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Making the Most of a Seminar

seminarWhen you attend trade shows and clinics, preparing in advance can help you make the most of this experience.  Seminars are a great way to improve your skills and recharge your batteries.  Meeting your mentors and soaking up their knowledge is a fantastic opportunity, and if you can see and hear them in action, it maximizes the experience.  When you know what you need and what you hope to get out of the session, you can better prepare yourself to squeeze out as much as you can from your time together.

1.  Step into the session with a very open mind.

If you are young and fresh to the industry, the amount of information that you get can be intimidating.  Listen, take notes, and soak up every bit of knowledge that you can.  Sometimes that may mean suspending what you know in order to make room for something new.  Trying new techniques or ideas can be uncomfortable just because you’ve never tried it before.  Keeping an open mind enables you to break from your routine to get different results.  With time and practice, the awkwardness goes away and you become more efficient.  Remember: having more tools, techniques, and knowledge allows you to have multiple approaches to a problem.

2.  Make efficient use of the time available.

Many trainers at these sessions have limited time.  They are often rushing from one obligation to another – judging competitions, speaking in seminars, or providing hands-on clinics.  If they can, many will take the time to answer your questions.  If you know what you need to ask, it helps you make the best use of the brief time you may have together.  Be prepared – write down your questions in advance so you don’t forget something important or stumble over your words.  Being ready to participate in the learning experience helps you make the best use of the session – and the presenter will respect you for it.

3.  Don’t be nervous – plan ahead.

With so much to see and do at trade shows, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.  Break out the catalog and study the floor plan before you arrive.  Map out your plan of attack to make sure you get to everything you need to see.  Some shows have free apps you can download to help make the most out of your experience.  Know the schedule of events so you don’t miss that speaker you’ve been hoping to see.  Sometimes it’s good to go to shows like this with a friend – divide and conquer, then compare notes later.

As your knowledge and skills advance, the clinics won’t be as daunting. They will become a great way for you to fine-tune your skills.  You can begin to network and exchange thoughts with others in the industry who can provide insight when you need it.  Plus, these types of functions are a great way to invigorate your career.

These principles remain valid for many forms of advanced learning in the pet grooming industry. Maybe you don’t have the opportunity to do a hands-on training session. There is a wealth of information to learn from these all-star pet stylists. You might be in the audience at a trade show, pet grooming competition or watching a grooming video lesson featuring one of these top stylists. The better you can execute the core skills with your everyday grooming, the easier it will be to successfully transfer their lessons to your own grooming table.

If you are not as accomplished as these award-winning and highly successful pet groomers are – take note. You can learn a lot from their well-developed skills. Learning new skills, tips, and tricks make grooming pets all that more fun!

I’ll be at the Groom Expo September 14-17, 2017.  If you’d like to download the handout for my lecture, Ruff Times in Your Salon? The 4-Rs for a Full Appointment Book, click here.

Happy trimming!

Melissa

MVpaw_no_Inner_whiteWhy do you attend trade shows? How do you make sure you get your money’s worth? Jump on the Learn2GroomDogs.com Facebook page and tell us about it.

 


Time = Money in a Pet Grooming Salon

blog imagerrTime is money in our business. Sure, we love pets. I don’t know anyone who gets involved in this career who isn’t passionate about animals. Still – time is money. And in this fast paced world, it never seems any of us have enough of either!

My goal is always to turn a small to medium-sized pet in an hour or less; bathe, dry, haircut, and/or finish-work on a bath and brush style pet.

If you are not turning at least a dog an hour, you have an issue somewhere in your routine.

Here are some ideas/methods that allow seasoned pet professionals to hit that goal. Take a read and see if you can identify ideas you can try to help increase your speed in the grooming department. The times given are for small to medium-sized pets.

Prep-Work: 5 – 15 minutes

  • Get the dog to the tub as quickly as possible. In the case of a 6 week or less small pet, 5 minutes would be enough time to do the nails, ears, and privates.
  • On a six-week or more pet, you may take up to 15 minutes to do the prep work. Quickly knock off the bulk of the coat to minimize wash and dry time. But still, no more than 15 minutes.
  • Leave loose matting alone. Soap, lather, conditioners, and high velocity dryers are magic on a clean coat. It will be much easier to remove in the bath and blow out stage.
  • If water cannot penetrate the mat or tangled coat, it needs to be removed prior to bathing.
  • Notice trouble areas whether it be dirt, oil, or matting. Pay attention to those areas when you move through the grooming process and handle them when it would be most effective.

