Tricks to Keep Your Appointment Book Full – Great Ideas to Stay Busy All Year Long

October 8th, 2015 by Joelle

When your appointment book is totally full, how does that make you feel? For most of us, it’s a sense of security. It’s a source of pride. It’s a guarantee that you are satisfying your customers’ needs. You are doing a good job.

But how do you feel when that appointment book has empty slots? Maybe you are just starting out on your own and have an open book. Maybe you are new to the salon and need to build a fresh clientele. Or maybe you have been at your salon for a while, yet you’re just not getting traction with repeat customers.

Long-time pet stylists know this unspoken rule: a full appointment book offers job security.

So if your appointment book is lighter than what you would like, how are you going to fix it?

Here are a few ideas to help you boost your number of daily grooming appointments.


If you went to a restaurant and the server did not hand you a menu, how would you know what to order? Pet grooming is very similar. Owners know they’re coming to you to get their dog cleaned up, but they probably don’t know all the services that you offer. Services that could help them keep their pet looking and feeling great.

A well-organized service menu makes it easy for the client to select a service. As a bonus, it also makes it very easy for you discuss optional services such as de-shedding treatments, shampoo upgrades, skin conditioning treatments, tooth brushing, nail filing, or other add-on services.

A service menu allows you to quickly summarize maintenance grooming services. Use it to  highlight the benefits of regular professional grooming appointments. This is a great place to outline the suggested frequency of appointments. Depending on a number of factors, most pets benefit from being groomed every 3 to 6 weeks.  Others may benefit from weekly or biweekly appointments. Having a comprehensive service menu makes it easy to rebook clients on a regular basis.


Actively encouraging clients to reschedule on a regular basis ensures that a salon will have a steady stream of clients. Plus, the pets will be in the best possible condition.<

Rebooking and rescheduling is all about helping your clients keep their pet looking and feeling its best. It’s about helping them understand the hygienic needs of their dog or cat, such as why it’s important to properly brush and bathe their pet between visits. Those are the goals. You are a problem solver. If they do not want to do the tasks necessary to maintain their pets at home, they will turn to you to do the job for them. Education is the key.

There are number of ways to rebook that next appointment:

  • on the spot.
  • reminder calls.
  • wake-up calls.
  • e-mail blasts.

Rebooking on the Spot

Offering to schedule an appointment at checkout is the best way to get a client to rebook. Develop a couple different scripts and use the one that best fits the needs of that client. For best results, use the tips below.

Referral card example.
  • Ask every time. Think of fast food chains. They ask you every time if you would like something else with your order – every time. When the client checks out, offer to rebook their next appointment to ensure their pet continues to look amazing.
  • For the busy or in demand pet stylist, reschedule a number of appointments at once or book the entire year. This will guarantee the client will get the premiere dates they are looking for.
  • In areas that are price sensitive, offer incentives. Maybe it’s $5 off their next grooming if they book within six weeks or less. Or maybe you offer them free upsells like tooth brushing or a spa package upgrade.

Reminder Calls – If the Client Does Not Rebook on the Spot

Ask the client if they’d like a Reminder Call a week before “Buffy” would be due for his next appointment. This could be done via phone, e-mail, or text message.

Discount card example.

Wake-Up Calls

Actively call clients that have not returned to the salon in 8-12 weeks.

E-mail Blasts

This is a great way to market to existing clients. If you are going into a slow day or week, offer an incentive to get clients in the door for those days.


Rebooking is something you must do regularly – the same way – every time. Make it a habit to ask if they want to rebook at check-out. If they don’t, make sure to call and remind them one week prior to the preferred grooming time for their pet and don’t forget to do the Wake-Up calls once a month for any client you haven’t seen in 8-12 weeks.


People are physiologically wired to make referrals. Many businesses can grow and flourish just by tapping into this business building strategy.

Referrals come from a number of different sources:

Incentive coupon example.
  • existing clients.
  • other service providers.
  • pet professionals.

Existing Clients

  • Encourage them to pass out your business cards. Let them know you are looking for more great clients like them. Always keep a supply within easy reach and generously hand them out to clients.
  • Use an incentive-based referral program. Offer a discount for first time clients PLUS give the same discount to the client that referred them. You give them even more reason to pass your name around – plus – it’s a great way to thank them for the referral!
Welcome flyer example.

Other Service Providers

  • hairdresser
  • local pizza joint
  • coffee shop
  • anywhere people gather and talk

Leave a stack of Discount Incentive cards with the owner or someone that is happy to pass them out. Code the back so you know where they came from – that way you don’t have to ask the customer when they turn them in. You do want to track where the cards are coming from so you can thank the service provider in an appropriate fashion.

Pet Professionals

  • vets
  • pet supply businesses
  • rescue organizations
  • trainers
  • pet sitters

Leave them with a basic welcome package they can hand out to clients that would benefit from your service. Participate in and support their events. They are more like to refer and support you in return. Offer a thoughtful thank you gift to those that refer you on a regular basis. Food or flowers never go out of style but there are many options.

Did we miss anything? Jump over to the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page and tell us. You can even see a video on on this topic!

Happy trimming,


How to Read Classic Dog Body Language – Appropriate Composure for the Pet Professional

October 1st, 2015 by Joelle

We work with pets because we are passionate about them. It’s simple: we love what we do. Yet it’s important to remember that every dog is an individual. Not only do they look different, they all have different physical and emotional characteristics. Different personalities.

Some dogs receive clear directions from their owners. They have rules and boundaries at home. This makes them very easy to work with in a professional setting. Other pets will not be well-mannered in a professional setting. The personality quirks we all experience working with pets will vary from dog to dog.

  • Many will be perfect angels
  • Others will be mildly annoying
  • Some will be potentially dangerous to work with for both the handler and the pet

Based on your level of pet interaction experience, you should be able to work through many of these personality quirks. Your commands to the pet need to be clear, concise, and consistent.

Dogs are primarily non-verbal communicators. However, they do have a very clear language of their own. It is up to us to interpret that language. The good news? Dogs are very clear in the messages that they give us.

I firmly believe that 98% of all dog bites are preventable. If you have read the pet correctly, getting bitten is highly avoidable. At times, you will need to take appropriate precautions to protect yourself. You need to gain control of the situation in a manner that is safe and respectful of the pet. It’s important to your career not to become injured. Remember, your hands are your livelihood.

Whenever working with pets, it is always critical to remember the 3 C’s. As a professional you must remain:

  1. calm
  2. cool
  3. collected

…at all times – in all circumstances.

There are many different types of dogs. Many will require special handling techniques. Plenty of groomers or stylists are good with all personalities. Others have honed their skills. They specialize in working with dogs with special needs such as puppies, geriatric dogs, or aggressive dogs.

Here is a collection of basic dog postures we see every day. Every position indicates a different attitude. This is by no means everything you will need to know about “reading” dogs. If you are working professionally with them, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

You will need to gather loads of information about canine communication. By doing this, you’ll learn to work in harmony with dogs. When that happens, you’ll instantly feel the rewards. You’ll quickly learn how to respond to them in a non-verbal way.

