By Jamie McAllister
Photos by Jim Pile
Grooming and bathing an animal can be a tedious chore for even the most devoted pet parent, and many owners hate the thought of leaving their pet at the groomer all day while they are at work. A Glawmorous Pet Pawlor, a mobile grooming unit in Coastal Virginia, takes the hassle and worry out of keeping four-legged family members looking their best.
Owner Donna Hall-McPherson became a certified groomer in 2003 and took a job as grooming manager at a veterinarian’s office in Virginia Beach. But when the building housing the vet’s office was torn down, she suddenly had nowhere to work.
“I couldn’t find a place that fit my budget and my needs,” Hall-McPherson explains. “I had seen mobile groomers in this area, but there weren’t many, so I decided to go mobile myself.”
Hall-McPherson hit the road in 2007 to provide full-service grooming for dogs and cats. She parks her truck outside each client’s home or business, saving a trip to the groomer or an all-day stay. Both of her two trucks contain everything she and her staff need, including a grooming table, bathing area and numerous cubbyholes for stashing supplies. The larger truck holds 100 gallons of water, while the smaller truck holds 40 gallons. Large, self-contained generators in each vehicle keep things humming.
Since Hall-McPherson only schedules one grooming appointment at a time, she can provide highly personalized service to clients. Prior to taking an animal onto her truck, she makes sure she understands exactly what the owner is requesting and can make suggestions based on each animal’s individual needs. Pet parents are also invited to accompany her to the truck to be with their animal during the grooming.
“A mobile unit is perfect for animals with temperament or health issues because there are no distractions from other animals,” Hall-McPherson says. “I really enjoy being able to work with dogs and cats that others don’t have the patience for.”
Hall-McPherson has helped numerous pet parents who thought they could never get their animals professionally groomed. “I met a woman whose corgi was aggressive, and no other groomer would touch it,” Hall-McPherson recalls. “She had tears in her eyes when I groomed the dog because she didn’t think it would ever be possible. Many of my clients are so grateful because they were worried they would never be able to find a groomer who could take care of their pets with special needs.”
Many of Hall-McPherson’s clients have pets that require special attention, while others are busy professionals who prefer the convenience of curbside service. The Pet Pawlor also serves senior citizens who have mobility issues, are no longer able to drive or don’t own a vehicle. Regardless of why her clients require the services of a mobile groomer, Hall-McPherson is happier running a business on wheels. “I love the freedom of not being stuck in one place all day,” she says. “And I love meeting people and their pets.”
With freedom comes challenges, including managing expenses when gas prices spike and dealing with hazardous road conditions due to severe winter weather. “I have had to reschedule because of inclement weather, which can have an impact on my bottom line,” Hall-McPherson says. “Repairs to the trucks can also be very expensive.”
Working with animals is Hall-McPherson’s passion, and every day she comes to work with a big smile on her face. “I love being able to laugh, sing and kid around with my staff,” she says. “And I love that people share their pets with me.”
For more information, visit Facebook.com/AGlawmorousPetPawlor