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What’s Your WOW Factor?

How can you drive referral business in the grooming industry? In this video, CMG Melissa Verplank explains the crucial art of the WOW factor — and why “wowing” your customers is the key to growing your client network. 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 guys, Melissa here and I’m coming to you today from inside my horse trailer. We are down riding and it is today cold and wet and nasty and just an ugly day out. So unfortunately we’re not in the saddle, we’re all kind of holed up into our campers and in our rigs. And so last night we were up and we were kind of going through our Facebook feeds and we saw a comment come through that I really wanted to address with all of you guys today. There’s so many different avenues that we could go down with this particular topic, but I just wanted to share one idea that has worked really well for me and who knows, maybe I’ll come back and share a few other ideas as well. But this is one that really helps build a new clientele and a new business get up on its feet and it’s a way to foster referral-based business and referral based business for our businesses is absolutely the number one and the best way to get customers.

And it doesn’t matter whether you’re a mobile grooming service, a grooming salon, a pet care facility. All of it is service based. And so I want you to kind of think about what I’m going to say here and how can you apply something to your business to make it work. Because all of us are unique, all of us are different. But the biggest thing that you need to do to help really cultivate that referral based business is create that wow factor, that factor that people just go, “Wow, I cannot believe they did that” or “They have a facility like this” or “They did this for my pet,” or “They did this for me,” or whatever it might be. You stop and you think about it and whenever something happens to you that is really positive, that is kind of out of the ordinary, don’t you go to your friends and family and say, “Wow, I just cannot believe what I just experienced.” “Susie, you got to see this. You got to go check it out.”

You’re telling people that you care about and you’re referring that business to someone else. And so I really want you to think about how can you cultivate that. And again, it’s not just in your facility or your van or whatever it might be. It’s in how you interact with those customers as well. And it’s not just you, it’s your entire staff. And so I really want you to think about what can you do today to wow those customers. And I want to, you know, when I first had mobile, I had a fleet of six mobiles at one point in time and that company grew so fast and it’s because we wowed them, we wowed them with way that we handled their dogs. We were right there, we were one of the first mobiles out there. So that was new and that was different.

And we built that business really, really quickly. And another one is Whiskers Resort, which is my full service pet resort. It has boarding, overnight lodging, doggy daycare, grooming, and that one I started it in 2007 and it has grown beyond my wildest dreams. And it’s all done based on referral services by the wow factor, by making clients come in and just go, “Wow,” they can’t believe the facility, they walk in, they don’t smell anything doggy. It’s relatively quiet for a boarding facility. And when I first started it only had 45 rooms and then we were able to easily expand it to 90 rooms, and now we’re up to over 180 rooms and we’re doing another expansion and clients are just waiting. We have a waiting list to get in. Our occupancy rate for the rooms is always over a hundred percent even in our downtime.

And it’s not because there aren’t any other games in town. There are. But it’s because we have been able to have that wow factor and the staff, we’ve got up to 60 staff member maybe a little bit more now, and all of them treat the customers like gold and they all understand the wow factor. They have to make that customer want to go back and tell their friends, their family, have the conversation around the water cooler. They’re always doing small things. And a lot of times it’s not anything expensive. It’s not anything big. It’s just treating people with dignity and respect and making them smile.

And when we first started that business, we had no clientele whatsoever. And so one of the things that we did is the limited staff that we had. I think we started out with, I don’t know, 10 employees or something. All of us brought our dogs into the facility and we literally staged it. We put them in the rooms and all the rooms were designed to look a little bit like a room in a house. So they were already pretty cool. They had all glass fronts. They had flat screen TVs, they had beds, wallpaper, pictures hanging on the wall. So it was a really homey feeling. So we really got the wow factor just from the facility.

But we had to do something to get people into the facility because we knew once we got them there, we could wow them. And so we did postcards. I think we did radio ads, we did little business cards with $10 off their first service. We went everywhere. We passed out those $10 off coupons. I think I even made a cache buck. One of my dog’s name was Cache at the time. And so her little face was on the center of the cache buck. And here it is. We started that business in 2007 and Rebecca, who is now my partner with Whiskers and the president of that organization, she said she had a cache buck just come in last week. It’s been floating out there for well over 10 years and somebody turned it in and we honored it. Hey, why not?

