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Plan Now for a Successful Holiday Dog Grooming Season!

Yes, we know it’s still summer, but in a blink of an eye the leaves will turn, snow may fall (if you’re in the northern states) and the sweet jingle of the cash register will ring out across the land. Are you — or your salon — ready for the holiday rush? In this excerpt, CMG Melissa Verplank outlines tips and questions to ask yourself to ensure a smooth holiday season. If you need to hire help, train them now with Paragon’s Distance Learning program, and you’ll be set to ring in the New Year with record profits!

 

Ten Tips & Questions to Help You Get Through the Dogs During the Holiday Season

  1. What are the pros and cons of working extra hours? Do you have enough staff to handle the volume?
  2. Should you take on new clients?
  3. Make sure all your regular clients have their holiday appointments BEFORE taking on new clients or ‘non- regulars.’
  4. Hiring extra help – is there something you can easily delegate with some basic training that would free you up to deal with clients?  Cleaning? Answering the phone?  Taking out the trash? (Or adding a bather/stylist who has completed level 1?)
  5. Have you worked out a system to maximize the types of pets you take per stylist?
  6. Work out a drop-off and pick-up schedule that allows you to stay focused on grooming pets.
  7. Stay calm, cool, and collected no matter what happens during the course of the day.
  8. Set realistic time goals that push you, but stay on target.  Use an egg timer if necessary or place a clock where you can’t miss it – no matter what.
  9. Use every speed trick in the book from prepping – to bathing – to drying – to trimming.
  10. When clients pick up their pet, are you offering a promotion to assist in re-booking 6 weeks down the road when it can traditionally be really slow?

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.


How to Build your Bath and Brush Business

In this video, Certified Master Groomer Melissa Verplank talks about ways you can be proactive in maintaining the volume of pets in your grooming business. In order to keep your business volume consistent and growing you need to deliver a service that goes beyond what customers can do at home or at a self-wash. Learn ways to set your service apart!

Get more great grooming business tips from www.Learn2GroomDogs.com – Sign up with Code LUCKYDOG and get 50% off your first month!

Want to advance your training? Check out our advanced levels at Paragon Pet School’s Distance Learning Program. Use Code LUCKYDOG to get $100 off tuition!

Transcript
Melissa V: Definitely this type of breed, even though people don’t think of it as needing a whole lot of grooming, they definitely need grooming. When I’m working with those tight-coated breeds, one of the tools that I really love to get them squeaky, squeaky clean and to help eliminate the shedding, because even though they’re a tight-coated breed, and whether it be a tight-coated breed like the pointer, or whether it’s going to be more a short-coated breed like your labs, they still shed. And that kind of coat can really weave into fabric, and it’s hard for a roller tape to get that picked up because that coat is tight. It’s hard, and it just weaves into the fabric.

It’s our job as the professional pet groomer to be able to minimize that for the client, and one of the tools that I really love is these types of rubber curries. They actually have an incense cone type tooth on them, and they’re super flexible. You can really take these to the bathtub and really scrub with them. They do a good job getting right down to the skin. They do a great job releasing a loose coat, pulling that debris right up to the surface, and it feels good. It’s like a massage. You just can’t hurt them.

That’s one of the things that I would really encourage you to utilize and pay attention to those details, is get them squeaky, squeaky clean. Use a great shampoo that has a nice fragrance to it, not overly heavy, but fragrance so that when that dog goes home, they know it’s clean. It smells good. It smells fresh, and when you pull that dog out of the tub, you want it to squeak, squeaky, squeaky clean. Whether it be the really tight-coated breeds, or whether you’re dealing with a lab, or the French bulldogs. You know, they’ve got a little bit more coat. Get them squeaky, squeaky clean.

Now, the other thing to look at is, like with the shepherds and the golden’s and any breed that has got that type of coat is, are you providing a shed-less type program? I live with Maremma sheepdogs. Maremma sheepdogs are like oversized white golden retrievers, and they shed. And we have instituted a shed-less program, and it has been amazing. The revenue generation that we have been able to come up with just by providing a service like that. So think about what types of services you can do. What are the problems that the clients have at home?

