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10 Things That Take Zero Talent but Earn 100 Percent Respect

Certified Master Groomer Melissa Verplank discusses the power of 10 simple best business practices that will command client respect and build your business.

Want more business inspiration to fuel your grooming salon? Check out these articles. MelissaVerplank.com/blog/?s=tips+on+building+repeat+clients&submit=Search

If you’ve mastered the art and want to bone up on your own technical skills, check out Learn2GroomDogs.com

Want to train your staff to perform at the highest skill level? Check out Paragon’s Distance Education program for Grooming Salons. ParagonPetSchool.com/product/studio-enrollment-bundle/

Transcript
Melissa: Hi Guys, Melissa here, and I want to talk to you about something, whether you be an employer or whether you are an employee, it’s not gonna matter, and this is something that doesn’t take any money whatsoever. Totally zero. It’s 10 things, and a lot of you have probably seen this list before, but it’s 10 things that require zero talent, zero money, but it is going to give you 100% respect.

Melissa: And so I just wanted to talk a little bit about these 10 different items and how it applies to what we do as professional pet groomers. The first thing, and this is just such a huge one for me, but being to work on time. Being done with your dog when you tell your customer, when you promised it, and anytime that you can’t uphold that, whether you’re running late to work or whether you’re running behind on a dog, let either your employer know or let your customer know that things might have changed a little bit.

Melissa: If you just can’t get up in the morning because you just can’t get up, change something, get up earlier, see if maybe your employer is willing to have you start on a later time during the day versus first thing in the morning. When I had all of my mobile stylist, I had early birds and I had folks that were just couldn’t get up in the morning, and we customized their schedule for them. I had some of my drivers, they were arriving to base at 6:30 in the morning, sometimes even earlier than that.

Melissa: Sometimes they were on their client’s doorstep at 6:00 AM, but they were also done and they were out at the beach by 2:00 in the afternoon. I had other stylists that were rolling in maybe at 10 o’clock and that was fine. As long as we knew, but whatever the time you set be on time. Number two, have a great work ethic. A work ethic will get you so far and it doesn’t matter what you’re doing, whether you are an employer or an employee, whether you are a coach on some type of a team, whatever it is, wherever it is in your life, a strong work ethic will always earn you respect.

Melissa: The next one would be effort, and effort and work ethic to me go hand in hand. When we’re dealing with brand new students, they’re not going to get it perfect straight out the gate. One of the best teachers is experience, and making mistakes is a fabulous way to learn as long as you can minimize the mistakes and hopefully most mistakes are correctable with a little bit of adjustment, but if somebody comes in with a strong work ethic and effort, oh my gosh, they are going to go so far with me and in their life. Guarantee that is going to get them somewhere in their life.

Melissa: The next thing is body language. If you can smile, the smile totally comes right through, whether you’re working on a dog, whether you’re talking on the phone, whether you’re dealing with a customer, it doesn’t matter, whether you’re dealing with your staff members or the staff members dealing with anybody else on the team. If you’re sitting there going, “Nope, I don’t want to do it,” or “Gosh, I’ve never done it, but let me try it.”

Melissa: There’s different way that that body language came through where one person was workable and the other wasn’t, and body language and energy and positive energy. There’s that phrase out there that says, “Is your attitude contagious?” “Is it worth catching?” And I love that image where there’s a whole bunch of matches lined up and there’s one match and they’re getting ready to ignite just that whole row.

Melissa: Energy is absolutely fabulous. And dogs also, they read energy. So if you come into the salon and you’re in a grumpy, nasty mood and your body language is not positive, you just don’t want to work. You don’t want to be there, you don’t want to put forth the effort. Well, you know what, your day is going to get even worse because that energy is transferred right over to those dogs. And so it’s really important to have positive energy and have that great attitude coming in.

Melissa: Not only is your day going to go smoother, but every coworker that you have, their day is going to go smoother and the dogs are gonna respond in a much more favorable way when you’ve got that positive attitude, the positive energy coming into work, and you’re going to get that respect from your coworkers and your customers and also from the dogs. Passion is right in there.

Melissa: I still remember my high school teacher, and I was definitely not the best student. I mean if I was pulling a C average, I was lucky and if it was Spanish, it was something else altogether. But I had a counselor at this little tiny high school that I went to in Colorado, and I’m still in touch with her today and she believed in me so much and she said, “Melissa, when you find what you’re passionate about, nobody is going to be able to stop you.”

Melissa: And so passion is critical. If you want to succeed in your job and in your life, you’ve got to be passionate about what you’re dealing with. And again, it’s just gonna make your life be a lot more fun, a lot more enjoyable. Be coachable. If I sat there and said, “Nope, I know it all. I don’t need to learn anything,” I’m just not gonna get anywhere. And that’s one of the things with this particular industry, with professional pet grooming, you can never know it all. So always stay open, always stay coachable, always think about what you can learn more and be humble at the same time.

