Log InCartCall Now: (616) 667-7297


Check out Melissa Verplank’s latest vlogs!

Spend a few minutes to get inspired by Melissa’s tips on how to be a better groomer. From canine anatomy to time-saving tips, Melissa lends her years of experience to help power up your grooming career, whether you’re independent, and employee or own your own salon.

The Number One Time-Waster in Grooming Salons

How can you speed up the bathing and drying process? CMG Melissa Verplank explains how to master the bath & dry step to save time and improve the groom. Get your towels ready and tune in!

Want more inspiration? Check out our Online Dog Groomer Training courses or the ALL NEW community at Learn2GroomDogs.com, where you can find hundreds of instructional videos by industry experts, all organized by Skill Level. While you’re there, sign up to be notified when enrollment opens.

Melissa: Hey, everybody. Melissa here, and today I want to talk to you a little bit about speed efficiency. A lot of folks come to myself, a lot of folks come to Paragon, our training center, and ask us all the time and want training on how can they speed up their grooming process. They just feel like they’re slow. They’re not hitting the mark. They’re not being able to do a small- to medium-sized dog an hour. They really struggle with that. It might take them two hours to do it. So they’re always coming in and seeking out training trying to improve on their speed. Whenever we’re dealing with those folks, especially in a hands-on setting, that’s where we can really identify where the true problems are. The majority of time, when somebody comes to us for speed enhancement training, the problem lies in some of the most basic area of what we do, and that is in the bathing and the drying area. Almost always, that’s where the majority of the time suck is.

I want to talk a little bit about how to improve your area and improve your times in those areas. First, let me say that everything is in your foundation skills. Everything is in the bath and dry. If you do not absolutely perfect your bath and your dry, I don’t care how talented of a stylist you are, you will never ever get the best finish on a dog. You will never be able to do your most efficient work because you just … The coat isn’t prepared for it. You just cannot get quality if you don’t have quality in that bath and dry area. So again, and that’s also where most people really lose time, is in that bath and dry area.

I want to take a look at one of the … probably the number one problem area in that bath and dry section, and that is with getting the dog out of the tub and to the drying, or getting it dry. What I am always surprised is how many people either skip towel drying all together … They just don’t use towels. They don’t use moisture magnets. They just use their high velocity dryer or they use their blasters, depending on what part of the world you’re in. They’re called by both things, high velocity dryers or blasters. Or maybe they just basically lightly hit him with a towel and throw him into a kennel dryer.

Those scenarios are not … Number one, they’re not going to yield you a quality result. And number two, they’re not going to be efficient. It’s not going to happen. So, I really encourage folks to towel dry, towel dry, towel dry. And that’s using your moisture magnets if you like those or using more than one towel to get those dogs really, really dry. And always what my goal is when I am working with towel drying, and I can’t always get it, but it’s always in the back of my mind, this is always my goal, is that I towel dry well enough so that when I first turn on that high velocity dryer, and I’ve got the condenser going on, and I’m actually running that dryer over the dog that there is no spray coming off that dog’s coat. That’s the goal. I won’t say that it happens all the time.

And if it’s not happening, there’s not a lot of spray coming off, but what spray is coming off I have a towel behind my hand so that as I’m working over the coat and the spray is coming off I’m catching it in that towel so it’s not rewetting the dog or it’s not going down onto the table and the dog is sitting in it. Now, another thing you can do is put a damp towel. You’ve toweled dried the dog really well. You’ve got a towel that’s not really absorbing a whole lot more moisture, so you can put it underneath the dog, and it will help so that the dog isn’t sitting in puddles. But, that’s always my goal, is no spray coming off that dog.

Now, there’s another trick that works really, really well. And it doesn’t matter whether you are a mobile groomer or whether you’re in a busy salon, this technique will work no matter where you’re at, whether you’re dealing with one or two dogs at a time, or whether you’re dealing with 30 dogs at a time. It’s easier when you’re first learning how to do it to work with just a few dogs, not the 30. But, this is the routine. It’s basically, to me, it’s a game. It’s a really, really fun game.

Bottom line is you take a look at the dogs that you have and you are going to bathe your largest dog and your heaviest-coated dog first. So if you have a heavy-coated golden retriever, he is your biggest, heaviest coated, furriest dog out of your roster for that time period, he’s hitting the tub first. You’re going to get him bathed, you’re going to get him towel dried, and then you’re going to literally wrap him in a couple towels. I love using big bulldog clips or some kind of a clip that’s going to actually hold those towels right onto the dog’s coat. But, you’re going to wrap them in a towel and then set him off in a quiet spot. It can be in a holding area. It can be tethered off to the side, but just put him somewhere where he’s comfortable, he can relax, and let those towels do the work for him, or for you.

Then, my second dog is going to be my next largest and next heaviest coated. So maybe I’ve got a doodle. He’s going to hit the tub next, same thing. Towel dry him, wrap him into towel, set him off to the side. Then I just keep working down the line to I get to my smallest and my lightest coated dog.

Basically, what I’m doing is it’s the same concept that us gals or guys, if you’ve got a lot of hair, a lot of … My husband happens to be bald, so he doesn’t use this technique. But every morning when I jump out of the shower, the first thing I do is I wrap my hair in a towel, and I’m letting that towel absorb the moisture of my hair. I go on with my morning routine, and I do my makeup, or do my face, or whatever I’m going to be dealing with that morning. I just take a few minutes, let the towel do the job. And one of the last things that I do before I’m ready for the day is I dry my hair with a blow dryer. But that towel has taken a lot of the moisture already out of my hair, so it doesn’t take me very long to finish my hair.

