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Make Time For Yourself

In this video, Master Groomer Melissa Verplank talks about the importance of taking time for yourself to maintain and improve your performance. From focus to stress-reduction, she discusses six ways that time off the job makes you better on the job. Read the rest of this entry »


The Three C’s: Calm, Cool, and Collected

How do you stay Calm, Cool and Collected when grooming dogs? It’s all in the attitude. Learning to read “dog body language” and to correct undesirable behaviors before things get out of control. Certified Master Groomer Melissa Verplank discusses the tips to mastering the 3Cs.

Want to learn more from the pros? Check out the video tutorials at Learn2GroomDogs.com, and get 50% off your first month!

Interested in learning to become a professional groomer but don’t live near Paragon’s Pet School? Check out our new Distance Learning Program at ParagonPetSchool.com/home-study – All the great curriculum materials and mentoring brought to YOU, wherever you are, from Melissa Verplank. Sign up with code LUCKYDOG and get $100 Off tuition.

Transcript
Melissa V: Hi guys, Melissa here again and I want to share another one of my favorite time-saving tips with you. This one is practicing the three C’s. What are the three C’s? Whenever you’re working with pets you always want to maintain being calm, cool, and collected. So when you’re working with the pets you want to maintain an attitude of aloofness with the dogs and you want to be friendly but aloof.

Melissa V: Dogs can get really jazzed up if you start talking in a high pitched type tone, so if you just minimize the amount of chatter that you have with that pet, maintain a friendly but an aloof attitude, guaranteed it’s going to go a lot further for you. You’re going to win the trust and the cooperation of that pet a lot faster.

Melissa V: You know if a pet starts to do something that you really don’t want them to do, correct an undesirable action before it gets out of control. To me, one of the most overused words in a dogs language is the word no. So I always come up with a sound that means or indicates to the pet, cut it out, don’t be doing that. A lot of times it’s just something sharp and quick, a sound sometimes not necessarily a word.

Melissa V: I want to make sure that I am going to use that sound early on before an action becomes totally out of control. So, be aloof, be friendly but aloof, stop an undesirable action before it goes out of control and remember that there is absolutely no place for frustration or anger when you’re working with animals. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a cat, a dog, whether you’re, I work with horses a lot and we use the same thing. There’s just absolutely no place for frustration or anger with a horse either.

Melissa V: So it’s going to carry through with all animals and I’m sure it’s going to carry through with kids too, now I don’t have kids but you get what I’m saying there. So, always, always maintain the three C’s when you’re working with animals, calm, cool, and collected. Don’t try to be a hero, not every animal that comes into our salon is groom able. You always want to maintain safety for those pets, and so you know, sometimes you got turn something away. So don’t try to be a hero, maintain those three C’s at all times and your day is going to go a whole lot smoother for you.


Staffing to Scale Your Business

Are you trying to grow your grooming business? Master Groomer Melissa Verplank shares her tips for selecting the right team members to scale your business. She also discusses staff turnover and positive ways to think about and manage the lifecycle of relationships with team members.

Want to train staff to grow your business? Check out our Distance Learning Program and leverage Melissa’s outstanding educational curriculum.

Want to help your staff get a specific breed groom just right? Check out www.Learn2GroomDogs.com, where members have more than 600 grooming tutorials at their fingertips.

Transcript
Melissa: Hi guys, Melissa here, and I want to talk to you about staff. Staff is a necessary situation if you want to grow and scale your business. And over the years, I have had absolutely amazing staff members, staff members that I never wanted to see them leave. And I have also had really, really challenging staff members. And so if you are looking to scale your business, to grow your business because you’re successful, and with success comes more opportunities, but also more challenges. And number one, you’ve got to … if you want to scale your business, you’ve got to find those staff members, but then once you find them, you’ve got to cultivate them. And over the years what I have honestly learned is one of the easiest ways when we’re dealing with grooming staff members is training them myself. And that’s really the entire reason why I started the Paragon School of Pet Grooming was because I couldn’t find enough groomers to support my mobile grooming business. I had six vans out on the road, and it was … there was times that I would let vans sit for a year, idle, and no one was in them because I couldn’t staff them.

Melissa: So this is going back into the 80s, and it was the number one problem back when I was first starting my business, and it continues to be really the number one problem today, is finding qualified staff members to join your team. And before I started the Paragon School of Pet Grooming, I ultimately had opened a salon based operation and I used that as a training center for my fleet of mobile vans, and that was really the only way that I could find team members that could groom up to the caliber that I needed them to groom to.