Melissa: That’s not on the list, but humble to me is be coachable and be humble and that will gain you respect, hands down, over and over again. Another thing is do something extra, go a little bit more. No one is going to criticize you for doing something a little bit up and beyond what they expected, and that’s what makes people talk about you.

Melissa: With a service space business, if you want to really go far, you want to be able to do something extra to get people talking about you because people don’t talk about boring services, they talk about things that excite them and referrals are the number one way that grooming salons grow. And so you want to do something a little bit extra to get those customers talking. They will love you for it and you will earn the respect.

Melissa: And the last thing on the list of 10 is be prepared. Be prepared for whatever you’re going to be dealing with. If you come skidding into work at the last minute, you’re running late and your workstation isn’t set up. If your stuff isn’t ready to go, you’re not prepared for your day, your day is going to tumble in a downward fashion pretty quickly. And so it really pulls all of the 10 together, is be prepared.

Melissa: If you do these 10 things, you are going to earn the respect of your employer, of your clients, of your boss, all the way around you’re going to earn respect and you will also have respect for yourself. And so I really encourage you to think about these items that absolutely cost zero intake, zero talent to just do.


Selling a Service Equals Selling a Relationship

In this video, Master Groomer and savvy entrepreneur Melissa Verplank discusses the importance of building a trusting relationship with your clientele as the foundation of a thriving salon.

Want more tips on increasing your client retention rate? Check out another article on this topic here.

Would you like to train new staff with Melissa’s curriculum? Check out Paragon’s Salon Distance Learning packages here.

Want access to hundreds of grooming business and technique videos for busy professionals? Visit Learn2GroomDogs.com

Transcript
Melissa: Hi guys. Melissa here, and today I want to talk to you about what we do every single day, and that’s grooming. And grooming is a service based business, and it’s a little bit different than if you were able to pick up a widget and test it and look at it and try it out, and then make the decision whether you’re going to buy it or not. When we are grooming dogs, we’re selling a service. And a client isn’t going to know whether they like that service or not, most of the time until after you have finished. And so people that are calling us as a professional pet groomer, they are assuming that we’re talented, that we’re skilled, that we’re trained.

Melissa: It’s the same thing if you need to hire an attorney. Unless you have a great referral, you don’t know whether you’re hiring the best attorney for your particular situation. You don’t know when you go to the doctor whether you truly have the best doctor for the situation, whether you’re getting the correct diagnosis for what is ailing you. Taxes, shoot. How do you pick somebody to do your taxes? And if you have a complicated return, how do you know whether somebody is really doing a good job for you? You don’t. You don’t know it until after the fact. And that’s the same thing with dog grooming.

Melissa: Our customers don’t know whether they’re going to get an excellent grooming, or they’re not, until after it is done. But you know the one thing that customers can really tell, and you think about the services that you go to, they can tell whether they feel valued, whether they feel like it’s a good relationship. You just get that gut feeling that you like that person. And clients can tell when phone calls are returned, when they’re treated politely, when their pets are being treated with compassion, they can tell that.

Melissa: And so bottom line, when you’re selling services, you’re basically dealing with a popularity competition. And the winners of that competition are the ones that make those customers feel valued. That is absolutely key with what you’re dealing with. Just remember when clients and prospective clients call to see what you offer, they are going to assume that you know what you’re doing, that you know how to trim their dog the way that they think it should be trimmed. And so it’s really important that you get at least to that first base, and you’re being able to communicate with that customer and make them feel amazing.

Melissa: And you know through years and years of experience, I have found the stylists that have full books sometimes aren’t the most talented stylist. But they are the groomers and the stylists that make that customer feel important. They are the ones that make up with that dog, and that client feels comfortable leaving their beloved little fluffy with you for the day. And so that’s really, really critical, is make that customer feel valued, feel important, and build that trust so that customer keeps coming back to you over and over again.


Bubble Baths and the Holiday Grooming Rush?

If you have a reasonably busy salon and have been at this for a few years, you know the holidays mean crunch time. You’ll be grooming most of your regular clients in days instead of weeks. Do you have control of your schedule?

You may find yourself racing to juggle the demands of your business and your family. Keeping your customers happy is crucial to the health of your salon, but not at the expense of those you love. Don’t let the insanity of the holiday season put a damper on your festive mood.

I learned the hard way. Grooming super long hours up to 14 days straight before Christmas left me totally exhausted and spent. I was definitely a Scrooge throughout the entire holiday season. I knew I had to make a change when one Christmas I literally slept through the entire day.

