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Colin Taylor: His Story, Featuring his book “What would Colin Do?”

Special Guests

Colin Taylor

Colin may just be the most forward thinking and dynamic force in the dog grooming world today. He started out moving from the UK to Hong Kong as a young groomer. After honing his skills in Asia, he moved to the United States and spent the next 20 years becoming one of the most decorated grooming contestants in history. He boasts titles such as ‘Intergrooms International Groomer of the Year’, Winner of the ‘World Cup Grooming Games’, countless Best in Show and Best All Around groomer titles at every major contest in the US, as well a multiple year member of Groom Team USA. He graced the cover of Groomer to Groomer magazine five times, and was featured in many television interviews. Since moving back to the UK, Colin has expanded his horizons once again. He wrote the famous book ‘What would Colin do? 101 situations and solutions for the everyday dog groomer’. He founded the ‘Colin Taylor Academy’ that has helped hundreds of groomers better their skills, and find more compassion with all aspects of their career. He established and manages the largest and most prestigious grooming events in England, MastergroomUK. His passion for this industry is apparent in everything he does. The excitement and progression that he has already brought forth is astounding. He continues to travel, giving seminars and judging at large grooming conferences all over the globe. His high standards match his sense of humour, and his love for all his fellow groomers. Colin's main focus in today’s industry is to encourage new stylist to network and work together more as the future of the industry will only gain from this.

In this episode, Joe Zuccarello is joined by British groomer icon, Master Groom UK founder and author, Colin Taylor. You’ll hear how Colin got his start, and explore his views of the grooming profession and its future.

  • Colin describes ways to overcome shyness.
  • Where did Colin get his start?
  • Has Colin ever groomed a Broadway dog?
  • What are some ways you can set yourself apart as a groomer?
  • If Colin had a magic wand, what would he do?

Tune in to find out!

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Transcript

Joe Zuccarello: Welcome to Hey Joe, a podcast answering questions asked by our listeners, created by pet professionals, for pet professionals. Now, your host, Hey Joe’s very own, Joe Zuccarello.

What’s up everyone? Joe Zuccarello here, and welcome to Hey Joe, a podcast brought to you by paragon school of pet grooming. Check out our site at paragonpetschool.com for lots of really cool information on a variety of programs, products, and to connect to educational resources such as webinars, podcasts, current events, special news, certifications, and lots of other helpful information to help you grow yourself, your team, and of course, your business. Let’s get started with this week’s episode.

Hey, everyone. Joe Zuccarello here, and welcome back to another episode of Hey Joe. It’s a podcast where you, the grooming professional, pet care professional gets to listen in on a real life coaching call between myself and a expert in our industry. What’s really great is we get a lot of these questions submitted to us by you, our listener audience. So please do so at any time by emailing us at heyjoequestions@paragonpetschool.com.

Holy cow, do I have a great guest lined up for this episode. You know, there are a few people that we meet in our life in our career that have incredible charisma, and some that have incredible talent. Well, this guest has both. Today, we are talking with Colin Taylor. Colin is one of the most forward thinking grooming professionals in the business. His awards and his accolades, I could go on for miles and miles, or should I say kilometers and kilometers, maybe, since he’s from the UK. I know you’re going to love hearing his story.

He is the author of a really great must have grooming book called What Would Colin Do? I want you to stick around until the very end of the podcast to hear something really exciting that we are going to offer you to get this book in your hands. So stick around. I think you’ll be very interested to hear what we have in store for you.

At any time, you can go to paragonpetschool.com to learn more about Colin, to download the transcript from this podcast, and if you haven’t already, subscribe to the Hey Joe podcast. Please do so. You can do that right from the paragonpetschool.com webpage.

So today, Colin and I will be talking about his story, where he started, where he has come from, and since then and what he believes the future of this incredible industry will have in store for all of us. So again, thank you to the Hey Joe listener audience for sending us questions about this and other topics. If you want to submit your question for possible use on a Hey Joe podcast in the future, again, send your questions to heyjoequestions@paragonpetschool.com.

So let’s get started with our time today with Colin Taylor. Hey, Colin, thanks for joining us today.

Colin Taylor: How you doing, Joe? Not a problem. It’s been great doing this. I’m really happy, excited.

Joe Zuccarello: Yeah, well we’re really excited to have you. As I said in my intro about you, there are people that have charisma and there are people that have talent. Sir, I’ve got to tell you, you have both. So my audience is in for a real treat today.

