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.
In this video, Certified Master Groomer Melissa Verplank discusses a concept that Lisa Leady shared during a www.Learn2GroomDogs.com video shoot: There’s no black and white in grooming, but there’s a lot of gray. In this context, how do you evaluate techniques and products? Melissa suggests answering these questions:
Is it safe for the pet? Is it safe for the groomer? Will it yield a quality product? Will it be efficient?
Melissa V: Melissa here, and I want to share with you a thought process that is kind of a combination of both my thought process and a thought that Lisa Leady shared on one of her Learn to Groom video shoots years ago. And the thought that Lisa shared with me and to our Learn to Groom audience was that there is no black and white in dog grooming. If you’ve ever followed Lisa, you’ve probably heard her say that.
Over the years you’ve heard me say it that there is absolutely no black and white, there is no right or wrong in dog grooming, but what there is, is a lot of shades of gray. So, what you want to think about, and this is where I kind of took her thought process and applied my line of questioning to that. Before I test out any new product, test out any new technique, think about doing something different than what I might have done in the past is I always ask these four questions.
Question number one is, will whatever I’m going to use or do be safe for the pet? Number two is, is it safe for me? Is it safe for the groomer? Is it going to be ergonomically safe for me long term, or is it going to be safe for me from a physical standpoint? So stop and think about that. Number one, is it safe for the pet. Number two, is it safe for you? Number three, will it yield a quality product because if you can’t yield a quality product, you’re not going to have customers coming back for your services. So, number three is going to be, does it yield a quality product? Number four is the question I always, always ask is, will it be efficient? Now, maybe it won’t be efficient the first time I try out a new technique or a new product. I might have to get the feel of it a little bit better, but down the road, will it be efficient if I utilize this product or this technique?
So, there you have it. Those are the four questions that I always ask whenever I’m dealing with the multiple shades of gray that we have with professional pet grooming. It’s:
1. Is it safe for the pet?
2. Is it safe for you?
3. Will it yield a quality product?
4. Will it be efficient?
So, I want you to ask that question every time that you’re thinking about testing out a new technique, looking at a new product, or doing anything a little bit different than what you have normally done before. Sometimes little switched in what you’re doing can make a big impact in your bottom line, but you always want to make sure that it’s safe, that it is going to be efficient, and that it’s going to yield a quality result. If you can answer all four of the questions and get a “yes” answer, try it. That’s one of the beauties of professional pet grooming is there’s lots of ways to do the same thing based on the situation that you’re dealing with on that particular moment.
Reaching your goals, especially if they are lofty, is always easier said than done. It does not matter whether they are personal goals. Career goals. Health goals. Financial goals. Or goals in any other area in your life. Achieving goals is hard work. It takes planning, focus and action.
What if I told you there’s a shortcut when it comes to achieving goals?
What is it?
Personally, I’ve used this technique repeatedly to achieve my goals. I first started hearing about it in the mid-1980s. Since then, I’ve used it for both large and small goals in all areas of my life with great success. Read the rest of this entry »
In this video, Certified Master Groomer Melissa Verplank discusses the importance of “bringing your game to the table” when you’re learning to groom dogs. Selecting the best program, instructors, and mentors is half the task. The other half comes from focusing on the instruction you’re given and committing to ongoing improvement. Education is everything! It’s the key to building a successful career in the pet grooming business.
Want to enhance your techniques? Even experienced groom techs and groomers can “level up” at Paragon with an advanced level course through its Distance Learning Program. Get $100 off Tuition with code LUCKYDOG.
Want to sharpen your skills with access to detailed “how-to” videos every day, all year? Join our Learn2GroomDogs.com pro membership community for unlimited access to more than 600 in-depth videos on every breed in the book. Use code LUCKYDOG to get 50% off your first month.
Melissa V: Hi guys, Melissa here. Today I want to talk about how to grow your career, or how to learn. Learning, there’s a lot to it. I don’t care whether you go to the best school available to you, or whether you are self taught, learning takes focus, and it takes dedication.
I always say you can only be as good as who your instructors are. If you are self taught, you’re going to be looking at books, today you’re going to be looking at videos. You can teach yourself. You can learn on YouTube. I mean, how many of us jump onto YouTube when we have a question about something, and we need to figure it out? Yeah, we jump on YouTube.
But I’m going to tell you when it comes to dog grooming, that can be a little bit dangerous because what is out there and available on the Internet, come on, everything is the truth and everything is right on the Internet, right?
