Do you struggle with confidence? With skill mastery? You’re not alone. Even “top dogs” are on the lookout for learning opportunities. In this video, CMGs Melissa Verplank and Judy Hudson discuss the importance of continuing education and their own personal quests to learn with the best.
Assess your skill level, find a mentor, and find the best books, websites and online communities to sharpen your skills. By finding, and using, all the learning tools available to you, you will build your confidence, increase your speed, efficiency and earning potential!
Judy Hudson: Yup.
Melissa Verplank: Yeah. And one of the things that we have been talking about is the importance of continued education,, and what that can do for your career and it doesn’t really matter where you’re at.
Judy Hudson: Exactly.
Melissa Verplank: Yeah. And Judy, I mean, you are so involved with continuing education. You have your own business, but you also work with national dog groomers and also the grooming professors. And so all of that is continued education. And what are you seeing out there in the field if folks are really focused on continued education?
Judy Hudson: I’m like you, I feel like continuing education is the coup de grâce. I just think it is the best thing that you can do for yourself. Not only continuing education as a groomer but continuing education, personal development. That’s something that has been huge for me.
Melissa Verplank: Yeah.
Judy Hudson: And I just see a lot of groomers struggle with self-confidence and with building their business because of the lack of self-confidence. So I feel like, and I just had this question the other day, how do you build your confidence up? And my answer to that was to build up your skill level. Because I don’t know about you, but when I was starting to speak and they told me, “Don’t ever speak about something that you don’t know forwards and backwards.”
Melissa Verplank: Yep. Absolutely.
Judy Hudson: Because your lack of confidence on that subject will come through.
Melissa Verplank: Yeah.
Judy Hudson: And so I found that true in the grooming industry, and I have spoken to some people over the years. I’m mobile, so a lot of people come to me for mobile advice, and so they were doing the right things, they were in a good neighborhood, but they just weren’t getting repeat customers. And you have to ask that hard question, what’s your skill level?
Melissa Verplank: Right. Yeah.
Judy Hudson: Because a lot of us are self-taught.
Melissa Verplank: Yep.
Judy Hudson: And there’s nothing wrong with that, but you have to continue to learn.
Melissa Verplank: Well, and I think you also have to get out there and be able to understand the difference between good, bad or what you can do to enhance your skills. Because if you don’t know what you don’t know, there’s no way that you can move yourself forward.
So you’ve got to know where your skill level is currently at, and where you could possibly take it. And it doesn’t necessarily have to deal with grooming. I mean for me, I’m a self-taught groomer, and I got to the upper echelon of the grooming community and you too, but also, I see it with business, with speaking, it doesn’t matter what it is. If you want to move your career forward, you have got to work with continuing education.
And the more you know, the more you grow, and the more you’re ultimately going to earn.
Judy Hudson: Absolutely.
Melissa Verplank: And ultimately, it also makes your days go so much better. To be able to have the confidence level to be able to move forward and to be able to speak with conviction, to groom with conviction, to communicate with your customers with conviction.
Judy Hudson: And when you have to have those hard conversations with your customers about why you have to de-mat their dog, or why it has to be shaped down, or why you don’t want to shave down a double-coated breed, and you can speak to the science behind the skin and the coat. That sets you above [crosstalk 00:04:41] Yeah.
Melissa Verplank: Yeah, so much farther above.
Judy Hudson: Because then they are going to value your information. They’re going to value your skill level, and they’re going to be willing to pay for that.
Melissa Verplank: Yeah. And so let’s tell our viewers a little bit. Okay, so they’re buying in, maybe you guys are buying into the continuing education. How did they go about it? Where do they go to get that kind of information to be able to grow their skills? I know what I did, and I’m going to go ahead and share that. But what did you do to help grow your skills so you could get to that next skill level?
Judy Hudson: I actually found Chris [Pulasky 00:05:23] at a dog show and, well actually I’d seen her at the Atlanta Pet Fair. And I was competing, and I was watching her groom while we were waiting on judging and thinking to myself, “My time would have been better spent standing at her booth all day watching her grown and picking her brain than it would have been competing.” But I’m very competitive. So that’s where I ended up.
