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Groomers are ‘Occupational Athletes’

Occupational athletes. That’s what my chiropractor is calling our profession of pet grooming. All those years of bending, lifting, hoisting, twisting, and reaching certainly takes a toll on the body!

And let’s not even talk about the repetitive motion stuff! Or where our hearing levels are at – what did you say? Have you ever thought about what our lungs look like? Yuck!

Yes! We definitely fit the bill of ‘occupational athletes’. We know many of our Learn2GroomDogs.com Training Partners have been afflicted with injuries or conditions that have really made their careers painful. And that includes me.

I was recently in such terrible pain that I could not move my arm. It came on suddenly, but was – and still is – the result of years of repetitive motion and strain. I am currently in therapy for this. It has made it difficult to do anything at all let alone grooming. I was even unable to use the computer for quite some time

Pain killers, ice packs, splints and physical therapy for me!

It took many years to happen. When it did, I was unable to work. Most groomers are independent business owners who cannot be sidelined for a long time. If I still depended on using a scissors and clipper every day, along with the other physical requirements that grooming demands, I would be out of work. It has only been very recent that I am able to really feel comfortable during my daily routine.

Sometimes you are quickly inflicted, like with a bite or scratch – other times it takes years of abuse before you feel the effects. The conditions come on slowly as a minor ache or pain. Before you know it, you are totally sidelined from your career. New groomers entering the field will have the same conditions and ailments that many industry veterans are struggling with right now.

One of the most important things is taking care of your body now. You might not have time to go to a gym and work out, but you can do shoulder rolls between grooms. And when you consider that grooming is a real contact sport, it wouldn’t hurt to stretch yourself, just like an athlete. Wrist rolls are easy to do and so is self-massage of wrist, arms, elbows and shoulders. Self-massage the base of your skull can increase blood flow to the brain and is very relaxing, too.

Or maybe you treat yourself to a real massage every now and then. It works wonders! If you have had a great week, treat your team to some chair massages right in the salon. Maybe you can find a local masseuse who has some dogs that need grooming.

And you must really ask yourself, “Am I in good shape right now?” Many people need to lose weight, eat right and maintain a healthy lifestyle. This will help us for years AFTER we retire from the business. Pain and healing become harder to deal with when we get older. Prevention can go a long way in extending your career as a groomer and your entire lifetime, too.

I have included a link to one of our Sneak Peeks. Misty Fowler gives some great advice on staying well in the salon. She is a seasoned pro – but a few years back her career almost can to a screeching halt. By being pro-active with her health and wellness plan, Misty still grooms full time today. The video is one of our health and wellness lessons from the Learn2GroomDogs.com video library.


The Most Viewed Videos of 2012

The winner of the Most Viewed Video of 2012, Lindsey Dicken, was presented her award at the Atlanta Pat Fair.

From the Archive:  Our Top Ten Most Viewed Videos of 2012
The numbers have been crunched! We are thrilled to announce the Most Viewed Videos for 2012!

These videos have helped thousands of groomers to learn more about their craft. Some of our members review breed specific videos before the client’s dog arrives. While others use them to help train for competition.

But whatever the reason, here are the Top Ten Most Viewed
Videos of 2012.

Most Viewed Video – Rank #1
Grooming the Bichon in a Show Style Trim

with Lindsey Dicken

Most Viewed Video – Rank #2
Dematting Tips for Any Breed

with Karen Tucker

Most Viewed Video – Rank #3
Adorable Pet Trim on a Shih Tzu in 45 Minutes

with Suesan Watson

Most Viewed Video – Rank #4 
How to Groom a Daisy Dog in Less than 45 Minutes

with Suesan Watson

Most Viewed Video – Rank #5 
Trimming a Round Head Style on a Drop Coated Dog

with Melissa Verplank

Most Viewed Video – Rank #6  
Grooming a Pet West Highland White Terrier  

with Courtney Ramstack

Most Viewed Video – Rank #7 
Trimming a Light Coated Yorkie in a Hand Scissored Trim

with Irina Pinkusevich

Most Viewed Video – Rank #8  
How to Groom a Monster Sized Dog in 76 Minutes

with Lisa Leady

Most Viewed Video – Rank #9  
Grooming a Bichon in a Modified Show Trim

with Lisa Leady

Most Viewed Video – Rank #10 
Greatest Hits #1: Trimming Round Heads

with Suesan Watson, Misty Fowler, Marc LaFleur, Melissa Verplank

Visit our Sneak Peek Video page for links to these and other grooming lessons in our video library!

