Learning to See Like an Artist

November 26th, 2015 by Joelle

Welcome to my blog!  For the next few weeks, my marketing expert, Joelle Asmondy, will be filling in for me while I work on a large project.  Joelle is a whiz with marketing.  I can’t wait to see which helpful tidbits she shares with you!  Enjoy!

If you ask people in our industry if they think grooming and styling pets is an art form or a skilled trade, most would say that it’s a little of both. I agree. When you watch members of GroomTeam USA at work, their efforts are definitely works of art. Skills like theirs take years to develop. Today, I want to talk about one aspect of that development: learning to see like an artist.

I’ve had the benefit of seeing hundreds of people learn to become pet groomers during my years at The Paragon School of Pet Grooming. I also have a Bachelor’s Degree in Art, which means I’ve taken a lot of classes to develop a range of skills that are similar to what we teach our students. Just like being a good groomer means more than loving to work with pets, learning to become an artist takes more than loving to paint or draw. It requires control and the ability to see things that others do not.

“Seeing” like an artist, or “developing your eye,” takes time and patience. Essentially what you are doing is training yourself to see:

  • what is there
  • what isn’t there
  • what things look like now
  • what the finished product should look like
  • spatial alignment
  • balance
  • proportion
  • perspective

Learning how to see these things takes practice. Here are a few tips to help get you there.

Have a Plan

Melissa Verplank has mentioned this concept when she says that you should “begin with the end in mind.” It involves imagination on your part and the ability to see into the future – in this case, a beautifully groomed pet.

When I’m about to start a drawing or painting, it begins with a blank canvas or sheet of paper. With a sculpture, it begins with a lump of clay or stone. Before I even get started, I’ve already spent time thinking about what I want to do. In my head, I’ve already figured out what I want the finished product to look like. I know what tools or colors I will use, and what it will look like each step of the way. I know the process I will follow and how involved it will be. I might have a series of detailed sketches to help keep me on course. Above all, I spend time before I ever touch pencil to paper just looking at the blank page and seeing what I will create on it. The pet is your canvas. Before picking up your clippers, take a minute to really look at what you’re working with so you know where you’re going.

LOOK – See the Shapes in the Clouds

So I’m staring at the page… what am I looking at? What am I looking for? When I’m staring at that blank sheet of paper, I’m seeing what I will put there. As I stare into that whiteness, I’m watching the colors and lines take shape in my mind and align themselves on the page. It’s like my mind has produced a transparency of the finished product and has mentally created an overlay onto the page. All I have to do is put the marks on the paper. If I’m sculpting, I’m staring at the lump of rock and seeing the shape of what I want to create in the stone. All I have to do is remove all the stuff around it and let it out.

When grooming, first look at the pet before you. From your training, attending conformational dog shows, your AKC Complete Dog Book, and maybe your copy of Notes From the Grooming Table, you know what the dog should look like when it’s done. Learn to see the shape of the perfectly groomed pet through the overgrown coat, like transparent layers stacked one on top of the other. When you can see that perfectly groomed “after” image clearly in your mind, you can begin the process of “erasing” anything extra that blocks that view.

Be able to picture your finished product – after all, if you don’t know where the finish line is, how will you know you’ve completed the race?

Know Your Landmarks and Learn the Art of Navigation

Trim styles are all about anatomy. Groomers need to know their breed standards and to know them they need to understand anatomy. If you’re a visual learner, get out your reference material and study the images until you can see them on any dog that walks into your salon. If you’re a tactile student and learn by doing, get those books out and learn to find reference points on dogs through your sense of touch. Feel where the point of rump is, the point of shoulder, and the barrel of the chest. If you can’t see them, learn your anatomy reference points by touch. Then learn to do both. Developing your knowledge base creates reliable instincts and reflexes.

Learn how to Measure Balance and Proportions Visually

Have you even been on a diet? Have you ever measured out quantities of food? Were you surprised by how much or how little a cup of anything was? With practice, you could eyeball a quarter cup of yogurt or 4 ounces of chicken pretty accurately, right? Didn’t it speed up the process?

The same thing is true when it comes to visual measurements. With practice, you get better and more efficient. I learned it in art school by using a pencil or my thumb, but groomers can use a trusty comb to do this trick.