But anyway, a couple months later I found her at a dog show and introduced myself and said, “I want to be where you are.” And so at first she was reluctant because a lot of times people will take and take and take and never give back. And once she figured out that I was a sticker, she couldn’t run me off, she taught me.
And then I took private lessons from Janice Finn for my Cockers. I would work dog shows with Chris. Jody Murphy, when we were competing together, she actually helped me, well actually you gave me a best in show with that dog at the New England. So we all helped each other, and we can all learn from somebody. And now it’s so much easier because I’ve learned to groom dogs and the grooming professors and super styling sessions and all the things, I mean there’s just-
Melissa Verplank: Well, there’s [crosstalk 00:06:47] there’s a lot of materials, and with the age of the internet, you can find a lot of things, but at the same token, you have to be careful because free information is, a lot of times that’s what it’s worth. Not a whole lot because it’s free. So you’ve got to be really careful who you seek out. But as I’m listening to who you followed, they were the top echelon at the time.
And if you learn from a master, it is going to accelerate your learning so much faster. And same thing when I was learning, I was going to the absolute best that I could find. And it didn’t matter whether it be grooming or whether it be business or whatever it might be. I really looked for those folks and learned from them. And I also, I read a lot, and one of the things that says is readers are leaders.
Judy Hudson: Yeah. [crosstalk 00:07:45] And guys, we still, we are listening to podcasts, we’re taking, what do you call those? Online programs to make ourselves better businesswomen. Because that’s the other thing, is that it’s not just about grooming. And she’s been one that has beat me over the head with, “You need to know what your numbers are.” And so, with Learn to Groom, they have so many great business videos on the site, and that’s something that I’ve been wanting, to dive into them and listen to them from my own benefit.
Melissa Verplank: Right.
Judy Hudson: But you never stop learning. And I think that for me is the most exciting thing about this industry, is that you can’t get bored because there’s so much to learn.
Melissa Verplank: There is. Once you master one skill, whether it be one breed, one coat type, one technique, there’s always something more that you can build on. And just because you think you’ve mastered it five, 10 years ago, then all of a sudden new things come out, things change, and there’s no black and white in dog grooming. And so there’s a lot of different varieties of ways to learn, ways to do things.
And what I always say is if the technique or what you’re doing with a pet, if it’s safe for the pet, if it’s safe for you, if it yields a quality result, and it can be done efficiently, you’re golden. Try it, test it out, see what works for you, because everything is going to work a little bit differently.
And one of the things we love… We just had a horse hit the gate there. One of the things that I love about Learn to Groom is that we’ve got so many different training experts, and we have so many different levels of education, that folks can dive in at whatever level they’re currently at and move forward. And I personally vet every single training expert that we have to make sure that we have the best that we can possibly find for our members.
But again, Learn to Groom is just one avenue of continued education. And so I’m always going to encourage everybody to learn at whatever level they’re at.
Judy Hudson: Yep.
Melissa Verplank: And do what they can do, and move forward because you can never know everything and you can never master everything.
Judy Hudson: And that’s the other cool thing about Learn to Groom, is because we all learn differently. And you might not learn something from me, but Melissa might say it in a different way and the light bulb goes on, and we see that all the time.
Melissa Verplank: Absolutely.
Judy Hudson: And so if you watch a video on poodles and you don’t quite get it, watch it again or look for another one on poodles with another trainer. Because we’re all basically doing the same stuff. We’re all following breed standard. Our prep stuff is the same. But it’s just, we may just say it a little differently.
Melissa Verplank: Yeah. So definitely get out there. One of the things that we say within our companies is education is everything.
Judy Hudson: I agree.
Melissa Verplank: Yeah. I can’t stress that more, is that education is absolutely everything. So get out there, figure out where you can get that information to grow yourself and to grow your career. Thanks guys.