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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.

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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!


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 2020 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!

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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.

FREE TIME SAVING LECTURE HANDOUT

Happy trimming,
~Melissa


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!

~Melissa

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


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!






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The Importance of Thinning Shears to Blend & Soften on the Finish of a Guard Comb Trim

In this FREE Spotlight Session, Melissa Verplank discusses the importance of an indispensable part of the grooming kit: thinning shears. Join Melissa as she demonstrates how a good set of thinners can make all the difference.

Read the rest of this entry »


Fair Pricing – The Large Dog

In this video, Certified Master Groomer Melissa Verplank discuses the challenge of fair pricing. Do you sometimes feel like you’re not getting ahead, despite a full roster of grooms? How are you pricing you “big dog” jobs – the Standard Poodle and Doodles and other time-intensive grooms? Learn how to tweak your pricing structure to get ahead of the game.

Want time-saving tips on grooming the “big furries”? Check out Learn2GroomDogs.com for a robust library of instructional videos and business tips. (https://bit.ly/2Ysq3Ts) Use Code LUCKYDOG for 50% off your first month! Want to train staff to work efficiently, effectively, with reproducible results? Check out Paragon’s Distance Learning Program. (https://bit.ly/2WXQrTT) Use code LUCKYDOG for $100 off Tuition.

Transcript
Melissa V: Melissa V.: Hi, guys, Melissa here, and I want to talk to you a little bit about pricing. No matter where we go, what group of people we’re talking to, pricing is always a hot topic. I’ve been hearing about it recently. I’ve heard a lot of buzz out in social media, and I thought maybe it’s time to revisit this topic a little bit, and so I want to tell you a story that I had a number of years ago.

We had a couple of stylists, we were having lunch together, and this one particular stylist was frustrated, but as she was telling me about her salon, and she was really proud of the fact she was unbelievably busy, and she was booked out weeks in advance, she was cranking through a lot of dogs every single day, and all of that was really good, but she said, “Melissa, at the end of the day, at the end of the week, I just don’t feel like I’m getting ahead,” and I thought, “Okay, something’s not right here.”

If you are as busy as what you say you are and you’re doing as many dogs as you’re saying you are, you should be doing pretty well. When you’re running that hard and gunning that hard, this is where you make it sometimes to carry you over some of those slower time periods, so I thought, “Something’s not right here,” so I started asking her some questions.

Now, she was a really talented stylist, and she not only did competition level styling, but she was also showing dogs in the confirmation ring. She was a very knowledgeable stylist. Timing of doing the dogs really wasn’t an issue for her. She was being efficient with her time based on the type of trim she was doing, but I said, “What kind of dogs do you see a lot in your salon, and what do you really enjoy doing?” and she said, “Oh, I love Standard Poodles.”

I said, “Okay, I could understand that. You show them. It’s what you’re out in the ring with a lot in the pet grooming competition.” That made sense to me, and I said, “How long does it take you to do one of your Standard Poodles?” and she said, “Oh, depending on the size of the dog, the type of haircut and how often I see it, it could take me anywhere from two and a half hours to three and a half hours from start to finish, and that would include the bath, the dry and the haircut,” and I went, “Okay, and what are you charging for those dogs?” and she said, “Somewhere between 70 and $80,” and I thought, “Oh, okay.” That math wasn’t working out initially in my head, and I thought this potentially could be the trouble spot.

Like I said, she does a lot of these dogs each week. As I’m telling you the story, I want you to realize that we’re not just talking Standard Poodles. We’re talking any big dog. If that is your price point on any big dog, be it a Standard Poodle, a Doodle, anything else, and you’re running between the 70 and $80 mark, and it’s taking you two and a half to three and a half hours to do, there’s an issue.

I said, “Okay, let me ask you a couple more questions,” and I said, “If you were dealing with a smaller dog, say, a Shih Tzu and just a no-nonsense, but cute little trim, how long would it take you to do?” She said, “Oh, about an hour.” I said, “Okay, and what do you charge for that little Shih Tzu?” and she said, “$45,” and I went, “Mm-hmm (affirmative), there’s your issue,” and she looked at me like, “What are you talking about?”

