Need a Little Boost?

October 27th, 2016 by Joelle

Are you needing a little pick me up this week?  Here are some inspirational quotes to help kick start your day.

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Tips for Using to Get the Most of Your Subscription!

October 20th, 2016 by Joelle

Are you trying to make the most of your subscription?  While we designed 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.

Here are some other ways you can use the site to get the most out of your membership.

team rusty ring meet-anywhere flexi-arm-trick

Taking a Proactive Approach to Managing Your Time

October 13th, 2016 by Joelle

main-imageAre you managing your time?

No matter how we divide up our week, the hours don’t change. We are all given 168 hours.

How is your going to be spent?

Is your week going to be smooth, controlled, productive, and rewarding? Or is your week going to be chaotic, stressed, and frustrating?The choice is actually yours. The thing about time management that you have to understand  is that ultimately you are in complete control. How you manage your time is YOUR responsibility. Managing that obligation is totally up to you – no one else.

There are always ways to make more money – but you can’t make more time.

Do you feel stressed – or blessed?

stressAll businesses have budgets. They have quotas. There is a balance between the cost of running the business and the amount of money coming in through the doors. There has to be more coming in than going out in order to be successful. The dream of running a thriving small business does not exist if the outflow exceeds the inflow.

There’s a story I read years ago in First Things First by Stephen Covey. It’s a story about fitting the most into each day. I always think about it when my own life has a tendency to spin out of control. (And yes, this blog post is a little bit about self-therapy I desperately need!)

In the story, the time scenario is demonstrated with rocks and a jar. The tale starts with a glass jar and a tray of large rocks. The facilitator asked the audience how many rocks could fill up the jar. They all made guesses and the instructor put in the rocks until the jar appeared full. He then asked the audience if the jar was full. Everybody looked at the rocks in the jar and said yes. Then the instructor pulled out a container of gravel from under the table. He poured the gravel into the glass jar and gave it a shake. The small pebbles filled in the spaces between the larger rocks. He turned to his audience again and asked if the jar was full. The audience realized there was more to this game so they hesitated. The facilitator reached under the table again. This time he pulled out a bag of sand. He sprinkled the sand on top of the rocks and the gravel. He gave the glass jar a bit of a shake. The sand settled in between the cracks. He asked his audience again if the jar was full. This time they said no. And sure enough out from under the table came a pitcher of water. He poured in the water until it reached the top of the jar. Now the jar was full.

So what is the moral of the story? Some people think it’s about being able to fit more into your day if you really work at it. That’s not really the lesson. His point was that if the big rocks don’t get put in first, the rest wouldn’t begin to fit inside the glass container.

Your life is the same. Your work is the same. You need to fill in the big pieces first before the smaller pieces can be added. By being deliberate with your time, you can get more out of your day – out of your week – when you place the pieces in the right order.

So how does the scenario play out in a grooming business? Like many service-based businesses, time is money. How do you make the most of it? Do you struggle to get four or five dogs done each day? Are you frustrated because you can’t get eight dogs done in a day without making yourself miserable?

What are your big rocks and how many of them can you fit? How can you fill up your personal jar the most efficiently?

Everything starts with an appointment book or digital schedule. If time is money, and you can’t create more time, you want to make the most efficient use of the time available.

project-teamThe Team

Look at the players you have on your team. What are their strengths? What are their weaknesses? Do they have specialties? Which team members have high-level skills?It doesn’t matter if you are solo flyer or part of a larger team. Isolate and analyze all the strengths and weaknesses. Successful teams focus on strengths. If you have a stylist who is highly proficient at breed profile trimming and high-level skills, it is a waste of time to have that person doing elementary tasks that could easily be delegated to others.

By the same token, if you are a solo stylist, you can still delegate. Do you really need to wear all the hats? Can you delegate salon cleaning? Hire a receptionist or a bookkeeper? My guess is your strength is grooming. Don’t waste time on other tasks that you can delegate.

If you’re trying to grow your business and your team, think about this. People can only handle larger stones if they increase their knowledge base. Helping your team grow by enhancing imagestheir skills is always a smart move.

The Appointment Book

This is a crucial part of putting in the big rocks. The big rocks would be the full-service grooms. Bichons, Shih Tzus, Schnauzers – pets that require haircuts.

Next in line would be the bath and brush style pets. These will be what I would consider the gravel-sized grooms: Golden Retrievers, Labs, Shelties, etc.

After that you’re looking for the sand. These would be the smaller, very simple dogs to do. They may be smaller weekly or biweekly bath and brush dogs or simply short-coated small dogs. Many stylists affectionately refer to them as “Splash and Dashes.”

acco_aag_planner_monthlydaily_lg_optThe water would be the quick things that you could do to increase your revenue. These would be add-on services like:

  • Walk in nail trims
  • Teeth brushing
  • Nail filing
  • Coat and skin conditioning treatments

There is a long list of extra services that could be your water.

