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Victor Rosado: I Want to Compete!

Special Guests

Victor Rosado ICMG/NCMG

Victor Rosado is renowned in the industry for being a top groomer, active speaker, coach, seminarist, and presenter worldwide. He possesses extensive experience in grooming and conformation, having won multiple "Best In Show" and "Best All Around" plus more than 100 awards in Sporting, Handstripping, Scissored Breeds and Poodles Tournaments combined. He is a National Certified Master Groomer with NDGAA, International Certified Master Groomer and is a certifier with IPG. Victor is also a European Grooming Association (EGA) All Rounder Grooming Contest Judge and a Licensed All Breeds Conformation Judge for FCPR/FCI. As a competitive groomer, Victor has received numerous accolades, including: Barkleigh Honors recipient in 2016, 2017 and 2018; World Grooming Gold Champion in Belgium 2017; Hall of Fame groomer at Groom Team USA; GT Travel Team member for Belgium 2017 and France 2020. He was ranked #1 Groomer in the United States Of America for 2017 and received the Barkleigh Honors Groomer of the Year award in 2017 & 2018, plus the Best International Groomer award in 2018/Madrid Spain. Mr. Rosado is a Member of the American Spaniel Club, AKC Breeder of Merit, exhibitor of American Cocker Spaniels for 25 years under the registered Showstar prefix with multiple Best In Show and Best In Specialty Shows wins with Champions and Grand Multi Champions. He is an Oster Ambassador in Latin America, a Purina Pro Plan Ambassador, and owner of Davis Puerto Rico and Edugroom.

Victor Rosado: I Want to Compete!

In this episode, Joe Zuccarello talks to grooming superstar Victor Rosado about competitive dog grooming. Get professional tips on how to overcome competition fear, how to build your skills and timing, and who you’re really competing against!

  • What should an aspiring grooming competitor plan for when thinking about competing?
  • What surprises will you face when competing?
  • What should a competitor do to prepare for the ring?
  • How does a competitor get over being intimidated or afraid to compete?
  • Where does competition take a groomer in their career?

Tune in to find out.


Speaker 1: 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: Hello again everyone. This is Joe Zuccarello, your host with the Hey Joe Podcast. This is a podcast where you get to listen in on a real-life coaching call between myself and an industry expert or answering questions, all of the time, that we get from you, our listener audience. You can submit your questions for us to find an expert to talk with. Our email address is heyjoequestions@paragonpetschool.com.

Joe Zuccarello: Today, we are speaking with Victor Rosado. This is Victor’s second guest appearance on the Hey Joy Podcast and we’re thrilled that he’s agreed to join us again. The last time we spoke with Victor, we talked about his career start and how he got hooked on dog grooming. But now, we’re going to be talking about the competitive world and what it takes to become a competitor in this wonderful industry or what it takes to at least plan on becoming a competitor and actually, who are you truly competing against?

Joe Zuccarello: So, Victor is going to shed some incredible words of wisdom with you and I’m sure that you’re going to get a lot out of that, so take some time, listen to Victor. As you will see, Victor is such an accomplished grooming professional and that will come across immediately and throughout our entire interview together. So again, if you have any questions that you’d like for us to cover, please send us an email at heyjoequestions@paragonpetschool.com and check us out at paragonpetschool.com or our membership site, which is learntogroomdogs.com. All right, let’s start our interview with Victor.

Joe Zuccarello: Hello again, Hey Joe listener audience. This is Joe Zuccarello, your host of the Hey Joe Podcast. And we are very, very excited to bring Victor Rosado back to the Hey Joe Podcast. Victor is one of the most successful groomers and influences in the pet industry at this current time and I don’t think there’s really any stopping this guy. He’s all over the world, he’s a world traveler and a world influencer and we are just thrilled to have Victor with us. Victor, you for joining us again.

Victor Rosado: Oh, thank you very much. And thank you for those words. It just made my day.