Your most valuable asset is YOU

Look in the mirror and say “I am my most valuable asset.” Tell yourself this every day! You are the most important thing about your life and your business. Despite the fact that you may think it is your car, or your favorite thinners, or even your bank account, it is YOU that is the most important part of the success equation. Without you driving the car, or using the thinners or using the money, those things are worthless.

And the part that makes you unique is your mind. Your ability to think and reason before taking action is a precious gift. And throughout life, we need to improve our thinking. The ability to improve our quality of thinking makes it easier to solve problems. Our ability to think positively lets us see opportunity around us. Negative thinking shuts doors to success.

I recently saw a report on ABC News about how our new dependency on using search engines even GPS makes us dumber? WOW! In the ‘good old days’ you used a map and directions you wrote down to get from Point A to Point B. You may have stopped when you were lost to ask for directions. Then you had to remember those directions. But now you just program a device that tells you to turn left or right. You actually lose problem solving skills as a result.

Just think of how many people struggle to figure out math problems when they don’t have a calculator.

People used to memorize phones numbers, addresses, and birthdays. Now they are stored away as reminders in our cell phones. Sure it makes things easier, but it turns our mind to mush in the process. I have read that the brain has an unlimited ability to memorize facts. So why turn that ability off?

You need to invest regularly in self-improvement and professional development. You can open your mind to knowledge by attending a seminar at a tradeshow. Or you can exchange information in online forums and places like Facebook. You can open up a copy of the AKC Complete Dog Book and memorize facts about your favorite breed. You have to exercise your brain the same as any other part of your body.

Dedicate yourself to lifelong learning. Why stop now? I continue to learn from the top professionals around me. There are always new products and new standards to talk about. Many groomers are inventing their own products. And almost all of them are happy to share their knowledge with you.

With positive thinking and lifelong learning, you can continue to find new ways to be a value to your customers. You can jump years ahead of your competition by developing new skills that are in demand. By valuing yourself as your biggest asset, you can catapult your career and life to higher levels.

To Earn More, Learn More

How to groom a dog has never been easier with Learn2GroomDogs.comTo stay on top of the grooming game, professionals need to keep learning. That’s been my motto for years. It’s always worked for me. Educational opportunities were limited 20-30 years ago. Fortunately, opportunities abound today for motivated groomers.

Books: More and more grooming titles are available every day. They are being written by a wide range of authors. There are grooming guides available as well and business operation manuals.

Many include stunning images to help the reader comprehend the subject matter. Some are even available via a tablet or Kindle.

Schools: What is the primary function of a school? To give their students a head start in their careers. Most schools can take months or even years off the learning process. Professional grooming schools are cropping up everywhere.

One of the best ways to learn grooming is with hands-on training. Some training centers even offer home-study options too. Either way, schools offer a structured learning environment. Programs range widely in cost, quality, course length and grooming styles.

Videos: With methods in place to honor and identify top groomers, we are seeing many of these respected stylists share their knowledge through training videos. Top professionals are creating video lessons aimed at the beginners to advanced stylists. Many lessons are on DVDs, on-line through websites or in streaming video libraries.

Internet Searches: The internet has become an indispensable tool for the groomer looking to get ahead in their career. Never seen a Portuguese Podengo? Most professional groomers haven’t – including me! A quick search via an Internet search engine will lead you down a path of enlightenment.

How to Groom a Pet affenpinscher with Judy Hudson.

The Learn2GroomDogs.com Facebook page is a great resource for photos.

You can find breed clubs, breeders, breed history, breed standards and fabulous photos of even the most obscure breed of dog or cat. Even if you’ve never seen – or groomed a particular breed before, you can rapidly educate yourself. You’ll have the confidence – and knowledge – to talk with any owner about ‘their breed.’

