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Begin with the End In Mind

Before the grooming process got started.

Before the grooming process got started.

ShihTzue #2 - finished

This is what I saw before I even BEGAN the grooming process on this little dog. I clearly saw the end results.

I feel fortunate because I have been asked to judge the Rags to Riches Grooming Competition hosted by PetGroomer.com and sponsored by Double K. Industries.  This is an international online grooming competition in which photos are submitted of dramatic pet grooming makeovers.  I have judged this competition many times in the past and always look forward to this assignment.  It always amazes me what a skilled pet stylist can do with a dirty, overgrown, and extremely matted dog.

You know the scenario – the client walks in with a dog that is in such foul shape, you hardly know which end is the front or the rear of the dog.  The dog is filthy.  Its coat is extremely overgrown.  It’s packed with dead undercoat and/or mats and tangles.  Or worse yet, the coat is in dreadlocks.  The simple solution is to just shave it off.  We can all envision a clean – but naked pet.  Sometimes that’s the best option.

However, the dogs that really capture my eye are not the shave-offs.  An experienced pet stylist with imagination can see the end result before they even put their hands on the dog.

  • They see the potential.
  • They see a clean dog.
  • A dog that is totally mat free.
  • A dog that has style.
  • That has pizzazz.

They can see the end result of a beautifully groomed pet before they even begin.

Begin with the end in mind.

I can almost guarantee that every past winner of the Rags to Riches Grooming Contest uses this technique.  But if you are experienced, I bet you do this in your salon every day too.

The Rags to Riches Grooming Competition takes this to the extreme, but this technique can work with anything.  Personally, I’ve used this technique with great success in many areas of my life, growing my businesses and my grooming career.

I first started using this principle when I read Dr. Covey’s book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People over 20 years ago.  Since then, there has been a wealth of material written about how to use this principle with great success.

When it comes to grooming and I see a dog come through the door, I instantly see the potential – the end result.  Most of the time, I can’t even remember what the dog looked like before I started unless I have a photo to remind me!

When it came to contest grooming, I would study dogs I wanted mine to look like – the end result.  I would take photos of top winning dogs.  I read books on structure and movement so I could clearly visualize the underlying structure of a well put together pet.  I would take photos of my dogs either wet or very short so I could clearly see THEIR structure.  Then I would draw the trim I wanted to execute on top of their photo.  This clearly allowed me to see the end before I even stepped foot into the contest ring or started scissoring.

If you have never studied this technique of goal setting and personal self-improvement, I highly suggest you spend some time learning it.  It’s highly effective and very fun! And the best part – you can apply it to ANY aspect of your life.

Happy Trimming,



  • Most dramatic improvement in the dog’s appearance from the “BEFORE” to the “AFTER” photos.
  • Best groomed dog.
  • Degree of difficulty and skill required to perform the groom.
  • Quality of the photograph of the groomed dog.

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