Joe Zuccarello: Well, I’ll tell you, people came up to me before and they’re like … when I used to be a professor at a university, they’d come up and they’d say, “Why did you give me this grade?” I said, “I didn’t give you a grade. You earned that grade.” So in this regard, you earn those accolades. So that’s something you should be proud of.

Victor Rosado: I am grateful every day and just look at the sky. I’m like, “I’m so blessed to be in this planet,” and be able to be in this portion of the time that I just can do something and enjoy the joy of life.

Joe Zuccarello: Yeah. Well, you know what, I love hearing that you had that perspective because sometimes our pet professionals out there, and really I guess any profession that somebody is in, we can get lost in the day-to-day. We can kind of put our head in the sand and our success is just getting through today and we just kind of hit the repeat button again tomorrow. And the topic of our time together today is forward-thinking and what can a groomer do to prepare for at least a notion or even realizing the dream of competing.

Joe Zuccarello: So, there are a few competitors out there that have the accolades and the achievements that you do and I think your information for them will be very important. On our last podcast, you shared your story about how young Victor got started in the pet grooming industry and how you recognized early that there’s more to grooming the new shaving down a dog.

Victor Rosado: Yeah, absolutely.

Joe Zuccarello: And that was kind of a springboard for this topic and I thought, “Well, okay, if he recognized that and he’s been a very accomplished and successful competitor, I bet there’s a number of our audience numbers out there that would love to hear your story.”

Joe Zuccarello: So before we get started, this is the Hey Joe Podcast brought to you by Paragon School of Pet Grooming and learntogroomdogs.com. It’s a streaming membership program where you can learn from experts about different breed types, techniques, tips and tricks and so on and so on, so you can check us out at learntogroomdogs.com.

Joe Zuccarello: So, Victor, there are a lot of groomers out there that have just crazy great skills and some of them are still wanting more. So as groomers begin to get faster and their skills improve and their techniques improve, what should a groomer, who’s out there, that might be considering competing, what should they plan for if they’re thinking about beginning to compete?

Victor Rosado: Well, first, I think they need to evaluate their life, where they are and how far that they want to go. I think in my case, I was just grooming every single day and I really enjoyed my time on the grooming table with each dog. But you just wanted to do something more and challenge yourself and face your fears and just do something more. And that’s when grooming competition comes to not only help you to guide your skills but for you to get better.

Victor Rosado: There’s so many rumors out there with a lot of skills and passion. We just need to guide them through it. As a matter of fact, I just came from judging All American Grooming Show and I was impressed about the entry and intermediate level, groomers that are just starting their competition career. How good they are, so they’re getting better and better. There are more newcomers, more groomers that they’re just thinking about competing or they’re just starting.

Joe Zuccarello: So Victor, you said that they need to evaluate their life. Do they need to schedule time in their life to accommodate the planning and preparation associated with competing?

Victor Rosado: It all depends where you want to go. In the beginning, in my personal experience, my first competition was all about just going once and try. Let me see how good I am when I compare my work with all the people because I thought I was good. I was like, “Oh, I’m one of the main groomers of the city,” and I have always been a very competitive person. But I thought, in my mind, that I was really good at it and I’m like, “Well, this is the time for me to just compare my work with other people.” Well, in the beginning, I found that I needed a little bit more than training and attitude, so I needed more preparation and training, but it was just like that. Let me see how good I am.

Victor Rosado: But then I said, “I want to become certified,” and they gave the option to compete with your dog and get certified with National Grooming Association of America or the International Professional Groomers. And I’m like, “Well, I can do two things at once. I can get certified and I can also compete.” And that was my second motivation to step into the competition ring and basically, that’s how it started. But some people, they just want to do that. But some people, they just wanted to make alive out of it. They want to compete full-time. They wanted to become part of GroomTeam USA. Some people have that goal. I then eventually had that goal. I was dreaming to be one of the top groomers of United States of America. And it depends if you wanted to do full-time or just one time or just a couple of shows a year. You have to really define what you want to.

