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Ways to Build Your Grooming Business in the New Year

Are you ready to take your grooming business to the next level? In this Resource Roundup, we’ll show you how to map your plan, improve your workflow, create productive space and expand your team! Cheers to a prosperous New Year!


More Resources from Team Paragon:


Resources from Our Partners:

Check out this Blog from our partners at Gingr, home to great groomer software – How to Manage Pets + People at Your Dog Grooming Business

Grooming Business: How to Prepare for the Holiday Rush

If you missed our Facebook Live or just want to delve deeper for tips on surviving the Holiday Rush, check out this roundup of links to our archive on the topic.


  • Equipment – consider investing in the best but must maintain all very well
  • Schedules – Organize schedules NOW! Get commitments from staff now! Commit to your manager now! Ask clients to come early! Can they come in a week or two before the busy weeks? To balance the load?
  • Dress rehearsal! Work with the team to iron out any kinks and ‘who is doing what’ during busy weeks.
  • Manage the Flow – If you don’t stagger your grooming client arrivals, consider doing this for the Holidays for traffic flow (people and pets) in and out of your facility and to mitigate log jams and extended wait times.
  • Stock up on supplies and holiday extras
  • Have a contingency plan for surprises; staff outagaes, power outages, water issues, dog or people injuries, etc. Plan for the worst, hope for the best!

Resources for Preparing for the Holiday Rush

How to Manage People + Pets at Your Dog Grooming Business

Guest post by our business partner, Gingr pet-care software

As a small business owner, you probably work like a dog. After all, you work hard every day to create a comfortable and safe environment for your clients, pets, and employees that leads to great service and long-term customer satisfaction. This is a big task, one that is especially tricky to accomplish if you feel like you’re moving forward without a clear direction.

This is why management is not only the most important part of earning customer trust but also holds your grooming business together through thick and thin. That’s exactly why your management strategy should be airtight from the get-go. In this article, we’ll discuss how to optimize your management strategy and create a best-in-class customer experience for your clients and their furry friends. Let’s dive in!

1. Understand your customers.

As in any business, your focus should be on making sure your customers are blown away by your service. This is especially true for groomers, as you’re taking care of beloved members of your client’s family. Make sure you fully understand your clientele and their needs before you take them on so that there are clear expectations for both parties. Here are some tips to ensure mutual understanding with your prospective customers:

• Ask and answer questions. Your clients should understand the full extent of your services and benefits. If you’re talking with a new client about your services, make sure to fully answer their questions and ensure that they’re satisfied with your answers. Use visual aids where possible if discussing styles and coat lengths. Keep detailed notes for your team members and make sure you have a system to save and share those notes.

• Conduct outreach. If you’re further along in your small business career, you might already have strong relationships with your customers. Collect data directly from them about how to improve your services and business model. This can be as simple as sending out a survey or as detailed as hosting an informal focus group.

• Talk to your colleagues. If you have connections in the grooming industry, they’re a great resource to get you started on the right foot. Ask for an informational interview to learn more about how they’ve managed and delivered on client expectations to help their business thrive. Join groomer Facebook Groups, participate in Facebook Live events, and network at pet industry conferences such as SuperZoo, Groom Expo or Groom’d.

Clear client communication builds strong relationships with your customers. They’ll appreciate your sincere efforts to make their experience with your business outstanding.

2. Hone your customer service culture.

Outstanding customer service is the key to building relationships, receiving referrals, and building repeat business. Implement a customer service protocol with your employees and properly train them on ways to interact with clients. Here are some topics you should cover:

• Active listening
• Displaying a positive attitude
• Professionalism
• Conflict management
• Effective communication

After you’ve trained your employees, your work isn’t done. Monitor their progress and their interactions with customers to ensure they’re properly representing your company. Since you can’t always be around to check in, enlist the help of your clients. Followup with customers by inviting them to leave positive reviews on Google, Yelp, or Facebook, or to reach out if they’re dissatisfied with a service session.

Every business has setbacks, but you’ll stand out by proactively trying to fix them. Meanwhile, hold employees accountable for repeated lapses in professionalism and high-quality service.