Melissa: So as you’re growing your business, when you’re looking for people, what I say to folks now is look for somebody with that attitude that you know that they have a great work ethic. They smile, they take direction well, those are the types of folks that are moldable, and you’re going to be able to work together with some systems, get the systems in place, and you’re going to have people that mirror what you’re thinking and how you want to treat the customers. But don’t totally put your heart and soul into them, because just when you think everything is going really well, they’re going to up and they’re going to leave, and that’s just the nature of the beast.

Melissa: And so I would never be angry with somebody as long as they were honest with me, told me up front what they wanted to do, what their dreams, what their aspirations were, and I want to help them get there. And if they want to stay with me for seven, 10, 15 years, great, and I’ve had staff members do that and stay with me for that long. But I’ve also had staff members that have only stayed with me for a few years, and I was a little bit … just, you know, like a stepping stone for them. And as long as they were honest with me, I would help them however I could, because we all have dreams, we all have things that we want to do. But what I want each and every one of you to think about, whether you be the owner of the salon, or whether you be the employee, is that do the best that you can do, and be up front and be honest. If you want to move ahead in your life, there’s nothing wrong with that. If you want to open up your own salon, there’s nothing wrong with that. But be fair about it. Don’t open up three blocks, or a couple doors down from your existing salon, move into a different area and start your own business.

Melissa: But as the business owner, I also want to encourage you to always, always be looking for somebody else to come on board. And it’s not necessarily that you’re going to replace somebody, but you have got to cover your hind end. You’ve got to be able to continue to grow your business forward, to move it forward, and it’s great always to have somebody in training, always coming up the ranks so that when that day comes that somebody does leave, that it’s not as painful for you. There’s nothing worse than relying so heavily on somebody else that when a team member does leave, it’s devastating to your business.

Melissa: And so now, today, what we are always doing is we are always cross training our team members so that if somebody leaves, if somebody moves on, that somebody can step in. Will they do the job beautifully just like the former person? Maybe not, but they have already got a head start. And right now, between the different companies that I have … we’ve got probably approaching 80 employees, between Whiskers Resort, and that’s the one that has the most employees, and the educational companies. So I’ve got a pretty good sized team, and I’ve got to tell you, I have had good days, and I have had really, really bad days based on how well the leadership was going at the companies, and probably the days that were some of my darkest days probably a team member caused that, and I let that get to me. But I will also say some of the most rewarding things that I’ve ever done has been based on a team. And to be able to see dogs walk out that look amazing, to see team members get certified, or to go into the ring, or just to be able to pay their bills and not have to look over their shoulder. Those types of things make it really worthwhile and I love being an employer, because I can expand somebody’s horizons, and I can help somebody succeed.

Melissa: And so for me, having team members works really well. But I will tell you, it isn’t always glorious, it’s not always fun. But I love what we’re able to do, and I love being able to help as many dogs in our community as we do, and I love helping people expand their career. And I couldn’t do it at the scale that we do today if I didn’t have an amazing, an amazing team behind me.

Melissa: So don’t be afraid of it. But just know, you’re going to have to buckle down, and you’re going to have to do some work, and if you are one of those team members, I certainly hope your boss, your employee is holding you accountable to a higher level.


Melissa Verplank Receives Pet Age’s 2019 Women of Influence Award!

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.

These women hold leadership positions at companies throughout the sector, including pet product manufacturers and retailers as well as businesses that provide marketing and grooming services. This year’s honorees include women who have followed in the footsteps of family members who already worked in the industry, while others who have realized their dreams to establish their own companies. No matter the paths to their current destinations or their roles—with titles ranging from general manager to president, executive director, CEO and more—these women all share a deep love for animals.

Congratulations to Melissa and her well-deserving cohort of peer recipients of the 2019 Women of Influence Awards. Full profiles of the winners will appear in the March issue of Pet Age. Read the full announcement and recipients list on PetAge.com.

About Pet Age

Pet Age is a business to business media brand that covers the pet industry in print, online and through social media and events.

Their mission is to serve the pet specialty market by delivering timely and practical news and information about the products, trends, and events that impact retailers, groomers, manufacturers, and other related businesses. Visit their website for more info.

 


California Fire Victims Update

From November 16 – December 31, The Paragon School of Pet Grooming took the revenue from a groom a day and donated a total of $1,350 to the California Professional Pet Groomers Association (CPPGA).

Having experienced a devastating fire herself, Melissa Verplank realizes the importance of giving back when able, and challenges The Paragon Team and other business owners to do the same!

