The Top Pet Handling Secrets for Aspiring Pet Professionals – Learn the Main Techniques Used to Win the Trust and Cooperation of a Pet

July 2nd, 2015 by Joelle

imagerrIn my years of teaching beginners, I’ve seen hundreds of dogs take advantage of a new students. Dogs pull. They squirm. They whine. They snarl. They nip. They bite. I’ve seen many students frustrated to the point of tears.

Then a miracle happens.

An instructor walks over to the pet and gently takes over for the student. The dog instantly turns into a perfect angel. The students’ jaw drops. A moment passes before the student exclaims, “How did that happen?!?” The answer is simple.

Energy.

Dogs have keen senses that pick up on our energy and our confidence. Dogs have an uncanny ability to read body energy. They read us clearly even when we don’t think we are connecting to them. In the example above, the dog picked up on the instructor’s energy without a word having to be said.

Dogs are primarily nonverbal communicators. They have a language of their own. They are very clear in the messages that they give us. It is up to us to be able to interpret that language.

The #1 rule when working with pets is to remember the three C’s. As a professional you must remain: Calm, Cool, and Collected. In ALL circumstances. The second you step out of this energy mode, the dog pet will know it instantly.

Dogs are hardwired to think like dogs. They need a pack leader. If you do not exude the three C’s, dog language translates that to mean, “poor leader.” They will not follow you. They will not cooperate with you.

So how do you gain the upper edge on the situation? Simple. It all starts with your BREATHING.

I know it sounds far-fetched. It’s so elementary. We do it every day. We don’t even think about it. Breathing.

However, when you need to create a calm, cool, and collected energy, your breaths need to be deep and saturating. Simply breathe in slowly and deeply through your nose. Draw in the air and feel it fill your lungs. Now exhale slowly through your mouth. The most important part of deep breathing is to regulate your breaths. Three to four seconds in. Three to four seconds out.

Try it. You can feel the oxygen saturating your body.

Deep breathing can release stress and provide other noticeable health benefits. You will likely feel calmer after performing deep breathing exercises, and may trade feelings of anger or fear for a focused, relaxed state of mind. Most dogs will totally gravitate to this energy in a very positive way.

I firmly believe that 98% of all dog bites are preventable by reading the animal correctly and taking the appropriate precautions to protect yourself while gaining humane control over the pet. Your hands are your livelihood. You must take utmost care not to let your hands become injured.

Every pet is an individual with different physical and emotional characteristics. Some dogs receive clear directions and boundaries at home, making them very easy to work on in a professional setting. Other pets will not have the skills necessary to be well-mannered candidates in a professional grooming setting.

The personality quirks that you’ll experience while working professionally with pets will range from dogs that are perfect angels, to dogs that are mildly annoying, to dogs that could be potentially dangerous to work on for both the handler and to the pet itself.

Whenever working with pets it is always critical to remember the 3 Cs. As a professional you must remain calm, cool, and collected in all circumstances. And BREATHE.

Whenever you have a dog on a table or in your grooming facility, you must use humane, respectful, and consistent training messages. The more you can learn about dog psychology and combine it with actual experience, winning the control and the respect over the dogs will become second nature.

Always remember that dogs are primarily silent communicators. Excessive talking or giving of commands is not necessary to effectively communicate with them. Much of your control can come from maintaining the Three C’s – Always remain Calm, Cool, and Collected while working with any animal.

Any time you feel you are losing control of the three C’s, it’s time to step away from the grooming table and take a break. Breathe. Only when you can totally regain your composure is it time to step back and begin your work again.

There are many videos on Pet Handling in the Learn2GroomDogs library. Also my blog on Rating Dog Personalities is very helpful when determining how to rate personality and behavior in dogs.

What techniques do you use to stay calm, cool, and collected?  Jump over to the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page and tell us about it!

Happy trimming!

~Melissa


8 Ways to Understand Your Boss

June 25th, 2015 by Joelle

I love hearing success stories. I especially love it when they are grooming salon success stories!

Over the years I have met thousands of groomers. Some are solo stylists. Others have small teams that make their businesses flourish. Others have large teams or are part of a larger corporation. Not all are business owners or managers. Many groomers and stylists I meet are simply a part of a very successful team – and love their jobs.Almost every one of them, no matter where they started, started with a dream:

  • A dream of grooming pets professionally.
  • A dream of finding a rewarding career.
  • A dream of starting a business.
  • A dream of growing that business.

Nothing makes me happier than hearing about a grooming business that is knocking it out of the park. They have a handle on their work load… their finances… their management skills. Their grooming skills just keep getting better with time. They have strong customer service skills. If they face a challenge – they tackle it – and fix it or improve it.

I can guarantee every successful grooming business owner fully understands this quote:

This statement could not be more true. Your true boss is not yourself. It’s not your manager. It’s not the person who signs your paycheck. None of them created the funds fueling payroll.

Customers do.

A grooming business provides something of value to the customer in exchange for payment. If you don’t provide the type of grooming the customer expects, they will go somewhere else – plain and simple.

Principles to Learn

Your customers are the most important aspect of developing grooming business.

  • Customers = job security
  • Customers = income
  • Customers = advancement
  • Customers = continuing education
  • Customers = opportunities
    • The customer ultimately determines whether or not you have a job.
    • Many people think the company is the source of their job security. They are wrong. It’s based on whether customers keep coming back. Repeat customers create job security.
    • Customers provide the money that you receive on a regular basis.
    • Building strong relationships with customers is the fastest path for career advancement.
    • Customers provide an opportunity for you to grow your grooming skills every time you groom and style their pet.

