Are you trying to grow your grooming business? Master Groomer Melissa Verplank shares her tips for selecting the right team members to scale your business. She also discusses staff turnover and positive ways to think about and manage the lifecycle of relationships with team members.
Want to train staff to grow your business? Check out our Distance Learning Program and leverage Melissa’s outstanding educational curriculum.
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Melissa: So this is going back into the 80s, and it was the number one problem back when I was first starting my business, and it continues to be really the number one problem today, is finding qualified staff members to join your team. And before I started the Paragon School of Pet Grooming, I ultimately had opened a salon based operation and I used that as a training center for my fleet of mobile vans, and that was really the only way that I could find team members that could groom up to the caliber that I needed them to groom to.
Melissa: So as you’re growing your business, when you’re looking for people, what I say to folks now is look for somebody with that attitude that you know that they have a great work ethic. They smile, they take direction well, those are the types of folks that are moldable, and you’re going to be able to work together with some systems, get the systems in place, and you’re going to have people that mirror what you’re thinking and how you want to treat the customers. But don’t totally put your heart and soul into them, because just when you think everything is going really well, they’re going to up and they’re going to leave, and that’s just the nature of the beast.
Melissa: And so I would never be angry with somebody as long as they were honest with me, told me up front what they wanted to do, what their dreams, what their aspirations were, and I want to help them get there. And if they want to stay with me for seven, 10, 15 years, great, and I’ve had staff members do that and stay with me for that long. But I’ve also had staff members that have only stayed with me for a few years, and I was a little bit … just, you know, like a stepping stone for them. And as long as they were honest with me, I would help them however I could, because we all have dreams, we all have things that we want to do. But what I want each and every one of you to think about, whether you be the owner of the salon, or whether you be the employee, is that do the best that you can do, and be up front and be honest. If you want to move ahead in your life, there’s nothing wrong with that. If you want to open up your own salon, there’s nothing wrong with that. But be fair about it. Don’t open up three blocks, or a couple doors down from your existing salon, move into a different area and start your own business.
Melissa: But as the business owner, I also want to encourage you to always, always be looking for somebody else to come on board. And it’s not necessarily that you’re going to replace somebody, but you have got to cover your hind end. You’ve got to be able to continue to grow your business forward, to move it forward, and it’s great always to have somebody in training, always coming up the ranks so that when that day comes that somebody does leave, that it’s not as painful for you. There’s nothing worse than relying so heavily on somebody else that when a team member does leave, it’s devastating to your business.
Melissa: And so now, today, what we are always doing is we are always cross training our team members so that if somebody leaves, if somebody moves on, that somebody can step in. Will they do the job beautifully just like the former person? Maybe not, but they have already got a head start. And right now, between the different companies that I have … we’ve got probably approaching 80 employees, between Whiskers Resort, and that’s the one that has the most employees, and the educational companies. So I’ve got a pretty good sized team, and I’ve got to tell you, I have had good days, and I have had really, really bad days based on how well the leadership was going at the companies, and probably the days that were some of my darkest days probably a team member caused that, and I let that get to me. But I will also say some of the most rewarding things that I’ve ever done has been based on a team. And to be able to see dogs walk out that look amazing, to see team members get certified, or to go into the ring, or just to be able to pay their bills and not have to look over their shoulder. Those types of things make it really worthwhile and I love being an employer, because I can expand somebody’s horizons, and I can help somebody succeed.
Melissa: And so for me, having team members works really well. But I will tell you, it isn’t always glorious, it’s not always fun. But I love what we’re able to do, and I love being able to help as many dogs in our community as we do, and I love helping people expand their career. And I couldn’t do it at the scale that we do today if I didn’t have an amazing, an amazing team behind me.
Melissa: So don’t be afraid of it. But just know, you’re going to have to buckle down, and you’re going to have to do some work, and if you are one of those team members, I certainly hope your boss, your employee is holding you accountable to a higher level.