Log InCartCall Now: (616) 667-7297

Bring Nature to the Grooming Table

BLOG Image

Courtney Ramstack a compassionate stylist with a dynamic personality. She has a strong sense of quality with everything that she does. Courtney has trained over 150 grooming students. She takes great pride to make her shops fun and exciting places to work.

We are proud to have Courtney as one of our Training Partners at Learn2GroomDogs.com. The first time I heard this idea explained by her, I thought she was brilliant!

This vivid grooming tip comes from Courtney. This is her description of how to trim an ear short in her video lessons.

Clipper trimming the ear on a dog can be a dangerous step in the grooming process if it is not done correctly. It is very easy to nick an ear with the clipper blade. The ear leather is thin. If you do not follow the correct direction of the coat growth, the ear leather can feed easily between the teeth of the blades.

Courtney came up with a very clever way to describe how to clip an ear to minimize accidents. The visual clarity of her description makes it almost impossible for student to do it wrong. When she’s training new groomers this is how she talks them through the process.

Think of the ear leather like a leaf. It has veins that you can clearly see running through the entire leaf. Think of the dog’s ear like a leaf.

When trimming, a very close blade, like a #40, is typically used on the inside of the ear leather.

The outside of the ear leather is typically left slightly longer. Blades can range from a #30 blade all the way up to longer guard combs. This technique works well with any blade length when a clipper is being used to style the ear.

When you start clipping, lay the ear across your open fingers. Start clipping from the top of the ear at the center — where the stem would be. As you clip, keep the ear gently braced on your fingers. From that center point of the leaf, clip out towards the edges, following the veins just like on a leaf. Keep your fingers underneath the ear as you move the clipper towards the edges to brace it. This will keep the ear stable and the dog under control as the clipper removes the coat.

On dogs with natural ears, there is a small skin flap on the inside of the ear leather. This delicate skin flap is typically found on the back side of the ear. When you flip the ear over and hold it in your hand, normally you can see it clearly. You need to be careful of the skin flap — it is very easy to catch it in teeth of your clipper blade. Typically, the closer of blade cuts, the less likely it is to catch that inside ear flap. For safety, always know where that skin flap is located.

 As long as you clip in the same direction as the veins of the leaf, your risk of injury to the ear leather is very minimal. As you clip — or instruct someone else — imagine following the veins of a beautiful leaf. It’s hard to do it wrong with Courtney’s clear visual image etched in your mind.

Happy Trimming!


Grooming Speed Trick = Wrap-A-Pet

Blog PicThis is the best speed trick around for a professional grooming salon. Wrap-a dog. Women have been doing it for years.

If you’re gal and have had long hair at any point in your life, you know what I’m talking about.

You shower. You wash your hair. You step out of the shower and towel off. But before you do anything else from that point forward, you flip your head over and wrap your hair tightly in a towel. As you stand up, you flip the twisted towel toward your back. You are now sporting a turban style head wrap. You go about your routine letting the towel absorb the moisture in your long hair. Depending on the thickness of your hair, you might leave the turban in place anywhere from 5-20 minutes. By the time you’re ready to dry and style your hair, the towel has done its job. It has removed a large portion of the moisture from your hair. You‘ve greatly reduce the amount of time it will take to dry your hair simply by letting the towel do the work.

A pet grooming salon is no different. Using this trick can shave off loads of time over the course of an entire day. Even if you’re just doing six dogs, and you could save 5 to 10 minutes per pet in the drying process — you are saving anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes of time. Time is money, so it really starts to add up fast with each pet! Times that by multiple stylists and the savings really start to pile on.

There are other problems that come with not using a towel efficiently prior to starting the drying process with any type of dryer.

  •   The bathing area of any professional pet grooming salon is always humid. If you opt to high velocity the dog prior to utilizing a towel to remove the moisture, you’re putting all that extra moisture into an already humid environment. The more humid the environment, the harder it is to ultimately get the dog dry.
  •  In a highly humid area, it will be almost impossible get a beautiful fluff dry finish on any dog.
  •  Moisture will be going all over the walls and floor. Not only does this create a mess, it also creates slick floors which are dangerous.
  •  If you are in an environment where there is another bather working alongside you, you were getting their pet wet from the spray coming from the dog you are working on. (tisk-tisk!)
  • It takes longer to dry a dripping pet straight from the tub – the longer the pet is on the table, the harder the grooming process could be for many pets – especially older ones carrying a lot of coat.