I said, “Let’s take a look at this from a time standpoint. The Shih Tzu takes you about an hour to do, yet… and you’re getting $45 for it. Yet, the Standard Poodle takes you between two and a half and three and a half hours, and you’re getting somewhere between 70 and $80 for that dog. Do you realize that you could do two or three Shih Tzus in the same amount of time it takes you to do that Standard Poodle?” I think that light bulb went off in her head, and she went, “Oh.”

If you were doing two Shih Tzus at $45, that would be $90. With just two Shih Tzus, you’re already above the one larger dog that you’re dealing with, and if you were to do three Shih Tzus, three hours worth of work, you’re going to get about 135 bucks for that same timeframe, so my question is why would you want to do a larger dog that you’re only getting 70 or $80 for when you could do three smaller dogs in the same timeframe and get a lot more cash for it?

Basically, numbers don’t lie, gang, and so I’m going to really challenge you. If you are dealing with those dogs like the Standard Poodles, the Doodles, the big bathroom brush, the big furries, take a look at how long they’re taking you to do and think about it. If you could do three, two or three smaller dogs in the same amount of time, you should be getting at least equal the amount of money, and it’s going to fall through straight to your bottom line.

It doesn’t matter whether you own your own business or whether you work for somebody else and you’re getting a commission. It’s going to fall straight to your bottom line. It’s going to fall straight to your paycheck. It’s going to fall straight down to your profitability if you’re a salon owner, so, if you’ve got those larger dogs that aren’t priced appropriately, I’m going to really encourage you to take a good hard look at your pricing structure and raise those prices, and get them to the point where they’re fair, they’re fair for your salon, they’re fair for you or your staff member to do and, bottom line, gang, it’s fair to the customer.

Honestly, if you’re afraid to raise your prices because you’re afraid they’re going to go somewhere else, and especially if you’re already busy and you’re booked out weeks in advance, wouldn’t you rather do a smaller dog and earn more money for it? I mean, yeah, I get it that the Standard Poodles are really, really pretty and they’re fun to do, but at the same token, you got to pay your bills at the end of the day. We don’t do this profession to lose money. We need to be able to make a fair wage, and I don’t know any professional pet groomer that gouges or overprices for their services. If anything, we underprice what we do, and so put some value on yourself and put some value on the work that you do.

If you’re one of those folks that just doesn’t have anymore bandwidth to give, you’re running and gunning just as hard as you can, take a good hard look at where your pricing structure is, and if you want to reduce the amount of hours that you work while raising your profit levels, raise your prices, but really look at those larger dogs and make sure that they’re priced appropriately.


Doodles are Job Security

In this video, Certified Master Groomer Melissa Verplank celebrates the business-building blessing of the Doodle. These coat-carrying mixed breeds might be controversial creations among breed purists, but they provide an excellent opportunity to educate pet parents and help them understand the not-insignificant hygiene demands to make Doodles look and feel their best.

Want to learn more Doodle-Dos, like how to make them look like a Portuguese Water Dog? Join Learn2GroomDogs.com, the internet’s best groom instruction video resource and community. Use code LUCKYDOG to get 50% off!

Want to advance your Doodlin’ skills? Level 3 of Paragon’s Distance Learning Program will help you kick it up a notch! Use code LUCKYDOG for $100 off Tuition.

Transcript
Melissa V: Hi guys, Melissa here. I want to talk to you a little bit today about the Doodles. There are so many Doodles. They come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, coat types. There isn’t a whole lot of consistency with a Doodle other than it is almost any purebred mixed with a Poodle. You can have the Labradoodles, the Goldendoodles, the Aussiedoodles, the Bernedoodles. Anything can be mixed with a poodle and it comes out as a Doodle, and with the Poodles, we’ve got such a variety of sizes with the Poodles, we are seeing the Doodles coming out now being small, medium, large. So, they really are running a gamut. But, what I want you to stop and think about, because I know a lot of time when people mention the word Doodle in a professional setting, it brings out probably not the best qualities of us as professionals. I see a lot of frustration, a lot of anger coming out when we start talking about Doodles. And I kind of take a little different stance on it, because I’m really thankful that the Doodle has become some popular. Because, gang, it’s a groomable breed. They require regular maintenance to keep the dogs looking and feeling their best.

