How to Avoid Stress & Burnout

Professional stress and burnout is the number one thing that stops a successful career in its tracks. So how do you keep it from happening? How do you keep your job fresh? Fun? Rewarding?

Here are a few of my top suggestions.

Difficult Dogs

Dealing with difficult dogs or cats is one of the biggest challenges we face every day. You know the feeling in your gut when you see them on your appointment book. Those feelings of dread, anger, and sometimes fear – those negative emotions that get associated with one pet or client. You begin fretting about them right away, don’t you?

I don’t know many people who enjoy dealing with an uncooperative pet. One of the easiest ways to minimize your stress level is to simply eliminate them from your schedule.

There are plenty of nice, well-behaved dogs in the world to groom. I strongly suggest not doing any more than you can handle confidently and safely. Your skill level should dictate how much you can comfortably take on. Typically, the more experience you have, the more challenging the pet you can safely handle. To stay safe, know your limits – and the limits of the pet entrusted to you.

Here is the rating scale I’ve used to rate a dog’s (or cat’s) personality.

#1: Perfect angel on the grooming table. We love these pets!

#2: Bouncy and wiggly. Does not respect rules and boundaries but is not mean or nasty. They are a bit of a handful to deal with on the grooming table.

#3: Will bite when provoked (tugging on mats, cleaning ears, and trimming nails). With the exception of these trigger points, the pet can tolerate the rest of the grooming process.

#4: Will bite – even the smallest thing sets this personality type off. They cannot be trusted. A well-fitted muzzle can be helpful – and many times, necessary. They require a seasoned and experienced handler/groomer to keep both the pet and the person safe.

#5: Dangerous and unpredictable. Eyes will typically glow red or green. Good candidate for veterinarian-supervised grooming with a sedative.

You should consider charging extra for handling difficult pets. They take more time to groom – and time is money. Let your fee reflect it.

Difficult owners

This one can be a little tricky. If they are just mildly annoying, deal with it professionally but don’t put any more effort into the client than needed to keep them at bay. If they are rude and nasty, most likely they are just that way all the time – that’s how they go through life. I would do a great job for them, just like with any other client, but I would not go out of my way to do anything “special.”

If they are difficult to deal with AND neglect their pooch or do not respect my time, I would charge extra for that.

Just as we rate our dogs, at times we will rate difficult owners.

I have no problem referring #4 or #5 rated pets and/or owners to another groomer who might be more successful in meeting their needs (i.e. – always fire them professionally and politely).

Lateness

Nothing is more frustrating than a client who does not respect our time! We give them a 15-minute window to arrive, either to  arrive to their scheduled appointment or to pick up their pet. If they do not arrive within that window, it counts as a strike against them. For arrivals, we have a three strike rule…

  • Strike one: we let them off with a mild warning.
  • Strike two: we remind them how much we value our time. If they can’t value it as well, they will need to look for another stylist.
  • Strike three: we fire them.

If they do not pick up their pet prior to our posted closing times, we give a few extra minutes. As soon as we know they are running late, we try to get in touch with the owner. If the owner calls and can give us a reasonable estimated pick-up time, my staff has the option of waiting for them if it’s beyond closing time. I will post a hefty late pick-up fee (in 5-minute intervals) but leave it up to the employee to charge it. If they waited, they get to keep the entire late pick up fee as long as they collect it. If we can’t reach them or have not heard from them, we’ll bed the pet down for the night. We leave a pleasant note on the door for the client. We simply state our hours and let them know we look forward to seeing them in the morning. I have heard many salons charge an overnight fee, too.

5 More Quick Suggestions

Each one of these could be a blog topic on its own. However, for right now, I’ll just toss these out there for you to ponder.

  1. Keep learning to make your career interesting while allowing you to expand your career opportunities.
  2. Take time for yourself and your family.
  3. Maintain physical health and wellness through diet and exercise.
  4. Learn to say NO when your schedule becomes overwhelming.
  5. Charge enough for your services. Avoiding living paycheck-to-paycheck.

Don’t forget the little things that made this career attractive to you in the first place – never forget WHY you followed this career path. This is a career with UNLIMITED potential for those willing to stay focused. Work hard – and never stop learning. How cool is that?

Happy Trimming!

~ Melissa

P.S.

Go online and tell us what you think on the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page.

