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Creating a Culture Employees Don’t Want to Leave – Part 2 with BC & Kathie Henschen

Special Guests

Kathie Henschen

Kathie is the owner of Platinum Paws and she is a Certified Professional Groomer. She received her certification from Animal Arts Academy of Pet Grooming in December of 2004. She is familiar with all breeds and is always happy to work with you to determine the most appropriate and attractive look for your pet. Kathie strives to provide you with the best services and products to keep your pet looking and feeling great.

BC Henschen

BC is the CEO, pet nutrition counselor, and business manager of Platinum Paws. Starting as a dog trainer and doggy daycare supervisor, BC followed his passion for pet foods and nutrition while working with Kathie. He is now a respected leader in the nutrition community and frequently speaks at pet health seminars. He is also involved with the World Pet Association.

Joe Zuccarello meets with BC and Kathie Henschen of Platinum Paws for team-building tips, communication strategies, and sure-fire ways to keep your employees happy. Find out what they do to make their team feel appreciated, and how that comfort reflects in their work!

  • What kind of schedule should I create for my employees?
  • How can I improve team recognition?
  • Who should I hire, and how long should I be willing to train them?
  • How do I make up for my own shortcomings and improve communication?

Tune in to find out.

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

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.

Joe Zuccarello: Hey everyone, this is Joe Zuccarello, your host of the Hey Joe podcast, and we are back with another great episode. This is one that is a really near and dear to my heart. We’ve talked about this topic from time to time and that is building culture. In fact, more specifically building a culture that your employees don’t want to leave. In a competitive landscape when we’re all fighting for great staff and great talent in our pet services businesses, one of the things we sometimes don’t pay enough attention to is retention, and that’s retaining our team members as much as we might spend attention and time and effort in recruiting team members. I know I say everybody on my podcast is some of my favorite people, but heck, that’s who I have on my podcast, right? But I’ve got BC and Kathie Henschen from Platinum Paws in Carmel, Indiana, and they own a really great high volume grooming salon in Caramel Indiana. I’ve invited them onto the podcast today to talk about how exactly do they create that culture where people don’t want to leave. Hey, BC and Kathie, welcome to the podcast.

Kathie Henschen: Hey Joe, thanks for having us. We appreciate it.

BC Henschen: Hey, Joe.

Joe Zuccarello: So one of the things that the Hey Joe listener audience is going to get to know a little bit more about you, and I’m going to have you introduce yourselves because nobody does a great introduction any better than themselves. But one of the secret things that a lot of people don’t realize is that we are listening and I’m actually talking to a potential future Ninja competitor. Yes, you guys heard me right. The famous TV show where all of the Ninjas compete and go through those obstacle courses and all of those, the tests of strength and such, we are talking with, I believe, one of the future contestants of that show. So BC and Kathie, tell us about yourselves, tell us about Platinum Paws. Give us a peek into Ninja Groomer.

Kathie Henschen: All right. Well, my name is Kathie and I have been a groomer here at Platinum Paws for about 15 years. We have owned this business and grown it from just me. I started out by myself right out of school. I took a few punches to the chin in the beginning, and I really had to suit up and show up and have an open mind and be humble and learn as I went. I really believe that customer service is very important and that’s what saved me in the beginning. I’ve just grown as a groomer ever since then. I know that along the way, with hiring different people and getting to know different people, I’ve learned a lot of things that way. Also, through competing with grooming, I learned a ton of things through that. And with the Ninja Groomer, that is my name around here because I love to groom dogs and I also loved the Ninja, and that is one of my dreams and one of my goals to be on that famous show.

Kathie Henschen: It’s just a fire that was put in my heart, and I will listen to that fire and pursue it with as much enthusiasm as I can. It’s an awesome platform to stand on, and I hope I can represent my groomer family well if I do make it to the show. I have a lot of things to talk about if I get there and some very important things. But I’ll hold onto that and not share a lot about that right now. But definitely stay tuned and hopefully you’ll see me. That’s my-

Joe Zuccarello: If we can contribute through to through this little podcast that gets listened to by multiple people out in the professional grooming space and pet care services space, I hope that your fan base just got a little bit bigger because of the podcast. At near the end of the podcast, I’ll ask you guys to go ahead and give us some information about where people can follow your progress. So I’m sure you’ve just peaked the interest of a lot of pet professionals out there. So BC, on your side of the business, I know that you are an enthusiast for pet nutrition.

