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What is at the Root of All Success?

rrimageEveryone loves do a good job. We like the way it feels to excel and to please other people. For some, doing well is a starting point – they yearn for more.  Do you know the steps and work it takes to go from good to great?

What are your goals? Do you admire today’s top competitive pet stylists? Maybe you have your sights on certification. Do you have a dream of someday becoming a certified master groomer or pet stylist? Maybe you hope to become a member of GroomTeam USA or represent your country in world team competition?

Maybe your aspirations have nothing to do with competitive styling. Maybe your goal is winning the trust and respect of pet owners, turning them into regular clients.

They’re all worthy goals – and guess what? It’s not as hard as you think. There is no complicated recipe. But there is a secret.

Focus on the fundamentals.

Success is all about the fundamentals. The fundamentals are the little things. The ordinary things. And often, they are the tedious things. But to be the best you must master them. You must become a master of those ordinary, everyday tasks. With every act of greatness, whether in sports, business, the arts, or in pet grooming, the best of the best achieve extraordinary feats by doing ordinary things with amazing consistency, commitment, and focus.

c00aa89c0f35c77225dcdc099b7a0f84What are the fundamentals in dog grooming?

It means perfecting the core skills: bathing, drying, brushing, fluffing, and dematting. It’s also clipping, scissoring, as well as understanding basic structure and anatomy. It means having solid and safe handling skills.

As a professional pet groomer and stylist, we get to practice these skills all the time. In fact, many of us practice them every single day. World-class pet stylists don’t master their craft by working every day on perfect dogs with fabulous coats in perfect condition. For many of them, the only time they work on a “perfect dog” is in the ring – and under the pressure of competition. Even then, there is no such thing as a perfect dog. Every dog has its flaws – even the perfect ones.

Top stylists know it takes years of practice with everyday pets to master the fundamentals. Winning doesn’t just happen on the day of the competition. Winning is a result of dedication and hard work. The trophy is a product of training, study, and sacrifice. You cannot earn a high grade in certification testing on testing day, alone. Winning or earning high grades on your practical skills tests starts in every bathtub and on every grooming table, every day. There is no such thing as an overnight success. Typically, it takes years of uncountable numbers of hours of dedication to the craft.

Practice, in itself, is not enough. In order to truly succeed you need to follow this rule: Perfect Practice Makes Perfect. If you are not practicing the fundamentals correctly, you’re wasting your time. Clients will not return if your work is sub-par. Awards will not be given. High test scores will be out of reach.

514_400x400_NoPeelWith so many variables with pet grooming, where do you start? What coaching or training technique should you trust? How do you learn the RIGHT skills?

Start at the ground floor and learn from the masters. The information is out there. You will find it in:

  • magazines
  • books
  • clinics
  • workshops
  • seminars
  • schools
  • trade shows
  • conformation dog shows
  • obedience classes
  • grooming competitions
  • videos
  • blogs

Research online. Talk to vendors and manufacturers. Work with a mentor, a coach, a consultant. Look. Listen. Learn.  But don’t blindly trust everything you find – check references whenever possible. Today, there is a lot of information out there – unfortunately not all of it is good information! Talk to the experts to make sure the material you are learning is correct and safe.

As you learn, take it one small step at a time. Dissect every step. Break it down. For every technique there are micro steps to learn to perfect any skill. Study those micro steps.

stairsStart at the very beginning just like with a long flight of stairs. You start at the bottom, taking one step at a time. Mastering the fundamentals is a lot like a staircase. Jumping ahead or skipping steps will not get you ahead any faster. In fact, missing steps is way more detrimental to a career than staying on course dealing with each step moving up the flight of stairs.

With every step along the way, you are creating a knowledge base. It will continue to grow with your career. It is paramount for any pet professional to have fabulous pet handling skills to build trust with our furry clients while keeping them safe. Another area that is critical to any successful pet groomer or stylist is learning the finer details of structure and anatomy.

The key is to focus on improving each day, taking the necessary steps. If you incrementally improve each day, each week, each month, each quarter – by the end of the year you will see remarkable results and growth. Over time, by committing to this process, the best develop their skills and enhance their performance as they strive for excellence and achieving perfect execution.

If you want to be at the very top of your game, to become one of the best professional pet groomers/stylists in your town, in your state, in your country, you need to practice perfect fundamentals. Every. Single. Day. You don’t need to have perfect pets to make this happen. Grooming everyday pets offers an abundant opportunity to practice the fundamentals.

Your success doesn’t necessarily mean winning the award or scoring a high grade. Sometimes success means having a full appointment book with happy customers. That’s what truly makes a successful grooming business.

What steps do YOU take? Jump over to the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page and tell us about it!

Happy trimming!

~ Melissa


Production Bathing & Drying

production-blogPet bathing and drying seems to be a huge time challenge for many professionals. Many of you are all overflowing with pets to bathe during the summer season. I thought this would be a great time to review my time-tested “game.” I loved to play this game whether it was with 8 or 80 dogs a day! I’ve done it both ways and every number in-between over the years.

If you are one of those high volume shops doing 40 – 70 or more pets per day…  that’s a lot of toenail trimming no matter how you look at it!! How can you get more done in less time while not letting the quality of the work suffer? Here’s my method –  it’s a fast paced game with lots of variables to mix it up every day. After all, whoever thought pet grooming was going to be a boring job?