So I want you to think about what you can do for your business, your service to make those clients smile, to make them go wow and want to tell their friends and their family and their coworkers what an amazing experience they just had it your business because that’s what’s going to build your referrals. That’s what’s going to build your clientele. So that you can have success with your business in a very short amount of time. Hey, good luck with it.

Melissa’s Tips: New Year’s Resolutions are Dreams with Deadlines

With the Holiday rush just ahead, take a moment right now to fuel a prosperous 2021 and create a dream with a deadline! A recent study divided people who made New Year’s resolutions into two groups.

• Those who made New Year’s resolutions and wrote it down.
• Those who made a New Year’s resolution but neglected to write it down.

You know what? The results were amazing. For the group that did not write down their New Year’s resolution, only 4% of them kept their resolution. However, for the people that wrote down the resolution, a whopping 44% of them had kept their New Year’s resolution.

Increase Your Odds

“You can’t hit a target you can’t see” says motivational speaker Brian Tracy. And he is so right. A dream is a wish. Most people don’t write down their wishes – Thus, most wishes don’t come true.

Another one of his famous quotes is, “Goals in writing are dreams with deadlines.”

So have you made your New Year’s resolutions yet? Have you put pen to paper or your fingers to keyboard? If you’ll just take a few minutes and get your dreams down on paper, your odds for success are going to increase tenfold. Let’s get started!

Read the rest of this entry »

Improve Your Speed for the Holiday Rush

Clocking speed is an excellent exercise to help you and your team get ready for the holiday rush. Practice makes perfect, and speed is crucial for the holiday season. Check out Melissa Verplank’s advice on how to get up to speed!

How To Improve Your Speed

We once asked a salon owner about her biggest challenge. The answer was simple – speed.

Most of her staff struggled to get even the simplest trims done in under an hour. That included bath, blow dry, and haircut. Even a basic #7F all trim on a smaller drop coated breed was daunting to some of them.

We walked in and saw a well-organized salon. It was bright. It was clean. The layout allowed for efficiency. The equipment was all top-notch.  Hmmm, we wondered. Why was turning a small to mid-sized dog such a challenge for them?

Then it hit us. There were hardly any clocks around. We only spotted one clock in the main room. It was a smaller digital wall clock set on military time. The owner of the salon was a career military gal who is now retired. I understand why she opted for that style of timekeeper, I’m just not so sure that style of timekeeping is the right one for a staff of non-military groomers.  Plus, when I was across the room, I could barely read it clearly. The clock was just too small!

If you want to be a successful groomer who can pay your bills while bringing customers back again and again – you need to embrace time.

  • Watch the time.
  • Track the time.
  • Race against the time.

Everything we do with professional pet grooming involves time. You need to be highly aware of every hour, minute, and second. Ideally, a professional groomer should be able to turn a small- to medium-sized simple trim in an hour or less. That includes the bath, the dry, and the trim.

Time Chart for Improving Speed in Dog Grooming

Click on the image to Download a FREE Time Chart

The first thing we suggested to this team was: GET CLOCKS! Nothing fancy, they just needed to be large enough to be easily seen from across the room. The simpler, the better. Every room in the salon needed one hung on the wall. By having a clock in every room, it makes it easy for the groomers to track their own time with just a quick glance. But clocks aren’t enough. Every person working on the pets needs to have a watch on, too.

For those individuals that are really looking to increase their speed, having a timer at their stations can be really beneficial. Before you can start timing yourself, it’s helpful to know what your starting point is.

Break the groom down into sections:

Bathing. Drying. Clipping the body. Trimming the feet. Rounding the feet. Scissoring the legs. Styling the head. If you don’t know how long it takes you to do each one of these items, you’ll never be able to improve upon your “best time.”

And it’s far easier to break it down into segments than to look at the dog as a whole. After all, who doesn’t want the opportunity to win at even one or two smaller segments than to get frustrated when they don’t hit the time goal with the overall trim?