Here are a few ideas from myself and my team of seasoned grooming pros to help you make the most of the holiday rush. Read the rest of this entry »


Thinning Shears are the Pet Stylist’s Eraser

Are you thinking about upgrading any of your pet grooming tools? For many dog groomers, The Groom Expo in Hershey, PA that is coming up later this month is a perfect time to see and test new items for your tool kit. If you are saving your tip money to buy new thinning shears, this blog is for you!

pencilThinning shears (or blending shears) are the best-kept secrets in the grooming world. Used properly, they can make mistakes much less noticeable. For a new stylist, this is one of the first shears I always recommend upgrading in your toolbox.

It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been grooming or how talented you are as a pet stylist – sometimes you just need a little help. An “oops” can occur at any time. Mistakes happen.

Maybe there is a spot on the coat that you just can’t get smooth. Maybe there is tracking in the coat from the clippers or guard comb. You may have left scissor marks in the coat – or a hole in the coat you accidentally made with clippers or scissors. You might even be working with a dog that will not hold still long enough to work safely with clippers or scissors – leaving the coat rough and jagged.

Thinning shears can be your savior. They erase rough spots. They blend out jagged edges. They smooth out transition areas. They fix mistakes.

The difference between a good stylist and a great stylist can be determined by how much value they place on their blending shears.

ToolboxStylists that understand the value of this type of shear will invest in multiple pairs. Just like straight edge shears, there are wide varieties from which to choose. Some are for more general use while others have more specific usage. The key is to know how you want to use the shear. Do you need it for light wispy coats? Drop coats? Terrier styling? Working around the head or eye area or dealing with large surface areas? There is a blender to fit every single one of these needs.

I always suggest you personally try out thinning shears before you purchase them. Just like Colin Taylor says, shears are like shoes. You need to find the ones that fit you! They have to fit properly as well as cut smoothly and run effortlessly in your hands.

So how do you narrow down your choices? Ask. Find out what other groomers and stylists are using. Determine which thinning shears they rely on every day in their salons. Believe me, they have opinions! There are lots of fabulous thinning shears out there – but there’s also a lot of junk.

Most high quality blending shears will have an average cost of $150 – $350. Of course, you can spend more if you like. Your equipment is an investment in your career. You may not need the Rolls-Royce when you first start out – but you do need something that is reliable and dependable. Luckily, there are many styles and varieties from which to choose.

royale-double-teeth-thinning-shear-bladesThe difference between a good stylist and a great stylist is that they know how to fix mistakes. Every one of us makes them. Having a nice collection of thinning and blending shears will be the erasers you need when that “oops!” happens.

What are your favorite shears? What do you look forward to shopping for when you go to Hershey? Jump over to the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page and tell us about it!

Happy trimming!

~ Melissa


Surviving the Holiday Rush

After working professional in the pet grooming industry over 35 years, the only time I worry about dealing with clients is the Christmas holiday season.

christmas-dog-wallpaperThe two weeks preceding the actual day can be a chaotic mess.  With Christmas shopping, decorating, baking, family gatherings, holiday socials to attend, and every regular client you have wanting to be booked as close to Christmas as possible . . . phew!  December can be an exhausting month!

But, wait – t doesn’t have to be!  Christmas organizing all year round will let you create that picture perfect holiday without nearly the stress.

Getting Organized & Ready

The Salon

  1. Is it clean – really clean? Floors, walls, kennels?
  2. Is the lighting up to snuff?
  3. Are your laundry machines working properly?
  4. Are the tubs draining?
  5. What are the conditions of your pet dryers?
  6. Are your blowing fuses on a regular basis in one outlet?
  7. Does your computer need to be de-bugged for a glitch free running machine?
  8. Do you have a stock pile of all the office supplies you’ll need?
  9. Are your blades shears all sharp and ready to go?
  10. Are your clippers operating smoothly?
  11. What is your stock level of all your dispensable products? Shampoos, conditioners, cologne, flea foggers, cotton balls, ear cleaner, etc.
  12. Are there plenty of towels on the shelves?