It’s not a mystery but it is like cooking a meal. The larger and more extravagant the meal (with multiple dishes being served), the more complicated the timing and the choices get to be. With a few dogs, it’s pretty simple – the choices are limited. Add more dogs and the variables increase.  Move to a full-blown shop pushing through 50+ dogs and you have something like a full force, successful restaurant that is managed by an experienced head chef.  OK, so how do you manage your bathing and drying roster so all the pets are done to the highest degree of quality and proficiency, just like getting multiple dishes to the table all done to perfection and hot?

The Three Basic Rules & Guidelines to Follow

1Review all the dogs on your roster for that day or session. This game works best when you have multiple pets arriving at one time so you can stagger them according to coat type, size, and degree of difficulty.

2Do your largest and furriest dog first. Something that can be bathed and then lightly high velocity dried to lift and separate the fur. By spending a few minutes with the high velocity dryer on each pet, it allows a clear view of any special needs of that animal while enhancing airflow to the coat once it is placed in an inactive drying situation. Bathe and set up the coat on all the bath and brush pets first, starting with the largest and most time-consuming dogs, working down the line of difficulty to the least difficult of the bath and brush pets. Once all the bath and brush pets are bathed, then proceed with dogs that need active drying to yield the best results

3Your goal on all trim dogs is not only to get the pet clean, but the coat needs to be tangle free and as straight as possible for the finished trim. After all the B&B pets are bathed, start washing your trim dogs. Start with the pet that has the heaviest and straightest coat – something that can sit for a few minutes while you bathe your other haircut pets without risking the coat drying before you get to an active drying method. Let the pet sit in a warm place wrapped in a towel. Proceed washing the next pet based on size, coat density and curl factor – less curl hits the tub before a curly coat – curly coats such as Bichons or Poodles go to the tub last. Once all the trim pets are bathed, start drying. The first pet up on the drying table should be the one that has the curliest, but lightest coat since that coat type will dry the quickest. If the coat dries before an active form of drying can take place while the coat is still damp, it will be impossible to remove the curl unless you re-wet the pet. Once the curliest coats have been fluffed dried so they are absolutely straight, move to the next kinkiest or wavy coat type – also weigh in the coat density factor. A lighter or shorter coat will need to go before a heavier or longer coats. A typical example would be that you have two dogs of equal size and similar haircuts like a 1 guard on the body and a fuller leg style. One dog is a Lhasa and the other is a Maltese/Shih Tzu mix. Normally the Maltese cross would have a lighter density of coat than the Lhasa, thus the Maltese mix gets dried before the Lhasa. Continue this process moving from the curliest coats down the line. The key is to get to a coat before it is dry so the heat of the dryer can straighten the fur out. Remember, the goal is always to have a straight, fluffy, mat free coat to finish. Curls and kinks in the fur make it impossible to execute a trim that is smooth and sleek. If a coat gets too dry, it must be re-wetted and the drying process started over.

????????There are many variations to how this game gets played out to be effective. It is what makes a day interesting to a professional pet stylist. The better you get at this game, the faster you will be able to get through multiple pets without sacrificing quality. Think about what we do in the terms of food. An average home cook should be able to get 2-3 dishes on the table at the same time. A first-class home cook should be able to handle a meal with 4-5 dishes and at least 6 people. Seasoned home entertainers can handle an elaborate holiday meal for 20 with ease. A professional chef will master an entire shift serving over a 100 meals and all their side dishes with it all arriving to the table hot and beautifully prepared.

How far can you push yourself – before you get lost in the order of bathing pets? Test yourself and see how you do. It’s a fun game that can be challenging yet really invigorating. The more dogs, the more fun, and reward when it goes smoothly!

What are your best methods? Jump over to the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page and tell us about it!

Happy Trimming!

~ Melissa


Is Your Image Newsworthy?

imagerrIf your local TV news station were to drop by – unannounced – to do a story about you and your business, would you be prepared? What about your local newspaper? Could you make a great impression to the community as they interview you with cameras flashing? Would you be proud of your shop? Your staff? Yourself?

Impressions are made in an instant. It doesn’t matter whether it is a TV news crew, reporter, or client. If you are open for business, you need to be prepared to be splashed across the screen or featured on the front page of your local newspaper.

Be honest. Can you proudly flaunt your business, even if the local media showed up without notice?

If you shudder at the thought, you need to take the steps necessary to create a professional image. You want to create a lasting, positive impression on your clients – and prospective clients.

It takes less than 30 seconds for people to form an opinion about you and your business. Don’t forget, we’re not just talking about what the client sees, but what they smell and hear.

I’ve been in this industry over 30 years with multiple businesses and this has happened many times. If there is a slow news day, nothing can fill the space better than our furry friends! I make sure that my companies understand that cleanliness and professional appearance are a top priority. They need to be prepared and ready to be front page news – at all times. You never know when an opportunity to shine will present itself.

As pet care ambassadors, it our job to groom pets but also our job to present a professional image for our industry. We cannot afford to look like we just rolled out of bed. Take a moment each day to put yourself together so that you would be proud to be featured in your local media.