Set Time Goals

Once you know how long it takes you to do each segment, you can set goals and objectives to beat your “best time.” Push yourself. Make a game out of it. The clock will be your score-keeper. Each time you gain even a few seconds, you’ve won a mini victory!  But you’ll never be able to do that unless you can easily watch the clock. Even with all the clock watching, always remember, speed and efficiency can never come at the sacrifice of quality or safety.

What are your time saving tricks? Jump over to the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page and tell us.  You can even click here for a quick lesson in how to use the site.


Happy trimming,

Melissa’s Top 4 Tips for Getting Through the Holidays

By now, busy salons are bracing for the holiday rush. Thanksgiving. Hanukkah. Christmas. Are you ready?

This isn’t only your busiest season, it’s also the end of the year. It can make or break your earning goals. Will you finish off 2019 with a bang? Will your books be full for January and February of next year?

I love this time year. It forces us to be on top of our game. To be organized. To be ready. To have our days planned. To keep our communications clear with fellow team members and our customers. To know our limitations.

Most of us who are involved with the pet industry are here because of our passion. We simply love working with the pets. However, even the most passionate groomer can feel the pressures of holiday demands.

If you are one of those professionals who feels the pressures of the Thanksgiving and Christmas crunch, take heart. Get in front of it now and review areas that could use some improvement in the salon.

Here are My Top 4 Tips for Getting Through Your Day with Ease:

#1. Mental Control

Stay focused. Pay close attention to what you are doing at all times. You’re working with live animals and sharp instruments. Chatter between your coworkers and pets breaks your focus. You lose time and you make mistakes when you don’t stay focused on the pet.

Always practice the three C’s; stay calm, stay cool, and stay collected. When you’re working with a pet you want to be friendly but aloof. You want to correct any undesirable action before it becomes a major problem. Frustration and anger have no place in a professional salon setting. If you feel yourself getting frustrated, take a break. Breath. Step back to the grooming table when you have regained your composure.

Work methodically with all pets. Don’t get flustered. Set an even and steady pace when it comes to handling, bathing, drying, brushing, clipping, and scissoring. Set time goals for every step of the grooming process and strive to achieve them.

#2. Invest in Yourself and Your Equipment

What is the condition of your equipment? Are you working with top-quality equipment?

It’s amazing how much time you can save when your equipment is in top condition. Or when you splurge on that new pair of blenders that cut like butter. Or you have a high-velocity dryer that has plenty of punch. Oh, and all of your shears and blades have sharp edges on them — correct? There’s nothing more frustrating than working with dull and ineffective equipment when crunch time is on. Right now you’re in crunch time.

#3. Organization in the Salon

Do you have a smooth process for client check-in and checkout? If you’re computerized, is it easy to pull up client records in a flash? If you’re still working with a card file, are all the records pulled the pets that are scheduled for that day?

Most stylists in a salon setting find working in a minimum of three or four hour blocks of time can be highly advantageous to time management. The more you have to stop to check-in or checkout clients the more you lose your focus on the pet that is on the table. By working in blocks of time, you can check multiple pets in and out in tight windows of time when it comes to dealing with customers.

Do you have a method to track all the collars and leads that accompany the pets? This is no time to be looking for that lost collar or lead! Do you have a bright assortment of those pre-made? Do you have festive bandannas cut and ready to go on the dog?

#4 Mental & Nutritional Stamina

When the rush is on, you need to be at your peak — mentally, physically and nutritionally.

You’re not going to be at your peak if you’re not getting enough sleep. I know … I know. With all the demands between work, family and holiday festivities, slumber can be hard to come by. Normally, a professional groomer is so physically exhausted that when your head does hit the pillow — sleep comes easily. Just make sure you’re getting enough hours each night so you can perform at high levels the next day.

With the holidays upon us, most salons find themselves overrun with holiday treats from their clients. Be careful with this one. Personally I learned the hard way you are not good to feel your best if you consume all those goodies all day long!

I learned in my early 20s to pack healthy food options to keep me nourished all day long. I was mobile so in between every client by reward was to eat. If I had healthy options at my fingertips, it was easy to keep my energy level in high gear. In a salon setting, this might be a little bit more challenging. Still, eating healthy small amounts on a regular basis is the best way to keep you both mentally and physically content.