The Eye Exam

Imagine yourself grooming a dog. You know that the right side has to match the left. Standing directly in front of the dog, imagine a straight line dividing the pet in half. Compare each side to the other, using specific points of reference as a guide. Look for landmarks on the pet’s head, body, and legs that require symmetry. Stepping back and looking from side to side will help. If you know things are off, but can’t figure out why, hold up your comb and cover up one side, then the other. It’s kind of like an eye exam where you read the chart first with your right eye, then your left. Think of it like a game of, “Spot the Differences.” Make it fun so it becomes less frustrating.

Thumbs Up

Have you ever wondered why artists extend their thumbs, or hold up a pencil or brush and stare at it at arm’s length? What they’re doing is making visual measurements and that thumb or brush is the ruler.

For this one, you’re still standing back and facing the pet head-on and imagining that line dividing the pet in equal halves. Are your ears the same length? Hold your comb even with the bottoms of the ears and perpendicular to the floor. You’ll be able to see which one is longer and be able to even them out.

Take a Step Back

Step back from the dog so you can see the entire animal. As artists, one of the worst habits we fall into is spending too much time working in one specific area. We have good reasons for it – we want it to be perfect. The problem is that while you’ve been tinkering away and nitpicking at that one foot, you’ve lost all sense of perspective and balance with the rest of the body. Now, you’ve got one foot smaller than the rest, so you have to tighten up the other three. You do that, then realize that the legs are now off, so you tighten them up, too. Suddenly, you see that by shortening the legs, the body is out of whack, and you’ve lost control. Losing control = losing time. By zooming in, you’ve created more work for yourself and lost time. That’s not a winning combination.

So what happened? Well, you basically made a rookie carpenter’s mistake. When you shorten up one table leg without doing proper measurements, the table wobbles. Standing too close or failing to look at the whole dog regularly results in perspective-based mistakes. Standing back allows you to see things more clearly.

Developing your artistic eye is not only helpful – it’s practical. By training your eyes to see what you need them to see, you’ll save time, become more efficient, and achieve a more balanced trim. You’ll gain confidence in your abilities and your customers will see the difference. Understanding these visual measurement tricks and putting them into practice is one small step toward becoming the groomer you know you can be. It’s worth the time to learn to see like an artist and unleash your own potential.

Did this help?  Tell us how you unleash YOUR inner artist on the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page.

Click here for a complete video list to make searching Learn2GroomDogs.com even easier! 

Make it a great day!

~Joelle Asmondy

Am I a Good Boss?

November 19th, 2015 by Joelle

Welcome to my blog!  For the next few weeks, my marketing expert, Joelle Asmondy, will be filling in for me while I work on a large project.  Joelle is a whiz with marketing.  I can’t wait to see which helpful tidbits she shares with you!  Enjoy!

Let’s take a little poll:

  • How many of you own or run a salon?
  • Which of you have a degree in business or have taken any business classes?
  • Has anyone taken any management classes?

That sounds about right.

One of the best things about going to trade shows is meeting people. I get to talk to people from all over the country and I love it when they tell me their stories. We talk about dogs (of course), dog books (um, yeah!), and working with dogs (why not?). It’s a great way for me to stay in touch with our clients’ needs and find out what people are really thinking about.

Let me share a conversation that I have all the time…

“I became a groomer because I love dogs. At first, I just had a few clients. It started with friends and family, then their friends heard about me, and I got even busier. I got to the point where I had to hire someone just to keep up! Now I groom, book appointments, answer phones, run my own business, AND I have (one, two, three…) groomer(s) working for me!”

Sound familiar?

I love that so many dog grooming businesses have grown in such an organic way. It starts with a passion, grows because we’re needed, and thrives because we’re good at what we do. Our clients keep coming back because they know we love their pets and care about their health and safety.

The flip side to this is that very few people who own or manage these businesses have any formal training in supervising employees. We suddenly find ourselves in the role of “boss” simply because we needed help. For many, it’s a natural fit and the transition is painless. For others, the change is more challenging.

The question of the day is, “Are You a Good Boss?” The answer may surprise you.

I reached out to folks from the industry and asked them about the best qualities of their managers. Many of the answers were similar. Let’s look at the answers together and see if we can understand what it really means to be a good boss.