So some people might know who you are, right? I would expect that most people know who you are, but for those that don’t, tell us a little bit about Colin Taylor and kind of what you’re up to right now.

Colin Taylor: Okay. So well, right at this very moment, I’m in just close to Seattle. I’m here. I’m on a little kind of vacation, but mainly, what I do in these current days is I focus more my profession towards education and I sell a few items here and there. I promote my book. I sell some combs. I got the new comb out, which is out right now. I’ve been grooming, I think, 35 … close to 30 … no, 34 years, and I just … I think I’m on a continual journey, in my opinion, to further my studies, to further my learning, and to continue to be the best I could possibly be.

Joe Zuccarello: Well, that’s great.

Yeah. It’s great. You know, you use a really great word there, Colin, and that is journey. I so appreciate it when people look at their career as a journey. You didn’t say my job, right?

Colin Taylor: Absolutely. Yeah.

Joe Zuccarello: Sometimes people do say career, but I just love the wording you chose and it’s journey because it makes me think that you have been on it for awhile. I don’t want to put words in your mouth, but it sounds like you plan on being on that same journey for some time still. Beyond grooming ability, learning ability. So you’re on a journey of learning. I really appreciate that.

Colin Taylor: Yep, absolutely. You know, I try to focus my whole focus on to … yes, you have to work hard, but you also have to have a good balance in life and enjoy your life. If we are continuously working to live, it kind of gets very, very mundane. I don’t like that. I like people to change things up and enjoy what they’re doing and obviously go on vacation, which I see a lot of groomers don’t do.

Joe Zuccarello: Well, and to your point, and many of my podcast guests that I talk to, we acknowledge right from the onset, this is an exhausting job, right? This is a hard career, but my goodness can it be so rewarding.

Colin Taylor: Yep.

Joe Zuccarello: I’ve been in the pet industry now since 1986. So about the same time you have, sir. You know, one of the things … I’ve seen a lot of changes, but one of the things that holds true, especially for our pet groomer professionals out there, this is a physical job. So plan on, what does it look like when you physically can’t do it anymore? What’s next? I know that your book that you had talked about, your book is called What Would Colin Do? There are some things that you hint about what people can do at the maturity point or maybe at the point where their body is not necessarily where it was or they can’t do as many dogs. You talk about somehow influencing the industry, maybe becoming an instructor or a mentor or speaker or presenter. There’s lots of things that you can do with the talents that you learn in this industry. It doesn’t mean that once your body starts failing you that you’re out of a career, out of a job.

Colin Taylor: Exactly. Also, you can go anywhere around the world with this job because it is a profession where you have it in your mind and actually in your body and the skills you have. So you can literally go anywhere around the world, which is a really exciting thing because traveling has helped me as a person grow immensely.

Joe Zuccarello: Well, so let’s kind of … let’s take a walk down memory lane, if you’ll indulge us, and how does a guy like Colin Taylor get started in the grooming industry?

Colin Taylor: Oh, my God. So first of all, let me start from the same. When I was young, and believe it or not, still to this day, I can be very shy today, but back in the day, I was extremely shy.

Joe Zuccarello: Oh, come on. Oh, come on, Colin Taylor. You can’t be shy.

Colin Taylor: Oh, really. I hide behind my mum. You will see even in this interview, I will probably have a little bit of a stutter, which back then I had a really bad stutter. I didn’t do well at school at all, high school. However, I did excel in woodwork. Woodwork, metal work, art, textiles, and believe it or not, religious education, which I find still today fascinating. So they’re the subjects I really excelled in at school.

My dream was to be a primate-ologist and study apes and monkeys. However, that meant I would have to have had a very, very large biology degree, and that wasn’t me. So I worked in a pet shop. I kind of knew, even as a young person, that whatever I did in life, I wanted to be the best at it. So if you’re going to work in a pet shop, I would have to own a pet shop.

A girl came in and bought nail clippers and told me she was a dog groomer. It had never, ever crossed my mind. Then that was the start of my journey. I went home and I asked mum and dad to lend me 400 pounds, because that’s how much it was for a 12 week course.

Joe Zuccarello: Wow. So it’s interesting, this story that you share there about that very first … I can tell by the way that you’re remembering it is that it made such an impression on you. It was such a turning point. At Paragon School of Pet Grooming, one of the things that we hear over and over and over again are stories very similar where people remember the moment. They remember the inspiration.