3. Hire the right talent.

With the shortage of professional groomers, you might find it difficult to find a highly skilled pet stylist that also shines at customer service. Skills can be built but “a servant’s heart” is a disposition. First, ensure a prospective candidate aligns with your customer-first culture.

In the interview process, ask your candidates carefully-tailored questions to evaluate if their values align with yours. Be sure to gauge how they’d approach specific situations with customers, coworkers, and management to determine if they’d properly represent your business. Check their references to confirm that they’d be an asset to your business.

Remember that the interview process also reflects on you as an employer. Highlight the parts of your internal culture that make your grooming business an ideal workplace environment. Also, be responsive and respectful of your interviewees’ time throughout the entire experience.

4. Use the right tech.

One of the foundations of a positive customer experience is convenience. Technology has made it easier than ever to streamline many aspects of your grooming business. You should take time to ensure your business is up-to-date with tech in all aspects of your operation. If your expertise lies with pups instead of tech, don’t worry, you aren’t alone. However, your customer’s experience starts long before they arrive at your door.

• Make Your Website User-Friendly – Your website is critical for your business to gain traction, reach new audiences, and sell your services. In fact, decreasing load times by just one-tenth of a second can increase conversion rates. As a core representation of your brand, your website should prioritize the user experience along the way to keep your visitor’s attention. Website builders can assist with designing a responsive and visually appealing homepage. Whatever design you choose, make sure your website is informative, interactive, and inspires your visitors to book an appointment.

• Give Your Customers Online-Booking Convenience – Beyond your website, you can integrate technology into your day-to-day activities to make managing employees, customers, and pets easier. Firstly, be sure to invest in dog business software. This gets rid of the hassle of pen and paper and makes way for features such as:

• Streamlined and secure payments
• Online booking
• Automatic rebooking
Dog Grooming management
Daycare management
Boarding management
• Digital customer communication
• Appointment reminders
• Immunization reminders
• Digital agreements
• Recurring payments
• Retail tools
• Digital marketing
• Employee management
• Pet report cards

According to Gingr, automating these processes and putting them all in one place is what will take your organization to the next level. These tools lighten the workload that comes with managing a small business and allow you to achieve more with fewer applications. Give yourself a break and let pet business management software do the work for you!

5. Follow industry best practices.

The best way to ensure a quality experience is to follow tried and tested best practices. This is where continuing education and collaboration with your associates in the space will pay off. Do your research and ask your colleagues to determine which best practices you should integrate into your business model.

Stay current on practices that ensure a safe environment for your clients and their dogs through safety and hygiene certification programs such as the Professional Animal Care Certification Council (PACCC) or WPA’s Professional Grooming Credential program.

Whether you’re just starting out or if your pet grooming business is already booming, these tips will help you effectively manage your customers, employees, and furry friends. Putting your human and pet clients first is the best way to grow your business and provide the best possible care. So, don’t be afraid to shake things up and try something new, like pet management software or new interviewing techniques. Stop chasing your own tail and help your business thrive!

Summer Grooms: Should You Shave a Double Coated Dog?

Double Coated Dogs are “Insulated”

The soft, inner layer of a double coated dog acts as insulation, cooling a dog in summer. After shedding, the undercoat hair that is left helps capture air between the two coats, which helps regulate body temperature. Guard hair (the outer coat) protects the dog from sunburn from UV and insects.

Guard Hair Damage

Guard hair is slower growing, taking up to two years to regrow, if it regrows at all. The faster-growing undercoat can crowd out the guard hairs. Sometimes shaving guard hair can cause alopecia, resulting in patches and damaging the coat in perpetuity. Discussing this risk with clients is essential.

How to Help a Double Coated Dog Stay Cool

  • Let customers know that the best way to help a double-coated dog stay cool is to NOT shave the coat but to brush REGULARLY, which creates a cooling effect and removes loose undercoat before it can create mats.
  • Get clients into a deshedding program to preserve the coat and avoid the need for a shave down

When Shaving is Necessary:

  • If the coat is too far gone for deshedding/remediation
  • If it’s medically necessary for health of skin
  • If a geriatric dogs with a life-limiting disease cannot stand the strain of grooming
  • If the client’s lifestyle demands low-maintenance coat AND they understand that the coat may not grow back in the same way.