Below is a special update from Melissa Verplank on Paragon’s impact on the California Fire Victims:

Transcript
Melissa: Hi, guys, Melissa here. You know, awhile ago I talked to you about the California wildfires and how devastating that was, not only for everybody involves, but especially the grooming community. There was a group of core folks in California that really pulled together and started raising money to help these guys get back on their feet and put their businesses back together. It was pretty amazing in a very short amount of time how much money they were able to raise for those folks that really really needed some help. And I’ve lived through a fire, and it was a barn fire. And we came out okay with that particular situation, but living through that fire, I know how difficult it can be and sure, insurance came in and ultimately we got a beautiful new barn, but initially, I mean, what we needed just to get ourself back on our feet, all of our horses were fine, but everything that they needed burned in that fire, from the hay, to feed, to lead lines, to halters. Stuff that we needed immediately.

Melissa: As soon as the fire was somewhat under control, we went down to our local TSC, luckily they kept the doors open for us, because I think we were going down just before they closed, and we called and they said they would hold the doors open. So, really a great situation with TSC, but I think we dropped probably $800 just in initial stuff that we needed in 15 or 20 minutes. We had quite a few horses, and we needed a lot of stuff. And so, that’s where this money was coming in for the folks that had situations with a fire where they lost their businesses, they lost all their equipment, they lost everything. They needed so initial finding just to get back up on their feet immediately following those fire.

Melissa: At any rate, the Paragon School, what we started doing, was we took a groom a day and the revenues that we earned from that groom, we put into kind of a kitty. And I just wanted to let you know how that turned out and we’re still donating that money, but this was for the fire situation. We sent off money initially and then, we just kept raising money. From November 16 to December 31, we were able to raise, at the Paragon School, donating just one groom a day, $1,350 and that is going to be heading off to California just to continue to help with that funding to get those folks back on their feet.

Melissa: One of the things that I just said to my team was, “Guys, this was so easy. One dog a day. We’re able to take the revenue that that one, just that single dog generated and put it into a pool that we’re able then to turn around and give back and help somebody who was really really in need.” And I said, “I think we just need to keep doing this.”

Melissa: So, I’m going to challenge all of you that if you’ve got a business that’s going well, what can you do to help somebody who might not be having it go so well. I mean, there’s so many natural disasters that affect businesses in the grooming community. And I said, “Let’s go ahead and just keep it rolling and keep putting that money aside so the next time there’s a crisis that we can go ahead and step up to the plate right away and send that fast check that people need well before the insurance companies will step in to help them get back on their feet.”

Melissa: My challenge to you is do the same thing. Not everybody has a perfect day and life doesn’t always go exactly the way you think you want it to go. And so, I just feel really good about being able to help those people that need a little help to get started before insurance kicks into place when a natural disaster strikes.


Pet Groomers in California Need Our Help

Our fellow pet groomers in California need our help! Join us and make a donation to the California Professional Pet Groomers Association (CPPGA). This organization will help fund those in need and distribute the funds that come from your generous donations.

We have accepted the “Groom One for California” challenge of sending the proceeds from one grooming per day and we are asking you to do the same. Any amount helps!

Below is a special message from Melissa Verplank and the link to make your donation: https://www.paypal.me/CPPGA


The Paragon School of Pet Grooming Introduces the NEW Distance Learning Program


Blast from the Past! An interview with Melissa Verplank and Colin Taylor


5 Easy Ways to Give Yourself a Raise

Let’s face it, many salon owners aren’t charging as much as they feel they should. Local competition and price-sensitive clients are two strong reasons why. In some cases, grooming rates are already as high as considered possible without losing customers.

In most service-based businesses, payroll is the highest expense. A typical grooming business pays out more than 50% to 60% in payroll, alone. When salons are paying out those percentages, raises are rare.

We’ve talked to lots of groomers. It’s no surprise that one of the main complaints with their jobs is not making enough money. It’s not all about the money but having fair compensation for the work we do is not unreasonable!

When people come to me and ask how they can earn more, I always remind them that time is money – regardless of how you are paid. The faster you can get through a pet safely, the more money you will ultimately make.

5 Easy Ways to Give Yourself a Raise

Use Guard Combs

Guard combs are one of the easiest ways to speed up your grooming. They allow you to set consistent length over the dog quickly. With the variety of lengths, it’s easy to customize the haircut just by switching out the guard comb. When working with guard combs you don’t need the time it takes to get a beautiful scissor finish. This is a much safer option that also minimizes the stress large amounts of hand scissoring can cause.

Invest in Chunkers

This scissor style is taking the industry by storm. Chunkers are oversized thinning shears or blending shears with wider teeth. In some cases, they can be used for the entire groom. Chunkers give a beautiful natural finish in no time.

Some stylists choose to use them in conjunction with scissor or guard comb work. When used in this manner, they dust the top of the coat, removing any imperfections swiftly. There are plenty of styles to choose from with a wide price point based on the quality of the shear. Talk to other pet stylists before you invest in a pair. Find out which chunkers are their favorites and then try them out before you buy them.

