Professional stress and burnout is the number one thing that stops a successful career in its tracks. So how do you keep it from happening? How do you keep your job fresh? Fun? Rewarding?
Here are a few of my top suggestions.
Dealing with difficult dogs or cats is one of the biggest challenges we face every day. You know the feeling in your gut when you see them on your appointment book. Those feelings of dread, anger, and sometimes fear – those negative emotions that get associated with one pet or client. You begin fretting about them right away, don’t you?
I don’t know many people who enjoy dealing with an uncooperative pet. One of the easiest ways to minimize your stress level is to simply eliminate them from your schedule.
There are plenty of nice, well-behaved dogs in the world to groom. I strongly suggest not doing any more than you can handle confidently and safely. Your skill level should dictate how much you can comfortably take on. Typically, the more experience you have, the more challenging the pet you can safely handle. To stay safe, know your limits – and the limits of the pet entrusted to you.
Here is the rating scale I’ve used to rate a dog’s (or cat’s) personality.
#1: Perfect angel on the grooming table. We love these pets!
#2: Bouncy and wiggly. Does not respect rules and boundaries but is not mean or nasty. They are a bit of a handful to deal with on the grooming table.
#3: Will bite when provoked (tugging on mats, cleaning ears, and trimming nails). With the exception of these trigger points, the pet can tolerate the rest of the grooming process.
#4: Will bite – even the smallest thing sets this personality type off. They cannot be trusted. A well-fitted muzzle can be helpful – and many times, necessary. They require a seasoned and experienced handler/groomer to keep both the pet and the person safe.
#5: Dangerous and unpredictable. Eyes will typically glow red or green. Good candidate for veterinarian-supervised grooming with a sedative.
You should consider charging extra for handling difficult pets. They take more time to groom – and time is money. Let your fee reflect it.
This one can be a little tricky. If they are just mildly annoying, deal with it professionally but don’t put any more effort into the client than needed to keep them at bay. If they are rude and nasty, most likely they are just that way all the time – that’s how they go through life. I would do a great job for them, just like with any other client, but I would not go out of my way to do anything “special.”
If they are difficult to deal with AND neglect their pooch or do not respect my time, I would charge extra for that.
Just as we rate our dogs, at times we will rate difficult owners.
I have no problem referring #4 or #5 rated pets and/or owners to another groomer who might be more successful in meeting their needs (i.e. – always fire them professionally and politely).
Nothing is more frustrating than a client who does not respect our time! We give them a 15-minute window to arrive, either to arrive to their scheduled appointment or to pick up their pet. If they do not arrive within that window, it counts as a strike against them. For arrivals, we have a three strike rule…
- Strike one: we let them off with a mild warning.
- Strike two: we remind them how much we value our time. If they can’t value it as well, they will need to look for another stylist.
- Strike three: we fire them.
If they do not pick up their pet prior to our posted closing times, we give a few extra minutes. As soon as we know they are running late, we try to get in touch with the owner. If the owner calls and can give us a reasonable estimated pick-up time, my staff has the option of waiting for them if it’s beyond closing time. I will post a hefty late pick-up fee (in 5-minute intervals) but leave it up to the employee to charge it. If they waited, they get to keep the entire late pick up fee as long as they collect it. If we can’t reach them or have not heard from them, we’ll bed the pet down for the night. We leave a pleasant note on the door for the client. We simply state our hours and let them know we look forward to seeing them in the morning. I have heard many salons charge an overnight fee, too.
5 More Quick Suggestions
Each one of these could be a blog topic on its own. However, for right now, I’ll just toss these out there for you to ponder.
- Keep learning to make your career interesting while allowing you to expand your career opportunities.
- Take time for yourself and your family.
- Maintain physical health and wellness through diet and exercise.
- Learn to say NO when your schedule becomes overwhelming.
- Charge enough for your services. Avoiding living paycheck-to-paycheck.
Don’t forget the little things that made this career attractive to you in the first place – never forget WHY you followed this career path. This is a career with UNLIMITED potential for those willing to stay focused. Work hard – and never stop learning. How cool is that?
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