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Why Choose a Career As A Pet Groomer?

Pet Grooming By the Numbers:


  • According to the Bureau of Labor statistics, (BLS) the employment outlook for animal care and service workers is projected to grow 16 percent over the next decade – much faster than the average for all occupations. Employment growth along with high job turnover should result in very good job prospects.
  • The pet grooming and boarding market has virtually doubled in size over the last decade, from 4.56 Billion in 2009 to 8.38 Billion in 2019, according to Statista.
  • Today, 68% of US Households have a pet (85 M).
  • According to PetGroomer.com‘s annual survey, 64% of Groomers earn $30k to over $50k.

These trends make the potential for success in pet grooming highly likely when combined with a great education and opportunities for continued skill development. In pet grooming, once you have a happy customer, you’re likely to keep a happy customer for life. The more breed profiles you know, and the better your speed and technique, the more happy customers you’ll have, and the more profitable your solo or salon team will become. That’s why at Paragon, Education is Everything.

It’s About More Than Numbers:

Choosing a career in pet grooming is more than just the numbers, though. It’s about doing what you love AND earning a great living doing it. The best way to maximize your earning potential is to constantly challenge yourself and learning from others who’ve achieved top recognition. It’s also about having access to great business advice.

Many of our students and community members go into the field because they LOVE working with animals, and they love the independence a well-trained groomer can achieve. Read their Stories here.

How We Serve Groomers Throughout Their Careers:

The Paragon family of companies can teach absolute beginners to become professional groomers through its On-Campus and Online Dog Grooming courses, voted #1 Dog Grooming school by the Pet Groomer Industry Educator Awards. Our award-winning textbooks, Notes from the Grooming Table and The Theory of Five are invaluable reference materials that groomers will use throughout their careers. But our support of novice groomers doesn’t end there.

Learn2GroomDogs.com – Live Stream Learning On Tap

Through Learn2GroomDogs.com, Paragon encourages the continued professional development of any skill level, with more than a thousand instructional video episodes available to members. These videos feature tutorials by our Industry Training Partners who represent the very best in the industry. Many are GroomTeamUSA alumni, authors, and are in-demand on the workshop and seminar circuit. Membership includes access to business coaching advice to help you succeed. Learn2GroomDogs.com members also have the option of belonging to a closed Facebook group that is designed to help networking and problem-solving in your day-to-day work life. Fresh content is served up every week.

Explore membership in Learn2GroomDogs.com

We Exist For Your Success:

Our mission, whether through books, professional grooming courses, or streaming instructional videos and our community, is simple. We’re here to help YOU become the best, most successful groomer you can be.

Reach out to our specialists if you’d like to know more about the wonderful world of professional dog (and cat) grooming, or would like to learn how we can help you achieve your dreams.


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    Wellness – Make Time for It!

    Melissa Verplank is back with some advice on how to make time for your own wellness. Groomers are occupational athletes — take care of yourself and invest in your well-being!

    Want more inspiration? Check out our Online Dog Groomer Training courses or the ALL NEW community at Learn2GroomDogs.com, where you can find hundreds of instructional videos by industry experts, all organized by Skill Level. While you’re there, sign up to be notified when enrollment opens.

    Melissa: Hi guys, Melissa here. And recently I just read something that really resinated with me and I don’t know whether it’s because I’m getting older or whether the folks that I’m hanging around, we’re all kind of aging at the same point and we’ve got some ailments that I know that if I were to go back and talk to my 20 year old self, I’d be like, are you crazy? Why are you doing these types of things? There’s better ways. There’s easier ways and you’re going to be really sorry if you don’t start taking care of yourself early on instead of waiting, and all of a sudden you’ve got pains that now you’ve got to deal with. And so the phrase that I just read and it just really rung so true, was if you do not make time for wellness, then you will be forced to make time for illness.

    And I can’t tell you how true that phrase is. Stop and think about it. And from a grooming standpoint, Dr. Matt, who’s my chiropractor, he told me years ago, Melissa, you are an occupational athlete. That’s what you do. I’ve been in your salons, I’ve seen what students do, I’ve seen what your professionals do, and you guys, you’re getting a workout every single day that you stand at that grooming table. You’re bending, you’re twisting, you’re lifting. So true. And so what are some things that you can do today? If I were to go back and talk to myself 30 years ago, what would I be saying to myself? And it’s not that I would listen necessarily, but I just want to kind of plant a seed. If you’re younger and you’re invincible, like I was when I was in my twenties, you might just want to think twice about certain things that you’re doing.

    And the first thing I would say is know your limitations. Know your limitations from a physical standpoint. How much can you lift comfortably? How much can you pull and how much can you physically deal with? Know what those limitations are. And again, like I said, when we’re in our twenties, we’re invincible. When we’re in our thirties, we’re starting to go, hmm, I’m not so sure about that. When we’re in our forties it starts to catch up with us. By the time we’re in our 50s and our 60s, oh yeah, we’re starting to pay for it. Just think about longterm, what you’re doing today and how it’s going to affect you. For me, my biggest thing is I probably shouldn’t have been out lifting my own weight. I was really proud of the fact I was strong enough that I could do that. Today, I’d be like … Either I’d be … I was running mobile at the time, so I really, I didn’t have a whole lot of help, but I would either ask owners to help or if I was in a salon situation, I’d be asking for team lifts.