The Holiday Image

  1. Are your holiday decorations fresh and up-to date for your salon?  Keep it simple and easy… pick a simple theme and work with it.
  2. Do you have your client’s gifts ready to go so they can easily be passed out when the client is having their pet groomed?  Remember, expense isn’t the key, packaging is. Pay attention to the details.
  3. Have fun with festive accessories.  Head gear, costume jewelry – anything that can bring a smile to someone else is a good thing.
  4. Are all your holiday bows special and pre-tied?  Are bandanas ready to be attached to the pet?
  5. Do you have red and green nail polish that is actually usable?  What about other colors?
  6. Do you have plenty of air freshener to lend a sparkle to the air without being overly powering?
  7. Music is everywhere – is your holiday collection handy or is there an ‘all Christmas’ station you can tune into?
  8. Have you brought extra clothing or makeup to freshen up after work before heading out?
  9. If you’re worried that you’ll be slow after the holiday season, do you have any grooming promotions for January and February that you can be handing out now?
$$ Saving Tip: Buy all your holiday items the day after the holiday to save up to 50% the retail price;
fabric for bandanas, decorations, Christmas cards…

Getting Through the Dogs

  1. What are the pros and cons of working extra hours?
  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?
  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?

Organization on a Personal Level

  1. Do you have a master list of all the things you need to do for the holidays?  Is it broken down into smaller do-able chunks?  What about a master gift list that’s simply updated year to year?  Master Christmas card list?  Weekly meal planner? Regular shopping tick-sheet list?  For great inspiration go to www.organizedchristmas.com
  2. Are you are a store, catalog, or Internet shopper?  Are you prepared to have ALL your holiday gift shopping done by December 15?  What about the wrapping?
  3. As time gets closer, demands get greater and healthy meals go by the wayside…  If you are in a city, do you have a full selection of menus at your fingertips?  Who has great take-out that you quickly sweep in and grab on the way home or while you are at the shop?  If you are a country dweller, is your freezer packed with great frozen meals that only require reheating whether homemade or store-bought.
  4. Does a messy house stress you out?  Before is gets really busy, clean and organize the house or hire someone to help you… (or if you have kids, enlist their help.)  Also think about having carpets cleaned, windows washed, or dropping you heaping laundry off at a laundromat, letting them do it for you.
  5. Do you need a masseuse or chiropractor to help you stay loose and limber ? If you do, book your appointment early.

After the Holiday?

  1. Take the week off! Trust me – your clients don’t need you for the week between Christmas and New Year’s!  Take that time and spend it on yourself and your loved ones!  You’ve earned it.

With a little bit of pre-planning, you’ll be breezing through the holiday.  It’s so much more enjoyable for everyone to be in a festive spirit instead of being the Grinch.  Put some effort into setting yourself up to enjoy the best of the season – it makes the time fly by.  And you might even get a few moments to relish this time of year!

Always remember, to be successful – to thrive – you need to put forth effort today so that your future will be bright.

Happy trimming !

~Melissa


Clocks Are Your Score Keepers – It’s time to revisit an important topic!

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

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

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

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

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

Watch the time.

Track the time.

Race against the time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

2015-10-28_1529rrWhat are your time saving tricks? Jump over to the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page and tell us.  You can even click here for a quick lesson in how to use the site.

FREE TIME SAVING LECTURE HANDOUT

Click here for a complete video list to make searching even easier!
 

Happy trimming,
~Melissa


Tricks to Keep Your Appointment Book Full – Great Ideas to Stay Busy All Year Long

When your appointment book is totally full, how does that make you feel? For most of us, it’s a sense of security. It’s a source of pride. It’s a guarantee that you are satisfying your customers’ needs. You are doing a good job.

But how do you feel when that appointment book has empty slots? Maybe you are just starting out on your own and have an open book. Maybe you are new to the salon and need to build a fresh clientele. Or maybe you have been at your salon for a while, yet you’re just not getting traction with repeat customers.

Long-time pet stylists know this unspoken rule: a full appointment book offers job security.

So if your appointment book is lighter than what you would like, how are you going to fix it?

Here are a few ideas to help you boost your number of daily grooming appointments.

SERVICE MENU

If you went to a restaurant and the server did not hand you a menu, how would you know what to order? Pet grooming is very similar. Owners know they’re coming to you to get their dog cleaned up, but they probably don’t know all the services that you offer. Services that could help them keep their pet looking and feeling great.

A well-organized service menu makes it easy for the client to select a service. As a bonus, it also makes it very easy for you discuss optional services such as de-shedding treatments, shampoo upgrades, skin conditioning treatments, tooth brushing, nail filing, or other add-on services.

A service menu allows you to quickly summarize maintenance grooming services. Use it to  highlight the benefits of regular professional grooming appointments. This is a great place to outline the suggested frequency of appointments. Depending on a number of factors, most pets benefit from being groomed every 3 to 6 weeks.  Others may benefit from weekly or biweekly appointments. Having a comprehensive service menu makes it easy to rebook clients on a regular basis.