Joe Zuccarello: So Victor, when you say one of the first times that you competed, how many times did you compete before you placed or won?

Victor Rosado: I think I compete three times before my first placement. Yeah, like three times. I always did Atlanta Pet Fair in March and Fun In The Sun in Orlando. That was my two shows that I was just doing and I remember I was in intermediate because I was showing dogs and I was a dog show judge, so I couldn’t go in entry-level, so I did intermediate. It’s a little bit more difficult. But then, I tried a couple of times and I went out without any ribbon but with more desire to go again and try again because I knew, I’m like, “I think I can do this.”

Joe Zuccarello: You’re looking at some of the other tables and you’re like, “I can beat that. I can do that.”

Victor Rosado: Well, more than that. I can be better than that. And that’s when you try to challenge yourself and you try to beat yourself and that’s basically your competition. It’s you. It’s not anyone. There is no one. It’s only you. So if you think that way, then you’re going to have a good career or you’re going to compete, you’re going to enjoy the competition. But if you compete against people, then you’re not going to last for a long time. It’s going to be different.

Joe Zuccarello: Do you remember what show it was or where you were at when you first placed or when you first won?

Victor Rosado: Oh yes. My first placement was Fun In The Sun and I got second in intermediate. It was really exciting. I still have that plaque. It’s here in my house and I just treasure it.

Joe Zuccarello: That’s very exciting.

Joe Zuccarello: So when you were first starting, and obviously it sounds like you learned a lot on your own, but what lessons would … because there was a lot to think about, right? You’re balancing a career because you’re a full-time groomer, full-time pet stylist and you’re having to balance this new passion or this new interest that you have in competing. If somebody would have been able to get in your ear, somebody would have been able to tell you something, what lessons did you learn that you wished maybe somebody would have told you about in your early days?

Victor Rosado: Just determination, I think is one of them and always try to educate yourself from inside out. I think it’s one of the biggest things that I was working with and my self-esteem also and some things that I just worked on. It wasn’t nothing related to grooming. It was basically everything related to my inside and how I was responding to the outside in different situations of life.

Victor Rosado: I started competition a little bit more intense because one day, I was grooming, grooming, grooming with my big store and I was really feeling burnout about the amount of work. I was making a lot of money but not enough time to spend it. And one day, I decided to just put my money on investment and on a distribution company and I just closed the door one day and I’m like, “Okay, how do I manage to be without a store, without a grooming salon seven days a week? How do I manage my time?” And that’s how I just put all my energies to grooming competitions. It took all that free time and that’s how I started full-time to try to achieve that GroomTeam USA. That was my goal once I got certified.

Joe Zuccarello: If I were going to kind of summarize what you said, it’s you have to get it in your head that you’re going to do it and your only competitor is yourself, your greatest competitor is yourself. And along the way though, I bet that you probably had some … when you don’t know what you don’t know is one of my phrases, when you don’t know what it is to expect, I’m sure that you had some surprises maybe that caught you off guard. Maybe good or bad. Do you have any surprise stories that you can tell the Hey Joe listener audience about?

Victor Rosado: When I think about it right away, I just think I have never imagined that I was going to achieve what I have accomplished now and all the amazing people that I have met on my way. I think it’s incredible. The people, the places, the things that we can do once we get into the industry gives you so many options for growth. I can build my career based on competition, but there are some people that just build career on education, on schools and it’s a big industry and give us opportunity to do many, many things.

Victor Rosado: So for me, I have never imagined I was going to be able to meet these amazing amount of people that I call angels, that’s how I call them, angels on my way to get where I am right now.

Joe Zuccarello: That’s really cool. I love how you see things Victor and that’s what makes, I’m sure, your message very inspiring to the pet-grooming professionals out there. As you’re talking about these angels and as you’re talking about the groomers, I’ve had the pleasure of working with thousands of dog groomers over my career and probably will still work with thousands more. And it is interesting to me, how many find their success in dog grooming at a level that they define it.