Basically, we’re doing the same thing with the dogs. So you’re dealing with those heavy coats first, going on down the line to your lightest coated dog, and you’re towel drying him, and wrapping them in a towel, and setting him off to the side. Now then when you turn around and you get to the end of your dogs that you have for that session, you reverse the order for the drying because those light-coated dogs … Maybe you’ve got a Yorkie with a guard comb-type haircut, and he’s kind of light-coated, sparse-coated anyhow. It doesn’t take any time at all for the towel to absorb the moisture, and he’s going to be dry. Sometimes if you let him sit too long, he’ll actually be so dry that you have to rewet them down in order to get the volume out of that coat so that you can put a good finish on the dog.

So, you just reverse your order. The first dog up on the drying table is going to be that Yorkie, and then it’s going to be the next largest dog. And it’s going to take you all the way up to that large, heavy-coated golden retriever. He’s going to be your last one that you’re going to dry. But if you work in an order like that, and even if you’re mobile, even if … or you’re working on one dog at a time, you know you’ve got other things that you can do while that dog sits for a minute.

When I was mobile, I would use the same technique. I would wash my dog, wrap them, towel dry them well, wrap them in a towel, and then I would do out my invoice. I would make my bows. I would quick do a cleanup on my van. Whatever I could do to save me time at the end, I would do that in the middle so that the towel could do the work for me and then it would take a lot less time to blow that dog out. But you’ve got to have that hand dry finish in order to yield the most top-quality result.

And I’m not talking about every single dog. If you’ve got a Dalmatian, probably doesn’t need a whole lot of time with a high velocity dryer. If you have a lab, doesn’t need a whole lot of time with a high velocity dryer. But every dog is going to benefit by having a hand dry. And the longer the coat, the denser the coat, the heavier, the curlier the coat is, the better result you’re going to get for your finish. And if you set that coat up so that it is absolutely perfect … Curly coats are dead straight. Shedding dogs have very little coat left. If dogs have been matted, you’re actually pushing those mats out of the coat and you’re giving a little bump with a brush before you leave the drying area. That is going to not only facilitate speed in the drawing area by utilizing towels and the high velocity dryer, but also it is going to make your finish go that much faster.

So if I had to isolate an area where people lose time the most, it is definitely going to be that time period from that towel dry, that very beginning stages of the drying. That is the number one time suck, time problem area. So take a look. If you’re struggling with time, if you’re having a hard time getting dogs finished efficiently and you know you could improve, take a look in that area. And like I said, that game that I was telling you, it works whether you’re dealing with one dog or whether you’re dealing with 30. Now, you’re dealing with 30 or more, it’s a real game, and hopefully you’ve got some practice. But it is very efficient, and you can get through an awful lot of dogs in a very short amount of time by being efficient and having a method to your drying madness to get through all the dogs in the shortest amount of time possible.

Don’t Pre-Groom Before the Bath!

CMG Melissa Verplank has some crucial advice for saving time this holiday season! Find out how you and your grooming team can speed things up by skipping the pre-groom and letting your dryer do the work.

Want more inspiration? Check out our Online Dog Groomer Training courses or the ALL NEW community at Learn2GroomDogs.com, where you can find hundreds of instructional videos by industry experts, all organized by Skill Level. While you’re there, sign up to be notified when enrollment opens.

Melissa: Hi guys, Melissa here. Today I want to talk a little bit about how to bathe and dry a dog so that it can be the most efficient possible. As we’re coming into the holidays, it gets really crazy. And any of you that have been in business for any amount of time know that, boy, the holidays can make or break you. And I really want you to think about how you can be the most efficient possible. And maybe you’re efficient, but maybe you’ve got a team member that is struggling a little bit.

So one of my rules of thumb is never pre-trim a dog before it goes to the tub if water can penetrate that coat. And that would also go for your bathroom brush type dogs as well. I don’t want to pre-brush that dog out before it’s cleaned, before it’s dry. And with today, there are so many products and tools that we can use to make that coat do what we really want it to do and to do it very efficiently. But you know, every once in a while I still run into folks that are pre-clipping and pre-brushing those dogs before they hit the tub. And my big question is why? Why would you do that? So again, my general rule of thumb is if water can penetrate the coat, definitely get it to the tub first.

Now if you are looking at a dog that’s got rock solid mats and water just can’t penetrate those mats, then yeah you’ve got to pre-clip that dog before you bathe it. But for most of your regular customers that are coming in every four to six weeks, shoot, get them right to the tub. And even if the dog has got some mats and tangles in the coat, again, if water can penetrate it, get it to the tub. Because let’s stop and think about it. When you have a ring on your finger and it’s so tight that you can’t get it off … this one’s really stuck. How do you get it off? With soap and water, right? You make it slippery.

Well, mats and tangles and that type of thing are going to work the same way when you get that coat clean and you apply the shampoo. And a lot of times once that coat is clean, it’s the dirt and the debris and the gunk that’s in that coat that are holding those mats and tangles kind of together. So once you get the coat clean, then your brushes and your high velocity dryers, especially your high velocity dryers, can do a lot of the work for you. And they’ll literally move that dead coat, those mats, those tangles away from the skin so that when you do go in with a brush, you can literally just pat and gently pull, pat and gently pull. And you’re not going to be scraping against the skin at any point. And it’s a very gentle, methodical process.

The other thing you can do for a dog that is possibly in really tough shape is bathe them. And before you rinse out your second shampoo, take a high velocity dryer right to the tub. And a lot of times when that coat is clean and it’s slippery and it’s got the shampoo in it, just like a ring will come off your finger a lot easier when the shampoo is there or the soap is there, the high velocity dryer will literally just blow those mats and tangles right out of that coat. So really think about how you can use your tools and your products to efficiently get the job done. And I mean, come on. Who wants to work on a gross, nasty, dirty, icky dog? Isn’t it a whole lot better to be working on a dog that’s clean and that smells good and feels good?