Pack a nutritional lunch plus snacks. (You know your days are going to be long!) Or do a potluck between staff members. We’ve done this for years at the Paragon School of Pet Grooming with great success. The rule is: Healthy, quick food options only. No sweets. No desserts. Our clients do a great job with that. The potluck is set up so everybody can grab a quick bite in between dogs quickly and easily.

If you’re not a cook – have a stack of local takeout menus available. If they deliver – BONUS!

The holidays are a great time to really test your skills. We’ll find out quickly just how successful you are. If you have a full book and struggling to fit into just one more pet each day, you know you have arrived. Be thankful for creating a service that your customers desire. If you take care of them well — they’ll take care of you. That’s what successful customer service is all about!

Happy trimming!


If you need a brush up on any time management lessons, here are a few titles from Learn2GroomDogs.com that could help you.

Finding Your Success

How do you define success? Where do you want to be a year, five years from now? In this video, CMG Melissa Verplank discusses ways to find, and define, your success. She’ll help you explore and discover what you’re most passionate about so you can make a plan, start building your knowledge and achieve your dreams.

Success looks different to everyone, and it changes over time. Whatever kind of grooming success is driving you, we have the tools to help. Further your dog grooming education with our Online Pet Groomer Training courses, or visit our huge library of expert dog grooming training videos at Learn2GroomDogs.com!

Melissa V.: Hi guys, Melissa here, and today I want to talk to you about one of my favorite things, and that is helping others find their own success, and in the world of professional pet grooming, there’s a lot of different ways to define success, and the one thing about the word itself is it is highly personal. How I define success and how you define success could be totally different, and that’s fine, and the other thing about success is that it’s elusive, it moves.

How I defined success in my 20s and how I define it now in my mid 50s, totally different, and that’s okay, but what I will tell you is that with every layer of success that you achieve, it opens up another level for you to aim for, to strive for, and so just because you think you’re successful at one point in your career, more than likely there’s a lot more things that you can achieve, but you’ve got to be able to know what you’re looking for. You’ve got to have some kind of an idea of what kind of a path you want to take, and so you’ve got to ask yourself some questions, and some of the questions are things like, what does truly matters to you? What do you think about? What do you want to achieve with your life, with your career? And how can professional pet grooming get you to that point?

And then the next thing is to be passionate about whatever you’re doing. Now, obviously if you are in the world of professional pet grooming, I’m certainly hoping that you’re already passionate about pets, but even within that passion, find your own personal superpower. Some folks love to do just the small dogs, others love the big furries that they make huge transformations in what they look like, others love to do just low maintenance, every day salon trims, making their customers happy as they walk out the door, other people love to do the show dogs or the more fancy trims, while still others maybe don’t want to do dogs at all. Maybe they just want to do cats. Maybe they want to be a feline exclusive.

Whatever your superpower is, whatever breed, haircut, type of animal you like to work on, all of those are fine. Find your superpower and work to be the best that you can be, and the one thing that I find with success is that normally it doesn’t come with just fall in your lap. You generally have to be really focused, really dedicated, and you’ve got to work at it and you’ve got to build your knowledge base because if you don’t have the knowledge, then you’re not going to have the confidence to be able to communicate with your clients, to be able to execute the skills with ease, with safely and to do it efficiently, and so you’ve got to build up that knowledge base.

You’ve got to be really focused and really diligent about learning, and then stop and think about things like, where do you want to be a year from now, 5 years from now, 10 years from now? Don’t just think about tomorrow or next week. Take it out further than that. Where do you want to be and how can the career take you there? Think about, what does success look like? Do you want to spend more time with your family doing what you love or doing things that you love to do? Or do you want to build … have a wealth play going on? What does it look like and what is it going to take to achieve that success? Write it down, think about it and make a plan to get there, and how are you going to achieve it?

And like I said, success looks different to everybody and not only does it look different to everybody, it’s going to change as you change with your own life and your own career. So the one thing I will tell you is that for those of us that have achieved some success, most of the time, especially in our field, we love to help others achieve their own personal success, and so we’re going to reach out and I don’t care whether you reach out to myself or my team or the companies that we have, but what I will tell you is that people that have succeeded love to help others also achieve success.