Bathing Time: 5 – 10 minutes

  • Let gravity do the work when wetting a dog down. For smaller dogs, stand them up and let the water run from their shoulders.
  • Don’t worry about getting them TOTALLY soaked if you dilute your shampoo. Diluting shampoo allows for the water to act as a distributing agent of the shampoo, allowing for even saturation.
  • If you are working with a shampoo dilution ratio of 15:1 or more – skip wetting the dog down all together prior to applying shampoo. Just apply the shampoo and water together at the same time.
  • Apply shampoo in the same order, every time. Let gravity do the work. Start at the back, down the legs, under the tail, ears, and face.
  • Use a scrub brush or a rubber curry on very dirty dogs . This works well in exceptionally dirty areas to enhance speed, thoroughness, and ease of cleaning.
  • If washing twice, don’t worry about getting every trace of shampoo from the coat on the first rinse, only enough to remove the bulk of the dirt build-up.
  • If dealing with exceptionally dirty areas, let ‘em soak a bit before you handle them. Coated faces often have hardened food in them. Tackling them before the food has time to soften causes you too much work and discomfort for the pet. Use a bristled brush, toothbrush, or even a slicker brush for really tough, stuck in food particles.
  • If dealing with major mats, utilize a slicker brush in the tub. Just be sure to protect the skin while brushing through the matted coat. The shampoo will aid in making the coat slippery, much like getting a stubborn ring off a finger.
  • Use the correct shampoo for the job, especially in the “problem areas.”
  • Utilize some sort of squeegee to aid in the speedy and thorough removal of shampoo.
  • If the coat does not feel “squeaky clean,” it’s not rinsed well enough. Double check the area for soap residue or cleanness. Unclean coats appear oily when dry and will never allow for a quality finish in the final product. Soap residue can also lead to skin irritation.
  • Have a routine that you use to wash every dog and follow it every time. Repeating the same method EVERY TIME builds consistency, effectiveness, thoroughness, and speed.

Drying Time: 5 – 10 minutes

  • Squeegee and squeeze as much excessive water off as possible in the tub.
  • Utilize a towel magnet to take off the majority of the moisture.
  • Use a second towel to wrap the pet. Hold off on areas that do not lend themselves to wrapping. You will not be as effective as possible if there is any water dripping off any portion of the pet, feet, ears, tail, etc. You will also be ineffective if there is a visible spray of water coming off the pet when you do use the high velocity dryer with a condensing cone.
  • Turn on your dryer to let it come up to running temperature a few minutes prior to drying the pet.
  • If the pet is new to you or seems nervous, introduce the pet to the dryer slowly.
  • Once the pet has accepted the dryer, start at either the base of the tail or the withers. Where you start depends on how you want to set up the coat for finish work. Blow the coat so that it lies close to the skin (example: many Terrier or Sporting dogs) or fluffed up for clipper work (most haircut type trims). Next, move to the legs and finally the chest. If the dog allows it, work the head quickly as well. Go over the entire pet first with a condensing cone to remove loose water. Cover every inch of the pet in this manner. If there is a fair amount of moisture still retained in the coat during this process, hold a towel just ahead of where you are working to catch the spray, minimizing how much moisture is passed on to other areas.
  • If you are dealing with a curly coated dog, leave the condensing cone on to straighten the coat out, working the shortest areas first, moving into the longer areas and finishing with the head, ears, and tail. Do not move out of a small area until the coat is perfectly dry and fluffed.
  • If dealing with a shedding dog or a slightly matted dog, leave the condensing cone on, working in the same order as described earlier. Once the bulk of the moisture is removed, start again at the rump and work small areas until dry and loose coat is no longer coming out. Keep the air flow as close to the body as possible without folding the coat back onto itself.
  • If dealing with mats or tangles, use the force of the air to move the mats away from the skin. Stay in one area and move the air slightly, pushing the mats out. Watch the area closes to monitor the progress. It will look like a spider web as you loosen the tangle.
  • If dealing with a slightly wavy or straight coated dog, once the bulk of the moisture is removed, remove the condensing cone and hold the nozzle right next to the skin allowing for maximum temperature and lift of the coat.
  • If the pet has a long, shedding type coat, remove the condensing cone and place the air close to the pet’s body. Use a heavy brush where the air is flowing to “boost” the rest of the loose, spider webbed, coat out of the pet.
  • If dealing with longer coat that will need to be scissored or trimmed with a long guard attachment, “stretch drying” will be needed for additional lift and straightening of the coat. Use a heat dryer and a brush. With very light and rapid strokes, brush only where the air is blowing on the pet. Work against the grain if lift is needed for fullness. Work with the grain if a close lying coat is desired. Use caution – too much heat applied to an area can be painful or even burn the pet. In many cases, only sections will need to be attended to in this manner for optimum quality.
  • If you noticed mats still in the coat, finish with stretch drying the areas. Utilizing a heavy brush. Use line brushing techniques from the toes up the leg. Work with very small sections at a time and keeping the touch of the brush very light. Rapidly pat and pull the coat where the air is flowing over the area. Very little heat is needed for this method.

