Tonawanda News — It’s hard to not notice the van.
“I have friends that’ll call me and say, ‘I just passed you on the road,’ “ said Lauren McNeil, owner of Lauren’s Lavish Pooches, a full-service mobile dog grooming salon.
The concept is simple. Dog owners contact McNeil and she comes to their house. In the van, she grooms the dog until the pooch looks its very best. All in the client’s driveway.
When she was 10 years old, McNeil started working for a professional dog handler. While in school at Newfane, McNeil would spend summers grooming dogs, up until she attended the University at Buffalo. She learned a lot about show grooming during those working summers.
“She was a very successful handler,” McNeil said.
At UB, McNeil graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 2010, then went to work for a dog groomer in Amherst. A few months later, McNeil became a salon manager, a position she held until May. That’s when Lauren’s Lavish Pooches started. A number of clients followed her and many were referred to McNeil.
“I always wanted to own my own business,” she said. “It was a dream of mine.”
So far, the mobile dog grooming has gone well. McNeil said she broke even the first month and the clients have kept coming.
The van, a 2013 Ford E350, is a self-contained grooming salon on wheels, which makes it easy for the client. McNeil grooms the dogs in the driveway of their master’s home. The owners don’t even have to be home.
The van is a customized unit that is equipped with a generator, full-sized bathing tub, grooming table, water heater, air conditioner, fresh and gray water tanks and all the other conveniences of a regular grooming salon. Wag’n Tails of Indiana did the conversion for McNeil.
The van travels to most areas in Niagara and Erie counties. The dogs on the van are animated versions of McNeil’s dogs, Pepper and Jarvis.
Another benefit of a mobile dog grooming service is it’s usually quicker than a traditional salon. For many it takes about three to five hours for a dog to be groomed, but McNeil says Lauren’s Lavish Pooches can have dogs groomed in about an hour and 15 minutes. Plus, dogs won’t be as nervous since they’ll be home and not in an unfamiliar place. And they don’t have to wait in a crate.
“Plus they know me, so they adapt quick,” McNeil said.
McNeil said grooming or bathing packages are all-inclusive and offers a customized shampoo and conditioner for each dog’s specific skin and coat type. There’s also a deodorizing blueberry facial scrub, teeth cleaning and breath freshening and nail trimming as well as filing to even out the rough edges.
McNeil said she uses the best all-natural products as well.
“That makes a difference,” she said.
Lauren’s Lavish Pooches takes appointments only, which people can set up by calling 930-9192. The business has a Facebook page as well.Contact reporter Joe Olenick at 439-9222, ext. 6241 or follow him on Twitter @joeolenick.