of new customers as a result of a couple of her competitors leaving the area, she added.

She also saw an uptick in people adopting dogs during the pandemic — during which she stayed open.

“I had a lot of people coming from San Francisco and Sacramento, ” Moore said. “I guess the word got out that I was open. ”

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty, close to 1 in 5 households picked up a cat or dog since the beginning of pandemic, which would account for about 23 million American households based on the 2019 U. S. Census.

Moore said most of her out-of-town clients have since returned to their local groomers, though she still has a few from San Francisco, she said.

Debra Harris, owner of My Pet Pal Grooming in Sonoma, is fully booked until January. While other groomers have pointed to a surplus of pets as the cause of their scheduling issues, Harris looks to the shortage of groomers.

“Groomers cannot afford to live in Sonoma Valley, plus new groomers don’t make enough to open their own commercial space, ” Harris stated. “We’re all in the throes of being short on staff. ”

She pointed to Aberglen Pet Resort’s recent closure following wind damage and other groomers who have moved away without anyone to fill the gap.

“Sonoma doesn’t have a Petco or a PetSmart that usually pick up a lot of slack in the grooming industry, ” Harris said.

While it might seem like a dream to be fully booked, Harris has felt the stress of being short staffed and the pain of turning away customers, who have been coming to her for their grooming needs for over 25 years, and through multiple generations associated with pets.

“It’s really tough to answer the phone because people are surprised we’re booked, ” Harris mentioned.

Lauren Meyers, a groomer since 2017 and owner of Wet Nose Style in Sonoma, is booked out for four months, which has been the case for the last year.

An increase in pets, along with shortages in groomers, have plagued communities across the country, according to Groomsoft, one of the leading pet-grooming software programs in the industry.

“The increase in pet ownership is also driving the demand for pet grooming services. However , for years pet grooming businesses have been struggling to build and maintain highly skilled pet grooming personnel, and this shortage just obtained worse, ” Groomsoft said in a January blog post. “The lack of pet groomers is creating huge backlogs with regard to pet grooming salons, and these businesses are struggling to cope with the particular growing demand for their services. ”

Harris’ suggestion for people who don’t know how to get into a steady routine with their groomers is to take the first available appointment and get into a rotating schedule where the owner books out for every six to eight weeks within the groomer’s rotation.

That’s how Vince Camilleri, owner plus operator of All Aboard Dog Grooming in Novato, has been operating.

“Making standing appointments is usually best because I’m eight weeks out now as it is, ” said Camilleri, who has had his grooming shop for 14 years.

The backlog, he said, continues to be going on for most of the year.

“It became more that way after COVID, ” Camilleri said. “I was always a couple of weeks out, but not like I am now. ”

And he doesn’t foresee the long wait times for customers to ease up anytime soon.

“My soonest availability will be January 20, ” Camilleri said, “and that will change by the end of the week to February, I’m sure. ”

Camilleri stated he usually raises his prices every other year, and plans to do so again next year.

“It really needs to go up because of inflation, ” he said.

In general, pet groomers charge between $40 plus $75, depending on the size of the dog and other variables, such as if an extensive cut is needed, or add-ons like toothbrushing or special shampoos in order to soothe itchy, irritated or sensitive skin. That doesn’t include tips, which are generally expected.

From a staffing standpoint, Camilleri has been lucky in that he hasn’t experienced a shortage, he mentioned. He also hasn’t stopped accepting new clients and does not intend to.

Even a new groomer is booking up.

Bark and Bath Pet Grooming in Rohnert Park opened Oct. 1 and is seeing wait times averaging about a week.

“We aren’t fully slammed like all the other groomers in the area are, but we are booking up pretty well, ” said groomer Marina Reiter. “We knew that we’d probably bring in a lot of new customers because others aren’t accepting new ones. ”

Diana Barr grooms dogs from her garage. She reports being fully booked given that she started 6½ years ago serving only dogs within her local area.

Many dog owners, particularly those who own doodles — mixes between poodles and other breeds, such as Labradoodles and goldendoodles — call the groomers frantic to get their dog a haircut, Meyers said. So she is attempting to give those desperate callers another option: Do it yourself.

On Nov. 15, Meyers hosted “Groom Your Doodle, ” during which she taught “the bread-and-butter groom, ” a technique that can be applied to any dog.

“I view grooming as a craft that you can pursue and perfect and learn, ” Meyers stated.

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