Clipping Time: 20 – 30

  • You are never done clipping until there is not anymore coat coming off when the coat is properly set up.
  • Three pass passes over the pet and you should have the coat super smooth… anything less than that will reduce time.
  • Minimize the amount of movement around the pet. Arrange the pet on the table so that the loop is taut but not tight. Place a small pet crosswise on the table minimizing groomer stretch and maximizing comfort.
  • Start your clipper work by standing behind the dog and pull the clippers towards you starting from the neck or withers. If you are reverse clipping, reverse the process by starting at the rear or the dog and work towards the head.
  • Handle the bulk of the body first, including the underside if that is to be clipped as well.
  • Lift the pet from the haunches to effectively get the undercarriage while still standing behind the pet.
  • Move to the side of the pet and work the neck and shoulder areas. Return to the rear of the pet and back brush the entire dog. Repeat process a second time. Back brush once again and check for high spots or rough spots.

Attitude

  • Work methodically; be friendly but aloof with the pet. Correct any undesirable action before it becomes a major problem. Accept what you cannot correct and work with it in a calm, cool, and collected manner. Once the job is complete, they you can snuggle with the pet and let it know how much you enjoy your job.
  • Always remember the “Three Cs” – Calm, Cool, and Collected. Whenever you forget them, you are wasting time and energy.

blog rrJust like pennies add up to dollars, seconds add up to minutes and hours. Anywhere you can save time without making a major sacrifice in safety or quality, it’s a skill or technique worth learning.

The most indispensable thing any of us can have it time; when it’s gone, it’s gone – never to be retrieved.

Time Frames for ProceduresrrHere is a graphic breakdown of how long each phase of grooming should take.  Print off a copy and keep one by your work station to help keep you on track.  Click here to download the PDF: Time Frames for Procedures.

Happy trimming,

~Melissa

P.S.

Click here to see the latest video available on Learn2GroomDogs.com.

 

 

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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


5 Steps for Setting Goals in Your Grooming Department

blogrrLast night I was sitting with Misty Fowler, our grooming department manager at one of my companies, Whiskers Resort & Pet Spa. It was our annual Christmas party.

Our conversation touched on the amazing growth that company had accomplished in the past few years. Misty beamed as she reported, “The grooming department is only $2,800 short of achieving our annual goal. And we still have the entire month of December to go!”

I was intrigued. She went on to explain how they did it.

A year ago she determined what she wanted for a growth rate in the grooming department. She figured out what that number would be based on the current year’s annual sales for the grooming department.

Once she had her annual target, she divided it by 12 to give her a monthly goal. Taking it one step further, she divided that monthly number by 4.3 to give her a weekly goal to aim for. Finally, she divided that weekly number by six to give her a daily target. She now had a clear road map. She, and her team, knew what they had to do to reach their annual goal.

blogAs we go into the early part of December, most grooming salons have a lull during these few weeks. This is a great time to set some goals for the following year.

Misty’s numbers were broken down annually, monthly, weekly, and finally daily. You can do the same thing for any financial goal you want to track.

Take a moment to think about what you want to do next year financially for your business and/or for yourself. Figure out a goal. Map out a plan. And follow the written road map to your goal.

So here’s the 5 step formula.

  1. Look at the previous year’s sales.
  2. Work out a realistic growth rate for your situation. Do it in a percentage format.
  3. Times last year’s annual sales by that percentage to come up with an amount. Add that amount to last year’s sales give you a solid goal amount to aim for. Take that total goal amount for the year and divide by 12. That will give you a monthly goal.
  4. Take the monthly goal amount and divide by 4.3, the estimated number of weeks in each month.
  5. Finally, divide your weekly amount by the numbers of days you work or your salon is open.

Now you have your own custom road map to follow to achieve your personal financial goals. Keep it in an area where you can see it all the time. Refer to it regularly to ensure you are on the correct path.