Which side looks more professional?

Which side looks more professional?

I don’t know any successful person who doesn’t sweat the details. Being impeccable, both personally and in your work space, shows the client that you care about yourself. The message you are sending out is that you are confident with your skills. That you are successful. That you respect yourself enough to do the same for them – and for their pet. It also shows that you care about your client.

I know it can get tiring to dress up a little every day. However, our clients are entrusting us with the care of their pets. Like it or hate it, you can easily influence their trust by simply changing the way you look when you greet your clients. Think of yourself as your own brand. Don’t you want your product to be consistent and look great? Of course! And your clients are looking for that, too.

A neat, well-groomed appearance is essential when it comes to professionalism in this industry. You need to dress in a way that attracts clientele.

Come to work each day looking crisp, clean, and pulled together. Blue jeans, sweat pants, and athletic shorts ARE NOT professional attire! They don’t inspire confidence. Black, white, or khaki slacks work well. Longer skirts are great for women in warmer climates. Conservative shorts or Capri’s may work for your environment, as well. Matching grooming pants are also nice. I’ve even seen dressy leggings work when paired with an over-sized, long, top or smock. Look for clothing that is not prone to wrinkling or be prepared to learn how to iron!

Today, there are many options for hair-repelling garments. There are all types of tops and bottoms in a wide variety of styles. If you work in a salon with a dress code, this may be easier. If not, have some fun with the pet styling fashions that are available. It may even be a good idea to keep an extra outfit or smock around the shop as a back-up. If you get drenched or messy, a quick change will instantly boost your comfort level and mood.

Consider the color of your outfit, as well. If your logo is blue, you may want to consider this your brand color and wear it everyday.  It will make you instantly recognizable to your clients.

Remember, low-cut tops and short-shorts are never appropriate. If you have shorts that are too short or a top that is too revealing (especially when you are squatting down to pick up a dog), it just doesn’t look professional. Muscle shirts and shirts with the sleeves cut off don’t make the grade, either.

Being professional means speaking, behaving, and dressing in a manner that tells people you are qualified to do the job. If your appearance causes anyone to doubt – even for a second – that you don’t know what you’re doing, you could lose their business before they even see your work.

Proper hygiene is also crucial. It should go unsaid, but being clean and odor-free is a must. There is nothing more offensive – and embarrassing – than personal body odor. The famous motivational speaker Zig Ziglar, noted, “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” Nothing could be more true!

Your own hair needs to be clean and neatly styled. If your hair is long, tie it back and away from your face. As your work with clippers or shears, you don’t want to be trimming a lock of your own hair as you scissor that leg. I hate to think of how many people with long hair have caught their tresses in the spinning grinder as they worked. Ouch! Or worse yet, drag it through anal gland expressions, defecation, or urine.

Having a touch of jewelry is a nice finishing touch. Done well, it always reflects positively. However, just like with fragrance – go light. A few simple rings. A durable watch (and you always need to know the time!!). If your ears are pierced – stick with super simple earrings – something a dog can’t accidentally catch in a paw, ripping your ear lobe. If you opt for a necklace, keep it tasteful. Don’t be in love with it. Dogs will catch it in their paws and break it, eventually. The same thing with is true with bracelets.

Having well-groomed fingernails is what I consider a bonus. Working with dirty dogs and trimming toenails lends itself to dirty fingernails – even if you do a lot of bathing. Trimming Poodle feet has a tendency chip fingernails. Personally, I liked to keep my nails painted. Painted fingernails will hide all sorts of flaws. Unfortunately, when you do a lot of bathing, standard nail polish has a tendency to peel off quickly – sometimes in as little as one day. My solution was to have my fingernails professionally done every two weeks. Both acrylic and shellac nail applications seem hold up well to the abuse groomers put their hands through. Ragged nails on women or men can be easily tidied up. When you give the pet to the owner, their eyes are naturally drawn to your fingers as you hand over the leash. Wouldn’t filed nails make a great impression? Plus, it gives you a little time to pamper your most valuable asset – YOUR HANDS!

Pay attention to the details. Judy Hudson is one our popular Learn2GroomDogs.com Training Partners. In her video, What I Know For Sure, she shares this tip: “It doesn’t cost a lot to be clean. It doesn’t cost a lot of money to be neat and tidy. All it takes is a little elbow grease.”

The next time your local news company calls for an interview, you’re going to have the confidence to greet them at the door even if you only have a few moments notice before they arrive. When your image is splashed across the TV screen, you’re going to be proud of what you see – and your clients and prospective clients will be impressed.

There is no amount of marketing dollars that can buy free publicity. Are you ready for the media to show up on YOUR doorstep?

Happy Trimming!

~ Melissa

>P.S.

You never know when the media will knock on your door! Has this ever happened to you? Go online and tell us about it on the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page.


How to Encourage Cold Weather Appointments

blog imagerrDo you live in a climate where you have seasonal changes in the weather patterns? For many groomers, the number of grooming appointments dips with the temperature. This can be a real problem if you rely on your grooming income to pay your bills!

How do you combat that problem? Encourage pre-booking.

It always amazes me how many clients have no idea what their pet needs in terms of coat care when the temperatures plummet.