Need a refresher on what a breed looks like? Jump onto the computer and do a search of Google Images. You’ll be amazed at what you can pull up. If you are looking for high quality pets, add a show title such as; ‘AKC Champion ‘ By doing this, you can filter through many of the images.

As with any internet search, you are going to find good with the bad. The more general knowledge you have about pets and grooming, the better you will be able to sort through the wealth (and garbage) typically found out on the internet.

Webinars: We are starting to see this form of learning pop up in our industry. Webinars have been around for years yet the grooming industry has been slow to embrace their power. Many technically savvy groomers are starting to share their knowledge in webinars. Some webinars are free; others charge a nominal fee to participate.

Facebook, Blogs & Online Forums: With the use of social media outlets, anyone can chat with anyone from anywhere; across the nation or around the globe. No one is worried anymore about ‘the competition.’ If you have a question, post it. If you have a fun story to share, post it.

If you need to vent (professionally please!), post it. Never before has it ever been so easy, and economical to share ideas, grooming tips and knowledge. No one should feel isolated or alone anymore. The outlets to reach out to fellow professionals are simply remarkable via the World Wide Web.

Seminars: You’ll find seminars every grooming trade show around the country. You will also find privately held seminars too. You’ll find these private seminars hosted by; distributors, product manufactures, grooming schools, grooming salons or even the professional themselves. These seminars area a great place to get your questions answered about any aspect of the grooming

Private Coaching & Clinics: Need a tutor? Need a coach? One of the best ways to perfect a skill or a trim style is with personal, hands-on assistance. Many of the top stylists are available to help you privately or in a smaller group setting. Many are well rounded in many aspects of the grooming industry. Others will specialize in trim styles, grooming techniques, sales and marketing or business operations. Many will travel great distances to set up coaching sessions.

Find a business professional you admire. Contact them and ask if they offer private lessons. Many do or they host small clinics where you can all share the cost of the session.

Trade Shows: Going to a grooming show is still one of the most refreshing ways to learn. Most trade shows have a wide variety of vendors there too so you can speak directly to the sales representative about a product or service they offer. Sit ringside at a grooming competition.

You’ll be blown away at the style and trim quality being found with high level pet stylist. Trade show promoters are always seeking out a wide variety of speakers and topics to present at their shows. Can’t get to a show? Some of the larger shows and grooming competitions are now available via streaming video on the internet.

I remember being in Croatia on a sailboat a few years back. I was able to watch the World Team Grooming Competition right from my laptop as the competition took place in Belgium. Very exciting!

Certification Programs: We are seeing more and more certification program become available whether it is for dog grooming, cat grooming, pet first aid or business management. At this point, most programs are voluntary but all are worth their weight in gold. Some of the programs can be completed in a day or a weekend. Others will take months, or even years of study and testing before successfully completing the full program. A few of the programs even have Apps set up for your technical device.

Education, skill enhancement and effective communication are the keys to a successful career. Never underestimate their importance. One of the greatest inspirations in any career is continued growth. Learning is the key to everlasting success. With learning trends today, it’s never been easier! Never stop learning.

When looking at learning opportunities, I always encourage you to research the quality of the material, the program or the lesson. You will only increase your knowledge if the information being shared or taught is from a true professional. A professional that has years of expertise and a resume to back it up!

The Westminster Dog Show is Just Around the Corner

I always get excited this time of year. The Westminster Kennel Club dog show is just around the corner! I have firmly planted myself in front of the TV for two nights for almost as long as I can remember.

And this year is no different. I plan to watch the show in its entirety. Why?

Because, the Westminster Kennel Club dog show is the “Super Bowl” of the dog world!

I even used to host a Westminster party. I loved inviting my entire grooming team over to be glued to the TV for two nights as the show aired. For days after the show, we would talk about the newest breeds that had been accepted by the AKC. The unique haircuts we saw. The latest style trends on established breeds.

The show was important for me. I was actively competing in the pet grooming contest arena. In the old days, we would record the show. I can’t tell you how many times I would review those tapes before I stepped into the contest arena. By watching some the most spectacular dogs in the country compete at this level, I was able to get a clear image etched in my mind before I stepped into the ring at a grooming competition. Visualization is a key to success.

