We were headed out of Michigan on our three week annual fall ride with our horses last week. Our big horse trailer and truck were packed to the limit. (Horses have LOTS of stuff!) Our passion is to horse camp and explore trails around the Tennessee area. We’ve made this trek every fall for the past 12 years. We love it.
So we’re cruising down I-75. We’re somewhere near the border of Kentucky and Tennessee. It’s getting mountainous. The sun is shining. The truck is humming along like a champ. Our book on CD is getting to a really good spot. My hubby and I are really starting to relax even before we’ve hit our destination.
Then we hear it… it sounded like an explosion behind us. Crap. We’d just blown a tire on the horse trailer. On I-75. In the mountains. On a hill. This wasn’t good.
We get the rig as far off the expressway as possible and hit the flashers. We go back to verify what we fear. Yep. Blown tire. Marc, my hubby, was a Boy Scout. He goes to work. This man lives by the Boy Scout motto: Be prepared. Out of that monster silver box in the bed of the truck come the tools we need. Flashing warning triangles, trailer lift wedge, hydraulic jack, tire iron… whatever he needed, he had it. In less than 40 minutes, we were back on the road.
I’ve changed my share of flat tires over the years. But I was thankful. Marc was NOT going to let me deal with this one. Believe me – I was totally OK with that! Instead I had the opportunity to watch and worry about the traffic that was zooming by at a very high speed. I stood in admiration with each snafu he ran into yet had a solution. I thought back to the last time I had to change a tire and was I as prepared as he was??
During my mobile grooming days, I changed a lot of tires. With a fleet of six units, flat tires just happened. So do water pumps, electrical issues, broken clippers, high velocity dryers and a whole host of other items. If it’s mechanical or a piece of equipment, at some time it’s going to stop working correctly for you.
In our field, time is money. Do you have the tools, replacement items and knowledge to correct the problem on the fly?
At one point in my life, I didn’t. The way I fixed problems was to call a repair company. After a couple of times of doing that – I learned quickly if I was going to stay on time and keep my appointments for the day, calling a repairman for basic problems wasn’t the best answer. I needed to live by that Boy Scout motto: Be prepared.
It doesn’t matter if you are in a mobile grooming unit or in a high end salon. Stuff breaks. Are you prepared? Can you finish your day with barely missing a beat? Here is a short list to get you thinking about some of the basic items that can cease working for you at the most inappropriate time. If they are not working – you are not working:
- Clippers: If you don’t have spare pair with you at all times, you are dead in the water if your primary pair give out on you.
- Shears & Blades: They go dull and stop cutting at the most untimely opportunity. Or worse yet, they fall to the floor and are rendered useless until they go to the sharpener. You need a full back up collection of most of your sharp tools.
- High Velocity Dryers: What would happen if yours stopped working in the middle of an eight dog day – and one of those dogs is a Newfoundland? Do you have a back-up HV dryer that can be put into service?
- Basic Electrical Knowledge: I’m not talking full-fledged electrical issues – I’m talking the basics. Stuff you could find in any home repair book. Like how to replace a cord? Or a plug? Or how much power each electrical items draws when in use. What your breakers are rated for? You can’t plug a powerful dryer into a 15 amp plug. You are going to blow the breaker every time.
Mobile Groomers – you have a whole host of added items. You have to consider all the above, plus:
- Water Pumps: There can only be a couple things wrong if your water stops flowing. Every water pump that I’ve seen comes with a great troubleshooting guide. Memorize it. Carry a spare pump. My first water pump took me over two hours to change out and a lot of tears of frustration. However, before too long I could instantly identify pump problems at a glance (or a listen) and know the solution – including flipping out non-working pump for a new one in less than 10 minutes (and no tears!).
- Generators: Maintenance – maintenance – maintenance. If your generator goes out, have a back-up plan. Normally that would be a landline power source that plugs into your van. When all else fails – carry a long power cord. Run it from the client’s house to your van. At least then you can power the key items you need to groom the dog by plugging is directly to the extension cord. (A power strip in the van is also very helpful) It may not be ideal, but you can get the dog(s) done while you seek professional help on your generator.
- Mechanic: Again, maintenance – maintenance – maintenance. Personally I LOVED having a mobile mechanic. I only had to have vans towed to a service center a few times for big stuff. Everything else was fixed at the base or roadside by a mobile mechanic service.
- Jumper Cables: It’s inevitable – at some point your battery is going to be dead. It’s a lot easier to get a jump if you have cables with you and/or a battery charger to keep a tired battery going until you can get a replacement.
- Tires: If you drive a vehicle – it’s going to happen to you. Flat tires come with the territory. #1: do you KNOW how to change a flat tire? #2: Do you have all the times you NEED to change a flat tire? #3: Do you have the safety gear to put out in the event your flat tire happens in a high traffic area to warn other drivers you are stopped?
Anyone that has been in the grooming business for any amount of time knows the value of being prepared. Time is money. Dull, broken or non-functioning equipment cost us not only time – but money.
If you abide by the Boy Scouts motto, you’ll be back at the grooming table in no time – just like we were last week on I-75 with our flat tire and horse trailer!