DEVELOP A RESCHEDULE FILE

Actively encouraging clients to reschedule on a regular basis ensures that a salon will have a steady stream of clients. Plus, the pets will be in the best possible condition.<

Rebooking and rescheduling is all about helping your clients keep their pet looking and feeling its best. It’s about helping them understand the hygienic needs of their dog or cat, such as why it’s important to properly brush and bathe their pet between visits. Those are the goals. You are a problem solver. If they do not want to do the tasks necessary to maintain their pets at home, they will turn to you to do the job for them. Education is the key.

There are number of ways to rebook that next appointment:

  • on the spot.
  • reminder calls.
  • wake-up calls.
  • e-mail blasts.

Rebooking on the Spot

Referral card example.

Referral card example.

Offering to schedule an appointment at checkout is the best way to get a client to rebook. Develop a couple different scripts and use the one that best fits the needs of that client. For best results, use the tips below.

  • Ask every time. Think of fast food chains. They ask you every time if you would like something else with your order – every time. When the client checks out, offer to rebook their next appointment to ensure their pet continues to look amazing.
  • For the busy or in demand pet stylist, reschedule a number of appointments at once or book the entire year. This will guarantee the client will get the premiere dates they are looking for.
  • In areas that are price sensitive, offer incentives. Maybe it’s $5 off their next grooming if they book within six weeks or less. Or maybe you offer them free upsells like tooth brushing or a spa package upgrade.

Reminder Calls – If the Client Does Not Rebook on the Spot

Discount card example.

Discount card example.

Ask the client if they’d like a Reminder Call a week before “Buffy” would be due for his next appointment. This could be done via phone, e-mail, or text message.

Wake-Up Calls

Actively call clients that have not returned to the salon in 8-12 weeks.

E-mail Blasts

This is a great way to market to existing clients. If you are going into a slow day or week, offer an incentive to get clients in the door for those days.

IMPLEMENTATION

Incentive coupon example.

Incentive coupon example.

Rebooking is something you must do regularly – the same way – every time. Make it a habit to ask if they want to rebook at check-out. If they don’t, make sure to call and remind them one week prior to the preferred grooming time for their pet and don’t forget to do the Wake-Up calls once a month for any client you haven’t seen in 8-12 weeks.

Referrals

People are physiologically wired to make referrals. Many businesses can grow and flourish just by tapping into this business building strategy.

Referrals come from a number of different sources:

  • existing clients.
  • other service providers.
  • pet professionals.
Welcome flyer example.

Welcome flyer example.

Existing Clients

  • Encourage them to pass out your business cards. Let them know you are looking for more great clients like them. Always keep a supply within easy reach and generously hand them out to clients.
  • Use an incentive-based referral program. Offer a discount for first time clients PLUS give the same discount to the client that referred them. You give them even more reason to pass your name around – plus – it’s a great way to thank them for the referral!

Other Service Providers

  • hairdresser
  • local pizza joint
  • coffee shop
  • anywhere people gather and talk

Leave a stack of Discount Incentive cards with the owner or someone that is happy to pass them out. Code the back so you know where they came from – that way you don’t have to ask the customer when they turn them in. You do want to track where the cards are coming from so you can thank the service provider in an appropriate fashion.

Pet Professionals

  • vets
  • pet supply businesses
  • rescue organizations
  • trainers
  • pet sitters

Leave them with a basic welcome package they can hand out to clients that would benefit from your service. Participate in and support their events. They are more like to refer and support you in return. Offer a thoughtful thank you gift to those that refer you on a regular basis. Food or flowers never go out of style but there are many options.

Did we miss anything? Jump over to the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page and tell us. You can even see a video on Learn2GroomDogs.com on this topic!

Happy trimming,

~Melissa


Dealing with Trouble Areas in Fur

SONY DSCMats. Tangles. Knots.

Call them what you like. That woven mess of dirt and hair can often determine what kind of a trim can be done on a pet. They are the best friend – and the worst enemy – of the professional pet groomer.

The key to dealing with these trouble areas is knowing how to identify them and deal with them effectively.

4 Types of Mats

1.) Lack of Maintenance: The owner brushes between grooming but it is not as effective or as often as it should be. Dirt, static, and moisture are usually the culprits. More frequent bathing and brushing to remove dense undercoat is needed in these cases. The mats produced from poor maintenance are generally smaller and can be removed with the proper knowledge, tools, and products.

2.) Neglect: These tangles are tough. Typically, these mats result of longer-term neglect and are very tight and difficult to remove. Many times, the dog’s coat is in extremely overall poor shape and is very dirty. They can be a hiding place for pests like fleas and ticks and may lead to skin damage or injury.

3.) Friction: Friction mats are caused when two areas rub together. It could be from a collar, dog sweater, or from a body part (like behind the ears or under the front legs) – but is not limited to those areas. Depending on the activity level of the dog, friction mats could be found up and down the legs, on long ears, or the tail. These are the areas that come in contact with other areas like tall grasses or even the ground.