Start by figuring out how many of the larger rocks (the full-service grooms) need to go under each stylist per day. Once that is been established, then schedule with less taxing jobs such as the bath and brush dogs. These dogs will be the gravel, filling in between the full-service grooms. Many people color code these types of jobs in the appointment book to give a strong visual of how the day is shaping up. Once the rock and gravel is scheduled, then you can fill in the gaps with the sand – those appointments that are super simple to do. And then to really fill up the day, add in the water – the add-on services.

Grouping Tasks Together

screen-shot-2015-09-15-at-9-20-12-amTo use your time efficiently, group similar tasks together whenever possible. Batching tasks together will always enhance your productivity. Think about it like an assembly line. Even if you just have a couple dogs scheduled at one time, try to work them in an assembly line fashion.

Have the clients drop all the dogs off at approximately the same time. Prep them all at the same time. Get them all into the tub at about the same time. Condense all the drying into a single span of time. Finish them one right after the other. Finally, release them all at the same time.

Why does this work? It minimizes the number of distractions with clients coming and going. It allows you to be much more focused and efficient with your time at the grooming table.

Slow Down

Sometimes the best way to increase your time is to actually slow down. Be deliberate, and methodical. Plan out what you are going to do. Stop and think. Breathe.

Use your appointment book. Create systems you can follow consistently. Ultimately those systems will be your shortcuts to efficiency – and your sanity.

stock-girl-peace-serene-calm-recovery-happy-6y3wAll of us are only given 168 hours a week. The choice is yours how you are going to use it and live your life at work and at home.

Are you going to feel stressed?

Or are you going to feel blessed?

Use your time wisely.

What techniques do you use to be proactive with your schedule? Jump over to the Facebook page and tell us about it!

Happy trimming!

~ Melissa

Can You Teach Yourself to Strip?

October 7th, 2016 by Joelle

finger-pluclkI was at GroomExpo just a few weeks ago and met many wonderful pet professionals. One of them was Connie Carter of Gorgeous Growlers Grooming in Florida. She had attended several of my lectures and at the end of the show she stopped to thank me as we passed in the hall. We chatted a bit and as we parted ways, I reminded her that I was happy to help with any questions that she wanted to email to me. I love complex questions that can lead to blog topic ideas! Well, guess what? Connie didn’t waste any time. Within a week, I got my first question from her – and it’s a good one.

“Can I learn how to hand-strip online? How long does it take to learn how? I have a new client whose Westie puppy is being delivered at the end of October. I do have some experience helping but I’ve never done a full hand stripping job of my own.”

The short answer to your question is: “Yes.” You can teach yourself to hand-strip if you have the right information. The trick is getting the right information at the right time – AND you need to have the right dog with the right coat to practice on!

connieLuckily, hand-stripping is pretty forgiving. Granted, some breeds are easier to learn on than others.

There are two types of coats that need routine stripping to maintain the correct texture and color:

1. Sporting Dogs (also known as Gun Dogs)
2. Harsh-coated pets (primarily in the Terrier and Working groups)

I still remember the coat of my first hand-stripped show West Highland White Terrier. It felt like a suit of armor. The dogs’ jacket was so hard, nothing was going to penetrate that coat. At that point in my career, I had only clipped Westies. They were smooth, soft, and cuddly. I had no idea what hand-stripping was – let alone that hand-stripping was the correct way to prepare the coat.

I rank the difficulty of hand-stripping on a scale from 1 to 3. The coat is factored in, as well as the temperament of the pet.

(Because Connie based her question on a West Highland White Terrier, I will focus more on the harsh-coated coat types. I would say Westies fall between a 2 and a 3 on the following difficulty scale.)



Super simple. The hair pulls out with very little effort.


Requires a bit more thought and effort. The hair needs to be worked a little bit more. You will need a wider variety of stripping tools to get the job done. You also need to think about the new layer of coat coming in. This fresh layer of harsh coat will need to be constantly rotated. The rotation normally takes place at consistent intervals so the dog is never stripped down naked.


In a word – challenging. Different parts of the coat on the dog’s body grow at different rates. Hand stripping them in the right sequence is critical for correct coat regrowth. Some sections are easy to pull down, while others are very difficult. Getting the dog to look conformation show ready is an art. It requires education, knowledge, training, skill, and practice. Lots and lots of practice.

Many accomplished stylists do a combination of half stripping, half clipping on their pet clients. This technique mimics the look and texture of a properly pulled coat. It’s typically much quicker to do. It’s easier on the pet – and kinder to the client’s pocketbook. It will also leave a bit a coat on the dog, making it more attractive to a pet owner.