By being knowledgeable in canine body language, you’ll keep both you and the pet safe at all times. The more time you spend studying dogs and working firsthand with them, the more proficient your skills will become.

Our number one responsibility to the pet and its owner is to always treat the pet with the utmost respect using humane handling practices.

Basic Body Language of the Pet

There are basic body positions that you need to recognize immediately when observing a pet. The eight basic positions have been illustrated for you below. Spend some time observing dogs so that you can instantly recognize these eight positions.

Non-Threatening Body Language:

  1. The Relaxed Stance
  2. Play Bow
  3. Submissive Body Position

These 3 indicate dogs that are safe to approach in a calm, gentle manner. These dogs are generally easy to work with and respond well to basic commands. Normally, an enthusiastic dog will need a little firmer command while a submissive dog will respond better to gentler techniques.

Use Caution When Approaching Body Language:

  1. Highly Submissive Postures
  2. Stressed Posture
  3. Alert Body Posture
  4. Defensive Body Position
  5. Offensive Body Position

These positions indicate you need to approach with caution. Based on how you interact with them, they may feel comfortable and slip into a nonthreatening language. If they do that, it indicates they are safe to approach.

If they feel threatened in any way, they can easily slip into the flight or fight mode. This is their natural defense. If you have them tethered with a lead and not under control, this flip of personality could easily manifest into a very difficult situation. This is a pet that could attack, bite, urinate, defecate, or release its anal glands.

Working with pets is a highly rewarding career option. However, if you don’t truly understand canine body language, passion can quickly turn into frustration. Use your passion early in your career to learn everything you can about their body language. It’s an invaluable skill to have.

Did we miss anything? Jump over to the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page and tell us. To read more on what can happen if you don’t pay attention to canine dog language, click here. You can even see a video on on this topic!

Happy trimming,

~Melissa Wins Big!

September 23rd, 2015 by Joelle

Sept 19, 2015 was a fabulous night. My team had the honor of accepting the 2015 Barkleigh Honors Award for Website of the Year. This is the second time we have won the award, but this year it was with a brand new website!

Let me take you behind the scenes. started as a dream. A big dream.

I knew video content brought clarity to the learning process. We had seen it ourselves with our training program at the Paragon School of Pet Grooming. We introduced our own series of core grooming videos to the program in 2008. Those videos made a huge impact on how rapidly our students developed in the hands-on training program.

Professional pet grooming is an amazing career. Unfortunately, many find it challenging to move their careers forward without convenient access to continuing education.  Once I saw how well our students preformed after watching our video lessons, I knew I was on to something.

For two years I thought about how I could help more people with video learning. How could we make it easy? Accessible? Affordable? What would the lessons be? Who would present the training? For two years my head was bursting with ideas yet I could not come up with the ideal solution.

I firmly believe in the “Law of Attraction.”  What you think about becomes a magnet. Thoughts become things. They naturally become a part of your life.

In 2010 my husband and I stumbled upon my answer at a large equine event. I was not looking for it – but there it was. On a huge TV we both saw digital streaming videos. Hundreds of them. The company was educating riders around the globe. They were using Olympic caliber riders as their video trainers.

It was simple. It was accessible to the learner. All it took was a high-speed internet connection. And the best part – it was affordable to the subscriber! Members had unlimited access to hundreds of training lessons at their fingertips. All the lessons were taught by the best of the best.

My jaw dropped. I knew I had found my answer.

We spent the next few months learning everything we could about building a streaming video company.

For the first 4 years we partnered with that equine business as we built Learn2GroomDogs. The learning curve for my team was immense.  As we built the company and the video library, our platform needs changed.

Late in 2014 we started building our own platform to better meet the desires of our members. You know that saying, “If you knew how difficult something would be, you’d never take the first step…” That was us as we undertook the new platform for Learn2GroomDogs!

Again, the law of attraction was hard at work. We found an amazing team of talented computer programmers and designers. My team worked closely with them to create the new platform. It took almost 6 months to build the new site and many LONG hours.

It was launch time in early in 2015. Our goal was to keep the transition as seamless as possible for our members. We swallowed hard. Crossed our fingers. We all said our own silent prayers. There was a lot of information to transfer. Even though we had tested, and tested, and tested – we were all still very nervous. I think the entire team held their breath as we flipped the switch from our original platform to the new one.

We did it! It worked. Sure we had a few glitches to clean up but overall, the transition was a huge success. had a new home and a new look.

We are thrilled with how the site came out. Our aim was to make the new site as user-friendly as possible. We wanted the look to be clean, simple, and easy to navigate. The site search engine needed to be very powerful so members could find what they needed with just a few keystrokes.

Today we have over 600 pet grooming video lessons in the library (it keeps growing!).  Fresh lessons are added every week. We are fortunate to work with a wide range of extremely talented top industry professionals as our Training Partners. Currently we have over 45 Training Partners. The best of the best.

I love the fact that this platform lends itself to a wide range of industry driven topics. It’s like going to a major educational trade show but doing it from the comfort of your home.

We are honored to accept the 2015 Barkleigh Honors Award for Website of the Year. I’d also like to thank my entire team for making a reality.

Marc LaFleur: Co-Founder, Assistant Educational Resource Director, Film Director & Cameraman

Marc is my #1 supporter and husband. He also is the man behind the camera on 98% of the videos. Marc brings a unique perspective to the lens. He is a long time Certified Master Groomer, former mobile stylist, and grooming instructor. His experience with grooming and training allows him to focus in on the critical elements when it comes to pet grooming techniques as he is filming. Marc also spends countless hours behind the wheel when we travel to film with our Training Partners across the country.

Joelle Asmondy: Customer Service Director, Marketing & Sales, Newsletter Editor and Geek Trouble Shooter

Joelle wears MANY hats in this company. Her outgoing personality combined with marketing savvy, editorial skills, and techie obsessions allow her to excel in her roles at Joelle is always there to help any of our team or assist Learn2GroomDogs members with a wide variety of needs. She is also my go-to person for all our newsletter and marketing needs. I do all the writing for – but Joelle has the eagle eye. She’s a brilliant editor!

Teresa Dreese: Customer Service Representative, Accounting & Billing Director

Teresa has been with my team for almost 20 years. She started as a star graduate of the Paragon School of Pet Grooming. She has worked her way through the ranks at Paragon from being an instructor to the school’s Director. Teresa is an award-winning pet stylists and a Certified Master Groomer. She has been the Coordinator for GroomTeam USA as well as a Board Member for that organization. Her eye for detail in the numbers is astonishing. She shines at the job most of us run the other way from – accounting and billing!

Ryan Walsh: Video Editor & Technical Support

Ryan has been our long time technical guru. His formal IT training began with his military training in Desert Storm. Today he’s one of those guys that can fix anything with a gum wrapper, paper clip, and a battery. Besides being totally “geekie,” he took many classes on photography and videography. Ryan was a part of my team long before was formed. When we needed advice on camera gear, lighting, and editing, Ryan jumped in with both feet and has never looked back. When it comes to tech support for my team and our members, there simply is no one better.