BC Henschen: Yeah, that is definitely my passion. Again, my pathway kind of changed. When we first opened Platinum Paws, it was Kathie by herself. Then eventually, I came on board and started doing dog training here and doggy daycare. I actually was that one of the big box pet stores prior to Platinum Paws, and I was a dog trainer there. I came over here and brought that to Platinum Paws. We eventually gave that up after about five years of doing doggy daycare and training. My passion really turned into pet foods and nutrition. That’s where my heart took me. So I expanded our retail and change things that we were doing at Platinum Paws and transitioned to being the full time nutrition counselor here. I do handle the back end as well for Platinum Paws as far as payroll and all the fun stuff that we have to do to run a grooming business in today’s day.

Joe Zuccarello: To all of the Hey Joe listener audience out there, you heard both Kathie and BC use the word heart. I will tell you that these folks have a big heart. Once you start following them, they have a real unconditional love for each other, but also a love for their hobbies, for pet nutrition, for the dogs and giving back to their community through helping needy dogs in the community through some make-overs and such. They’ve been focused on television, news channels and things. So I can’t wait to dig right in and allow them an opportunity to share with you guys, the audience out there, how they build this culture.

Joe Zuccarello: So let’s just dive right in guys that building a better culture in your grooming business. I know that one of the main ingredients, it starts in the beginning, right? So it starts with that recruiting or that selection process, that hiring process, and it’s just so important. Can you give us kind of an idea of maybe where do you look for new team members that might have this, this potential that you might be able to draw to them, whether they’re existing talent out there or skill level or green just with a lot of drive. Where do you search for people?

BC Henschen: So all of the above in reference to what we’re looking for. A green groomer, a seasoned groomer, it doesn’t matter to us. I always say that any groomer that wants to apply here, we’re going to talk to regardless if we have the space or not because if we find that perfect member, we’ll make the space, the “perfect member” is very hard to come by. So we do a lot of the online sites, the big job placement type places. We’ll run ads there. I try and put in keywords of some of our competitors, more the big boxes, so that I can try and find applicants that have already worked in places in grooming.

BC Henschen: But the key is their mind and their raw talent, if you will, if we’re talking about a green groomer. So the typical spot or the typical process for me as the mesh writer, if potential groomer calls and says, “Are you hiring?” I’ll say, “Come in and talk to me.” And then I’ll get a feel for them as far as what are they looking for financially, what are their longterm goals, kind of what their passion is. And then if they get through me, then they’re going to go back and talk to Kathie and not only talk to Kathie, but they’re going to talk to all of us because we’re a big family here. So even though it is up to Kathie and I who we hire, if somebody rubs one of our other existing staff members wrong, we’re not going to hire that person because we want to make sure our existing team who’s been with us for years and, in some cases, almost since we started, we want to keep that core always is happy as we can. So once I’m done with them, I turn them over to Kathie and then she looks for some specifics.

Kathie Henschen: Yeah. So once they’re with me, I do a working interview. So they have to pass BC’s phone interview and face-on-face interview. And then once they come to me, they’re actually coming in for the day for a few hours to groom a couple of dogs and be in the work environment along with my other teammates. So what we look for when we are working with someone new or wanting to work for us is are they willing to make a change. I don’t care how long you’ve been grooming, I don’t care if you just started grooming, we have a way that we like to do things at Platinum Paws, and I’m sure it’s that way with all the grooming shops. But we have a certain expectation that needs to be met because that’s the expectation of our customers. We have very high standard as far as just the work and prep work.

Kathie Henschen: I want people to have their own outlet as far as their artistry is concerned. So I’m not going to be nit picky about everything, but there are certain basics like shaving the hair out of the pads. It needs to be 100% clean unless otherwise told by the customer or there’s an allergy issue, and it can’t be done or something like that. The potty patch, the nails need to be as short as possible and as round as possible. We trim every single dog’s nails. Ears plus and cleaned out depending on the dog, that’s kind of a controversy right now, the pluck or not the pluck, and I take it on a dog-by-dog basis and how is that done and how are they making those decisions.