Joe Zuccarello: For instance, some are happy with they’re a pet groomer and that’s where their calling is and that’s where they exist. Others seek out certification and some distinctions, some higher level of training and others move onto competitor or even a world stage like you had talked about with GroomTeam USA and such. If there is somebody out there right now that’s ready or starting to maybe prepare for the room, maybe they’re pretty much bought into the idea that they’re going to, at least like you did, try it once, do you have a couple of pointers for them? Maybe one, two or three specific things that you would recommend they do to prepare?

Victor Rosado: Well, there’s a big checklist for that, but I’m not going to go through each one. It’s a long list. But first of all, you really have to enjoy being under the eye of judgment to compete. It’s different. It’s a different scenario. Your work is going to be under consideration, so you have to prepare yourself for that first.

Victor Rosado: Second, make sure you have enough time from work that you can travel. Travel, it takes a lot of planning. You need to be aware that you have to probably fly with your dog or drive with your dogs. You have to stay on pet-friendly hotels. There’s many things that you need to coordinate to get to the show. So, you really need to sit down and say, “Hey, well, I want to go to this competition. I want to compete in these classes. I need this amount of dogs,” and then start all the coordination to get there and always, always, always pay attention to the dog. Dogs are so important for your trip, so they are first and more important in your planning.

Joe Zuccarello: So, you had mentioned something I want to kind of unpack for just a moment. At the very beginning of that particular answer and those pointers, which are awesome by the way, one of which I’ll I want to visit real quick but not unpack completely, but the one is making sure that you have time to compete. And a lot of our Hey Joe listener audience out there are employees for other shop owners or salon owners or maybe they work for a multiunit retailer or veterinarian establishment. And if you’ve got an employer out there that you answer to, is this something, Victor, that would you recommend maybe they have that conversation at the beginning of the year and just say, “I would like to compete. Here’s my plan,” so that they can work with their employer to get that time? And how willing are employers to work with the groomer to allow them time away to compete?

Victor Rosado: Well, to be honest, it’s not easy to talk to them. They want you to be there at the salon and taking care of the customers and so that time off put a little bit of stress on their shoulders. But you just have to sit down, in my opinion, way way ahead of time, like in the beginning of the year, just sit down with them and say, “Hey, I want to compete. I want to challenge myself to be better and this is going to be really good. Not only for me as a professional but also for this salon, for this clinic, because we can advertise our services,” and being done by a competitive groomer or somebody that has accomplished it.

Victor Rosado: I remember when I was competing, every ribbon and every award, instead of just hiding it, I was always showing off on walls, so my customer can see what I have accomplished, so everything. Everything goes into place and maybe you can use that to convenience your employer to give you that time off and also to support you. Maybe they will want to jump in the wagon and sponsor you and help you in your competition. My competition in Fun In The Sun, that was my first grooming competition, was sponsored by the school that I was teaching. It helped me pay my flight, it paid my hotel and I helped them exchange. So, I think it’s a win-win situation for the salon and the groomer.

Joe Zuccarello: Well and just like preparing your skills and your ability and the pet’s coat for competition and all of that that goes into the grooming side, ample time planning for that time off in conversations with your employer, those are some great tips.

Joe Zuccarello: So, one of the things you had mentioned in some of the earlier answers that you had was that you have to be comfortable or at least understand that you’re going to be under the watchful eye of a judge and that can be intimidating. Do you think that sometimes there’s a certain fear with groomers and an intimidation factor and how do you recommend a new competitor get past that fear and the intimidation factor?

Victor Rosado: Well, the thing is every time you put a dog on the table, that dog is owned by someone and that’s the judge eye right there. And if you can go and face that fear of being judged by someone else, that’s probably a good way for you to get better at your grooming table and make your customers happy. Because, at the end of the day, the judge is like a dog owner. It’s one of your dog owners. It’s like the same thing.