Lisa VanSweden: Artist, Assistant Customer Service Representative, Assistant Editor & Social Media Advisor

Lisa is an early graduate of the Paragon School of Pet Grooming. She went on to become an instructor at the school. She was a printed wildlife artist before she became a pet groomer. She has been able to combine her passion for art with dog grooming. Lisa has gone on to become a highly recognized artist in the field of pet grooming education with her work in Notes From the Grooming Table, Theory of Five along with many other projects headed up by myself. Lisa’s educational illustrations can be found in other pet-related organizations, as well.  Her desire to help pets and people combined with her grooming knowledge makes her a perfect assistant in many facets of our work with

The Team at Imagination Factory: Website Creation & Development

Ted, Kate, and Mike were the front players on this team – but I know there were many more behind the scenes of this core group. It was an amazing experience working with this talented team. They skillfully led us down a very cluttered and confusing creative process. Their end result was nothing short of brilliant!

The Training Partners

I still pinch myself when I think of the phenomenal professionals we get to work with on all the video lessons. There is not a lesson in the L2GD library that I have not learned something from – and I’ve been playing in this field for a very long time! I’m thrilled and honored to work with every one of them!

Our Learn2GroomDogs Members

Nothing excites me more than to help other become the best they can be. By becoming a member and watching the videos, you are taking an active role in growing your skill set. I love that! This career path is so rewarding for those that are passionate about their job. I’m privileged to be able to help you on your educational journey.

Barkleigh Productions

A special thanks to Barkleigh Productions for managing and hosting these prestigious awards. There are many categories in which industry professionals can cast their votes.  It’s a privilege just to be nominated – let along WIN an award. Thank you for making the Barkleigh Honor Awards such an amazing industry event.

Thanks to YOU! Jump over to the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page and visit with us.

Happy trimming,


How to Get Legs Smooth on a Close Haircut – Tricks to Eliminate “Stickie-outies” on Legs

September 18th, 2015 by Joelle

Do you struggle to get the spindly legs smooth of that clipped #5 all trim? You get the body OK – that comes out nice and smooth. But the legs. Argh. That’s another story altogether!

Legs are always a pesky problem for groomers who are just starting out. Maybe you’ve been grooming for a while, but still struggle with this area. You’re not alone. Legs should only take you a few minutes to get smooth. If you’re missing the mark, here’s some help.

This is my long standing golden rule for all clipper work: “3 passes and you’re done.” Period. Your end result should be super smooth. No rough spots. No sticky-outies. Fast. Clean. Simple.

bladerrLegs have their own set of challenges. One of the largest issues is simply the shape. When you set a clipper blade on one of those spindly legs, the point of contact is minimal. Look at it on your own finger, simulating a leg. You’re only making contact with one or two teeth. You’re going to have to rapidly go over those legs several times if you have any hope of getting them smooth.

I have some ideas for how to get a nice finish on those legs in no time. It’s easy when you understand the principles and the foundation skills of all good clipper work.

1. Don’t skimp on the prep.
An excellent bath and a quick hi velocity blow dry can make a world of difference in your finish – even on #10 or #7 all over trim. If they have six weeks or less of coat, get them into the tub right away. It won’t take you any more time to bathe and blow them dry and you will get a superior finish.

If the dog has more than six weeks growth, quickly knock off the bulk of the coat. Don’t worry about getting it smooth or neat at this point. Just remove the bulk of the coat as fast as you can. You don’t need to be bathing and drying all of that extra hair. Once the bulk of the fur is removed, head to the bathtub. Follow up with a quick high velocity dry to get the coat to stand up and away from the dog’s body.

If the dog will not tolerate a high velocity dryer, don’t worry. Just make sure they are thoroughly towel-dried. Give the pooch a light mist with a coat amplifying product or hairspray. Use a soft slicker brush to back brush and work the product into the coat while it is still damp. Let them air dry in a comfortable environment until they are dry and ready for finish trimming. Keep in mind this is a very short haircut and fluff drying is not really necessary.

2. Know your holds.
There is an order that you need to work over the legs to be efficient. Start from the top and work down to the toes.
PicMonkey Collage
Whenever you are working on legs, always keep them as low to the table as possible. The higher you lift the leg, the more uncomfortable the pet is going to become. As they become uncomfortable – they struggle. They nip. They whine. They squeal.

You need to be absolutely clear on whether you’re honestly hurting the pet or if they’re just being difficult. If you do not lift the leg more than an inch or two off the table, more than likely, they are just being difficult. Proceed in a calm, cool, and collected manner.

To get the top of the legs, hold onto the toes. I place my finger into the crevices of the foot pad. Then I press down between the digits so only skin is trapped between my fingers. Then I have a good hold so that I can maneuver the leg low to the table but I can get clearance all the way around.

If you’re holding them correctly, and they still struggle, simply maintain your hold. Anchor the heel of your hand on the table while you’re still holding onto the toes. Let the pet struggle lightly against your hold. After a few tries, and you don’t let go, most dogs stop pulling. You have gently and quietly taught them to hold still for the clipping procedure. Yeah! Minor victory for you! Be sure to give them praise when they do well and begin to respond positively.

For the toes, it’s a little trickier. For the front legs you want to grasp the top of the leg above the elbow joint. Then gently squeeze with your thumb and first finger. This hold will also offer stability as your hands rest in the armpit area.   As you squeeze you will notice the dog will literally point it’s paw. That will give you enough rigidity in the pastern joint to run the clipper smoothly over the foot area, getting a smooth cut.

On the back legs, you’re going to slide your hand underneath the dog’s thigh. Stretch your fingers so that they can sit just above the ischium joint (point of buttocks) and the stifle joint. Now with the leg slightly off the table top squeeze gently. Just like on the front, joint will become stiff and the dog will point it’s toe. This will give you the firmness you need to work the clipper over the foot area.

3. Tip of the clipper.
No matter what blade you use, it is important to maintain a consistent degree of tip to the clipper blade. This is also known as “keeping the blade up on it’s cutting edge.” Imagine a pencil being held right under the blade as you guide it down the leg. The closer the pencil is to the teeth, the higher the tip angle. The further back you keep the imaginary pencil, lesser of the degree of tip. Generally speaking, the closer the blade cuts, the higher you need to tip the blade for it to be effective.

clipperrrEqually important is the amount of pressure placed on the blade. The perfect pressure is the weight of the clipper. Let gravity do the work. When you get in those awkward positions that all dog groomers get into, you will need to simulate the same amount of pressure as your work on the sides and under the dog. Use your own arm to teach you how to gauge the pressure while maintaining consistent pressure as you would maneuver around the dog.

