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How to Do a DIY Dog Wash Your Way

These six stores share how they do exactly that with their self-wash stations.

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HOW POPULAR HAVE self-wash services for dogs become? Big-box stores and even car washes are getting in on the action. These pet businesses easily compete by putting their own special spin on this service, from having Arnold Schwarzenegger voice the instructions to offering use of a Fear Free entrance to help alleviate stress for pet and parent.

TREAT PLAY LOVE
GRAND FORKS, ND

If keeping a groomer on staff proves more work than it’s worth for your business, follow the lead of Kelly Hilzendager and convert the space to a self-wash room. The tub, towels, grooming table and various tools, and high-velocity dryer in the Laundromutt now work for DIY pet parents.

TOTAL COST: $6,000-$7,000 | TIP: Only provide enough product for each paid pet. Hilzendager explains, “I always thought it was foolish of places to monitor shampoo usage, but now I absolutely do. If you put a big bottle of shampoo in there, customers will use it all.” She also has installed a camera in the room to keep an eye on customers, as damage and theft have been issues in the past.

BARK & LUV
CHANDLER, AZ

Megan Ames built out three self-wash rooms for her new store, each one with an iClean Dog Wash Spa that features 30 celebrity voices to guide pet parents through the process. The striking black-and-white rooms are a hit! Individual washes are available for $20 each, but financially savvy customers invest in an unlimited monthly ($54.99), six-month ($450) or 12-month ($675) membership to keep their pups clean. The Bark & Luv team has sold nearly 50 memberships, most for six and 12 months, in the store’s first three months of business. Ames says, “Our self-washes grow daily,” adding that Bark & Luv’s current “Beat the Heat” campaign, which opens the store at 7 a.m. on Saturdays, helps drive those sales as it allows customers to get their dogs in for a bath before temps rise to triple digits.

TOTAL COST: $240,000 | TUB SOURCE: iClean | TIP: Ames highly recommends introducing a membership model: “From a revenue standpoint, the memberships are quick dollars into the store at signup.”

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WET NOSE
GENEVA, IL

The Fear Free mission of this store extends to its self-wash suites, of which there are three. Among the features that help to alleviate stress for dogs being bathed are non-slip surfaces and custom sturdy steps for easy entering and exiting of the tub. Each room also uses plug-in pheromone diffusers and plays calming music, while lick mats as well as Happy Hoodie ear covers are also available. Customers who book online can use the Fear Free entrance to access the self-wash suites without going through the store.

TOTAL COST: Around $18,000 | TIP: “Spend the extra money and tile the entire space, up to at least 6 feet,” Sheila Spitza says. “We had originally planned to tile just the bath surround, but decided it would look prettier if we did the entire room. Thank goodness we did because we realized after the fact that it would have been a nightmare to clean the walls if they were just painted.”

HEALTH MUTT
TAMPA, FL

This store’s popular DIY dog wash opened in 2011, but Kelly Conze revamped it in 2022 to create a separate blow-dry room to reduce the amount of hair flying through the air in the main area. She prefers having an open space for the tubs, with her colorful and welcoming dog wash featuring three. “We have our tubs set up without fencing or barriers,” Conze says. “We love this because it provides more interaction between the customer and our team, and also between the people bathing.”

TOTAL COST: Around $15,000 | TUB SOURCE: New Breed Tubs | TIP: “We got large and very wide tubs, which helps a lot with preventing overspray and keeping the area cleaner,” Conze shares.

WHISKER & BONE
ST. GEORGE, UT

Samm Albright offers her customers a private self-wash experience, complete with doors that close. “That level of privacy is what customers love most,” she says. For their design, Albright themed one Sun and the other Moon, with tub colors that complement the rest of the rooms. She hired a local painter to freehand the walls and ceiling to make the clients feel like they’re standing in the sky.

TOTAL COST: $16,570 | TUB SOURCE: New Breed Tubs | TIP: These artistic rooms double as selfie stations. Encourage customers to take tons of pics and post to their socials!

THE HIPSTER HOUND
SAVANNAH, GA

When the store’s grooming department gets busy, staff are quick to recommend the self-wash room to pet parents who simply can’t wait. “Having the option to give their dog a bath provides a solution to keep the customer happy,” store manager Kristen Watson says. Located directly across from the grooming room, use of the secure and neatly organized dog wash costs $14 for small, $17 for medium and $20 for large dogs.

TOTAL COST: $1,300 | TUB SOURCE: Flying Pig | TIP: Ask customers to call ahead if their dog has fleas — this ensures a swift and direct walk to the self-wash room — and have a clear bathing protocol for them to follow.

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