Time is money. How long does it take to dry a small dog? How long should you budget for a full groom on a Shih Tzu? Certified Master Groomer Melissa Verplank talks about the importance of setting goals and planning to improve efficiency without compromising quality. Focus and a methodical tracking of time will help you improve your workflow and increase your profitability.
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Melissa: Hi, guys. Melissa here, again. I want to talk to you about one of my time saving tips. That is setting time goals and objectives. If you don’t know how long something takes there is no way you are going to be able to improve your best times on anything. So it’s important, first, to know where you’re at, where you’re going to start. If you’re a brand new newbie you are not going to be as quick as somebody who’s got 14, 15 years of experience underneath their belt. So be a little bit patient with yourself but know that’s an area that you’ve got to work on. Let’s start with where you’re at.
Melissa: Now, my personal objective is always to turn a pretty normal groom, an everyday, simple groom, small to medium-sized dog, nothing fancy, no scissoring, not a whole lot of styling, just no-nonsense everyday groom. I want to turn one of those types of dogs, generally about one an hour, maybe a little bit less. I’ll tell you what, if you’ve got a bather working for you, half of the time is in the bath and the dry area. So if you’ve got a bather you might be turning those dogs a lot quicker than one dog an hour. But let’s say you’re doing the full thing. You’re doing the bath, the dry, and the finish trim.
Melissa: My general rule of thumb is if water can penetrate the coat and the dog is coming in on a regular basis, it doesn’t had anything done to it, it just goes directly to the bathtub. With that type of dog, that’s where I’m saying the bath, the dry, and the haircut should all take roughly about an hour. If you’re not hitting those time goals, let’s take a look and see what you can do to improve upon your time. The first thing I want you to do if figure out where you’re at. Know how long does it take you to bathe a small, simple-type haircut. Know how long it takes to dry a simple-type haircut. Know how long it takes to finish a basic haircut. Once you establish the ground rules, now you’ve broken it up into chunks. Now you can take a look and start working on improving those times and those particular areas. So break it apart in chunks, into steps.
Melissa: Get yourself a timer. It doesn’t matter whether it be a kitchen egg timer, one of those types with a dial and it turns and you hear it ticking off and bing it goes off and you need to be done or whether it’s a digital timer. Or you can even use your phone and set the timer on your phone. But time yourself. Break it in chunks and time yourself. Always try to beat your best. So know how long it’s going to take to do any procedure and then work really, really hard to beat your best time. Whenever you’re working on beating your best time, you don’t ever want to sacrifice quality or safety. Those are going to be really critical areas that you’re not going to want to shave off five or 10 minutes. That’s not what we’re looking for.
Melissa: We’re looking for just really small incremental steps to get better. Because once you start adding all of those little minutes and those seconds up, it’s amazing how fast it adds up. In no time, you’re going to be able to be doing and turning those dogs in an hour. If it’s a bigger dog, if it’s a fuzzy dog, no, you’re not going to turn it in an hour. There’s no way, or it’s hard, to turn a Doodle, a big, fuzzy Doodle, in an hour, big Standard Poodle, in an hour. It’s not going to happen. So I’m not talking about the big fuzzies. I am talking about your small, everyday, your Lhasas, your Shih Tzus, your mixed breeds, the dogs that are getting really basic, simple haircuts where you’re being able to do most of it with clippers or guard work. You can knock those dogs off pretty quickly.
Melissa: That just means more time for yourself, more time for your family, more time doing more things that you want to do. Or maybe it’s putting more money in your pocket. If you can do six dogs versus four dogs you’re going to be making more money. If you can do eight dogs versus six. When you first start out from grooming school or when you’re first learning or you’re apprenticing or whatever, I mean, your success might be finishing four dogs a day. That might be great for you. But know that as you work down the road, most professional pet stylists are working at a much quicker rate than that.
Melissa: We have seasoned stylists at one of my organizations over at Whiskers Resort, and they do anywhere between 10 and 16 dogs a day. Now, granted, a lot of times they’re working with assistants so they’ve got bathers that are helping them get through those dogs. But the bottom line is they are focused, they know how long it takes them to do a particular job, and they’re being able to work through their day very methodically, and they’re getting through it without killing themselves. When they leave, they’re still smiling at the end of the day.
Melissa: So working faster isn’t necessarily about killing yourself. It is about being efficient with what you’re doing and having the confidence to do it well. The only way that you’re going to be able to build speed is to be able to know where you’re at, where you’re starting from, and to get better from that point and move forward. So good luck getting through those dogs in the most efficient manner that you possibly can.