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When Should You Just Say No?

Agressive dogrrPet groomers and stylists are in the service industry. Our role is to help people and their pets. When we do it well, we make people happy.

What if you can’t make them happy because you can’t groom the dog safely due to its aggression or health? Should you still groom the pet?

If you have been in business for any amount of time, I’m sure you’ve run into this scenario. Even seasoned professionals struggle with this dilemma at times. Should you groom the pet or turn the client away? Read the rest of this entry »


Is it Time for Licensing in the Pet Grooming Industry? – The Time Has Come to Consider Professional Regulation for Pet Grooming in the United States.

When I first opened The Paragon School of Pet Grooming in 1991, I had to be licensed by the Michigan Board of Education. Granted, it was not licensing for pet grooming – it was for ensuring students received consistent training in a safe facility. The licensing was primarily for their protection – not ours.

Was the set-up process challenging? Absolutely! We had to prepare, complete, and comply with all required:

  • forms
  • regulations
  • rules
  • fees
  • documentation
  • inspections

It was daunting, to say the least. To make it even more challenging, we have to renew our license annually. Each year we have to jump through all the hoops again.

I found the entire licensing process tedious. Frustrating. Annoying. Intimidating.

But you know what? In the long run it made us a much stronger business and a better school. It forced us to pay attention to details I might have missed. Those details could have put our pets, students, employees, and clients at risk.

Today, more than ever, I feel licensing is necessary. Regulations and licensing are put in place to protect the health, safety, and well-being of the consumer. They also set acceptable standards in each field.

Today, there are hundreds of occupations and businesses that are either licensed or regulated.

  • accountants and CPAs
  • real estate agents
  • appraisers
  • architects
  • builders
  • carnivals
  • childcare
  • collection agencies
  • cosmologists and barbers
  • engineers
  • funeral directors
  • landscape architects
  • medical doctors
  • chiropractors
  • post-secondary schools
  • ski areas

…and the list goes on and on…

So why should professional pet groomers be any different?

Professional pet grooming is similar to two other industries: cosmetology and childcare. Both are heavily licensed and regulated.

...And for good reason.

Licensing and regulation isn’t needed because things are going well. They happen because problems exist that need to be corrected.

The idea of licensing within the pet grooming industry is not a new one. I still remember the efforts of Gregory Krisp and Kathy Rose 20 years ago. They were backed by the late Sally Liddick and Barkleigh Productions. They formed the Groomer Licensing Founders Committee in 1996. They were on the forefront of the licensing issue in our industry. Unfortunately, they were way ahead of their time. Their efforts fell upon deaf ears.

But some people were listening. Voluntary certification organizations were stepping up to the plate. They created comprehensive education and testing programs for groomers and stylists. Many states had strong professional groups that were hosting educational workshops. Ways to strengthen our profession were being developed from within. Voluntary licensing, testing, and continuing education were building in intensity.

I fully endorse setting mandatory regulations, standards – and ultimately licensing – for the pet grooming industry. But it needs to be on OUR terms, not by well-meaning individuals with no knowledge or understanding of what they are attempting to regulate.

Ideally, pet industry leaders and professionals would work closely with individual states. As they work together, they would create regulation guidelines for professional grooming establishments that are realistic and attainable for any competent professional.

Carelessness has created situations in which dogs have been injured – or worse – in grooming salons around the country. Owners are up in arms… and they should be. If it was my pet – I would. If it was your pet – my guess is you would be, too. Wouldn’t you want to do something about the safety and well-being of pets left in a pet professionals’ care?

The State of California tried to pass licensing for professional groomers. That bill was not written by industry leaders. It would have been devastating if it had passed because it was drafted by people who did not understand our industry. Teri DiMarino and Judy Breton, acting with the newly formed California Professional Pet Groomers Association, Inc., won a Barkleigh Honors Award for their extraordinary work in getting that bill defeated. Texas, New Jersey, New York, and Massachusetts currently have bills in the works. Licensing for professional pet groomers is just around the corner for many states.

Luckily, we have a group on our side. Recently, the Professional Pet Groomers & Stylists Alliance was formed. According to a July 21, 2015 press release, “The PPGSA was created to harness the experience and expertise of the three major national pet styling associations, IPG, ISCC, and NDGAA to develop industry wide best practices.” They are working together with other industry leaders, associations, and major retailers to develop a set of suggested Basic Industry Standards. These standards could be presented to each state as licensing moves forward.