If you take a look at the top breeds for the past number of years in the AKC in the United States, folks, most of the dogs that are in the top 10 don’t carry a lot of coat. They aren’t necessarily groomable breeds that require regular haircuts. Yes, the Poodle is in there. Thank heavens the Poodle is in the top 10. The Yorkie is also in the top 10, but I mean, come on. The Yorkie is a little tiny guy. At least the Poodle we’ve got the toy, the miniature, and the standard so we’ve got some variety going on there. But, the point is that, when we’re looking at purebred dogs and when you’re seeing so many in the top 10 that are short coated, and that is also transferring over to many of the mixed breeds. They’re short coated. They don’t require a whole lot of professional grooming in the form of haircuts. So, to have such a wide variety of Doodles with a lot of coat, it’s a blessing to us. I mean, honestly gang, it’s job security. Thank heavens we have these dogs.

But, what I will say is, where the frustration is coming in, at least this is my take on it, is the frustration is coming from the fact that breeders are really preying upon owners being gullible. They’re mixing anything with a Poodle and calling it a Doodle and they’re just riding this wave of this popularity craze, and that drives us crazy. Especially if you are used to dealing with purebreds and very conscious breeders that are trying to improve and enhance a breed. And breeders of Doodles just really don’t seem to ride that same wave. So, to me, that definitely is a frustration point. And I get it. You know, that part drives me a little crazy. It drives me crazy that owners are going to be so gullible and so naïve and they’re just going out and they’re not really researching what they’re getting. You know, you almost have to do more research, because not only do you need to research the Poodle, but you need to research whatever other breed these dogs are being mixed with because now you’ve got that combination of personalities. What are you really getting, and is it going to fit into a family lifestyle that the owners need it to fit into?

To me, that’s where some of the frustration points are. But, I also see it as being an opportunity, because the other thing that breeders don’t seem to do a really great job with consistently, and I’m not saying all breeders, but come on, we see it enough that it poses frustration from a professional standpoint, is breeders aren’t being totally honest with the new pet parent of what kind of maintenance that dog is going to take from a hygienic standpoint. From a brushing, a bathing, and a grooming standpoint. All of a sudden, they’re saying oh, they only need to be groomed once a year or twice a year and we know as pros that are dealing with coat that that is so far from the truth. So, now we’ve got a situation where who does the owner truly trust? The breeder that they just purchased the dog from or the groomer who’s telling them this dog is going to need to be groomed on a very frequent basis? And most of the time, a lot of the Doodles are good size, so this isn’t a small price point for them. And these dogs really need to be groomed every four to six weeks.

So, you got a little bit of an uphill battle, but if you approach it properly and with compassion with the owner and towards the dog, many times you can re-educate and you have an opportunity to turn the Doodle owners into phenomenal clients. Because, come on, these guys are furry. And, whether it be a wire coated type Doodle or a Doodle, I mean, the breeders are saying hey, they’re hypoallergenic. But, come on. You know, they don’t shed. Yeah, how many times have you heard that? Yeah, depending again what they’re mixed with, that’s not necessarily true. So, you’ve got to go in and really be open and honest and caring with the owner and make sure that they understand that you are looking out for the best interest of the pet and the best interest of the owner based on what their lifestyle is and how much they are willing to do in between groomings. I mean, this is no different than any other haircut breed that we do. So, take the time to educate those owners. Turn your frustration into an opportunity to help the pet, to help the pet parent, and be thankful that we are seeing so many Doodles coming through, because almost all of them truly need professional grooming to look and feel their best. And honestly gang, it is job security, number one, for all of us.


Education is Everything

By Melissa Verplank, CMG

We have a motto within my companies when it comes to learning:

“Education is everything.”

It is at the very core of everything we do. Why?

I see learning as never-ending. It does not matter what stage you are in your career. Or what stage you are in your life. Continued learning offers positive opportunities around every turn.

I was never a great student in school. Traditional academics did not excite me. But once I got into dog grooming, now that was a different story.
I became passionate about learning. About growing my career. I didn’t seek out traditional methods. Most of my learning was self-directed. Something much more challenging before the age of the Internet! I quickly understood the wealth of benefits continued education unleashed.

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