    I wouldn’t be so proud of the fact that I could out lift my own weight in a dog to get it up under the grooming table or into a tub. The other thing is know your limitations with the personality types that you can deal with, whether it be dogs or whether it be cats. Some people really gravitate to the challenging pets. Other people don’t, but know what your limitations are, because our hands are our livelihood and if you are uncomfortable working with a challenging pet, they sense that. They can read that energy and they’re going to be even more naughty for you.

    And yet other people can go in and they have just got that calm, cool demeanor and it just settles that pet right down and they can work with really challenging pets and do it safely. And so again, just know what your limitations are and don’t push beyond what you’re comfortable with. The other thing I would say is invest in yourself from an equipment standpoint. If you have the ability to make sure that you are working with tables that go up and down, whether they’re hydraulic or electric. If you have choices of bathing stations so that you’re not having to bend over as much, depending on again what size of a dog you’re dealing with or a cat that you’re dealing with. Cats are pretty much all one size fits all kind of thing, but dogs, oh my goodness, you’re running the gamut from the little tiny three pounders all the way up to 150 to even 200 pounds.

    I still remember trying to get a Bullmastiff into the tub by myself and that was a tough feat. Luckily the dog was relatively well trained and he would get into the tub by himself, but you still had to help and he was a big dog. I mean, when I put a four foot kennel lead on him, I had less than a foot left. That’s how big his neck was. Different pieces of equipment allow you to handle those variances, whether you’re dealing with a teeny tiny Yorkie or that big Mastiff, your equipment is going to allow you to deal with it the most ergonomically way possible so that you’re not putting undue strain on your back. And again, lift with your knees, not so much with your back. That was another thing I was really guilty of.

    I would just bend over and pick a dog up. I wouldn’t bother lifting with my knees. Well, I’ll tell you, years and years of doing that and I now have a fair amount of lower back discomfort unless I’m really careful about what I’m doing. Think about the equipment, think about sheers. Being able to have a really nice pair of shears allows you to minimize how many scissor strokes you’re going to have to take, or flip over to those guard combs. Oh my goodness, they make it so much easier to get the more elaborate type trims done on a dog without nearly the amount of work. Or a really powerful, high velocity dryer. Your dryers will, the high velocity dryers will not only dry a coat, but they will also de-shed and de-matte a coat as well.

    If you’ve got a really high powered one, you’ve just minimize the amount of brushing that you’re going to have to do. Invest in the equipment that’s going to make your job easier. And number three, support a healthy lifestyle. And there’s going to be a couple of different areas that you really need to think about. I learned again early on that I love food, and it shows. It lands on most of my hips, but I also learned that food is not only your fuel, but it can also be your medicine. And as I was dealing with some of my ailments, and again, back when I was in my twenties, I was invincible. Didn’t need health insurance. Didn’t have it. And I was diagnosed early on with rheumatoid arthritis, which that was hogwash way back then. And I’ve learned, I don’t have rheumatoid arthritis, but what I am prone to is any type of tendinitis, and it’s going to flare up all over, whether it be in my elbow, in my hands, in my feet. It’s a problem.

    And so I have had to learn to eat a very anti-inflammatory type diet. And the second that I start to eat foods that trigger that inflammation, I start having a lot of problems and pain. Right now, I am on a keto type diet, which is very, very low carbs. And not only did I want to try it to help reduce weight, but it also almost instantly reduced the pain and discomfort that I had with inflammation. But it had been a journey. I didn’t just like one day flip a switch and go, oh, I’m going to keep my carbs at under 20. I’ve been on a journey for a long time and it took a long time to build up to this, to the point that I went, I could do this. I can eat this way and be happy about it. And that’s where I’m at right now.

    But again, it took a long time, and I started playing with this way back in my late twenties and early thirties and so that’s when I really realized that food is not only fuel, but it can also be used as medicine. And then the other thing is get exercise. Now I know as we’re standing at the grooming table, we’re exercising every single day, but you know what? It’s not balanced exercise. Everything that we do is in front of us. And so we’re reaching, we’re pulling, we’re lifting and everything is reaching forward. And a lot of times you’re looking down, so your eye level is looking down. It’s not looking straight forward and it’s not looking up. It’s looking down. And so that ends up putting some problems with your neck. It can … And then all of the reaching forward will have some issues with your shoulders.