“I’ve grown a lot by working here.”

Do you take the time to offer praise as well as constructive criticism? In busy salons, it can become easy to fall into the habit of communicating like our furry customers – we bark at each other instead of talking. Don’t let a hectic schedule become an excuse for bad manners or meanness. Remember, you’re not just running a business, you’re building a culture. Do you want yours to be team-oriented or hostile and withdrawn? Things don’t get done any faster or better with rudeness than with courtesy.

“She’s willing to try new ideas.”

If you want employees who step up and really help out, you have to be open to trying new things. “That’s the way we’ve always done it,” will quickly kill initiative. Employees who feel like they have input into bettering the process tend to stick around longer and contribute more to the overall business. After all, isn’t that what you need?

“He’s organized.”

If you are constantly running late, running out of stock, and running out of patience, you could be running yourself right out of business. Let your team help you get things in order. Delegate duties that are well-suited to them. It empowers them and also takes a few things off your plate.

“She encourages me.”

I once worked for an amazing supervisor who motivated me just by being encouraging. I tried a new sales approach once, and it went so well that she had me present it to others in our district. Knowing that she believed in me did more than compliment me, it made me want to work even harder!

“He tells me how I can improve in a positive way.”

Two words: constructive criticism. It’s easy to tell someone when they do something wrong. If you want change that sticks, it takes a little more work.

  • Use the sandwich technique: tell them what you liked, tell them what needs to change, then offer positive feedback.
  • Be specific: saying something is done wrong is not helpful. WHAT was wrong about it? HOW should it be done next time? WHY is it important that it be done right?
  • Don’t attack the person, attack the problem: telling someone they’re terrible at trimming nails hasn’t solved anything. Look at the problem – in this case, quicking too many nails – and look at technique. If a person isn’t trained properly, they can’t be blamed for doing something wrong.
  • Don’t assume they know what you mean: it may sound simple to you, but it may not seem that obvious to them. It’s impossible to over-communicate.

“We never stop trying to get better.”

Complacency is the enemy of good business. Successful businesses are always trying to become better, more efficient, and less wasteful.

“She says, “thank you.”

Those are magic words, aren’t they? Thank you for staying late. Thank you for helping me carry in the supplies. Thank you for helping that elderly client to her car. Recognizing effort boosts morale and encourages them to keep giving their best.

“He tells me what is needed and doesn’t expect me to read his mind.”

“I shouldn’t have to tell them…”

“It’s just plain old common sense!”

Work on removing these phrases from your vocabulary. Just because you’ve done something a thousand times doesn’t mean other people understand it as thoroughly as you do. Take a minute, take a breath, and give them the benefit of the doubt.

“She recognizes effort even if we fall short of a goal.”

All success is success. It’s ok to be excited about progress even if you didn’t get quite all the way there. Learn from the experience and try again. Sometimes shared enthusiasm or experience is what’s needed to really make things happen.

Whether you became a manager by choice or by coincidence, it’s important to know how to be a good boss. Building a team and a business takes work – and you don’t have to do it alone. By developing a positive culture, you’re helping to make a better work environment that will attract better employees, will help keep your best staff, and will make your days a lot better.

What topics would you like us to cover?  Jump over to the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page and tell us.

Click here for a complete video list to make searching Learn2GroomDogs.com even easier! 

Make it a great day!

~Joelle Asmondy

5 Phone Calls That Can Build Your Business

November 12th, 2015 by Joelle

Welcome to my blog!  For the next few weeks, my marketing expert, Joelle Asmondy, will be filling in for me while I work on a large project.  Joelle is a whiz with marketing.  I can’t wait to see which helpful tidbits she shares with you!  Enjoy!

phoneI recently spoke with a new salon owner who is struggling to fill her days with pets to groom. She has a good client base, a website, and a Facebook page but she still has lots of time to fill.

“What am I doing wrong?”

We all know that you can spend a lot of money on big-ticket ways to build your business. Few of us use our most common tool – the phone – to its best advantage. Let’s discuss these simple and effective methods to boost your client list. The best part is that you get immediate results – and they won’t break the bank.

It’s time you learned the 5 phone calls that can build your business.