And yeah, sure there’s times that you do have to pre-clip. If you haven’t seen that dog in eight weeks or more, more than likely it’s going to be more efficient to do a really fast pre-clip before the dog hits the tub. But again, for those regular clients, shoot, just get them right to the tub. And for a lot of those dogs, I have even seen stylists do this very, very effectively. And I had never even seen it done until I watched Sue Watson and Lisa Leady bathing dogs. And if you’re working with pre-diluted shampoo, heck, they’re not even wetting a dog down. They’re just applying the solution to the dog’s coat and starting that way.

And again, just every little bit saves time and it saves on product, yet it’s going to yield a really quality result. So think about how you’re bathing these dogs when they hit the tub. And if you can bypass a step and not bypass quality, by all means, go for it. Give it a try. Try it maybe just before the … if you’re not used to it, try it just a little bit before the last couple of days of the holiday really sink in, but give it a shot. I bet you’re going to be surprised.

An Eye for Grooming with Melissa Verplank

CMG Melissa Verplank is back with tips on how to develop your “eye” for dog grooming! Tune in to learn about crucial dog anatomy, key resources, and where to begin when honing your skills.

Want more inspiration? Check out our Online Dog Groomer Training courses or the ALL NEW community at Learn2GroomDogs.com, where you can find hundreds of instructional videos by industry experts, all organized by Skill Level. While you’re there, sign up to be notified when enrollment opens.

Melissa V.: Hi, guys, Melissa here. Last week I was seeing a thread coming up that was talking about people were wondering how they could develop an eye for the dog. They were really frustrated, especially if they were beginners. They just didn’t know where to turn or how to develop their own eye. I wanted to address that a little bit.

Now, like a lot of the topics that I talk about, you can go really, really deep with this topic. There’s so much to learn and so much to share. I just want to hit the top layer, especially to give those of you who are questioning, where do you even begin, where do you start to develop that eye for the dog? Like anything else, there’s going to be beginners, intermediate, advanced, and highly advanced people in this particular skill level.

If you’re just starting, that’s where we all started at one time, at the very, very beginning. I learned how to grow not because I wanted to, not because I came from a family of groomers or show people. I got my job because the groomer was let go, and the next day I was a groomer with absolutely no knowledge whatsoever.

So I had to learn, and it can be done. I learned it way before the age of the internet and a lot of the learning tools that are available to us now. I had to do it in a really different way than what you guys have to do. But I’m going to tell you, sometimes going back old school works really, really well.

I just want to share some of the things that I did and some of the things that you can do to change it up today to maybe accelerate your pace a little bit. Always remember, every single one of us started at the very beginning. If you’re looking to develop your eye for the dog, you’re going to have to start at the beginning just like all of us. There is no shortcuts.

Where is that beginning? Well, you know what? It all starts with anatomy. When you first start out, you are not going to understand the finer details of advanced anatomy. You’ve got to start at the very beginning.

And so, one of the things that I did to help people who are just starting in their careers is in notes from the grooming table, which yep, my book, but in notes from the grooming table, right in the very, very front. We’re not even 25 pages into the book yet, and I’m already to talk about anatomy.

This is not high level anatomy. This is the basics that you need to get started. You’ve got to be able to understand the muscle structure. You’ve got to understand topographical anatomy. Topographical anatomy is the parts of the dog, so that when we’re communicating to one another and you’re learning, when I say the croup, you know where the croup is. If I say the stop, you know where the stop is. Those are really many, many important parts working around the dog. You’ve got to understand the terminology so we can communicate to one another.

Also the bones, and that the knowing the names of the bones aren’t as important as knowing how they fit together with the rest of the dog. That’s what you really, really have to know. Once you understand the muscles, the bones, and the topographical anatomy, now we can start to work, and how to put it together when we start actually grooming a dog.

When we’re grooming the dogs, we’re going to use reference points on the dog. We’re going to be working with the bones and the muscles to set all the different patterns to work in harmony with a dog, but everything is going to be based off of structure. It doesn’t matter whether you’re dealing with a mixed breed or whether you’re dealing with a purebred dog. All of them are going to have certain components that make up the structure of the dog, whether it’s a square dog or a rectangular dog in outline. Those are going to be really important parts when you’re working with the grooming portion of that dog, and how to get it to balance.

Always people go, “How do you make things balance out?” Well, again, it’s just looking at how shapes fit within the box and whether they’re in balance with one another.

If this dog had a skirt way down to here, and so all of a sudden this part of the dog is really thick and he’s got these little stubby legs, that dog isn’t going to be in balance. And so, understanding these parts is important. Again, it’s not advanced. It’s just really basic, the basic ground rules of solid anatomy and structure.

And then, again, you’re going to be using those parts of the dog, the muscles, the bones, the reference points, the outline, and how those parts all fit together, and that you’re going to be using them as landmarks when you’re setting the patterns on the dog.

If you don’t have notes from the grooming table, this is a really great place to start your study of anatomy. And again, this is just the very, very beginning of your learning stages.

The next book that I would really recommend … This a biggie, don’t let it scare you. There’s a lot of pictures in it. This is covers all the breed standards for the American breeds, but whatever country you’re in, you are going to have a similar book with all the purebreds recognized by your country. It’s going to have all of the standards that are created by the parent club.

When we’re looking at this book in the American Kennel Club, they really do a great job detailing the dog. They’ve got great color images. When I studied one of these breeds and I was helping somebody with a legato understand how to study for this breed and and figure out how to groom it, I always read and work with a highlighter. I’m going to highlight key components of this dog.

If there’s any part that I don’t understand, if there’s a word I don’t understand, I’m going to run. And I’m going to look it up in the back of the book. They’ve got a glossary, and there’s other places that you can also look things up. If you don’t understand what a rustic coat is, you’re not going to know what kind of a coat this particular breed should have. It has a rustic coat. If you don’t know what a broad skull is, you need to look those things up so that you can visually put it in your head so that you can start putting this breed together so that you can understand the why’s behind how to groom this particular breed.