Secondly I used the Westminster Dog Show as a way to help keep my grooming staff up-to-date with the latest styling trends. Once I opened The Paragon School of Pet Grooming, we continued to use the show as a key learning tool for students. The annual dog show was instrumental for students learning breed identification and trims styles. Today you can order a high quality DVD of the entire Westminster Dog Show – commercial free.

Focus on Key Areas to Excel in Your Job

Focus on Key Areas to Excel in Your JobAs a professional pet groomer, our job is to know how to groom all breeds of dogs (and cats for some). What needs to be done to make a purebred look like it’s supposed to look. How can we make mixed breeds (designer dogs) cute. What’s the best way to remove shedding coat from a full coated dog. Being versatile is our job.

Guess what? Every groomer has a few types of jobs and coat types they really like to work with. What’s your favorite?

For me, I loved grooming the drop coated breeds in adorable fluffy trims. I loved to hand scissor. And there was nothing more gratifying than turning a big, furry, shedding mass of dirty hair into a snug-able, huggable pet.

Most of my co-workers happily let me tackle these jobs when they appeared on the books. These grooming jobs were not their favorites. They were hard for them. They took a long time to do. They never felt like they were ‘done’ with them. They never looked smooth and finished. Or they just cringed at the amount of work required.

For me, I knew I was going to have a great day when I saw multiple drop coated breeds on my roster along with a little mixed breed groomed like a Bichon. The icing on the cake would be tossing a Sheltie into the grooming mix along with something where tufts of coat were falling out. I was highly proficient with these dogs. I could make them look stunning in no time. I knew how to work with my equipment to get the best results in the shortest amount of time. I simply loved working with these types of coats because they were easy for me.

Where they always easy? Heck no! I’m a self-taught groomer. Learning is a lot of work. Mastering skills takes dedication and focus. There were hundreds of breeds to learn. There are hundreds of techniques to figure out. There are hundreds of products to try. I opted to focus on mastering a few techniques that would allow me to soar through my days.

Mastering a cute, fluffy trim on a drop coated breed was more out of necessity than anything else. We simply had a lot of those types on dogs in our client files. Plus, my first contest dog was a little black and white Shih Tzu. In order to do well in the ring, I needed to figure out how to get a plush finish on a drop coat. Not a small feat to conquer. I got good at this trim – really good – and fast.

With every drop coated dog in my client file, I was able to perfect my skills. What shampoo got the fur the cleanest? Which pair of shears worked the best on each coat type? How should I hold the shear to minimize marking the coat? When was it time to pull out the blenders? And which pair of blenders should I use? I analyzed every step. Dissected every move. Stood back and reviewed the overall appeal. Was it balanced? Was it even? Would hair fall out of place when combed or if the dog shook?

I was super critical of my work. As I learned more – discovered new things – I become even more critical. I was brutally honest with myself. I didn’t let up on myself until I was winning consistently with my little Shih Tzu.

Once I mastered one coat type, I moved to the next. As a bonus, through the process, I became an accomplished all breed stylist. There isn’t a breed I would not tackle. However, I focused on just a few techniques I could really master. Breeds or techniques I used a lot. Those are the breeds or types of trims that I loved to see hit my roster. I simply adored grooming them because they become so easy for me.

To improve your workday, concentrate on a few key areas in your job to really excel at. It may take some focused work at first but once you master the technique, haircut, breed, or personality type, you’ll automatically draw that type of client to your daily roster. You’ll enjoy your work day. The time will fly by with ease. At end of the day, you’ll be rewarded with a gratifying and highly productive workday.


Are You Prepared for a Fire in Your Salon?

Fire safety isn’t something any of us should procrastinate on. Many of us ignore taking the basic steps we need to protect ourselves. I’ve always known professional grooming salons can be prone to fire. Until I experienced my own fire, I didn’t know how much you could do to prevent one. And even for those of us that have taken every precaution to prevent fire, unfortunate scenarios can still unfold.

In 2008, my husband and I got a first-hand education in fire. We lost our entire 10 stall barn. It burned to the ground while I was home – and I never knew it was on fire!