You know, I had a great interview with one of your colleagues in the industry, Victor Rissoto, in another podcast, and remembers that moment as well. One of the things I think we even compared it to the first time, as if the first time you saw color.

Colin Taylor: Absolutely. Absolutely..

Joe Zuccarello: So it was that impressionable or made that indelible mark on your history. Man, I forget things I did last week, but it’s those moments in time that we remember and so many of our students share those moments with us as well.

Okay, so this lady, wherever she came from, right, she happened to land in your path, right, as you were a young man. So she lands in your path and kind of interrupts you, I guess, by keying you in on, “Well, nail trimming. Okay, maybe dog grooming.” So obviously you borrowed money from your folks.

So, as you started to learn, do you remember some of the challenges, some of the biggest challenges, maybe, that you face as you were learning?

Colin Taylor: Absolutely. Well, first of all, once again, I was young. I was 15 years old. I was really shy. I was a student amongst a sea of these ladies, who were all ages, and thinking back … I’m 50 now. There was probably people there my age now.

My teacher, I remember my teacher and she is still alive today and I still talk to her. She was one of these people that was very, very to the point, very English, she didn’t mince her words, and she scared the hell out of me. I remember my challenges. First of all, my challenges were poodle feet. Because it was a challenge, she made me do more of them.

I think, you know … I mean, I saw the creative side of dog grooming, and I really enjoyed it, and I actually found it the more easy part. The hardest part, for me, was the actual getting my head around looking people in the eye, which I find is very, very crucial in today’s profession in what we do. We have to look people in the eye. We have to be that people person. That was my biggest challenge was actually dealing with the people. That’s a huge thing I focus on in today’s education, which is a huge thing we lack in.

Joe Zuccarello: So, okay. So Colin, I want to unpack that for a minute.

Colin Taylor: Yep.

Joe Zuccarello: The people aspect. I hear … gosh, you probably heard it too, but I hear it … if I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times in my over three decades, is i got into the pet industry because I’m not a big people person.

Colin Taylor: Oh, God, yeah.

Joe Zuccarello: What is your answer to that? I have my answer, but what is your answer to something like that?

Colin Taylor: Well, first of all, you know, like I said, I do seminars every weekend sometimes, and that is the number one gripe and complaint I hear from people. It kind of, I’m not going to say annoys me because we all are here to encourage everybody, but we have to realize that that person is walking in with that dog, and it’s that person’s choice that they picked you and you have to give them the respect, the person, along with the dog. You have to remember it’s that person you’re educating. We all are complaining about our customers these days and we forget to realize that we are the problem. We’re the ones that need to be educating our customers.

So instead of complaining about the customer and because you’re, per se, not a people person, you know what, we have to educate them. You know what? I think we have kind of gotten into that rut or jump on the bandwagon in saying we are not people persons when we actually are in fact not bad at dealing with people. We just kind of put the dog grooming ahead of everything, where in reality, the dog grooming itself should be probably one of the last things you think about.

Joe Zuccarello: Right. If I can draw the analogy, it’s sort of what you talked about earlier about being shy and you would hide behind your mom. It almost sounds like some of us in the pet grooming position or pet services profession kind of hide behind the profession.

Colin Taylor: Absolutely.

Joe Zuccarello: Instead of getting out in front of it and actually being proud of it. You, in your book, chapter 42 in your book called … you know, your book that’s titled What Would Colin Do? There’s 101 different Colin-isms in here, tips from you. Number 42 is grooming is theater. So what you’re describing then, one thing I read that I speak very loudly on and that I’m a huge fan on is not necessarily customer service, right? But the customer experience.

I think that there’s a different, especially in our industry, about the experiential factor and what that does to better the relationship to the pet parents and so on. You do a really great job at saying, “Listen, look at it as theater.”

Colin Taylor: Yep. And the reason why … the reason why that part of the book fell in there was because I used to groom a dog for the Broadway show 42nd street. This was back in the day. This was when I was that shy, impressionable kid. I used to groom … there was two dogs. There was a stand in and there was the lead role dog. I was backstage, and I saw the chaos that went on backstage, the absolute, it looked like it was a hot mess going on backstage.