4.) Compression: This type of tangle is generally found on the rear of the dog. It is caused from sitting or lying down. Dogs that shed heavily will have dead coat packed into the guard coat, and if not removed, will clump and mat as moisture and compression do their work. Just like people, dogs tend to be left or right-sided. The compression type density will be worse on one side more than the other.

Here is the best way to deal any type of tangle…

Find them before the client leaves!

That means at check-in. This is not just a time to be catching up with your client. Use this time to diagnose problem areas with their pet’s coat. Get your hands on the dog – not just your eyes! The eyes can be deceiving. The owner doesn’t even have to be aware of what you’re doing.

I disguise my hands-on inspection as a meet-and-greet to the pet. It warms up both the pet and the client. But more importantly, it gives me valuable information. Information that I can use to communicate effectively with a customer about the type of trim we can do, the cost, and the amount of time it will take.

Sink your hands deep into the coat. Keep moving. Feel under the ears, in the armpits – get to those friction and compressed areas so there are no surprises once you get the dog in the tub. Do you know what you’re feeling for? You’re trying to find patches of density/inconsistent density in the fur. You should be able to come into contact with the skin. Often, your client will insist that the dog is completely brushed out when in truth – they’ve just been brushing out the tops of matted areas. This is where your comb comes in handy for a demonstration. Sink the comb through the coat. If you feel resistance, that’s your matted area.

quoteRemember, the groom starts as soon as the client walks in the door, not when the dog is on your table. You should start assessing the dog visually as soon as the pet walks in and continue your examination until you are satisfied that you have found everything you need to discuss with your client before s/he leaves. Having to make repeated phone calls because you didn’t take the time to properly check over a pet will annoy your client – and will waste much of your own precious time.

But don’t stop there. You should always have a comb within reach. Clients may not always understand what a mat is, but it’s hard to deny a comb stuck firmly in the middle of tangled fur. It’s also a great way to open the discussion about the necessities of combing, as well as brushing, to maintain proper coat condition.

If there are problems or issues, I want to deal with them immediately before the client leaves. In the service-based business, education is the key. Most of the time, this means educating the client as to what is proper maintenance for their pet. Guide their hands to the problem areas. Have them feel for themselves what to watch for, so that when they’re brushing their pet at home they are better able to identify mats and how to deal with them. Many first time pet owners have really no idea what they’ve gotten themselves into when it comes to proper pet maintenance. They may love the idea of having a Golden Doodle, but have no idea that they should be groomed more than twice a year.

This is the perfect time to do that. With new clients, I would talk to them about trim options based on the condition of their pet. If their pet is in extremely difficult condition, I would talk to them about the risk factors the pet is going to experience due to its condition. Explain the potential risks that could occur during dematting. And always have the owner sign a pet release form (see examples from the Paragon School of Pet Grooming below). It also offers you an opportunity to offer beneficial special products or services to the pet or its owner.

By using your training, experience, and professional intuition, you can educate your client and make a real difference in the lives of the pets entrusted to your care.

~Happy trimming,

Melissa

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Client Check In Form

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Pre-Assessment Evaluation Form

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pet Care Professionals: Presenting a Professional Image – #2

Professional-ImageA few weeks ago I was at the Atlanta Pet Fair. I always love this show. For me – it’s typically the first big show of the season. I get to see all my fellow pet professional friends and acquaintances. The trade show floor is always busy. I always have a great turn out at my lectures. And the competition ring is packed. This year was no different.

One thing I really noticed this year was how pet professionals represented themselves. I saw both good and bad – tasteful to tacky – and everything in-between.

One of my favorites was the cute little blond with her hair neatly pulled back in a stylish side ponytail wearing the little black hair-repellant dress in the contest ring. Her make-up was light yet very tastefully done. Her shoes matched. And she accessorized just enough to be elegant but not overdone. Or the young man in the ring. He was impeccably groomed himself right down to the matching bow tie. Both of these competitors where in my novice level class this weekend. I was so proud of the way they represented our industry. I would take my own dogs to them in a heartbeat.

I observed hundreds of people over the weekend. Unfortunately, I couldn’t say that about everyone. Even pet professionals I know and respect greatly, totally caught me off guard.

Folks – HELLO… If you want to be respected as a “professional” you have to act the part whenever you are in the public.

All. The. Time. Period.

I think it’s time to pull this blog back out for a reminder. I learned a long time ago with my early staff that I had to lead by example. My staff never saw me looking anything but professionally turned out. Even today, although I do not work in day-to-day operations, I would never dream of even stopping by one of my companies looking unprofessional. Even if I’m only dropping something off or would be there for a 15 minute meeting.