This is what it would look like if we put real numbers to the formula.

last year’s sales $100,000.00
next year’s increase target -8% 0.08
total amount of annual increase in dollars $8,000.00
total annual sales goal for following year $108,000.00
divide total annual sales goal by 12 months $9,000.00
divide total monthly goal by 4.3 weeks $2,093.02
divide weekly goal by 5 days for daily sales goal $418.60

(Note: if you take a two-week vacation and your salon does not stay open, drop the weeks to 4.2 for a closer calculation)

By breaking the numbers down to a weekly target, the easier it will be to follow. If you are wavering off the path, your daily and weekly targets will make it easy to recognize. You’ll be able to realign yourself before you go too far off base.

As Brian Tracy says, “Goals give you that sense of meaning and purpose, a clear sense of direction. As you move toward your goals you feel happier and stronger. You feel more energized and effective. You feel more confident and confident in yourself and in your abilities. Every step you take toward your goals increases your belief that you can set and achieve even bigger goals in the future.”

So what do you hope to achieve financially for your business or career next year? Take the time to set the goals and create a step-by-step map to achieving YOUR personal goals, today.

Here’s more from Misty from our YouTube channel:

[youtube]http://youtu.be/E1AvS2WH8ls?list=UU6QEPG7JG7exQRpEr9e_nHA[/youtube]

Happy Trimming,

~Melissa

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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:

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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


What Does the Client Want?

puppy-trainingThe #1 Role of Service Based Businesses: Solution Experts

A product is a physical thing. You can see it and touch it. You can box up the parts or the assembled item and know how it will look, how big it is, and where you’ll put it when you get home. A service, by contrast, is intangible. You can’t mail a service to your house or carry it from a store.

In most cases, services are purchased – touch, taste, smell, and sight unseen. It’s a leap of faith based on the client’s ability to say what they want and the expert’s ability to interpret them correctly. When you go to a salon or barbershop, you can’t try out a haircut before you buy it. You tell your stylist what you want, then – hopefully – you get it. The better you describe what you want, the better the outcome.  Dogs can’t tell you to take a little off the top, so how can you unlock the secret of what your (human) client wants?

By understanding that the person asking the questions controls the conversation!

When you are asking a question, it forces the other person to pay attention to you. It involves them in the conversation. If you’re doing all the talking, the listener’s mind can (and will) wander to other matters – and the end result may not be satisfactory to either of you. But the minute you say, “Let me ask you this: what if we…” the listener must pay attention because they’ll need to answer. It is an automatic reflex.  The power of the words “what” and “how” is almost magical – they command a response.

You’ve now included them in the process.  It’s become a team effort.  You want to get the client on your team – that’s why this conversation is so important.  When you ask questions, you show compassion and concern for the needs of the client and their pet. It helps build rapport. It also allows you to get valuable information from the client.

On average, a person can speak at about 250 words a minute while a person who is listening can think at about 1200 words a minute. So, if you are doing all the talking, the client has a great deal of time to figure out what they may not like about what you are saying, thus giving them an opportunity to complicate the situation! Not only are they manipulating the conversation out of your control, they haven’t heard a thing you’ve said!

How do you develop an effective line of communication with your clients?

Find a Solution in 5 Simple Steps

1)  Make observations. Let your senses guide you when your client walks in. How does the pet look? How does it smell? Do you hear the ticking of nails on your floor? Don’t stop there – observe the human client, as well. Is the dog owner elderly or did s/he come in with small children? This might indicate that a nail filing service might be beneficial to protect sensitive skin. Let common sense, experience, and intuition guide your line of questions. Remember – you’re a problem solver. The more observant you are, the easier it is to find solutions.

2)  Be a detective. This step involves your observations in Step 1 and takes them to another level. Gather clues from what the client tells you and what they don’t. Use your experience and expertise to find solutions that go deeper than the cosmetic.

3)  Filter your data. Ask basic questions like, “Were you thinking of a thorough bath and brush for ‘Fluffy’ today or more of a full haircut?” Let the client talk. Then listen. This will help form an overall rough picture in your mind of the outcome*. Think of this as a sketch to your finished masterpiece.