How to Tell if a Mixed Breed Is Double Coated?

It may be hard to tell, but many double coated dogs have extra skin around their neck. Their guard hair or outer coat will be a different texture than the “fuzzier” undercoat.

List Of Double-Coated Dogs By Popular Breeds:

  • Akita
  • Alaskan & Siberian Huskies
  • Alaskan Malamute
  • American English Coonhound
  • Australian Shepherds
  • Beagle
  • Bearded Collie
  • Bernese Mountain Dog
  • Border Collies
  • Cairn Terrier
  • Cavalier King Charles
  • Chesapeake Bay Retriever
  • Chow Chow
  • Corgis
  • Finnish Lapphund
  • German Shepherds
  • Golden Retrievers
  • Great Pyrenees
  • Havanese
  • Keeshond
  • Labrador Retrievers
  • Leonberger
  • Miniature Schnauzer
  • Newfoundlands
  • Nova Scotia Duck Trolling Retriever
  • Old English Sheepdog
  • Parson Russel Terrier
  • Pembroke Corgi
  • Pomeranians
  • Rough Collie
  • Scottish Terrier
  • Shetland SheepDog
  • Shiba Inu
  • Shih Tzu
  • Smooth Collie
  • Wire-haired Fox Terrier
  • Welsh Corgi
  • Yorkshire terrier

Closing The Loop

If you joined our Facebook Live on effectively communicating with clients, here are some of the resources discussed to assist you. Communication is key to happy outcomes between groomers and pet parents!

Further Reading on Communication Topics

Share This Video to Help Pet Parents Learn Line Brushing!

Be Sure to Have Theory of Five On Hand to Discuss Body Parts

How to Use Notes From the Grooming Table

The “Bible” for Great Groomers

Do you own “Notes from the Grooming Table – 2nd Edition”? This book will help you build your grooming career, boost your communication levels with your peers and clients, while expanding your career growth! You can purchase a copy HERE or at any one of our partner book sellers.

Staffing Secrets: Reward & Retain – Extra Credit Resources

If you’ve just watched Paragon’s Facebook Live on Staffing Secrets: Reward & Retain, here are some followup resources that may assist you in creating a great work culture!

Creating A Culture Employees Don’t Want to Leave

Visit Our Employer Resource Center – Creating a Culture Employees Don’t Want to Leave

Listen to the Podcast Series: Part 1 Creating a Culture Employees Don’t Want to Leave

Listen to the Podcast Series: Part 2 Creating a Culture Employees Don’t Want to Leave

Additional Resources:

Help Your Groomers Avoid Burnout with This Article from Melissa Verplank:

8 Steps to Overcoming Professional Burnout

Rejuvenate Your Team Through Continuing Education – Hey Joe Podcast with Connie Bailey
Listen in to find out ways to get your team ready for continued education, engagement, plus ways to educate your customers.
Continuing Education: The Benefits of Knowing More

Want help engaging your staff through continuing education?

Learn More Here

3 Options for Clients with Matted Dogs

How many times a week do you deal with a matted dog? If you are like many of us, it’s more than once. For some, it might even be a daily occurrence.

There are immediate questions that needs answers:

  • How do you talk with the pet parent?
  • How do you tell them they are not taking care of their pet properly?
  • What are the consequences of their neglect?
  • What can you do for them today?
  • What can you do for them in the future?

As a professional pet groomer, we always need to remember – humanity before vanity.

Can you demat a badly tangled coat?


Should  you?

Not necessarily.

Once in a great while, a client will have a legitimate reason why their dog is in poor condition. Occasionally, I will demat a dog if I sense it’s a one-time occurrence. I know the tricks to get a dog detangled relatively quickly. I have the skill, products, and tools to do it safely and humanely. However, there are two main reasons why I won’t always do it.