And then, the next book that I would really suggest, let me flip this over, is Canine Terminology. Canine Terminology is like a visual reference guide of body parts. It’s going to help you understand if you read a part in one of the standards that you don’t really firmly understand what it should look like, you can go to this book and it’s going to describe it, and more than likely it’s also going to give you a visual reference of it.

Shoot, I still go to this book for reference. There’s parts of dogs and things that I hear that maybe I didn’t hear before. I’m going to dig into this book just so that I have a firm understanding of what something looks like. If you don’t understand what a well-let-down hock looks like, jump into canine terminology. Look it up. Go to the hock section, and it’s going to tell you what a well-let-down hock is. That’s great. This is just a great tool, great reference guide to have on your bookshelf as you’re trying to understand and and picture what these parts of the dog look like.

And then, if you are moving forward in your career and your you want to go beyond just everyday pet grooming and working in harmony with a dog and trying to make it look its best, if you are looking to go into certification testing, or maybe you are thinking about going into the competition ring, the pet grooming competition ring, or into the dog show world, this is going to be a really great reference guide for you.

For me, when I went to this book, I had already … I was pretty confident with this information here, but I still didn’t really understand the why. I understood what it looked like, but I didn’t understand the why behind why things were designed the way they were. There are certain elements to a breed that are put together to make it be efficient at what it was designed to do. This book gave me the why. It takes the canine structure and terminology, and it really does a great job to describe why the layback to shoulder should be in a certain angle, why the rear assembly should have the angles that it has.

It’s all based on movement. It’s designed for what that dog’s original job was supposed to do. And so, this was absolutely a light bulb book for me as I was coming up the ranks. It made a huge difference in my everyday grooming just because now I understood the more advanced parts and the reasons why I needed to do what I wanted to do with the dog’s coat.

Whether the dog had the right structure or it didn’t, I now knew what I was going for when I was trying to trim that dog and bring out the strongest features of it.

If you are trying to develop your eye for a dog, the first place that you need to start is with canine anatomy. Study it, and be passionate. But more importantly, be curious. Remember, every single one of us, no matter how talented and how far we have advanced our careers today, we all started exactly in the same place that all of you did, which was at the very beginning. And so, we had to learn. We needed to be curious. We needed to seek out the information. These are some great reference books that you can use to start building your career and take it to whatever level you want to take it to.

What’s Your WOW Factor?

How can you drive referral business in the grooming industry? In this video, CMG Melissa Verplank explains the crucial art of the WOW factor — and why “wowing” your customers is the key to growing your client network. Tune in!

Want more inspiration? Check out our Online Dog Groomer Training courses or the ALL NEW community at Learn2GroomDogs.com, where you can find hundreds of instructional videos by industry experts, all organized by Skill Level. While you’re there, sign up to be notified when enrollment opens.

Melissa: Hey guys, Melissa here and I’m coming to you today from inside my horse trailer. We are down riding and it is today cold and wet and nasty and just an ugly day out. So unfortunately we’re not in the saddle, we’re all kind of holed up into our campers and in our rigs. And so last night we were up and we were kind of going through our Facebook feeds and we saw a comment come through that I really wanted to address with all of you guys today. There’s so many different avenues that we could go down with this particular topic, but I just wanted to share one idea that has worked really well for me and who knows, maybe I’ll come back and share a few other ideas as well. But this is one that really helps build a new clientele and a new business get up on its feet and it’s a way to foster referral-based business and referral based business for our businesses is absolutely the number one and the best way to get customers.

And it doesn’t matter whether you’re a mobile grooming service, a grooming salon, a pet care facility. All of it is service based. And so I want you to kind of think about what I’m going to say here and how can you apply something to your business to make it work. Because all of us are unique, all of us are different. But the biggest thing that you need to do to help really cultivate that referral based business is create that wow factor, that factor that people just go, “Wow, I cannot believe they did that” or “They have a facility like this” or “They did this for my pet,” or “They did this for me,” or whatever it might be. You stop and you think about it and whenever something happens to you that is really positive, that is kind of out of the ordinary, don’t you go to your friends and family and say, “Wow, I just cannot believe what I just experienced.” “Susie, you got to see this. You got to go check it out.”

You’re telling people that you care about and you’re referring that business to someone else. And so I really want you to think about how can you cultivate that. And again, it’s not just in your facility or your van or whatever it might be. It’s in how you interact with those customers as well. And it’s not just you, it’s your entire staff. And so I really want you to think about what can you do today to wow those customers. And I want to, you know, when I first had mobile, I had a fleet of six mobiles at one point in time and that company grew so fast and it’s because we wowed them, we wowed them with way that we handled their dogs. We were right there, we were one of the first mobiles out there. So that was new and that was different.

And we built that business really, really quickly. And another one is Whiskers Resort, which is my full service pet resort. It has boarding, overnight lodging, doggy daycare, grooming, and that one I started it in 2007 and it has grown beyond my wildest dreams. And it’s all done based on referral services by the wow factor, by making clients come in and just go, “Wow,” they can’t believe the facility, they walk in, they don’t smell anything doggy. It’s relatively quiet for a boarding facility. And when I first started it only had 45 rooms and then we were able to easily expand it to 90 rooms, and now we’re up to over 180 rooms and we’re doing another expansion and clients are just waiting. We have a waiting list to get in. Our occupancy rate for the rooms is always over a hundred percent even in our downtime.

And it’s not because there aren’t any other games in town. There are. But it’s because we have been able to have that wow factor and the staff, we’ve got up to 60 staff member maybe a little bit more now, and all of them treat the customers like gold and they all understand the wow factor. They have to make that customer want to go back and tell their friends, their family, have the conversation around the water cooler. They’re always doing small things. And a lot of times it’s not anything expensive. It’s not anything big. It’s just treating people with dignity and respect and making them smile.