4)  Pinpoint focus to 5 areas of the pet+.  Ask more specific questions about these key aspects of the pet so you can make a better decision about how they should be styled.  This will provide details that fill out the sketch.  The areas of the body pet are:

  • Overall body
  • Head
  • Ears
  • Legs/feet
  • Tail

5)  Offer limited choices. Now that you know what you can (and maybe should) do for the pet, I personally suggest limiting options to two possibilities. Paint your picture back to the client to show you understand what they want and how it should look.  This also demonstrates that you have listened to them and care about what they have to say.  After all, isn’t that what you expect when you’re the customer?  Make these options your best two – offering more just means spending more time narrowing the field from those that will have less favorable outcomes, anyway.

Always remember, the person asking the questions controls the conversation!

Successful groomers and stylists are master problem solvers. While solving the problem, they also demonstrate concern, compassion, and respect for the pet and the owner. That’s what creates happy customers who keep coming back!

Happy trimming!

~Melissa

 

*Remember to start from the desired end result.  My blog Begin with the End in Mind has more on this topic.

+I recommend using Theory of 5 as a guide to guiding the conversation. Understanding how to break each dog into its essential parts helps simplify the process.

 

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The Importance of Systems

systemsrMy husband and I were just at the hospital for a scheduled surgery. Luckily, it was a non-emergency situation – just to get his nose repaired so he could actually breathe out of BOTH nostrils. Still, it was surgery and as much as he wanted to have it done, the anticipation levels were running high. We were a bit nervous.

The medical team was great. Their thorough procedures helped squelch our anticipation jitters. Everything, from the pre-screening call days before… check in… pre-surgery… waiting room… recovery… home… and follow-up, was explained to us. At every step along the way there were systems in place to ensure that the surgery went off without a hitch, which put our minds at ease. There weren’t any hiccups in the communication process or the surgery itself.

Checks and balances were firmly in place. Everyone in the medical team clearly knew their job. They understood how important their roles were, no matter how large or small. If even one of them made a mistake, it could have a devastating effect on the outcome of the surgery. We’ve all heard the horror stories.

If you stop and think about it, a grooming salon client has the same kinds of anticipation levels. They are entrusting you with one of their most precious possessions – their pet. Most clients are not that familiar with the grooming process and have no idea what truly goes on behind closed doors.

Is you grooming salon set up like a well-oiled medical team? We may not be doctors but our “pet clients” are extremely important to their owners. There are many steps within the grooming service procedure that could turn into shining moments – or go horribly wrong:

  • They get the wrong haircut.
  • The pet isn’t done when promised.
  • They’re charged the wrong amount.
  • They get the wrong collar or lead – maybe even the wrong pet!
  • A pet is injured – or worse.

This list could go on and on. The larger the team that works together, the more processes you need in place for a smooth running operation.

Every grooming salon needs:

  • a customer service team (even if that team is YOU)
  • a bathing department
  • a drying department
  • a grooming/styling department
  • someone in charge of client records/data entry
  • client education
  • marketing
  • proper cleaning and sanitation

To be successful in the long-term, you need to spend time in the short-term setting up processes. Systems are your routines – the way you do things every time. Here is a short list of items that need to be in place for systems to work:

  • Every procedure needs to be broken down, step by step.
  • Each process needs to be written down and reviewed regularly.
  • Every person participating in the activity needs to know and understand how to correctly perform the procedure.
  • Every person then needs training and follow-up supervision until the task is perfected.

Accountability is the key to success. Positive and negative consequences need to be in place and consistently enforced.

If you don’t have any systems in place at the moment, don’t fret. Take one procedure at a time and break it down into smaller chunks. Figure out what needs to be done or happen for each piece. Then move to the next one – and the next one.

Remember the story book fable about the tortoise and the hare? You don’t need to be a jack rabbit straight out of the gate. Slow and steady will win this race. It all starts with the first step. It might take you a month to get your systems in place – it might take a year. If you are in a state of growth, creating systems for your business might be an ongoing process. The trick is not to be overwhelmed by looking at the big picture. Keep it small so you don’t give up – and keep going.

At the end of the day, you always need to focus on your overall goal: to offer outstanding, consistent customer service – just like my husband and I received with his recent operation.

… As for those horror stories? Don’t be one of them. The salons that have the right systems in place will be prepared. Their staff will offer better service and the guests (furry and human) will feel better knowing that they are in good hands. it’s never too late to start. Do it now! Take that first step.

 

Happy Trimming,

-Melissa

 

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The Need for Speed

12506739_lTime is the most common concern for professionals in this industry. New groomers worry that they’ll never be able to do more than 4 dogs a day. Salon owners need employees who can hit the ground running.  They need people who can groom 6-8 dogs per day.  Or you’ve been at the table for a while but still struggle to get beyond 5 dogs per day.