Here are 8 things you can do right now to build a positive relationship.

Impress your “boss customers” when they walk through the door with their beloved pooches.

  1. Smile. Smile. Smile.
  2. Call your customers by name – and know their pet’s names, too. People love to feel known and welcome. Use their names – don’t be shy!
  3. Recognize repeat customers and their pets instantly. The best way to do this is to keep accurate DETAILED customer service records. Having the client’s essential information in one place makes client management easy. Creating a trim history record of each haircut is particularly helpful. This history allows you to easily refer back to it during future appointments.
  4. Go out of your way to address the needs of your customers and their pets. Customer education is at the heart of this. Talk to them. Teach them. Provide handouts or visuals to hone your message.
  5. Try to impress your customer, like you were angling for a raise from your boss. Never skimp on quality grooming. Always do something a little above and beyond what they expect – but make sure it’s something they will appreciate.
  6. Think about your paycheck every time you talk with a customer.
  7. Be reliable. Keeping your promises builds integrity, trust, and customer loyalty.
  8. Always look for ways to advance and boost your skills. The best groomers and stylists are always looking for ways to improve their performances. Always look for ways to enhance your service edge.

Think about it. If we dealt with all customers like they were “the boss,” I bet customers would be treated very differently.

This is a key concept highly successful grooming establishments understand. The customer controls our paychecks.

Not yourself.

Not your manager.

Not the salon owner.

Sam Walton was right. The customer IS the boss. They can fire anybody – at any time – simply by spending their money elsewhere.

Every successful grooming establishment I know applies this principle to every customer interaction they have. Do you?

Do you treat your customers like they are “your boss?” What do you do to cement that relationship?  Jump over to the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page and tell us about it!

Happy trimming!

~Melissa


How to Use Anatomy to Groom the English Setter

June 18th, 2015 by Joelle

Anatomy is the Foundation of All Grooming 

You’ve heard me say this before:

All dogs – whether a Yorkshire Terrier, a Great Dane, a Bulldog, or a Dachshund – possess identical bone and muscle structure. Fundamentally, they all are the same.

Excellent grooming starts always starts with a firm understating of canine anatomy. It is the FOUNDATION of all grooming.

Basic pattern lines are set based on the muscle and bone structure.

Depending on how physically active a dog is, the muscle structure may be very prominent. It could be lurking under a layer of fat. It may also be poorly developed due to age or lack of physical activity.

Nonetheless, those muscles are there. They will help you set symmetrical and correct pattern lines.

The bones are there, too. Whether the dog is anatomically correct when compared to the breed standard is something else altogether when we are dealing with pet dogs. Understanding what a physically sound dog is will help you immensely. When you know the difference between good and bad structure, you’ll be able to hide many faults.

When we combine all the layers of the dog – the bones, muscles, the skin and the fur – we will be able to mold and shape the coat to highlight the dog’s best features and downplay the others. If the bone structure is a little less than perfect, you can use the hair to camouflage those defects.

Before you begin grooming any dog, get your hands on them! Close your eyes. Feel the structure under the coat. Sink your fingers deep in the fur. Pay close attention to the muscle groups highlighted in color in these diagrams.

The Essence of the Breed

Before you start grooming any dog, you need to familiarize yourself with the breed and understand its essence.

The English Setter is a Sporting dog of great style. It should be physically fit and structurally sound to work long hours in the field flushing game. The general outline of the English Setter will be rectangular. The shoulder lay back and the angles of both the front and rear assemblies should allow for adequate reach and drive.

The coat is silky, flat, and should lay close to the body. English Setters have longer feathering on the ears, chest, abdomen, underside of thighs, back of all legs, and on the tail. The longer coat should not be so long as to hide the true lines of the dogs, movement, or the function of field hunting.

Landmarks for Grooming & Styling

When it comes to grooming, let’s work around the dog using its anatomy as a reference.

When done “correctly,” Setters are hand stripped for a very natural look. However, in pet grooming circles, it is common to see the pattern clipper-cut or styled using a combination of clipping and stripping to save time. Regardless of the method you chose, the anatomy reference points – or landmarks – will remain the same.

Setting the Throat: Feel for the muscles at the sides of the neck to set the throat pattern line. A visual clue to this area is at the “frill” or cowlick line running down the sides of the neck. The throat area is directly below the jaw, inside the muscles running down the outside of the neck. The shape is generally a soft “U” shape. The lowest part of the “U” stops a few fingers above the prosternum bone.

Body: The jacket coat on the bulk of the body is shorter and lays flat on dog. Follow the natural lay of the coat when working this area.

Shoulder: Use the turn of the muscle at the shoulder to set the jacket pattern on the body.

Elbow: The turn of the shoulder will also tell you the location of the elbow. This is the general location of where to start the pattern on the body, sweeping back and upwards towards the flank of the dog.

Spring of Rib: The turn of the ribs will help set the pattern line separating the dog’s body jacket which consists of much shorter coat, blending invisibly into the longer feathering found on the lower portion of the dog’s body.

Undercarriage: The undercarriage line creates a focal point for balance of the overall dog. The highest point of the graceful sweep will be directly under the last few ribs.

Flank: Moving into the flank area, the thigh muscle should be exposed to help accentuate a physically fit and muscular dog.