And when we first started that business, we had no clientele whatsoever. And so one of the things that we did is the limited staff that we had. I think we started out with, I don’t know, 10 employees or something. All of us brought our dogs into the facility and we literally staged it. We put them in the rooms and all the rooms were designed to look a little bit like a room in a house. So they were already pretty cool. They had all glass fronts. They had flat screen TVs, they had beds, wallpaper, pictures hanging on the wall. So it was a really homey feeling. So we really got the wow factor just from the facility.

But we had to do something to get people into the facility because we knew once we got them there, we could wow them. And so we did postcards. I think we did radio ads, we did little business cards with $10 off their first service. We went everywhere. We passed out those $10 off coupons. I think I even made a cache buck. One of my dog’s name was Cache at the time. And so her little face was on the center of the cache buck. And here it is. We started that business in 2007 and Rebecca, who is now my partner with Whiskers and the president of that organization, she said she had a cache buck just come in last week. It’s been floating out there for well over 10 years and somebody turned it in and we honored it. Hey, why not?

So I want you to think about what you can do for your business, your service to make those clients smile, to make them go wow and want to tell their friends and their family and their coworkers what an amazing experience they just had it your business because that’s what’s going to build your referrals. That’s what’s going to build your clientele. So that you can have success with your business in a very short amount of time. Hey, good luck with it.

Finding Your Success

How do you define success? Where do you want to be a year, five years from now? In this video, CMG Melissa Verplank discusses ways to find, and define, your success. She’ll help you explore and discover what you’re most passionate about so you can make a plan, start building your knowledge and achieve your dreams.

Success looks different to everyone, and it changes over time. Whatever kind of grooming success is driving you, we have the tools to help. Further your dog grooming education with our Online Pet Groomer Training courses, or visit our huge library of expert dog grooming training videos at Learn2GroomDogs.com!

Melissa V.: Hi guys, Melissa here, and today I want to talk to you about one of my favorite things, and that is helping others find their own success, and in the world of professional pet grooming, there’s a lot of different ways to define success, and the one thing about the word itself is it is highly personal. How I define success and how you define success could be totally different, and that’s fine, and the other thing about success is that it’s elusive, it moves.

How I defined success in my 20s and how I define it now in my mid 50s, totally different, and that’s okay, but what I will tell you is that with every layer of success that you achieve, it opens up another level for you to aim for, to strive for, and so just because you think you’re successful at one point in your career, more than likely there’s a lot more things that you can achieve, but you’ve got to be able to know what you’re looking for. You’ve got to have some kind of an idea of what kind of a path you want to take, and so you’ve got to ask yourself some questions, and some of the questions are things like, what does truly matters to you? What do you think about? What do you want to achieve with your life, with your career? And how can professional pet grooming get you to that point?

And then the next thing is to be passionate about whatever you’re doing. Now, obviously if you are in the world of professional pet grooming, I’m certainly hoping that you’re already passionate about pets, but even within that passion, find your own personal superpower. Some folks love to do just the small dogs, others love the big furries that they make huge transformations in what they look like, others love to do just low maintenance, every day salon trims, making their customers happy as they walk out the door, other people love to do the show dogs or the more fancy trims, while still others maybe don’t want to do dogs at all. Maybe they just want to do cats. Maybe they want to be a feline exclusive.

Whatever your superpower is, whatever breed, haircut, type of animal you like to work on, all of those are fine. Find your superpower and work to be the best that you can be, and the one thing that I find with success is that normally it doesn’t come with just fall in your lap. You generally have to be really focused, really dedicated, and you’ve got to work at it and you’ve got to build your knowledge base because if you don’t have the knowledge, then you’re not going to have the confidence to be able to communicate with your clients, to be able to execute the skills with ease, with safely and to do it efficiently, and so you’ve got to build up that knowledge base.

You’ve got to be really focused and really diligent about learning, and then stop and think about things like, where do you want to be a year from now, 5 years from now, 10 years from now? Don’t just think about tomorrow or next week. Take it out further than that. Where do you want to be and how can the career take you there? Think about, what does success look like? Do you want to spend more time with your family doing what you love or doing things that you love to do? Or do you want to build … have a wealth play going on? What does it look like and what is it going to take to achieve that success? Write it down, think about it and make a plan to get there, and how are you going to achieve it?

And like I said, success looks different to everybody and not only does it look different to everybody, it’s going to change as you change with your own life and your own career. So the one thing I will tell you is that for those of us that have achieved some success, most of the time, especially in our field, we love to help others achieve their own personal success, and so we’re going to reach out and I don’t care whether you reach out to myself or my team or the companies that we have, but what I will tell you is that people that have succeeded love to help others also achieve success.

So reach out, look for that knowledge, figure out how to gain the confidence so that you can have your own success, and if we can help you in any way on your own personal journey, we would love to help you out.

Education is Everything!

Want to take your passion for grooming to a new level? Do you want to keep your career fresh and exciting? In this video, CMG Melissa Verplank shares the origin of her company motto: Education is Everything. Finding opportunities for growth — and knowing what to do with them — can reignite your career and set you apart in this competitive industry.

Want more inspiration? Check out our Online Dog Groomer Training courses or the ALL NEW community at Learn2GroomDogs.com, where you can find hundreds of instructional videos by industry experts, all organized by Skill Level. While you’re there, sign up to be notified when enrollment opens or to participate in our upcoming series of FREE FACEBOOK LIVE events!

Melissa V.: Hi, guys. Melissa here. I want to talk today about a concept that I have believed in my entire career. Maybe, early in my career, I didn’t necessarily have words to go to it, but today I do, and those words have ultimately become pretty much our company motto throughout all of my educational companies, and that is education is everything. I am such a firm believer of this. Why? Why am I such a firm believer of education is everything? Lot of different reasons.

