Hey dog, get on the blue busEvery dog groomer needs the essential tools and traits: A good pair of clippers, shampoo, the right comb. If the groomer is Todd Matter, the arsenal isn't complete without a big blue bus.
By: Abby Wolner, The Republican Eagle
Every dog groomer needs the essential tools and traits: A good pair of clippers, shampoo, the right comb. If the groomer is Todd Matter, the arsenal isn't complete without a big blue bus.
Matter has spent the past two-and-a-half years winning the trust of pets, their owners, and total strangers by traveling around the region in his blue bus, which is where he runs his dog-grooming service, Dogs Matter Grooming.
While most groomers work from one location - their house or a small business - Matter travels to Rochester, Zumbrota, Pine Island, and Red Wing from his home in Hager City.
"My wife and I started talking one night," Matter said. "We both love animals, so it seemed like a good idea."
Matter and wife Gail intended to split the grooming between them. To get started the couple bought the needed grooming supplies from Kip Pickle of Kip's Canine Cuts in Rochester.
The bus, however, was a brand new idea.
"It was Gail's brother's idea," Matter said. He thought the idea of a mobile groomer would be received well.
"People loved it when Kip came to Red Wing," he said. Matter also acquired most of Kip's Rochester clientele, and he needed a way to get to them, so he bought an old Head Start bus and painted it blue.
Because the business is mobile, pets and pet owners never have to leave home, making a trip to the groomer less time-consuming and less stressful. Matter often grooms dogs when their owners' aren't home.
"I have a lot of people who give me their key code or leave the door open," he said. "I actually have some clients I've never met."
Dogs who visit the mobile salon are treated to more personal service than at a larger business.
"You have the same groomer every time, and the dog doesn't have to be kenneled," Matter said. This dedication to familiarity gained Matter a reputation among his clients.
"I've had a couple people tell me I'm the only one who can even carry their dog," he said. Matter rarely muzzles dogs, and he tames pets other groomers can't handle.
"I have a guy who drives two hours to have me groom his dog because he's had problems at other places" Matter said.
Though the business was meant to be a part-time gig, Matter gradually gained a list of around 300 loyal clients, and he was able to quit his previous job. He now grooms 25 to 30 dogs each week, with his wife, Gail, doing most of the booking.
"Everyone knows me by the blue bus," Matter said. Lately, however, the bus hasn't been as loyal as his customers.
"It only gets five miles-per-gallon, especially if I'm going into the wind." Even when driving is not your business, five miles-per-gallon isn't good. So what will he do when the trademark bus needs replacing? "I'll have to paint the next one blue."