This is the client that calls YOU. When phones are ringing off the hook, it’s music to my ears! They are the time savers – you didn’t have to go searching for them… they found you! Make the most of it!

One mistake people make with these calls is that they treat them like an interruption. Even if you are grooming another dog, have another call on hold, and are trying to eat your lunch at the same time, you still need to treat that caller feel like s/he is the only thing on your mind.

Here are a few simple tips to make the most of that call:

  • Answer the phone in 3 rings or less.
  • If the call needs to go to voicemail, make sure you call back as soon as possible. (Make sure your voicemail message is clear, friendly, to the point. After all, they’re busy, too!)
  • Put a smile in your voice. People can hear it over the phone. (You know what else they can hear? When you’re eating. Don’t chew while you’re on the phone.)
  • If you have another client in your salon while you are on the phone, don’t roll your eyes or in any other way demean the caller in front of someone else. You may think you’re being friendly with the client in the waiting room, but what you’re really doing is showing them how they’re treated while you’re on the phone with them. Be professional with everyone, in what you say and do, regardless of whether or not they can see you doing it.
  • If you have to check on something, use the HOLD or MUTE button. No one wants to hear you rummaging around for things – it makes you sound disorganized. Putting people on hold allows you to get your thoughts in order, as well. When you get back after a brief hold, thank them for waiting.

The thing to remember is that you invited them to call, so treat them like the valued guests they are.


Another way you might be losing opportunities is not making the most of the client base you already have. Many clients are like us – juggling work and family needs – and we tend to forget things. If you are setting appointments for your clients, do yourself a favor and give them a reminder call the day before the scheduled appointment. (Texting works well, too. Find out what your client prefers and stick to it.) Many clients come to rely on it, so don’t forget. Make it a part of your morning routine.


New clients aren’t used to you, yet. That means that don’t know how special you are and that you treat new clients like royalty. Give new clients the royal treatment with a follow-up phone call after their first visit. The day after their first appointment, give them a call to ask how their pet felt after the groom. Ask if they like the trim. Ask for feedback. And most importantly (if they didn’t rebook at check out), set up the next appointment.


This is the client who doesn’t have an appointment on the books for 6 weeks or more. If you have gaps in your day, it’s might be because these clients do not have recurring appointments. Another way to make the most of your client base is to get everyone on a recurring schedule. If you have 50-75 valued customers, your books should be pretty full – if you take the time to rebook people and get them on a regular grooming schedule. When you look ahead and see gaps, look back 6 weeks and see who’s missing in the days ahead. Give those folks a call and welcome them back. Chances are they don’t even realize how long it’s been since their last visit and will be glad you reminded them to drop by.


Ok, it’s not a wreck. Most likely it’s nothing more than a minor scratch, but we’re talking injuries, here. Brush burn, nicks, cuts, clipper irritation, quicked nails… any injury. The important thing is that you communicate with your clients. If an injury has occurred, talk about it openly before they leave your salon. Admit any mistakes. Apologize. Most importantly, call them the next day to follow up. Ask how the pet is doing. Ask if they have any questions. It’s crucial to your relationship that you can talk despite any accidental injuries that might happen. If you aren’t comfortable talking to people after an incident, you’re in the wrong business. Pretending it didn’t happen and “hoping they’re ok with it” is not going to retain clients. You need to talk it out.


If you are using your personal phone for your business, make sure that your hold music is appropriate for a business. Your friends will think certain songs are hilarious as they wait for you to pick up, but your clients will lose respect for you if your music is inappropriate. It’s your phone – but it’s also your business lifeline. Treat it with care.

There are plenty of big-ticket items that are a part of being in business. You can do so much to build your clientele by making the most out of every customer relationship. Simply pick up the phone. It’s effective – and – inexpensive! These tips are just the start, but used consistently, you can start filling your books fast without draining your bank account!

What topics would you like us to cover?  Jump over to the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page and tell us.

Click here for a complete video list to make searching Learn2GroomDogs.com even easier! 

Make it a great day!

~Joelle Asmondy

Grooming Efficiently vs Grooming Fast – What’s the Difference?

November 5th, 2015 by Joelle

We all have different reasons why we love our careers. For most of us, our careers started because we were obsessed with dogs and cats. What a fabulous way to make money – doing something you enjoy. My guess is that many of you not only love animals, they’re also a hobby and a huge part of your lives. I know very few career opportunities that allow pet lovers to work in a field that they truly adore.