    It could also have problems with your elbows and with your wrists. A lot of folks have found that if they work with a physical therapist and they figure out exercises and stretches that they can do to counter balance the overuse of the forward motion that we have and really strengthen their back and their shoulders utilizing different moving methods, has made a huge impact on their comfort level when they are standing at the grooming table. And then, it goes without saying get enough rest, get enough sleep, and I know I get it. When you’re running and gunning, it’s darn hard sometimes to get enough rest, to get enough sleep, but it is so critical to your overall wellness so that you can perform at peak levels. And then do yourself some personal maintenance. And today, chiropractic care, massage therapy, I do kinetic massage therapy, which has really helped tremendously and has freed up muscles.

    I just get really knotted and really tight. And by going in and having this type of massage therapy done, I can keep myself limber, I can keep myself moving and being active. And life isn’t very fun if you are just totally sedentary. I mean, most of us that are in the grooming world, we’re relatively active folks and we like to do things and there’s nothing worse than getting sidelined, because you just can’t move. And so being able to work with personal maintenance, whether it be going and working out on a regular basis, doing yoga, I don’t care what it is, but take time for that personal maintenance to keep yourself in peak condition. And if you’re not in peak condition, the personal maintenance will allow you to just to keep moving and help slow down the aging effects, because again, when you’re in your 20s and your 30s, you are going.

    But once you hit your 40s, your 50s and then you get into your 60s, you’ve got to be really conscious about what you’re doing, and a lot of times your formal lifestyle is going to affect your later years. Again, like I said, if I were to talk to myself, and go back to when I was in my 20s, I would really have some pretty harsh words to tell myself. Take care of yourself. Take a look at … If you’ve got issues today, take a look at what those root causes are. And there is so much that you can do from a holistic level that don’t require medication, that doesn’t require surgery to fix those problems. And medicine is great and for many, in many situations, the medicine that we take is lifesaving.

    But for those things that are more just a bandaid, I would much rather get to the root cause and find a solution to it and fix it at the root cause than constantly reaching for a bottle of pain reliever just to get through the day. Figure out what the root cause is and figure out a way to heal yourself, and take the time, invest in yourself. Take the time to learn the different things that you can do to help yourself so that you are not forced to take time to deal with an illness. Be proactive and take care of yourself now so that when you get into your later years, you can really enjoy them.

    The Importance of Rebooking Clients

    Rebooking can get complicated, but Melissa Verplank’s latest vlog covers the best systems for keeping your grooming schedule on track! Tune in for tips about maintenance programs, client communication, and available tools.

    Want more inspiration? Check out our Online Dog Groomer Training courses or the ALL NEW community at Learn2GroomDogs.com, where you can find hundreds of instructional videos by industry experts, all organized by Skill Level. While you’re there, sign up to be notified when enrollment opens.

    Melissa: Hi guys. Melissa here, and today I want to talk a little bit about rebooking clients. Now if you guys have followed me for any amount of time, you know that I am a huge advocate of rebooking clients on a really regular basis. I love to see dogs come in every four to six weeks if they’re coming in for full service grooming or bathroom brush. But even better, I love to be able to help clients really keep their dogs in peak condition and getting them onto maintenance type programs, whether it be weekly, every two weeks or every three weeks. But bottom line is you’ve got to educate your customers as to the needs of the individual pet. Some pets really will benefit by being on a coat maintenance program and others not so much. So you have to kind of play it by ear.

    But I really love being able to ask that client if they’d like to rebook their appointment at checkout. It gives you a great opportunity to communicate with that customer. And you’ve got to build a couple of different scripts based on the needs of the dog. You know a dog that’s just come in and maybe it hasn’t been groomed in months and you had to totally shave it off. Their needs for rebooking are going to be really, really different than somebody who’s brought in a new puppy. Maybe it’s a Bichon puppy and you’re going to need to educate that client as to the needs of that dog down the road. What’s going to happen with his coat? How often should it be groomed? What is the lifestyle of that pet? So there’s a lot of different things that you need to communicate with that customer to help keep that dog in peak condition.

    And it makes sure that it is living up to what the client wants. If they’ve got a whole lot of kids and the dog is out ramming around in a rural setting, it’s probably not going to have a really, really fancy haircut. It’s going to need something that’s a little bit more easier to care for, lower maintenance for the owner. At the same token, if you have an upper echelon type clientele and the dog is going on walks on leashes and it’s on manicured yards, their grooming needs are going to be really different.

    So build a couple different scripts, figure out what is going to work best for each individual client based on the lifestyle. And then think about what will help incentivize that client to rebook. At one of my companies, they are very, very price sensitive, so offering a bit of a discount when we ask them if they would like to rebook between six weeks or less. That generally works really well for that clientele.

    I have another set of clients that could care less about discounts. They are more concerned about getting what they want when they want it. So the other thing you’ve heard me talk about is it takes well under 200 clients to keep one stylist busy all year round. So if you have a stylist or if you’re one of those stylists that is really in demand, and your appointment book is totally full or it’s hard to get in, that’s a really great way to help incentivize those clients to rebook before they leave so that they get the appointment time when they want it with the stylist that they also want. So those are two different ways to kind of help motivate rebooking at checkout.