However, when you saw it, sitting there looking at it before the curtain opened, it was an absolute work of art, and that’s what I envisioned grooming salons to be like. It doesn’t matter what’s going on behind the scenes. You could have a naughty dog, but that doesn’t mean you need to be shouting so the people upfront hear it. Everything from the front should look like it is running seamlessly. If there’s a problem backstage, then you keep it backstage and you don’t bring it up front.

Joe Zuccarello: You know what I like about, I’ll also maybe take it one step further, and I think what you said, the audible nature of maybe if you’ve got a naughty dog in the back and the worst thing that can happen is the customer would hear you raising your voice to a pet, an employee, a colleague, a teammate, whatever. Like you said, it all stays behind the curtain, right? So it all stays in the back of the house. I would also say, I do a lot of work with folks on their branding and their imaging or their image and the character that they play. So I would also say don’t bring the messy, dirty smock, or the husky’s hair in your own ponytail up front, or any of the mess. So pay attention that you’re not accidentally carrying those silent challenges to the front as well, true?

Colin Taylor: Yeah, absolutely. Also, as a profession, I always say, you should be doing what you are good at. Yes, you do have to learn people skills, but if you are that worried about that side of it, then you should have that perky receptionist in front of your shop who welcomes the customers, who then calls you up to collect the dogs. So that way you can come up, you can show your face, but make sure when you show your face that you do have your hair brushed, and if you do have … you know, put minimal make up on. I mean, this just seems to be the problem, also, I see, is we look at the haircut as more important than we look at ourselves.

So we kind of put all the effort and all the energy into a haircut, and we let ourselves go, and we let everything else go in the business, which we can talk about that in a minute.

Joe Zuccarello: Yeah, yeah. I definitely want to go there. I just want to remind the Hey Joe listener audience out there who we’re talking to. We’re talking to Colin Taylor. Colin is … you might have seen this guy on magazines, industry trade show magazines. Colin, you may not know this, but he established and manages the largest and most prestigious grooming event in England called Master Groom UK. So maybe we could talk a little bit about that in a few minutes. He continues to do traveling, spreading the good word of professionalism and respect and skill enhancement and continued education all over the world as it relates to professional pet grooming. We’re just so happy to have him today.

We’re talking with him about not only his history but where he sees the future going for this industry. We’re also taking a couple of peeks into his book, which is called What Would Colin Do?

So, Colin, with all of this work that you’re doing and all of the work that you’ve done … again, remember that a lot of our audience out there, a lot of the Hey Joe listener audience out there might be listening to us on the way to their salon today or on the way home from a grueling day at the salon or maybe over the weekend trying to recharge for the next week. So as far as that recharging is concerned, how have you stayed energized and excited to do not only what you did growing up through the industry, but also in the industry today.

Colin Taylor: How do I stay energized and excited? Well, first of all, you know, I think as a individual, because there could have been two paths I chose. I didn’t know that I was going to be on any kind of platform in this industry. I went out to learn dog grooming to be that person who comes to see me when I do my seminars. I want to remind everybody, I am a pet groomer before anything because that is my number one focus is simple pet grooming.

I mean, to stay energized, you know what, I have to say I put myself out there to realize that the only person who determines how good I do in my career is myself, and also, I try and keep my everyday doings different. So you know, when we’re doing ten dogs every single day, then I kind of think, “You know what? Maybe you should change things up and do a little bit less.” Do you understand what I mean?

Joe Zuccarello: I do. So purposefully creating some variety in your schedule?

Colin Taylor: Absolutely. Absolutely. Also, you have to realize, this job can become really, you know, kind of a struggle sometimes and I see people not having breaks, not having a lunch break, not going on vacation. They have to understand, when you wake up in a bad mood, that’s when you have to reevaluate what you’re doing. Also, that means it’s more important to take a lunch break, because if you go into work with a bad mood, first of all, it’s not fair on your coworkers. It’s certainly not fair on the dog you’re working on. If you don’t have a break to kind of say to yourself, “Okay, what’s going on? Was it that dog? Did I wake up in a bad mood? What’s going on?” You know, then you have to look at things and kind of ask yourself, “Do I need to change things up?” Because it’s not fair on the animals, and that’s really, really important.

Joe Zuccarello: Well, it is something that most of our grooming professionals in the Hey Joe listener audience out there can control to some degree. Even if you … let’s say you’re a one man band and you have a mobile unit or you are a salon owner or manager or let’s say you work for somebody else. I mean, the vast majority of our listeners are employed by a shop owner or salon owner, retail chain, whatever.