When you are first starting to learn the technique of hand-stripping, it is advantageous to start with what I would consider a #1 rated dog. Start with something very easy. Preferably, the coat is blown and literally falling out. This type of coat requires very few tools to pull it out – maybe just your fingers. Which breeds with these be? Here are a few:

  • Many of the Russell-type breeds
  • Some Cairn Terriers
  • Border Terriers
  • Some Irish Terriers
  • PBGVs
  • Irish Wolfhounds
  • Otter Hounds
  • Podengos
  • Scottish Deerhounds
  • German Wirehaired Pointers
  • Wirehaired Vizslas
  • Spinone Italianos
  • many mixed breeds including wire coated Doodles

stripAs you increase your skill level, you’ll be ready to tackle more challenging coats. I would consider these dogs a #2 in their level of difficulty. Keep in mind many dogs could waver between levels.

  • Wire coated Dachshunds
  • Australian Terriers
  • Dandie Dinmont Terriers
  • Glenn of Imaals
  • Norfolk Terriers
  • Norwich Terriers
  • Brussels Griffons
  • Bouvier des Flandres’

Once you have mastered the skills required to hand-strip #1 and #2 rated coat types, then you’re ready to start working on the most challenging group. Remember to keep in mind that this also depends on the dog.

  • all of the Schnauzers
  • Airedales
  • Lakeland Terriers
  • Scottish Terriers
  • Welsh Terriers
  • Westies
  • Wire Fox Terriers
  • Affenpinschers

All of the harsh-coated breeds will vary slightly with their degree of difficulty. A number of factors affect where they ultimately fall in this rating system. Genetics need to be considered. Hormones, as well as whether the dog is  altered or intact will affect a coat. The length of time between grooming sessions will dictate how readily their coats pull. The climate and the season will also play a role in how easily the coat is removed.

Where do you turn when you want to learn the technique of hand-stripping? You have options – and many of them can be self-directed.


Start with observing high-quality dogs. Seeing a dog in the flesh is the best way. Go to dog shows. Study the dogs in the grooming area as well as in the ring. Look at magazines featuring top winning dogs. Do an online search for images of AKC or UKC Champions. Go to top breeder websites. Watch dog shows online or on TV.

You need to firmly etch a mental picture of what a high-quality hand-stripped dog should look like. It is also important to actually touch the coat to get an idea of what it feels like. Achieving any type of quality without this knowledge will be impossible.


Breed specific books will give you details. There is one particular booklet I really like. It does an excellent job of explaining the techniques of hand-stripping. It’s older and though it may not be very sophisticated, the material is timeless This book caters to what I would consider the more challenging breeds: broken-coated Terriers that have their coats “staged” for proper regrowth. However, the techniques outlined can be applied to many of the easier breeds as well.  Click here to see more details about this book.


Most professional pet groomers are visual learners. Videos are a great way to go – as long as the content is accurate.

In this day and age, you have to be very careful. Trust me, I just did some quick research to see what was currently available on YouTube concerning hand-stripping. There certainly was a wealth of information but much of it was scary. Sure, there is a few nuggets of excellent content but you have to know what you’re looking for and have enough knowledge to know whether you’re looking at quality techniques or not. You’re better off looking for top stylists that are producing videos on the topic. You can find them both in DVDs as well as online streaming. In the library there is a wide assortment of streaming video lessons. Here’s a hint. If you search the site using the word “strip” in the search bar, you will pull up ALL the hand-stripping lessons. From there, you can isolate what appeals to you.

All of the training partners do a great job. Jennifer Hecker does an excellent job explaining the basics of dealing with a harsh-coated Terrier. Lisa Leady, Suesan Watson, and Amy Triezenberg all focus on beginner and intermediate hand-stripping. Most of their lessons deal with typical pet dogs we see in our grooming salons. Michelle Evans focuses on more advanced techniques, as well as how to apply different stripping techniques. There are many other training partners sprinkled through the hand-stripping section who also have exceptional lessons.

When you are looking for DVDs or videos to watch, make sure you verify the qualifications of the demonstrator. There are many high-quality lessons available but others can be a waste of time.

Clinics and Seminars

One of the best ways to learn hand-stripping techniques is to attend a clinic or seminar. Advanced hand-stripping is definitely an art. It takes plenty of knowledge and practice. Learning from a master is a huge shortcut when it comes to becoming proficient. How do you find out about clinics and seminars? Many certification organizations host workshops. Make sure you are on their mailing lists. Join a couple professional groups on Facebook such as Pro Groomer Network. Your state may have an organized groomers Facebook page. Grooming schools in your area may also host events.


Finding a mentor for a particular technique or breed will certainly fast track you to your goals. The mentor may come from the conformation show ring, the competitive pet styling arena, or they may have years of experience grooming pets. As your skills grow, your mentors might grow and change. And if you can’t find a mentor, find a study partner who is looking to expand their skills. Somebody that you can work with you as a team to find the best information. Meet up after hours to work on your skills together with practice pets.

Whatever route you choose, you certainly can teach yourself. Finding help in the form of books, videos, seminars, clinics, or an actual mentor will certainly help. The more you are able to combine those learning resources, the shorter your learning curve.