    Now if the client doesn’t rebook at checkout, then you do what I would call a courtesy call. A reminder call. You’re not being a telemarketer. You’re not being a solicitor. You’re just looking out for the best interest for the client and for the pet. And so if you haven’t seen that dog in five weeks, you don’t have an appointment on the books anytime coming up real soon, those are the clients that you’re going to want to call. So maybe it’s been five weeks and you’re just trying to make sure they stay on a six-week schedule or maybe they’re clients that you haven’t seen for seven or eight weeks. Those are prime candidates to do these courtesy calls and you’re just doing a quick checkup. Just making sure that the pet is doing okay and you were thinking about them and you want to help that client maintain the dog’s coat and keep it in peak condition. And you’d like to be able to get an appointment set so that you can do that for them.

    And there’s a lot of different ways. You can either pick up a phone and make a phone call or you can send an email or you can send a text message. It really depends on how you best interact and communicate with your customers. There’s a lot of different ways to do it. But no matter what happens, you really want to encourage those rebook appointments and ideally rebooking six weeks or less. But you’re never going to be able to get clients trained to rebook their appointments if you don’t consistently ask for it. So it’s really important every single time that that client has their dog groomed, at checkout you always ask if you can rebook that client right then and there. And if they don’t rebook, make a note in your computer system, on your client file, however you maintain it. Have some type of a system so that you automatically rebook and implement the rebooking situation.

    Way back when, in Mobile, we had to do this because we had to route our trucks and we wanted to make sure that our stylist were grooming and not driving. And so we wanted to be very efficient with our routing. And so we always, we maintained a list, and it was sorted by the number of weeks that we last saw the client and then also by the map coordinates. And we were able to book clients very, very efficiently, keep them on that rotation, keep them with the stylist that they really preferred at the time that they wanted.

    And you know what, for a lot of people in the northern hemisphere, normally, especially if you are in a snowbelt area, January and February can be really, really slow. Everything slows down. And what we did is we were very, very efficient between the holiday offering rebooking and making sure that we touched base with those customers, and we were able to get those clients that all had their dogs booked over that holiday season to rebook in January and February. And amazingly we weren’t even that slow, because we were so efficient with rebooking.

    So I certainly challenge you. If you don’t have a rebook system in place, a system to be automatic with your rebooking to make sure that you’re asking every single client and that you’re implementing the system every single time, I challenge you to do so because it is the best way to stay full. And when you’re asking those clients if they want to rebook, that you don’t ask them if. You’re asking them when would you like your next appointment, or your calling to book the dogs or cats next appointment. Just assume that they’re going to take that appointment. And you know what? Even if they don’t, you’ve planted a seed and that seed has, it’ll start to fester. They’ll start thinking about it, and even if on our courtesy calls, they don’t book when we call or when we leave a message, most of the time, I would say well over half of those clients will end up calling us in the next week or two to rebook that appointment simply because we planted the seed.

    So definitely implement a rebooking system for your clientele, and I guarantee you’re going to build your clientele faster and you’re going to have more consistent bookings down the road.

    The Value of Repeat Clientele

    How often do you see your clients? Melissa Verplank has a new vlog about how to educate your customers and create the best rebooking schedule possible.

    Want more inspiration? Check out our Online Dog Groomer Training courses or the ALL NEW community at Learn2GroomDogs.com, where you can find hundreds of instructional videos by industry experts, all organized by Skill Level. While you’re there, sign up to be notified when enrollment opens.

    Melissa: Hi, guys. Melissa here, and today I want to talk about the importance of the frequency that you’re seeing your clients and the impact that it’s going to have on your bottom line. We’re going to be looking at it from how often you see that client in between groomings and how many times a year you’re going to see that client, and then again taking a look at on an annual basis what the income potential is and over the lifespan of the pet, what the income potential is. So if you don’t have a pencil and paper handy, I certainly going to encourage you to have something that you can jot these numbers down as I’m talking because I want you to be able to go back and plug in your own numbers into this formula. I’m going to use some really basic numbers just to get you going, but you can plug in your own numbers. So go ahead, grab that pencil and paper. If you don’t have it, I’ll wait for you. Got it? Cool. So let’s go ahead and get started.

    Now, I want you to take a look at … we’re just going to start with a frequency level. So if you’re dealing with a client every eight weeks, it doesn’t get groomed on a real high frequency level but it does get groomed regularly, you’re going to see that client about six, six and a half times a year, and the revenue that that’s going to generate over the course of one year at a $50 ticket price. Again, I certainly hope you’re charging a little bit more than that, but we’re keeping it simple. So $50 average ticket price, that client is going to bring you about $300 over an annual basis or about $3,000 if you’re dealing with that client for about 10 years, the lifespan of a dog or a cat. And now if we bump it up and you’re seeing that client every seven weeks, now you’re going to be seeing that client about seven times a year. Again, at that average ticket price of $50, it’s going to earn you about $350 annually or about $3,500 on a 10-year rotation.