Be careful what you look for, and who you follow. It’s not to say that free education isn’t good, but more than likely you’re going to have to pay a little bit of money to get the best teaching, to get the best coaching, whether it be through videos or books or programs, or maybe you go to a formal educational type school. Be careful. Check out your schools that you’re attending, look at what the instructors are because you will only be as good as what your instruction is.
But there’s another side of this, because learning is a 50/50 gig. It doesn’t matter how good your instructors are if you, the learner, don’t bring your full game to the table. If you aren’t dedicated, if you aren’t focused, there is no way that even the best teacher can teach you. You’ve got to be in the game. You’ve got to be there and focus on what you’re dealing with, and learn and absorb it.
Everybody learns at a little different pace. Dog grooming isn’t for everybody, but if it is for you, it’s really a rewarding career, but you’re going have to work at it. There are very few people out there that are just naturally talented, that can just pick up the clippers and sheers and go to town, and do a really good job straight out the gate.
Every school system, every training program has it’s A, B, C, D, and what do we do with those other type students, you know? Even if maybe you weren’t the strongest student in school, it doesn’t mean that you can’t go on and continue your education and get better.
One of our top trainers that we have at the school, and she’s been with me on and off since the early ’90s, I still remember when she was in school and she was … It was a 600 Clock-Hour program she had signed up for, and she was really close to graduating. I happen to walk through the bathing room, and she had a golden retriever on the table. As I walk by, I noticed that the dog was still really sopping wet.
I have always had a phrase that I want the towels to do a large portion of the work before you even begin to turn on the high velocity dryer. So what it told me is that she hadn’t listened throughout the course of the lessons. I mean, here she is close to graduating and as I walk by the golden retriever, I just run my hand down the dog’s leg and I pick up the foot and I give it a soft squeeze and the water literally just runs off the foot into a pool on the table.
I didn’t have to say a word. I know, and she shared with me later, that that was a really hard blow. That was something that she remembers still to this day, years and years later, and she remembered that.
We fast forward another year or two down the road, and I’m looking for an instructor and she comes in and she applies, and I’m thinking to myself, “Oh yeah, she could barely even graduate and here she is applying for an instructor position.” I got to tell you, during her working interview, she blew me away. She worked on a little black and white Shih Tzu in a fuller guard comb type trim, and she absolutely crushed it. That dog was so cute, so well done, that I was amazed. I said to her, “What has happened, what has changed?”
She realized that when she was in school, she really didn’t focus as much as she should have. And when she got out there into the real world, that’s when her real learning started.
Whether you do it in school, which is actually where I would suggest you try because you’ve got your trainers right there, but no matter what, learning is a 50/50 choice. It’s going to 50% be where your instruction comes from, and 50% of what you bring to the table.
Just because you’re at the best school or have the best books or have the best videos, you still have to put it together. It comes from here. It comes from what you bring to the table and what you can do for the dog, how you apply what you have learned.
Gang, I’m going to tell you, it does take practice, practice, practice. And it never stops, you can continue to learn, and it doesn’t necessarily mean just dog grooming. I continue to grow my career. I have books like crazy. I highlight, I tag them. If I flip open my books, they’re all marked up.
No matter what you’re dealing with, mark your books up. I personally am not a fan of the digital books because I can’t mark them up, I can’t write in the margins, I can’t tag the pages.
To really cement something in your mind, one of the best things you can do is write it out longhand for yourself. They say, if you ink it, you think it, and that is so true. For me, that really helps sink a thought, sink the idea in. But I’m always reading with highlighters, I’m always making notes in margins. It doesn’t matter whether I was reading a grooming book, or whether I am working on some other aspect of what I need to learn to run my businesses.
Focus, focus, focus, and always remember, the learner brings half of it to the table. So just think about that when you go in and you learn and realize that some people, learning comes easier than others. And if you’re one of those folks, kind of like what I am, I’m not the fastest study out there, and I really have to work at learning and work at getting it embedded into my brain.
But stick with it, you can do it. But just know, half of it is going to be from the instruction that you receive, and the other half is going to be what you bring to the game to make that lesson stick in your mind.
Ask 10 customers or groomers to describe this style and I bet you get 10 different answers. One one hand, it’s a great conversation starter! On the other, it’s a quick way to discover how easy it is to misunderstand one another.