The art of hand-stripping is becoming more widely accepted in the pet grooming arena. When a new harsh-coated Terrier walks through your door, think twice about clipping the coat off. Is that really the best option? Clipper cutting a harsh-coated Terrier typically destroys the correct texture. Many clients opt for that route simply to reduce cost and time factors associated with hand stripping. For those clients that have educated themselves about their breeds, hand stripping may be their preference – as long as they can find a professional pet stylist that can execute the technique correctly.

Are you that person?

Do you do any hand-stripping?  Why or why not? Jump over to the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page and tell us about it!

Happy trimming!

~ Melissa

The Power of Natural Remedies

September 29th, 2016 by Joelle

Using Natural Remedies to Ward Off Laryngitis


I’ve been a long-time believer of natural remedies. The healing power of nature is amazing. There are so many avenues, it’s often mind-boggling.

I have used natural remedies to cure tendonitis, boost my immune system, sleep better, relax, increase energy, control cholesterol, and ward off cancer. I follow a Paleo/anticancer diet which eliminates all processed foods. I have had great success using natural means to ward off health concerns.

This success makes me a true believer in this quote:


This year has been extremely busy. With the release of the second edition of Notes from the Grooming Table, I have been doing a lot of speaking engagements. I also have a long history of losing my voice when I speak for extended periods. I’m just very prone to laryngitis.

I always feel fine – I just can’t speak above a very soft whisper. Normally, I have been able to get through my events before I lost my voice. This year was different. I was consistently losing my voice after just two lectures.

I had been hired by Barkleigh Productions to speak at Groom Expo. A few weeks before the show, reality started to sink in. I had been hired to give seven lectures over the weekend! Not only was I speaking, I had a judging assignment, too. In addition, I was attending the Barkleigh Honor Awards banquet for two nominations: Website of the Year and Book of the Year. When you factor in all of the talking that happens at any trade show, I knew laryngitis was likely. What would I do if people couldn’t hear one of my hour-long presentations? How could I motivate, inspire, or teach them if I couldn’t speak?

I needed to keep my voice.

product5_seasonal_throatcoatlemonechinacea-06-348x408At the Atlanta Pet Fair, Lisa and Eric Leady introduced me to an organic tea that their daughter Amanda drank before singing engagements. My husband ran out right away and got me a box of Throat Coat by Traditional Medicinals. After drinking a few cups over night, my voice came back.

About a week before the Hershey show, I reached out on Facebook and asked if anybody had any suggestions on natural preventatives for laryngitis. I was flooded with suggestions!

Luckily, there are many common threads. Added humidity, essential oils combined with tea, honey, and lemon were the top contenders. I narrowed down the comments into the following treatment plan.


When I thought back on my speaking engagements for this year, I realized all were in hotels or convention centers with air conditioning. Hmmm… Air-conditioning removes humidity from the air. Could that be a major cause for my bouts with laryngitis?

Many of the comments suggested running a hot shower in the hotel room to build up humidity levels. Other people suggested running a humidifier.

I didn’t do either. I took it one step further.

We were traveling and staying in our coach at a local RV park. We opted to leave the windows open versus running the air conditioner which would have reduced the natural humidity levels.

I knew I had a steam inhaler sitting in the cabinet. It got packed into the coach. I used it at least three times a day while I was speaking – with a few drops of essential oils.

Essential Oils

essential_oilsFor years I had been hearing about the powers of essential oils. I had dabbled in it, but hadn’t yet jumped on the bandwagon. I even had two books outlining suggested usage for essential oils, as well as all the items that go along with using them! I was totally ready to jump in!

For laryngitis, I used a combination of sandalwood, frankincense, and lavender in a variety of ways. It was also heavily suggested that I boost my immune system by using Doterra “On Guard,” an essential oil protective blend.

Here’s how I used the essential oils.

I mixed On Guard with fractionated coconut oil according to directions in my book. I put this mixture in a small rollerball applicator. I started using On Guard about a week prior to the event. I put it on my wrists, forearms, and the bottoms of my feet several times during the day.

I also mixed sandalwood with fractionated coconut oil according to instructions and put it in a small rollerball applicator. This would be applied to my forearms and my throat five or six times a day while I was speaking.

I started to put On Guard into my diffuser. I ran the diffuser whenever we were in the coach. The diffuser added the immunity boosting properties of On Guard into the air. The little bit of the humidity it added didn’t hurt either! Plus, it smelled great!

The steam inhaler was a great bonus item. I really feel it helped keep my voice strong. I spent about 20 minutes, three times a day, using the steam inhaler that contained a drop of sandalwood, frankincense, and lavender essential oils.


coffee-and-dna-jpg-653x0_q80_crop-smartAs soon as we arrived in Hershey, I started drinking my Throat Coat tea. There are two types, one with lemon and one without. I have used both with great success. I would start my day with a nice mug of hot tea and one or two tablespoons of honey. I continued to drink the tea and honey throughout the day. It was always in my spill-proof travel mug and never far from my side. On a rare evening occasion, I’d even added a small splash of Jim Beam Honey to the brew. It’s not the best way to stick to my overall diet plan, but it’s sure a great way to wind down after a long day!

