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Come! Sit! Stay!

blogrLeadership. If you’re running a business, you know leadership is important. Yet, when I’m speaking before groups of pet professionals, there are always questions on this topic. Here are a few typical ones that always seem to crop up when I do an open mic session.

  • How do I create a reliable team?
  • How do I motivate my team?
  • How do I bring consistency to my team?
  • How do I create respect?
  • How do I stop the bickering?
  • How do I create an enjoyable work environment?

I’m not going to lie. Being a great leader is certainly a challenge. It constantly takes work on the part of the leader. The second you let your guard down, forward momentum can be lost. Directions are not followed. The morale of the team sinks. Productivity dwindles. And customer service goes out the window. Sound familiar? Read the rest of this entry »

How to Get Your Clipper Work Smooth – Like a Summer Hay Field

blogrIt’s been over 35 years since that first time. I still remember standing in awe, watching a talented pet groomer give a dog a haircut. She handled her clippers with ease. The long fur fell away like a hot knife through butter. The end result was smooth and gorgeous. And she was fast – super fast. She made the whole process seems so simple.

The first time I tried, I quickly discovered it was not simple. Those initial attempts were pretty pathetic. Saying my first efforts were rough and choppy would be polite. There were long tufts hanging out everywhere. I was frustrated beyond belief.

I was determined to master the skill. After all, the groomer I had been watching proved it could be done. It was simple – I just had to focus and figure it out.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Importance of Systems

systemsrMy husband and I were just at the hospital for a scheduled surgery. Luckily, it was a non-emergency situation – just to get his nose repaired so he could actually breathe out of BOTH nostrils. Still, it was surgery and as much as he wanted to have it done, the anticipation levels were running high. We were a bit nervous.

The medical team was great. Their thorough procedures helped squelch our anticipation jitters. Everything, from the pre-screening call days before… check in… pre-surgery… waiting room… recovery… home… and follow-up, was explained to us. At every step along the way there were systems in place to ensure that the surgery went off without a hitch, which put our minds at ease. There weren’t any hiccups in the communication process or the surgery itself.

Checks and balances were firmly in place. Everyone in the medical team clearly knew their job. They understood how important their roles were, no matter how large or small. If even one of them made a mistake, it could have a devastating effect on the outcome of the surgery. We’ve all heard the horror stories.

If you stop and think about it, a grooming salon client has the same kinds of anticipation levels. They are entrusting you with one of their most precious possessions – their pet. Most clients are not that familiar with the grooming process and have no idea what truly goes on behind closed doors.

Is you grooming salon set up like a well-oiled medical team? We may not be doctors but our “pet clients” are extremely important to their owners. There are many steps within the grooming service procedure that could turn into shining moments – or go horribly wrong:

  • They get the wrong haircut.
  • The pet isn’t done when promised.
  • They’re charged the wrong amount.
  • They get the wrong collar or lead – maybe even the wrong pet!
  • A pet is injured – or worse.

This list could go on and on. The larger the team that works together, the more processes you need in place for a smooth running operation.

Every grooming salon needs:

  • a customer service team (even if that team is YOU)
  • a bathing department
  • a drying department
  • a grooming/styling department
  • someone in charge of client records/data entry
  • client education
  • marketing
  • proper cleaning and sanitation

To be successful in the long-term, you need to spend time in the short-term setting up processes. Systems are your routines – the way you do things every time. Here is a short list of items that need to be in place for systems to work:

  • Every procedure needs to be broken down, step by step.
  • Each process needs to be written down and reviewed regularly.
  • Every person participating in the activity needs to know and understand how to correctly perform the procedure.
  • Every person then needs training and follow-up supervision until the task is perfected.

Accountability is the key to success. Positive and negative consequences need to be in place and consistently enforced.

If you don’t have any systems in place at the moment, don’t fret. Take one procedure at a time and break it down into smaller chunks. Figure out what needs to be done or happen for each piece. Then move to the next one – and the next one.

Remember the story book fable about the tortoise and the hare? You don’t need to be a jack rabbit straight out of the gate. Slow and steady will win this race. It all starts with the first step. It might take you a month to get your systems in place – it might take a year. If you are in a state of growth, creating systems for your business might be an ongoing process. The trick is not to be overwhelmed by looking at the big picture. Keep it small so you don’t give up – and keep going.

At the end of the day, you always need to focus on your overall goal: to offer outstanding, consistent customer service – just like my husband and I received with his recent operation.

… As for those horror stories? Don’t be one of them. The salons that have the right systems in place will be prepared. Their staff will offer better service and the guests (furry and human) will feel better knowing that they are in good hands. it’s never too late to start. Do it now! Take that first step.


Happy Trimming,




Updating Logos


How many of you have been in business for more than 10 years? How about 20? When is the last time you took a good hard look at your company’s logo? Is it out of date? Tired? Could it use an update? Logos can become dated just like fashion trends or hairstyles. Sometimes you just need to go through your closet and clean house….

My logos were certainly dated. I was guilty of every one of those questions for my educational companies. I have four companies that fall under that heading.

  • The Paragon School of Pet Grooming
  • Melissa
  • White Dog Enterprises

Not only were my logos dated, but I had an identity crisis as well. Whenever we would register for a trade show booth, I never knew who we were. When we filled out the paperwork for trade shows, the show promoter would always ask. “What company was the booth going to be registered as?” I was always a stumbling block for me… “What company do I choose?” Out of the four educational companies, there is no right or wrong answer but I had to choose one.

On a personal level, I’m very much a creature of habit. I don’t like change. (My husband is rolling his eyes with this one and nodding his head in agreement!) When it was suggested that I hire an outside party to help us re-brand the companies, I was less than enthusiastic. However, I knew it was a necessary process. It was time.

When our graphic designer asked me, “When was the last time I had updated one of the logos, I sheepishly hung my head?” The Paragon School of Pet Grooming logo had not been changed in over 23 years! The White Dog Enterprises logo was over 10 years old and never had a facelift. L2GD was still relatively new but the logo itself was very busy. And Melissa never had a logo.

A nutshell, here are eight key items that you need to think about whether you’re creating a new logo or revising old one.

  1. Is it easy to identify
  2. Is the font style easy to read
  3. Is the design balanced
  4. What order of the design is your eye drawn to 1st, 2nd and 3rd
  5. How is the logo going to be utilized
  6. Is the design versatile for multiple applications
  7. What is the color palette
  8. Does it convey in an instant what you represent

Julie, our graphic designer, did a great job leading us through the process —  at times it was far from easy! We’ve never worked with her before. She had to gather quite a bit of information before the process was complete. The more information she was able to gather, the closer she got to creating fresh logos that truly represented each company.

To compound our identity issue, Julie had to come up with multiple logo designs that all worked in harmony with one another — or they could stand on their own solo. Not an easy feat.

At the Atlanta Pet Fair 2014, we will be at the show with our new identity — and a new booth! As difficult as the process was, I’m really pleased with the outcome. If you’re at APF, please stop by the booth and check our new look.

Here are samples of the before and after logos. We think Julie hit the nail on the head. The revised logos don’t lose the essence of what they were in the past. Yet they are fresh and bold. And they all play nicely in one sandbox together! Bonus!! What do you think?

Happy Trimming!

~ Melissa

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