The primary focus of the PPGSA is on pet safety. Subject areas include:

  • animal housing
  • handling
  • equipment
  • products
  • facilities and safe operations
  • attentive animal care

The PPGSA will not offer any form of certification, testing, licensing, or regulations for our industry, but they are our voice. In other words, they have our backs when a bill hits YOUR state. They will be there to guide industry leaders – in each state – as bills are introduced. The Basic Standards will guide future legislation. It has been created to be used by any school, organization, or certification program. It can be enhanced to fit their unique needs and goals.

Regulations and licensing is definitely a challenge for any business. However, the time has come to seriously consider professional regulations for the pet grooming business in the United States.

If a bill is introduced to the State of Michigan to regulate professional pet grooming, I’ll be one of the first people to jump and help craft a workable bill. I hope you have the same attitude when the situation presents itself in your state.

What do you think? Are you prepared, worried? What do you think should be considered?  Jump over to the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page and tell us how you feel.

Happy trimming,

~Melissa

How to Avoid Visions of the Hangman’s Tree – or – Cleaning Up Industry Jargon So Your Salon Makes A Positive Impression

Every industry has its own set of technical terms. Those of us behind the grooming table are familiar with them, but have you stopped to think how our terminology sounds to customers? The words we use can paint a very negative picture to the client. Of course, we never intend it that way – we’re just using words and phrases that groomers have used for years.

In grooming salons around the world, we are dealing with a very precious commodity: the owner’s beloved pet. Most of these clients put their pets on the same pedestal as their children. We need to be extremely cautious of the types of technical jargon that we use within earshot of our clients. Or better yet, simply clean it up so it’s client friendly.

Today, I want to look at one of these commonly used terms. I’m going to give you a few ideas for optimistic alternatives to use. These alternatives will paint a much more polished – and professional – image in the clients mind.

The Grooming Noose.

Let’s face it. In order to groom a dog safely, we need control. One of the tools we routinely use in the grooming shop is a “grooming loop” or “noose.”

Correctly adjusted, a grooming loop will limit the amount of movement a dog can make on a tabletop, reducing the risks of accidentally falling or stepping off. If the dog were to try to bite or nip, the grooming loop can minimize the reach the dog has to your hands and face. By limiting their movement on the table, it makes our job easier while brushing, clipping, and scissoring, while again minimizing the risks to the pet.

Although this is a major safety item used in most salons, the term I hear routinely to describe this piece of equipment is the word, “noose.” Every time I hear it, the hackles on the back of MY neck stand up.

The word “noose” just conjures up all kinds of negative emotions with me. All I can think about are things associated with a hangman’s noose. Gallows. An eerie tree. Death. If your client hears this term used loosely in your grooming speech, my guess is they have the same type of thought process going on in their mind. The term “noose” does not create a warm, caring, and compassionate atmosphere in any grooming establishment.

The term needs a serious face lift! Focus on the positive aspects of what this piece of equipment does. Here are a few suggestions.

  1. Loop
  2. Safety lead
  3. Safety loop
  4. Pet seatbelt

Think about how your terms can negatively affect your clients. Most of the time, we are so busy just trying to stay ahead of the grooming game, we never stop to think how we sound to the client. We may love our four-footed customers, but it’s our two-legged clients we really need to win over – gaining their trust – and their business.

Take a moment to step back and listen to yourself. Do you need to clean up your shop language? Do you use the old fashion term “noose’ instead of one of the much more positive terms?

What term do you like to use in your business for this valuable piece of grooming equipment? Jump over to the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page and tell us what term you like to use!

Happy trimming!

~Melissa


How to Encourage Cold Weather Appointments

blog imagerrDo you live in a climate where you have seasonal changes in the weather patterns? For many groomers, the number of grooming appointments dips with the temperature. This can be a real problem if you rely on your grooming income to pay your bills!

How do you combat that problem? Encourage pre-booking.

It always amazes me how many clients have no idea what their pet needs in terms of coat care when the temperatures plummet.

Professional pet grooming is service driven. That means you must be a problem solver – even when your clients don’t know they have a problem! Thus, you become not only the problem solver but also the educator!

Just prior to some of the coldest weather of the season in the northern hemisphere, we have one of our busiest seasons – the holidays. Take advantage of your good fortune.

Here are 6 of the most common problems associated with colder weather: Read the rest of this entry »


5 Steps for Setting Goals in Your Grooming Department

blogrrLast night I was sitting with Misty Fowler, our grooming department manager at one of my companies, Whiskers Resort & Pet Spa. It was our annual Christmas party.