4. Don’t forget to brush.
It’s important to back brush. On the shorter trims, a softer brush is generally your best choice. Back brushing is done with the slicker brush while brushing the coat against the grain. The pressure on the brush should be very light. Use the entire pad of the brush, making gentle contact with the skin and coat. Keep the pressure soft on the brush so the skin is not scraped, causing a potential “brush burn.” Back brush the entire leg once. Then make multiple clipper passes using effective techniques. Once the bulk of the coat is gone, repeat the process a second time to get a smoother finish. On the third back brush pass, there should only be high spots or uneven areas left to get with the clippers.

5. The final detail finish.
Once you have back brushed and clipped the legs three times there should be very little coat left, but there are always a few pesky strays that pop out.

Now it’s time to pull out a nice pair a blending shears. For this type of detail work, I prefer a finer toothed blender or thinning shear. I always opt for blenders over normal shears for safety reasons. I rarely opt to use a smooth bladed shear. The risk of injury is just too great. A blending or a thinning shear is a much safer option to get those final stray hairs you just couldn’t pick up with the clipper.

As a professional pet groomer or stylist, you always want the dog to look its best. Uneven haircuts do not reflect positively on a professional salon. You must be able to do a significantly better job than the dog’s owner could do themselves.

Dealing with all four legs on small- to medium-sized pets should not take more than 1 to 3 minutes per leg to complete the bulk of the clipper work. Never forget, as much as we love our jobs, time is money. You want to become as efficient as possible.

quotePay attention to the details. There’s a difference between a good #7 All and a bad #7 All. If you want your clients to return – you need to be paying attention to the details. These low maintenance style trims are the bread-and-butter of many professional grooming salons. Getting those low maintenance haircuts super-smooth in the least amount of time possible is the key to a successful salon

Do you struggle with this area? How have you managed to conquer this issue? Jump over to the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page and tell us about it.

Happy trimming,


Creating Order in Your Bathing and Drying Department – How to Make a Game to Boost Productivity in Your Salon

September 10th, 2015 by Joelle

Effective dog productivity in the bathing and drying area seems to be a challenge for many people, but it’s not a mystery.

44564160_mlrrThink about cooking a meal. The bigger the meal with multiple dishes, the more complicated the timing and the choices will be.

With a few dogs, it’s pretty simple and your choices are limited. Add more dogs and the variables increase. What if you have a grooming shop pushing through 50+ dogs a day? You have the equivalent a busy restaurant managed by an experienced head chef.

Okay – so you’re not getting a major meal on the table but I think you get the idea. Keeping a restaurant flowing smoothly requires knowledge and organization. Managing your bathing and drying department is a tall order. It requires knowledge, skill, and organization so all the pets are done to the highest quality in the least amount of time. It’s just like getting many dishes to the table all hot and done to perfection.

I love to turn a busy day in the wet room into a game. It works best with two or more dogs that need to be bathed and dried. The more dogs there are to juggle, the more challenging – and more fun – it gets! You first need to assess all the dogs on your roster for the day or the session. Once you know what you have, these are some basic guidelines to follow.

Bathe your largest and furriest dogs first.

The bathing and drying time on this type of dog can be the most time-consuming part of the grooming process. Go for the heaviest coated dogs first. Think Newfie, Golden, Lab, Sheltie, or Pom. These dogs have thick, heavy coats that are basically straight. Even if they sit wrapped in a few towels, they will not dry all the way even after a fair amount of time has passed.

Start with the largest dog in that group and work down to the smallest. Bathe each one. Once they are bathed, towel-dry them before heading to a high velocity dryer. Lightly high velocity-dry the coat to lift and separate it. By spending a few minutes with a high velocity dryer on each pet, it a removes more moisture and offers a clear view of the skin and coat. Watch as you blow the coat to assess looking for skin issues, mats, tangles, and debris still trapped in the fur, or anything unusual. The added bonus to doing this is that the high velocity dryer also enhances airflow to the coat while the pet is in an inactive drying situation, ultimately speeding up the entire process.

Proceed with bathing your dogs based on the degree of difficulty, the size of the pet, and coat density. Start with the biggest and furriest then continue working down the line.

Once all of the bath the brush pets are washed, proceed to dogs that need active drying to yield the best results.

Bathe trim-style dogs next  – the coat needs to be straight.

Your goal on almost all haircut styled pets is not only to get them clean, but the coat needs to be as straight as possible for the finish trim. This will apply to pets getting full haircuts or dogs in for maintenance bathing between haircuts.

After all the B&Bs are bathed, start bathing your trim dogs. Start with the pet that has the heaviest and straightest coat – something that can sit for a few minutes while you bathe your other dogs without risking the coat drying before you get to an active drying method. Let the dog sit in a warm place wrapped in a towel. No need to have air or a dryer on – just plenty of oversized towels with clips. This “wrap a pet” works best after you have thoroughly towel dried the dog.

Proceed with bathing the next pets based on size, coat density, and curl factor – straighter coats go to the tub before a curly coat. Heavy drop coated breeds or wavy breeds would be your next pets. Curly coats, such as Poodles and Bichons, head to the tub towards the end of the cycle. Super tiny, sparse-coated dogs are very last like Yorkies or Malteses.

Drying order for all the dogs.

Once all the trim pets are bathed, start drying. In most cases, you will simply reverse the order. The last dog in the tub is the first dog on the drying table. Then just start working up the line.

The first pet up on the drying table should be the dog with the lightest and curliest coat. This type of fur will dry super-fast. If the coat dries before an active form of drying takes place, the curls and waves will be set into place. If it air-dries naturally, you will never be able to give a quality haircut. Ideally, you want the coat to be lifted, separated, straight, full, and fluffy.  If it’s not still slightly damp by the time you start your active drying process, you will need to re-wet the dog to get the best results.

Once the super fine and super curly pets are hand dried, move to the small to medium-sized pets with more coat. Work in reverse order of the bathing process. Whichever dog is the next easiest to dry goes into the rotation. Size, coat density, and curl factors all come into play. The key is to get to a coat before it’s air-dried naturally. You need a small amount of dampness still in the fur so the mild heat of the dryer can straighten the hair shaft while adding lift and body.

The last dogs to the drying station are the heavy coated, bath and brush style pets. By the time you’ve gotten to the big, furry guys, they have had plenty of time to partially air dry. This will cut down on how long you have to actively dry them. When working on heavy coated breeds, there is an added goal: reduce or eliminate the shedding coat! When you get to the active drying stage on these dogs, deshedding is a huge part of the job. A powerful high velocity dryer is your best friend with this type of work. A clean and well-conditioned coat will always blow/brush out faster than a dirty coat. Plus, it’s easier on both you and on the pet.

For most breeds, the goal is to remove kinks and curls in the coat. Some form of active drying is the only way to straighten the coat while adding lift and volume. On all but the curliest coats, the power from the warm airflow will lift, separate, and straighten the hair shaft for you when used correctly. A few of the curliest coats might benefit from fluff drying with a warmer dryer combined with brushing to get the coat really straight.

All excellent grooming starts at the foundation level. Along with getting them super clean, proper drying methods must be employed to yield a quality haircut. If the dog gets too dry, it must be re-wetted and the drying process started over.