Tail: For balance, the tail should reach to the hock and be a triangular flag. There is a slight gap of fur on the underside of the tail at the base. This slight space separates the longer rear furnishings with the feathering on the tail.

Topline: The top line maybe level or slightly sloping from the withers to the tail.

Neck: The long graceful neck is well muscled and slightly arched.

Head: The lines of the skull are parallel with a well definite stop.

Ears: Set well back and low, even with or below the level of the eye.

All these areas are natural landmarks used as reference points on any breed. When you combine anatomy with the official breed standard for any purebred dog, you have knowledge. You can use this understanding to accentuate the proper structure of the English Setter.

Always remember, all transition lines should be invisible. Ideally, the English Setter should look totally natural when finished – as if the coat simply grew that way.

Combining the use of these anatomical landmarks and skillful technical skills, a talented pet stylist can easily create a symmetrical, stylish, and well-balanced trim on any dog – purebred or mixed breed.

Have you ever had to rely on your knowledge of canine anatomy to help out in a pinch? Jump over to the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page and tell us about it!

Happy trimming!

~Melissa


How to Avoid Living Hand-to-Mouth

June 11th, 2015 by Joelle

Getting your financial life in order allows you to enjoy today

I still remember this point in my life well. I absolutely loved grooming dogs, but I was barely getting by. I had no savings account. I had only one credit card with a very small limit. I worried every time I wrote a check – would it bounce? I could not afford health insurance. The only vehicle I could afford was my mobile grooming van. I drove it everywhere.

If I had a financial hiccup, anywhere, I was in deep trouble. The thought of a retirement account or an emergency fund never crossed my mind. I learned very early in my career what it was like to have the phone or electricity shut off… the payroll to bounce… or my credit card declined. Yes, I have experienced all of those. I’m not proud of it – but I did learn from it.

Sound familiar? I know many groomers and stylists who struggle with this scenario. I don’t envy you. I’ve been down that path, too. Luckily, those days are long gone for me but the lessons are etched in my soul.

Here’s some things that I did early in my career to beat that problem.

Alignment

The first thing you need to do is take a look at where you are currently sitting, financially. How much money do you bring in your household annually? Are you the sole income earner or do you have a dual income stream? You don’t have to be exact, but get close. If you have multiple income streams, how much do you need to produce to make your household budget work?

Before you start fixing a problem – you need to thoroughly understand what your current situation is. This background work will help you create a plan to get over this hump.

Next, you need to figure out how much money you need to run your life. How much money would it take for you to feel comfortable and not strapped week by week? Obviously, it’s going to be more than you’re making right now – otherwise you wouldn’t feel stressed over money. How big is the gap? Don’t get freaked out. What you’re doing right now is collecting data.

The final step is a reality check. You need to discover the difference between what you currently are making and what you would like to make to be comfortable. It might look something like this:

That’s a real do-able number.

However, if you’re “comfortable income desire” was closer to $70,000, yet you currently only generate $32,000 in revenue, that would be a more challenging nut to crack. Creating an extra $8,000 in extra income a year can be attained on a groomer’s income. Finding $38,000 is a bit more difficult – but it can be done if you are willing to make big changes in your life. (But that’s another blog.)

There are only so many hours in a day. Only so many days in a week. Unless you more than double your current pricing structure or number of dogs you groom, making it happen will be impossible. That’s not to say it can’t be done. It can. However, you will have to make some major changes in how you generate money.

If you work with your hands to make a living, you will always be limited in your earning potential. It doesn’t matter if you are a doctor, lawn service, or pet groomer. You will hit an earning cap at some point. What level that is will depend on a number of things; the quality of work being produced, amount of time it takes to complete each groom, the price per pet and the commission level.

Reality check time. If you had grandiose ideas that you could simply groom dogs and earn a six-figure income, that’s not very realistic. Make sure what you want to earn and what you can earn are in alignment.

Set Goals

finger-keyboard.jpg Grab a calculator, a sheet paper, and a pencil. It’s time to set some goals and do some simple math. This is a game I started playing very early in my career to hit my personal goals.

Let’s say you worked 50 weeks a year. (You did take a vacation, right?)

Let’s use that $40,000 figure as your ideal earning potential. You work at 50% commission rate. So, if you want to make $40,000 annually, you need to generate $80,000 in sales. Divide $80,000 by 50. That equals $1600 which is the amount you need to generate each week. Break it down one more step by dividing $1600 by the number of days you work each week. Let’s say that number is five days. Each day you need to generate $320 in sales. If your average price per dog is $45, you need to groom a little over seven dogs a day.

$40,000 x 2 (50%) = $80,000.

$80,000 / 50 (weeks) = $1,600

$1,600 / 5 (days per week) = $320

$320 / $45 (average price per dog) = 7.1

By breaking this down into a daily goal of $320 in sales, you know exactly what you have to do every day to achieve the annual income you desire.

You’ll find yourself adding up your potential sales for the day before you even start. That’s the key to making this work. If you know early in the morning that your schedule is too light, you will look for ways to increase your revenue for that day. You’ll look for added services that you can up charge for or you may even take another appointment. If you had not set that goal as you went into your day, you wouldn’t have a target to shoot for.

Discipline and Focus

Discipline and focus is a two-part equation. The dual areas are monetary inflow and outflow. Raise the amount of money you bring in every week. Minimize what you spend every week. You need to set a budget for yourself and stick to it. Stay within your means. Just because you have a credit card does NOT mean you should use it!

Raising your income level is going to take plenty of discipline and focus. There will be times when it will not be easy. If it was easy, you wouldn’t be struggling.