As pet care ambassadors, it’s our job to keep things looking professional. There are plenty of salons and pet businesses that fall far below the realm of professionalism in my opinion. I know the saying can be cheesy, but seriously, dress for success. Would you want to have your personal pet groomed by someone who doesn’t take pride in his or her own personal presentation?

Let’s put this in perspective. Have you ever been shopping around for a new hair stylist? What if you met her for the first time and her hair was so fried from chemicals it looked like it would break from the slightest touch? What if he smelled like he just left a smoky bar and was still wearing clothes so wrinkled you wondered if he slept in them? How confident would you be to let them style your hair? How are they going to make you look your best if they can’t be bothered to look theirs?

Would you trust a dentist who had rotten teeth?

I know it can get tiring to dress up a little every day. However, our clients are entrusting us with the care of their pets. Like it or hate it, you can easily influence their trust factor simply by the way you look when you greet your clients. Think of yourself like your own brand. Don’t you want your product to be consistent and look great? Of course! And your clients are looking for that, too.

A fashionable, well-groomed appearance is essential when it comes to professionalism in this industry. When you are in a salon, kennel, pet resort, veterinarian clinic, or mobile grooming unit, you have to look the part. Come to work each day looking crisp, clean, and pulled together. Blue jeans and sweat pants ARE NOT professional attire! Black, white, or khaki slacks work well. Longer skirts are great for women and so are skorts in warmer climates. Conservative shorts or capris may work for your environment as well. I’ve even seen leggings work when paired with an oversized, long top or smock. Look for clothing that is not prone to wrinkling or learn to iron!

Today, there are many options for hair repelling garments. There are all types of tops and bottoms in a wide variety of styles. If you work in a salon with a dress code, this may be easier. If not, have some fun with the pet styling fashions that are available. Heck, even medical scrubs will work! It may even be a good idea to keep an extra outfit or smock around the shop as a back-up.

If you get drenched or messy, a quick change will instantly boost your comfort level and mood.

And gals, remember, low-cut tops and short- shorts are never professional! If you have shorts that are too short or a top that is too revealing (especially when you are squatting down to pick up a dog), then you’re not displaying professionalism.

Don’t forget your footwear. Most pet groomers are on their feet for hours. You are standing, lifting, bending, squatting, and twisting – all day long. Although clients may not be looking at your feet, having solid, supportive footwear will promote comfort for you. Being comfortable allows you to be warm and friendly to all your clients. Supportive footwear will also enhance the longevity of your career. Over the long haul, your feet will take a beating. Don’t skimp on your footwear. Invest in the best.

Scent is a very powerful sense. When it comes to your perfume (or fragrance you put on pets) be light-handed with the spray. Many people have allergies and are sensitive to fragrance. Plus, if you have multiple staff members wearing all different scents, it can be unpleasant for all. The same can be said for your makeup and hair color. You want to appeal to a wide range of clients, so conservative is best in most cases. When in doubt, be a minimalist. Remember, you can always “be yourself” once you leave the shop.

While we are on scent – what about your breath? If you are communicating to others – clients or coworkers – bad breath is down-right offensive. Brush, floss, and use a mouth wash regularly. Not only will it save your teeth, your clients won’t be offended as you discuss what trim will work best on Fluffy. Breath mints and gum can be helpful between brushings. Lose the gum quickly once it has done its job. Chewing gum in front of clients is distracting and it is unprofessional in front of clients. The same can be said for eating and drinking on the floor. Keep snack and coffee breaks limited to behind closed doors.

Proper hygiene is crucial. It should go unsaid, but being clean and odor-free is a must. There is nothing more offensive – and embarrassing – than personal body odor. A famous quote from Zig Ziglar, who was a very successful motivational speaker, said, “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” Nothing could be more true!

Your own hair needs to be clean and simply styled. If your hair is long, get it tied back and away from your face. As your work with clippers or shears, you don’t want to be trimming a lock of your own hair as you scissor that leg. I hate to think of how many people with long hair have caught their tresses in the spinning grinder as they worked. Ouch! Or worse yet, drag it through anal gland expressions, defecation, or urine.

Having a touch of jewelry is a nice finishing touch. Done well, it always reflects positively. However, just like with fragrance – go light. A few simple rings. A durable watch (you always need to know the time!!). If your ears are pierced – stick with super simple earrings, something a dog can’t accidently catch in their paw, ripping your ear lobe. If you opt for a necklace, keep it tasteful. Don’t be in love with it. Dogs will catch it in their paws and break it eventually. The same thing with is true with bracelets.

torirrHaving well-groomed fingernails is what I consider a bonus. Working with dirty dogs and trimming toenails lends itself to dirty fingernails – even if you do a lot of bathing. Trimming poodle feet has a tendency to chip fingernails. Personally, I liked to keep my nails painted. Painted fingernails will hide all sorts of flaws. Unfortunately, when you do a lot of bathing standard nail polish has a tendency to peel off quickly – sometimes as quickly as one day. My solution was to have my fingernails professionally done every 2 weeks. Both acrylic and shellac nail applications seem to hold up well to the abuse groomers put their hands through. Plus, it gives you a little time to pamper your most valuable asset – YOUR HANDS!

