I still remember this point in my life well. I absolutely loved grooming dogs, but I was barely getting by. I had no savings account. I had only one credit card with a very small limit. I worried every time I wrote a check – would it bounce? I could not afford health insurance. The only vehicle I could afford was my mobile grooming van. I drove it everywhere.
If I had a financial hiccup, anywhere, I was in deep trouble. The thought of a retirement account or an emergency fund never crossed my mind. I learned very early in my career what it was like to have the phone or electricity shut off… the payroll to bounce… or my credit card declined. Yes, I have experienced all of those. I’m not proud of it – but I did learn from it.
Sound familiar? I know many groomers and stylists who struggle with this scenario. I don’t envy you. I’ve been down that path, too. Luckily, those days are long gone for me but the lessons are etched in my soul.
Here’s some things that I did early in my career to beat that problem.
The first thing you need to do is take a look at where you are currently sitting, financially. How much money do you bring in your household annually? Are you the sole income earner or do you have a dual income stream? You don’t have to be exact, but get close. If you have multiple income streams, how much do you need to produce to make your household budget work?
Before you start fixing a problem – you need to thoroughly understand what your current situation is. This background work will help you create a plan to get over this hump.
Next, you need to figure out how much money you need to run your life. How much money would it take for you to feel comfortable and not strapped week by week? Obviously, it’s going to be more than you’re making right now – otherwise you wouldn’t feel stressed over money. How big is the gap? Don’t get freaked out. What you’re doing right now is collecting data.
The final step is a reality check. You need to discover the difference between what you currently are making and what you would like to make to be comfortable. It might look something like this:
That’s a real do-able number.
However, if you’re “comfortable income desire” was closer to $70,000, yet you currently only generate $32,000 in revenue, that would be a more challenging nut to crack. Creating an extra $8,000 in extra income a year can be attained on a groomer’s income. Finding $38,000 is a bit more difficult – but it can be done if you are willing to make big changes in your life. (But that’s another blog.)
There are only so many hours in a day. Only so many days in a week. Unless you more than double your current pricing structure or number of dogs you groom, making it happen will be impossible. That’s not to say it can’t be done. It can. However, you will have to make some major changes in how you generate money.
If you work with your hands to make a living, you will always be limited in your earning potential. It doesn’t matter if you are a doctor, lawn service, or pet groomer. You will hit an earning cap at some point. What level that is will depend on a number of things; the quality of work being produced, amount of time it takes to complete each groom, the price per pet and the commission level.
Reality check time. If you had grandiose ideas that you could simply groom dogs and earn a six-figure income, that’s not very realistic. Make sure what you want to earn and what you can earn are in alignment.
Grab a calculator, a sheet paper, and a pencil. It’s time to set some goals and do some simple math. This is a game I started playing very early in my career to hit my personal goals.
Let’s say you worked 50 weeks a year. (You did take a vacation, right?)
Let’s use that $40,000 figure as your ideal earning potential. You work at 50% commission rate. So, if you want to make $40,000 annually, you need to generate $80,000 in sales. Divide $80,000 by 50. That equals $1600 which is the amount you need to generate each week. Break it down one more step by dividing $1600 by the number of days you work each week. Let’s say that number is five days. Each day you need to generate $320 in sales. If your average price per dog is $45, you need to groom a little over seven dogs a day.
$40,000 x 2 (50%) = $80,000.
$80,000 / 50 (weeks) = $1,600
$1,600 / 5 (days per week) = $320
$320 / $45 (average price per dog) = 7.1
By breaking this down into a daily goal of $320 in sales, you know exactly what you have to do every day to achieve the annual income you desire.
You’ll find yourself adding up your potential sales for the day before you even start. That’s the key to making this work. If you know early in the morning that your schedule is too light, you will look for ways to increase your revenue for that day. You’ll look for added services that you can up charge for or you may even take another appointment. If you had not set that goal as you went into your day, you wouldn’t have a target to shoot for.
Discipline and Focus
Discipline and focus is a two-part equation. The dual areas are monetary inflow and outflow. Raise the amount of money you bring in every week. Minimize what you spend every week. You need to set a budget for yourself and stick to it. Stay within your means. Just because you have a credit card does NOT mean you should use it!
Raising your income level is going to take plenty of discipline and focus. There will be times when it will not be easy. If it was easy, you wouldn’t be struggling.
There are many programs out there that can help you. Dave Ramsey and Suze Orman are two popular financial educators. Try a simple Google search about financial planning. You will find plenty of options. Use them!!
In order to reduce your financial stress, you need to have a financial plan. For most people, the financial crunch didn’t happen overnight. You’re not going to get out of that crunch overnight, either. Be patient with yourself. Be disciplined. Be focused. You can fix this problem.
Want a great aid to help you hit your goal? Create a visual reminder. This is a proven method that works in many scenarios. Top athletes have used this technique for years. High achievers create entire dream boards of their goals. One of my favorite books and films on this topic is called The Secret by Rhonda Byrne.
It’s simple. What you see and think about – you remember. But here’s the deal. You need to see and think about it A LOT. You want to be constantly reminded of your goal.
For a financial goal, I would select something about the size of the business card. You can get as creative as you like. Make up 10 to 20 of them. Once you have a slew of them made, start distributing them where they will be a constant reminder.
- Post them on the mirror in your bathroom.
- Tuck them in your wallet with your money.
- Put them on your bedside stand.
- Stick one on the refrigerator.
- Place them at your grooming station.
- Put them in pockets.
- Attach them to your appointment book.
- Tape them to the dash of your car.
Keep them highly visible and in front of you as a constant reminder. It’s amazing how well this works.
Sure, you can get by living hand to mouth, but it’s not fun.
It’s just not worth it.
Life is so much more enjoyable when you are confident about your financial future – whether it is tomorrow, next week, next month, next year, ten years down the road, or into retirement.
You don’t have to have a six figure income to be happy and secure. However, you do need to live within your means AND have a savings plan in place. Once you get your financial life in order, the more you will enjoy today.
How has living hand to mouth affected your life? Have you taken steps to overcome it? How has your life changed? Jump over to the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page and tell us about it!