I love dealing with people who are passionate about their career choices. I always encourage people to seek out personal growth. To look at ways to do things better, more efficiently, and with greater focus. Raise the bar. Set personal goals. Set limits. Develop strategies. Ultimately, the pet, the individual, and the business wins.

If you are a solo stylist, you get to make up your own rules. Work at your own pace. There is very little pressure to move beyond your comfort zone.

However, if you work with a team, you will usually have quotas to meet and rules that you need to follow. The business sets up these boundaries in the best interest of the client, staff, and the long-term health of the company. If someone does not meet quotas, it creates a frustrating situation for the rest of the team in terms of time, quality, and financial stability.

Years ago when I ran a mobile operation, our minimum quota of grooms per day was six – or the equivalent of six. Thus, two slots were given for larger jobs such as Standard Poodles and heavy-coated Cockers. If someone had something very small on their roster, they were always given an option to groom another small dog. As long as the vans were routed well, this quota worked out well across the board for years.

There was one exception: Sue (not her real name).

Whenever I hired a new mobile stylist, I always started them with just four dogs and combined that with a very wide arrival schedule. All of our stylists knew this right from the get-go. The quota they needed to meet was six grooms per day. The funny thing about Sue was that she didn’t care about the number of pets she groomed or the amount of money she made. Although she was passionate about animals and people, she did not groom because she needed the cash.

For a long time I was extremely frustrated with Sue’s performance. She would arrive at base at eight o’clock in the morning to pick up her van. Many times she did not come back to base until well after eight o’clock at night. The most dogs I could ever get her to do was five.

It took me a while to realize the frustration was all mine. As a business owner, it’s critical that I pay attention to the financial numbers – but there’s a bigger picture: customer service.

When I looked at Sue’s scheduled re-bookings, she could rarely take on a new client. Her clients absolutely loved her. She wasn’t the fastest groomer. She wasn’t a competition level stylist – never would be. Her grooms were basic, neat, and thorough. However, she was the most compassionate person I have ever hired. Not only did she enjoy the pets, she was passionate about her clients.

To Sue, her career was more than a means to a financial end, it was her social and entertainment outlet. I swear she had breakfast, lunch, and dinner with her clients. She ran errands for them. She shoveled their walks. She loved the senior citizens and the geriatric pets. She would talk with them for hours!

Hmmm. These were the clients my highly efficient stylists wanted to avoid like the plague. Once I came to terms with this concept, I ended up making it work in our favor.

I let Sue slide on the quota. She was dealing with all those clients the rest of my team would rather not do. By letting Sue focus on our more time-consuming clients (and enjoying it!), it allowed the rest of my team to focus on making quotas and/or exceeding them. It worked.

So even though I let Sue slide – only doing five grooms a day when the actual quota with six – it allowed the rest of my team to focus on grooming more pets. Not necessarily faster – just more efficiently.

There’s a big difference between grooming efficiently and grooming fast. Grooming efficiently involves doing a good job. Grooming too fast, in my eyes, translates to sloppy work. When I look at developing a grooming team or training new staff members, I always look for people who have the ability to focus and work efficiently.

To me, being efficient means doing a great job in the least amount of time.

I recently heard one of our industry leaders say, “I don’t know many wealthy groomers.” I don’t, either. I do know a lot of groomers and stylists that make a comfortable living and love their careers. Being able to work efficiently translates into creating larger client lists, larger paychecks, and the ability to breathe easily at the end of the day.

Unlike Sue, the majority of us have other responsibilities, outside interests, families to care for, and households to run. We may even have businesses to manage. Not to mention maintaining the health and well-being of both ourselves and the four-legged clients on the table. As much as we love our jobs, we can’t afford to be tethered to a grooming table any longer than necessary.

Being efficient as you groom is not about being fast or sloppy. It’s about being the best that you can be. It’s about creating systems throughout the entire grooming process so we do not miss any steps. As those systems are developed, they become automatic. Once they become part of a routine, you can focus on other areas that bring value to the pets we groom, the clients, and to our own lives.

Think about how you can create systems – or routines – at every step of the grooming process (see the graphic below). Break it into bite-sized chunks.

