Creating a 6 figure business is a goal that many entrepreneurs share. With 50% of new businesses failing within the first five years, some people may wonder if entrepreneurship is even worth the risk.
Today we are picking the brain of Heidi Appel – a mobile pet groomer who has figured out the secret sauce to running and growing a successful business.
Hi Heidi, would you like to introduce yourself to the readers?
Hey guys! My name is Heidi Appel. I am a 35-year-old single mother of my beautiful 9-year-old daughter and to 3 feisty Chihuahuas.
I have been a pet groomer for 16 years and 11 of those years I have run my own grooming business.
Tell us about your 6 figure business!
I own Shags2U, which is a mobile pet grooming salon. That means I travel locally to my client’s homes and groom their pets from my van. I am the sole operator and my business is an LLC.
Since starting this journey 11 years ago, I am happy to say that I have turned my mobile grooming van into a 6 figure business that fully supports my family.
Have you ever worked for someone else? What was your experience like being an employee?
As an adult, I’ve only been self-employed. I discovered quickly as a teenager that I was not cut out for being an employee for someone else.
What made you choose this type of business?
When I was in high school, I didn’t know what I wanted to do after graduation. I wasn’t interested in going to college. I thought college would be a waste of time and money for me since I didn’t have an end goal at the time.
At that time, my mom had a pet grooming shop and needed some help, so I started helping her as a bather and realized that grooming animals was what I wanted to do. We always had all kinds of different animals growing up, so being a groomer just made sense.
How did you get your idea or concept for the business?
Working in my mom’s brick and mortar grooming shop was a great start, but I didn’t want to be stuck in one place anymore. I wanted to be unique and provide people with the ultimate grooming experience. And, if I wanted to build a 6 figure business, I knew I needed to think outside the box.
One day I asked myself, “what would make our clients lives easier?” Then, I learned how to provide that service. That service was to go mobile. I found out there was only one other mobile groomer in the area when I started, so I went out on a limb and branched off on my own.
How did you discover your “target market?”
People love their pets. People love convenience. Mobile grooming puts them together.
Word travels fast when you offer a service that people really want. A lot of my clients have actually found me through word of mouth. I really don’t have a specific type of person I market to. However, a lot of my clients are elderly, disabled, busy people, and/or people with pets that just don’t handle traveling to a traditional grooming salon well.
Do you advertise?
Shags2U is a 6 figure business because of the super convenient grooming experience I provide. My amazing clients spread the word for me. Because of that, it’s a blessing to say I’ve not had to pay for any advertising in years. When I first started though, I ran a few ads and drove around with magnets on my car that people could take if they were interested in my services (or just wanted a free magnet.)
What education did you need to start?
Grooming (as of right now) is not regulated and does not require any education to get started. I went to a grooming school for 2 months in Indiana, PA when I was 19 years old. But, I always say real-life experience is the actual education you need.
What do you continue to do to advance your education?
I go to a big trade show once a year. They have a lot of continuing education classes and seminars. I often find and learn about new products there.
I am also a part of several Facebook groups where groomers can talk to each other and give advice and feedback.
Does your company help the community where it is located?
I have done several community events over the years. The most recent one was a “Touch a Truck” event for kids of our local elementary school. In the near future, I would love to get involved with a local shelter to help animals there.
Have you ever turned down a client?
I had to stop accepting new clients for the last year and a half. My schedule was just too full to keep up.
Today, there are a few more mobile groomers that started in my area, so they have actually taken a lot of the weight off of me. Even though other groomers are my competition, I am thankful for more groomers because I don’t need to feel like I need to serve everyone anymore. I can focus on giving my clients the very best experience I can offer.
How do you choose the areas that you work in?
I try to stay within a 20-mile radius. I also try to route my day in the most efficient way possible. Routing ahead of time saves a lot of time and money.
What were some of the worst business decisions you made?
Trading in my vans so much. I’m on #4, and that is a lot of extra debt.
To date, what has been your biggest investment purchase? How has it helped you?
MY VAN!! If I never took a chance and bought that van to branch out on my own, I would have never had the growth I experienced in the last 11 years.
What are your future goals?
Right now, I’m happy with staying steady at where I am currently. I am trying to pay off some personal and business debts this year though.
To what do you attribute your success?
Being consistent and showing up. Also, not letting personal problems get in the way. When you run your own business, sometimes it’s hard to keep business and personal affairs separate. You’ve got to be able to keep those worlds apart.
Would you do anything differently if you had to start all over again?
I would price my services differently and higher at the beginning. It’s always easier to lower your prices if you need to then raise them.
If you had one piece of advice to someone interested in pet grooming, what would it be?
If you want to get started with grooming, I’d suggest going on a few ride alongs and to make sure this is right for you because it’s not for everyone. Then, if you like it, find yourself a good accountant.
Now, let’s get personal:
What is your favorite book?
“Girl Wash Your Face,” by Rachel Hollis
Biggest life hack?
Learning the art of multitasking!
What is something you cannot live without?
Advice you would give to your younger self:
Don’t let people use you! Always value your skills.
What can you learn from this busy, single mom who built a 6 figure business? Here are 3 takeaways you should remember:
1. Ask yourself what would make your life easier. Then, give that service to others.
2. Take a chance on growth – even if you are comfortable with where you are.
3. Don’t feel like you need to provide service to everyone. Focus on giving your clients the best experience they can have.
Lastly, we want to thank Heidi for her interview today – her advice and experience will help many fellow entrepreneurs!
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Also, if you are new to FI, you should read, “The 7 Stages of Financial Independence.”