The first one that I can think of is it’s a confidence builder. The more knowledgeable you are, the stronger your skillset, the better you’re going to be able to service your clients, the pets. You’re going to be able to do a better job, and you’re going to feel really good about it. It doesn’t matter whether it’s professional pet grooming or whether it’s cooking, or horseback riding, or fishing. Whatever skillset you aim for that you want to do, the more knowledge you have about it, the more confidence you’re going to have when you’re doing it, and you’re going to have a lot more success with it. Definitely, confidence building is a really big one.

Another thing is it allows you to expand your career to be more professional. In our profession, that’s important. In professional pet grooming, it’s not a regulated trade. There’s no licensing for it, and anybody can call themselves a professional pet groomer. Those of us that have had success with it, we know that that’s pretty far from the truth sometimes. Being able to educate yourself to be more knowledgeable allows you to not only expand your career but also be a lot more professional for your clients. Again, education is everything right there.

It’s going to prepare you to take advantage of opportunities that could crop up for you. I look back at my own career, and I think if I had not had such a driving force, such a passion to learn, to grow, to expand my skillsets, I would never have been able to take advantage of many of the opportunities that landed at my feet. I know you guys, too, it’s the same exact thing that, the more knowledgeable you are, the more opportunities will present themselves. You’ve got to be able to, number one, recognize when that opportunity is there and then know how to grasp it or how to go for it if you decide that’s something that you want to pursue. Again, education, knowledge is going to allow more of those opportunities to present themselves to you.

The other thing it will do is it will really help keep your career fresh and exciting. I get it. Sometimes when we get into the daily grind, once the passion kind of dissipates a little bit, it can become kind of a grind. The profession kind of loses its spark. One of the fastest ways to reignite that passion is to get out there and to learn something. Also, the learning generally is going to take place when you interact with like-minded people. Most learning, you can do a lot of self-learning, but a lot of the really good coaching, a lot of the really… ways that you can accelerate your career even faster is by networking with like-minded people.

In this day and age, you can network not only face to face, but you can also network internationally or from all over the US. We have the technology today to have friends, to have folks that we know that we interact with all over the world. That’s really exciting. I can’t tell you how many people that I talk to from Australia or anywhere in Europe or even South America. There’s lots and lots of people that have the same passion that you and I do, and that is the pets. To be able to communicate with them really helps keep the industry fresh, and it keeps all of us driving in the same direction, which is expanding our career base.

Finally, the last thing I want to talk about is that education is everything. It is because we can never know it all. There is always another layer that we can learn, that we can master. Once we master one skillset, there’s going to be another layer and another layer. It’s kind of like peeling back an onion. I have been in this industry for a long time. I don’t think I would’ve stayed in it for as long as I have if I wasn’t challenged, if I didn’t continue to grow my career and continue to learn. There is always something more that you can learn.

Even when I first started as a professional pet groomer in my late teens, I didn’t necessarily have the words to the concept, but I knew, in my heart, that I needed to grow my skillset. The only way to do that was by expanding my knowledge and getting better at what I did. For me here 40 some years later, I firmly am a believer in education is everything. If you want to grow your career and experience success, oh, get that word out there, this is probably one of the best ways to do it is just keep learning and know education is everything.

What Keeps You Up At Night

What keeps YOU up at night? There is no shortage of things that ruin a peaceful sleep. Whether it’s keeping the revenue flowing or something a client said, those stressors add up. In this video, Certified Master Groomer Melissa Verplank talks about some of her big worries in the grooming world and the times they’ve hit her hardest.

We want to know what drives you crazy. Things that have been difficult in your career. Things that keep you awake. Share your thoughts, and we might be able to help you find that good night’s sleep.

Take the SURVEY and tell us what keeps YOU up at night. We’ll use the information collected to get your more great content!


Melissa: Hi guys, Melissa here. And I want to ask you a question, kind of a serious question. And I want to know what keeps you up with your career at night? I mean, all of us have had the situation where something isn’t going quite the way that we want it and we lose sleep over it. I know I’ve had lots of nights that I haven’t been able to get a good night’s sleep because I’m worrying about work. I’m worrying about my career, I’m worrying about something that has to do with the team that I’m dealing with. Opportunities, all of those kinds of things.

What are the things that keep you up at night? Is it money? That can be so stressful if you haven’t budgeted or haven’t planned, or something gets tossed in the works that you weren’t planning on and you don’t have enough money to go around. Whether it’s money to pay your bills or money to come up with payroll or maybe money to pay your taxes or whatever it might be.

When there’s a shortage of cash revenue, it makes everything else so much harder. Is there something that you lose sleep over or maybe it’s that you’re a newer groomer and you don’t know how to do a certain type of a dog. All of a sudden you’ve got a client that calls and you’ve never done that particular breed before.

When you fret over it and you worry about it and you wonder if you’ve got the skills necessary to keep that customer happy and do the job that they’re expecting. That used to drive me crazy years ago and it would definitely, I would lose sleep over it.

Too many clients, I mean, such a problem to have, right? But come on, we all know what those of us that have been there and are booking three four weeks out or even, a month out or maybe we can’t even take any new customers and we’ve got customers still wanting to get in. That is as much of a problem as not having enough customers.

Again, man, I get it. When you can’t service the customers that want what you have and they start getting angry and frustrated, especially regular customers or customers that you have serviced and you just can’t fit them into your books. It’s heartbreaking.

We are in the service business, we’re people-pleasers and so we want to be able to accommodate everybody and it can be really difficult and such a challenge when you just can’t meet the expectations of your customers. Are you mentally or physically just exhausted?

I’ve been there, I’ve been there more than once. But one situation I really remember well, where I was driving up to my last client, and this is back in my mobile days and I was trying to do everything. I was grooming full time, I was managing a business. I was trying to keep my staff motivated and educated, and moving forward with their careers.

