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How Many Dogs Should A Professional Groomer Be Able to Groom?

Melissa Verplank breaks down a frequently-asked question – how many dogs should a grooming professional groom in a day? Tune in to find out Melissa’s metrics for success, and find out how you can improve your speed in the studio!

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Melissa Verplank: Hi, guys. Melissa here. I want to touch base on a question that gets asked a lot and I see it over and over again. It never seems to get old. That question is, how many dogs a day should somebody be able to do on a professional level in a grooming salon? There’s a lot of different right and wrong answers, but bottom line, if you’re looking to be a productive member of a team or you are looking at professional grooming to be a career opportunity and you’re going to rely on the revenue that you’re going to generate to pay your bills, to enjoy life, then pretty much the minimum that somebody needs to be able to do is between six and eight dogs a day.

When I say six or eight dogs a day, I’m not talking about the big, giant furries, the big doodles that are going to take two, two and a half hours to do. I’m talking more about the low maintenance, small to medium sized dogs, kind of no nonsense kind of haircuts. With that type of a trim, that type of a job, you should be looking at being able to turn a dog a minimum an hour. Anywhere between 45 minutes and 60 minutes to do a low maintenance, smaller type haircut. When I say that, I’m talking about the bath, the dry, and the haircut itself. That is the whole enchilada to be able to do under an hour.

If you’re not hitting that mark, you might want to really look at what your skillset is and look at ways that you can start shaving off some time. But bottom line, as an employer looking to hire somebody, that’s what I’m going to expect. If somebody is fresh out of grooming school, you know what? They’re not going to have the confidence to be able to do those numbers right out of the gate. But that’s definitely a target that they should shoot for, whether it be straight out of grooming school, or they’re just learning in an apprenticeship program, or they’re teaching themselves. Don’t beat yourself up.

First you’ve got to master the core skills before you can speed them up. Give yourself a little bit of grace, but work hard and focus on those core skills. That is, how do you bathe effectively? How do you blow dry effectively? How do you get a dog brushed out, combed out so that it’s totally mat-free? How do you clipper efficiently? What type of tools and skills do you need to master to be able to be efficient with what you’re doing?

I have a saying that I want to see a dog be absolutely super smooth in three passes of the clipper or less. If you’re having to go over, and over, and over, and you’re not getting a smooth finish, then you need to look at your technique when you’re dealing with clipper work. If you’re not being able to brush a dog out efficiently, and when I say efficiently, there’s no hardcore rule of how long does it take to brush a dog out, especially if it’s got mats and tangles in it, because every dog is different. Every dog has got a different tolerance level of what they will accept in the brushing department and how tight are those mats and tangles.

You’ve got to take a number of things into consideration, but there’s still shortcuts that you can do. If you’re not letting the products like the shampoo do a lot of the work for you or your high velocity dryer to loosen those mats up, to blow those mats and dead coat out of a dog, there’s a time saving area that you can really focus on. Even though a dog might be super, super matted, it still shouldn’t take that long to get it brushed out. Even if you’re doing a salvage type job where you still have got to trim the dog down, but you’re trying to keep maybe an inch of coat, there’s tricks and techniques like cutting some of that coat off so you’re not having to bathe all of it, or blow all of it out, or to de-mat all of it. There’s a lot of different things that you can do to help really speed up the process.

But when you start looking at enhancing your speed, you don’t want to sacrifice quality. You’ve always got to keep compassion for the pet absolutely at the forefront of everything that you’re doing and to keep the quality so that that client is going to come back and have you work with them again. Because the whole key with professional grooming is building that repeat clientele base. You can work on your speed, you can work on maintaining quality so that those clients come back, and building up a strong client base so that you have a solid foundation to work from. But when I’m looking at people that are really, really productive…

Shoot, we just had a record day at one of my companies, I want to say, just before Thanksgiving. One of the stylists, and she’s a certified master groomer and she’s been doing this for a lot of years, but she did 16 or 17 dogs by herself. Now, I will say she had an assistant, so she had a bather and somebody was helping her get those dogs prepped. But still, to be able to do those types of numbers, you have to be so focused on what you’re doing. You are not looking away from your table. You are not talking to your fellow groomer. You’re not checking your phones. You are absolutely on task, on focus. That dog on your table is what you’re looking at. If you really stay focused, you’re going to be able to build up your speed. Again, you’re not looking to do it overnight. This is a small, incremental, stay focused, stay on task. If right now you’re struggling to get through four dogs, your target should be to get to five dogs. If you’re being able to do five, then look to move to six.

Just take it one dog at a time, one day at a time, but stay focused and help to master those skills so that you, too, are going to be able to comfortably do six or eight or more dogs a day, every single day that you are grooming and you are at your grooming table. That’s going to make you be a really valuable team member if you’re working in a salon situation. Or if you’re are solo flyer, it’s going to help build your business and make sure that you’re going to have the revenues at the end of the week or the end of the month to pay your bills. That’s what professional pet grooming is all about; being able to love what you do and make a living at it.

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