This method of drying works well for any pet stylist or groomer. I started applying this method when I was mobile – doing one dog at a time. Even then it saved me time. I would finish the bath, towel dry the dog well and then wrap it tightly in a towel and let it sit for a few minutes. I would write out my receipt. Clean up my van. Make bows. Answer messages. Even having the pet sit for just 5 minutes was a huge time saver. I would save at least 5 minutes in the drying process and save myself 5 minutes doing all those other things. Total time saving per pet: 10 minutes.

When I moved to a high volume salon, the same trick saved us boat loads of time. We would have 30-40 pet per session. (We offered half day grooming for most of our clients. Thus we had two shifts of pets; morning and afternoon.) In a high volume salon, we affectionately called the term of wrapping dogs as “wrap n stack ‘em.” We would bath all the pets, and then start putting them in our bank of kennels in the drying room. It became a very fun game.

At the foundation of every high quality groom, is the bathing and drying process. To ensure the maximum quality of groom on the finished pet, it is critical the dog is ‘squeaky clean’ and 100% dried using the optimum drying method for the coat type prior to it going on to the finished grooming process.

Here are the basic guidelines for the game. Every game (day) will be a bit different based on the type of pets you have coming in. My personal goal when I move to the high velocity drying process is to have now moisture coming off the dog. Not always possible but that’s my goal.
Basic Rules for “Wrap n Stack ‘Em”

  • 6 week or less; pets go directly to the tub. No pre-clipping or brushing needed.
  • The largest and thickest coats hit the tub first – smallest and lightest coats last. Tub priority will be totally based on the size and coat density of the pets being bathed during that session.
  • Towel-dry the pet by hand first. Then wrap in a fresh, dry towel. Secure the towel with clips. (office style large bull dogs clips work great)
  • Small dogs can normally be wrapped in a single towel. Larger dogs need to be wrapped in two towels plus have one to sit on.
  • Place the pet in a secure area where they cannot move around too much as they are wrapped tightly in a towel. (kennel or wall tether)
  • Bath all the dogs first while the others sit wrapped in towels.
  • Once all pets are bathed, and then move to the drying process. Reverse your bathing order. Start with the smallest and lightest coated dog. Unwrap the pet and start the high velocity drying process.
  • If the pet has sat for too long, they will be 100% dry before you get to them. You will need to re-wet the dog and start the wrapping process over. (typically this can happen on small, light coated pets)
  • If the dog needs hand fluff drying with a heat dryer – do not move to that process until the pet is about 90% dry with the high velocity dryer.
  • Dry each dog fully once you start the drying process so it’s ready to move on to the finished grooming procedure.
  • Once the dog is dry, place dog in a non-humid environment to ensure the coat does not curl up or get moist from the humid air.

Here are the steps to wrapping a small dog:

#1. Use a large dry towel. Drape center of the towel over the dog’s back.

Blog pic 1

#2. Draw one end of the towel hide the belly of the pet, the other end draw it across the chest.

Blog Pic 2

#3. Pull the towel snuggly around the pet’s belly and chest.

Blog pic 3.1

Blog pic 3.2

#4. Secure both ends of the two close to the withers of the pet with some type of clip.

Blog pic 4 & 5

#5. Let the dog sit for a short amount of time to let the towel absorb the bulk of the moisture from the coat.

Note: On larger dogs, use the same concept on the front part of the dog. Use a second large towel for the rear. Wrap it much the same. However, when wrapping the rear, do it close to the spot you are going to secure them while waiting for the high velocity drying process. Wrap the rear and then encourage them to sit. Once the dog sits, they will naturally pull the towel snuggly around their rear end.

There is nothing more gratifying than seeing the bathing and drying process whirr along at a smooth, consistent and highly efficient pace. It doesn’t matter if you are a solo stylist or part of a larger team in a salon setting. It’s all about working smarter – not harder.

High quality bathing and drying is at the heart of every successful grooming business. Every grooming shop is slightly different, work out a system that you can employ the wrap-a-dog drying method and I guarantee you save yourself time while enhancing your bottom line.

Happy Trimming!


The Strength of Pet Grooming Foundation Skills

Blog Pic


Photo Caption: Can you envision a Scottish Terrier trying to do the job of an Alaskan Malamute?

I’m up to my eyeballs in research for the 10th year anniversary of Notes From the Grooming Table. When I wrote Notes in 2004, there were 150 breeds recognized but the American Kennel Club – with a few coming in multiple varieties.