Time everything. Knowing how long each step takes is the starting point of creating any routine. Each step could be broken down further into smaller nuggets, too. Once you start tracking, you can start improving your routine without sacrificing quality.

I love this quote. I try to live my life by it – in all areas. I hope you do too.

The only person you should try to be better than is the person you were yesterday.

There are plenty of groomers and stylists who are highly efficient. They can do a small, simple trim in under an hour – and knock it out of the park in terms of quality and customer service. Others struggle to complete the same trim in two hours. Others choose to do that simple trim at their own pace. As long as the work is top quality, the pets are treated with care and compassion, and the environment is safe for everyone – it’s OK.

We all have different reasons why we groom. For some, it’s more than just a job – it’s a lifestyle. Remember, there is a big difference between being an efficient bather, groomer, or stylist and being a fast one. Never stop learning. How you apply new knowledge is totally up to you.

What are your time-saving tricks? Jump over to the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page and tell us.  You can even click here for a quick lesson in how to use the site.

Make the most of your time every day.  Click here to download our FREE handout to help you structure your day.  You can even watch Melissa’s video to see how it’s done, here.

Click here for a complete video list to make searching Learn2GroomDogs.com even easier!

Happy trimming,


Clocks Are Your Score Keepers – It’s time to revisit an important topic!

October 28th, 2015 by Joelle

We once asked a salon owner about her biggest challenge. The answer was simple – speed.

Most of her staff struggled to get even the simplest trims done in under an hour. That included bath, blow dry, and haircut. Even a basic #7F all trim on a smaller drop coated breed was daunting to some of them.

clockWe walked in and saw a well-organized salon. It was bright. It was clean. The layout allowed for efficiency. The equipment was all top-notch.  Hmmm, we wondered. Why was turning a small to mid-sized dog such a challenge for them?

Then it hit us. There were hardly any clocks around. We only spotted one clock in the main room. It was a smaller digital wall clock set on military time. The owner of the salon was a career military gal who is now retired. I understand why she opted for that style of time keeper, I’m just not so sure that style of time keeping is the right one for a staff of non-military groomers.  Plus, when I was across the room, I could barely read it clearly. The clock was just too small!

If you want to be a successful groomer who can pay your bills while bringing customers back again and again – you need to embrace time.

Watch the time.

Track the time.

Race against the time.

Everything we do with professional pet grooming involves time. You need to be highly aware of every hour, minute, and second. Ideally, a professional groomer should be able to turn a small- to medium-sized simple trim in an hour or less. That includes the bath, the dry, and the trim.

The first thing we suggested to this team was: GET CLOCKS! Nothing fancy, they just needed to be large enough to be easily seen from across the room. The simpler, the better. Every room in the salon needed one hung on the wall. By having a clock in every room, it makes it easy for the groomers to track their own time with just a quick glance. But clocks aren’t enough. Every person working on the pets needs to have a watch on, too.

For those individuals that are really looking to increase their speed, having a timer at their stations can be really beneficial. Before you can start timing yourself, it’s helpful to know what your starting point is.

Break the groom down into sections. Bathing. Drying. Clipping the body. Trimming the feet. Rounding the feet. Scissoring the legs. Styling the head. If you don’t know how long it takes you to do each one of these items, you’ll never be able to improve upon your “best time.”

And it’s far easier to break it down into segments than to look at the dog as a whole. After all, who doesn’t want the opportunity to win at even one or two smaller segments than to get frustrated when they don’t hit the time goal with the overall trim?

Once you know how long it takes you to do each segment, you can set goals and objectives to beat your “best time.” Push yourself. Make a game out of it. The clock will be your score-keeper. Each time you gain even a few seconds, you’ve won a mini victory!  But you’ll never be able to do that unless you can easily watch the clock. Even with all the clock watching, always remember, speed and efficiency can never come at the sacrifice of quality or safety.

2015-10-28_1529rrWhat are your time saving tricks? Jump over to the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page and tell us.  You can even click here for a quick lesson in how to use the site.


Click here for a complete video list to make searching even easier!

Happy trimming,

Tips for Using Learn2GroomDogs.com – It’s easier than ever to use!