Joe Zuccarello: So let me ask you a quick question then. I mean, I love that you have this stair-step approach so that the person that is looking to be a new team member, or as you put it, part of your family, right, not only goes through the face to face or a phone interview and then a face to face with BC, but then also moves into more of a practical testing or try out with you, Kathie. And then also meeting the rest of the team. And to your point, BC, if they rub, anybody on the team wrong early when they should be on their best behavior trying to land that perfect job at the perfect place. It’s important that the team is involved in that process as well.

Joe Zuccarello: If one of our Hey Joe listener audience members out there is trying to, trying to create like a checklist, do you entertain training groomers as well, so somebody with no skill, a little skill or even a great amount of skill. I like what you said, Kathie. You said even an existing groomer or groomer with skills has got to be willing to change to fit your standards and your mold and your culture. I think that’s where we sometimes run ourselves a little short. I guess kind of dial it back just a half a step and say, do you have attributes and are you willing to train from scratch?

Kathie Henschen: I actually do have one homegrown groomer. She came to me when she was 16 and asked if she could work for me, and I told her no. She came back a few weeks later and asked me again and I told her no, again. She came back a couple of weeks later and she asked again and then finally I said, “Okay, fine.” She started out as a bather here, and she is now married 27, and is expecting a child. So she has been with us for a very long time. She has gone through up the ladder, and it has been challenging for her at times to meet the expectations of this grooming shop. But she’s trudged through it all, and she’s a very good groomer now. I almost-

Joe Zuccarello: So persistence is one of the boxes that they have to check?

Kathie Henschen: Of course. Exactly. Yeah. I really admire that out of her. She’s a very strong-willed person. I almost prefer no experience because that’s an easier person for me to mold and to teach things, rather then a season groomer who already has maybe picked up some bad habits or has a way of doing things, and they’re set in that way, and they’re not willing to change or be teachable. Because sometimes that can be frustrating where they might start out wanting to do that for you, but then it ends up where they go back to their old ways or the old habits in it. It can become a little bit challenging that way. But with someone new and green, you have a fresh slate. It will take a lot longer, but in the end, you have something that is beautiful and awesome relationship as well.

Joe Zuccarello: So let’s say you’ve found that perfect person and you found the person with some drive, some initiative, we’ve already established they need to be persistent. They go through your whole screening process, and they’re hired, they have the job. So, for your new employees, what do you do to kind of start them off on the right track? So is there a process that you go through for, let’s say, onboarding or new employee initiation? Kind of take us down the pathway of maybe their first few days or first few weeks or first few months at Platinum Paws.

Kathie Henschen: Sure. New groomers with us will always start in the bathing room. I believe, and so does my entire staff is that the bath is foundation. Without a good bath and dry out blow out, you are not going to get the most of the groom that you can get. So we go through, with the new person, different techniques that we use in the bathing process, how we bath, what products that we use are several out there for decreasing and for conditioning and for itching and things like that. I mean, it even goes down to how you clean a face, what tools you use to clean a face, how do you get the undercoat out, what products do you use to do that.

Kathie Henschen: I mean, there’s so many things that go into the bath. And then how do you dry them? Which direction do you dry the hair? What dogs use a force dryer on, what jobs do you use a fluff dryer on? We go through all of those things. it can be really tedious in the beginning and so a lot of information for people. And then after we’re squared away in the bathing process… I know people aren’t going to get it all in first couple of days, I understand that it’s going to take months before they get it all down. I’m really patient about that. After bathing, we talk about prep work. Prep work is nails, pads, potties plucking the ears. We have very specific ways on how we do all of those things.

Kathie Henschen: We’ll set them at the table after they have their dog cleaned and dried and say, “Okay, go ahead and do all the prep work.” Then I go over and I check all their prep work. If that is satisfactory, then we move them on into the haircut. We teach them how to read. We all have computers set up and the process of going into the computer and looking up the notes and knowing are there any pet warnings, are there any special instructions, things that there’s a lot that goes into it. It takes a long time. I would say after hiring a new hire, it’s probably going to be a minimum of six months before they’re really on track the way that they need to be on track.

Joe Zuccarello: Well, and I think that’s where a lot of grooming salon owners and managers and any pet care services business, usually when we are hiring, we’re in need, so we have a gap to fill. But it sounds like to me as going back to what BSE said earlier in our talk together today was when somebody reaches out to you proactively and says, “Are you hiring?” I’ve heard other groomer say they answer that, “We’re always hiring.” When you think you’re fully staffed is when you’re not fully staffed. What I like about that is use a couple of words I want to kind of unpack for just a moment, and you said it’s tedious. That’s a word that somebody uses when they have felt the frustration of the time it takes to onboard somebody and to prepare somebody to be a good contributing member of the team.