In just ten years they have added 47 breeds with one of those new breeds coming in 2 varieties!! OMG. My artiest, Lisa VanSweden and I have our work cut out for us!
But guess what? As I look at all these new breeds. I was pleasantly surprised. Not one of these dogs intimidates me from a grooming standpoint. Why? Because I possess a strong foundation of grooming expertise. I can read AND interpret the written breed standards. I understand structure. I know basic anatomy. I have the technical skill knowledge to deal with any coat type.

Armed with that knowledge – there isn’t a breed of dog I can’t groom with confidence. I know I’m going to be able to come close to making the breed look like the breed it’s supposed to – at least if the owners bring me something responsible to work with. (matted fur is matted fur no matter what breed it comes on – as long as I’m not dealing with a Bergamasco!)

So the bigger question for competent pet groomers and stylists, how strong are your foundation skills?

Can you quickly scan through a breed standard and translate it into a visual picture? Can you isolate key points of the standard you can influence to enhance the looks of the dog through grooming?

Can you decipher this? What breed is this? “…the height at the withers equal to the distance from prosternum to buttocks. The bone is medium and the body is dry, lithe and muscular, with an off-standing, curly coat.”

Or what about this one? “…The head must be in proportion to the body and give the appearance of power and strength. It is approximately equal to the length of neck and not less than 40% of the height of the dog at the withers.”
Is it Greek to you? It sure was Greek to me for a long time!
Learning to the official breed standards and interpret into grooming language is just like learning a foreign language. It can be challenging at first. But once you learn a little – you understand how valuable it is to learn more. Once you learn some of the core elements of breed standard language, it becomes easier and easier to understand the terminology.

Hand-in-hand with interpreting breed standards is structure and movement. You won’t be able to visualize the standard unless you can visually ‘see’ the term. What does an ‘almond eye’ look like? What does a ‘well-laid back shoulder’ look like? If a standard requires the breed to be ‘deep in chest’ or ‘well-developed brisket,’ what does that mean? Or more importantly – what would that look like?
What I love about pure breed dogs is at one time they were breed for a purpose. Before modernization, most of the breeds (excluding the Toy Group) they were breed to do a job. Help man survive. I love that. They had a purpose. Their temperaments and physical structure was developed by man through selective breeding to excel at a specific job.

You would never dream of hooking a team of Scottish Terriers to a sled and expect them to haul a load 50 miles across an arctic landscape. Nope. Not happening. At the same token, you would never see an Alaskan Malamute dive into a tight little burrow, going after some tenacious little vermin and extracting it. Nope – not happening.

Once you learning how to interpret a breed standard, your curiosity might get peaked. Most of the top pet stylists are intrigued by why dogs are built the way they are. They are passionate about learning the finer details of each purebred dog. Why a breed is built and bred the way it is.

Everything has a purpose. Purebred dogs were the tools of yester-year. The better they were built for the task at hand, the more efficiently they could do their jobs. Just like a well-built tool today, the better it is built, the faster and easier it will get the job done.

I was just listening to one of our Learn2GroomDogs.com Training Partners. She said if you haven’t been out learning about the new tools in the past 10 years, you are really missing out. She was so right. As we update Notes From the Grooming Table – tools are getting updated along with all the new breeds. The foundation skills haven’t changed, but some of the tools have.

Clippers have become smaller and more powerful. Many of the best clippers for certain jobs are now cordless.

Limited sized old fashion guard-combs have become a thing of the past. Now there are a wide variety of sizes and shapes. Some are super durable metal. Others have magnet attachment features. All make grooming much easier.

Have you worked with assortment of rakes on the market now? They can make short work of maintaining a harsh coated pet dog or removing soft undercoat.
Dryers have gotten more powerful.
Shampoos, conditioners and hair enhancement products abound. These products allow us to get the pets cleaner, condition the coat better and can get a less than perfect coat to do amazing things by enhancing texture and body.
Once you have a solid understanding of the foundation skills involved with professional pet grooming – you can build on those skills. No job will overwhelm you. You will never be fluster by a new breed you have never seen before when it lands on YOUR grooming table.

Building strong foundation grooming skills is a lot like the Chinese Proverb, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

Knowledge builds confidence. Artful execution of well learned foundation skills creates a rewarding job. Combine the two and you’ll have a wildly successful career.

At least this concept did for me. It has for every one of our awarding winning top stylists Training Partners at Learn2GroomDogs.com. Who knew when I was 18 year old and shoveling kennel runs at a boarding kennel – someday I would write one to the most respected grooming books in the industry? Not me.