SONY DSCPay attention to the details. Judy Hudson is one our popular Learn2GroomDogs.com Training Partners. In her video, What I Know For Sure she shares this tip: It doesn’t cost a lot to be clean. It doesn’t cost a lot of money to be neat and tidy. All it takes is a little elbow grease.

As pet care ambassadors, not only is it our job to groom pets – but it’s also our job to present a professional image for our industry.

  • At your place of business.
  • At certification test sites.
  • At trade shows.
  • On the speaking circuit.
  • In the competition ring.
  • ANYWHERE you are representing the pet grooming profession!

I don’t know any successful person that doesn’t sweat the details. Being impeccable, both personally and in your workspace, shows the client that you care about yourself. The message you are sending out is that you are confident with your skills. You are successful. You respect yourself enough to do the same for them – and their pet.

To see a perfect example of what I mean, click here.

Happy trimming!

~Melissa


Salvage Work

Spring is edging closer – and not a moment too soon!  Many of us will be seeing a lot of pets that are ready for a great makeover in the coming weeks.  With that in mind, I thought it was the perfect time to revisit my blog on salvage work.

As many of you know, I’m a big dog person.  Working on these large furry dogs that have a huge shedding problem is one of my favorite things to do in a grooming salon.  I know, I know, call me crazy – but I just love seeing the transformation in this type of job.  Over the years I’ve gotten really quick with the process and rarely cringe, no matter what the size of the dog, nor the condition – I see it as a fun challenge!

My #1 rule is: Never work on a dirty dog. If water can penetrate the coat, let your products do the job.

Working on a dirty dog is not only unpleasant, but it also takes longer to do.  Plus, there will be a lot of coat damage and breakage.  A dirty coat is dry and brittle. The dirt and dander trapped within the fur makes it more difficult to brush out. Working on a clean coat will be easier for both you and the pet – and much more pleasant.

If there are large chunks that water cannot penetrate, go ahead and break up the tangle using the tool that is safe for the pet.  Don’t worry about removing it completely, just break it apart so the water and shampoo can do its job.

indexPrepare your bathing area.  If the dog is exceptionally dirty, use the shampoo especially designed for dirty dogs.  Using a follow-up treatment of a skin and coat conditioner after bathing twice (or maybe three times in some areas) will assist with the brush out and dead coat removal during the drying process.  Make sure you have all the tools you’ll need to aid in getting the dog clean like rubber curries or scrub brushes.  And make sure you have plenty of towels handy.  To see my video lesson on salvage work at Learn2GroomDogs.com, click here.

My favorite trick when working with this type of job is to bring my high velocity dryer right into the bathing area.  With the dog fully lathered, blow the shampoo right off the pets while they are tethered in the tub.  The slippery soap will allow the dirt, loose coat, and tangles slide out, being trapped in the shampoo and sticking to the back wall of the tub, minimizing the mess.  Not all the shedding coat or mats will be removed but a lot will, making your job easier once you transfer to the drying table.  Once you have blown out the pet, follow up with the rinsing process.  Repeat this process as many times as necessary to get the dog “squeaky clean.”

Once the pet is clean and thoroughly rinsed, apply a skin and coat conditioning treatment before heading to the drying table.  Read your directions: some conditioning treatments need to be rinsed out while others do not.  Your high velocity dryer and a heavy slicker brush will be your best friends during the drying process.

Rule # 2: Be Methodical and Thorough

First, blow out as much moisture and loose coat at possible with the air flow.  Use the highest power setting the pet is comfortable with, and a condenser cone.  Once you have pushed as much water and loose fur from the pet, remove the condenser cone, and bring the air flow close to the pet’s skin.  “Boost” any loose coat out of the dog by lightly patting the area where the air is striking the skin with a slicker brush.

Continue to work over the dog in a methodical manner until your brush glides through the coat easily and no more loose coat is trapped in the brush.

Rule #3 – ENJOY!

When the dog is complete, it should smell clean and fresh.  The coat should be glossy and float freely as the dog moves.  There should be an irresistible desire to reach down and bury your hands in a freshly groomed pet.

Happy trimming!

~ Melissa

If you’d like to see more on this topic, click here.


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