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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]

 

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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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Customer Service Basics

happy-clientrrrThis is the time of year when we think a lot about being grateful. As someone who works with people every day, I often think about customer service and how much of it makes an impact on our business and ourselves.

It’s easy to take your customers for granted when your shop is booked out several weeks in advance – or if you’re the only game in town. Sooner or later, another business like yours is going to spring up nearby. Are you ready? If all things are equal…

  • convenience
  • location
  • quality
  • price

…what do you do to set yourself apart? When your clients have coffee with their friends do they say, “They aren’t that great, but they’re so close to my house…” OR “I have to drive out of my way to get there, BUT IT’S WORTH IT.

I’ve been to many businesses, large and small, corporate and home-grown, where the service has been so great that I was already making plans to come back before I even left the store. And it wasn’t even that they did something over the top for me – you know the stories:

  • The guy who wanted a lemonade with lunch but the restaurant didn’t have it, so a server ran to the store next door and bought one for him.
  • The store clerk who gave out the wrong change and walked to the customer’s house to correct the situation. (Yes, that WAS Abraham Lincoln.)

I’m not only a customer service provider, I’m also a customer.

I always think about both sides of each business transaction when I’m eating in a restaurant or picking out new pens at the office supply store. I expect to be noticed when I enter a business establishment, be treated fairly by someone who doesn’t treat me like an interruption, and helped to get what I need in the most efficient manner possible so I can get on with my day.

blogWhile the stories above are nice, I would never expect someone to go so out of his way that it makes the next customer in line wait (I’m not the only person in the store, nor am I more important than anyone else.) Or have the rest of the staff have to work extra hard to cover everything because one of their co-workers was being monopolized. I personally believe that when I enter a store as a customer, I am entitled to the services and products they provide. I do not believe I am entitled to receive a custom order every time I walk through the door.

With that being said, I do have standards and expectations for how I treat customers and for how I expect to be treated. When I feel I’ve received great service, it’s because:

  • I was greeted with enthusiastic and authentic friendliness as soon as I walked through the door. Did they stand up and come to me instead of shouting across the lobby? Which makes you feel more welcome?
  • They knew about their products and could help me find and choose the right one for my needs. I felt confident about my purchase.
  • The business was clean, organized, well-lit, and smelled nice. ‘Nuff said.
  • The employees were well-groomed, easily identifiable as staffers, and seemed to like their jobs. (I don’t expect business suits. I expect clean and neatly kept hair and beards, clean clothes appropriate for the business, and appropriate language being used.)
  • There were enough employees to handle the workload. I don’t mind waiting, especially if they’ve acknowledged me. A quick smile and a look that says, “I see you – I’ll be with you as quickly as I can,” is enough.  Ignore me – I’m gone, no matter how fast my money is burning a hole in my pocket.
  • The parking lot, sidewalks, and exterior were neat, well-lit, and safe. Nothing fancy – just clean.
  • My transactions were completed correctly and I was treated like a valued guest even as I walked through the door. Nothing gives you buyer’s remorse faster than staffers high-fiving and congratulating themselves on the sale before the door even closes behind you.

These are the basics, folks. We can go on and on about more possibilities and in greater detail, but the bottom line is this: great service is what brings people back. It should be the reason people come to your business, not the reason they don’t.

Remember, even if you are booked for an entire year in advance, there’s no excuse for taking your client for granted. Be thankful – this is the time of year when we think about this the most! After all, just because they have a recurring appointment in 6 weeks doesn’t mean they’ll keep it if you don’t treat them well.

Being busy does not excuse rudeness with clients – it’s not their fault that you don’t have enough people to handle the workload, even if it’s just for that afternoon. Your problems are not their problems – sharing your burden is not the service they were hoping you’d provide. Believe me when I say I understand about staffing budgets… sometimes you can’t afford to hire anyone – I’ve been there.

Do your best for each client.

Be present.

Be nice.

And above all…

SMILE… and be thankful.

You just might find that you enjoy your day a little more.

~Joelle Asmondy

Learn2GroomDogs.com has hundreds of videos to help you become the groomer and businessperson you’ve always wanted to be.  Check out one of our videos here:

[youtube]http://youtu.be/alZtP-F7yDk?list=UU6QEPG7JG7exQRpEr9e_nHA[/youtube]

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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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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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Neutralizing Stench

stinky Cache - CopyrI love being a professional pet groomer. It’s creative. It’s gratifying. There’s nothing better than having a dog leave your salon looking and smelling amazing.

Being a professional pet groomer means we are problem solvers. Our clients do not have the skills – nor the products – that can solve many coat problems. As pet professionals, we know which products and tools work.

My husband and I live on 160 acres. We have approximately 6 acres enclosed with Invisible Fence. All four of our 100+ pound dogs can roam unsupervised. This keeps our dogs safe – and out of trouble – while giving them the luxury of freedom. Most of the time it works.

Occasionally, it does not.

I was driving back from the farmers market when I got a call from my husband. He was headed out for an appointment and called the dogs into the house. All of the dogs came bounding up to the door like they typically do. However, two of the dogs seemed to be especially proud of themselves. As they got closer, my husband understood why. THEY STUNK TO HIGH HEAVEN!!!!! Especially one of them. Cache was absolutely covered in something very black – and very gooey. You could hardly get near them without wanting to vomit.

Because he was headed out the door, he simply called me and told me what to expect when I got home. I didn’t think much about it, our dogs are rolling in things all the time. He simply shut them back in their “dog room” towards the back of the house.

20 minutes later I stepped through the front door and was virtually attacked by the odor. This was as bad as a direct skunk hit – maybe worse. I made my way to the dog room and peered over the half-door. (By this time I was holding my breath.)