However, armed with a solid foundation core grooming skills, update Notes may take time – but it’s far from intimidating. Actually – it’s fun to learn about all these new breeds. I just wish I spent more time today with my hands in fur to get the gratification of taking a dirty messy dog and turning it into something beautiful!

Luckily for those you standing at your grooming table, you get to have that extremely rewarding job satisfaction!

I get the gratification of making it easy for you to get the pertinent information on all the currently recognized breeds in the American Kennel Club by updating Notes From The Grooming Table.
Books & Sites I Recommend for Learning Foundations Grooming Skills
• Notes From the Grooming Table by Melissa Verplank
• The AKC Complete Dog Book
• The American Kennel Club web site at : www.AKC.org
• Canine Terminology by Harold R. Spira
• K-9 Structure &Terminology by Edward M. Gilbert & Thelma R. Brown
• www.Learn2GroomDogs.com with over 350 grooming demonstrations presented by top professional pet groomers from around the world.

Happy Trimming!


Will You Be Busy in January & February?


Most grooming salons in America are feeling the post-holiday slowdown after Thanksgiving. You’re just dead in the water. Your appointment book is extremely light with bookings. The phones are quiet. You’re worried.

Don’t be. Enjoy the lull before the next wave hits. Your clients are just waiting. They want their pooches to be fresh as the holiday festivities ramp back up. We generally found the two weeks prior to Christmas to be a total whirlwind. Every one of your regular clients wants an appointment within those last two weeks prior to Christmas. So do you’re non-regular customers. And then there are always a few new prospective customers who can’t understand why they can’t get appointment with your salon two days before December 25. There will be plenty of fur flying. Lots of clean, gorgeous pets ready to greet friends and family.

However, have you thought about what’s going to happen in January and February? For those of you that live in warm climates, you don’t have the same problem those of us that live in a snow-belt area.

Typically, a grooming appointment book is very light during this timeframe. Owners just don’t feel it’s necessary to have their dogs groomed when there’s cold outside or there is snow on the ground. But with a little education you can turn the tide. You can have a full roster if you do a little pre-work when you’re busy. And that time would be right now.

There are two plans of action that work well. One is education. The other is a special offer if a client rebooks within six weeks.

Even though the weather might be cold, it doesn’t stop the pet from needing to be groomed. Remember you are a problem solver. These are typical problems most people experience what their pets during the winter.

1. Dry, flaky skin.
a. Offer a moisture enhancing treatment to combat dry, itchy and flaky skin.

2. My pet will get cold.
a. Many owners put sweaters and jackets on smaller pets during the colder    months. If they’re wearing coats and jackets, it’s important to maintain a regular grooming schedule to keep the fur mat and tangled free.
b. Opt for a longer trim style. This allows the dog to maintain a little bit more coat and the owner can enjoy a fuller trim but still keep the dog looking great
c. Opt to do a bath and brush in-between grooming’s. This is a great problem solving solution. Not only will you see the pet regularly but you’ll be able to package together a number of services to keep the dog skinning coat in top condition. You can offer a moisture enhancing shampoo and conditioner along with thoroughly brushing the coat, nail trimming, ear cleaning and minor trimming to keep your client’s pet in top condition.
d. Moisture + Long Fur = Mats. Snow is moisture. If the pet is romping in the snow and their coat is long, they need to be bathed and thoroughly brushed out on a regular basis so they don’t turn into a matted mess.

3. My pet doesn’t need a haircut and the winter
a. During the colder months, the coat growth does slow down. Bump the client’s appointment out a week or two beyond what they normally do and opt for a bath and brush in between haircuts.

Offer a Special:
1. If your clientele is price-sensitive, offer a discount off the pets grooming service if it’s booked within six weeks

2. Offer something free like an upgraded spa service. Place a value on it so the client knows what type of monetary value they would be getting. Limit the offer to 6 weeks out from the date of the current appointment.

Take a lesson from the fast food chains – they always ask. The worst the client can say is, “No thank you.” You’re not being pushy. You’re just looking out for the best interest of the pet.

No matter which angle you opt to go for, it will be critical that you ask each and every one of your customers to rebook their next appointment before they leave. In the next few weeks you’re going to see the bulk of all of your regular customers in a very short window of time. Take the opportunity to rebook them NOW!

Yes, in the snow-belt areas, your appointment book will be a little bit lighter. But if you are proactive now, during this peak holiday season, you’ll have plenty of dogs to groom in January and February. There is nothing like having an appointment book that is 40% to 60% pre-booked. That’s job security.

Happy Trimming!

error: Content is protected !!