Reliable - Powerful - Economical
After assessing all the PROs and CONs of each type of set-ups, after talking to mobile groomers and their daily issues, and after experiencing the ups and downs in the fields ourselves for 6 years, the choice was obvious to go with a self-contained diesel van and generator.
We have talked to hundreds of mobile groomers in the past years, and we've listened. Some of you are looking for the most economical set-up to get going, but most of you are looking to buy a solution that will last for years to come, that will be reliable and get you through each day with peace of mind, and that will be economical, in the short and in the long run.
We are still working on our conversion and it's not ready for sale just yet. Teknopet's unique offering is a completely slick, waterproof and seamless fiberglass interior. Developing that interior took a long time and as of September 2017, we have completed our molds, so now starts the rigging. We do not want to commit on a timeline, but we hope to have a complete prototype in 2018. The Teknopet team shares its time and talents with another venture, so we naturally use those where contracts are coming from.
We are working very hard at developing the best solution, which will include the latest technology, easy to clean custom molded fiberglass panels, full containment, etc. We also realize that it's impossible to design a set-up that pleases everybody, so that's why we will do our best to give you as many customizable options as possible. We can't reinvent the wheel, but we are doing our best at making it spin a different way.
We know how hard mobile groomers work and you have our utmost respect. That is why we are doing our best at developing a product that will make your life easier.
MERCEDES-BENZ SPRINTER 3500
We researched and struggled to pick the best chassis for our conversion. Here are the main reasons why we picked the Mercedes Sprinter 3500:
- It's diesel, so much more efficient, economical and durable than a gas vehicle.
- A diesel van also means having a diesel generator which is the best investment:
- It will last much longer than a gas generator. The life expectancy of a gas generator is on average 7,500 to 10,000 hours, a diesel generator is about 25,000 to 30,000.
- It is water cooled compared to an air cooled gas generator, so you won't have to stop grooming because of your generator overheating during hot summer days.
- The Onan diesel generator is variable speed, so you considerably save on fuel because the generator only revs up when it needs to, depending on the tools you are using - it burns as little as 1/10th of a gallon an hour. A gas generator runs full speed at all time and uses on average 1 gallon per hour.
- Fuel economy for both van and generator. The graph in this section is the real life example of going from a gas van to a diesel one, while serving the same clientele in the same area of a 5 miles radius (Nathalie's business in West LA).
The reduction in diesel expenses from 2013 to 2016 is due to the diesel price going down, as well as securing a better schedule/better routes with time, but still grooming an average of 30 dogs a week.
- Contrarily to most people's first reaction, the Mercedes Sprinter chassis is not much more expensive than other brands, it's actually very similar. The service can be more expensive though, but you can buy the extended warranty which will give you peace of mind for years to come, covering regular maintenance and warranty repairs.
- Mercedes will work with you/us to finance the conversion, other brands will not.
- We opted for the extended version of the van, not much longer to park, but much more versatile to include all the goodies we are planning.
- We opted for no side windows in the back, for the following reasons:
- We want to offer privacy for the Porta Potty option.
- This offers a lot more storage area.
- More privacy when you work in the evenings during the winter months, with the lights open, everybody can see inside.
- Less distraction for the pets. For some pets, seeing outside is a constant reminder that they "could" get out, which makes them misbehave on the table, they bark at dogs passing by, etc.
- And this vehicle drives, well, like a Mercedes!
TEKNOPET'S UNIQUE FIBERGLASS INTERIOR
We are very proud of our unique fiberglass, 100% waterproof, color/graphics customizable panels for Mercedes Sprinter vans. Not only can they be used for grooming vans, but also for RVs, plumbing trucks, electricians, toy haulers, etc.
Our gelcoated panels:
- are extremely durable and easy to maintain.
- interlock and fit perfectly together (no gaps).
- offer curved edges, so hair, fluids and dirt can't and won't get stuck.
- can be painted any color you wish, although white is favored for maximum brightness when grooming. We can incorporate graphics, logo, etc., and also make them look like wood panels, concrete, etc.
- offer an anti-slip pattern for the floor, integrated in the fiberglass panel.
- can be repaired, although it would take something major to damage them.
Creating these molds was the bulk of the work, and as of September 2017, they are ready for production. Here are some pictures of the extremely labor intensive process of creating fiberglass molds:
We are designing this van so you can operate at anytime and anywhere. Our conversion will have the most economical set-up with a reliable generator, inverter and battery bay, providing plenty of power for all your needs.
No need to stop anywhere but at your clients during the day ...
Some like to stop to eat, some prefer working through lunch and eat on the go. In any case, it is awesome to have a refrigerator and microwave on board. It allows you so much more flexibility, gives you access to cold beverages at any time, cold/hot food, and saves a lot of money as convenient stores and restaurants get expensive very quickly.