  1. The dog has a low pain tolerance.
  2. The client will not appreciate the work.

Here’s a perfect example. Years ago, I had a Bichon owner who always brought her dog in matted. This Bichon had a dense, curly coat. She was a regular six-week client. The owner was always immaculately presented when she dropped her dog off – the clothing, the hair, the makeup, the shoes, the jewelry, and nails. You get the idea. Oh, and she drove a Cadillac.

This was a woman who was used to getting her way. Her dog was always on the edge of whether we could brush it out or not. She never brushed the dog at home between groomings. The dog was a great advanced student dog. He was quite tolerant of the brushing process making him a super lesson dog.

One week she missed her six-week scheduled appointment. When she showed up two weeks later, the dog was trashed – matted all the way to the skin.

Crest. Head. Legs.

We told her we were going to have to start over. We would need to shave her Bichon down to the skin. He would be naked. It was the only humane option.

She was horrified. She couldn’t be seen with a naked dog! There must be some way to save the coat.

There was. She could get the dog combed out HERSELF and bring it back. But we were going to have to be able to sink the comb in all the way to the skin and pull it easily through the coat.

We gave her a thorough lesson. We even sent her home with the proper tools. We told her to come back when she felt her Bichon was totally combed out. Then, and only then, would we would give him his longer, fuller Bichon haircut.

She went home determined that she would be able to get him detangled. A few days later she returned. When we did the comb test, do you think he passed?

Not a chance. She watched the comb clearly get hung up in the coat on the first pass.

We told her to take the dog home and continue working on him.

Long story short, she returned six more times before she finally gave up. We shaved the dog with a #7F blade. We were able to leave a little tiny bit of extra coat on his head and a tiny bit of fluff on his tail. Everything else was naked.

When her sweet Bichon finally grew out about 12 weeks later, we set her up on a two-week maintenance schedule. She never missed another appointment. She learned her lesson.

Here are the three options for clients who bring you a matted dog.

  1. The pet parent needs to learn how to brush.
  2. The pet parent needs to learn to like it short.
  3. The pet parent needs to book more frequent appointments.

When faced with a matted dog, how do you have a conversation with the owner?

The conversation needs to be sincere. It needs to focus on what is in the best interest for the pet. You need to be sympathetic to the reasons why the dog got in this condition.

(Stop rolling your eyes… I can see you.)

When you speak with an owner, they need to understand there’s only so much we as groomers can do. The last thing we want to do is hurt, injure, or bring discomfort to their pet.

b5205d66495a007babfa874878a04a88--haircuts-for-boys-layered-haircutsDogs have the mentality of a two-year-old child. If their two-year-old child, grandchild, niece, or nephew came to them with their hair matted all over their head, would they ask the child to tolerate having it combed out? If the tangles were tight and right next to the scalp, making every stroke of a comb or brush painful, they would most likely trim the matted hair out. Have you ever tried to remove gum or candy stuck in a child’s hair? Imagine the same impossible tangle right next to the scalp, covering the entire head. Trimming off that hair would be the most humane thing to do, even if the end result is not the haircut you would typically prefer.

It’s similar with a dog, only with the dog, the hair isn’t just on their head. It’s all over their entire body. You might be able to salvage a very small section but it’s not fair to ask the dog to submit to a lengthy dematting process. Most dogs do not have the pain tolerance or patience to sit through it. It could take hours to thoroughly brush and comb a dog out. Plus, there is a high risk of injury to their skin. And to top it off, asking a dog to sit through an extensive dematting process could be traumatic. It could scar them for the rest of their grooming life.

Even if a dog does have the tolerance for it, the cost will be extensive. Tell them what your hourly rate is. Estimate how long the dematting process would be. On a small dog, it might be about two to three hours (and yes, I would estimate on the high side), plus the regular grooming time.

If my hourly rate was $60 an hour, the customer would be looking at an extra $90-$120 for the dematting, alone. Money talks, so most of the time you can stop there.

If you sense the client is willing to pay your dematting rates, move into your next talking point: what’s in the best interest of the pet.