Joe Zuccarello: But then you back that up by saying that you’ve got to be patient and that it’s worth it. I think you said investing. I mean you’ve used some really powerful words. Those are words that, all of us specifics aside like, product knowledge and tool knowledge and usage and just the processes of the grooming processes themselves. On a bigger, more lofty scale, it’s those attributes that you have as your business owners, as leaders and knowing that tedious has to be answered by patient, and time has to be answered by looking at it as an investment. You said that you get something beautiful on the end of that. I guess the big first tip that I would like to be able to share as a takeaway here is, don’t wait until you need somebody to start adding to your team.

Joe Zuccarello: Because adding somebody to your team, let’s face it, you could make a poor hiring decision and that person doesn’t work out, or it was a great hiring decision, but they made a poor employment decision, and that job might just not be for them. So to kind of sum up, that that new employee initiation and onboarding, it’s tedious, but you need to be patient in your investment. You started to kind of go down this path earlier, but from a culture building standpoint, from what makes you feel good and what makes the team feel good, when you’re defining those expectations and those standards, what sets Platinum Paws apart from, we’re not going to name any names of course, but from maybe others that share the market with you or just… I mean, you guys know a lot of people in the industry. What makes your culture so special? Why do people stay with you so long? So unpack that, how do you define the expectations and the standards for them?

BC Henschen: Well, I’ll jump in on some of this because Kathie, she doesn’t like blowing our own horn. But she and this shot is about quality. I mean, I know a lot of shops like to say that, but we really are about quality, quality over quantity. I think the groomers that we have found or trained want to do really quality work. And sometimes they may be in a higher production salon and feel kind of squashed over time, that you need to get this dog out the door. And that will of course happen here as it will in any shop. You have clients who say, “I need this dog done by 2:00.” But even on those rush jobs, we’re still focused on quality. I think the groomers that find their way here can probably make more money elsewhere. But they want to get into a salon where they have benefits, they get paid vacations, they get a steady paycheck and they can express their art more than they can in other salons at other times.

BC Henschen: And then the other thing that I always talk about, I mean our location. When you talk about business, people always say, “Location, location, location.” Well, that also adds on to the type of clientele that you get. So, if we were in another part of the city, maybe in one of those salons that Kathie worked at briefly when she was going through school, when she was doing some apprenticeships, they were doing haircuts for $35 that we do for 65 because they weren’t in quality. The people bringing in the dogs didn’t care if the shit to lip was done or not. We’re in a place where the owners are very demanding and they want the best for their pets.

Joe Zuccarello: So what you’re saying is that in your culture, not only are you defining your own expectations and that accountability for you and your team, but you’re also defining the accountability that the customers hold you to in the quality and safety of their pet while they’re temporarily in your care getting beautiful that day. So it’s about accountability and making sure, if I can sum it up in that one word, you hold yourselves to a higher standard, so therefore, of course you’re going to hold your team to a higher standard. I’m a big fan of picky customers because I think picky and demanding customers… Now, I’m not talking about irrational or disrespectful customers, I’m talking about the ones that care and the ones that realize that the money that they’re spending, which sounds like it’s a premium, but they’re also going to get a premium value for that. So they appreciate that, therefore they’re going to hold us accountable.

Joe Zuccarello: So I really like that in the grooming industry, I think we are turning a corner. It’s a slow long corner, but I think we are turning a corner and saying, “Listen, it’s time that we’re held accountable, and if we’re not going to hold ourselves accountable, then the customers can hold us accountable.” That’s why I do a seminar called Mr. and Mrs. Picky, where we welcome Picky. Again, not unreasonable or irrational.

BC Henschen: With a picky client that knows exactly what they want than a customer that has no clue what they want. Yeah, I hate that very much.

Joe Zuccarello: So you get these new people and whether you’re training somebody or they come in with a little bit of skill and you’re polishing their skill sets and such, as you’re building your team, and your team has been super solid. I mean, I’m just impressed by how long the average person has been part of your family, they’re your team. I think a lot of it probably has to do with how you recognize them. And not recognize them all the time. We think of recognition and we think of positive recognition, but sometimes people, we offer recognition and helps counsel or coach to help correct some shortcomings in either their behavior, their conduct or quality, their whatever. But give us a couple of ideas of how do you measure performance. How do you know when your team is doing it correctly, and how do they know when they’re doing it correctly?