The puppy cut is popular because it works well on a wide variety of pets. Almost any breed that grows longer coat can be done in this easy-to-care-for style. Yet, the puppy cut is also the most misunderstood haircut in grooming salons around the country. Why? There are no clear directions of what this trim actually is or how it should be done. It’s left up to individual personal interpretation by owners, groomers, or talented pet stylists. Read the rest of this entry »
Certified Master Groomer and author Melissa Verplank talks about the evolution of The Theory of Five – a method of grooming she developed to create reproducible results and systematic communication with team groomers and clients. From it’s early inception to the foundation it has become for dog grooming instruction, the Theory of Five has helped groomers around the world save time and make money.
If you’d like to purchase The Theory of Five, Click Here.
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Melissa V: Hi, guys, Melissa here. I want to talk to you a little bit about my newly revised The Theory Of 5 book. Some of you guys don’t necessarily know the history of why The Theory Of 5 was even created and, to me, understanding the “why” of anything is really important.
So when I first started to think about The Theory Of 5, it wasn’t because it was just this great concept that I had; it was because I had a problem. It was back in the mid 80s. I was running a fleet of mobile dog grooming units. And this is way before mobile dog grooming was even remotely cool; I was definitely a forerunner with that. I had a team of groomers and stylists and we were kind of off in our own little island. You know? Keep in mind this was in the 80s. It was before the age of cellphones and we worked with two-way radios, because that was our only way to really communicate and there wasn’t a whole lot of good training for groomers out at that time.
So here I’ve got a whole fleet of mobile vans out there with groomers in them, and no consistent training. So I’m having to do a lot of training to bring everybody onto the same page because when I’ve got a customer that was calling Four Paws Mobile Grooming – which was the name of my company back in the day – I wanted to be able to send a groomer to their doorstep that could offer very consistent styling within the entire team. So it didn’t necessarily matter if we sent Anna, or we sent Melissa, or we sent Kim, to the client’s driveway, that we could all groom somewhat similarly, and the client could be satisfied with a number of different groomers and know that they were going to get a consistent result every single time they called my company to book an appointment.
Well in reality that wasn’t the case. Everybody was off doing their own thing. I was doing, at the time, a lot of competition-level grooming. I was working on my certification to get my master’s status and so I was really focused on the higher level of grooming. And my team? Meh, not so much. They were just interested in making a dollar, and paying their bills, and they weren’t as focused on the upper level of grooming. And so I really had to figure out a way to simplify the very complicated process of breed profile, trimming, and corrective grooming, so that they could duplicate what I was doing out there in the field.
So that’s really how The Theory Of 5 got started was it was a loose, kind of a raw concept that I started to work on and work on, and over the years I’ve really been able to fine tune it. And once I started introducing it, it started to simplify the entire grooming process and my team was being able to create a very consistent result for my clients – which is exactly what I wanted. I wanted to bring unity to what we were doing as we serviced the customers. The Theory Of 5 was able to do that, utilizing pet grooming techniques and tools, and so we were really working a lot with our clippers, with different lengths of blades, and guard combs, and minimizing the amount of hand scissoring that we were doing, really looking at anatomy closely, and working on how to bring out the best features of the pet, and then looking at how to simplify that so that we could use it very easily and very simply.
And so, bottom line, The Theory Of 5 deals with there are five different areas that we work with every single day. And within those five different areas, there are five things. So basically you’re looking at five different types of jobs that we do every single day. And within that there’s five different body styles, five different head styles, five different ear styles, five different feet and leg styles, and five different tail styles.
So it takes and it compartmentalizes the grooming so that you know exactly what area you’re talking about. And as I have developed The Theory Of 5, and there’s been clarity with the whole concept, I have been able to apply it in so many different areas of working within the professional pet grooming field.
So one of the things that I love about it is not only is it really flexible, but if offers unique styling for each dog – not because the trims are different, but because the dogs are all a little bit different. Each pet is going to be unique. They’re going to have different physical size and shape. They’re going to have different coat textures. They’re going to be different colors. And so when you start combining all of those things together, you end up with a very unique trim for each and every dog. And like I said, it takes the complicated method of grooming and simplifies it and refines it down to an application that is super easy to apply out in the field for each individual groomer to be thorough with what they’re doing, to give great direction. It’s super easy to communicate with a client because now you have a system that you can talk with them and get a very consistent result over and over again. Also, it’s really easy to teach it. That’s the beauty of The Theory Of 5.