I would like to share some of the things that we learned. It doesn’t matter what you lose, the impact of fire is devastating regardless of whether there’s loss of life or not.

  • Read your insurance policy. (Really read it!) If you have questions, make sure to you ask your agent. Don’t blindly accept what they tell you is adequate for your situation. Stop and think. Think about what it would cost you to replace the facility. Think about the value of the contents inside the structure too. Does your policy carry a rider for loss of revenue if you cannot work?
  • Keep a list in a separate location of all the items that are in your salon. One of the simplest ways to maintain current record of what is in your salon (or any structure) is walk through with a video camera and record the entire room. Open up closets and cabinets as you go through the space. You don’t have to spend a lot of time doing this video or DVD. They can be paused at any point for clarity.
  • Make sure you have enough fire extinguishers available. You must also make sure that they are rated for the type of fire that would be typical in your situation.
  • Make sure that all electrical outlets are working properly. That your breaker box is not being overloaded. Grooming salons typically pull a lot of power due to all the electrical equipment in a facility.
  • Keep all the vents and any electrical equipment free of dog hair. This would include many of the typical things you find in grooming salons; furnaces, hot water heaters, pet dryers and clothes dryers — anything with a motor or that involves heat.
  • Minimize the use of extension cords.
  • Utilize a professional electrician to maintain or upgrade your electrical system if you are not qualified to do it yourself.
  • Unplug dryers and extension cords at the end of the day.
  • Purchase the best fire detection alarms you possibly can. The old cliché, you get what you pay for is very true when it comes to fire alarms. If at all possible, have your salon professionally monitored and hardwired directly into the fire department.

Luckily in our barn fire, all of our beloved Friesian horses were safe. They had been turned out for the day when fire struck Trying to absorb what happens within the hours, days or weeks after a fire is challenging. The workload is daunting as you try to sort through the entire situation and rebuild. The recovery from a fire does not take weeks, it takes months.

Do everything in your power to protect yourself from actual property destruction. Don’t underestimate the value of insurance. Make sure to have the proper insurance coverage for your situation. Fire is overwhelming. Not having the means to rebuild can be even more devastating. Be prepared.

Why Am I On The Payroll?

Have you ever asked yourself just why you are on the payroll?Why am I on the payroll?

Have you ever thought about it? Come on – really thought about it?
When we hire someone in one of my companies, we want to see results in exchange for a paycheck. Every job will be different. If you are a groomer, how many dogs can you groom with quality and safety foremost in your mind?

If you are a receptionist, how many appointments can you book error free? How are you helping the salon grow the client list or maintain a steady pace? If you are a groomer’s assistant, how many dogs can you help your team produce?

And with all of these tasks, are you doing it with a positive attitude?

The roll of a business is not to give you a ‘job’. The role of any business is to provide a product or service to a customer. If they do it well – you’ll get a paycheck .Enterprising owners don’t go into business to break even or worst yet – lose money. They open businesses for many reasons. One of the biggest reasons — to chase the American dream. To make a profit doing what they love doing. Working with pets.

So what is your role in the pet care service business? Think about the results you need to accomplish in your job. How many pets do you need to groom to be deemed productive – and profitable – in order to be valued by your supervisor? When a prospective client calls, are you able to book the appointment? Are pets going out the door injury free? Are the trims done correctly and with quality? Are clients smiling when they pick up their pets? Are they rebooking their next appointment in six weeks or less?

Most businesses have goals and quotas. This is the way performance is measured in the work place. Are you reaching your quotas easily? Are you doing the tasks you have been assigned without being reminded? Are you meeting and/or exceeding your goals/ quotas? Everyone that gathers a paycheck at the end of the week has responsibility to help the company in a productive and positive way.

Are you living up to the expectations of your employer? Are you truly earning the paycheck you want every week by being the most productive you can be? Stop and think about it. What can you do to improve the results that drop down to the bottom line, ensuring you HAVE a job every week? That you stay on the payroll.

Happy Trimming!
Melissa Verplank

Hello World! This is the space between my ears.


The Most Powerful K9 comes in colors! Order yours today from www.melissaverplank.com

How to Get Velvet Scissor Finish

Is scissoring becoming a lost art? I’m all for speed and efficiency but if you are proficient with your shears, you can trim a dog almost as fast without the shortcut aids of clippers and guard combs .