There are many programs out there that can help you. Dave Ramsey and Suze Orman are two popular financial educators. Try a simple Google search about financial planning. You will find plenty of options. Use them!!

In order to reduce your financial stress, you need to have a financial plan. For most people, the financial crunch didn’t happen overnight. You’re not going to get out of that crunch overnight, either. Be patient with yourself. Be disciplined. Be focused. You can fix this problem.

Visualization

2Want a great aid to help you hit your goal? Create a visual reminder. This is a proven method that works in many scenarios. Top athletes have used this technique for years. High achievers create entire dream boards of their goals. One of my favorite books and films on this topic is called The Secret by Rhonda Byrne.

It’s simple. What you see and think about – you remember. But here’s the deal. You need to see and think about it A LOT. You want to be constantly reminded of your goal.

For a financial goal, I would select something about the size of the business card. You can get as creative as you like. Make up 10 to 20 of them. Once you have a slew of them made, start distributing them where they will be a constant reminder.

  • Post them on the mirror in your bathroom.
  • Tuck them in your wallet with your money.
  • Put them on your bedside stand.
  • Stick one on the refrigerator.
  • Place them at your grooming station.
  • Put them in pockets.
  • Attach them to your appointment book.
  • Tape them to the dash of your car.

Keep them highly visible and in front of you as a constant reminder. It’s amazing how well this works.

Sure, you can get by living hand to mouth, but it’s not fun.

The worry.

The stress.

It’s just not worth it.

Life is so much more enjoyable when you are confident about your financial future – whether it is tomorrow, next week, next month, next year, ten years down the road, or into retirement.

You don’t have to have a six figure income to be happy and secure. However, you do need to live within your means AND have a savings plan in place. Once you get your financial life in order, the more you will enjoy today.

How has living hand to mouth affected your life? Have you taken steps to overcome it? How has your life changed? Jump over to the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page and tell us about it!

Happy trimming!

~Melissa


4 Reasons Why You Need the Updated AKC Complete Dog Book

June 4th, 2015 by Joelle

Have you seen the new American Kennel Club Complete Dog Book? It’s mammoth! When I grabbed mine, I questioned if I needed a roller cart just to carry it. (Just kidding… but the thought crossed my mind!)

I have been purchasing AKC Complete Dog Books since I first started my career almost 35 years ago. With each edition, the number of pages has increased. Breeds have been added. The covers have been yellow, red, greimageen, and blue. Other than that, few major modifications had been made within the pages of the book.

That’s all changed.

The new AKC Book has been fully reformatted and published in full color! Even the hard cover of the book has a stunning image of a dog on it!

This latest edition features:

  • Official standards for every AKC-recognized breed
  • All the newest breeds accepted into the AKC
  • Seven varieties : Sporting, Hound, Working, Terrier, Toy, Non-Sporting, and Herding Groups – plus the Miscellaneous Class
  • Freshly written breed histories
  • Breed overviews created by the parent club of each breed
  • Over 800 color photos showcasing young and mature dogs (good photos too!)
  • The year the breed was recognized by the AKC
  • Name and website of every AKC recognized parent club
  • Enlightening personality traits and maintenance of each breed
  • Overview of the American Kennel Club itself
  • Images and descriptions of canine anatomy
  • Glossary of canine terminology
  • Information that potential dog owners need to know when selecting a quality puppy
  • The Sport of Dogs: an outline of sports, competitions, and events held for the purebred dog

It’s been almost nine years since the last edition was published and quite a bit has happened during that time. There have been approximately 50 new breeds recognized. A few of the standards have been modified. Plus, the AKC has a number of new events and programs that are spotlighted in this new addition.

Weighing in at over 5 pounds, the 912-pages are filled with profiles of all 200 AKC breeds, which boast four or more pages on each. After years of seeing only black and white images, it’s refreshing to see each breed showcased in color. Even though the book is huge, the layout of the breed groups is well done and easy to digest.

Content from previous editions has been removed. I miss the information that was in the previous book(s) on what constitutes a healthy dog, basic nutrition, common illnesses, and simple first aid – but there are plenty of books about that – and this one is hefty enough already!

So, as a pet groomer/stylist – why do you need this massive book taking up space on your bookshelf?

1) Breed Identification

To me, being a “professional” means you are can identify your subject matter. Breed Identification is an elementary skill we all need when it comes to professional pet grooming. If you can’t instantly visualize a breed of dog as you speak to a prospective client on the phone, you can’t even begin to address their needs or questions about the services you can offer to groom their pet.

2) Terminology

Every field has its own language. It’s the parlance of the industry. You need to learn it. Embrace it. Use it. It’s just like learning any new language. If you immerse yourself in the culture and apply yourself, you will learn it out of necessity. Learning the language of dogdom is critical to your success in any aspect of working professionally with dogs.

3) Comprehension of the Breed Standard

Every purebred breed has a written ideal standard. It describes what the “perfect” specimen would look like – if it existed. You need to be able to read that standard and understand it. That takes work. It takes study. But if you can’t understand what makes up the “ideal” breed, you will never be able to do justice to any purebred dog and make it fit the breed profile.

4) Knowledge of Your Subject Matter

Every breed was developed for a purpose. They all have individual personality traits. They all have unique physical characteristics that set them apart from other breeds. In the world of the purebred dogs, there is a bounty of information. The more you know about a breed’s history, what its original function was, and what it is like to live with a particular breed, the stronger your professional presence will become.