I was going to grooming competitions and competing in trade shows and I just had everything coming at me all at once. Plus dealing with a family and just personal life, just stuff. And I was going up to that last client, I still remember I was headed up to Rockford and I just lost it. I just started worrying and fretting about all these different things that I still had to get done and the day was running really late and I just lost it.

I just pulled that van over to the side of the road and just cried. And I mean, I was so thankful that I had a dispatcher that recognized I was mentally in pretty deep trouble. And she called and canceled that last dog for me and got it rescheduled. But I still remember that day and just absolutely hitting that wall.

And I’ll tell you, leading up to hitting that wall, I had lots and lots of sleepless nights. Or maybe it’s you, you’re trying to find good groomers to join your team because you’ve got more customers or more grooming than you can possibly do yourself. And you need to start building that team and you can’t find any good groomers, or you can’t find groomers that can work up to the caliber that your clients have come to expect.

So, so frustrating and I’ve been there too multiple times. I still, again, remember where I had a van that I left sat down. I could not fill it for almost a year because I just couldn’t find qualified groomers to operate it. So, so frustrating. I don’t know about you, but I’ve had throughout my career, lots and lots of sleepless nights.

We’re working on some new projects and what I really want to know from you right now is what drives you crazy? What keeps you up at night? What do you lose sleep over? Pop it into the comments below. I want to know what drives you absolutely nuts. And I want to see if maybe we can figure out a way to help you get through that bridge and get to the other side and have some success, and get a good night’s sleep. Leave your comments down below.

The Importance of Continued Education

Do you struggle with confidence? With skill mastery? You’re not alone. Even “top dogs” are on the lookout for learning opportunities. In this video, CMGs Melissa Verplank and Judy Hudson discuss the importance of continuing education and their own personal quests to learn with the best.

Assess your skill level, find a mentor, and find the best books, websites and online communities to sharpen your skills. By finding, and using, all the learning tools available to you, you will build your confidence, increase your speed, efficiency and earning potential!

Check out Learn2GroomDogs.com or review Online Dog Groomer Training Courses in our Distance Learning Program.

Melissa Verplank: Hi guys, I’m Melissa Verplank and I am here with one of our training experts, Judy Hudson, who’s also a really, really great friend. And one of the things that we love to do is ride together. And so, we’re actually right now at horse camp, and we’ve got a couple of our Rocky Mountains behind us. And it is amazing how much we talk business while we’re… We call it saddle time, right?

Judy Hudson: Yup.

Melissa Verplank: Yeah. And one of the things that we have been talking about is the importance of continued education,, and what that can do for your career and it doesn’t really matter where you’re at.

Judy Hudson: Exactly.

Melissa Verplank: Yeah. And Judy, I mean, you are so involved with continuing education. You have your own business, but you also work with national dog groomers and also the grooming professors. And so all of that is continued education. And what are you seeing out there in the field if folks are really focused on continued education?

Judy Hudson: I’m like you, I feel like continuing education is the coup de grâce. I just think it is the best thing that you can do for yourself. Not only continuing education as a groomer but continuing education, personal development. That’s something that has been huge for me.

Melissa Verplank: Yeah.

Judy Hudson: And I just see a lot of groomers struggle with self-confidence and with building their business because of the lack of self-confidence. So I feel like, and I just had this question the other day, how do you build your confidence up? And my answer to that was to build up your skill level. Because I don’t know about you, but when I was starting to speak and they told me, “Don’t ever speak about something that you don’t know forwards and backwards.”

Melissa Verplank: Yep. Absolutely.

Judy Hudson: Because your lack of confidence on that subject will come through.

Melissa Verplank: Yeah.

Judy Hudson: And so I found that true in the grooming industry, and I have spoken to some people over the years. I’m mobile, so a lot of people come to me for mobile advice, and so they were doing the right things, they were in a good neighborhood, but they just weren’t getting repeat customers. And you have to ask that hard question, what’s your skill level?

Melissa Verplank: Right. Yeah.

Judy Hudson: Because a lot of us are self-taught.

Melissa Verplank: Yep.

Judy Hudson: And there’s nothing wrong with that, but you have to continue to learn.

Melissa Verplank: Well, and I think you also have to get out there and be able to understand the difference between good, bad or what you can do to enhance your skills. Because if you don’t know what you don’t know, there’s no way that you can move yourself forward.
So you’ve got to know where your skill level is currently at, and where you could possibly take it. And it doesn’t necessarily have to deal with grooming. I mean for me, I’m a self-taught groomer, and I got to the upper echelon of the grooming community and you too, but also, I see it with business, with speaking, it doesn’t matter what it is. If you want to move your career forward, you have got to work with continuing education.
And the more you know, the more you grow, and the more you’re ultimately going to earn.

Judy Hudson: Absolutely.

Melissa Verplank: And ultimately, it also makes your days go so much better. To be able to have the confidence level to be able to move forward and to be able to speak with conviction, to groom with conviction, to communicate with your customers with conviction.

Judy Hudson: And when you have to have those hard conversations with your customers about why you have to de-mat their dog, or why it has to be shaped down, or why you don’t want to shave down a double-coated breed, and you can speak to the science behind the skin and the coat. That sets you above [crosstalk 00:04:41] Yeah.

Melissa Verplank: Yeah, so much farther above.

Judy Hudson: Because then they are going to value your information. They’re going to value your skill level, and they’re going to be willing to pay for that.

Melissa Verplank: Yeah. And so let’s tell our viewers a little bit. Okay, so they’re buying in, maybe you guys are buying into the continuing education. How did they go about it? Where do they go to get that kind of information to be able to grow their skills? I know what I did, and I’m going to go ahead and share that. But what did you do to help grow your skills so you could get to that next skill level?