Kathie Henschen: Oh, well, that’s a really good question. As far as recognition is concerned, I will go out of my way to say, “Hey, that looks awesome.” Or the person next to me at the table, if their dog just looks immaculate, I cannot help but say, “Oh my gosh, that dog is gorgeous.” I just lather them with compliments. Also, I feel like recognition is given by giving people more responsibilities. I have someone that directs the bathers. She’ll give the lineup for the bathers. Okay, this is the dog that needs to go next and this is what needs to be done. Or you need to go see the groomer for this. So giving that responsibility to someone gives them more play in the game and it gives them more of a leg to stand on in the business, like they mean something and they matter and they have a plate.

Kathie Henschen: I think that in itself is a recognition to their skill and their ability. Also, on the other end, if we have some shortcomings to deal with, I try and find ways to handle those where it is teaching and not degrading. So I would never want to hurt somebody’s feelings or make them feel bad or less than or not good enough. That’s a horrible thing to do. So what I try to do is I’ll team them up. Let’s say a groomer is having a problem with how a bather is cleaning a face or getting the undercoat out, then I’ll look at the schedule in the next week and I’ll say, “Okay. Well, I’m going to have her work with you on this dog on this day. Do you have time to do that? Can you show her some things and some tips that you would like her to try?”

Kathie Henschen: That’s how I deal with shortcomings. I try to make it another training session and then I give kudos to person for making the changes that they need to make and just try and stay on top of it that way. I don’t like to micromanage. As much as I am a stickler for quality, I also am not a micromanager, which I know that’s hard to have those both on the same page, but it is true for me. I hate micromanaging. I mean, I like to be able to trust the people that work for me and trust their judgment and I do. I think that they trust me in my judgment. I know I have a very strong work ethic. Because of that strong work ethic, I think that rubs off on everybody else as well. I mean, I think they come to me that way, but everybody here works so hard.

Kathie Henschen: One of my groomers has been with me for 14 years, and she’s called in a total of two times. One time, she couldn’t walk because she hurt her back, and the other time, she had a family emergency. So I think that’s really impressive. I don’t hear that a lot from other grooming salons. I feel like if you want your team to do be certain ways and do certain things, then you need to be that way too. So that’s what I try to do.

Joe Zuccarello: Well, what you’re summing up there is something that I’ve said before, which is tone from the top. You’re demonstrating the behavior and the attributes that you look for. Kathie, just instinctively, the way that you’re asking for them to improve their skills by partnering them up with somebody at a peer level. Somebody that has that superpower year, you’re asking them to mentor. Not in a degrading way, you would never want somebody to feel any less deserving, infect, or more deserving if they have a shortcoming. And then recognizing the person that did the mentoring and the teaching. That is a real special thing that that really does define a culture.

Joe Zuccarello: And again, I know you, and I know that your energy level must be just off the charts. So, if you bring that energy level to the workplace, that’s also going to rub off on everybody. Sometimes, we get stuck in a rut. There’s a difference between being in a rut and in your groove. So I’m always telling people, “Get in a groove and not a rut.” There’s a big difference between the two. BC, I think you were going to say something, and I might’ve stepped on you there, so go ahead.

BC Henschen: Oh, that’s all right. That’s all right. Again, Kathie, not wanting to blow our own horn, but everything that she expects of her team, she’s done. She’s here. She mentioned that one of our key people, that’s two days, I don’t think Kathie’s missed that, unless it was for surgery. So Kathie’s opens this shop every day. She is here every day. If there’s a hard to handle dog or let’s say a mess in a crate, Kathie’s going to clean it up if she’s the first one to notice it. She’s not going to have somebody else do that work. That relates just like you’re talking about when they see that that’s kind of the road they start going down. And then the other thing, which actually very, very wise, almost older gentleman taught me this I think 15 years ago in a seminar, how we speak to our groomers being non groomers is important. The thing that I was taught by this person was they’re not employees, they’re talent.