Maintain a Steady Pace

Speed is the key to being a successful pet groomer. Have you watched a highly proficient pet stylist at work? They don’t race around frantically. They don’t whip from one task to the next with lightning speed. They are not frazzled. They are not stressed. They blow through 10, 12, even 14 dogs with ease.

How do they do it?

business-womanHow do they manage a full day and still get home to meet their kids coming off the bus from school? They still manage to get to the gym after work. They enjoy their own dogs when not grooming client’s pets. They have the time AND energy to have a life when they step away from the grooming table.

Do you?

When I observe these successful groomers, I’ve noticed important traits they all share. They work with a steady pace. They have a rhythm to their tasks. Their tempo doesn’t change. They follow the same order as they work on each pet. Their tools are laid out in an orderly fashion, sharp and within arm’s reach. They are not distracted by ringing phones, tales from their fellow team members, nor the personality of the pet they are working on. They are focused and efficient as they work around the pet. There is no wasted effort. No wasted motion.

There are methods to each grooming job. Following a particular order with each type of groom will assistance you with getting through the tasks the quickest. There will be five main types of jobs you do every day – day in – day out at any grooming shop.

The five types of grooming jobs

1. Short haircuts, six weeks or more
2. Short haircuts, six weeks or less
3. Guard comb trims
4. Bladed body with fuller legs and/or furnishings/pattern trims
5. Bath and brush type pets

Generally speaking, the faster you can get a dog to the tub, the faster the trim will go. Dogs with six weeks or less coat growth can normally go straight to the tub. With today’s products, shampoos, conditioners, and high velocity dryers, much of the pre-work can be eliminated. Dematting or pre-trimming is a waste of time with six weeks or less trims.

When it comes to haircuts or finishing a bath and brush dog – pay attention to the order you work. Develop an order – the same order every time for each of the five grooming jobs. If you struggle with remembering the order, write it down and post it at your grooming station. Time yourself on each task. Work on improving your speed with small components within each job. Don’t jump around.

Always follow the order.

Watch top stylists at work. Watch their videos. Sit ringside at grooming competitions and watch the leading stylist compete. With consistent repetition, you’ll increase your speed in no time. You’ll have more time to spend enjoying your free time doing what you want to do. The stress and frustration will be highly minimized. And the best part – you’ll make more money, in less time!

Don’t hurry or rush around frantically to get the job done. Maintain an easy pace and work steadily. Remember the fable of the tortoise and the hare? Highly productive people work a certain rhythm that allows them to flow through enormous amounts of work without becoming stressed or anxious.

Here is a great Learn2GroomDogs.com video lesson that shows how the pros get it done.  Join today!
Happy Trimming!

~ Melissa

P.S.

Do you have any tricks like this one? Tell us about them on the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page.

Building Buzz – Getting the kind of attention that builds your business

One of the fastest ways to build a clientele is to get people talking. You want positive attention, the kind that fosters business. It’s good to keep in mind that people never talk about:

  • boring people
  • boring products
  • boring services
  • boring companies

1You want to be unique. To stand out. Be interesting.

I’ve used this technique in many of my companies. When I/we focused on this method, our growth rate has been amazing.

There are many ways to build positive buzz. Many of these strategies are super easy to do. As a bonus, many are also cost-effective. Others take a little bit more planning and a financial investment to get the ball rolling. Choose what works best for your situation and budget. It doesn’t matter if you are quiet and shy or vivacious and outgoing. There are tactics that work for all personality types.

The key to making this work is…

Know.

Your.

Customers.

  • Know what they like.
  • Know what makes them smile.
  • Know what gets them excited.
  • Know what triggers them in a positive way.

Be unique. Stand out. Knowing your clientele can help you make a positive impact. Done well, clients will seek out your services. Mismanage it and they will run in the opposite direction.

Most grooming business owners focus on the rational parts of running their business: price, scheduling, pet handling, and the finished groom. They totally ignore the emotional rewards for the human client. This is important, because although we love the dogs, they don’t have the ability to pay the bill.

People don’t get excited about ordinary services, an acceptable haircut, or a fair price. They talk about things that surprised them and made them feel great about their pets. When you make things special, you make them memorable – while at the same time removing the feeling of risk they might have had about doing business with you.