So reach out, look for that knowledge, figure out how to gain the confidence so that you can have your own success, and if we can help you in any way on your own personal journey, we would love to help you out.

Student Transforms to Teacher: The Josh Morales Story

In this episode, Joe Zuccarello interviews dog grooming training expert Josh Morales to hear the compelling story of his rise in the grooming world. Learn how Josh leveraged his membership in Learn2GroomDogs.com to get better, to grow, and to step outside his comfort zone.

“Learn2GroomDogs.com allowed me to transform from a regular, everyday groomer behind the grooming table to a public figure and nationally ranked competitor. I’ve been able to reach the top six in the country in hand stripping and number 11 on the national ranking charts as a professional grooming competitor. It has allowed me to become a worldwide speaker and judge, as well as a sought-out inspirational figure for the average everyday groomer to the inspiring competitor. So Learn2GroomDogs has played not only the most major role, but is still allowing me to continue my path as being the best I can be,” Josh Morales.

Watch now to what drove Josh to join the team and share his knowledge with us!

See more of Josh’s work on Learn2GroomDogs.com.

Joe Zuccarello: You go through Learn2GroomDogs.com, you’ve obviously had lots of training experts as your influence and obviously to your point, people that are credible, people that raise the bar, people that are established and proven as top of their game. So after … well and maybe not after, you’re still a member of Learn2GroomDogs.com and still enjoying the membership benefits that way. But you shifted, and you were invited to become one of those experts. How did that feel?

Josh Morales: Out of all my accomplishments, for me it was the biggest one. I still to this day, I believe that cannot be surpassed. It’s something extremely honorable for me. Something extremely valuable for me and something no one can ever take away from I’m extremely, extremely proud to be the perfect example of what pet grooming can take you, where Learn2GroomDogs can take you, where the enterprise can take you as far as opportunity and future opportunities. It’s almost surreal. It’s that one validation that I kind of always sought out for. That one validation that means the very utmost to me is to be a part of Learn2GroomDogs. It’s incredible because I can still to this day put myself right back into that position to where I had no idea of really what I was talking about, and Learn2GroomDogs allowed me to not only know certain direction where I wanted to go, but know some information I didn’t know and I couldn’t get from anywhere else.

Josh Morales: And then you kind of use this information and piece it with other experiences or maybe lessons in life. Maybe you take a private lesson, maybe you go to a dog show and you see the way the dog is supposed to look. All these things kind of piece together very, very ironically, and it’s a very fulfilling feeling when you see and you understand something. You know exactly why. And it’s, yeah, get the experience, yes, I network, yes, this and that. But really the key to everything was Learn2GroomDogs.

Josh Morales: It’s mind-boggling to be a member and now not only a member, but an educated partner or expert. Someone who’s now … I’m able to give back to that one person. It might be one, even if it’s as few as one, that has that same mentality I did. Someone who is probably out of anyone, the hardest one to tap into. You have three different kinds of people, the ones that jump right in, the ones that are a little hesitant and then the ones that kind of refuse. And those are the hardest to tap into and those are kind of what I realized to blossom.

Josh Morales: Joining Learn2GroomDogs will allow you to grow, to step outside of your comfort zone. The only way you can grow is by stepping out of your comfort zone. Learn2GroomDogs is going to allow you to understand what it is that we truly do, how professional it really is. And like I stated earlier, how many ways is there to achieve that task or goal you’re trying to look for? And you might think that one already works for you, but when you see two or three other different ways to get there, you might figure out the third option for you is a lot easier than the option you were using to begin with. So even with the person who thinks they don’t need it, down to the person who absolutely needs it, they just don’t understand, it’s a critical, critical, I think foundation that you absolutely need.

Josh Morales: There’s no other option out there. And this industry is so small, it’s so close, but far away because we’re all in different parts of the world, in most cases the United States, and we can’t necessarily have everything we need at the fingertips. So Learn2GroomDogs for me in a nutshell is everything you need at the palm of your hands. Now with technology, with your cell phone, it’s very mobile friendly. Even before this new relaunch, it was very mobile friendly. I can pull it out of my phone, really get three different views on to where I’m trying to go. And then rather A, make up my own version of it. Or B, choose one that works best for me. So Learn2GroomDogs is absolutely vital to your success as a dog groomer, as a professional. From client relations down to painting the toenails, to handling, to safety procedures, to how to do a Kerry Blue and a show trim, to a pet clip. Learn2GroomDogs is the only place you can get all the information you need.