    If you see that client every six weeks, and I think every six weeks is probably the most common rebook appointment that we have, and if you are rebooking every six weeks, it works out to you’re going to see that client about 8.6 times a year. But generally speaking, if you’re working in the holidays, you can get one more appointment out of the client. And so let’s just say you’re going to see that client nine times year. Again, average ticket price $50, it’s going to earn you about $450 annually or about $4,500 over the lifespan of the pet.

    Now, if we start bumping it up a little bit again, again, just going week by week, so every five weeks, you’re going to see that client about 10 times a year, so that client is going to earn you about $500 annually or $5,000 over the lifespan of the pet. And if you can get that client to go every four weeks, awesome. That is really helping your bottom line, and you’re going to see that client about 13 times a year and that client is going to bring in about $650 into your business every single year or about $6,500 over the lifespan of the pet.

    Now, I want to take this one step further. Let’s say maybe you think about a coat maintenance program, and if you’re doing a coat maintenance program, you’re seeing them even more frequently, and so let’s just say you’re seeing them every two weeks. Well, a lot of times if you’re seeing them that frequently, you’re also going to offer them a bit of a discount to the grooming. What we’ve done, and this has worked really well for us, is we drop the price pretty substantially. Let’s just say we’re going to $28 every two weeks. Now I want you to figure, I want you to see what happens here.

    If you drop to a two-week rotation, you’re seeing that dog about 26 times a year. The dog is in phenomenal shape. You’re not, lot of times you’re not always doing a groom on it. You can rotate it around and make it work into your schedule so that sometimes you’re just doing a bath and a brush and a heavy neaten on it, sometimes you’re doing a full haircut or whatever. You can mix it up because you’re seeing it so frequently, but at 28 bucks, now on an annual basis at $50, that client is going to, or not $50, at $28, that client is going to bring in about $728 annually. That’s a big jump.

    I mean, even if we’re looking at the four-week client, they’re bringing in about $650, so you’ve just reduced the price so that the client is more encouraged to bring the dog in on a really regular basis. The dog is in phenomenal shape and you get to kind of adjust it based on your needs on your schedule. Sometimes you just get really, really busy and maybe you don’t have time to do a full trim. That’s where these dogs, you can juggle them around and put them where you need to. But bottom line is they’re going to bring in a higher revenue even at a reduced price, so $728 on an annual basis. And if you look at it over the lifespan of the pet, you’re looking at $7,280 is what that client represents to you on a regular basis.

    So I want you to think about how rebooking your clients and educating the customer as to the importance of rebooking can really impact your bottom line. And today with the products and the tools that we have, dogs can even be done weekly or even more so. The best coat is a well-maintained coat, and so use gentle products. The more frequently you’re seeing the dogs, you use a really, really general product. But that dog is going to be, or cat is going to be in really great shape. The more frequently you can see them, the better you can service that customer. So take a look. Do the math for yourself. Figure out what it means to you to see those clients on a super regular basis.

    Invest In Yourself & Your Equipment

    Your equipment makes an impact! CMG Melissa Verplank discusses why investing in yourself shouldn’t be an afterthought, and how even her clients noticed when she invested in top-shelf shears.

    Want more inspiration? Check out our Online Dog Groomer Training courses or the ALL NEW community at Learn2GroomDogs.com, where you can find hundreds of instructional videos by industry experts, all organized by Skill Level. While you’re there, sign up to be notified when enrollment opens.

    Melissa: Hi everybody, Melissa here and today I want to ask you a question and that question is, when was the last time that you invested in yourself or invested in your equipment that would help move your career ahead? I learned early, early on, and I’m really thankful that I did, but I had heard a phrase somewhere that said something like, “Knowledge is going to lead you to success, but having the best equipment certainly is going to give you the edge to get there faster.” Very early in my career I realized that I always needed to invest in myself and invest in my equipment. When I was first starting out, just like all of you, shoot, I measured everything in dog numbers. How many dogs was it going to take to get that pair of shears or that clipper or that high velocity dryer or that table … Whatever it might be.

    I measured everything in dog numbers and I’m sure I bet a lot of you guys can relate. But the first time that I got that super high end pair of shears, I think it might’ve been a pair of Guides, they were some of the forerunners to the high end sheers that are just beautiful and we have a lot of choices today, but Guide was one of the first ones. And I got that first pair of shears and I still remember working on a Soft Coated Wheaton Terrier. And it was a Guard Comb on the body and the legs were scissored. And I felt really good when I finished that dog and I felt I had done it quite quickly too, which was really surprising. But the legs looked amazing and I didn’t do anything different other than use a different pair of shears.

