Well that made me curious. I am wondering how someone goes about knowing whether someone is an independent or paid an hourly wage when it comes to grooming? Do you just ask? Tips are always greatly appreciated whatever the amount, it is not an easy job and much more difficult than it seems.
By and large grooming is an independent industry (even in chains and shops) though some shops may pay their bather's on an hourly wage or they may make a small dollar amount per dog (depends on the dog and often goes by size) they bathe as an independent working with a company. When it comes to a bath in a decent grooming shop the process is usually very different from what most people would do at home. Good grooming shops don't usually use a cage for drying and this is much more time and work for the bather but also much safer for the pets and usually gives a better finished look as well as the pet getting more individual attention.
Groomers usually make a percentage of the price of the grooming (not extra's) even when the grooming facility pays some of the employees by the hour. The average percentage is usually around 40% - 50% of the base cost of the grooming (not extra's). If a groomer is fully independent and working completely on their own then they often wind up with a similar percentage after the necessary costs. Owners often groom right along with any others as it is necessary to help pay the rent and expenses.
People working in the grooming industry must also buy and maintain a great deal of equipment and supplies such as clippers, blades, brushes, combs, nail clippers, styptic powder and professional scissors for some of the items that may sound familiar to most though there is much more. These things can really add up. As an independent contracter costs for items such as towels, maintenance, shampoo and other community equipment may be deducted additionally or figured into the percentage.
There is also the fact that it can be physically and emotionally draining. Many people in the grooming industry long term do end up with some physical ailments due to the job. Carpel Tunnel, Knee and back problems are common as well as the nicks, bites and scratches that inevitable come along with working with sharp equipment and especially live animals that communicate and express themselves in the only way they can sometimes.
In a constantly wet environment, tumbles and slips are pretty common as are things like banging your head REALLY hard on a kennel or door above you and of course there are the joys of working with and having a lot of electrical equipment in a wet environment. Those are a few things that do not involve the primary cause of injury which is the animals themselves.
Pets are not stuffed animals and do not stand still or fully coöperate at all times or truthfully, even a lot of it by their very nature. They have their own personalities, their own preference and their own tolerance levels. Some just want to play, some jump around, some do not like what you are doing at that moment and for most it is just too darn hard to stand still for that long. There are people messing with their body parts, tickling their feet, people moving around, other animals, loud noises, vibration from the clippers and all manner of things that are not usually a part of their daily routine.
Consider taking care of a young child and getting them to permit and be still for something for a longer period (such as a haircut perhaps) of time while so much stimulation is going on both mental and physical and around them within the environment. Sometimes they are just having a bad day or may not be feeling 100% percent or already be a little stressed about something.
Then there are the joys and pitfalls of expressing anal glands and cleaning up accidents and messes all day as well as the customer service aspects of dealing with different parents and their requirements, personalities, quirks, expectations and wishes. In many areas of working with animals people drop out quickly (and without notice) after the job not being much like they expected or thought. It is harder, messier, grosser, more dangerous with a lot more rules to remember with a lot to learn and a lot more work than they originally thought.
Yes, I always tip the groomer and never less than $5 to $10 or more if I have it. Having worked in the industry, I prefer to have someone else do all that work rather than do it myself. My animals also actually behave much better when it is not me acting as the bather or groomer.