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

September 10th, 2015 by Mike

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

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

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

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

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

Bathe your largest and furriest dogs first.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Drying order for all the dogs.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy trimming,