If you are serious about creating quality in your finished trims, you need to master the art of scissoring.

How do you do it? How to you get a coat that is plush like velvet?
When you comb through it, no stray hairs stick out. There are no rough spots in the coat. The dog looks great when it leaves the shop. Not only that, the trim holds together for 2 days, 2 weeks or even up to 6 weeks after the grooming.

Here are the 3 Elements of Great Scissoring.

# 1. Core Skills
No matter how capable you are as a scissorer, if the foundation of a groom isn’t sound, you never get that velvet finish. The dog needs to be clean, really clean – squeaky clean. The coat blown is blown dry so EVERY hair is straight. No waves.  No curls. When you sink a comb deep into the coat, it pulls through smoothly. There cannot be a mat or tangle in the coat. Every hair shaft is separated, light and airy.

These items are ‘core skills’ – skills that need to be mastered to perfection in order to accomplish gorgeous scissor work.  Your core skills of the grooming process must be solid.

If the foundation of a building were not sound, would you feel comfortable spending time there?

#2. Tools
You’ll need a variety of tools and products to get a beautiful result. You’ll need few pairs of straight, curved, and blending shears in a combination of lengths, curvatures and tooth configurations. The higher the quality of the shear, the better of a cut you will get.

This doesn’t mean you need a hundred pairs of scissors in your collection – but you do need more than two.

Generally, the quality of a shear is directly related to cost – like everything else, you get what you pay for.  Don’t be afraid to spend a few hundred dollars on a good pair of shears. If you take care of them, they will last for most of your career.

Build your collection over time. You don’t need to do it in one swoop. Before you invest, try them. Talk to leading stylists and find out what shears they like. Don’t forget, one of the most important items when buying scissors, make sure they fit YOUR hand and feel comfortable as you run them. Trade shows are one of the best places to shop for shears. You’ll find hundreds of choices.

#3. Running the Shears
You must hold and run the shears correctly. Holding them correctly will balance the shear in your hand minimizing stress. You will have the most control over your shears if you run them with your thumb and ring finger. TO get that velvet finish, you’ll need to scissor with your body, not just your hand or arm.

You need to move – following over the dog’s body in a fluid motion. Depending on the shear, sometimes you need to keep you hand dead steady as you run the shears. Many times with thinners and blenders, you’ll need to give the shear a slight bounce. If you look, there are books, videos, exercises and seminars on this topic alone.

There is nothing more gratifying than seeing an exquisitely scissored dog. It could be in the contest ring, at a certification test site or simply walking out of your salon on a daily basis. It represents top quality work. Consistently producing top quality grooms represents success to any pet groomer or stylist. Mastering the art of a velvet scissor finish on a dog is a testament to a true artist.

There are many scissoring lessons from champion groomers in the training library at learn2groomdogs.com. One of my favorites is from Colin Taylor. According to Colin, “Scissors are like shoes.” Start your collection and you’ll see what he means!

Click here to watch a sneak peek of
Colin Taylor: Basic Shear Control for a Velvet Finish

Click here to watch a sneak peek of
Kendra Otto: Confessions of a Shears Junkie

Great grooming lessons from Cheryl Purcell

Cheryl Purcell earning Best In Show at the NDGAA 2004 Fun in the Sun Show

This week, we are releasing an incredible triple feature on Learn2GroomDogs.com focusing on the Kerry Blue Terrier. Your training partner is Cheryl Purcell. She will be reviewing the common mistakes that people make when they groom a Kerry Blue and how to avoid them.

We are so happy to have Cheryl on our team of training partners. Cheryl Purcell started in the industry as a manager of a pet store. After a fire destroyed the retail section of the building, all that was left was the grooming salon. The owner wanted to continue grooming and the rest is history. After picking up the basics from their in-house groomer, Cheryl has had an impressive career.