With these breeds, even though they don’t have a lot of coat, they don’t require haircuts, they definitely shed. And they get dirty, so figure out things that you can do to help solve that problem easily for the client. Again, like I said, pay attention to details. Make sure those ears are super clean. Not only trim nails, but what about utilizing a Dremel to file those nails so that they’re nice and smooth and they don’t have sharp edges on them. A client’s not going to be able to, number one, generally trim dog’s nails at home, nor will they file them. That’s a great service that you can offer. For many salons, they might trim nails and offer the filing as an upsell. We personally do a buck a paw, so it’s a four dollar upsell. Super easy to do.

Another thing that you can do with these dogs that don’t require full haircuts, and you can do it with full haircut dogs as well, but do you have any kind of breath freshener or teeth brushing or something that you can add orally to enhance the client’s experience with their dog at home? Again, it’s an easy upsell, and it’s something that generally clients don’t do for themselves at home with their dog. Being able to offer those types of things, just really pay attention to it.

With that doberman that we had years ago, most of the time she would come home not only with her nails filed, but they’d also be painted. And okay, every once in a while they were a crazy color, especially around the holidays, that would happen, but most of the time they were just painted black. It just gave a nice shine to the nail. It was a part of the detail that the client isn’t going to do for themselves. Did it make or break the groom? No, but it was just one of the those things that you noticed. It was in those details. Bows on collars, bandanas, the collar frills that you can get. Bardel Bows has got all kinds of really fun things. If you don’t like dealing with bows and bandanas, there’s companies out there like Bardel Bows that are going to have those things.

And my goal with a customer is always to bring the dog in, to treat it with respect and love and compassion, but when that client picks up their dog, when that dog goes home, what I aim for is to see a smile. When that client sees their dog, and not only a smile because they’re happy to see their dog, but a smile because the dog looks amazing. And again, if you’re dealing with a short and tight-coated dogs, you’re not going to see that big transformation that you see when you’re dealing with a haircut type dog. But there’s subtle differences that you can do to make that client go, “Wow. That was the best he’s looked. It’s the best he’s smelled. It’s the best he’s felt.” Those are the types of things that you’re going for.

What you want to do is bring those bath and brush dogs in on a really regular basis. Ideally, I love to see them every two or three weeks. That really helps keep the shedding under control. It keeps the film, the dirt on their coat down, and it keeps them smelling great. If you can encourage those customers to come in on a really regular basis and provide those services that they are not going to do themselves, if they bathe the dog in their driveway or in their bathtub, or they take that pet to a self-service facility. You are going to be able to do such a better job, and it goes without saying too, you’ve got the high velocity dryer. They don’t, and we all know how important that tool is.

And again, whether you’re dealing with a tight-coated dog, a short-coated dog, or a bath and brush type dog like the shepherd or the golden retriever, the high velocity dryers are going to be absolutely critical to doing a really knockout job on those dogs. Get those bath and brush dogs coming in. They are massive to what you can do with your bottom line, with a revenue generation. They are some of the easiest dogs that you’re going to do, but they really have a huge impact on your bottom line. And that’s what we’re in business for. We are in business to make a profit, to provide a service for our customers that they’re going to appreciate. So pay attention to the details and get those bath and brush dogs coming back in on a regular basis to you.


5 Steps to Visualize a Goal

By Melissa Verplank, CMG

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?

Visualization.

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 »


Learning is a 50-50 Responsibility

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.

Transcript
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.


How To Improve Your Speed with Focused Goal Setting

In this video, Certified Master Groomer Melissa Verplank discusses ways to improve your speed by tracking your time and starting with the end in mind. She shares her own personal challenge in improving speed on Poodle feet. Learn how to increase your productivity by measuring your progress and celebrating your milestones.

Want great tutorials on grooming Poodles (and their feet) along with hundreds of other instructional videos? Check out www.Learn2GroomDogs.com. Use Code LUCKYDOG to get 50% off your first month.

Want to master Poodle feet (and much more!)? Notes from the Grooming table has a detailed section. Purchase it here: Paragon Book Shop

Transcript
Melissa: Hi guys. Melissa here, and today I want to talk to you a little bit about ways to improve your speed. When we are grooming, every single day, when we’re at a grooming table, it is all about being efficient with our time. It doesn’t necessarily mean to be fast, to be rough, to be abrupt. That’s not what this is about. It’s about being efficient so that we can get the most done in the least amount of time while yielding the best result.

The best result is in the quality of the product that we put out in the way that we handle and interact with the pets that we deal with, as well as dealing with our clients. So, I just really want to emphasize that improving your speed is not about sacrificing anything. It’s about maintaining and actually enjoying what you’re doing even more so because you’re efficient. You’ve got confidence with what you’re doing, and every time you do it, you get consistent results that are yielding quality.