It’s possible, and I heard somebody share this before with me. When we’re making appointments for customers, let’s make appointments for ourselves. Let’s purposefully make an appointment for ourself. Is it a lunch break? Is it a end of day manicure? Is it an early morning networking meeting with another professional in the neighborhood? Whatever those things are to, I think to put words in your mouth, to create variety in our day.

Colin Taylor: Also, you know what I do go out of my way to look for new products. It might not be things that you will have in your shop, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t’ go learn how that thing works because it just gives you that kind of kick on the backside to go out there and do a little bit better, but doesn’t necessarily mean do more dogs or work harder.

Absolutely, and going back to what you just said about talking to people. It’s very easy for us to become, once again going back to me being shy. Thankful I’m not that person anymore, but I do still have my own personal issues and so on and so forth when it comes to anxiety or whatever. I think it’s important that we have that friend to bounce things off of because we’ve become very kind of cave like. We put ourselves into a little room, which we call our safe room because we’re too scared to go out of that. That’s normally because we put ourselves in that situation.

Once again, coming back to being that people person. We need to find people in our career, which is not that hard at all because there’s so many out there, and just start talking to them.

Joe Zuccarello: So when you say start talking to them, you shared something with me when we were prepping for this show, and you said, “We have a commonality, and that is that we service pets.” We take care of pets whether we’re grooming them, boarding them, putting them in a daycare situation, whatever. In regards to you, you said you just asked somebody, “How long have you been grooming?”

Colin Taylor: Hi, my name is Colin. How long you been grooming? That opens up a huge conversation, and right there you have found a friend. Right there, you have found somebody on common grounds with you. You know, I do my conference every year and I have a lot of people saying, “Oh, I’m going to become a loner.” I’m like, “You know what? You won’t be alone. You’ll have 500 or more other people there exactly the same as you doing exactly the same as what you do.”

It’s just one of those things where it does become that much easier to have that conversation, no matter how shy you are, no matter how much you do have anxiety or panic, you will find you’ll not only have people that are the same as you, but you will have so many people that have the same issues what you have, which makes it a lot better because you feel like you’re not a lone.

Joe Zuccarello: Well, and one of the things that Paragon’s founder, Melissa Verplank, always teaches, be prepared to be told that maybe somebody else has a different opinion on how to groom a dog or how to set a particular pattern or how to treat a particular customer. Because like she says, there’s no black and white in dog grooming. There might be nine or ten different ways to get to a perfectly finished product. It doesn’t mean that number five is any better, necessarily, than number eight, right?

Colin Taylor: Absolutely. Yes, absolutely. You know what? Dog grooming is a very gray area. There is no right way, and we can talk about social media later, but that is … oh, my God. It just drives me crazy when I’m seeing beautifully groomed dogs and somebody is saying, “Well, I would have done it this way.” Well, you know what? There’s nothing wrong with the way they’ve done that dog whatsoever, and as long as that dog was treated with care and respect along the way that dog was groomed, then hey, it is okay in my book.

Joe Zuccarello: Yeah, I agree. So, Colin, along the journey you’ve had, and again it’s spanned over 30 years, what did the grooming profession look like when you started in the industry? Can you recall what the temperature of the industry was and what did it look like back then?

Colin Taylor: Well, first of all, well, I spent from 1985 until 1980 … well, 1985 until ’87 in the UK grooming as a student apprentice, learning. Then I went to Hong Kong for two years, and that was amazing because there was lots and lots of hairstyles, cut dogs, like Pomeranians all over and poodles. Didn’t do too many big dogs at all. It was all small dogs, very, very stylized, and they are major stylists over there.

Then I went from there to the United States where everything was immaculate prepared. Presentation in America is … I mean, you cannot beat it. Also, stylized, the poodles had the old fashion royal dutch trims and so on and so forth.

You know, over the years, the competitions are booming, education is booming. When I went to grooming school, when I was just out of grooming school, and a few years out, there was hardly any seminars. Now you cannot go a weekend without being able to go to a seminar or an education, which is amazing. However, I just always recommend people to do their research on the subject, which is being taught, and also the teacher to make sure that you’re going to get the most out of them and they can actually stand behind the subject they’re teaching well.