You will also be able to relieve yourself without having to find a restroom along the way, and also save time doing so. Think about all the places you've stopped at that didn't have a public restroom (or a disgusting one), all the time you've lost making the detour/parking/waiting in line, and all the discomfort you've experienced of holding it in. We are designing our conversion in order to fix this problem.
Once you receive the Excel file from Teknopet, just type your own data in the yellow cells. We haven't locked/protected any cells, so if you type something outside the yellow cells, it may affect the formulas, therefore the results may not be accurate. Please let us know if you need help with this form, we are there to help you figure things out and make sure you'll be successful.
A few tips on how much to charge per grooming:
- You should charge at least $20 more than what salons are charging in your area.
- Many mobile groomers price their services in a different way - they ask for a minimum charge, and then by the hour (ex: minimum charge of $100 for the first hour + $80 per additional hour).
- Charge what you feel is right for the amount of time you'll spend on a particular grooming (a 20 minute session for Chihuahua compared to a 2 hour one for a Goldendoodle). Don't forget to include the cleaning time you'll need after the grooming, it can be quite extensive after a de-shedding.
- We do not recommend that you start with a lesser price in order to attract clients. Start posting your real price, and maybe offer a "new client" discount for a short while to build your clientele, but insist on the fact that they will be charged the regular price after the first visit.
- We do not recommend offering all kinds of discounts unless you have some good causes at heart (army veterans, etc.).
- Announce a price increase during the summer months. People are happy during that period, and they don't have extra expenses like around the winter holidays. Plus, you will get extra tips during the winter holidays, so it's a bit awkward to ask for a raise at the same time.
- Charge what you are comfortable with and in line with your experience level ... but do not underestimate yourself!
Here is a brief list of other things that will take our conversion above our competition:
- The same people with decades of experience as award winning boats manufacturer are designing and manufacturing the Teknopet conversion.
- We are used to dealing with water, have access to the best technology/equipment for water conditions, and use high-end marine grade quality materials.
- Our custom fiberglass floor will be easy to maintain and will not have vinyl baseboards that rip, catch/trap hair and dirt, as well as get damaged after just a few months.
- Our cabinets will be mounted a few inches off the floor, so it will be very easy to clean, especially with the curved edges.
- Our smooth custom fiberglass panels will allow for very easy maintenance, and will keep your van looking new for years to come. The van's interior only have 5 pieces (ceiling, 2 walls, floors and front cab separator), compared to the hundreds of pieces in our current competition.
- We will maximize the storage space inside the van.
- All switches will be located in very convenient places, regrouped for when and where you need them.
- We will not drill holes and install accessories where you don't want them (blade rack, etc). We will work with you and only install what you want, and where you want it.
We are not ready at the moment to give firm pricing on our base model, as well as on the additional options, but we can say that it will be priced right around our competition in the market, that is to say somewhere between $98,000 to $110,000.
Teknopet doesn't offer direct financing at the moment, but we are working with Mercedes-Benz/Daimler, assisting you in financing the whole conversion.
Details to come.
FOCUSSING ON CAT GROOMING?
Have you thought of cat grooming? It's pretty big on the East Coast and Canada, and it's slowly catching up on the West Coast. Actually, there is a serious lack of mobile cat groomers for the demand in the Los Angeles area as far as we know. Cat grooming is not for everyone, but when trained properly, one can be very successful.
We do not advise venturing in cat grooming without proper training, as cat grooming is completely different than dog grooming: the techniques, the products, you can't just get up one morning and decide to do it. There are different schools that offer classes, but the best place to go is the National Cat Groomers Institute of America. Not only will you have access to the best education there is about cat grooming, but they will help you with the business aspects as well (how to promote your services, pricing, scheduling, etc). They will also offer you great support.
Most cats have limited patience, which means that after 30 to 45 minutes, they are done with grooming - if you do it right, this is just enough time to properly groom a cat. On the plus side, this means that you can groom several cats a day, which also means that this business can be very lucrative. Although, just like dog grooming, don't do it just for the money. You have to care deeply about the animals, as grooming is a lot more than just a business.
At Teknopet, we will be able to incorporate the proper equipments in our van conversion to make it easier to groom cat, like a stainless steel top table, a Catty Shack Vac, etc.
We live and learn
"I've had the tremendous luck of experiencing different types of settings in my grooming career, from having a grooming salon back in Canada, to buying a used gas grooming van after living in California for a few years, and then purchasing a brand new diesel grooming van. All those set ups have allowed me to evaluate what are the basics and what is luxury, in my point of view anyway. And through all those experiences, I've become much more efficient ... and demanding.
I know that I can't have my cake and eat it too, but wouldn't it be nice when one pays that much money for a new van?
I would love to say that the purchase process of my new grooming van three years ago was great, but it was unfortunately not. I won't go into details, it's bad karma, but I'm bringing this up as I truly believe in the saying "treat others the way you want to be treated", and at Teknopet, we want to do just that. We will not push anything down your throat, nor will we make you feel cheap. We are determined to give you the best experience there is and total respect."
Nathalie Sampson, Teknopet