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What Are Your Doors of Opportunity?

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I was one of those difficult kids for my parents. I had no focus. My grades in school were dismal. I was rebellious. I hung out with the ‘wrong crowd.’  Sound familiar? Maybe that was you. Or maybe you know someone like that right now.

I was so difficult for my mom and step-dad; a school counselor contacted my father. She told him she felt I was a suicide risk. I should be removed from my current living situation if at all possible. Luckily, it was possible. I was sent off to private boarding school.

I’m sure the small private school in Colorado saved my life. Much of their early education was founded around the principles of Outward Bound, both inside and outside the classroom.  My love of animals and the outdoors gave me the focus I needed to turn my life around.

I got my start in the pet industry when I was 16 years old. My first job was scooping poop at a local kennel. I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do ‘when I grew up.’ All I knew was I loved pets.  For me, working at the kennel was exceptionally gratifying. I did that for three years while going to school. 

Then one day the groomer got fired. I went from shoveling poop to grooming dogs overnight. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. But I had tools. I had a book.  I had a ready-made clientele. And I had a boss that was willing to let me learn.  My first day as a ‘professional groomer,’ I had 6 dogs to groom.  That was 1980.

Fast forward to 2014. Thirty-four years later. The pet industry opened huge doors of opportunity for me. My education was not in the classroom. It was on the job. I was no longer rebellious. I was focused. I was able to turn my passion into a career. And I took it seriously. I may not have earned many A’s in school (I don’t think I ever saw one of those come across a report card!) but I didn’t let that stop me from achieving A’s in real life.

In the early years, I had no idea what I would set out to accomplish – but if I was going to do this – I was going to be the best dog groomer I could possibly be.

It has been a non-stop learning opportunity as I climbed the stairway of knowledge – and business. The pet industry is limitless with what you can achieve for yourself – and for others that may join you on your journey.

Over the years I’ve started many pet related businesses including: a fleet of mobile grooming vans, a grooming shop, a grooming school, a publishing company, a luxury pet report, and an internet based library of educational streaming videos. I’ve had the chance to travel the world with the pet grooming industry, first as a top rated pet stylist then as an award winning speaker. I’ve been able to share my quest of knowledge by creating top rated curriculums and by writing books. I’ve watched a couple of my companies hit the million dollar mark in annual sales. I’ve seen some of them grow at tremendous rates. I’ve been amazed at the staying power of others.  We’ve weathered challenging times that would destroy most businesses – but we’ve faced the struggles and persevered.

As you look ahead to 2014, what do you plan on doing with your career? Are you happy with where you are?  Are you making the type of money you are comfortable with? Are you satisfied with the quality of your work? Do you have a steady stream of regular clients? Are you booked in weeks in advanced or even a year out with repeat clients? Do you enjoy going to work each day?

Here are two quotes I love.

The first one is from Hall of Fame football coach Vince Lombardi. He said, “If you’ll not settle for anything less than your best, you will be amazed at what you can accomplish in your lives.”

The second one is from Diana Ross. She stated, “You can’t just sit there and wait for people to give you that golden dream; you’ve got to get out there and make it happen for yourself.”

The pet service business is an amazing field to be in. You – alone – are responsible for your destiny. Only YOU can change your career path. If you are not thrilled with where you currently are in life – change it! Only you hold the key.

Once I got through my difficult phase in life – I found a fabulous career path. One filled with challenges and rewards. With each step, new doors of opportunity appeared. If I chose to work hard – very hard at mastering each task, I had more doors open. It’s been an amazing journey that I wouldn’t trade for a million years.

What are you going to do to change your career path and make it the most rewarding year yet? 2014 holds many promises if you choose to open the doors. Your rewarding journey can start simply by taking the steps towards a new opportunity.

 Happy Trimming!


Are You Prepared?

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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.

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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??

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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.

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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!

Happy Trimming!


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