BC Henschen: That’s how the conversations need to go. Would you tell Picasso that that painting looks horrible? No. You might just say things like, “Not my taste.” Maybe the customer was looking for a different vision. With your immense skill and abilities, do you think you might be able to get closer to what they’re seeing? Those are the types of conversations that I have as a non groomer with my grooming staff. But the last thing that I would ever do is walk in and say to any of them, “Hey, that dog didn’t look good. The customer didn’t like it, everything was wrong.” That’s not the way to communicate with a grooming team or talent.

Joe Zuccarello: Well, and most of the time, what we find is that in any relationship, it’s based on good or bad communication. So, if there was something that was not correct or somebody didn’t maybe hit the mark that we know that their potential is, it’s sometimes we haven’t defined what that expectation is, we haven’t modeled that. I know that that’s where you guys really do shine a Platinum Paws is what I would call servant leadership. Not unique. That’s not a term that I dubbed. But that’s something I picked up along the way to say servant leadership. Some people would say it’s one of those I would never ask my staff to do anything that I wouldn’t do. That’s one way of putting it.

Joe Zuccarello: But it’s not necessarily just that, it’s just serving them to sometimes not do a task like even cleaning up a mess, although that’s a great example, but it is serving them to make sure that we are assisting them and being the best that they can be. Part of that is obviously honesty. Sometimes, those conversations are kind of tough to have. But what I’ve found is that the longer we let it go, the worse it gets. What I know about you guys and what I’ve just heard is you also approach it quickly. Kathie, you said a moment ago if somebody is slipping or somebody didn’t quite hit the mark on something or needs to polish their skill, you’re on it within minutes, days, so that next week they’re spending some time getting better in that skill set versus it just festering and potentially putting in that same situation again.

Joe Zuccarello: So, as you’re building your team, so your team is slowly increasing and slowly getting bigger and getting even better in their talent, do you guys do anything that you consider unique when it comes to team building? Already, you call it a family, which I think is really great, and I don’t think there’s a lot. I mean, there’s a lot of salons that do that, but there’s also a lot of salons that don’t. Is there anything unique that you do for team building?

BC Henschen: The first thing that comes to mind for me is we’re going to encourage anything outside of Platinum Paws that they would like to do as far as continuing. There’s occasion, trade shows, anything along that lines. We have one groomer besides Kathie that wants to compete and has competed. In fact, she’s taken some awards already, even being new to the competition circuit. But in that case, we pay for their travel. But this groomer’s going to Atlanta, so we paid for the flight to Atlanta, we paid for the hotel room, we paid for registration fees. We do whatever it takes on that to help her out in her competitions. If there’s a trade show close to us like in Chicago, then everybody might go to if they want to. If they don’t, it’s okay.

BC Henschen: Again, the other key to plan Platinum Paws is we groom Monday through Friday. We don’t groom them weekends. Groomers are here starting at 8:00 AM, and they leave when they’re done. That is an advantage because as you know, a lot of the shops are working hard on Saturdays or even maybe seven days a week. If you have a family or you have a husband that works a traditional schedule, it can be hard to be off schedule. So we started out grooming just like everybody else. We groom Tuesday through Saturday, and then we quickly changed that around. As we got better and started hiring people, we realized that we could take away Saturdays and still have a full schedule. Again, the demographics of our area, they aren’t worried about needing just the weekends because they’re working their job, they have figured out they can drop off on the way in or maybe they have a stay at home or whatever.

BC Henschen: But for us, we groom Monday through Friday. A lot of groomers like that. Especially like Kathie mentioned, we got no groomers that are starting families or have existing families. They like that consistency of the schedule. We also give the week off of Christmas. And again, that’s a benefit to people. You’re going to be off the entire week of Christmas. For us, it made sense because we get so many cancellations over that holiday that we were able to kind of make our schedule and our groomer schedule work that they don’t have to be in. And then kind of the last thing more, again, my view is the ministrative end is all of our groomers are paid basically SALARY. they all get salary. They don’t have to hit a time clock or anything like that. They make the same amount of money no matter what. So if you have a lighter day, you’re done at two o’clock, you’re still getting paid for the whole eight hours, even if you leave at two o’clock. Same with that week of Christmas, you’re still getting paid.

BC Henschen: We are responsible for bringing the customers to the groomers. We don’t want groomers to have to book out their own schedules, we don’t want them to have to worry about do they have enough dogs or do they have too many dogs. That’s our responsibility as owners is to make sure that our employees get everything they need, that means client, that means equipment, that means sharpening, that means whatever.