    I was feeling really good about the dog. And when I brought the dog in, I didn’t say a word, I just presented the dog like normal. And the client just was stood back and looked and was like, “Wow, Melissa, I don’t know what you’ve done today, but I’ve never seen him look so good. And you did it quicker than you’ve ever done it. Whatever you’re doing, keep doing it.” Well man, I’ll tell you that just sent me right through the roof there I was on cloud nine somewhere. But it really validated the importance of … And what kind of an impact your equipment can have and the type of quality that a nice piece of equipment can do for you. So stop and think about it. And if you have not invested in yourself recently and treated yourself to a new … Whatever it might be, something to help move your career forward, whether it be a piece of equipment, whether it be a piece of software, maybe it’s a course, maybe it’s a book, maybe it’s just taking time for you to learn a little something, anything to help move your career forward.

    But I cannot encourage you enough to invest in yourself and invest in the equipment that makes it easy for you to do your job. You are going to be so much happier every single day that you step up to that grooming table with every dog that you do. Having the best equipment to select from and to choose from to make that dog look amazing, is also going to make you look amazing and it’s going to move your career ahead a lot faster as well.

    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!

    Want more inspiration? Check out our Online Dog Groomer Training courses or the ALL NEW community at Learn2GroomDogs.com, where you can find hundreds of instructional videos by industry experts, all organized by Skill Level. While you’re there, sign up to be notified when enrollment opens.

    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.

    Don’t Pre-Groom Before the Bath!

    CMG Melissa Verplank has some crucial advice for saving time this holiday season! Find out how you and your grooming team can speed things up by skipping the pre-groom and letting your dryer do the work.

    Want more inspiration? Check out our Online Dog Groomer Training courses or the ALL NEW community at Learn2GroomDogs.com, where you can find hundreds of instructional videos by industry experts, all organized by Skill Level. While you’re there, sign up to be notified when enrollment opens.

    Melissa: Hi guys, Melissa here. Today I want to talk a little bit about how to bathe and dry a dog so that it can be the most efficient possible. As we’re coming into the holidays, it gets really crazy. And any of you that have been in business for any amount of time know that, boy, the holidays can make or break you. And I really want you to think about how you can be the most efficient possible. And maybe you’re efficient, but maybe you’ve got a team member that is struggling a little bit.

    So one of my rules of thumb is never pre-trim a dog before it goes to the tub if water can penetrate that coat. And that would also go for your bathroom brush type dogs as well. I don’t want to pre-brush that dog out before it’s cleaned, before it’s dry. And with today, there are so many products and tools that we can use to make that coat do what we really want it to do and to do it very efficiently. But you know, every once in a while I still run into folks that are pre-clipping and pre-brushing those dogs before they hit the tub. And my big question is why? Why would you do that? So again, my general rule of thumb is if water can penetrate the coat, definitely get it to the tub first.

    Now if you are looking at a dog that’s got rock solid mats and water just can’t penetrate those mats, then yeah you’ve got to pre-clip that dog before you bathe it. But for most of your regular customers that are coming in every four to six weeks, shoot, get them right to the tub. And even if the dog has got some mats and tangles in the coat, again, if water can penetrate it, get it to the tub. Because let’s stop and think about it. When you have a ring on your finger and it’s so tight that you can’t get it off … this one’s really stuck. How do you get it off? With soap and water, right? You make it slippery.

    Well, mats and tangles and that type of thing are going to work the same way when you get that coat clean and you apply the shampoo. And a lot of times once that coat is clean, it’s the dirt and the debris and the gunk that’s in that coat that are holding those mats and tangles kind of together. So once you get the coat clean, then your brushes and your high velocity dryers, especially your high velocity dryers, can do a lot of the work for you. And they’ll literally move that dead coat, those mats, those tangles away from the skin so that when you do go in with a brush, you can literally just pat and gently pull, pat and gently pull. And you’re not going to be scraping against the skin at any point. And it’s a very gentle, methodical process.

    The other thing you can do for a dog that is possibly in really tough shape is bathe them. And before you rinse out your second shampoo, take a high velocity dryer right to the tub. And a lot of times when that coat is clean and it’s slippery and it’s got the shampoo in it, just like a ring will come off your finger a lot easier when the shampoo is there or the soap is there, the high velocity dryer will literally just blow those mats and tangles right out of that coat. So really think about how you can use your tools and your products to efficiently get the job done. And I mean, come on. Who wants to work on a gross, nasty, dirty, icky dog? Isn’t it a whole lot better to be working on a dog that’s clean and that smells good and feels good?

    And yeah, sure there’s times that you do have to pre-clip. If you haven’t seen that dog in eight weeks or more, more than likely it’s going to be more efficient to do a really fast pre-clip before the dog hits the tub. But again, for those regular clients, shoot, just get them right to the tub. And for a lot of those dogs, I have even seen stylists do this very, very effectively. And I had never even seen it done until I watched Sue Watson and Lisa Leady bathing dogs. And if you’re working with pre-diluted shampoo, heck, they’re not even wetting a dog down. They’re just applying the solution to the dog’s coat and starting that way.