Professional pet grooming is service driven. That means you must be a problem solver – even when your clients don’t know they have a problem! Thus, you become not only the problem solver but also the educator!

Just prior to some of the coldest weather of the season in the northern hemisphere, we have one of our busiest seasons – the holidays. Take advantage of your good fortune.

blog quoteHere are 6 of the most common problems associated with colder weather:

  1. Pet Hygiene: regular bathing is essential for pets that share our lives – and our homes.
  2. Regular Brushing: keeps the tangles away along with other benefits such as distributing oils through the coat and promoting circulation of the skin.
  3. Nails: they need to be trimmed and/or filed all winter.
  4. Feet: many breeds need the hair between the toes trimmed to keep them comfortable while outside.
  5. Coat Growth: it does slow down but trimming is still essential.
  6. Dryness & Static: both the skin and the coat can dry out – special shampoos and conditioners can combat the both dryness and static.

As you check out every pet, assume the client is going to rebook in 4 to 6 weeks.  Let them know that most pets benefit from regular grooming – even in the winter. It can be very helpful to have a marketing piece outlining the benefits of cold-weather grooming ready to hand out. Focus on the six items outlined above.

Always suggest the ideal time frame between appointments based on their dog’s coat type. Let them know you’ve saved a particular date just for them. If you know the client well enough, you’re going to know what they prefer for an appointment time. Offer that time to them.

If your clientele is price sensitive, try sweetening the deal. Offer a special winter incentive to book within 6 weeks of their last appointment date. $2-$5 off their normal grooming price is a common enticement to get them back on the grooming table.

Oops. You didn’t ask your clients to re-book?! Now what?

If you didn’t ask every one of your customers to rebook when they were in for their holiday appointment, don’t despair. For many grooming businesses, it is a bit slow right after the holidays. Take that down time to simply pick up the phone.

Systematically go through your appointments starting in the end of November and work your way to Dec 24th. Make a simple and friendly “courtesy call” to get their pet set up for their next appointment. Don’t forget to include your special discount for booking within 6 weeks of their last appointment.

4 Typical Cold Weather Issues Associated with Grooming

  1. It’s important to remember that coats and sweaters continually rub against a dog’s fur, constantly causing friction against the hair. If the coat is fur is longer, this can lead to mats and tangles. It’s best to remove doggie garments before they come inside. Remember, most of us don’t wear our heavy coats indoors. The same should happen with our pets. If they need a little added warmth, most folks opt for an indoor sweater. They can do the same with their dog.
  2. For dogs that are very short coated or the coat is very thin, doggie garments for both outside and inside are great options. However, constant sweater wearing leads to doggie odor, dry skin, and lots of static. All problems that can be addressed with regular professional grooming.
  3. If the dog normally gets a haircut, many owners enjoy a slightly longer style in the winter. Many of these longer styles are still low maintenance and easy to care for – especially if the dog is going out into the snow for a romp.
  4. Some owners extend the time between haircuts. If their pet has the type of coat that could easily get out of control without regular brushing, you’ll definitely want to encourage maintenance appointments between full haircuts. Maintenance appointments would include a bath using a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner, a full brush out, minor trimming around the eyes and feet, and sanitary areas. Nail trimming, ear cleaning, and fresh bows or bandanna are nice touches. Generally, these types are booked every 2 or three weeks and offered at a reduced rate.

Still slow? Plan for it. (Okay, maybe NEXT year plan for it…) But for now – bask in the glory of a little time to yourself! Use the time to dig into those shop projects you’ve been putting off. Shorten your workweek to 4 days or knock off a tiny bit early on select days. Or best yet – schedule your OWN vacation!

Happy Trimming!

~Melissa

P.S.

Here is the new video from Learn2GroomDogs.com!

[youtube]http://youtu.be/A2KLqT_ztZA[/youtube]

click-here

 

 

 

How do YOU boost cold weather appointments?


The Art of Packaging – Gifts for Grooming Clients

Holiday Packaging #1rrI love this time year. There is so much to do. So many details to attend to. So many opportunities to visit with friends and family. So many thoughtful gifts to give and receive. Everything revolves around people we love and appreciate – including our clients.

For many of us in the pet grooming business, this is one of the busiest times of year. The fur is flying, clippers are clipping, scissors are sculpting, and festive bows adorn most pets as they walk out the doors.

This is also the time year that clients can be extremely generous with gifts. Do you have a special gift ready to reciprocate?

When I ran my mobile grooming business of 6 vans, we gave bags of assorted dog biscuit treats. Even though we packaged up the bags a day or two ahead of time, gift-giving for all our clients had become quite the chore.

At that time, a good friend lived with me. She was a fashion designer and has since gone on to become a very successful stylist for photo and video shoots. Her attention to detail was immense. She watched me early one morning as I was assembling the gifts. The kitchen was totally lined with white – individually decorated – paper lunch bags. There must have been at least 40 of them. I had CASES of biscuits lining the edges. “After all, each gift had to have a wide assortment…” or so I thought.

I would grab a large scoop of one variety of biscuits and start dropping a few into each bag. I would make my way around to every bag. Then I would move to the next variety of biscuits and do the same. Then, the next type of crunchy treat. The process seemed to go on forever until the bag was about half full. I would then fold the tops over and staple each of them.

blog imageMy friend watched with her steaming cup of coffee for multiple days before she finally said to me, “Melissa, there’s a better way to do this. The gift is not about the size of the package – it’s about the presentation.”