Over the years, it hasn’t stayed a very simple concept. It has certainly expanded and there’s lots of different ways that we’ve been able to use it. I’ve been using this theory for well over 30 years and every time that we apply it into a new category, a new way, it seems to work really well for us. Whether it’s just giving grooming direction or whether it’s for mobile, it works. In a salon setting, it works. If you’re dealing with training students, it works. When you’re communicating with customers, it works. Over and over again, The Theory Of 5 is an application that you can use in many, many different ways.
So those are just some of the things that I really love about The Theory Of 5. The book is simple. Notes From the Grooming Table, that is the big … kind of the grooming bible is what a lot of people call it. I think of Theory Of 5 as just the simple book that you can sit down, you can pick up, there’s lots of images in there, there’s drawings, there’s photographs. There’s not a whole lot of reading involved and so you can just pick it up and get through it really quickly. It’s very simple to understand, which kind of goes along with the whole concept of simplifying the complicated; that’s exactly what I’ve been able to do in The Theory Of 5.
And just as Notes From the Grooming Table went through a revision a few years ago, we did the same exact thing with The Theory Of 5. And so we have updated it with some new images. We’ve added some new tools that maybe when I first wrote the book they weren’t available to us, and now they are and they’re just tools that we work with all the time. We’ve even added a few new breeds into the book and changed the front cover. And, heavens, one of the most popular breeds that we’re all dealing with every single day is the doodle. So we show how to utilize The Theory Of 5 and apply it to a mixed breed, a doodle-type dog, and the doodle even made the front cover of the newly revised Theory Of 5.
So if you haven’t seen the book, definitely check it out. There’s going to be links down below so check it out.
“Things are fantastic…people are very excited to have boarding and grooming together,” said Lisa, who added that word-of-mouth and social media have helped get her pet boarding facility up and running. Read the rest of this entry »
The Paragon Pet School is different than many trade or vocational schools because its on-campus and distance learning curriculum is developed and delivered by industry experts. Those experts will be taking their knowledge on the road this week to share with groomers across the nation at the Atlanta Pet Fair. Founder Melissa Verplank and VP Joe Zuccarello will make three continuing education presentations during the four-day event.
The pet fair features more than 100 exhibitors from the $70 Billion pet industry and is one of the country’s largest trade show and conferences for professional pet stylists and service professionals. The show provides grooming professionals with access to the latest products, education, pets and employee safety training, and networking to ensure they have the tools and insights to operate successful businesses. Read the rest of this entry »
Paragon Pet School is very pleased to announce that our Founder & CEO Melissa Verplank was named a recipient of the Pet Age 2019 Women of Influence Award! Now in its fifth year, the Women of Influence Awards are given by the publication to 30 deserving leaders in the pet industry.
Congratulations to the 2019 Women of Influence Award Recipients
Citing the importance of celebrating the accomplishments of females who have made a notable impact on the field in which they work, Pet Age is honoring 30 “ambitious, hardworking females who are influential in the pet industry” with its Women of Influence Award in 2019. Read the rest of this entry »
The Westminster Kennel Club is America’s oldest organization dedicated to the sport of purebred dogs. Established in 1877, Westminster’s influence has been felt for more than a century through its famous all-breed, benched dog show held every year at New York City’s Madison Square Garden. Today, America’s dog show has expanded into Westminster Week which includes the Masters Agility Championship at Westminster and the Masters Obedience Championship at Westminster. More than 3,000 dogs entered from around the world make Westminster Week like no other. As Master Groomer and our founder, Melissa Verplank pointed out in her videolog this week, watching Westminster is a great way for new groomers to improve their pet trims! We’ve highlighted information to help you tune in.
Each dog at a dog show is presented to a judge by either its owner, breeder, or a hired professional. This person is known as the exhibitor or the handler of the dog.
The purpose of conformation shows (also known as dog shows) is to evaluate breeding stock. Judges select winners based on their ability to contribute and improve the next generation of dogs. Dogs start out in the classes competing for points toward their AKC championship title. Dogs win points based on the number of dogs defeated. The more dogs entered, the more points per win. It takes fifteen points, including two majors (wins of three, four or five points), awarded by at least three different judges, to become an American Kennel Club champion.
Breed Groups judged to the AKC Breed Standard include the Working, Herding, Sporting, Hound, Terrier, Toy, Non-Sporting and Herding.