It’s not enough to have a good grooming business. You need to stand out from the crowd. The unique business has fabulous solutions wrapped in a shiny package that delights, excites, or surprises the customer.

So what makes up a “unique shiny package?” Here are four areas to get your ideas flowing.

YOUR SALON

How does it look? It doesn’t matter if it’s home business, a corporation, a small storefront, or a large facility. Your presentation will make an impression.

What does it look like when the client first drives up? What makes it stand out in a positive way? What makes it unique? Is it your signage? Your exterior decor? Some clever way to lead clients to your front door? Your front display window? Something needs to pop out at them.

Moving indoors, what do your clients see as soon as they step through the door? Is it clean and tidy? Is it bright and cheery? Is it easy to maintain and organize? How is your indoor signage? Is your reception desk inviting? Are your brochures and business cards readily available?

Think about not only what they see – what do they hear and smell? Is there appropriate music? Are the dogs relatively quiet? Is the louder equipment muffled behind closed doors? Do a sniff test – or have someone else do it for you who isn’t “nose blind” to smells in the salon. The salon should smell clean and fresh. If it can’t pass the sound and smell test – fix it.

Clients have loads of choices and ways to compare you to other service-based businesses. Even if you are the only grooming salon in town, you still have competition. Clients and prospective customers are comparing you to plenty of other service businesses such as their vet clinic, their hair salon, or their dry cleaners. How do you stack up against the other professionals in the area?

PERSONAL PRESENTATION

Clients gravitate to businesses where they feel comfortable. Making them feel comfortable means mirroring how they present themselves. Whoever has direct interaction with clients should positively impact the customer. Clients are your guests – welcome them as such. If you had invited them as guests into your home, wouldn’t you try to make them feel as comfortable as possible?

Regardless of whether you are in a conservative or a trendy area, presenting a well pulled-together look goes a long way. Pay attention to the details. Make sure you are groomed as well as the dogs leaving your salon.

If you don’t want to take the time to put together a polished outfit every day – opt for uniforms. Nothing pulls a look together like outfits designed for the work at hand. If you have staff, discuss what you wear so you all match. Once uniforms look dull and old – toss them.

You are going to be washing and styling dogs all day, so make sure your own hair gets the same amount of attention. It doesn’t matter if your hair is short or long, natural or brightly colored. Your own hair needs to be clean and styled in a manner appropriate for your workplace.

Accessories can bring a smile to a customer’s face and make an impression. Makeup can be an accessory. Let’s not forget jewelry – earrings or a fun bracelet that can hold up to the abuse of professional grooming. Even funky shoes that can take hours of standing and still be comfortable.

Your personal presentation can be as unique as you are. Just remember to present yourself in a manner appropriate to the clientele you wish to attract. Never lose sight of the fact that you need to make your clients feel comfortable and welcome if you want to build your business.

WORK QUALITY

Pick a breed. Pick a technique. Pick a personality. Pick a trim. Specialize in something. Do it better than anybody else.

Establishing a reputation for specializing in your area of choice will make you stand out. People will begin to talk. Because you do such an amazing job in your specialty, new customers will seek you out.

Maybe you love Terriers and hand stripping techniques. You might be a Poodle fanatic who loves to hand scissor. Love kitties? Enjoy challenging pets? Whatever it is, lock into it. You will thrill people when you walk out with a well-groomed pet from your specialized field of expertise. It’s a great feeling. Both you and your customer will be smiling.

CUSTOMER SERVICE

What do you do that makes your clients grin from ear to ear and say, “Wow, I can’t believe they just did that!” Customer service skills come into play over the phone and in person.

All service-based businesses are problem solvers. If you can solve the problem triggers for your customer, you are way ahead of the game. Once you figure out the problem, offer a viable solution with a kind heart and a big smile.

In some cases, the client doesn’t even realize they have a problem. Not only do you need to be a problem solver, you need to be a tactful educator.

Most clients benefit by using the trifecta principle of communication: tell – show – read. As professionals, we deal with dirty, messy dogs all the time. We can groom dog in our sleep. It’s a totally new experience for the client. Most people cannot remember all the information you are going to give them when they first come to your salon. Use the trifecta principle to help get your messages across. Tell them. Show them. Give them something to read that locks in what you just told and showed them.

In order to be successful, we need plenty of clients that keep coming back. Salons that get positive buzz in the community will attract new clients and help retain old ones.