While it’s good to know they would be willing to spend the extra money to have the dog combed out, it’s also important to see if the dog will even tolerate it. At this point put the dog on the counter or grooming table. Grab your combination comb, sink the wide toothed end down to the skin – and give a firm tug. Gauge the reaction of the dog. Most of the time they will flip around with extreme displeasure. It’s visually clear to the pet parent their fur baby is being hurt. That’s exactly the reaction you want.

Most pet parents cannot stand seeing their dog in pain. If they understand this condition is painful to the dog they can often be trained not to allow their pet to become matted again.

matted dog 2

The reaction of the pet, how deep the pet parent’s pockets are, and whether you feel the owner can be rehabilitated into a well-trained client will determine where your conversation will go next.

Most of the time, you’ll want to go with the humane route – and that means a full shave off. I might – or might not – try to salvage a small amount of coat on the head and tail, if possible. Mentally prepare the owner for what the dog will look like after the grooming process. Remember to emphasize that this is the only option for their pet.

Once you settle on what you are going to do that day, talk about future haircuts and how to maintain the dog so it never gets in this condition again.

Remind them of their three options.

  1. Learn to brush
  2. Learn to like it short
  3. Book more frequent visits

Talk to them about their lifestyle and how their pet plays a role.

Ask if they are willing to find the time to properly brush and comb their dog between professional groomings. If they are, give them a thorough demonstration on proper brushing and combing techniques for their pet’s coat type. We always keep the necessary tools on hand in our retail area. Make sure your clients leave with the proper equipment to maintain their pets at home. Having a handout outlining proper line brushing techniques is also extremely helpful.

If they don’t have the time or the desire to brush their pet at home between groomings, talk about booking more frequent appointments and setting them up on an economical maintenance schedule. The maintenance schedule could be weekly or biweekly.

If the dog is just too far gone, if the client is a repeat offender, or you just don’t have time to deal with a matted dog – skip to the chase. I would simply tell them, no – I will not comb their dog out. There are no other options other than to shave the coat off.

Talk to them about rebooking their next appointment in 6-8 weeks. By about 12-14 weeks they should be grown in enough to be able to get the trim of their choice if they want to maintain a fuller look. They might also opt for a simpler trim style that is short – one length all over. Their choice will be based on how they want to care for their fur baby.

Regardless of whether you are doing a brush out on a matted dog or simply shaving the matted coat off, I encourage having owner sign a matted pet release form. This form opens the door to talk about the dangers involved with matted coats. It’s a simple fact: if the dog is extremely matted, there is going to be a higher risk of injury to the pet. If you talk about it prior to the grooming and the dog does get injured in any way, most of the responsibility has been lifted from your shoulders. However, that doesn’t give you the excuse to be careless. The last thing any of us want to do is injure a pet. However, when they are severely matted, the risk of them being hurt is always present.

Remember these key points:

  • It is always important to do what is in the best interest of the dog.
  • There is a limit to what you can do.
  • There’s a limit to what the dog can tolerate.
  • You are a professional pet groomer – not a magician.

There are limits on what you can – and should – do for the animal. Be honest. Be sincere. Keeping the pet foremost in your mind when coming up with a solution will always play in your favor. Even if the client is upset, stick to your guns. It’s the client’s fault the dog is matted, not yours.

Mentally prepare your client the worst-case scenario: a totally naked dog. Over-estimate the amount of time it’s going to take. Over-estimate the amount of money it’s going to cost. Over-estimate the risks involved with dealing with a severely matted pet. If you do that, anything beyond naked or less expensive or even a mild nick is going to be seen in a positive light by the client.

Happy trimming!


MVpaw_no_Inner_white How do you deal with this issue? Jump on the Learn2GroomDogs.com Facebook page and tell us what works for you.


Speed Series #2 – Resources for Faster Grooming

Melissa Verplank, CMG and Founder of the Paragon companies, shares some of her time-tested tips to master speed and efficiency in grooming. Boost your profits while freeing up more time for work-life balance by becoming the most efficient, productive groomer you can be!