For those of us “in dogs” this is definitely a book to add to your professional reference collection.

It has been a long time since the last edition. With the AKC approving new breeds at a breakneck pace, it is nice to have an up-to-date (at least for the moment) reference. The AKC Complete Dog Book is the foundation of all great pet groomers and stylists. In comprehensive grooming schools around the country, it is the groundwork for the curriculum. It is at the root of every grooming competition. It is the foundation of every voluntary grooming certification program.

If you take your career seriously, and I hope you do, this is a professional reference guide you cannot be without. If you have an old edition of the AKC Complete Dog Book – fabulous. However, I encourage you to invest in yourself by getting the latest copy of this amazing reference manual.

How often do you refer to the AKC book? Do you use it at all? Why or why not? Jump over to the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page and tell us about it!

 

Happy trimming!

~Melissa


3 Things You Need to Know to Groom Any Breed

May 28th, 2015 by Joelle

What Do You Do When You Have to Groom an Unfamiliar Breed?

A client calls stating they own a breed that you have never groomed before. You’ve seen it at dog shows but have never had an opportunity to groom one. Or maybe you’ve never even heard of or seen the breed before.

The conversation goes something like this:

“I have a Bedlington*. Do you know how to groom them correctly?”

 “Why yes, Mrs. Jones,” you say with confidence. “We certainly can make your Bedlington look like a Bedlington!”

You book the appointment for the following day, but once you get off the phone, panic sets in. You’ve never seen this type of dog cross your grooming table. You don’t have a clue as to how to actually groom it correctly. What do you do?

The first thing I would tell you is – don’t panic!

Here are three core strengths you need to have in order to groom any dog breed.

  1. Strong technical skills – If your clipping, guard comb work, scissoring, blending, and basic hand stripping skills are good, you should be able handle this without much of a problem.
  2. A solid understanding of canine anatomy – If you understand that bones and muscles create a sound dog, it becomes even easier.
  3. Know how to translate a breed standard – If you can interpret the written breed standard into a visual – you are golden.

So what’s next? How are you going to be confident when that client walks in the door tomorrow?

Your next step is to look up the breed in reference books. If you have an American Kennel Club (AKC) Complete Dog Book (or a similar book from your country), start there. This will give you the official breed standard. Review the breed profile. Read about the history of the dog to gather clues about the dog. After a quick scan, you will have a good idea of the size, temperament, structure, and coat type of this new dog. Most will also have photos that accompany each breed. If you don’t have an official breed standard book handy, you can always look it up online.

Once you have become familiar with the breed itself, take a look at your grooming books. Review the instructions. Compare the instructions to what you have read in the breed standard.

The Internet is an invaluable research tool. Use it wisely. Most breeds will have a parent club that hosts an official site for the breed. Spend a few minutes reviewing images of top winning dogs in their galleries. With a little luck, you may even find grooming directions or links to grooming directions from dedicated breeders.

As groomers and stylists, we are a visual bunch. As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. This is so true for us. I love to do Google image searches of breeds I’m not familiar with. Here’s a key to finding good images. When you enter the words in the search bar, add words like this: AKC Champion Bedlington Terrier or UKC Champion Fresian Water Dog. There is a big difference if you type into your search engine, “images of Miniature Schnauzers” verses “images of AKC Champion Miniature Schnauzers.” You will pull up a WIDE assortment of images. Some will be great. Others not so great. Some will be worthless. And others will be totally off the mark. You need to have enough knowledge to filter through the images, finding the best images to suit your needs.

Use a little caution when looking up information online. Always remember – not everything posted on the internet is correct or presents the best image of a breed. Make sure you use all your resources to gather the most accurate information possible.

Watching videos on the breed in question is also a great option. Again, a word of caution – not every ‘how to video’ on the internet will be beneficial. Today, anyone can post a video online. Unfortunately, there is a lot of poor quality grooming being featured – especially if it is free. Go to trusted sources that are truly qualified to demonstrate how to groom a particular breed.

Yes, you need to do a little research. Will it require a little effort? Yep.

As pet groomers and stylists, we get to see plenty of dogs. It’s rare and exciting to get a breed you are not familiar with. Most of us pros enjoy the challenge of learning about a new breed. Figuring out what we will need to do to make the dog look like it should – or could – look like if the owners allow you to groom it correctly.

I know, I know… Many owners just want the hair shaved off their dogs once they walk through your door. If the dog is in poor condition, the only humane option is to shave the coat off and start over. That’s always a disappointment once you’ve put in effort to educate yourself. But hopefully, the new client spurred you to learn few new things you can add to your knowledge toolbox even if you didn’t get to execute the trim!

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

Happy trimming!

~Melissa

 

*insert random breed here

6 Qualities Successful Pet Grooming Professionals Have in Common

May 21st, 2015 by Joelle

The path of every successful bather, groomer, or pet stylist is slightly different. However, there are common threads that tie the most successful pet professionals together.

Here are the six common qualities that set top performers apart.

1. They are positive.

A positive attitude helps you deal more easily with daily affairs. It brings brightness into your life, making it easier to avoid worries and negative thinking.When you’re positive, you have a clear, calm mind that is open to possibilities and see opportunities where others see nothing.

And as a bonus, if your attitude is strong enough, it becomes contagious. Contagious to clients. To co-workers. To pets. Everyone. It’s as if you radiate positive energy around you.

2. They are learners.

Wikipedia defines lifelong learning as, “The ongoing, voluntary, and self-motivated pursuit of knowledge for either personal or professional reasons.”