There are many variations to how this game is played effectively. It’s what makes the day interesting. The better you get at the game, the faster you’ll be able to get through your day without sacrificing quality.

Think in the terms of food. A home cook can get 2-3 dishes on the table at the same time with ease. A home cooking enthusiast can handle multiple dishes for larger groups – and enjoy doing it. A professional chef will master an entire shift serving over 100 meals, including many appetizers, side dishes – even desert, getting all of them to the table on time, hot and beautifully prepared.

How far can you push yourself or your team before you get lost in the order? It’s a fun game that can be challenging yet really invigorating. The more pets, the more fun. The reward for everyone is when it goes smoothly!

What do you do to increase productivity? Jump over to the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page and tell us about it.

Happy trimming,


How to Find Job Candidates with Potential – Hiring is Necessary If You Want to Grow Your Business

September 3rd, 2015 by Joelle

How often have you advertised for a new bather or groomer and have been able to fill the job immediately? Hardly ever, right? Even after you’ve filled the position, how often has that person been able to perform that job without any guidance or direction from you?

If yours is like most grooming salons, it’s next to impossible to hire the ready-made job applicant. It’s rare to find that person who will be everything you need, right away. Even if you do find great candidates, it’s still going to take work to bring them up to speed. To bring them in line with the way YOU do things in your business. To teach them your culture.

Finding the right people to build your team is always the most challenging part of running any business.

Back when I had my first mobile grooming business, I would park a van for months. I refused to put a poor job candidate out on the road to represent my business. Even if I did find a good candidate, it would still take me over two weeks to personally fine-tune a talented pet stylist.

Those first two weeks were spent directly with me, in my van, working under my direct supervision. Once I felt their skills were strong enough, they were still on a very short tether. I was more interested in quality than quantity. I would check up on them multiple times throughout the day once they were grooming dogs, solo. It was a daunting task.

Through the years, finding great job candidates has remained one of our biggest challenges for all my companies. One of the reasons I opened The Paragon School of Pet Grooming in the early 90’s was to have a steady stream of job candidates. With Whiskers Resort & Pet Spa, we have almost 50 people on the payroll. We are constantly on the lookout for exceptional hires.

Training is at the heart of all great employees. Unfortunately, training takes time and effort. Both of those equate to money out the door. One of the most frustrating things for any business is to go through the training process only to have the new hire leave shortly after training has been completed. However, if you’re going to run a business that has any growth, you’re going to need to hire help.

How do you find great job candidates that will stay with you? I’m not just talking bathers, groomers, and stylists. I’m talking about anybody that would add value to your business and your team.

I wish there was a simple and clear-cut answer to this very old problem. There’s not.

The best way to get started down the hiring path is find job candidates with potential. Here are a few things that I always think about when looking at prospective job candidates.

Where to Find Them

You are going to need somebody who understands that working with dogs takes WORK. A lot of work. I look for proof that they are willing to work. Willing to commit. I scan their resume for clues.

Rural Background

I have found that some of our best employees and students come from a more rural background. Being brought up on a farm always teaches valuable work ethics.  Many times they will have 4H in their background. Being active with horses or dogs is also a positive attribute. So is someone coming from a veterinarian clinic, animal rescue, or any professional pet-related background.

Students and Recent Graduates

Look at attendance records and GPA, not just a certificate or diploma. Check their extracurricular activities. Was s/he in band, sports, or Student Council? These things will indicate how disciplined and focused a job candidate will be. It will also tell you if that person has worked as part of a team.

Previous Job Experience

Check prior work history. Does the candidate have the experience or skills to do the job? Do they have any previous professional experience working with animals?

Here’s a list of traits that make a great new hire. Look for these behaviors during the interview and during their initial trial period.

  • They listen with intent.
  • They are confident but not arrogant.
  • The have the ability to express themselves.
  • They ask questions.
  • They are motivated to improve their current skill levels
  • The understand directions.
  • They have the ability to focus.
  • They have organizational skills.
  • They have the ability to prioritize tasks.
  • They are willing to try something new.
  • They are open and receptive to constructive criticism.

Here are a few tips when it comes to evaluating a new candidate.

  • Ask for references and call them.
  • Treat everyone with respect.
  • Look for attitude – hire based on potential.
  • Learn to trust your gut.

Once you have a new team member, it’s up to you to provide the training that will guide them. Every salon is slightly different. You want your new hire to succeed. That means you are going to have to put in some effort. They need to be clear on your rules and expectations. Ideally, these rules and expectations will be printed in an employee manual  – even if it’s only a few pages!

Observe how they work. Even with the most basic tasks like answering phones or washing dogs, many new hires need to be gently coached. Even if their skill level is weak, if they have the right attitude, you will be able to train them quickly. But you have to understand where they are in their current level of training. And the only way to learn that is by having them demonstrate their work.

Books and videos can be extremely helpful to the training process, as well. But don’t just assume they are reading and watching the material – and understanding it. You will still need to observe them carefully for the first few weeks, making sure the information in the books and videos is being correctly implemented.

I learned a long time ago that I prefer to cultivate my own team from scratch. That way they learned our culture. Our expectations. They came without a lot of baggage that we needed to change. If I was fair with them, in return, they were fair with me, staying with my team for years.

Not everybody will stick with you, long term. That’s all right. It’s part of the hiring process. Part of running a business. You learn to work with it. Always keep your eyes open for great candidates to join your team. Once you know what to look for, the hiring process becomes a bit easier.

To learn more about what to look for in a new hire and how to keep them, check out my video on, CLICK HERE!

What do you think? Jump over to the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page and tell us about it.

Happy trimming,

How to Find the Perfect Grooming Job

August 27th, 2015 by Joelle

We all are looking for the 3P’s. No matter what field you’re in – this is the goal. Life is so much better when you can attain the 3P’s.

1.    Perfect job
2.    Perfect employer
3.    Perfect employee

If you’re going to work 2000+ hours per year, don’t you want to be doing something you are passionate about? In a place you enjoy? To be respected? Treated fairly? Providing a valuable service to clients? Of course you do. That’s what we all want.

But guess what?  Finding that harmony in a workplace can be a challenge.

Finding a mutually beneficial balance between the employer and employee is a two-way street. Both of you are going to invest a lot of time and energy towards each other. You want to make sure the fit works positively for both of you.

When you go in for a job interview, the prospective employer is not only interviewing YOU – you are also interviewing them!

So what do you look for to find that perfect fit when you are job hunting? Here are a few key points that should be on your radar as you go through the interview process.

Salon Appearance

When you first drive up to the salon, is it appealing to you? It doesn’t matter if it’s a large corporate situation or a small salon in an intimate setting. Is it visually attractive? When you step through the door, what do you see? What do you smell? What do you hear?

Salon Personnel

How did they greet you? Was it warm and friendly? Were they smiling? How did they present themselves? As you toured the salon, what was the interaction with pets that were being groomed? Did they look relaxed? Did the stylists look busy but in control or completely frazzled? (Remember that there’s a difference between being busy and freaking out!) What was the inner salon team vibe? Trust your gut on this one.