Joe Zuccarello: Mm-hmm (affirmative) mm-hmm (affirmative) yeah. So obviously … so you went from having only a few resources to what is now where people that are looking to get into this industry or are in the industry looking to take their skillset or their career to the next level. There are boundless opportunities for them to do that. Like you said, words of caution, right? Make sure that you know who it is that has been put on the stage to teach, right? Just because they somehow got in the favor of somebody and they’re put on a stage doesn’t necessarily mean that they are the resounding expert. So be sure to do your homework. And really, that’s in every profession. That’s in every school. That’s in every college. I don’t care if you’re studying business or you’re studying garden. So just because it’s on YouTube or just because it’s free on the internet or even sometimes big costs or fees on the internet doesn’t necessarily mean that the experience backs up the teacher. So that’s a really great word of caution.

What do you believe that a groomer professional now should do to separate themselves? So we talk about all of the learning opportunities, but also, we share the market with quite a few other grooming professionals out there. So whether it’s a local market or whether it’s a big stage, whether it’s the competition ring or what have you, what do you recommend professional groomers do to separate themselves from their competition?

Colin Taylor: Well, first of all, I mean, I remember when I was younger and competing, and I would say to myself, “Okay,” and this was when Liz Paul was alive. Liz Paul was the person to beat in the competition ring. I was telling myself, “You know what? You have to be learning more and more and more.” While I was saying that to myself, I was also saying to myself, “While I’m furthering my education, Liz Paul is also. So she is staying at the top of her game.”

So you have to realize, you know what. I mean, when it comes to competition, you have to really put yourself in that driver’s seat and understand that when it comes to you being on that stage, grooming that dog in that time limit, you have sometimes you have bad days, sometimes you have good days. Sometimes, the judge could love your dog, sometimes the judge could not like your dog. It’s win or lose and I think sometimes you just have to look at it as exactly what it is. It’s a competition and there’ll be another day and maybe you’ll do well, and you have to take the judge’s critique on board, certainly if you go on to that judge a second time with that same dog.

When it comes to the everyday, and I’m not putting this down, the everyday pet stylist, because that’s exactly what I am. The everyday pet stylist, to set yourself apart, yes it can be competition, but I don’t want people to feel like they’re any less of a groomer if they don’t compete because you can do other things. You can be certified. You can do fun days at the fair where you do nail trims and getting people’s attention. You could simply just provide the best customer service there is, which is the most important thing in my eyes when it comes to running a successful business because in my opinion and what I’ve seen, you could be the best groomer in the world. That doesn’t mean you’re very good with people and doesn’t mean you’re a very good teacher, either. You can be an average groomer and have the perfect people skills and your business will flourish.

Joe Zuccarello: Yeah, I completely agree. You’re singing a line right of out of my playbook, which is, I’ve seen average groomers with above average customer experience skills, and they win all day long. They win customers. The customers are frequent. The customers are loyal. Again, we’re talking average pet grooming skills. So to all of our audience out there, the Hey Joe listener audience out there, what Colin Taylor is essentially saying is, listen, continue your education. Continue forging forward. Really the competitor you have, I think, first and foremost, is yourself.

Colin Taylor: Yeah. Yeah, and you know what? There is two types of people. There is this old groomer. You have your groomer who is very, very … I mean, they’re very competitive people. I’m talking competitive in the competition ring. Then there’s the groomer who, I’m not saying be that person, but be competitive with yourself.

So put yourself out there. Go to shows. Watch the competitions, but don’t feel like you have to produce that work in your salons, because let’s face it, you don’t. It’s not practical. It certainly doesn’t make you any more money because the client doesn’t see their dog like we do. We are the people who see it all. The customers don’t. What our customers want, in my opinion and in my experience, they want a nice, comfortable haircut which is easy to manage. That means you have to get to know that customer and their lifestyle. Then you can recommend to them exactly what’s best for their dog. It normally is that dark blue, comb attachment, or peach attachment all over with the body. That is what people are, in my experiencing, wanting in everyday pet grooming.

Joe Zuccarello: Yeah, I completely agree. So you know when you’re talking about that, a though popped into my head and I wanted to kind of explore this thought with you then. If we’re talking about how to separate themselves between maybe their competition or even, okay, viewing themselves as their greatest competition. How am I better tomorrow than I was today, right? But what about the profession in general, the pet grooming industry?

So if Colin had a magic wand, that would be dangerous first, right? Who knows what you’d wish for. If you had a magic wand and you could wave it and say, “I want the pet grooming profession … if we poured this energy into it, it would be stronger and better and flourish even greater.” What would that look like to you?