Victor Rosado: When I’m judging my classes and I’m going to pick my winners, I think like I am the owner of that dog. Am I happy of what I see when I take this dog home? Am I’m going to be smiling every day I see this dog? Does it look good to me? It gives me happiness? What sensation I feel when I see this profile on the dog, this haircut? Does this make me happy? And I think it helps you tremendously in your everyday grooming.

Joe Zuccarello: And you know what, Victor, that’s a great perspective in that we’re being judged every day. We might not see it that way, but we are being judged every day by the pet owners in those [crosstalk 00:22:40]. And we failed the test if they choose to have somebody else groom their pet if they leave us or go to another shop or salon. So by having those ribbons and the accolades and the achievements and the certificates and the winnings and such, the pet parents, the pet owners, are that much more confident and comfortable with your abilities, so the judging is kind of predetermined to some degree.

Victor Rosado: Exactly. Every single, day we’ve been judged by our customers, so it’s basically a continuation. The only thing is that you’re going to be judged by someone that is trained for the specifics of the trim, like technical, profile, preparation, symmetry, balance, breed profile if it’s a breed profile trim, so maybe the judges trained for it. But your customers are trained for beauty and they’re always looking at what you’re doing.

Joe Zuccarello: So, let’s talk about the competition room for just a moment. Obviously, you can feel intimidated or you can be afraid to compete, but once you’re there … I mean I’ve witnessed countless grooming competitions and stood ringside and watch and they are a marvel. If you out there, in the Hey Joel listener audience out there, have not physically, personally witnessed a grooming competition at a trade show, you have to do it at least one time in your career, even if you’re not going to compete, to just see that ring.

Joe Zuccarello: But I bet there’s some competition and some conversations and things because everybody net ring to a certain degree expects to either, to your point, beat themselves or even beat everybody else there. What do you say about the person that feels like they’re just one of one, right? So, all of these other people have done it before and they’re new and what if somebody talks smack in the ring? Any words of advice there or does that not happen?

Victor Rosado: We respect each other. I am proud about United States of America because I think we are very structured when it comes to competition and I think the competitors basically respect. Maybe, we can hear things in social media. But for the most, we respect each other. And at the end of the day, it’s a grooming competition and we have to groom that dog. So the way I see it, my competition is just me. I just compete against myself and that’s how I see it. If I have to compete against someone, it’s not good for you. It’s going to drain all your energy. It’s not going to make you feel happy. You’re not going to continue competing for long. It’s going to be a quick career for you if you tried to beat someone. Because at the end of the day, the one that has to be beat, it’s you. Beat your fears and just be better and better and groom the dog. Just groom the dog.

Joe Zuccarello: Just groom the dog. You know what, Victor? And that’s what makes you a true professional in this industry, is that you see it that way and I believe that that type of personality and that type of attitude is certainly contagious. At Paragon School of Pet Grooming, learntogroomdogs.com, all of Melissa Verplank’s companies, we strive under one common motto and that is education is everything. And it just like these podcasts or whatever, whatever brings education and professionalism to this wonderful industry, we are in with both feet and that’s why we talk to industry professionals, true professionals like yourself.

Joe Zuccarello: Just a quick reminder to the Hey Joe listener audience, we were talking with Victor Rosado, world-renowned grooming competitor, winner, judge international speaker and so on and so on and so on and just a laundry list of words [inaudible 00:27:03] will come up because this is way more than I can ever remember or even want to read. We’d run out of time.

Joe Zuccarello: But look, Victor Rosado, we’re just so happy that he’s taken time out of his busy schedule to join us today and to speak to the Hey Joe listener audience out there. So Victor, just a couple of other questions. One of the questions that we get asked all the time is, “Okay, so if I want to compete, what is that going to do for my career?” How would you answer the person that says that?