So how did my natural remedies work while I was at Groom Expo 2016?

I’ve got to be honest. I was a bit skeptical about my voice holding up, but I was still going strong after four lectures! I did fine through a judging assignment, another lecture, and the Barkleigh Honors Awards where I gave two acceptance speeches. My voice remained strong (okay, maybe a little jittery during the acceptance speeches) and I went into my third day with two more lectures without a hint of laryngitis!

I have become a true believer of the power of essential oils combined with other natural healing methods to overcome common ailments. I was thrilled with my results. In the future, the items pictured above will always be my traveling companions for any speaking engagement!

What natural methods do you swear by? Jump over to the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page and tell us about it!

Happy trimming!

~ Melissa

Making the Most of a Seminar

September 22nd, 2016 by Joelle

seminarWhen you attend trade shows and clinics, preparing in advance can help you make the most of this experience.  Seminars are a great way to improve your skills and recharge your batteries.  Meeting your mentors and soaking up their knowledge is a fantastic opportunity, and if you can see and hear them in action, it maximizes the experience.  When you know what you need and what you hope to get out of the session, you can better prepare yourself to squeeze out as much as you can from your time together.

1.  Step into the session with a very open mind.

If you are young and fresh to the industry, the amount of information that you get can be intimidating.  Listen, take notes, and soak up every bit of knowledge that you can.  Sometimes that may mean suspending what you know in order to make room for something new.  Trying new techniques or ideas can be uncomfortable just because you’ve never tried it before.  Keeping an open mind enables you to break from your routine to get different results.  With time and practice, the awkwardness goes away and you become more efficient.  Remember: having more tools, techniques, and knowledge allows you to have multiple approaches to a problem.

2.  Make efficient use of the time available.

Many trainers at these sessions have limited time.  They are often rushing from one obligation to another – judging competitions, speaking in seminars, or providing hands-on clinics.  If they can, many will take the time to answer your questions.  If you know what you need to ask, it helps you make the best use of the brief time you may have together.  Be prepared – write down your questions in advance so you don’t forget something important or stumble over your words.  Being ready to participate in the learning experience helps you make the best use of the session – and the presenter will respect you for it.

3.  Don’t be nervous – plan ahead.

With so much to see and do at trade shows, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.  Break out the catalog and study the floor plan before you arrive.  Map out your plan of attack to make sure you get to everything you need to see.  Some shows have free apps you can download to help make the most out of your experience.  Know the schedule of events so you don’t miss that speaker you’ve been hoping to see.  Sometimes it’s good to go to shows like this with a friend – divide and conquer, then compare notes later.

As your knowledge and skills advance, the clinics won’t be as daunting. They will become a great way for you to fine-tune your skills.  You can begin to network and exchange thoughts with others in the industry who can provide insight when you need it.  Plus, these types of functions are a great way to invigorate your career.

These principles remain valid for many forms of advanced learning in the pet grooming industry. Maybe you don’t have the opportunity to do a hands-on training session. There is a wealth of information to learn from these all-star pet stylists. You might be in the audience at a trade show, pet grooming competition or watching a grooming video lesson featuring one of these top stylists. The better you can execute the core skills with your everyday grooming, the easier it will be to successfully transfer their lessons to your own grooming table.

If you are not as accomplished as these award-winning and highly successful pet groomers are – take note. You can learn a lot from their well-developed skills. Learning new skills, tips, and tricks make grooming pets all that more fun!

What do you attend at trade shows? What do you look forward to shopping for when you go to Hershey? Jump over to the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page and tell us about it!

Happy trimming!

~ Melissa


Thinning Shears are the Pet Stylist’s Eraser

September 15th, 2016 by Joelle

Are you thinking about upgrading any of your pet grooming tools? For many dog groomers, The Groom Expo in Hershey, PA that is coming up later this month is a perfect time to see and test new items for your tool kit. If you are saving your tip money to buy new thinning shears, this blog is for you!

pencilThinning shears (or blending shears) are the best-kept secrets in the grooming world. Used properly, they can make mistakes much less noticeable. For a new stylist, this is one of the first shears I always recommend upgrading in your toolbox.

It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been grooming or how talented you are as a pet stylist – sometimes you just need a little help. An “oops” can occur at any time. Mistakes happen.

Maybe there is a spot on the coat that you just can’t get smooth. Maybe there is tracking in the coat from the clippers or guard comb. You may have left scissor marks in the coat – or a hole in the coat you accidentally made with clippers or scissors. You might even be working with a dog that will not hold still long enough to work safely with clippers or scissors – leaving the coat rough and jagged.

Thinning shears can be your savior. They erase rough spots. They blend out jagged edges. They smooth out transition areas. They fix mistakes.

The difference between a good stylist and a great stylist can be determined by how much value they place on their blending shears.