Goals & Standards

What type of expectations does the salon have of you? How many dogs a day are you expected to groom? What caliber of grooming are they looking for: basic maintenance trims or high quality pet grooming? What about scissoring? Show trimming? Hand stripping? Cat grooming? Will you be doing all the work on the pets (prep, bath, dry, brush out, finished trim) or will you have an assistant at your disposal?

Career Growth

Does the salon offer incentives for career growth? Do they encourage skill advancement? If you invest the time and effort to improve your skills, how will the salon reward you? Do you have the opportunity for employee reviews on a regular basis to discuss your work and your efforts within the team?

Employment Type

Would you be hired in as an employee, a subcontractor, or leasing table space? There are rules and regulations with each one of these hiring scenarios. The IRS is starting to crack down on subcontractors and leasing table space. With any of the these options, make sure you are clear on what is expected of you from both the employer as well as state and federal obligations within each category. (Read my blog: Independent Contractor or Employee – Who Do You Hire?)

Employee Manual

Does the salon have any type of employee manual? Manuals set the expectations of both the employer and the employee. They hold everybody accountable as long as they are enforced.

Pay Package

There are many variables to a comprehensive pay package depending upon your hire status. Hourly, commission, or combinations of the two are common depending upon your role in the company.  If a commission is being paid per pet, the percentages can vary dramatically. Don’t let that alarm you. Your earning potential will directly correlate to your abilities and the average ticket price per pet.

Average Ticket Price

The average ticket price per pet will vary from salon to salon. These variances will stem from their location and their operating costs.  If a job is commission based – don’t think that high commission is the only way to go. There is a big difference when you combine the average ticket price in the commission price per pet.

Who would you rather work for?

Job hunting can be daunting. But it doesn’t have to be.

When you appear for a job interview, make sure you are prepared. Present yourself in a polished and professional way – and not just to the boss. Bring a typed, comprehensive resume. A bunch of information scribbled on scrap paper does not cut it (don’t laugh – I’ve seen it). Supply references. Learn how to “stack” your groomed pets (to see a video on this topic, click here) and take excellent photos of your work for your portfolio to bring along. If you’re a recent graduate from a training program, bring a copy of your final report card with attendance and GPA. If you do any activities to enhance your career, make sure they are listed on your resume. List your animal-related hobbies (dogs, cats, horses, etc.). All of these items will reflect positively on you.

Many salons will also request a “working interview.” Typically, this will be done only after the initial interview, so if you’ve made it that far – congratulations! The next step in the interview process will be to see how well you actually interact with pets. What’s the level of your grooming skills? What type of equipment do you have? How well do you maintain your equipment? How well do you follow directions? How you interact with the rest of the team? Remember, everyone is nervous with this type of interview. That’s OK. Just do what you do best: groom dogs.

When you land on your prospective employer’s doorstep, remember to breathe. If you don’t have a good, firm handshake – start practicing. And smile. Your prospective employer is always going to be looking for a bright, hard-working, and ambitious new hire.

That’s you, right?

Well-trained and comprehensive professional pet groomers and stylists are in demand. With some hard work and a little luck, you’ll find a job that revolves around the 3 P’s…

The perfect job.
The perfect employer.
And you’ll be the perfect employee.

To learn more about employee/subcontractor hiring, check out my video on, click here!

What do you think? Jump over to the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page and tell us about it.Happy trimming,~Melissa

Paying Pet Groomers & Stylists – How to Create a Payroll System That is Fair to Everyone in Your Grooming Business

August 20th, 2015 by Joelle

Are you giving away your business by paying high commission fees to your groomers and pet stylists?

Been there. Done that. It’s not fun. In fact, it’s downright frustrating!

Years ago I was at the customary 50/50 split with my mobile fleet groomers and stylists. I groomed right beside my entire team in a van. I worked for the same wages, 50% commission of the grooming, just like everyone else. We did charge a separate “house call” charge per stop but that went to the company, not to the groomer.

I had six vans on the road. We were busy. Really busy!

Then my hands started to give me issues. I was forced to stop grooming for a while as they healed. As the business owner. I thought it would be easy to continue to pull a paycheck even though I wasn’t grooming. That’s when I learned how WRONG I was…

After payroll was met, bills paid, and taxes covered, we were only clearing about 1-2%. I didn’t even have an emergency fund if anything went wrong… anything from new tires to new transmissions, or a brake job on any of the vans. If we ran into any bumps in the road, I was close to being sunk. Was there any hope of me pulling a “salary” as the owner? Not a chance. Once we juggled all the bills, there just wasn’t any money left over.

During that time period, I learned quickly how to read a financial statement. Before then, I was racing so hard grooming, maintaining vans, and guiding my staff on proper pet grooming, I didn’t find the time to read my monthly Profit & Loss Statement (or even understand it!). I quickly learned how important that knowledge was! Bottom line: my fleet of vans and groomers provided amazing grooming services. My entire team was earning nice wages. But all I was doing was creating a job for myself… plus I was producing a lot of stress and aggravation for myself.

Sound familiar?

Ultimately, it was easier for me to shut down my mobile business so I could focus on other industry opportunities. As a business owner, you have a right to earn more than your staff. You’re carrying the weight of the business on your shoulders. All the responsibility. You assume all of the risk. You bear the headaches and the frustrations. Being able to make a fair profit is a part of any business owners’ dream.

My guess is many of you are struggling with a similar situation. Guess what? There is a solution to this problem – and we’ll get to that in a minute.

Fast forward to 2007. I opened Whiskers Resort & Pet Spa. I was determined to do a better job with the grooming department there than I had done years earlier with my mobile fleet. This time I opted to go the hourly route for my grooming team. On paper, the numbers worked. In reality, it was a mental and moral nightmare. Holding artistic pet stylists accountable was like wrestling a greased pig. It just wasn’t working! EVERYONE complained about EVERYTHING.

If this grooming department was to survive and thrive, I had to figure out a different way to pay my grooming team.

I looked to other industries to get my inspiration. The beauty industry held the key.

The system I chose automatically sets up ways to promote, reward, and motivate our team. It uses a combination of commission based earning along with hourly wages for bathers. Groomers and stylists are paid commissions on full groom pets ranging from 38% to 48% based on their ability to meet quotas. We have six Tiers altogether with 2% increment jumps between Tiers. Bathers are paid hourly between $8.50 and $12.00 per hour.

Groomers and stylists have daily, monthly, and quarterly goal requirements. We track and measure the number of:

  • New clients
  • Repeat clients
  • Upsells
  • Pre-booked appointments
  • Pets groomed per day
  • Sales revenue

Groomers and stylists can Tier jump if they maintain the goals and targets consistently for three months. They can also be demoted a Tier if they do not maintain their quotas. Plus, for any stylist to go beyond a Tier 3 on our team, they need to be a Certified Master Groomer by one of the three voluntary testing organizations in the United States:

Becoming a Certified Feline Groomer with the National Cat Groomers Institute of America (NCGIA) or any of the first aid organizations is a bonus.