Kathie Henschen: And then a couple of things that stuck out to me as far as he said, team building outside of work. Well, there’s two favorite things that I have. One of them is the photo shoot for the Christmas card, and then the second one is the Christmas centers. So the photo shoot, we have every year in October. We always try to make our Christmas cards that we send to our clients hilarious. Everybody has a really fun time trying to come up with different scenes and different scenarios, who’s going to say what, how are we gonna do her hair? We always set up the photo shoot right after work so it won’t take away too much time from people’s outside the lines. Everybody always gets super excited about it. We have a makeup artist come in and do makeup. We have a photographer on site. It’s just so much fun to do that.

Kathie Henschen: And then we send the cards out. Every year, customers are so excited to see these cards because they’re hilarious, and we get told over and over again how awesome they are. It’s the only card they have hanging up or it’s the only card their college wants to come home and see. They ask for it as soon as they get through the door, “Where’s the Platinum Paws’ Christmas cards?” We have restaurants that hang up, gas stations and hang up our Christmas card. It’s amazing.

Kathie Henschen: Then the Christmas dinner. We always treat our employees to an extremely fancy, nice Christmas dinner at the end of the year. I say starting in October, everybody starts talking about, “What dress are you going to get? How are you going to do your hair? What shoes are you going to wear?” It just becomes a whole topic of discussion for days in the shop about everybody’s tie. Are you going to make your husband wear a matching tie? Things like that. It’s just really fun. In the past, we’ve done things together outside of work. I think we’ve gone to fairs, I can’t think of anything else, movie here and there. Yeah, we went bowling once. So yeah. I mean, we do a few things outside of work, but the two most popular ones in my head are the Christmas card photo shoot and then the Christmas dinner.

Joe Zuccarello: Go ahead, BC.

BC Henschen: I had to wear the matching tie.

Joe Zuccarello: I was just going to ask you how many years have you worn the matching tie.

BC Henschen: I don’t get a choice over what I wear to the holiday dinner.

Kathie Henschen: I think they made people wear a tie last year.

Joe Zuccarello: At least it wasn’t a matching dress, I’m just saying. Although, I would pay really good money to see a photo of that. Okay. So I’m going to sum up on what you just kind of captured there. I just let you go because that was a really special moment because you’re beaming about your business, you’re beaming about your customers, and you’re beaming about your team. It’s that that authenticity that you bring to the workplace that before a light switch is turned on, before the computers are turned around or whatever, you have established that culture every day of your grooming business.

Joe Zuccarello: That was one of the reasons why when I started to think about new topics and new series for the Hey Joe podcast, I thought talking about building a culture that people don’t want to leave. In a day when it’s so competitive and we’re seeming to always be short-staffed, what subject matter experts out there do I know personally and I’ve seen it witnessed it myself that I could put in front of the Hey Joe podcast audience. You guys did not let me down and you did not let the audience down. I don’t want to end our podcast at all, but we have to. But I don’t want to end our podcast at all until we start talking about Ninja Groomer a little bit.

Kathie Henschen: That’s okay.

Joe Zuccarello: So Kathie, I have seen some video of your training, and oh my gosh. And even worse, I’ve seen video of your hands during the training and blisters. You go back to the salon and you groom. Oh my God. That’s brutal.

Kathie Henschen: Yeah. I’m actually tired right now because I missed an obstacle last night I was supposed to catch. So my head got it instead.

Joe Zuccarello: Oh my gosh.

Kathie Henschen: But yeah, this has been a passion of mine. I was four years old and I saw gymnastics on TV. In that moment, and I remember the moment like it was yesterday, I knew that I was meant to do that. It was the same thing that happened to me when I watched that show on TV. I sat back in the chair and I was like, “I’m going to do that someday, and I want to do that someday.” When I first started saying that, I didn’t really believe the words that were coming out of my mouth because I’m like, “That’s a ridiculous dream. You’re never going to get there.” But then I have a husband that is so motivating and so powerful. He is always there pushing me to do my dreams, no matter what they are. They aren’t silly to him. They’re everything to him.

Kathie Henschen: So he always seeks out different avenues for me to explore my dreams. One of them was going to the Ninja gym to start training because he was tired of me talking about it and not doing anything about it. So I went there, and the first night that I was there, I was hooked from the very start. That was two years ago, and I said, myself, I’m going to train for two years, and then I’m going to apply for the show. So that’s what I did. I trained for two years, and I have applied for the show. I’ve competed in local competitions, and then I competed in the world finals last year for UNAA in Minnesota and I placed in the top 10 in the 40 and over division for women.