ToolboxStylists that understand the value of this type of shear will invest in multiple pairs. Just like straight edge shears, there are wide varieties from which to choose. Some are for more general use while others have more specific usage. The key is to know how you want to use the shear. Do you need it for light wispy coats? Drop coats? Terrier styling? Working around the head or eye area or dealing with large surface areas? There is a blender to fit every single one of these needs.

I always suggest you personally try out thinning shears before you purchase them. Just like Colin Taylor says, shears are like shoes. You need to find the ones that fit you! They have to fit properly as well as cut smoothly and run effortlessly in your hands.

So how do you narrow down your choices? Ask. Find out what other groomers and stylists are using. Determine which thinning shears they rely on every day in their salons. Believe me, they have opinions! There are lots of fabulous thinning shears out there – but there’s also a lot of junk.

Most high quality blending shears will have an average cost of $150 – $350. Of course, you can spend more if you like. Your equipment is an investment in your career. You may not need the Rolls-Royce when you first start out – but you do need something that is reliable and dependable. Luckily, there are many styles and varieties from which to choose.

royale-double-teeth-thinning-shear-bladesThe difference between a good stylist and a great stylist is that they know how to fix mistakes. Every one of us makes them. Having a nice collection of thinning and blending shears will be the erasers you need when that “oops!” happens.

What are your favorite shears? What do you look forward to shopping for when you go to Hershey? Jump over to the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page and tell us about it!

Happy trimming!

~ Melissa

Why Should I Schedule Holiday Appointments in September?

September 9th, 2016 by Joelle

dogIt’s hard to think about scheduling for the holidays with apples still growing bright on the trees and pumpkins still turning orange in the fields. Warm weather makes it hard to start thinking about holiday plans. What if I told you that this is the perfect time to avoid holiday stress?

The secret to avoiding holiday madness is to put your festive season pre-booking plans into gear before the chill hits the air. Are you surprised? It’s true! Here is an added perk to pre-booking holiday appointments. ‘Tis the season to guarantee the typically quiet months of January and February are lively and robust. This is the perfect time to ensure you have a holly, jolly, and profitable grooming season.

When you count it out, we are not that far out from many prime holidays. In just six short weeks it will be Halloween. In 10 weeks we celebrate Thanksgiving in the United States. In about 15 weeks we will celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah. All of these holidays revolve around friends and family.

holiday-stress-600x300pxOne of the biggest ways to eliminate being frazzled by all the holiday pressures is to get organized, now. The last thing your clients want to worry about is having their four-legged fur baby looking unkempt and bedraggled as friends and family enter their homes to celebrate the season.

Years ago we discovered that pre-booking was a great way to get control of our salon schedule. It offered a great benefit to our customers, as well. We even found a few hidden bonuses. One of those bonuses was shortening the time frame between appointments on our five and six-week clients. Our customers often opted to shave off a week or two from their regular schedule just to make sure their dog was looking fresh and festive. By doing so, the added revenue dropped directly to our bottom line. Another bonus was the generosity of tips around the holiday season. The third bonus was our ability to pre-book into the typically slower January and February appointment time frames here in Michigan. When done correctly, our January and February can be some of our more profitable months.

So how do you kick this off?

Start by going through your client list. Identify your premiere clients. You know who they are – the clients that book regular appointments every one, two, three, four, five, and six weeks. You will start pre-booking appointments based on the frequency your clients typically come into the salon.

5-phone-calls-that-saved-me-100Once you have them identified, it’s time to pick up the phone and get them scheduled. I consider it a courtesy call to our most important and regular clients.

Your weekly and bi-weekly clients should have automatic standing appointments throughout the entire year. Those clients are your most valued premier customers. Confirm all of their appointments. They should be dropped into the schedule first, getting premium appointment choices. Once all your one and two-week clients are booked, move to your three-week clients. If they do not already have pre-scheduled appointments through the holiday season, pick up the phone to get them scheduled. Continue to move down the list to the four-week clients. Finish up with your five- and six-week clients.

By the time you are done, you will have very few appointments left. Why? Because you’ve done such a good job taking care of your most valuable clients. If you do have any appointments left, you can be selective about what you take. You will have the control and confidence to know what can be done or what needs to go on to a cancellation list or when you simply need to say, “I’m sorry, but we are full.”

Once the schedule is set – stick to your guns. Sure, the holiday season can be extremely profitable for grooming establishments, but do you really need to push yourself beyond your limits?

No. Not if you value your mental and physical health.

istock_83916991_mediumOnce you get into the final countdown in November and December, looking forward six weeks will be January and February. Before those clients leave, they should have their January and February appointments pre-booked. If you struggle to get clients to pre-book during the colder months, think about incentives to help encourage pre-booking. Maybe it’s a discount off their next grooming. Maybe it’s a free add-on, upsell, or spa treatment. Get creative – but make sure you’re ready to offer the incentive at checkout to get those deep winter appointments booked.