It is the non-stop development of skills and knowledge of a pet professional, at any level. It occurs through experiences during a lifetime. These experiences could be formal (training, tutoring, mentorship, apprenticeship, etc.) or informal (experiences and situations).

Learning is the key to achieving a person’s full potential. Learning does not stop once you get out of school. Folks who continue to learn are able to transform their lives. They become more successful at home, more successful with their families, more successful at work, and more successful within their salons and work environments.

3. They are always moving.

Successful pet professionals are achievers. You aren’t going to see successful pet grooming teams dragging around the shop. Nope. They are buzzing with activity. They are constantly on task, on schedule, and looking for a way to shave moments off any task without sacrificing quality. Their hands and feet are never still.

They are constantly in motion. When I hear the term “occupational athletes,” I think of highly successful team members in any grooming department.

4. They are curious.

Curiosity might have killed the cat, but a new study by psychologists suggests that curiosity is very good for people. If you want a rewarding career – be curious.

Curiosity in your job can be a powerful tool. It does not matter which department you are in or if you wear all the hats in your business. If you can find different ways to stay hungry for knowledge and continue to be a lifelong learner, you will find your career to be much more rewarding.

The more curious you are, the more possibilities you will have throughout your lifetime.  Open your eyes and look around.

5. They are persistent.

Being persistent after it seems like everything has failed is one of the hardest things to do. You just want to give up. Give up on the dog. Give up on a technique. Give up on yourself.

When trying to be persistent, it is important that you have a goal in mind. Whether it’s getting that dog squeaky clean, the clipper work baby butt smooth, a velvet finish on a hand scissor dog, or just trying to add an extra dog to your roster on a consistent basis, don’t give up. Even if you don’t see immediate results, keep trying. Keep pushing yourself. Having an end result in mind will keep you motivated, which builds persistence.

6. They are passionate.  

If you want to be successful at your job and move up, you need to be passionate about your work. You need to be motivated and driven to be the best you can be. Passionate people love their work.

Passion, motivation, drive. Call it what you want. Bottom line: it’s that self-driven attitude towards your job and your work that can help lead you down the path to success.

 

Passion is an emotion that comes from within you. It’s your enthusiasm. Your motivation. Your drive.

I guarantee that others will be positively impacted by your personal passion towards pets. Passion does not go unnoticed. People will see how well you do your job and your attitude towards it. They will see when a task is hard and you don’t give in – when you apply yourself even more to overcome it. They will notice your drive and your motivation and consider how you would do in another position.

Becoming stagnant in a career is boring. The work gets sloppy. Customer service quality goes down. The wonderful part of being involved with the pet industry is that there is no limit to your personal growth. I love being surrounded by people that have these six qualities firmly developed in their lives. They are energizing and refreshing to be around. Their energy is contagious!

How many of these six traits to you have? How many do you feel you could improve on? Jump over to the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page and tell us about it!

 

Happy trimming!

~Melissa


The Pet Grooming Field – Do You Know Where Do You Fit?

May 14th, 2015 by Joelle

Discovering the Meaning Behind the Job Titles

Groomer.

I have always struggled with this word. Stop and think about it. Is it really the best definition for the wide variety of skills necessary to do our job? Personally, I think the term “Groomer” is too broad a term to use within our field.

Think about how the medical profession is organized… when you need a routine annual medical exam, do you book an appointment with a Podiatrist? No. You’d get an appointment at your regular clinic, where they deal primarily with routine and preventive health care. Depending on your condition, you might get an appointment with a nurse practitioner who is qualified to treat a certain spectrum of illnesses. For situations requiring more formal training and experience, you’d see your family doctor. If a health disorder required attention from an expert in a particular field of study, you would seek the help of a specialist.

Another point to ponder… how do you think their pay scale is structured? I would bet the medical specialist takes home a much larger paycheck than the nurse practitioner or even the family physician.

Let’s flip this over to what we do. Bottom line – we’re pet specialists with three distinct skill levels:

  1. Bather, Assistant, or Bathing Technician
  2. Groomer, Pet Groomer, or Grooming Technician
  3. Stylist or Pet Stylist

Here are my definitions for each of those areas.

1. Bather, Assistant, or Bathing Technician

These folks have a basic knowledge base of core grooming skills. In some cases, the Bather’s duties may cross over into other job descriptions. In many smaller salons, the Bather might act more as a personal assistant to the Groomer or Stylist. A Bather’s duties might include any task that could be easily delegated by the Groomer or Stylist so they can focus on getting dogs completed in a timely manner.

Bathers, Assistants, and Bathing Technicians should have a basic understanding of:

  • Selection and Care of Equipment
  • Canine Psychology and Temperament
  • Safety and Sanitation
  • Anatomy
  • Pet Handling
  • Breed Identification
  • Skin and Coat Conditions
  • First Aid and CPR
  • Parasites and Their Control
  • Diseases and Preventive Vaccination
  • Nutrition
  • Common Illnesses and Skin Disorders
  • Common Grooming Products
  • Equipment Handling
  • Coat Pre-Assessment and Pre-Work
  • Bathing and Drying Skills
  • Brushing and Combing Skills
  • Mat Anatomy and Safe Removal
  • Equipment Handling
  • Nail and Feet Trimming
  • Ear Cleansing
  • Tooth Care
  • Anal Gland Expression (Optional)

Although the Bather role in a busy salon is typically considered an entry level position, in reality it’s one of the most important roles of a successful salon. If a dog is not washed perfectly and dried properly, quality work can never be achieved. No matter how talented the Groomer or Stylist is when it comes to trimming and styling pets, they will never be able to do a good job on a dirty or incorrectly dried pet. Period.