“Really,” I said with raised eyebrows.

She came into the kitchen, opening the drawer that held my plastic baggies. She grabbed a plastic bag, a pair scissors and some pretty ribbon. She proceeded to drop 4-5 biscuits into the corner of the plastic bag. She tied the bag off with a pretty ribbon in a simple knot and trimmed the edges at an angle. Finally, she cut the excess off of the plastic bag top.

Ta-da!

 

She had created a gorgeous gift in no time. It was simple. It was elegant. It was classy. It was a gift that was easy to give and receive.

I must have learned that lesson almost 30 years ago. I still carry it with me today. The gift isn’t necessarily about the size of the gift or the cost. It’s about the presentation.

It did not take us long to graduate from the small plastic baggie. The generic baggies required trimming to make it appear presentation worthy. We quickly discovered you can order bags and a wide variety of custom sizes.

Today we look at the items we need to package. We order plastic bags that are appropriately sized to custom fit whatever we need to package. Dog biscuits gift bags to welcome packages and everything in between.

We have used this principle over and over again in all of my companies with great success. The next time a client gives you a generous tip – or a plate of holiday cookies – you’ll have something worthy to hand them in exchange.

Happy Trimming!

~Melissa

P.S.

Here is the new video from Learn2GroomDogs.com!

[youtube]http://youtu.be/3L4ZEo9XPmk[/youtube]

 

click-here


Nine Seconds to Make a First Impression

Dog-Computer-Wallpaper-1024x768rrYou meet someone for the first time – it could be a new client walking through your doors, someone at a grooming trade show or a new team member.

The moment that stranger sees you, their brain makes a thousand assumptions.  It might be a new client or someone you meet anywhere else.  You are giving off clues about yourself before you ever begin to speak.  They are gathering a wealth of nonverbal clues about you.

What are nonverbal clues?

Nonverbal clues include all the ways you present and express yourself, apart from the actual words you speak.  Things like eye contact, gestures, posture, body movements, and tone of voice.  All of these signals can convey important information that isn’t put into words.  They are extremely important at work and in business.  Perception is reality.

If you are dealing with a prospective customer – the following items will instantly fly through their head upon your first meeting:

  • Are you trustworthy?
  • Will you be kind to their pet?
  • Do you have the skills required to groom their dog or cat?
  • Are you likable?
  • Are you confident?
  • Will you charge a fair price for your services?

These impressions form at lightning speed.  Making major decisions about another person happens within seconds of meeting them.

Picture1In business, first impressions are crucial.  You can’t stop people from making snap decisions – the human brain is hardwired this way as prehistoric survival mechanism.  However, you can understand how to make those decisions work in your favor.

First impressions are more heavily influenced by nonverbal clues than verbal clues.  In fact, studies have found that nonverbal clues have over four times the impact on the impression you make than anything you say.

Here are nine nonverbal ways to make a positive first impression with a grooming client, a new team member or a new business associate.

  1. Present yourself professionally.  Blue jeans, sweatshirts, T-shirts and a baseball cap are not professional.  If you are in your shop or van, wear fresh garments that repel dirt, grime and hair.  At a trade show? Dress in ‘professional casual.’
  1. Pay attention to details.  Hair style, light make-up (for women) and your nails all give strong visual cues.  Having fun with personal style is fine – as long as it stays a little more on the conservative side.  Over-the-top piercings, tattoos and gauges will not instantly form a positive impression on most people you meet – especially prospective clients.
  1. Attitude – attitude – attitude.  People pick up on your attitude instantly.  Before you turn to greet someone, or address a team member, or walk into a trade show, think about the situation.  Make a conscious choice about the attitude you want to project.
  1. Fine-tune your posture.  Position and authority are non-verbally conveyed by height and space.  Standing tall, pulling your shoulders back, and holding your head high are all signs of confidence and competence.
  1. Facial expression.  Human faces are incredibly expressive including the eyes, eyebrows, mouth, and any other movement.  Open your eyes slightly more than normal to simulate the ‘eyebrow flash’.  This is the universal signal of recognition and acknowledgment.  Emotions such as anger, happiness, hurt, and boredom are all easily expressed with facial movements.
  1. Smile more.  A smile is an invitation, a sign of welcome.  It says you are friendly and approachable.  Smile at the pooch too.  Owners love that!
  1. Make eye contact.  To transmit energy look at someone’s eyes.  Looking into someone’s eyes indicate interest and openness.  And if that person has a pet in tow, make sure you look into the pets eyes as well.
  1. The handshake.  This is the quickest way to establish a connection.  It’s also the most effective.  Here’s an interesting fact.  On average it takes about three hours of continuous interaction to develop the same level a rapport that you get with a single handshake.  A firm handshake indicates a strong personality.  But don’t crush someone else’s hand – as groomers, our hands are typically really strong!  A weak handshake is taken as a lack of strength.
  1. Lean forward slightly.  Leaning forward shows you’re engaged and attentive.  But be respectful of the other person space.  That normally means staying about two feet away.