October 22nd, 2015 by Joelle

While we designed Learn2GroomDogs.com to be as “user-friendly” as possible, we know that sometimes it helps to have a guided tour to make things easier.  Here are some of our favorite tips and tricks to help make your experience with us even better!

Finding Your Favorite Videos

Sometimes you just know that the video you watched will come in handy again someday.  Add it to your list of favorite videos you will watch time and time again.  We even keep it for you if you leave.  When you renew your membership, that list will be there waiting for you.

Coupon Codes

We do promotions several times a year.  If you do not have an active membership, you can use the provided coupon code to get the promoted discount.  Do not cancel an existing membership to try to apply a code.  This will result in double billing – who wants that?


It happens to all of us – mind-blanking on a password.  If it happens, don’t panic.  Simply follow the steps above to recover your password.  Security features built into our website prevent customer service from being able to see your password.  Your best course of action is to recover – or if needed – create a new password.

Account Details

You have complete access to all of your information.  It’s just a few clicks away!  If you need information for your records, you don’t need to wait for us – your information is right at your fingertips.

While We’re Talking About Account Information…

Sharing your membership with someone may seem like a nice gesture, but it can also be a disaster!  ANYONE who has your information can see your private account data.  That means your address, email, and credit card information can be seen by anyone you give access to.  It doesn’t stop there – if that person also shares your information with anyone else… you get the picture.  Salon owners who share their account with their employees are sharing more than they think.  Be safe – protect yourself – keep this information to yourself.

Did we miss anything? Jump over to the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page and tell us.  You can even click here for a quick lesson in how to use the site.

Click here for a complete video list to make searching even easier! 

Happy trimming,


Building Buzz – Getting the kind of attention that builds your business

October 15th, 2015 by Joelle
One of the fastest ways to build a clientele is to get people talking. You want positive attention, the kind that fosters business. It’s good to keep in mind that people never talk about:
  • boring people
  • boring products
  • boring services
  • boring companies

You want to be unique. To stand out. Be interesting.

I’ve used this technique in many of my companies. When I/we focused on this method, our growth rate has been amazing.

There are many ways to build positive buzz. Many of these strategies are super easy to do. As a bonus, many are also cost-effective. Others take a little bit more planning and a financial investment to get the ball rolling. Choose what works best for your situation and budget. It doesn’t matter if you are quiet and shy or vivacious and outgoing. There are tactics that work for all personality types.

The key to making this work is…

  • Know what they like.
  • Know what makes them smile.
  • Know what gets them excited.
  • Know what triggers them in a positive way.

Be unique. Stand out. Knowing your clientele can help you make a positive impact. Done well, clients will seek out your services. Mismanage it and they will run in the opposite direction.

Most grooming business owners focus on the rational parts of running their business: price, scheduling, pet handling, and the finished groom. They totally ignore the emotional rewards for the human client. This is important, because although we love the dogs, they don’t have the ability to pay the bill.

People don’t get excited about ordinary services, an acceptable haircut, or a fair price. They talk about things that surprised them and made them feel great about their pets. When you make things special, you make them memorable – while at the same time removing the feeling of risk they might have had about doing business with you.

It’s not enough to have a good grooming business. You need to stand out from the crowd. The unique business has fabulous solutions wrapped in a shiny package that delights, excites, or surprises the customer.

So what makes up a “unique shiny package?” Here are four areas to get your ideas flowing.


How does it look? It doesn’t matter if it’s home business, a corporation, a small storefront, or a large facility. Your presentation will make an impression.

What does it look like when the client first drives up? What makes it stand out in a positive way? What makes it unique? Is it your signage? Your exterior decor? Some clever way to lead clients to your front door? Your front display window? Something needs to pop out at them.

Moving indoors, what do your clients see as soon as they step through the door? Is it clean and tidy? Is it bright and cheery? Is it easy to maintain and organize? How is your indoor signage? Is your reception desk inviting? Are your brochures and business cards readily available?

Think about not only what they see – what do they hear and smell? Is there appropriate music? Are the dogs relatively quiet? Is the louder equipment muffled behind closed doors? Do a sniff test – or have someone else do it for you who isn’t “nose blind” to smells in the salon. The salon should smell clean and fresh. If it can’t pass the sound and smell test – fix it.