Earning Potential – Entry Level

2. Groomer, Pet Groomer, or Grooming Technician

A Groomer deals with basic grooming needs. They can get dogs clean, dried properly, and thoroughly brushed out. They can do everything the Bather does but they kick it up a few notches. Groomers can complete challenging bath and brush pets with ease. Plus, they can trim pets safely and efficiently with clippers. Groomers are comfortable with a variety of clippers and blade choices. They can handle a wide range of coat types on both bath and brush style pets as well as simple, low maintenance haircuts. They have basic knowledge of how to work with scissors and blenders, getting adequate results for non-discriminating clients.

Pet Groomers should have advanced knowledge and understanding of the previously mentioned areas and be able to work with greater speed and efficiency without sacrificing quality and safety.

The Groomer in almost any salon is the workhorse. They focus on non-nonsense, low maintenance trim styles. Their concentration is on getting the dog thoroughly brushed out, mat free, and super tidy. Trim work focuses more on the neat and clean aspect of grooming than creating highly stylized haircuts. Advanced training and continued education in this area can vastly improve grooming speed, quality, and enjoyment of the job.

Earning Potential – Mid-Range Level

3. Stylist or Pet Stylist

A Pet Stylist molds and shapes the coat in a manner that accentuates the features of the pet. They have a firm understanding of anatomy, breed profiles, as well as structure and movement. They have a firm comprehension of technical skills. An accomplished Pet Stylist can apply those skills in an artistic manner. Their personal tools are of the highest caliber, allowing them to create remarkable trims in a very short amount of time. A seasoned Stylist will often also specialize in particular breeds, grooming techniques, or personality types.

Pet Stylists should have expert knowledge and understanding of the previously mentioned areas, be able to work with greater speed and efficiency without sacrificing quality and safety, and have expert control of clippers, shears, combs, brushes, blades, and stripping knives.

Serious Pet Stylists are generally highly motivated. They advance their careers through continued education. It’s common for an aspiring Pet Stylist to seek out many forms of advanced learning. Many of them turn it into a personal goal or an enjoyable outlet. Conformation dog shows, grooming trade shows and competitions, certification testing, books and magazines, videos, clinics, workshops, private coaching and training, and canine trials are just a few areas the motivated Stylist can use to ramp up skill levels.

Earning Potential – Highest Level

The term “Groomer” is just not descriptive enough. It just doesn’t cover it all – especially if you wear multiple hats in your salon like Receptionist, Accountant, and Cleaning Crew. When a business starts to grow, layers of expertise will develop within your team.

Just like in the medical profession, the more you learn, the more you earn. The stronger your knowledge base and the more proficient you are, the more money you’re going to make. And knowledge has a wonderful side effect – confidence. Why not take steps toward building your skills and confidence every day?

Using a generic term like “Groomer” just doesn’t work for me. I bet it doesn’t work for you, either. Jump over to the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page and tell us what woks best for you!

Happy trimming!

~Melissa


8 Steps to Overcoming Professional Burnout

May 7th, 2015 by Joelle

Finding Passion in Your Work Again 

How in the world do dog groomers and pet stylists get burned out?

Come on… We get to play with sweet, charming little puppies all day – right?

What could be stressful about that? For most folks, grooming dogs all day is a “dream job.”

I’m here to tell you – it isn’t all fun and games with puppies. I still remember the day when I hit the burnout wall myself.

I had six mobile grooming vans out on the road as well as a salon. I had employees to manage. Budgets to make. Goals to set. Bills to pay. Marketing strategies to create. Accounting records to review. There always seemed to be an endless list of tasks that went along with running successful businesses. Plus, I was still grooming five days a week in my grooming van! I was running as hard as I could while burning the candle at both ends. It’s a typical recipe for disaster.

The moment that I hit that wall happened in June. We were booked out weeks in advance. Not a day passed without our dispatchers trying to squeeze in another dog. I was routinely grooming 10 to 12 hours a day plus doing all the other stuff too. On that fateful day I just lost it.

I had been on my way to my last client. I just totally broke down. I hadn’t even pulled into the client’s driveway yet. I was so overwhelmed. I was physically and mentally exhausted. I pulled over to the side of the road in the subdivision, unbuckled my seat belt, and walked over to my tub. I took a few deep breaths to get a hold of myself. I could do it. Just one more dog…

But then tears started to flow. I slowly slid down in front of my tub and just cried.

Have you ever had one of those days?

There are lots of ways to experience personal burnout.

So what is burnout?

Burnout is when you are at the point of physical and emotional exhaustion. It can occur when you experience long periods of stress in your job, when you are overworked in a physical or emotionally draining way for an extended period of time. You can also experience burnout when your efforts have failed to produce the results that you expected. If you are approaching a point of personal burnout, it’s time to reassess what you’re doing.

Understand what is creating the burnout.

This takes some soul-searching. Take the time to identify what activities that got you to this point. You need to get to the root of the problem. Once you have identified what is causing your distress, look for ways to lighten your load. You are going to need to remove, delegate, simplify, or find new meaning in those activities that are causing the stress.

Once you discover the underlying cause of your burnout, you can uncover ways to resolve it.