Seasoned pros are knocking out 8… 10… 12… 14 or more pets every day.

So what are you doing wrong? What are the common areas that seem to be the sticky spots? What areas in your day are robbing you of precious minutes?

Top 10 Areas Where Pet Pros Can Improve

1.  Always start with the end result etched firmly in your mind

The better you know where you are headed – the easier it will be to get there. Know what a high-quality trim looks like – even if it’s a shave off or a close body trim. Know what balance and style is. Know what a beautifully brushed out dog looks and feels like. If you’re working on a purebred, know what a beautiful specimen should look like.

2.  Don’t start with elbow grease – always let products and tools do the work first

In the past 30 years, there have been great developments in products and tools that make our jobs easier. Go to trade shows and test them for yourself. Ask others on social media outlets what they like to use. Find out what products and tools the top pros use at their grooming tables. They likely have a very solid reason why they use what they do. They did not get to be top stylists by using inferior products and tools!

3.  If water can penetrate the coat, wash the pet first

Don’t waste time pre-clipping a dog that comes then every six weeks or less. Get it straight to the tub. You’re wasting time clipping off that small amount of coat. The same thing goes with a dog that is matted or is shedding. If the water can penetrate the coat, get them right into the tub. A clean coat is going to be more pleasant to work on. Plus, a large majority of mats and tangles are held together by dirt. Remove the dirt and the job just got easier.

4.  A powerful high velocity dryer is the professional stylist’s greatest asset in time management

In my opinion, the development of the high velocity dryer is one of the greatest advancements the grooming industry has ever seen! Put simply, (if used correctly) this tool produces the fastest results with the highest quality on any given coat type.

  • it dries the coat with lightning speed
  • it can straighten the coat for a beautiful fluff dry
  • when used prior to the bath it will loosening dirt next to the skin
  • it effectively removes most mats or tangles
  • it is extremely efficient with the removal of shedding fur

5.  Towel Dry – Towel Dry – Towel Dry

It never ceases to amaze me how many people miss this step. Incomplete towel drying costs precious minutes in the drying process. Multiply that by six or eight dogs and you’ve lost 30 to 60 minutes out of your day. Here’s my goal: towel dry thoroughly enough so that spray does not come off the dog once I start working with a high velocity dryer.

6.  Three clipper passes or less!

If your dog is bathed and blown out properly, the goal is to make three clipper passes – or less – to get it absolutely smooth. The first pass knocks out the longest coat (at this point I’m not going for smoothness). The second pass smooth’s it out. The third pass eliminates high spots that I’ve missed. Three times around the dog with the clippers – period. If you can get done quicker than that – bonus!

7.  Create a routine for everything you do

This is a bit like the waitress listing off the salad dressing choices at a restaurant. She has a routine that she follows. If you stop her mid-list, she often has to start all over again. She never misses a choice because she sticks to her routine. You should have a routine for every dog that comes into your salon. Stick to your routine so you never miss a step.

8.  Cheat like crazy with attach on combs

If there was ever a cheat tool in your toolbox, this is it! For many pet stylists, attach on guard combs have replaced a lot of the hand scissoring work. They come in a wide array of sizes. They let you establish a depth of coat just by following the dog’s body. For most people, this is much simpler than to master exquisite hand scissoring. It allows you to mold and sculpt the fur quickly and efficiently. With knowledge of proper canine structure and creative use of your guard combs, you can create a highly stylized trim in no time.

9.  Never, ever work on a pet that you feel is dangerous to itself or to you

With so many cooperative pets to work on, there is no reason for you to tackle a highly aggressive dog. Your hands are your livelihood. You need to protect them at all costs. No one needs the aggravation, frustration, or anxiety of having to deal with a dangerous dog. I’d rather have a client who is upset with me for refusing to do their dog than have a groom result in injury. Or to be bitten. It’s just not worth it.

10.  Love What You Do

Being a professional pet groomer or stylist has huge rewards. For many, it’s one of the most gratifying and creative jobs they have ever held. However, it has is down sides, too. It’s a far cry from playing with puppies all day. If you’ve crossed that line and grooming pets is no longer enjoyable, do yourself and your clients a favor – step away from the grooming table. Love your career or leave it.

In order to be a valuable member of a pet grooming team, you need to have to have a burning desire – the need for speed. The more pets you can get through safely, without sacrificing compassion and quality, the more valuable you are to your salon.

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