Don’t forget, the holiday season is about friends and family. You have a right to enjoy them, too. How can you fully enjoy family time when you’re totally drained? Some of you may miss festivities altogether! I can’t tell you how many Christmas Eve’s and even Christmas days I totally missed because I was simply exhausted. Most successful groomers have to learn this lesson the hard way – including myself!  Don’t believe me? Click here to check out my video on!

When you have a pre-booking priority system, you are in control. You’ll be able to recapture your holiday spirit and sanity – and so will your team!

Remember, as the holidays draw closer, the dogs get easier. Typically, these are the one- to three-week regularly scheduled pets. Simple spruce-ups are usually all that’s needed to make them look amazing for their families.

This system works best when you start pre-booking in September. Don’t wait. You’ll thank me later when you have time to enjoy loved ones and some holiday cheer.

What steps do YOU take? Jump over to the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page and tell us about it!

Happy trimming!

~ Melissa

Are You a Dog Grooming Success?

September 1st, 2016 by Joelle

rrimageDog groomers love to do a good job. We like the way it feels to excel and to please other people. For some, this is how they measure success.  For others, this is a starting point.  Do you want to know the steps and work it takes to go from good to great?

What are your goals? Do you admire today’s top competitive pet stylists? Maybe you have your sights on certification. Do you have a dream of someday becoming a certified master groomer or pet stylist? Maybe you hope to become a member of GroomTeam USA or represent your country in world team competition?

Maybe your dog grooming aspirations have nothing to do with competitive styling. Maybe your goal is winning the trust and respect of pet owners, turning them into regular clients.

They’re all worthy goals – and guess what? It’s not as hard as you think. There is no complicated recipe. But there is a secret.

Focus on the fundamentals.

Success is all about the fundamentals. The fundamentals are the little things. The ordinary things. And often, they are the tedious things. But to be the best you must master them. You must become a master of those ordinary, everyday tasks. With every act of greatness, whether in sports, business, the arts, or in pet grooming, the best of the best achieve extraordinary feats by doing ordinary things with amazing consistency, commitment, and focus.

c00aa89c0f35c77225dcdc099b7a0f84What are the fundamentals in dog grooming?

It means perfecting the core skills: bathing, drying, brushing, fluffing, and dematting. It’s also clipping, scissoring, as well as understanding basic structure and anatomy. It means having solid and safe handling skills.

As a professional dog groomer and stylist, we get to practice these skills all the time. In fact, many of us practice them every single day. World-class pet stylists don’t master their craft by working every day on perfect dogs with fabulous coats in perfect condition. For many of them, the only time they work on a “perfect dog” is in the ring – and under the pressure of competition. Even then, there is no such thing as a perfect dog. Every dog has its flaws – even the perfect ones.

Top stylists know it takes years of practice with everyday pets to master the fundamentals. Winning doesn’t just happen on the day of the competition. Winning is a result of dedication and hard work. The trophy is a product of training, study, and sacrifice. You cannot earn a high grade in certification testing on testing day, alone. Winning or earning high grades on your practical skills tests starts in every bathtub and on every grooming table, every day. There is no such thing as an overnight success. Typically, it takes years of uncountable numbers of hours of dedication to the craft.

Practice, in itself, is not enough. In order to truly succeed you need to follow this rule: Perfect Practice Makes Perfect. If you are not practicing dog grooming fundamentals correctly, you’re wasting your time. Clients will not return if your work is sub-par. Awards will not be given. High test scores will be out of reach.

514_400x400_NoPeelWith so many variables with dog grooming, where do you start? What coaching or training technique should you trust? How do you learn the RIGHT skills?

Start at the ground floor and learn from the masters. The information is out there. You will find it in:

  • magazines
  • books
  • clinics
  • workshops
  • seminars
  • schools
  • trade shows
  • conformation dog shows
  • obedience classes
  • grooming competitions
  • videos
  • blogs

Research online. Talk to vendors and manufacturers. Work with a mentor, a coach, a consultant. Look. Listen. Learn.  But don’t blindly trust everything you find – check references whenever possible. Today, there is a lot of information out there – unfortunately not all of it is good information! Talk to the experts to make sure the material you are learning is correct and safe.

As you learn, take it one small step at a time. Dissect every step. Break it down. For every technique there are micro steps to learn to perfect any skill. Study those micro steps.

stairsStart at the very beginning just like with a long flight of stairs. You start at the bottom, taking one step at a time. Mastering dog grooming fundamentals is a lot like a staircase. Jumping ahead or skipping steps will not get you ahead any faster. In fact, missing steps is way more detrimental to a career than staying on course dealing with each step moving up the flight of stairs.

With every step along the way, you are creating a knowledge base. It will continue to grow with your career. It is paramount for any pet professional to have fabulous pet handling skills to build trust with our furry clients while keeping them safe. Another area that is critical to any successful pet groomer or stylist is learning the finer details of structure and anatomy.