Joe Zuccarello: Josh, one of the things that Learn2GroomDogs.com with the new approach, one of the things that you’d mentioned earlier that when you looked in it, you know there are so many videos. And 1, it just opened your eyes to all the possibilities. But to some people that might be a little overwhelming. So one of the things with Learn2GroomDogs.com is that it’s separated by skill level track. So we’ve got the baby groomers, or what we say just getting started. To the beginner groomer. To the pet groomer. To the stylist, advanced stylist, and also now the business track that’s involved with it as well. So no matter where the learner, no matter where the member is in their career, they have the ability to jump into that track and complete that track before they move onto the next. How do you think that benefits a member of Learn2GroomDogs.com, the community?

Josh Morales: I think it’s going to help it tremendously. The fact that just by that setup, beginner, intermediate, expert, you’ll be able to actually choose or understand at what level you are on first of all. I think with that you can understand if I click in intermediate and I feel a little uncomfortable about it, that might just tell me I’m a beginner and I can start with beginner. And I can work my way up and understand and see my growth going through the program. I think it makes it a lot easier because you don’t have to feel that you need to be the super expert to use Learn2GroomDogs. But I can still utilize Learn2GroomDogs on a continuing education level without feeling overwhelmed or feeling like I don’t need it as far as basics go. So groomer-to-be to baby groomer, the basic portion of it allows you to pace yourself or just stay in that category because there’s nothing wrong with being a basic utmost professional.

Josh Morales: I can be as professional as I can be shaving dogs or maybe just bathing dogs, and I just have my self wash station. I want to make sure I’m the utmost professional and know everything I can learn about basics. That should go across the board in any industry. Fortunately, we’re not regulated across the board yet. So this allows us to regulate ourselves, know what level we’re on. And once we understand what level we’re on, if we are basic, there’s nothing wrong with Learn2GroomDogs down to expert to the best in the world can utilize, Learn2GroomDogs to make their grooms better or carry themselves a little bit more professionally.

Joe Zuccarello: How would you describe the Josh Morales transformation from new groomer to where you are now? And what role did Learn2GroomDogs.com play in that?

Josh Morales: So Learn2GroomDogs, I’ve always said, Learn2GroomDogs, it is a life changer for me. First of all, Learn2GroomDogs filled in a gap that wasn’t there. Learn2GroomDogs allowed me to have someone, even if it was virtual, to look up to and depend upon for correct information. Learn2GroomDogs allowed me to transform from a regular, every day groomer behind the grooming table to a public figure and nationally ranked competitor. I’ve been able to reach top six in the country in hand stripping and number 11 on the national ranking charts as a professional grooming competitor. It has allowed me to become a worldwide speaker and judge, as well as a sought out inspirational figure for the average every day groomer to the inspiring competitor. So Learn2GroomDogs has played not only the most major role, but is still allowing me to continue my path as being the best I can be.

Education is Everything!

Want to take your passion for grooming to a new level? Do you want to keep your career fresh and exciting? In this video, CMG Melissa Verplank shares the origin of her company motto: Education is Everything. Finding opportunities for growth — and knowing what to do with them — can reignite your career and set you apart in this competitive industry.

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 or to participate in our upcoming series of FREE FACEBOOK LIVE events!

Melissa V.: Hi, guys. Melissa here. I want to talk today about a concept that I have believed in my entire career. Maybe, early in my career, I didn’t necessarily have words to go to it, but today I do, and those words have ultimately become pretty much our company motto throughout all of my educational companies, and that is education is everything. I am such a firm believer of this. Why? Why am I such a firm believer of education is everything? Lot of different reasons.