So, the first thing to help you improve speed is you got to know what the end result should look like. What does a quality round head look like? What does a clean well-fluffed dog look like? You’ve got to start with a clear picture of what does it look like when it’s done right. So, whatever technique you’re trying to improve, whatever thing you’re looking at, improving your speed, improving your quality, improving your confidence with, know what it looks like when it’s done right.

Then the next thing that I want you to really think about is clocks, timers. I still remember being in a salon that they were saying, “The entire salon had a problem staying on task, on time, getting dogs done when they were promised.” When I looked around, there was very few clocks, so clocks are going to be really, really critical. Wherever you’re at, you want to be able to quickly just glance up and see that clock.

You want to have a watch on that’s going to be able to stand up to the abuse of what a busy grooming salon is going to be. I find water-resistant, waterproof watches are great. All of us have our phones with us today. So, right on your phone, there’s generally going to be an app that’s got a timer on it. If you don’t want to use your phone, get an old-fashioned egg timer. It doesn’t matter. But you’ve got to be able to measure and know every second of your day, where you’re at, and what you’re doing.

Then to start improving on your speed, you got to measure it. So, if you are struggling to get a dog, a small-to-medium simple trim done in an hour or less, start measuring how long does it take you from the time you put that dog on the table to the time it gets to the tub, and from the tub to the drying area, and from the drawing area back onto the finish table, and how long does that finish take you? You need to break up your grooms, so that you know where you’re spending your time and how much time you’re spending in each one of those areas. Then start improving in each one of those.

I’ll give you a hint. Most of the time, the real trouble, the time waster is in the wet area. It’s in the bath and the dry. So, if you’re struggling to get a small-to-medium simple trim done in an hour or less, double check what your times are in there. I’ve got material out there on learntogroomdogs.com and also in my blogs that you can see a time sheet that tells you exactly where you should be.

So, research that a little bit. There’s a lot of material out there to help you improve your speed, but always have those clocks, those timers handy, and measure it. Know where you’re at. Then set yourself a goal. Set yourself a target. You want to beat it by one minute, by 30 seconds. You’re not looking to make big huge sweeping improvements at first. What you want to do is make very small incremental changes as you improve, as you focus on whatever task it is that you’re trying to improve your efficiency with, and celebrate the small wins.

Celebrating means just sometimes just giving your own self a pat on the back for hitting a target like, “Yeah, I did it.” Those types of things, those successes help you move forward, and if you don’t hit the target, if you don’t make it, don’t beat yourself up too bad. You got another chance, another time. Just keep measuring and keep tracking where you’re at.

When I first started grooming, I didn’t have any instruction. The groomer was fired. I was kennel help, and I got a call from my boss, and they said, “You’re it. You have a new role. You are now the groomer.” Gang, I didn’t know what I was doing. There wasn’t material out there. The internet didn’t even exist. There was very little material for me to teach myself how to groom dogs. My first day, I had six dogs on my table that I had to get done.

I didn’t know what I was doing. So, fast-forwarded, it got to the point that, yes, I was grooming dogs, and I always thought I was being pretty efficient and pretty good at what I was doing. But I will tell you there was one breed of dog that I hated. When I saw it, when it came across my roster, I just cringed because I knew that I was going to totally lose it on time and efficiency, and that was poodles, and it was poodle feet.

I didn’t mind anything else about the poodle, but the foot. When I first started grooming, when I had a poodle, each foot would take me five minutes, five minutes to do a foot, one foot. Down the road, it was always a struggle. I always made a mess out of it. All the dogs jerked. They pulled. They didn’t want me to handle their feet. I was making hamburger out of their feet because the blades were cutting them. I just didn’t know how to do it right.

So, poodle feet were just a huge struggle for me. I really dislike doing poodle feet. As my career grew and I got more experience, I started to understand what does it look like when it’s done right. I started to see the techniques that were being used that I wasn’t using, and I could improve upon what I was doing. Then at one point, I had the challenge. Somebody said, “Can you do four feet in three minutes?” I thought, “Ugh, are they kidding? There is no way. It takes me five minutes, four minutes to do a poodle foot.”