It was her Mom who really encouraged her to be a groomer. They opened a shop together in 1994. Since then she credits much of her success with continuing education. After taking advice from a friend, she started taking private lessons from groomers she looked up to in the industry. Cheryl offers private training herself. (See her bio for details)

She has been on GroomTeam USA numerous times since her first competition in 1994. Cheryl can be seen here at the 2004 NDGAA Fun in the Sun where she won Best in Show. I am very proud to have Cheryl on our training partner team. She will continue to be a valuable asset to groomers who want to continue their education.

Photo by Animal Photography

My Personal Pet Peeve: Lack of Professionalism

If you want to be treated as a true professional, you need to walk-the-walk and talked-the-talk.

Years ago when I was still at my grooming table every day, I was out to upgrade the image of a pet groomer. My clients were amazed when I greeted them in a skirt. My hair was done. My make-up was in place. (OK – by the end of the day it wasn’t quite as fresh as when I started out) My nails were always done professionally. (…and it hid the problems that come along with trimming toenails a tad too short!)  I found lipstick that was a stain, giving my lips a hint of color instead of magnet that attracted dog hair. When I met a client for the first time – my introduction was a warm greeting, a big smile and a handshake.

I constantly looked at ways to be a more knowledgeable groomer. With a bit of effort, it didn’t take long before I honestly turned the corner from a basic groomer to a pet stylist.  I made a very positive impression on my clients. I sweated the details – and it paid off ten-fold.

Sweating the details translates into all areas of your salon or mobile unit too. It will be influenced by; what your client sees, what your client hears and what your client smells.

In most professional services, you are not really selling expertise, your expertise is assumed. Generally, your prospect cannot intelligently evaluate your expertise anyway. Instead you are selling a relationship – a professional relationship. Your perspective may not know at first if you are competent at your craft.

But they do know if their phone calls are answered promptly and politely. They can sense instantly how a salon looks. Does it look crisp and clean? Does it smell bright and fresh? They know if their pet is treated with compassion. And they certainly know if they are being treated respectfully.

Your clients have four options;

  1. use your service
  2. use a competitor service
  3. do it themselves
  4. not do it at all

Give yourself the edge. Sweat the details. Take the time, and effort, to present yourself as a true professional. Make sure your personal presentation is well pulled together.  Gain the skills you need to communicate effectively with your clients. Enhance your grooming techniques so you can give them the best job possible in the least amount of time. Always remember to keep the safety of both you and the pet foremost in your mind.

Happy Trimming

Take Advantage of Continuing Education Opportunities

Continuing education is a must for the successful pet groomer/stylist. Some continuing education opportunities are almost effortless. Other opportunities will take a vested interests in, time, money AND effort.

Trade journals abound. Many are available in the print version. Currently, many are offered in digital versions too.

With the onset of the internet – there are plenty of ways to research breeds and grooming techniques. Google, Facebook, grooming forums, YouTube and websites will lead you down an endless quest of knowledge. www.Learn2GroomDogs is a great example of very talented stylists sharing their knowledge. Word of Warning: The internet is a fabulous research tool but use good judgment. Be aware of the caliber of the information you are receiving. Anyone can post on the internet – regardless of their true qualifications.

Trade shows are held across the country. As professionals, you can step through the doors and be immersed in all the latest products, tools, educational classes. Plus, many have grooming competitions. This is where you can get up-close to watch top stylist groom their way to wins and placements. If you have access to high-speed Internet, many of these shows now stream live as the event takes place. Even if you can’t attend the show you can still see the grooming competitions!

Many award-winning pet stylists host small private clinics, offer personal coaching, and/or have educational DVDs. This form of training will show you the finer points of grooming. You also have easy access to webinars and streaming dog grooming videos taught by award-winning stylists with a few simple clicks of a mouse.

Voluntary certification testing puts your grooming to the test.  Currently, there are three organizations in the United States. All of them have educational programs. Each organization offers written examinations combined with rigorous practical skills testing. The common goal of each certification programs is to assess your grooming skills plus your overall knowledge of the pet grooming profession. The three organizations are;

  • National Dog Groomers Association of America
  • International Professional Pet Groomers Association
  • International Society of Canine Cosmetologists

Attending dog shows is another fabulous way to gather great information. Watching dog shows allows you to firmly etched in your mind of what a good specimen of any breed should be. The better you understand what a good specimen looks like, the better you’re going to be able to work on your pet clients.

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