Colin Taylor: First of all, if I had a magic wand, I would be in Gryffindor, not Slytherin. You know what? I would love to have some of today’s values, but also some of the old values. So the old values being the family value lifestyle when I did go to shows and when I did go to competitions. You know, to have that kind of sense of community and also just like the people like Jerry Shimburg and Sally Ridick and all these people that have brought such professionalism into the industry. I found that that’s the kind of thing that I would love to bring back.

When it comes to pet stylists and just how we are, I would love us to be more … feeling more comfortable to communicate with each other as groomers because groomers can be the most sociable people or they can be kind of guarded and protective and not feel comfortable talking to the person who has just opened up down the street.

Joe Zuccarello: Mm-hmm (affirmative) yeah. I think you hit the nail on the head, and that is to explore opportunities. Sometimes those opportunities are in venues. They are with different types of clients. They are with different types of education levels, but certainly different types of people. What I think, as I’m hearing you, I keep remembering the 87th tip in your book, which is called What Would Colin Do? The 87th tip in there is self confidence.

Colin Taylor: Yeah.

Joe Zuccarello: I think that self confidence goes so far, driving the industry to elevate itself in professionalism. Okay, so I gave you a magic wand a few minutes ago. If I were to give you a crystal ball next and ask you what do you see … how do you see the grooming profession, professional pet grooming profession a year or so from now?

Colin Taylor: A year or so from now, I see it being … I can see it leaning more towards the licensing of dog groomers world wide or certainly in United States and the UK, because I know in the UK, we’re going towards that. Within the next five years, they’re aiming towards that, being run by the local councils in your area, which would be your counties.

That’s when it comes to us as dog groomers, what we should … which I think we should be looking at. Also, not to be scared of that.

Where do I see it going in the competition ring? I think the competition, obviously, I hope will get bigger because we want to encourage more and more people to either compete or become certified. Also, I want to stress again, we are all different. Some of us are very nervous about competition. Some of us are very nervous about competing. So it’s okay if you’re that person to just go to the seminars and learn at your own pace.

Oh, my God. Crystal ball.

Joe Zuccarello: Okay, well, let’s hop forward. So go crazy, folks. Go crazy. So maybe it’s five years from now, right? Again, there’s a lot of really great people and a lot of the people that are agreeing to be podcast guests here on the Hey Joe podcast are folks that are pushing the industry forward, people that are forward thinking, people that really do want to focus on the word profession and professional. So five years from now, what is a grooming professional? What should a grooming professional feel like, look like, act like?

Colin Taylor: Okay. So first of all, what should they look like? They should look … they should look themselves and dress themselves appropriately for the job. I mean, some people like to be noticed. That’s okay in the right way. When I say noticed in the right way, meaning respected for what they know and respected for what they do. When it comes to how they should look like, if you have an image, that’s fine. Make it a professional image. You should be as a person, obviously you should be able to communicate with your peers, your customers, your judges, your contestants in a professional manner. Always give a positive before negative. Always give constructive criticism. My, God. What was the third one you said?

Joe Zuccarello: Just, yeah, just feel like. You know, you can kind of tell when somebody has an air about them. A good air, right? You can sometimes tell people don’t have a great air about them, you know? That feeling. So what kind of feeling should you get from a pet professional?

Colin Taylor: The feeling you should get from a pet professional is you should be able to … first of all, I mean, they should be approachable without question. You should be able to ask them any question and get a good answer without that person holding back. You know, I would hope that everybody be on the same page. We seem to be in the same ocean going 20 million different directions. That’s how I feel right now in my honest opinion. I would like it to come back to where we’re all going in the same direction. We don’t have to all agree with each other. We don’t have to say, “Oh, my God. I love to hang around that person after dinner.” But you know what? This is where I said before about us all being on common ground when you’re nervous about meeting somebody, even when we are all at a level, and let’s just say you have 20 people in a room and they all have egos. Even if some people don’t necessarily get along with each other, it would help immensely if we were all on the same path or the same direction with the same goal.