I had never seen a dog so successfully cover herself in a foul material. Heck, Cache even had it on her tail! I booted all the dogs out immediately and set to work steam-cleaning the back room before I tackled the dogs themselves.

I knew I had my work cut out for me. Not only are our dogs all over hundred pounds – they’re extremely heavily coated. At our home, we do not have standard professional grooming tubs or tables, but we DID have the products and tools to wash, clean, and neutralize the foul substance that was all over two of them.

Once I got the back room cleaned up, it was bath time for the pooches. Needless to say, they were not thrilled with me as I gingerly clipped leads to their collars. They were quite proud of their accomplishment. Down to the horse wash rack we went. It wasn’t the most sophisticated dog bathing station – but it worked.

A long time ago, I learned that the Coat Handler product line is my ‘go-to’ product of choice for all my bathing needs. One of the best odor neutralizing products on the market is Odor Handler. There are literally thousands of uses for this product. I personally use it so much (and not just on dogs) that I keep and 9 1/2 pound container of it in the laundry room! Down in the barn, we keep gallons of Coat Handler’s 15 to 1 Shampoo, Coat Handler Conditioner, plus a high velocity dryer for our horses.

My products and tools of choice for this project: Coat Handler 15 to 1 shampoo mixed in a squirt bottle with a generous scoop of Odor Handler and hot water, a long-handled scrub brush, a firm horse brush, a rubber curry, and a garden hose. (Luckily it was 80 degrees outside so no one minded a cool bath!)

I did my best to hose off the bulk of the offensive material clinging to their coats. Luckily it was water-soluble so with the water pressure from the garden hose, I was able to remove most of it. But the odor still remained.

I generously applied my hot soapy solution of shampoo and Odor Handler to the soiled areas. I worked it in with a rubber curry (there was no WAY I was going to touch that nasty stuff with my bare hands!) Then I went back with a horse brush to really work it into each strand of the hair. I finished with a smaller handled brush to deal with the hard to reach places. I let the solution sit for approximately 10 minutes before thoroughly rinsing the dogs until their coats were squeaky clean.

It was time to use my gallon jug of Coat Handler Conditioner. I poured generous amounts into my hands and applied it to their coats, straight. I did not rinse out the conditioner.

I let them have a few generous shakes before I proceeded with towel drying. Then, I pulled out my trusty K-9 II high velocity dryer. I needed them to be dry so I could see if I had been successful with neutralizing the foul stench before I let them back into the house.

By that night, all of our dogs joined us in the living room, lounging at our feet. Everyone had a slight scent of baby powder which was much more appealing to my husband and me.

The reason I was so successful in neutralizing the odor was because I had the knowledge and the tools at my fingertips. As a pet grooming professional, it’s up to us to know the products and techniques that work the best. I’ve tested many products over the years, and the Coat Handler line of products (especially Odor Handler), beats everything else, hands down.

Just ask our noses – and Cache, of course!

 

Happy trimming!

~Melissa

 

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The Aha! Moment

blog imageIt’s no secret that I love learning new skills, ideas, and applications — it’s the main reason why I love the pet grooming industry so much. You can never learn it all. There is always something new, different, or enlightening to learn.

In 2010, I founded the Learn2GroomDogs.com (and cats) streaming video library. I have directed and produced over 400 educational grooming video shoots. Each one is both a lesson and a demonstration. Every video inspires and teaches me something new. I’m constantly having my own ‘Aha! Moments’ – even after 30 years in this business!

I’m proud to be able to bring the quality of training directly to you that will challenge, educate, and energize the student in you. All you need is access to the internet and you can have your own ‘Aha! Moments’ wherever you are. Our Training Partners have earned their right to be labeled “the best professional pet stylists in the country.” They are simply amazing.

I take detailed notes on every shoot. Heck, with some Training Partners, I can barely make my fingers fly across the keyboard fast enough! Those comprehensive notes eventually become the video descriptions. As I review the lesson during editing, I sift through the pages of my notes and highlight the key points that I feel would be worthwhile takeaways for you. Believe me, there are loads of them!

I truly believe you will only be as good as your teachers. Being a member of Learn2GroomDogs.com is like going to a massive pet grooming summit. There are over 400 lectures and demonstrations from over 40 training partners that are hand-picked as the best in the industry. We provide the information you want and need from people who know dogs – including a camera man who is also an accomplished pet stylist and a long time grooming instructor, so he knows what you need to see through the lens!

When you are fresh to the field – you are like a dry sponge. ‘Aha! Moments’ come fast and easily. As a seasoned pro, they become harder to come by — you must seek them out with dedication and apply them to your work.

But there are still plenty of golden nuggets to unearth.

Take notes as you watch the videos. Pause, rewind, and watch again. And again. You have unlimited access to every video lesson we offer with your membership, so wring every drop of learning gold you can from each one. If you can pick up even one of those per month of membership, it’s worth the price of admission and more.

There is a great saying that goes, ‘The more you learn, the more you earn.” I have always believed that the more educated you are in your craft, the more self-confidence you will have. That turns work into a joy no matter what you do. You have the power and the choice: keep learning and keep your passion for your career alive…

…or let it get stale and face burn out.

With Learn2GroomDogs.com (and cats too) we make it easy to learn at the touch of a keystroke. Wherever you have access to high speed internet, you can watch, listen and learn. In your home. At your shop. Traveling to a grooming event. By yourself or with your team. We have grooming video lessons for everyone. We can help you achieve more wherever you are in your grooming journey.

The key is to invest in you, whether that is time, money, or both. You have to make an effort – a commitment to put in the work to get better and seize any opportunity to do so. Once you open your mind to education, you will be amazed at how many ‘Aha! Moments’ you will have.

Enjoy the ride. The educational voyage is a blast.

Happy Trimming

Melissa

 

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