Roundup of Blog Posts – Set 2:

Five Easy Ways to Give Yourself a Raise

How Do You Get Smooth Legs on a Close Haircut

An Easy Way to Create a Poodle Beveled Cuff

How to Scissor a Leg in under Two Minutes

How to Maintain a Steady Pace


Download Time Frames for Proceedures

See All of Dave Campanella’s Grooming Guides

Thanks for joining us on Facebook Live! Below, you’ll find some helpful resources from Dave Campenella, as well as every episode of the Hey Joe Podcast he’s appeared in to date!

Read the rest of this entry »

Join Paragon at The Dog Gurus® Business Breakthrough Workshop

Create a World Class Pet Care Center

Save the Date: April 6-7, 2022 in Jacksonville, FL

Paragon’s Partners at The Dog Gurus know how to put on an exciting workshop! This year, Paragon President Joe Zuccarello will be a panelist on The Value of Prioritizing Working on Your Business to help pet businesses accelerate a business breakthrough. This is the Workshop you need to plan your way forward in the post-covid world of inflation, wage increases, and staff shortages! Your business can still thrive…and The Dog Gurus will show you how!

Join The Dog Gurus in Florida! 2 days of your time invested in this workshop will help you

  • Create a job description that attracts the best people
  • Create interview questions that work to select the best employee
  • Increase hiring and retention
  • Reduce ghosting and turnover
  • Create a plan for new hire recruitment that brings the right candidates
  • Get 3 tools to help raise staff wages and stay profitable
  • Know how to price for profit AND explain that value to your clients
  • Take home done-for-you programs to sell more to current clients
  • Learn why and how to create a membership program
  • Bring your key staff and go home with specific plans for hiring new team members, updating your pricing, and adding profitable activities to your business. Be ready to soar!

Learn More & Sign Up

How Groomers Can Help Maintain Pet Dental Health

While February is the “official” month of Pet Dental Awareness, keeping canine (and feline) teeth clean and breath fresh is a year-round proposition. That’s because poor oral hygiene can cause a number of issues for dogs and cats — and they can’t tell us when it hurts. Approximately 84 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats in the U.S. will develop some form of periodontal disease by the time they’re three years old, experts say.

The trouble begins with gingivitis, an inflammation of the gums caused by a buildup of plaque. If it is not removed, tartar begins to form, and over time, advances under the gum line, resulting in periodontal disease. Periodontal disease doesn’t just affect the pet’s mouth, it can also affect the heart and other organs of the body, and possibly shorten the pet’s life expectancy.

Dog Groomers First Line of Defense Against Dental Disease

Groomers can be the first line of defense to help pet parents stay ahead of pet dental discomfort and disease:

• When grooming, look for signs of red swollen gums and tartar accumulation and point these out to pet owners. Report any sensitivity or signs of mouth pain in the pet.

• Encourage the pet parent to seek veterinary assistance for a deep cleaning in obvious cases.  Educate pet parents about the risks of deferred treatment, which can include abscess, infection, bone loss and heart disease (endocarditis).

• Use the “sniff test” as a quick way to identify bad breath in the pet. If a dog or cat’s breath smells really bad, he or she may have an oral infection that requires inspection or treatment by a veterinarian. But if the pet simply smells ‘fishy’ from food, you can freshen their breath to a more kissable standard and win the loyalty of pet parents in the process.

• Offer a brushless cleaning service, dental care products, and dental chews as add-ons in your pet business to give clients convenient access to oral care products.

TropiClean Fresh Breath Program for Pet Business

Our friends at TropiClean have developed a program for groomers to use — and resell — their Fresh Breath treatment line. It’s a great way to help educate clients about pet dental health care and encourage daily maintenance. It’s also a good way to generate additional business revenue. Benefits of the Fresh Breath program include:

  • Easy, 2-step process
  • Oral gel reduces plaque and tartar
  • Foam fights bacteria and freshens breath
  • Get 20% Off Groomer Program bundles of the Fresh Breath Line – just tell them Paragon sent you! Learn More at TropiClean’s Groomer Center.

TropiClean has also just rolled out its “Enticers” line of flavored dental chews and gel products with a 10% case discount for Paragon people. Learn more here: TropiClean Enticers.

Click on the image to download Fresh Breath program posters for use in your pet facility:




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