    And again, just every little bit saves time and it saves on product, yet it’s going to yield a really quality result. So think about how you’re bathing these dogs when they hit the tub. And if you can bypass a step and not bypass quality, by all means, go for it. Give it a try. Try it maybe just before the … if you’re not used to it, try it just a little bit before the last couple of days of the holiday really sink in, but give it a shot. I bet you’re going to be surprised.

    How to Give A Dog A Facelift

    In our salons, one of the most popular head styles is round. Especially when it comes to Doodles, mixed breeds of all sorts, lots of drop-coated breeds plus a few others.

    Did you know there is an easy way to make any dog look younger? More perky?

    And the best part – it’s SIMPLE!

    Shorten the ears and the muzzle.

    Long ears and muzzles drag a dog down, making them look older. It also detracts from a bright expression.

    Plus, all the excessive coat is a dirt magnet. It’s constantly getting dragged through their food and water dishes. Longer fur drags on the ground as they pick up all their ‘doggie messages.’ (that’s gross!) Unless it’s being washed almost daily, it gets dirty, stinky and oily. And the potential for mats and tangles is increased the longer the coat.

    How short do you go? That’s up to you and the owner.

    Whatever the look, it should complement the trim and the dog. It needs to balance with the overall haircut.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Well Groomed Debut Slated for Dec. 17th on HBO

    Save the date to check out this colorful documentary that chronicles a year in the visually stunning world of competitive and creative dog grooming. WELL GROOMED follows the lives of a group of creative groomers whose dedication to their art is “bold, imaginative and eye-opening.” Learn2GroomDogs.com Expert Angela Kumpe is one of the four co-stars of the film, and you might catch a glimpse of several “friends of Paragon” during filming in the competitive ring. After making the rounds at SXSW and several film festivals across North America, the film was picked up by HBO Sports for a debut Dec. 17th on all platforms.

    According to director Rebecca Stern, “The film explores a world where competition, art and animals combine in the most vivid color and is a perfect match for the HBO Sports ethos of innovative programming.”

    Here’s a sneak peak of the trailer used for SXSW:

    Accompanying a group of champion groomers and their gorgeous, vibrant dogs for one year on the technicolor competition circuit, WELL GROOMED effervescently explores creative grooming. From South Carolina to California, New York to Arkansas, the film follows the group from their homes to large-scale dog grooming competitions and showrooms where their communities meet, discuss, and compete with technicolor exuberance.
    Kudos to Angela and her crew for bringing a slice of groomer life to the American public!

    An Eye for Grooming with Melissa Verplank

    CMG Melissa Verplank is back with tips on how to develop your “eye” for dog grooming! Tune in to learn about crucial dog anatomy, key resources, and where to begin when honing your skills.

    Want more inspiration? Check out our Online Dog Groomer Training courses or the ALL NEW community at Learn2GroomDogs.com, where you can find hundreds of instructional videos by industry experts, all organized by Skill Level. While you’re there, sign up to be notified when enrollment opens.

    Melissa V.: Hi, guys, Melissa here. Last week I was seeing a thread coming up that was talking about people were wondering how they could develop an eye for the dog. They were really frustrated, especially if they were beginners. They just didn’t know where to turn or how to develop their own eye. I wanted to address that a little bit.

    Now, like a lot of the topics that I talk about, you can go really, really deep with this topic. There’s so much to learn and so much to share. I just want to hit the top layer, especially to give those of you who are questioning, where do you even begin, where do you start to develop that eye for the dog? Like anything else, there’s going to be beginners, intermediate, advanced, and highly advanced people in this particular skill level.

    If you’re just starting, that’s where we all started at one time, at the very, very beginning. I learned how to grow not because I wanted to, not because I came from a family of groomers or show people. I got my job because the groomer was let go, and the next day I was a groomer with absolutely no knowledge whatsoever.

    So I had to learn, and it can be done. I learned it way before the age of the internet and a lot of the learning tools that are available to us now. I had to do it in a really different way than what you guys have to do. But I’m going to tell you, sometimes going back old school works really, really well.

    I just want to share some of the things that I did and some of the things that you can do to change it up today to maybe accelerate your pace a little bit. Always remember, every single one of us started at the very beginning. If you’re looking to develop your eye for the dog, you’re going to have to start at the beginning just like all of us. There is no shortcuts.

    Where is that beginning? Well, you know what? It all starts with anatomy. When you first start out, you are not going to understand the finer details of advanced anatomy. You’ve got to start at the very beginning.

    And so, one of the things that I did to help people who are just starting in their careers is in notes from the grooming table, which yep, my book, but in notes from the grooming table, right in the very, very front. We’re not even 25 pages into the book yet, and I’m already to talk about anatomy.

    This is not high level anatomy. This is the basics that you need to get started. You’ve got to be able to understand the muscle structure. You’ve got to understand topographical anatomy. Topographical anatomy is the parts of the dog, so that when we’re communicating to one another and you’re learning, when I say the croup, you know where the croup is. If I say the stop, you know where the stop is. Those are really many, many important parts working around the dog. You’ve got to understand the terminology so we can communicate to one another.