I’d gotten a little bit better over time, but it was still a huge time crunch for me to be efficient in that area. So, when I heard that four feet in three minutes, I thought, “All right, somebody is being able to do it. I’m going to figure it out,” so I did. It took me quite a while. I’m not saying I nailed it right out the gate, but at some point down the road, I did at height of my career, figure out how to do four feet in three minutes, and they were done well.

So, it can be done, but you’ve got to focus on it, and you’ve got to pay attention to what you’re doing. If you pay attention, if you set time goals for yourself, if you measure what you’re doing, and you celebrate your successes when you do it right, when you make an improvement, I guarantee each incremental little step will get you closer to being able to do a dog in an hour, and that’s basically what we look at is turning a dog an hour.

I’m not talking an elaborate trim or a big, hairy audacious, crazy thing. Not a doodle, but your small-to-medium size simple trims. You want to get those turned in at least an hour or less. So measure, track, and celebrate your success when you nail it.


What Do Clients Mean When They Ask for a Puppy Cut?

“Give my dog a puppy cut.”

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 »


Simplifying Dog Grooming with The Theory of Five

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.

Want to learn to groom dogs on campus or online? Learn more about our Distance Learning Program and get $100 off tuition with code LUCKYDOG.

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Transcript
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.


7 Speedy Grooming Tips for a Happier Pet

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Speedy pet grooming is one of many ways we show compassion for the animals in our care. Grooming efficiently doesn’t mean you care less about their needs. You can groom a pet quickly while still being gentle, respectful, and without sacrificing quality and thoroughness.

I understand this not only as a groomer, but from personal experience with my own fur family. I have Maremma Sheepdogs, two of which are over 10 years old. They are heavy, double-coated, large dogs. At one time, they had the physical strength to endure longer grooming sessions. However, as they’ve aged, grooming has become more uncomfortable to tolerate.
Read the rest of this entry »


Maintaining Focus

Certified Master Groomer Melissa Verplank discusses one of her favorite keys to success: focus. Focus during a grooming session is critical for safety, technique, and style. Maintaining focus will also help improve your efficiency.

Read more on this topic here: MelissaVerplank.com.

If you want to hone your skill level — and your focus — check out Paragon’s opportunities for continuing education here, or visit Learn2GroomDogs.com for video tutorials to help you groom like the masters!

Transcript
Melissa V: Hi, gang. Melissa here again and I want to talk to you today about another one of my favorite time-saving tips. This one today is about Focus. Focus is so critical as a professional pet groomer whether it be to keep the pet safe, or to enhance your own skill set. Focus absolutely has to be maintained at all times whether that dog is first walking into your salon, whether it’s on the grooming table, in the bathtub, in a drying process, or whether it’s even in the holding area. You’ve got to be aware of what is going on around it, and be able to keep it safe at all times.

Melissa V: The other thing is if you’re not focused on your skill set as you are doing a particular job more than likely it’s not gonna be the best that you could do for the given day, so pay attention when you’re brushing those big furies out. Pay attention to your brushing technique and what’s happening with the skin whether you be scissoring, clipping, bathing a dog, making sure all that shampoo residue is out. You have got to stay focused on what you’re doing.

Melissa V: One of the things is you really can’t stay focused if you’re chattering to your co-workers, so I really encourage folks to minimize the chatter that’s going on out on the floor as you’re working with these dogs. It doesn’t mean that you don’t have a little bit of communication. You don’t want to be totally antisocial and anti-friendly, but you can’t focus if you’re totally engrossed in a conversation about what you did last weekend, or what your kids are doing, or what you’re going to be doing next weekend. You have to be able to focus on the task at hand, and that is the pet that is in front of you right there and then. And then what is going on the surrounding areas to keep the rest of the animals that are in your facility safe, so really pay attention and stay focused.

Melissa V: The other thing is if you aren’t constantly working at it, or thinking about it you’re never going to be able to enhance your skill set if you don’t stay focused, so whether you’re trying to shave a few minutes off of your groom job, whether you’re trying to improve your clipper skills, or your scissor skills, or whatever it might be the only way that you’re gonna be able to do that is to stay focused on the task at hand. You always want to look for ways that you can do something better, something … You always want to look for ways that you can do it faster. You always, always, want to maintain the safety aspect of what you’re dealing with at all times because the pets that are in your care they’re your responsibility. It’s up to you to keep them safe, so I encourage you stay focused on the most important thing that you’ve got in your salon and that would be your clients, and those are the four-legged clients that are coming in to see you.


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