Our team is also paid a 10% commission for add-on services like teeth brushing and spa upgrades.

All of our groomers and stylists can request a bather to assist them. However, if they choose to have an assistant bathe and prep their dogs, they pay half of their hourly wages. This keeps EVERYONE on their toes and accountable.

In order for the system to work well, the secret is not in the commission levels. It’s in the average price per pet. At Whiskers Pet Spa, the average ticket price per groomed pet runs between $65 and $70.

We have been working with the system for over five years. Along the way we have made modifications and adjustments to meet our needs. It’s been working brilliantly.

I’m a strong advocate of hiring employees NOT subcontractors or renting table space. I like the control it gives and benefits I can offer to my staff. I never have to worry if the government is going to come beat down my door for improper hiring practices. I sleep easier at night. I have no problem paying my company’s taxes. It’s a privilege to live in this country – to pay my fair share of the taxes.

However, if you are going to play Uncle Sam’s game, you need to play by the rules. You are going to have to come up with between 13% and 15% extra to cover payroll taxes. Those obligations are:

  • Social Security
  • Medicare
  • Unemployment Taxes
  • Workers Compensation

If you are paying 50% or 60% commission rates to your groomers – you need to tack on the payroll taxes, too. So your commissions are more like 63% – 75%. Ouch!! That just doesn’t leave you much room to run your business OR turn a profit.

If you are struggling with your payroll or running a profitable grooming business, I urge you to review your financial statements. If you struggle with understanding them, get help. The financial numbers do not lie. They are the barometer of your business.

Remember, you didn’t go into business to lose money. You have every right to earn a fair living – just as your staff has the right to fair wages.

Most successful pet grooming businesses charge a higher price for their services. In turn, they can reduce the commission levels while still allowing their groomers and stylist the opportunity to earn a healthy wage.

Last year our full-time stylists annually earned between $28,000 and $54,000 including vacation time. And that doesn’t even include tips! Rarely do we have anyone complaining about too much work or refusing to do more dogs when we are busy.

This system has really helped us promote, reward, and motivate our grooming department almost automatically. Our groomers earn a healthy wage. We can easily pay all our bills. The department is profitable. We all sleep well at night.

To learn more about how to run the financial side of your business, check out two of our videos on You’ll see me having discussions with my accountant and financial guru in ways that are helpful and easy to understand. Click here!

What do you think? How is your structure different? Jump over to the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page and tell us about it.

Happy trimming,


Presenting a Professional Image – It’s time to revisit an important topic.

August 14th, 2015 by Joelle

As pet care ambassadors, it’s our job to keep things looking professional. In my opinion, there are plenty of salons and pet businesses that fall far below the realm of professionalism.  I know the saying can be cheesy – but seriously – dress for success. Would you want to get have your personal pet groomed by someone who doesn’t take pride in his or her own personal presentation? Would you feel confident that his grooming shop was clean, sanitary, and safe?

professionalI know it can get tiring to dress up a little every day. However, our clients are entrusting us with the care of their pets. Like it or hate it, you can easily influence their trust factor simply by the way you look when you greet your clients. Think of yourself as your own brand. Don’t you want your product to be consistent and look great? Of course! And your clients are looking for that, too.

A fashionable, well-groomed appearance is essential when it comes to professionalism in this industry. When you are in a salon, kennel, pet resort, veterinarian clinic, or mobile grooming unit, you have to look the part. Come to work each day looking crisp, clean, and pulled together. Blue jeans, sweat pants, and athletic shorts ARE NOT professional attire! Black, white, or khaki slacks work well. Longer skirts are great for women and so are skorts in warmer climates. Conservative shorts or Capri’s may work for your environment, as well. I’ve even seen leggings work when paired with an over-sized, long top or smock. Look for clothing that is not prone to wrinkling or be prepared to learn how to iron!

Today, there are many options for hair-repelling garments. There are all types of tops and bottoms in a wide variety of styles.  If you work in a salon with a dress code, this may be easier. If not, have some fun with the pet styling fashions that are available. It may even be a good idea to keep an extra outfit or smock around the shop as a back-up. If you get drenched or messy, a quick change will instantly boost your comfort level and mood.

Remember, low-cut tops and short-shorts are never professional!  If you have shorts that are too short or a top that is too revealing (especially when you are squatting down to pick up a dog), then you’re not displaying professionalism. Muscle shirts and shirts with the sleeves cut off don’t make the grade, either.

Don’t forget your footwear.  Most pet groomers are on their feet for hours. You are standing, lifting, bending, squatting, and twisting – all day long. Although clients may not be looking at your feet, having solid, supportive footwear will promote comfort for to you. Being comfortable makes it easy for you to be warm and friendly to all your clients. Supportive footwear will also enhance the longevity of your career.  Over the long haul, your feet will take a beating.  Don’t skimp on your footwear. Invest in the best.

Scent is a very powerful sense. When it comes to your perfume, cologne, or fragrance you put on pets, be light-handed with the spray. Many people have allergies and are sensitive to fragrance. Plus, if you have multiple staff members wearing all different scents, it can be unpleasant for all. The same can be said for your makeup and hair color.  You want to appeal to a wide range of clients, so conservative is best in most cases. When in doubt, be a minimalist. Remember, you can always “be yourself” once you leave the shop.

While we are on scent – what about your breath? If you are communicating to others – clients or coworkers – bad breath is down-right offensive. Brush, floss, and use a mouthwash regularly. Not only will it save your teeth, your clients won’t be offended as you discuss what trim will work best on Fluffy today.  Breath mints and gum can be helpful between brushings. Lose the gum quickly once it has done its job. Chewing gum in front of clients is distracting and it is unprofessional in front of clients. It’s no fun to listen to someone chomping away while on the phone, either. The same can be said for eating and drinking on the floor. Keep snack and coffee breaks limited to behind closed doors.

Proper hygiene is crucial. It should go unsaid, but being clean and odor-free is a must. There is nothing more offensive – and embarrassing – than personal body odor. The famous motivational speaker Zig Ziglar, said, “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” Nothing could be more true!

Your own hair needs to be clean and simply styled. If your hair is long, get it tied back and away from your face. As your work with clippers or shears, you don’t want to be trimming a lock of your own hair as you scissor that leg. I hate to think of how many people with long hair have caught their tresses in the spinning grinder as they worked. Ouch! Or worse yet, drag it through anal gland expressions, defecation, or urine.

proHaving a touch of jewelry is a nice finishing touch.  Done well, it always reflects positively. However, just like with fragrance – go light. A few simple rings. A durable watch (and you always need to know the time!!). If your ears are pierced – stick with super simple earrings – something a dog can’t accidentally catch in a paw, ripping your ear lobe. If you opt for a necklace, keep it tasteful. Don’t be in love with it. Dogs will catch it in their paws and break it, eventually. The same thing with is true with bracelets.

