After running a pet grooming shop for several years, Maureen Hill decided to go mobile to work on her own. Her “salon on wheels” offers convenience to her clients.
“My mobile grooming service brings the grooming salon to customers with a fully equipped van with a generator, water tanks, water heater, dryers, clippers and other amenities needed to get a pet looking its best,” says Hill, owner of Top Dog Mobile Grooming.
Serving the Michigan cities of Brighton, Milford, Highland, Hartland and Howell, Hill can take six grooming appointments per day and averages about 30,000 miles per year. Her mobile salon services include a washing, full grooming, shaving, cutting nails and blow drying each pet.
When she started her mobile grooming business, Hill’s E-350 Ford van came equipped with all the necessary grooming amenities — thanks to Wag’n Tails, a manufacturer of mobile pet grooming vans.
Mobile Grooming Expansion
Starting in 1971 as a pet grooming salon in St. Paul, Wag’n Tails soon expanded to six salons and started running grooming vans. By the 1980s, the company grew to 22 vans, a pet grooming school, pet resorts and two salons in Howell, Mich.
“Groomers started clamoring for us to build grooming vehicles for them,” says John Stockman, national sales manager for Wag’n Tails. “At the time, we were just building them ourselves in our own garages for the company.”
In 1996, Wag’n Tails started selling their customized pet grooming vehicles across the U.S. Today, Wag’n Tails has its own 24,000-square-foot facility in Granger, Ind., where each vehicle is assembled.
“We build about 15 vehicles per month and are selling them all over the world,” says Stockman. “There are approximately 2,200 independent mobile grooming companies using our vehicles in the U.S. and overseas.”
If a client is interested in buying a used vehicle, Wag’n Tails generally sells around four to five used vans per month, according to Stockman. After going through an inspection process, the used vans are refurbished and updated with new equipment.
In addition to selling customized vans, Wag’n Tails also teaches newcomers how to launch and operate a mobile grooming business. “We are like a big family who looks out for each other,” says Stockman.
After running her 2005 E-350 customized van for several years, Hill is now ready to purchase a new van from Wag’n Tails. The model options include full-size vans (Ram ProMaster, Ford Transit, Mercedes-Benz Sprinter), a Ford E-450 bus chassis (includes a bathroom and microwave), and a trailer.
For Hill, the Ford Transit or “Dyna Groom van” is the right fit for her business. “When I give Wag’n Tails a call about purchasing a new van, it takes about six weeks for them to get the van and customize it,” says Hill.
No matter which chassis you choose, all the vans have the same standard equipment, says Stockman. This includes a stainless steel tub, water tanks for fresh water and dirty water, an electric grooming table that can move up and down, a commercial generator, air conditioning, plumbing, electrical lighting, and cabinetry.
“Each van is fully self-contained and doesn’t require any hooking up to a client’s water or electricity,” says Stockman. The on-board generator provides enough electricity for using the blow dryer, clippers, and other electrical equipment.
If a groomer is looking for special customizations, Wag’n Tails offers add-ons at an additional cost. These could include customized logos, a different set-up for cabinetry, or adding a microwave or TV.