When done well, there a great sense of pride. But even more than that, there’s also a great sense of security. Security comes from knowing clients like what you do and continue to seek out your grooming services.

So stand out from the crowd. Be the positive buzz of YOUR town. If you want a busy business, you need to get people talking. Finding creative ways to make your clients feel special is one of the best marketing strategies you can develop for your business.

Did we miss anything? Jump over to the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page and tell us.

Happy trimming,

~Melissa

How to Read Classic Dog Body Language – Appropriate Composure for the Pet Professional

We work with pets because we are passionate about them. It’s simple: we love what we do. Yet it’s important to remember that every dog is an individual. Not only do they look different, they all have different physical and emotional characteristics. Different personalities.

Some dogs receive clear directions from their owners. They have rules and boundaries at home. This makes them very easy to work with in a professional setting. Other pets will not be well-mannered in a professional setting. The personality quirks we all experience working with pets will vary from dog to dog.

  • Many will be perfect angels
  • Others will be mildly annoying
  • Some will be potentially dangerous to work with for both the handler and the pet

Based on your level of pet interaction experience, you should be able to work through many of these personality quirks. Your commands to the pet need to be clear, concise, and consistent.

Dogs are primarily non-verbal communicators. However, they do have a very clear language of their own. It is up to us to interpret that language. The good news? Dogs are very clear in the messages that they give us.

I firmly believe that 98% of all dog bites are preventable. If you have read the pet correctly, getting bitten is highly avoidable. At times, you will need to take appropriate precautions to protect yourself. You need to gain control of the situation in a manner that is safe and respectful of the pet. It’s important to your career not to become injured. Remember, your hands are your livelihood.

Whenever working with pets, it is always critical to remember the 3 C’s. As a professional you must remain:

  1. calm
  2. cool
  3. collected

…at all times – in all circumstances.

There are many different types of dogs. Many will require special handling techniques. Plenty of groomers or stylists are good with all personalities. Others have honed their skills. They specialize in working with dogs with special needs such as puppies, geriatric dogs, or aggressive dogs.

Here is a collection of basic dog postures we see every day. Every position indicates a different attitude. This is by no means everything you will need to know about “reading” dogs. If you are working professionally with them, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

You will need to gather loads of information about canine communication. By doing this, you’ll learn to work in harmony with dogs. When that happens, you’ll instantly feel the rewards. You’ll quickly learn how to respond to them in a non-verbal way.

By being knowledgeable in canine body language, you’ll keep both you and the pet safe at all times. The more time you spend studying dogs and working firsthand with them, the more proficient your skills will become.

Our number one responsibility to the pet and its owner is to always treat the pet with the utmost respect using humane handling practices.

Basic Body Language of the Pet

There are basic body positions that you need to recognize immediately when observing a pet. The eight basic positions have been illustrated for you below. Spend some time observing dogs so that you can instantly recognize these eight positions.

Non-Threatening Body Language:

  1. The Relaxed Stance
  2. Play Bow
  3. Submissive Body Position

These 3 indicate dogs that are safe to approach in a calm, gentle manner. These dogs are generally easy to work with and respond well to basic commands. Normally, an enthusiastic dog will need a little firmer command while a submissive dog will respond better to gentler techniques.

Use Caution When Approaching Body Language:

  1. Highly Submissive Postures
  2. Stressed Posture
  3. Alert Body Posture
  4. Defensive Body Position
  5. Offensive Body Position

 

These positions indicate you need to approach with caution. Based on how you interact with them, they may feel comfortable and slip into a nonthreatening language. If they do that, it indicates they are safe to approach.

If they feel threatened in any way, they can easily slip into the flight or fight mode. This is their natural defense. If you have them tethered with a lead and not under control, this flip of personality could easily manifest into a very difficult situation. This is a pet that could attack, bite, urinate, defecate, or release its anal glands.

Working with pets is a highly rewarding career option. However, if you don’t truly understand canine body language, passion can quickly turn into frustration. Use your passion early in your career to learn everything you can about their body language. It’s an invaluable skill to have.

Did we miss anything? Jump over to the Learn2GroomDogs Facebook page and tell us. To read more on what can happen if you don’t pay attention to canine dog language, click here. You can even see a video on Learn2GroomDogs.com on this topic!

Happy trimming,

~Melissa