The first one that I can think of is it’s a confidence builder. The more knowledgeable you are, the stronger your skillset, the better you’re going to be able to service your clients, the pets. You’re going to be able to do a better job, and you’re going to feel really good about it. It doesn’t matter whether it’s professional pet grooming or whether it’s cooking, or horseback riding, or fishing. Whatever skillset you aim for that you want to do, the more knowledge you have about it, the more confidence you’re going to have when you’re doing it, and you’re going to have a lot more success with it. Definitely, confidence building is a really big one.

Another thing is it allows you to expand your career to be more professional. In our profession, that’s important. In professional pet grooming, it’s not a regulated trade. There’s no licensing for it, and anybody can call themselves a professional pet groomer. Those of us that have had success with it, we know that that’s pretty far from the truth sometimes. Being able to educate yourself to be more knowledgeable allows you to not only expand your career but also be a lot more professional for your clients. Again, education is everything right there.

It’s going to prepare you to take advantage of opportunities that could crop up for you. I look back at my own career, and I think if I had not had such a driving force, such a passion to learn, to grow, to expand my skillsets, I would never have been able to take advantage of many of the opportunities that landed at my feet. I know you guys, too, it’s the same exact thing that, the more knowledgeable you are, the more opportunities will present themselves. You’ve got to be able to, number one, recognize when that opportunity is there and then know how to grasp it or how to go for it if you decide that’s something that you want to pursue. Again, education, knowledge is going to allow more of those opportunities to present themselves to you.

The other thing it will do is it will really help keep your career fresh and exciting. I get it. Sometimes when we get into the daily grind, once the passion kind of dissipates a little bit, it can become kind of a grind. The profession kind of loses its spark. One of the fastest ways to reignite that passion is to get out there and to learn something. Also, the learning generally is going to take place when you interact with like-minded people. Most learning, you can do a lot of self-learning, but a lot of the really good coaching, a lot of the really… ways that you can accelerate your career even faster is by networking with like-minded people.

In this day and age, you can network not only face to face, but you can also network internationally or from all over the US. We have the technology today to have friends, to have folks that we know that we interact with all over the world. That’s really exciting. I can’t tell you how many people that I talk to from Australia or anywhere in Europe or even South America. There’s lots and lots of people that have the same passion that you and I do, and that is the pets. To be able to communicate with them really helps keep the industry fresh, and it keeps all of us driving in the same direction, which is expanding our career base.

Finally, the last thing I want to talk about is that education is everything. It is because we can never know it all. There is always another layer that we can learn, that we can master. Once we master one skillset, there’s going to be another layer and another layer. It’s kind of like peeling back an onion. I have been in this industry for a long time. I don’t think I would’ve stayed in it for as long as I have if I wasn’t challenged, if I didn’t continue to grow my career and continue to learn. There is always something more that you can learn.

Even when I first started as a professional pet groomer in my late teens, I didn’t necessarily have the words to the concept, but I knew, in my heart, that I needed to grow my skillset. The only way to do that was by expanding my knowledge and getting better at what I did. For me here 40 some years later, I firmly am a believer in education is everything. If you want to grow your career and experience success, oh, get that word out there, this is probably one of the best ways to do it is just keep learning and know education is everything.

What Keeps You Up At Night

What keeps YOU up at night? There is no shortage of things that ruin a peaceful sleep. Whether it’s keeping the revenue flowing or something a client said, those stressors add up. In this video, Certified Master Groomer Melissa Verplank talks about some of her big worries in the grooming world and the times they’ve hit her hardest.

We want to know what drives you crazy. Things that have been difficult in your career. Things that keep you awake. Share your thoughts, and we might be able to help you find that good night’s sleep.

Take the SURVEY and tell us what keeps YOU up at night. We’ll use the information collected to get your more great content!


Melissa: Hi guys, Melissa here. And I want to ask you a question, kind of a serious question. And I want to know what keeps you up with your career at night? I mean, all of us have had the situation where something isn’t going quite the way that we want it and we lose sleep over it. I know I’ve had lots of nights that I haven’t been able to get a good night’s sleep because I’m worrying about work. I’m worrying about my career, I’m worrying about something that has to do with the team that I’m dealing with. Opportunities, all of those kinds of things.