Every encounter from chatting with new clients, going to trade shows or attending training sessions presents an opportunity to meet people.  It’s a great way to network, expanding your professional contacts.  Making a positive first impression counts.  You’ve got nine seconds – but if you handle it well, those nine seconds are all you need.

~Happy trimming,

Melissa

PS.

You should check out our videos on Learn2GroomDogs.com.  Here is a featured video clip from our channel on YouTube:

click-here


Creating the Round Head with a Clipper – Drop Coated Head Styling

1rrThere are a number of different ways to create a round head style on a dog.

Here are two clipper options that will help you be more consistent from trim to trim.

Setting the Pattern

Use this hold to define sections of the head that are to be clipped or to be hand scissored:

2rrStanding in front of the dog, place your hands just behind the eyes so both thumbs touch under the jaw and both first fingers touch just above the eyes.

  • Anything behind your hands is considered the skull and should be clipped.
  • Anything in front of your fingers is considered the eye area and muzzle and should be shaped by hand.

3rrUsing a similar hold, place your fingers around the neck of the dog.  Slide your hands up until they rest at the base of the ears.  This is your dividing line between the neck and headpiece.

The length will vary based on client preference and length of body coat.  The shorter the body length, the shorter the head should be.  Longer trims look balanced with longer head styles as long as they are not extreme.  In both cases, it’s most important that the head be in balance with the body.

Style Option #1:

  • Take the same blade used to trim the body and use it again for the top of the head and down the sides of the cheeks.
  • If a #4F, #5F, #7F or #2 guard was used on the body, follow the natural lay of the coat, working out from the center of the skull.
  • Feather the coat over the tops of the ears and at the transition line just behind the eyes separating the head with the muzzle area.  There will be an imaginary line just behind the eyes where you can feel the eye socket rims.  The hair over the eyes in this area should be left to hand scissor, framing the eyes in the final stages of the trim.
  • Lift the ears out of the way and come down the sides of the face, in the cheek/jowl area.  Follow the lay of the coat and blend into the clipped neck. Leave just enough hair at the back corners of the eyes to complete the framework for the eyes in the finished trim.

Style Option #2

  • Use a medium to medium-long guard comb for small – to medium-sized pets; longer combs can be used on larger dogs.  The key is the head should ‘balance’ the trim and compliment the dog in size and shape.
  • Due to the length of coat these combs leave, they are most effective when pulled forward from the occiput to the eye area.  Your goal is to feather to coat at the transition point, softly framing the eyes.  The outer edge of the guard comb should ride right at the junction point of where the ear meets the skull.
  • The cheeks and jowl areas are handled the same way as outlined above.

Common Styling Techniques with Both Round Head Styles

The stop area should be trimmed for both options.  Personally, I like to catch this area when I do my close sanitation work just before I do the full haircut.  Don’t remove too much coat between the eyes – less will be better than more.  Focus on the area just in front of the eyes and the stop area.  Use thinning shears or clip the area with a close blade, such as a #10 or a #15.  This will clear the area of long fur and accentuate a nice, deep-set eye.

With both head styles, the framed area over the eyes should be scissored by hand.  Comb the coat forward over the eyes, making sure to get the hair in the stop area, too.

Scissor off the longer hair at a 45-degree angle, starting at the stop area.  The fur will be super short right above the eye and taper out slightly over the eye, framing it.

Use straight or curved shears in reverse, framing the eyes trimming up and over the eyes.  The beveled edge creates a ledge for the longer coat to sit on, keeping it out of the eyes.  It also creates a desirable “soft expression.”  A deep-set eye adds dignity and character to the facial expression, too.  There should be just enough depth to this frame to accomplish the look, but not so much as to give a heavy “visor” look.

Double-check and triple check this line framing the eyes.  It is the most important part of the entire trim.  Pay close attention to the stop area – this is an area that long strays love to hide.  The last thing you want is to have random hairs pop out once the dog gets home!

4rrOnce you are satisfied that the frame is even, the line will still be sharp.  Soften the framed area with thinning shears.

Double-check the line just behind the eyes where the clipper work feathers off.  It should be smooth and even at the transition point.

Check the transition lines over and around the ears and neck.  Use thinning shears to neaten these areas.  Make sure to look behind and under the ears too.  Follow the line under the jaw, too.  Everything should be even, neat and tidy.

The muzzle on many round head styles is trimmed by hand, keeping the eyes and nose at the center.  However, there are multiple style options.  Many stylists like to continue their longer guard comb work on the muzzle as well.  Or you can scissor it by hand.

When using a guard come on the muzzle, you can work either with the grain of the coat or against the coat growth with longer combs.  Once you are close to a consistent length – stop and finish the area by hand with thinner or blending shears.

For hand scissoring the muzzle coat, comb the coat down.  Use the jawbone as your guide.  Trim parallel to the jawbone adjusting the length as needed.  Once the length is established, finish trimming the area with thinning shears for a soft and even look.