Joe Zuccarello: Yeah. I think that’s a perfect set up to something I say quite often. It’s keep the main thing the main thing. Just like there’s no black and white in dog grooming, there’s not necessarily a black and white in personality, expectations, or brand expectations or anything like that. Keeping the main thing the main thing and that is serving the pet parents and serving the pets to the best of our ability, and whatever is appropriate for the market. That’s kind of what I’m hearing in your description of the pet profession kind of raising the standard. You don’t have to get along with everybody. In fact, that’s probably a little bit of a fairytale, but that’s okay. Keeping the main thing the main thing, why are we doing what we’re doing? I think as long as we don’t misalign that priority with other priorities, I think we all win. You don’t have to like somebody to contribute to the success of them and the industry, right?

Colin Taylor: Exactly.

Joe Zuccarello: By everybody kind of toeing the line in their own regard. So, Colin, some words of wisdom. We’re going to start closing. We’re going to start wrapping it up here in a minute. I didn’t want the Hey Joe listener audience out there to not hear from Colin Taylor in regard to what are your words of wisdom that you would say to people that are looking at this as a possible future career? I say that because there’s a lot of folks at Paragon School of Pet Grooming that are just beginning. There are a lot of folks that are looking to this and saying, “Is this a career I want to get into?”

So what word of wisdom do you have for folks that are either looking to get in the industry or just started?

Colin Taylor: Okay. First of all, if you’re looking to get into the industry and you’re looking for a school, first of all, I would say do go to a show or an event. Obviously you will have schools there which do have trade stands. You can talk to them. That will give you a really, really good feel of the industry, of the people. Fortunately, we’ll find that the same sort of people do come into this industry. We do have a lot of horse people in the industry. Obviously animal lovers.

Now we’re getting a lot of the corporate people coming in, which is good because it means that they’re thinking more with the business kind of head on their shoulders also. I say, you know what, go there, get the feel for it, get to know the community of people that you’re going to be involved with. When you do find your school, I would probably suggest going on a taster day to that school. Meaning, go there for the day, give it a go for a day because what you think dog grooming is and what dog grooming actually is is probably two different things in a lot of people’s minds.

Joe Zuccarello: Yeah, I’ve often said, Colin … not to jump in there, but before I lose that thought. I’ve often said, “You might love dogs, but do you love what dogs do?”

Colin Taylor: Absolutely. You know, also, touching on that base, the second most common thing I get told is obviously we touched on, I don’t get along with people. The second thing is, I love dogs. Well, that’s great, but loving dogs doesn’t mean to say you’re going to be the best dog groomer or you’re going to find dog grooming easy. I have found, and this is my number one tip, a common respect for all … which I have a common respect for all animals, but respecting an animal and handling an animal correctly will make you a good dog groomer.

If you can handle, and you have to put in the backseat of your car, the softness you have, the coddling you have. You want to cuddle them and talk to them because that’s not what it’s about. It’s about doing the job and sending the dog home to its owner who you are not its owner. You’re there to groom the dog for the hour, hour and a half, and then it goes home. Keep it simple. Keep it cool. Give the dog the respect. Treat it with kindness and passion, and groom it well. Like I said, good is good enough. That’s my big quote in my book. Good is good enough.

Joe Zuccarello: I love it. I don’t know that there’s any better words to wrap up on, but good is good enough. I love that. I’ll probably use that, but I’ll give you credit everywhere I possibly can.

So, Colin, I know that the Hey Joe listener audience out there has just gotten a wealth of information. I will tell you, to our audience members out there, you have to get Colin’s book, which is What Would Colin Do? And be sure that you do visit paragonpetschool.com and go to the podcast page to unlock a really great offer on Colin’s book. So again, go to paragonpetschool.com to unlock an incredible offer so we make it as easy as possible for you to own a copy of What Would Colin Do? It’s a great read, and has just years and years of experience and tips and tricks inside it.

Thanks again, Colin, for helping us out. I’m sure our audience is going to find your information very valuable. To you, the Hey Joe audience out there, thanks again for all of your great questions. Remember that this podcast thrives on questions that we receive straight from you, the Hey Joe listener audience. It’s very easy to do. Simply email us your question at heyjoequestions@paragonpetschool.com. You might just hear your topic discussed with an industry expert on a future episode.

Please share this podcast with your team members that you work with and friends and family in the industry who you believe should know about it and how benefit by listening to it. Colin, thanks again, and I look forward to the next time we chat.

Colin Taylor: Thank you so much. Have a good day.

About Joe

Joe Zuccarello is VP of the Paragon School of Pet Grooming, leaders in grooming education on campus and online. He possesses more than three decades of experience in the pet grooming, product development and pet business consulting disciplines.
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