Gertrude Katula found a market gap in the pet grooming business and exploited it. She spoke to CityBiz about her business.
Briefly introduce yourself and your business.
My name is Gertrude Katula, an entrepreneur and the founder of ‘Human Elevate’, an online TV show that started recently, where we share stories of differently-abled people. I am a mobile pet groomer; which means I travel to clients’ homes to provide the service at their convenience.
When and why did you venture into this business?
I started my pet grooming business in November last year through online advertising but didn’t get a client until January.
I have a chemical shop where people would come to ask for pet care detergents. I got a feeling that many people want to give their pets the best yet they don’t know how to, so I started researching about it.
What types of dogs do you handle? Who are your clients and how do you reach them?
I am confident that I can handle any breed as long as it’s not aggressive, but so far, I have dealt with Maltese, Japanese Spitz, Rottweilers, German shepherds, etc. I have handled clients from many estates in Nairobi. I get them through referrals and online marketing too.
Do you have any special skills and, if yes, where did you acquire them?
Anyone can do this business but there are skills that are not taught anywhere. These are patience and kindness – not like the kind of patience that you only portray when the pet owners are around and when they’re gone you start shouting at their pets.
Whatever it is that you are handling, whether dogs, birds, cats, etc, and it starts becoming afraid of you, this disqualifies you from grooming them next time. When the owners see that their pets are calm around you, it gives them a lot of comfort.
I have not gone to any school but I have really researched a lot, and having groomed more than 120 dogs since January, I am confident that I am experienced, but learning never stops.
What specific services do you offer and what are the charges?
Full grooming starts from Sh1,500 to Sh2,500; we can charge more than Sh2,500 depending on the size of the animal. We do nail clipping, fur trimming, ear cleaning, bath and blow out.
Other services include poop scooping and yard cleaning and dog walking.
For the birds (exotic grooming), it starts from Sh750 to Sh1,500
Depending on the size and age of the bird. We do nail clipping, wing trimming, and beak trimming.
What is the benefit of dog cleaning generally?
Cleaning the ears helps remove dogs’ wax hence improved hearing and also flushes out ticks and fleas. It also leads to better hygiene and smell!
Early detection of any skin and health issues reduces the chances of ear infection. Trimming nails reduces the risk of developing bad posture or bone deformations.
What are your main challenges?
Sometimes, the pets get agitated and getting them to calm down is not easy. Pets that have never been groomed can be so stubborn and that tells you more time is needed. Many dogs are afraid of the shaving machine and blow dryers because of the sound they make, that makes me run a lot while giving them the service because of their restlessness. That’s hilarious though.
What are your future plans?
Looking forward to establishing a physical pet grooming spa and a dog daycare. Also, training security dogs for sale is something I have started thinking about. This means I will have to go back to school to learn more about animal care.
Which other business are you engaged in?
As I said earlier, I sell chemicals used for making multipurpose liquid soap, hair shampoo, fabric softener, hypochlorite bleach, powder soap, disinfectants etc.
I also do home inspection services, where we inspect clients’ houses and give a detailed report of the faults in their homes, for instance, leaking pipes, broken furniture, stained floors or surfaces.
We give advice where necessary and recommend what needs to be fixed. This is because many people are so busy nowadays and this makes it easier to neglect some parts of the home.
What have you learnt from this business?
I thought I had patience but I realised I need an extra portion of what I have to sustain this job. I have also learnt the power of results, it doesn’t matter how long you take as long as something can be seen. I have taken two hours to groom pets and five hours with others.
Your parting shot?
Tujitume. The reward is money, and we don’t always have to copy other people’s ideas. We found airplanes, cars, computers, and a lot of good stuff making life easier. What can we do to leave a mark so that the next generation will have something that we also invented?