Having well-groomed fingernails is what I consider a bonus. Working with dirty dogs and trimming toenails lends itself to dirty fingernails – even if you do a lot of bathing. Trimming Poodle feet has a tendency chip fingernails. Personally, I liked to keep my nails painted. Painted fingernails will hide all sorts of flaws. Unfortunately, when you do a lot of bathing, standard nail polish has a tendency to peel off quickly – sometimes in as little as one day.  My solution was to have my fingernails professionally done every two weeks. Both acrylic and shellac nail applications seem hold up well to the abuse groomers put their hands through. Ragged nails on women and men can be easily tidied up. When you give the pet to the owner, their eyes are naturally drawn to your fingers as you hand over the leash. Wouldn’t filed nails make a great impression? Plus, it gives you a little time to pamper your most valuable asset – YOUR HANDS!

Pay attention to the details. Judy Hudson is one our popular Training Partners. In her video, What I Know For Sure she shares this tip: “It doesn’t cost a lot to be clean. It doesn’t cost a lot of money to be neat and tidy. All it takes is a little elbow grease.”

When we become frustrated that no one seems to take us seriously, we need to look objectively at ourselves to see if we are projecting professionalism.  If you have clients who…

  • fail to show up for scheduled appointments,
  • don’t bother to call when they have to cancel an appointment, or
  • constantly haggle with you over grooming prices,

…it’s a sign of a lack of respect for you and your profession. It may be time to be honest about your personal presentation. Your appearance should convey the message, “I’m a professional and I deserve respect.” When you respect yourself, others will, too.

As pet care ambassadors, not only is it our job to groom pets – but it’s also our job to present a professional image for our industry. Can you afford to look like you just rolled out of bed and ran into work? What about trade shows? How does it look when you accept your award at a grooming competition when the pet looks better than you do? How can you command respect from your peers and clients when you don’t look the part? I don’t know any successful person who doesn’t sweat the details. Being impeccable, both personally and in your workspace, shows the client that you care about yourself. The message you are sending out is that you are confident with your skills. You are successful. You respect yourself enough to do the same for them – and for their pet.

What do you think? Do you feel like a professional? Jump over to the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page and tell us about it.

Happy trimming,


Is it Time for Licensing in the Pet Grooming Industry? – The Time Has Come to Consider Professional Regulation for Pet Grooming in the United States.

August 6th, 2015 by Joelle

When I first opened The Paragon School of Pet Grooming in 1991, I had to be licensed by the Michigan Board of Education. Granted, it was not licensing for pet grooming – it was for ensuring students received consistent training in a safe facility. The licensing was primarily for their protection – not ours.

Was the set-up process challenging? Absolutely! We had to prepare, complete, and comply with all required:

  • forms
  • regulations
  • rules
  • fees
  • documentation
  • inspections

It was daunting, to say the least. To make it even more challenging, we have to renew our license annually. Each year we have to jump through all the hoops again.

I found the entire licensing process tedious. Frustrating. Annoying. Intimidating.

But you know what? In the long run it made us a much stronger business and a better school. It forced us to pay attention to details I might have missed. Those details could have put our pets, students, employees, and clients at risk.

Today, more than ever, I feel licensing is necessary. Regulations and licensing are put in place to protect the health, safety, and well-being of the consumer. They also set acceptable standards in each field.

Today, there are hundreds of occupations and businesses that are either licensed or regulated.

  • accountants and CPAs
  • real estate agents
  • appraisers
  • architects
  • builders
  • carnivals
  • childcare
  • collection agencies
  • cosmologists and barbers
  • engineers
  • funeral directors
  • landscape architects
  • medical doctors
  • chiropractors
  • post-secondary schools
  • ski areas

…and the list goes on and on…

So why should professional pet groomers be any different?

Professional pet grooming is similar to two other industries: cosmetology and childcare. Both are heavily licensed and regulated.

...And for good reason.

Licensing and regulation isn’t needed because things are going well. They happen because problems exist that need to be corrected.

The idea of licensing within the pet grooming industry is not a new one. I still remember the efforts of Gregory Krisp and Kathy Rose 20 years ago. They were backed by the late Sally Liddick and Barkleigh Productions. They formed the Groomer Licensing Founders Committee in 1996. They were on the forefront of the licensing issue in our industry. Unfortunately, they were way ahead of their time. Their efforts fell upon deaf ears.

But some people were listening. Voluntary certification organizations were stepping up to the plate. They created comprehensive education and testing programs for groomers and stylists. Many states had strong professional groups that were hosting educational workshops. Ways to strengthen our profession were being developed from within. Voluntary licensing, testing, and continuing education were building in intensity.

I fully endorse setting mandatory regulations, standards – and ultimately licensing – for the pet grooming industry. But it needs to be on OUR terms, not by well-meaning individuals with no knowledge or understanding of what they are attempting to regulate.

Ideally, pet industry leaders and professionals would work closely with individual states. As they work together, they would create regulation guidelines for professional grooming establishments that are realistic and attainable for any competent professional.

Carelessness has created situations in which dogs have been injured – or worse – in grooming salons around the country. Owners are up in arms… and they should be. If it was my pet – I would. If it was your pet – my guess is you would be, too. Wouldn’t you want to do something about the safety and well-being of pets left in a pet professionals’ care?

The State of California tried to pass licensing for professional groomers. That bill was not written by industry leaders. It would have been devastating if it had passed because it was drafted by people who did not understand our industry. Teri DiMarino and Judy Breton, acting with the newly formed California Professional Pet Groomers Association, Inc., won a Barkleigh Honors Award for their extraordinary work in getting that bill defeated. Texas, New Jersey, New York, and Massachusetts currently have bills in the works. Licensing for professional pet groomers is just around the corner for many states.

Luckily, we have a group on our side. Recently, the Professional Pet Groomers & Stylists Alliance was formed. According to a July 21, 2015 press release, “The PPGSA was created to harness the experience and expertise of the three major national pet styling associations, IPG, ISCC, and NDGAA to develop industry wide best practices.” They are working together with other industry leaders, associations, and major retailers to develop a set of suggested Basic Industry Standards. These standards could be presented to each state as licensing moves forward.

The primary focus of the PPGSA is on pet safety. Subject areas include:

  • animal housing
  • handling
  • equipment
  • products
  • facilities and safe operations
  • attentive animal care

The PPGSA will not offer any form of certification, testing, licensing, or regulations for our industry, but they are our voice. In other words, they have our backs when a bill hits YOUR state. They will be there to guide industry leaders – in each state – as bills are introduced. The Basic Standards will guide future legislation. It has been created to be used by any school, organization, or certification program. It can be enhanced to fit their unique needs and goals.

Regulations and licensing is definitely a challenge for any business. However, the time has come to seriously consider professional regulations for the pet grooming business in the United States.

If a bill is introduced to the State of Michigan to regulate professional pet grooming, I’ll be one of the first people to jump and help craft a workable bill. I hope you have the same attitude when the situation presents itself in your state.

What do you think? Are you prepared, worried? What do you think should be considered?  Jump over to the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page and tell us how you feel.

Happy trimming,


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