Many owners appreciate removing the longer hair right under the nose, at the end of the muzzle.  On round-headed dogs, this is extra fur that gets messy at feeding time – collecting water and picking up all sorts of nasty things as the dog is outdoors sniffing around.  There are two basic ways to deal with this area:

  1. Simply hold the dog’s mouth firmly closed and quickly remove the extra hair with a close blade – anything from a #30 #15 or #10 blade will work.  Just watch that tongue!
  2. Hand scissoring works, too.  Use either thinners or a smaller pair of shears to trim the hair away from this area.  Comb the coat forward at the end of the muzzle.  Trim off the excess.  You can also taper the area back towards the neck.  This will help prevent dirt and debris from collecting in this area and provide a neat and tidy appearance to the overall head.

To finish the head style, soften all lines with thinning or blending shears.  Look for stray hair or anything that is out of place.  There should be no sharp lines anywhere on the head.  From side-to-side you are looking for symmetry, both in length and density.

In the end, the expression should be soft and kind.   The eyes will be the key feature you want to highlight.  Framing the eyes, you bring out the pet’s expression – something every pet owner loves to see!

 If you liked this lesson, you’ll love this video.  You’ll find it on Learn2GroomDogs.com.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/NzLWtaBFAoc[/youtube]

Not a member?  It’s easy to join – click here!

Happy trimming!

~Melissa


Closet Organizer

Messy-Closet-PhotorrI talk to people in and outside of our industry every day and I am always looking to learn something from every conversation, not matter how short or long the conversation happens to be. Sometimes the conversation is very short, a simple phone call to check in with staff at the office or colleagues in the field, and sometimes the conversation are much more lengthy, which could include planning meetings or networking opportunities. All in all, everyone has something to say and there is always something to learn.

Recently, I was speaking to someone on a plane about their business. We engaged in the standard reciprocal greeting when we found ourselves sitting next to one another and then proceeded to go to work on our laptops. After clicking away for about 30 minutes, I happened to pick up a vibe that the man I had said hello to just a little while ago is in some form of law enforcement or military, I wasn’t sure yet. So, being the social butterfly I am, I asked. Boy am I glad I did!

The man was a retired Marine who is now working as a management consultant. I was instantly intrigued. I asked him what lessons he learned from the military that he felt were the most valuable to him in his new line of work. He answered very quickly. His top pick was “systems” and “standards”.

joe quoteWow! I couldn’t agree more and I let him know this. I told him he was going to be the inspiration behind my next blog post. You see, we often times catch ourselves in situations that take up a huge amount of energy addressing the same problem over and over again in our business.   Sound familiar? Why does this happen? How can we prevent this? What do we need to do or become to help ourselves? We need better systems and standards in our business. Here are some ways you can help yourself. Please understand, however, there will be an investment of your time and energy creating and documenting these things, but like any other investment, do it correctly and you should yield positive results.

No matter the size of your business, (yep, even if it is only you) all businesses deserve a systematic way of creating accountability. The best way to do this is to “declare” to everyone in your business, staff and clients, that you have standards you wish to operate by and expectations you intend on being held accountable to. Here’s a quick tip. If you want your staff to understand and accept the notion of accountability, the business must adopt this mentality first.

The easiest way to make promises to staff and clients is to define a clear picture for everyone what “correct” looks and feels like. While some may feel this is subjective, and I agree to a point, your business is your business and you get to make the rules. This culture of “correct” starts with the hiring and training of staff. From the first minute you meet a potential employee in an interview, be sure they have a clear understanding of your standards. From the first minute you meet a potential customer, be sure they too have a clear understanding of your standards. The employee is accountable to you and you are accountable to your customers.

There are some mechanisms or tools you can put in place to help you with this definition of “correct” and the organizing of your thoughts, direction, standards and accountability. Setting standards is a way of organizing your business, your time, and your efforts so that everyone is pointed in the same direction. I compare a loosely run business to the chaotic nature of an unorganized closet. It takes effort to continually mind the clothes, hangers, shoes, boxes, hats, and various other things found in your closet, but there are few things more frustrating than not being able to quickly identify what you have, what you need, and what you want to wear. If everything in your closet were always perfectly hung, in order, and in good condition, wouldn’t your day be much brighter? Wouldn’t your attitude be more positive? Wouldn’t this save you a lot of time? Be a closet organizer for your business. Keep things organized and take control of your situation.

Here are just some of the tools of organization that you might find handy. If you have some of these in place, congratulations. If you don’t, consider starting today! If you need help, reach out to me. I have developed templates that can help you get started. I have done the hardest part for you. I have identified the skeleton outline of the content needed; you just need to customize them for your business!

  • Safety Manuals
  • Employee Manuals
  • Operations Manuals
  • First Aid and Veterinary Protocol
  • Employee Agreements
  • Take care and I wish you and your business the very best!

 

This guest blog by Joe Zuccarello is used by permission from the author.  To see more from Joe, check out his blog at: High Performance Tips for Pet Industry Professionals

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Tips for Booking a Smooth Holiday Season

blog imagerDon’t blink. The holidays are going to be here before you know it. Are you ready?

If you have a reasonably busy salon – and have been at this for a few years – you know the holiday season is crunch time. In a very narrow window of opportunity, you will be busy grooming the regular clients in your database.

Every

one

of

them.

Are you going to let your clients run rampant over you or are you going to take charge of the situation before it runs out of control?

The holidays are a special time of year. Yes, it’s one of the busiest times for a professional grooming salon. However, it’s also the time of year to enjoy time with those closest to your heart.  If you are chained to your grooming table throughout the entire holiday season – how can you possibly enjoy your family and friends?

