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The Number One Time-Waster in Grooming Salons

How can you speed up the bathing and drying process? CMG Melissa Verplank explains how to master the bath & dry step to save time and improve the groom. Get your towels ready and tune in!

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Melissa: Hey, everybody. Melissa here, and today I want to talk to you a little bit about speed efficiency. A lot of folks come to myself, a lot of folks come to Paragon, our training center, and ask us all the time and want training on how can they speed up their grooming process. They just feel like they’re slow. They’re not hitting the mark. They’re not being able to do a small- to medium-sized dog an hour. They really struggle with that. It might take them two hours to do it. So they’re always coming in and seeking out training trying to improve on their speed. Whenever we’re dealing with those folks, especially in a hands-on setting, that’s where we can really identify where the true problems are. The majority of time, when somebody comes to us for speed enhancement training, the problem lies in some of the most basic area of what we do, and that is in the bathing and the drying area. Almost always, that’s where the majority of the time suck is.

I want to talk a little bit about how to improve your area and improve your times in those areas. First, let me say that everything is in your foundation skills. Everything is in the bath and dry. If you do not absolutely perfect your bath and your dry, I don’t care how talented of a stylist you are, you will never ever get the best finish on a dog. You will never be able to do your most efficient work because you just … The coat isn’t prepared for it. You just cannot get quality if you don’t have quality in that bath and dry area. So again, and that’s also where most people really lose time, is in that bath and dry area.

I want to take a look at one of the … probably the number one problem area in that bath and dry section, and that is with getting the dog out of the tub and to the drying, or getting it dry. What I am always surprised is how many people either skip towel drying all together … They just don’t use towels. They don’t use moisture magnets. They just use their high velocity dryer or they use their blasters, depending on what part of the world you’re in. They’re called by both things, high velocity dryers or blasters. Or maybe they just basically lightly hit him with a towel and throw him into a kennel dryer.

Those scenarios are not … Number one, they’re not going to yield you a quality result. And number two, they’re not going to be efficient. It’s not going to happen. So, I really encourage folks to towel dry, towel dry, towel dry. And that’s using your moisture magnets if you like those or using more than one towel to get those dogs really, really dry. And always what my goal is when I am working with towel drying, and I can’t always get it, but it’s always in the back of my mind, this is always my goal, is that I towel dry well enough so that when I first turn on that high velocity dryer, and I’ve got the condenser going on, and I’m actually running that dryer over the dog that there is no spray coming off that dog’s coat. That’s the goal. I won’t say that it happens all the time.

And if it’s not happening, there’s not a lot of spray coming off, but what spray is coming off I have a towel behind my hand so that as I’m working over the coat and the spray is coming off I’m catching it in that towel so it’s not rewetting the dog or it’s not going down onto the table and the dog is sitting in it. Now, another thing you can do is put a damp towel. You’ve toweled dried the dog really well. You’ve got a towel that’s not really absorbing a whole lot more moisture, so you can put it underneath the dog, and it will help so that the dog isn’t sitting in puddles. But, that’s always my goal, is no spray coming off that dog.

Now, there’s another trick that works really, really well. And it doesn’t matter whether you are a mobile groomer or whether you’re in a busy salon, this technique will work no matter where you’re at, whether you’re dealing with one or two dogs at a time, or whether you’re dealing with 30 dogs at a time. It’s easier when you’re first learning how to do it to work with just a few dogs, not the 30. But, this is the routine. It’s basically, to me, it’s a game. It’s a really, really fun game.

Bottom line is you take a look at the dogs that you have and you are going to bathe your largest dog and your heaviest-coated dog first. So if you have a heavy-coated golden retriever, he is your biggest, heaviest coated, furriest dog out of your roster for that time period, he’s hitting the tub first. You’re going to get him bathed, you’re going to get him towel dried, and then you’re going to literally wrap him in a couple towels. I love using big bulldog clips or some kind of a clip that’s going to actually hold those towels right onto the dog’s coat. But, you’re going to wrap them in a towel and then set him off in a quiet spot. It can be in a holding area. It can be tethered off to the side, but just put him somewhere where he’s comfortable, he can relax, and let those towels do the work for him, or for you.