The key is to focus on improving each day, taking the necessary steps. If you incrementally improve each day, each week, each month, each quarter – by the end of the year you will see remarkable results and growth. Over time, by committing to this process, the best develop their skills and enhance their performance as they strive for excellence and achieving perfect execution.

If you want to be at the very top of your game, to become one of the best professional pet groomers/stylists in your town, in your state, in your country, you need to practice perfect fundamentals. Every. Single. Day. You don’t need to have perfect pets to make this happen. Grooming everyday pets offers an abundant opportunity to practice the fundamentals.

Your success doesn’t necessarily mean winning the award or scoring a high grade. Sometimes success means having a full appointment book with happy customers. That’s what truly makes a successful grooming business.

What steps do YOU take? Jump over to the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page and tell us about it!

Happy trimming!

~ Melissa

Do I Really Need to Learn Anything Else?

August 25th, 2016 by Joelle

(Welcome to my blog!  This week, my marketing expert, Joelle Asmondy, will be filling in for me.  Joelle is a whiz with marketing and is a firm believer in education.  Enjoy!)

handI was at one of our industry’s amazing trade shows recently and had a brief but memorable exchange with a lady that walked past our booth. I wished her a good morning and without turning her head, she glanced at the table in front of me and the many books we had on display. Never breaking stride, she dismissed me with a quick,
“I’ve been in this business for 28 years – I’m good.”

“What a blessing that she has been in business that long!” I thought. “AND that she still comes to trade shows! She must really love the work she does!” I was so impressed that for a second I didn’t realize the subtext of our “conversation.”

“I don’t need to learn anything else.”

Wait – what?!

It was such a quick encounter, but I can’t stop thinking about it. I’ve replayed it over and over in my head. This morning I finally realized why this struck such a chord with me.

ramirez-bored-yawnWhen I was working my way through college, I worked for several months in a plastics assembly plant. The work wasn’t hard and I actually enjoyed working with my hands, but I could see the lifeless glaze in the eyes of my co-workers who had been at the job for years – and would probably never leave. They had done the same tasks at the same stations for years. There was no challenge in it for them anymore. They would fall into trance-like states while working. This was not the same look I got when I lost myself in a painting I was working on, when time fell away and I lost track of my surroundings until I came up for air. This was different. For them, everything was the same, with nothing to stimulate or relieve the mindless repetition until lunch time. There was no joy and no pride in what they were doing. It was just a job – something to be done for a paycheck.

Dog grooming, like anything else, has routines. It’s how we maintain consistency, quality, and safety. However, I just can’t imagine being satisfied with doing things the same way, every day, for the rest of my life. After all, technology changes. Breed standards evolve. Styles change. People certainly change. How can anyone in an industry as rich and diverse as ours possibly think that there is nothing more to learn, nothing to be gained by looking at something anew?

“I’m good.”learning-priorities-Development

Anyone in sales or who works a trade show will tell you that you have to accept hearing, “no” more than you hear, “yes.” Was this person just telling me that she didn’t want to spend her money with us? Possibly. Maybe she had other priorities – shampoo, sharpening, new shears – that needed the cash in her wallet. I respect that. The difference is the deferral she gave. It wasn’t, “I already have that,” or “No thanks,” or even, “Leave me alone.” I have a very strong feeling that, had I offered the books for free, I would still have been met with, “I’m good.”

“I’ve been in this business for 28 years….”

I love it when people stop by to tell us how long they’ve been grooming – and that they still love learning new things. I love it because I know they’re happier in their lives. There’s something about trying new things and embracing change that stimulates us and makes us thrive, not just live. Think about the last time you experimented with a new technique. Maybe you tried Asian Fusion for the first time and your customer LOVED it? Maybe you learned a different scissoring method that saved time and effort which enabled you to groom another dog each day – or to go home a little earlier? Maybe you tried a new shampoo that reduced the amount of time you had to spend brushing a tangled pet and your arms weren’t so tired every night?

13178553_10154208688333593_7385084264050383064_nWhatever it was, it happened because you were open to learning something new. Does that mean you HAVE to go out and buy our books? Of course not (although we wouldn’t mind!). Don’t automatically short-change yourself because you’ve been at it for years. There is always something new to be learned and so much more to life than just slogging through the days.

Successful people know that learning is the key to their success. If you settle back and decide that you’ve learnt everything you need to know about running a business, about succeeding in your career or about managing and motivating your team … you’ll lose out to competitors who have a passion for learning.”

So true.

It may not be easy or convenient to learn new things. It takes time to adapt to new things until the change feels natural – but isn’t it worth it? Best friends were strangers at first. Think of all the movies you might have missed, the books you’d never read, and the amazing food you’d never have experienced if you’d never tried anything new. I try new things every day and I can honestly say that because of it…

“I’m good.”

Make it a great week!

~ Joelle Asmondy

Are YOU still learning?  What inspires you to keep educating yourself?  Jump over to the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page and tell us about it!

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