In the pet grooming world, there are some options:

  1. Reduce the number of pets you groom in a day. Many busy pet stylists have found that by simply raising their prices, they can reduce the workload without losing any revenue.
  2. Eliminate difficult clients. That might mean dogs or cats you don’t enjoy grooming due to size, haircut, or attitude.
  3. Delegate tasks. Focus on those skills that ONLY YOU can do for your business. Analyze any item that could be handed off to someone else – even if it’s only part-time to start. Accounting. Bathing. Grooming. Cleaning. Marketing. Sales tracking. Reception. Inventory. Errand running. You get the idea.
  4. Get out of your rut. Do whatever it takes to rekindle your grooming spirit. Learn new skills. Find a mentor you can learn from and who will help motivate you. Discover new, better, and more efficient ways to do your job. Read books and magazines to expand your horizons. Attending industry trade shows, joining an online job-related community, watching videos with inspirational industry leaders, or even hooking up with local groomers a couple of times a year can do wonders to ward off burnout.
  5. Set a realistic goal. The target could be related to reaching a sales goal. What about a customer satisfaction goal like improving client retention rates or rebooking appointments at checkout? Look at sprucing up and reorganizing your salon so it’s more pleasant and easier to work in. Maybe you want to be officially certified in some area that would lend credibility to what you do professionally. Enter a grooming competition – or work toward becoming a consistent winner in the contest area. All of these are super goals, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Finds goals that motivate YOU.
  6. Change up your own personal job description. When you’re wearing too many hats, simply stop. Change gears. Select another role in your own company if you can. Or maybe it’s time to totally step away altogether, seeking out another career or life choice.
  7. Take time for yourself – daily, weekly, monthly, annually. Take time away from constantly dealing with pets, your business, or the numerous other tasks that are always nipping at your heels. Taking time for yourself, even if it’s only a few minutes a day, will allow you the distance you need to relax. When was the last time you took a vacation? Come on… a real vacation?
  8. Learn to say “no.” It’s a powerful word. It’s a simple action that could save your sanity when pushed too hard. Learn to use it in a conscious and responsible way.

In order to avoid or reduce burnout, you need to think about what gives true meaning in your work – the why of what you do. This self-analysis will give you a deeper understanding of what you find most important. It will also allow you to uncover elements, if any, missing from your life or your work and make adjustments.

When I hit my own personal wall, I did much of the soul-searching listed above. I made many changes to positively affect my daily workload and my personal life. The changes I made allowed me to contribute in a much more rewarding way to my companies, the industry itself, to my life, and to my health.

Always remember, life is ever-changing. Just because you successfully avoided burnout at one point in your life, does not mean you will not encounter it again. However, if you’ve overcome it once, you know you’ll be successful at overcoming it again in the future.

Question: Have you ever faced burnout? If yes, what did you do to overcome it? Jump over to the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page and tell us about your experience!

Happy trimming!

~Melissa


How to Avoid Visions of the Hangman’s Tree – or – Cleaning Up Industry Jargon So Your Salon Makes A Positive Impression

April 30th, 2015 by Joelle

Every industry has its own set of technical terms. Those of us behind the grooming table are familiar with them, but have you stopped to think how our terminology sounds to customers? The words we use can paint a very negative picture to the client. Of course, we never intend it that way – we’re just using words and phrases that groomers have used for years.

In grooming salons around the world, we are dealing with a very precious commodity: the owner’s beloved pet. Most of these clients put their pets on the same pedestal as their children. We need to be extremely cautious of the types of technical jargon that we use within earshot of our clients. Or better yet, simply clean it up so it’s client friendly.

Today, I want to look at one of these commonly used terms. I’m going to give you a few ideas for optimistic alternatives to use. These alternatives will paint a much more polished – and professional – image in the clients mind.

The Grooming Noose.

Let’s face it. In order to groom a dog safely, we need control. One of the tools we routinely use in the grooming shop is a “grooming loop” or “noose.”

Correctly adjusted, a grooming loop will limit the amount of movement a dog can make on a tabletop, reducing the risks of accidentally falling or stepping off. If the dog were to try to bite or nip, the grooming loop can minimize the reach the dog has to your hands and face. By limiting their movement on the table, it makes our job easier while brushing, clipping, and scissoring, while again minimizing the risks to the pet.

Although this is a major safety item used in most salons, the term I hear routinely to describe this piece of equipment is the word, “noose.” Every time I hear it, the hackles on the back of MY neck stand up.

The word “noose” just conjures up all kinds of negative emotions with me. All I can think about are things associated with a hangman’s noose. Gallows. An eerie tree. Death. If your client hears this term used loosely in your grooming speech, my guess is they have the same type of thought process going on in their mind. The term “noose” does not create a warm, caring, and compassionate atmosphere in any grooming establishment.

The term needs a serious face lift! Focus on the positive aspects of what this piece of equipment does. Here are a few suggestions.

  1. Loop
  2. Safety lead
  3. Safety loop
  4. Pet seatbelt

Think about how your terms can negatively affect your clients. Most of the time, we are so busy just trying to stay ahead of the grooming game, we never stop to think how we sound to the client. We may love our four-footed customers, but it’s our two-legged clients we really need to win over – gaining their trust – and their business.

Take a moment to step back and listen to yourself. Do you need to clean up your shop language? Do you use the old fashion term “noose’ instead of one of the much more positive terms?

What term do you like to use in your business for this valuable piece of grooming equipment? Jump over to the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page and tell us what term you like to use!

Happy trimming!

~Melissa


 
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