Success Story: Tina Davis, Owner of Royal Paws Dog Grooming

WomenVenture Entrepreneur of the Month for July

When Tina Davis launched Royal Paws in 2010, she wasn't certain that investing in a dog grooming business would be lucrative. Today, Tina has a great story to tell. After relocating her shop to a high-traffic strip mall in West Bloomington in March 2014, she experienced an immediate increase in business. Her schedule filled quickly with repeat customers so pet owners were booking their grooming appointments at least two weeks in advance.

Tina has a unique model for operating her business. Instead of scheduling multiple dogs at once, and kenneling them while they wait to be groomed, Tina works with one dog at a time. This allows her to give each pup the royal treatment, and also provides ample time to clean up afterwards. And for Tina, keeping a clean shop is important.

If you do the math, Tina grooms 25 dogs per week. She sets her prices and projects revenue by estimating the amount of time involved with each dog. Ironically, bigger dogs have less hair but are harder work because grooming them requires standing at the table, whereas smaller dogs grow hair faster but are generally easier to manage. Yet no matter the size or disposition of her four-legged clients, what Tina finds most rewarding is working with animals. "I may not become a millionaire doing dog grooming," she said. "But I love what I do and it pays the bills."

In order to thrive in the dog grooming business, Tina says you must be willing to work hard, but you also need to find a way to distinguish yourself from the rest. After experiencing some challenges in the beginning, a friend in marketing developed Tina's branding, which she credits for raising awareness for the business. She also uses social media to promote Royal Paws, posting pictures of dogs on her Facebook page. But word-of-mouth referrals remain Tina's single most effective form of advertising.

"Starting a business can be hard if you don’t have anyone to believe in your business or to help you realize your dream," said Tina, who is grateful to WomenVenture for a loan that provided her the opportunity to launch her business. She knows she can rely on the support of the organization as she plans for expansion as well. "The only thing holding me back is my lack of knowledge about managing employees," Tina said. "But I know WomenVenture can help me with that."