Victor Rosado: It boosts your career 500%, if not 1000%. It’s just everything that you do goes to your backpack of life and your curriculum, the structure that defines you. And in my case, I started competing and then I started helping companies, helping them with their products, and they started giving me a sponsorship and then all the speaking assignments came in and everything started piling up for my benefit and for the benefit of others, so you start building up good energy and then you start doing that energy and change. T.

Victor Rosado: The more you compete, the better you get, the more people trust you, and then you’ll use all that energy for good. I think in my opinion, if you try to … and this is my personal opinion, if you can help to build up your career and lower your ego, then it’s good. You have no fear to hide or keep stuff for yourself and you’re more capable to open up and share everything that you have inside. You have no fear to keep this stuff for yourself, but you are most likely to help others with everything that you do. And I feel the more I do, the more I have to give. It’s like energy exchange all the time. All these knowledge and preparation from every day, it’s just a challenge for me to give more and more to the industry.

Joe Zuccarello: Well, and part of that, Victor, which you just said which was giving back and making sure that that you are a resource for people and helping them achieve their goals and such. We’ve talked a lot today on this podcast about professional groomers that are looking to possibly get into competing. But there are a lot of groomers right now that are competing at various different levels. What do you say to folks that are in the competition ring, in the competition world right now?

Victor Rosado: For them, I always try to use the best, try to look for the best and set my goals high with no fear. Because if you can dream, you can achieve it. It’s always some words that I use on my motivational groups because I think it’s basically how you feel inside. If you can just take your fears out, feel comfortable and just compete, groom the dog and get better. Don’t underestimate your ability. I think we all have that ability, that artistic impression in us and the love for dogs and I think it’s what is going to help us the eventually, in my opinion.

Joe Zuccarello: No, those are all great words of advice. Again, to the Hey Joe listener audience out there, I do recommend you go and look up Victor Rosado and if you can ever get an opportunity to hear Victor speak in any of his venues, I would definitely take him up on it.

Joe Zuccarello: Victor, we’re aligned in many ways and one of those ways is, at learntogroomdogs.com, we have our motto, which is helping others find their success because everybody’s success is defined differently. It’s defined to the individual, not necessarily to the industry itself. So at learntogroomdogs.com, we recommend that the Hey Joe listener audience out there go check it out. I think if you’re thinking about competing, we’ve got a number of people that said that by having a monthly membership subscription and watching the videos, not only help them understand maybe who their judges are going to be because they watched those folks in interviews or some of our training experts, but also they’re able to polish up on some of the last-minute details and skills.

Joe Zuccarello: So if you’re going to do anything out there Hey Joe listener audience, please go to learntogroomdogs.com and check out the opportunity to become a monthly member. Victor, thank you so much for your time. Go ahead.

Victor Rosado: Yeah, I wanted to say something also. You mentioned learntogroomdogs.com and that’s a really good platform for those of you that wanted to get an all-around experience for the different breeds and different styles and that’s a good start point. Just watch those professionals, with that big career and big names, just showing you step by step in detail and that will give you some tips, some hints and what to do.

Victor Rosado: Competition is about skills and timing, skills and timing. And if you see them the GroomTeam people in the top 10 and you’ll see them winning and winning, it’s because they spend a lot of time planning and doing coordination, trying to find the best that’s possible and spending an amount of time in preparation and putting their heart and soul into it like I did. So my piece of advice, get yourself from inside out, train and if you can dream it, you can achieve it.

Joe Zuccarello: Victor, I can’t say it any better than that, sir. Thank you so much for taking time out with us. Just a note to the Hey Joe listener audience out there. Remember that questions that we have and experts that we find to be part of our podcast are a direct result of questions you ask us and it’s really easy to send us your questions. You can simply email us at heyjoequestions@paragonpetschool.com. Victor, thank you again and I wish you and everything you do all the best.

Victor Rosado: Thank you very much.

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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