Our conversation touched on the amazing growth that company had accomplished in the past few years. Misty beamed as she reported, “The grooming department is only $2,800 short of achieving our annual goal. And we still have the entire month of December to go!”

I was intrigued. She went on to explain how they did it.

A year ago she determined what she wanted for a growth rate in the grooming department. She figured out what that number would be based on the current year’s annual sales for the grooming department.

Once she had her annual target, she divided it by 12 to give her a monthly goal. Taking it one step further, she divided that monthly number by 4.3 to give her a weekly goal to aim for. Finally, she divided that weekly number by six to give her a daily target. She now had a clear road map. She, and her team, knew what they had to do to reach their annual goal. Read the rest of this entry »


Surviving the Holiday Rush

blogrrAfter working professional in the pet grooming industry over 35 years, the only time I worry about dealing with clients is the Christmas holiday season.

The two weeks preceding the actual day can be a chaotic mess.  With Christmas shopping, decorating, baking, family gatherings, holiday socials to attend, and every regular client you have wanting to be booked as close to Christmas as possible . . . phew!  December can be an exhausting month!

But, wait – it doesn’t have to be!  Christmas organizing all year round will let you create that picture perfect holiday without nearly the stress. Read the rest of this entry »


Nine Seconds to Make a First Impression

Dog-Computer-Wallpaper-1024x768rrYou meet someone for the first time – it could be a new client walking through your doors, someone at a grooming trade show or a new team member.

The moment that stranger sees you, their brain makes a thousand assumptions.  It might be a new client or someone you meet anywhere else.  You are giving off clues about yourself before you ever begin to speak.  They are gathering a wealth of nonverbal clues about you.

What are nonverbal clues?

Nonverbal clues include all the ways you present and express yourself, apart from the actual words you speak.  Things like eye contact, gestures, posture, body movements, and tone of voice.  All of these signals can convey important information that isn’t put into words.  They are extremely important at work and in business.  Perception is reality. Read the rest of this entry »


Closet Organizer

Messy-Closet-PhotorrI talk to people in and outside of our industry every day and I am always looking to learn something from every conversation, not matter how short or long the conversation happens to be. Sometimes the conversation is very short, a simple phone call to check in with staff at the office or colleagues in the field, and sometimes the conversation are much more lengthy, which could include planning meetings or networking opportunities. All in all, everyone has something to say and there is always something to learn.

Recently, I was speaking to someone on a plane about their business. We engaged in the standard reciprocal greeting when we found ourselves sitting next to one another and then proceeded to go to work on our laptops. After clicking away for about 30 minutes, I happened to pick up a vibe that the man I had said hello to just a little while ago is in some form of law enforcement or military, I wasn’t sure yet. So, being the social butterfly I am, I asked. Boy am I glad I did!

The man was a retired Marine who is now working as a management consultant. I was instantly intrigued. I asked him what lessons he learned from the military that he felt were the most valuable to him in his new line of work. He answered very quickly. His top pick was “systems” and “standards”. Read the rest of this entry »


Nail Mending Kits

As a professional pet groomer, you know it’s going to happen. Sooner or later you’re going to accidentally trim a nail too close to the quick – and it’s going to bleed.

You know that while the pet is in your salon, you have the resources to correct the problem: a pinch of styptic powder, firm pressure for at least 30 seconds. Done. Fixed nail.

But in the back of your mind, you have those nagging questions…

  • What if the nail breaks open again?
  • What if the nail breaks open in the car?
  • What if the nail breaks open in their home and gets blood all over the carpet?
  • How was the client going to feel?
  • How are they going to stop the bleeding?
  • How are they going to clean up the mess?

None of these scenarios will leave a positive impression with the client. So, how do you head off this problem? How can you turn a negative into a positive?

Read the rest of this entry »


Thinning Shears are the Pet Stylist’s Eraser

Blog ImagerIt doesn’t matter how long you’ve been grooming or how talented you are as a pet stylist – sometimes you just need a little help. An “oops” can occur at any time. Mistakes happen.

Maybe there is a spot on the coat that you just can’t get smooth. Maybe there is tracking in the coat from the clippers or guard comb. You may have left scissor marks in the coat – or a hole in the coat you accidentally made with clippers or scissors. You might even be working with a dog that will not hold still long enough to work safely with clippers or scissors – leaving the coat rough and jagged.

Thinning shears can be your savior. They erase rough spots. They blend out jagged edges. They smooth out transition areas. They fix mistakes.

The difference between a good stylist and a great stylist can be determined by how much value they place on their blending shears.

Read the rest of this entry »


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