Judy Hudson: I actually found Chris [Pulasky 00:05:23] at a dog show and, well actually I’d seen her at the Atlanta Pet Fair. And I was competing, and I was watching her groom while we were waiting on judging and thinking to myself, “My time would have been better spent standing at her booth all day watching her grown and picking her brain than it would have been competing.” But I’m very competitive. So that’s where I ended up.
But anyway, a couple months later I found her at a dog show and introduced myself and said, “I want to be where you are.” And so at first she was reluctant because a lot of times people will take and take and take and never give back. And once she figured out that I was a sticker, she couldn’t run me off, she taught me.
And then I took private lessons from Janice Finn for my Cockers. I would work dog shows with Chris. Jody Murphy, when we were competing together, she actually helped me, well actually you gave me a best in show with that dog at the New England. So we all helped each other, and we can all learn from somebody. And now it’s so much easier because I’ve learned to groom dogs and the grooming professors and super styling sessions and all the things, I mean there’s just-

Melissa Verplank: Well, there’s [crosstalk 00:06:47] there’s a lot of materials, and with the age of the internet, you can find a lot of things, but at the same token, you have to be careful because free information is, a lot of times that’s what it’s worth. Not a whole lot because it’s free. So you’ve got to be really careful who you seek out. But as I’m listening to who you followed, they were the top echelon at the time.
And if you learn from a master, it is going to accelerate your learning so much faster. And same thing when I was learning, I was going to the absolute best that I could find. And it didn’t matter whether it be grooming or whether it be business or whatever it might be. I really looked for those folks and learned from them. And I also, I read a lot, and one of the things that says is readers are leaders.

Judy Hudson: Yeah. [crosstalk 00:07:45] And guys, we still, we are listening to podcasts, we’re taking, what do you call those? Online programs to make ourselves better businesswomen. Because that’s the other thing, is that it’s not just about grooming. And she’s been one that has beat me over the head with, “You need to know what your numbers are.” And so, with Learn to Groom, they have so many great business videos on the site, and that’s something that I’ve been wanting, to dive into them and listen to them from my own benefit.

Melissa Verplank: Right.

Judy Hudson: But you never stop learning. And I think that for me is the most exciting thing about this industry, is that you can’t get bored because there’s so much to learn.

Melissa Verplank: There is. Once you master one skill, whether it be one breed, one coat type, one technique, there’s always something more that you can build on. And just because you think you’ve mastered it five, 10 years ago, then all of a sudden new things come out, things change, and there’s no black and white in dog grooming. And so there’s a lot of different varieties of ways to learn, ways to do things.
And what I always say is if the technique or what you’re doing with a pet, if it’s safe for the pet, if it’s safe for you, if it yields a quality result, and it can be done efficiently, you’re golden. Try it, test it out, see what works for you, because everything is going to work a little bit differently.
And one of the things we love… We just had a horse hit the gate there. One of the things that I love about Learn to Groom is that we’ve got so many different training experts, and we have so many different levels of education, that folks can dive in at whatever level they’re currently at and move forward. And I personally vet every single training expert that we have to make sure that we have the best that we can possibly find for our members.
But again, Learn to Groom is just one avenue of continued education. And so I’m always going to encourage everybody to learn at whatever level they’re at.

Judy Hudson: Yep.

Melissa Verplank: And do what they can do, and move forward because you can never know everything and you can never master everything.

Judy Hudson: And that’s the other cool thing about Learn to Groom, is because we all learn differently. And you might not learn something from me, but Melissa might say it in a different way and the light bulb goes on, and we see that all the time.

Melissa Verplank: Absolutely.

Judy Hudson: And so if you watch a video on poodles and you don’t quite get it, watch it again or look for another one on poodles with another trainer. Because we’re all basically doing the same stuff. We’re all following breed standard. Our prep stuff is the same. But it’s just, we may just say it a little differently.

Melissa Verplank: Yeah. So definitely get out there. One of the things that we say within our companies is education is everything.

Judy Hudson: I agree.

Melissa Verplank: Yeah. I can’t stress that more, is that education is absolutely everything. So get out there, figure out where you can get that information to grow yourself and to grow your career. Thanks guys.

The Theory of Five Nominated – & Won – Barkleigh Book of the Year Award!

CMG Melissa Verplank’s The Theory of Five has been selected for Barkleigh’s New Book of the Year Award! Tune in to hear Melissa talk about the evolution of The Theory of Five – a method of grooming she developed to create reproducible results and systematic communication with team groomers and clients. From it’s early inception to the foundation it has become for dog grooming instruction, the Theory of Five has helped groomers around the world save time and make money.

If you’d like to purchase The Theory of Five, it can be found here: http://bit.ly/2ks0d3t

Scissoring Training Wheels

Struggling to master the use of your shears? In this FREE Spotlight, Melissa Verplank teaches you how to find the balance point on your shears and to create “training wheels” so your hand is always in the correct position.

Read the rest of this entry »

How to Set the Body Pattern of a West Highland Terrier

Want to know how to set the pattern on a beautiful pet Westie? In this FREE Spotlight, Courtney Ramstack discusses how to remove dead undercoat, how to establish the pattern lines on the body, and how to clip them in on this retired AKC Champion who is now a pampered house pet.

This excerpt is taken from a full-length feature available to members at Learn2GroomDogs.com – members can find it here: http://bit.ly/2k0VFkg

Not a member? Join Learn2GroomDogs.com today to access hundreds of great grooming videos designed to help you succeed. Use code LUCKYDOG for 50% off your first month.

The Importance of Thinning Shears to Blend & Soften on the Finish of a Guard Comb Trim

In this FREE Spotlight Session, Melissa Verplank discusses the importance of an indispensable part of the grooming kit: thinning shears. Join Melissa as she demonstrates how a good set of thinners can make all the difference.

Read the rest of this entry »

error: Content is protected !!