    Also the bones, and that the knowing the names of the bones aren’t as important as knowing how they fit together with the rest of the dog. That’s what you really, really have to know. Once you understand the muscles, the bones, and the topographical anatomy, now we can start to work, and how to put it together when we start actually grooming a dog.

    When we’re grooming the dogs, we’re going to use reference points on the dog. We’re going to be working with the bones and the muscles to set all the different patterns to work in harmony with a dog, but everything is going to be based off of structure. It doesn’t matter whether you’re dealing with a mixed breed or whether you’re dealing with a purebred dog. All of them are going to have certain components that make up the structure of the dog, whether it’s a square dog or a rectangular dog in outline. Those are going to be really important parts when you’re working with the grooming portion of that dog, and how to get it to balance.

    Always people go, “How do you make things balance out?” Well, again, it’s just looking at how shapes fit within the box and whether they’re in balance with one another.

    If this dog had a skirt way down to here, and so all of a sudden this part of the dog is really thick and he’s got these little stubby legs, that dog isn’t going to be in balance. And so, understanding these parts is important. Again, it’s not advanced. It’s just really basic, the basic ground rules of solid anatomy and structure.

    And then, again, you’re going to be using those parts of the dog, the muscles, the bones, the reference points, the outline, and how those parts all fit together, and that you’re going to be using them as landmarks when you’re setting the patterns on the dog.

    If you don’t have notes from the grooming table, this is a really great place to start your study of anatomy. And again, this is just the very, very beginning of your learning stages.

    The next book that I would really recommend … This a biggie, don’t let it scare you. There’s a lot of pictures in it. This is covers all the breed standards for the American breeds, but whatever country you’re in, you are going to have a similar book with all the purebreds recognized by your country. It’s going to have all of the standards that are created by the parent club.

    When we’re looking at this book in the American Kennel Club, they really do a great job detailing the dog. They’ve got great color images. When I studied one of these breeds and I was helping somebody with a legato understand how to study for this breed and and figure out how to groom it, I always read and work with a highlighter. I’m going to highlight key components of this dog.

    If there’s any part that I don’t understand, if there’s a word I don’t understand, I’m going to run. And I’m going to look it up in the back of the book. They’ve got a glossary, and there’s other places that you can also look things up. If you don’t understand what a rustic coat is, you’re not going to know what kind of a coat this particular breed should have. It has a rustic coat. If you don’t know what a broad skull is, you need to look those things up so that you can visually put it in your head so that you can start putting this breed together so that you can understand the why’s behind how to groom this particular breed.

    And then, the next book that I would really suggest, let me flip this over, is Canine Terminology. Canine Terminology is like a visual reference guide of body parts. It’s going to help you understand if you read a part in one of the standards that you don’t really firmly understand what it should look like, you can go to this book and it’s going to describe it, and more than likely it’s also going to give you a visual reference of it.

    Shoot, I still go to this book for reference. There’s parts of dogs and things that I hear that maybe I didn’t hear before. I’m going to dig into this book just so that I have a firm understanding of what something looks like. If you don’t understand what a well-let-down hock looks like, jump into canine terminology. Look it up. Go to the hock section, and it’s going to tell you what a well-let-down hock is. That’s great. This is just a great tool, great reference guide to have on your bookshelf as you’re trying to understand and and picture what these parts of the dog look like.

    And then, if you are moving forward in your career and your you want to go beyond just everyday pet grooming and working in harmony with a dog and trying to make it look its best, if you are looking to go into certification testing, or maybe you are thinking about going into the competition ring, the pet grooming competition ring, or into the dog show world, this is going to be a really great reference guide for you.

    For me, when I went to this book, I had already … I was pretty confident with this information here, but I still didn’t really understand the why. I understood what it looked like, but I didn’t understand the why behind why things were designed the way they were. There are certain elements to a breed that are put together to make it be efficient at what it was designed to do. This book gave me the why. It takes the canine structure and terminology, and it really does a great job to describe why the layback to shoulder should be in a certain angle, why the rear assembly should have the angles that it has.

    It’s all based on movement. It’s designed for what that dog’s original job was supposed to do. And so, this was absolutely a light bulb book for me as I was coming up the ranks. It made a huge difference in my everyday grooming just because now I understood the more advanced parts and the reasons why I needed to do what I wanted to do with the dog’s coat.

    Whether the dog had the right structure or it didn’t, I now knew what I was going for when I was trying to trim that dog and bring out the strongest features of it.

    If you are trying to develop your eye for a dog, the first place that you need to start is with canine anatomy. Study it, and be passionate. But more importantly, be curious. Remember, every single one of us, no matter how talented and how far we have advanced our careers today, we all started exactly in the same place that all of you did, which was at the very beginning. And so, we had to learn. We needed to be curious. We needed to seek out the information. These are some great reference books that you can use to start building your career and take it to whatever level you want to take it to.

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