Kathie Henschen: It hasn’t been easy along the way. It has been rewarding and it has been amazing. It has also been very painful at times, emotionally and physically. But I have met a community of people that is loving and caring, but at the same time, competitive. I have so many friends on my team that I’m also looking at, okay, I want to do that just like she’s doing it or I want to do that better than she’s doing that. We push each other. It’s really good to have teammates that you’re friends with, but also that you compete against because that’s just what’s going to make you better.

Joe Zuccarello: You talk about passion outside of grooming. You have this passion I thought of grooming. It would be terribly rude for anybody to ever ask you your age. I’m not going to do that. But you kind of keyed us in and told us that you’re over 40 because you’re in the over 40 division. But oh my gosh. I mean, if you’re not an inspiration to other groomers out there… Listen guys, Hey Joe listener audience out there, you don’t need to necessarily go and become Ninja Groomers on your own. That’d be really awesome. But just find something. It’s never too late to find your new passion. I mean, obviously you started that in your 40s, which is spectacular and what an accomplishment. You set a goal for yourself. So sometimes what I like about that, and I know the word balance has a lot of different meanings when you’re talking about training for your superpower. But it’s just a balance of your lifestyle. Now, you have Ninja equipment in your home?

Kathie Henschen: Yes.

Joe Zuccarello: I mean, I’ve seen some rooms recently built out for Ninja.

Kathie Henschen: We have a barn. We live on a farm. One of our barns has a second floor and is in the process of being renovated into a Ninja gym. My husband and brother have schemed together and made these amazing rigs. One of them is installed so far as for shay and then also for the numb checks and the balls and the rings. I get to play on that when I have time. It’s so much fun and it has made me stronger and it’s made me better. I’m just so grateful that I have a husband and a brother that know how to make that kind of stuff and what to make that kind of stuff for me. So the support that I have is amazing. I don’t just have it from them, I have it from all my customers and then my teammates as well.

Joe Zuccarello: Well, and I think now you’re going to have extra support from the Hey Joe listener audience out there too. So speaking of support, how can they watch your videos? How can they learn more about Kathie as Ninja Groomer? So BC, are there ways for people now that are anxious to go and kind of learn more about Kathie and her endeavors? How do they see these things?

BC Henschen: Absolutely. We have Instagram, which is-

Kathie Henschen: The Ninja Groomer.

BC Henschen: … the Ninja Groomer, which is Kathie’s favorite outlet, I guess. And then there is a Facebook page, which is Slash Ninja Groomer. But I would tell all your listeners to just checkout Platinum Paws on Facebook as well because everything Kathie does, we kind of try and cross post. She mentioned there’s a lot of her customers supporting we actually sell tee shirts and sweatshirts with the Ninja Groomer logo on it in the shop. So there’s clients of ours that are wearing those shirts and talk to her all the time about how she’s doing. Our MBS in camp wait for her to be on that national TV show.

BC Henschen: As an industry, as you know, I was involved with World Pet Association. I try and look at things beyond just what Kathie and I do. But if she gets on that television show to have a spotlight on pet grooming, is going to be awesome for our industry and help change some of those minds of people that look at groomers in different ways. So I’m hoping that that all comes through. The TV show does have other pets related. There’s the Canine Ninja is on there who does rescue work, but Kathie will be the only pet groomer if she does come to that.

Joe Zuccarello: When she gets on the show, I’ll tell you what, I’m going to challenge the entire Hey Joe listener audience out there to go and support Kathie Henschen as the Ninja Groomer. We will put all of the links to how you find their information, we’re going to put all of that on our website under the Hey Joe podcast page on the paragonpetschool.com website. So go there. You can go right to that page, click on the links, and you can find everything about not only BC, but Kathie, Platinum Paws and Ninja Groomer guys. Thank you so much for participating in this. I get first dibs on an interview when you’re super famous on a show.

Kathie Henschen: Absolutely. You do.

Joe Zuccarello: I’m claiming my ground right now.

Kathie Henschen: All right.

Joe Zuccarello: All right guys, thank you so much. I appreciate it. We wish you all and your team the very best.

Kathie Henschen: Thank you so much for having us.

About Joe

Joe Zuccarello is president 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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