What are the things that keep you up at night? Is it money? That can be so stressful if you haven’t budgeted or haven’t planned, or something gets tossed in the works that you weren’t planning on and you don’t have enough money to go around. Whether it’s money to pay your bills or money to come up with payroll or maybe money to pay your taxes or whatever it might be.

When there’s a shortage of cash revenue, it makes everything else so much harder. Is there something that you lose sleep over or maybe it’s that you’re a newer groomer and you don’t know how to do a certain type of a dog. All of a sudden you’ve got a client that calls and you’ve never done that particular breed before.

When you fret over it and you worry about it and you wonder if you’ve got the skills necessary to keep that customer happy and do the job that they’re expecting. That used to drive me crazy years ago and it would definitely, I would lose sleep over it.

Too many clients, I mean, such a problem to have, right? But come on, we all know what those of us that have been there and are booking three four weeks out or even, a month out or maybe we can’t even take any new customers and we’ve got customers still wanting to get in. That is as much of a problem as not having enough customers.

Again, man, I get it. When you can’t service the customers that want what you have and they start getting angry and frustrated, especially regular customers or customers that you have serviced and you just can’t fit them into your books. It’s heartbreaking.

We are in the service business, we’re people-pleasers and so we want to be able to accommodate everybody and it can be really difficult and such a challenge when you just can’t meet the expectations of your customers. Are you mentally or physically just exhausted?

I’ve been there, I’ve been there more than once. But one situation I really remember well, where I was driving up to my last client, and this is back in my mobile days and I was trying to do everything. I was grooming full time, I was managing a business. I was trying to keep my staff motivated and educated, and moving forward with their careers.

I was going to grooming competitions and competing in trade shows and I just had everything coming at me all at once. Plus dealing with a family and just personal life, just stuff. And I was going up to that last client, I still remember I was headed up to Rockford and I just lost it. I just started worrying and fretting about all these different things that I still had to get done and the day was running really late and I just lost it.

I just pulled that van over to the side of the road and just cried. And I mean, I was so thankful that I had a dispatcher that recognized I was mentally in pretty deep trouble. And she called and canceled that last dog for me and got it rescheduled. But I still remember that day and just absolutely hitting that wall.

And I’ll tell you, leading up to hitting that wall, I had lots and lots of sleepless nights. Or maybe it’s you, you’re trying to find good groomers to join your team because you’ve got more customers or more grooming than you can possibly do yourself. And you need to start building that team and you can’t find any good groomers, or you can’t find groomers that can work up to the caliber that your clients have come to expect.

So, so frustrating and I’ve been there too multiple times. I still, again, remember where I had a van that I left sat down. I could not fill it for almost a year because I just couldn’t find qualified groomers to operate it. So, so frustrating. I don’t know about you, but I’ve had throughout my career, lots and lots of sleepless nights.

We’re working on some new projects and what I really want to know from you right now is what drives you crazy? What keeps you up at night? What do you lose sleep over? Pop it into the comments below. I want to know what drives you absolutely nuts. And I want to see if maybe we can figure out a way to help you get through that bridge and get to the other side and have some success, and get a good night’s sleep. Leave your comments down below.

Create a Culture Employees Don’t Want to Leave

If you’re a salon owner, do you struggle with keeping employees? Have you created a culture that employees don’t want to leave? Paragon VP Joe Zuccerello is a regular speaker on this topic, and shared his insights with Profit Network Members during a private session to launch the @The Dog Gurus Business Breakthrough Workshop. You can download free highlights of his talk at by entering your information below.

Download Your FREE Employee Culture Highlights for Joe’s Talk!

    Sign up for periodic emails from Paragon to see the offer from this podcast, as well as other updates and announcements.

    The Importance of Continued Education

    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!

    Check out Learn2GroomDogs.com or review Online Dog Groomer Training Courses in our Distance Learning Program.

    Melissa Verplank: Hi guys, I’m Melissa Verplank and I am here with one of our training experts, Judy Hudson, who’s also a really, really great friend. And one of the things that we love to do is ride together. And so, we’re actually right now at horse camp, and we’ve got a couple of our Rocky Mountains behind us. And it is amazing how much we talk business while we’re… We call it saddle time, right?

    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.

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