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CANINE CARE: Fluffy Puppy Grooming is riding a large growth trend since Emily Kimberling bought the venture in 2015.
SBJ photo by Jessica Rosa
CANINE CARE: Fluffy Puppy Grooming is riding a large growth trend since Emily Kimberling bought the venture in 2015.

Business Spotlight: Pampering the Pooch

A mobile and storefront dog grooming business records 733% increase in clientele under new ownership since 2015

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Getting a new hairdo doesn’t have to be rough for the dogs in southwest Missouri.

Nixa-based Fluffy Puppy Dog Grooming, a mobile and storefront grooming venture, handles grooming services for the pooch that’s excited for a car ride to the Nixa-based store or for those that want to stay close to home.

About 10 to 15 dogs of all sizes wait Monday through Saturday for the Fluffy Puppy mobile unit to pull into their owners’ driveway. Think shih tzus, Yorkies, doodles and huskies.

“It’s pretty fast-paced because it’s mobile. Right now, we’re booked out about a month … You can’t get behind,” says Jordyn Bowling, Fluffy Puppy’s mobile groomer and manager, with a laugh.

Founded in 2004, owner Emily Kimberling says Fluffy Puppy travels to clients in Springfield, Ozark, Rogersville, Republic and Willard. In addition to in-store grooming, a $30,000 expansion in September brought about boarding and day care services.

“There’s so many people here that there’s enough dogs to go around for everyone,” Kimberling says of the dog-grooming industry.

Since 2013, the U.S. pet grooming and boarding industry has grown by 6.8%, with 2018 revenue of $8 billion and an increase in number of businesses by 5.8%, according to market research firm IBISWorld.

Jeffrey Reynolds, executive director of the 3,000-member National Dog Groomers Association of America, says the dog grooming industry has experienced constant growth toward mobile services.

“It keeps getting bigger and bigger in our industry,” he says. “The owners like the idea of being their own boss … being in their own space.”

On the go
Kimberling bought the dog grooming venture in 2015 from Debbie Cleveland. At the time, Fluffy Puppy was only the mobile unit.

Five months later, Kimberling doubled the company’s original clientele of 300 and needed more space for her growing business, which now serves 2,500 people – a 733% increase.

“I was booked out six to eight weeks in advance, and I was moving new customers because I couldn’t get to them fast enough,” she says. “Over the last couple of years, it’s just grown tremendously.”

Fluffy Puppy gains seven to 10 clients a week, Kimberling says, and it generated $208,000 in revenue last year. Kimberling does some advertising, but she says the company’s growth is from word-of-mouth and the Fluffy Puppy mobile unit getting spotted around town.

The mobile side of the venture takes “a lot of patience because we do have a lot of elderly dogs,” Kimberling says. “It also makes them feel comfortable. Even though they’re inside of our van, they’re still close to home. We go at their pace.”

A full grooming, which includes a bath, haircut, nail treatment, ear cleaning and anal gland treatment, on a mobile appointment is $70 for a small dog and starts at $90 for large dogs. In-store pricing begins at $45 and $60, Kimberling says. Groomer Bowling says a small dog usually takes an hour to groom and a larger dog takes around an hour and a half.

Haircuts make up about 75% of Fluffy Puppy’s revenue, with shedding treatments bringing in 20%, and bath and nail treatments making up the remainder.

The hand tools, bathtubs, tables, shampoos and conditioners used at Fluffy Puppy come from South Dakota-based Groomers Choice. Grooming tables range between $100 and $1,000, and tubs vary from $900 to $3,000, according to the supplier website.  

Beyond grooming
One of the biggest challenges is being able to accommodate the high volume of customers, she says.

“I’d love to be able to get the clients when they call in within three to four days, but I have to push people out two to three weeks,” says Kimberling, who expects sales to increase by $100,000 in the next year. “I want to get more people in but on a quicker rotation.”

Fluffy Puppy outgrew its 1,500-square-foot retail space off Main Street and Slim Wilson Boulevard in Nixa and moved into a 4,500-square-foot facility in the same shopping center in September. Boarding and day care services were added to the facility during an expansion that included building walls, pens and private suites.

Fluffy Puppy boards about a dozen dogs on the weekend and anywhere from two to seven during the week.

“I’ve had so many clients that would ask me to keep their dogs overnight because the dogs knew my facility, they knew me, but at the time I didn’t have the room, and I couldn’t do it,” Kimberling says.

“I decided that instead of opening a second storefront, I was going to utilize everything I had … to extend into boarding and day care.”

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