Then, my second dog is going to be my next largest and next heaviest coated. So maybe I’ve got a doodle. He’s going to hit the tub next, same thing. Towel dry him, wrap him into towel, set him off to the side. Then I just keep working down the line to I get to my smallest and my lightest coated dog.

Basically, what I’m doing is it’s the same concept that us gals or guys, if you’ve got a lot of hair, a lot of … My husband happens to be bald, so he doesn’t use this technique. But every morning when I jump out of the shower, the first thing I do is I wrap my hair in a towel, and I’m letting that towel absorb the moisture of my hair. I go on with my morning routine, and I do my makeup, or do my face, or whatever I’m going to be dealing with that morning. I just take a few minutes, let the towel do the job. And one of the last things that I do before I’m ready for the day is I dry my hair with a blow dryer. But that towel has taken a lot of the moisture already out of my hair, so it doesn’t take me very long to finish my hair.

Basically, we’re doing the same thing with the dogs. So you’re dealing with those heavy coats first, going on down the line to your lightest coated dog, and you’re towel drying him, and wrapping them in a towel, and setting him off to the side. Now then when you turn around and you get to the end of your dogs that you have for that session, you reverse the order for the drying because those light-coated dogs … Maybe you’ve got a Yorkie with a guard comb-type haircut, and he’s kind of light-coated, sparse-coated anyhow. It doesn’t take any time at all for the towel to absorb the moisture, and he’s going to be dry. Sometimes if you let him sit too long, he’ll actually be so dry that you have to rewet them down in order to get the volume out of that coat so that you can put a good finish on the dog.

So, you just reverse your order. The first dog up on the drying table is going to be that Yorkie, and then it’s going to be the next largest dog. And it’s going to take you all the way up to that large, heavy-coated golden retriever. He’s going to be your last one that you’re going to dry. But if you work in an order like that, and even if you’re mobile, even if … or you’re working on one dog at a time, you know you’ve got other things that you can do while that dog sits for a minute.

When I was mobile, I would use the same technique. I would wash my dog, wrap them, towel dry them well, wrap them in a towel, and then I would do out my invoice. I would make my bows. I would quick do a cleanup on my van. Whatever I could do to save me time at the end, I would do that in the middle so that the towel could do the work for me and then it would take a lot less time to blow that dog out. But you’ve got to have that hand dry finish in order to yield the most top-quality result.

And I’m not talking about every single dog. If you’ve got a Dalmatian, probably doesn’t need a whole lot of time with a high velocity dryer. If you have a lab, doesn’t need a whole lot of time with a high velocity dryer. But every dog is going to benefit by having a hand dry. And the longer the coat, the denser the coat, the heavier, the curlier the coat is, the better result you’re going to get for your finish. And if you set that coat up so that it is absolutely perfect … Curly coats are dead straight. Shedding dogs have very little coat left. If dogs have been matted, you’re actually pushing those mats out of the coat and you’re giving a little bump with a brush before you leave the drying area. That is going to not only facilitate speed in the drawing area by utilizing towels and the high velocity dryer, but also it is going to make your finish go that much faster.

So if I had to isolate an area where people lose time the most, it is definitely going to be that time period from that towel dry, that very beginning stages of the drying. That is the number one time suck, time problem area. So take a look. If you’re struggling with time, if you’re having a hard time getting dogs finished efficiently and you know you could improve, take a look in that area. And like I said, that game that I was telling you, it works whether you’re dealing with one dog or whether you’re dealing with 30. Now, you’re dealing with 30 or more, it’s a real game, and hopefully you’ve got some practice. But it is very efficient, and you can get through an awful lot of dogs in a very short amount of time by being efficient and having a method to your drying madness to get through all the dogs in the shortest amount of time possible.

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