Clients have loads of choices and ways to compare you to other service-based businesses. Even if you are the only grooming salon in town, you still have competition. Clients and prospective customers are comparing you to plenty of other service businesses such as their vet clinic, their hair salon, or their dry cleaners. How do you stack up against the other professionals in the area?


Clients gravitate to businesses where they feel comfortable. Making them feel comfortable means mirroring how they present themselves. Whoever has direct interaction with clients should positively impact the customer. Clients are your guests – welcome them as such. If you had invited them as guests into your home, wouldn’t you try to make them feel as comfortable as possible?

Regardless of whether you are in a conservative or a trendy area, presenting a well pulled-together look goes a long way. Pay attention to the details. Make sure you are groomed as well as the dogs leaving your salon.

If you don’t want to take the time to put together a polished outfit every day – opt for uniforms. Nothing pulls a look together like outfits designed for the work at hand. If you have staff, discuss what you wear so you all match. Once uniforms look dull and old – toss them.

You are going to be washing and styling dogs all day, so make sure your own hair gets the same amount of attention. It doesn’t matter if your hair is short or long, natural or brightly colored. Your own hair needs to be clean and styled in a manner appropriate for your workplace.

Accessories can bring a smile to a customer’s face and make an impression. Makeup can be an accessory. Let’s not forget jewelry – earrings or a fun bracelet that can hold up to the abuse of professional grooming. Even funky shoes that can take hours of standing and still be comfortable.

Your personal presentation can be as unique as you are. Just remember to present yourself in a manner appropriate to the clientele you wish to attract. Never lose sight of the fact that you need to make your clients feel comfortable and welcome if you want to build your business.


Pick a breed. Pick a technique. Pick a personality. Pick a trim. Specialize in something. Do it better than anybody else.

Establishing a reputation for specializing in your area of choice will make you stand out. People will begin to talk. Because you do such an amazing job in your specialty, new customers will seek you out.

Maybe you love Terriers and hand stripping techniques. You might be a Poodle fanatic who loves to hand scissor. Love kitties? Enjoy challenging pets? Whatever it is, lock into it. You will thrill people when you walk out with a well-groomed pet from your specialized field of expertise. It’s a great feeling. Both you and your customer will be smiling.


What do you do that makes your clients grin from ear to ear and say, “Wow, I can’t believe they just did that!” Customer service skills come into play over the phone and in person.

All service-based businesses are problem solvers. If you can solve the problem triggers for your customer, you are way ahead of the game. Once you figure out the problem, offer a viable solution with a kind heart and a big smile.

In some cases, the client doesn’t even realize they have a problem. Not only do you need to be a problem solver, you need to be a tactful educator.

Most clients benefit by using the trifecta principle of communication: tell – show – read. As professionals, we deal with dirty, messy dogs all the time. We can groom dog in our sleep. It’s a totally new experience for the client. Most people cannot remember all the information you are going to give them when they first come to your salon. Use the trifecta principle to help get your messages across. Tell them. Show them. Give them something to read that locks in what you just told and showed them.

In order to be successful, we need plenty of clients that keep coming back. Salons that get positive buzz in the community will attract new clients and help retain old ones.

When done well, there a great sense of pride. But even more than that, there’s also a great sense of security. Security comes from knowing clients like what you do and continue to seek out your grooming services.

So stand out from the crowd. Be the positive buzz of YOUR town. If you want a busy business, you need to get people talking. Finding creative ways to make your clients feel special is one of the best marketing strategies you can develop for your business.

Did we miss anything? Jump over to the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page and tell us.

Happy trimming,


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 Learn2GroomDogs.com 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 Learn2GroomDogs.com on this topic!

Happy trimming,


Learn2GroomDogs.com Wins Big!

September 23rd, 2015 by Joelle

Sept 19, 2015 was a fabulous night. My Learn2GroomDogs.com 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. Learn2GroomDogs.com 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. Learn2GroomDogs.com 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 Learn2GroomDogs.com 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 Learn2GroomDogs.com. 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 Learn2GroomDogs.com – 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 Learn2GroomDogs.com 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 Learn2GroomDogs.com.

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 Learn2GroomDogs.com 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,


© 2015 - Learn2GroomDogs.com
Google Analytics Alternative