Sure, keeping your customers happy is important, but so is your family. So are your close personal friends. Don’t let the insanity of the holiday season put a damper on your festive mood.

Believe me, I learned the hard way, too. Grooming super long hours up to 14 days straight before Christmas left me totally spent and exhausted. I was definitely a Scrooge throughout the entire holiday season. I knew I had to make a change when one Christmas I literally slept through the entire day.

Here’s a trick I implemented a number of years ago. It’s worked like a gem for me and my teams.

We start looking at our holiday season in September. We start booking our top priority clients months out. How do we figure out which clients those are? Simple.

We start pre-booking all our premiere clients based on the number of weeks between grooming appointments. It’s a service we offer to our best clients for free.

We work in the following order:

Weekly clients get top billing. They get their choice of premier times and days. Once those clients are booked, we move to our biweekly clients. Next, our two-week clients are booked, then we move on to our three-weekers and so on until we reach the end of our 6-week clients. Always go in that order.

By the time we complete pre-booking all of our holiday appointments, there are very few holes left to fill with other regular customers. Those are the only other customers that we would take. Any customer that walks through our doors for grooming appointment during the holiday season MUST have a history with our grooming salon. During the peak holiday season, we never take a new customer.

Once we started utilizing this type of scheduling, the three days prior to a major holiday were a breeze. Almost every dog on the schedule is at least a three week client. How hard is it to groom dogs like that? You know the answer to that – they are EASY!

To me, that’s this best way to deal with the holiday season. Take care your best customers. Set limitations on how many dogs you going to do per day. You will be busy but you won’t (and shouldn’t) be chained to your grooming table during the entire holiday season.

Never forget the true meaning of the holidays. They are meant to be spent with family and close friends.

Have you already pre-booked all of your holiday appointments? Excellent . You’re well and your way to having a joyful and well organized holiday season. If you haven’t already started booking those clients – don’t waste any more time. Start now.

Here’s a little more on the subject – and aren’t our hats the BEST!  You can see more on this topic – and so much more – on Learn2GroomDogs.com.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/tvO4Ji8Lli4?list=UU6QEPG7JG7exQRpEr9e_nHA[/youtube]

-Happy trimming,

Melissa

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Rating Dog Personalities

blogrYou have a new client on the books. It’s a Lhasa/Maltese mix – or in the new world of designer dogs, it’s a “Lhatese.” The client arrives precisely 15 minutes late. She’s dressed to the nines and everything matches… even the dog.

The dog’s name? You guessed it…

…Precious.

You know you’re in trouble.

If you’re a one groomer salon, you can keep the personalities of all your canine clients in your head. You know any dog named Precious is far from… precious.

But what if you start expanding your salon? What if you bring on a new bather? Or maybe you have an assistant handling your appointments? Or maybe you have an inexperienced groomer joining your team.?

Wouldn’t it be helpful to know the personality rating of the dogs scheduled for the day?

Here’s a rating system that I’ve been using for years in my salons. It’s been extremely helpful in many ways:

  • It allows us to clearly evaluate the personalities of our canine clients.
  • it opens up communication with our customers.
  • it allows us to assign more challenging pets to the appropriate groomer.
  • the groomer clearly knows s/he will need to be on high alert with certain pets.

This is how I rate dogs. Simply put, we rate them one through five. It’s worked exceptionally well for years.

Our bathers, groomers, stylists, and students know what to expect from the pet. Even our clients know our rating system. It allows us to have an open conversation with them about their pet’s attitude towards grooming. Many customers are even anxious to see the paperwork to see if there dog has progressed to a more positive level.

Melissa’s Pet Personality Rating System:

  1. The Perfect Angel – This is the dog you love to see. It’s 100% cooperative with the entire grooming process.
  2. The Dancer – This dog is not aggressive but it does not hold still. You’re constantly working on a moving target.
  3. Easily Irritated – This dog will bite if you do something that it does not care for: trimming toenails, cleaning ears, dematting, high velocity drying. This dog might need to be muzzled for things they dislike. They generally respond well to an experienced pet professional.
  4. Angry – This is a dog that does not like the grooming process. One. Bit. You cannot trust them. Typically, they can be done safely if handled by an experienced professional. That person needs to be confident when dealing with an aggressive dog. They need to be authoritative and respectful of the pet while balancing firm but gentle handling techniques. Most dogs that fall in this category require muzzling.
  5. Unsafe – This is a dog whose eyes will glow red or green. Is extremely dangerous for most pet professionals to deal with safely. There is no question that given the opportunity, they will bite and/or attack. The dog or the groomer is at a very high risk of being injured. Personally, this is a dog I would fire. I would refer to a facility that could provide a mild sedative – under veterinary supervision – to take the edge off the grooming process.

By using this rating system, we have a clear way to rate the personalities of all the pets that come through our grooming doors. Using the system also means I can communicate with my team, my teams can communicate with each other, and we can openly communicate with our customers.

This time-tested system has worked fabulously for my team. I hope it will work well for your team, too. Now, next time “Precious” comes striding through your door, you’ll know what to do!

Happy trimming!

~Melissa

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