Add Accessories

Pet parents are spending more on their dogs. Many clients love a little bling – and it doesn’t always have to be shiny! It’s easy to upsell special accessories:

  • special bows
  • bandannas
  • feather extensions
  • nail wraps
  • temporary color
  • pup tattoos
  • jeweled neckwear
  • bow ties and ties
  • temporary body bling
  • feather eyelashes

There is no limit to the creativity you can have – as long as it is safe for the pet. It’s a fun way to add a little extra revenue and get people talking!

Up-Grade Specialized Shampoos or Services

Every salon has its favorite economical go-to shampoo. But what if your clients had a choice? For some clients, nothing is too good for their pets. Many spa lines of pet shampoo do a fabulous job getting the dog clean and smelling fabulous. There are many specialty shampoos that treat special skin and coat conditions. Most of the time they cost a little bit more than your everyday shampoo. There’s no reason to charge the same. Some specialty shampoos need to sit on the pet a little bit longer to be effective (if it takes extra time it should also add a little more cost). Consider these liquid tool gold mines:

  • blueberry facials
  • anti-itch shampoos
  • odor neutralizing treatments
  • skin and coat remoisturizing treatments
  • deshedding shampoos

Try a paw-i-cure instead of just trimming the nails. This type of service is a package deal. It includes:

  • filing nails with a Dremel to get them smooth and short
  • trimming the coat between the pads
  • sometimes a skin soothing ointment is even included for rough foot pads.

Many of these upsells don’t take any more time to do yet add more income to you or the business.

Stay Focused

Don’t get distracted. Most small to medium-sized basic grooms should take about an hour to do. If someone else is bathing for you, the finish trimming should only take between 20 to 30 minutes for the same sized basic groom.  Minimize the idle chitchat with your coworkers. Put your cell phone on silent and deal with it when YOU have time. Keep your station highly organized. Create a routine for everything you do from start to finish. The more dogs crossing your table translates into more money going into your pocket. Sometimes it’s in the form of a paycheck, sometimes it’s in the form of tips.

It doesn’t matter if you are commission or hourly. The efforts you put out will create faster grooms, higher-quality trims, delighted customers, and repeat business. Applying these five tips can help you groom dogs better in less time while providing great service for your customers – while adding cash to your pocket!

Happy trimming!

Melissa

What are some ways that you’ve tried? What works for you? Go to our Facebook page and chat with your Melissa Verplank family!


Spring Trip 2018

My husband, Marc and I are back from a four-week working road trip. For the past few years, we’ve traveled for almost the entire month of March. After all – who wants to be in Michigan in March? Each Spring, we’ve loaded up our bikes, kayaks, dogs, and filming gear and hit the road.

crystal riverThe trip this year started out with the Atlanta Pet Fair before heading south to Florida. Our itinerary included lots of work but also plenty of downtime. We kayaked with the manatees in Crystal Springs and enjoyed the unbelievable clarity of the Rainbow River. On one of the rivers we kayaked, we came a bit too close to a large alligator sunning himself on the bank. I swear it looked like an old tire sitting on the river bank – until it MOVED! We paddled away very quickly!

JumpingWe attended the Live Oaks International Horse Show where we watched show jumping and the exhilarating marathon driving event. The show jumping took me back to my younger years when I showed hunters and jumpers.  With each stride and jump, I was right there with the rider.

I had never seen a marathon driving event before – what a blast! Top carriage drivers maneuvered their horse(s) through a complex pattern of VERY solid obstacles in the quickest time possible. It was thrilling to watch these skilled teams flying through the obstacles.Friesians Live Oaks

Soon we were headed to the west side of South Florida where we spent some great quality time with Marc’s family.

Then the work started.

We had multiple Learn2GroomDogs.com film shoots with some amazing people. We filmed with Randi Sands, Irina (Pina) Pinkusevich, and Joshua Morales.  We then toured Kathy Rose’s new salon, Pets of Perfection. From there, we drove to Orlando to film with Lindsey Dicken. As soon as we finished, we drove to see Angela Kumpe for some creative grooming just outside Little Rock, Arkansas.

kayakingFilming and learning with these talented stylists was amazing. One thing really stood out: the increased use of thinning shears. They’re being used more often and the variety of thinners and blenders is growing. It seems they are becoming as important to everyone’s collections as smooth bladed shears.

Finally, it was time to return to Michigan, but we had one more stop to make. As we made our way home, we stopped at our St. Louis office to visit our newest team member, Joe Zuccarello, and meet his family for the first time.

We made it home just in time for the last gasp of Winter. Being on the road was a wonderful experience. It was an amazing trip filled with a nice balance of work and down time.

Happy trimming!

Melissa

Share photos of YOUR trip or stay-cation on our Facebook page with your Melissa Verplank family!


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