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Groomer Days

Bringing my perspective to problems which all groomers (stylists), including myself struggle with on a regular basis. I'm Jenny. A groomer. This year (2023) I turn 55., and have over 20 years experience as a Professional Pet Stylist. I have been working with dogs since I was 12 years old but explored alternative careers ending with degrees in the sciences and education. I have three degrees, B.Sc., M.Sc., 4 years of an incomplete Ph.D, and a B. Ed (specializing in children and science). These are just the tip of my educational iceberg. I have held numerous awards in science and graduated with top honors. In 2003 I made a radical change and simply quit my old line of work and took a job as a kennel technician with a local vet. From there the grooming just re-happened. So here I am.

I nee a new Groomer....

This post is a general overview of a few topics I will be delving into more deeply. What's wrong with the previous one? Probably nothing at all. It's all in perception. Most of the switching comes from - convenience, price, availability. I talk to people about "their needing a new groomer", all the time - looking for a new groomer for what ever reason, " the last one never returns their calls - wanting to try somewhere new, something closer, new to the area etc. etc."

There are times when a professional pet groomer must prioritize or it becomes overwhelming. There isn't enough of us to go around. Covid did one thing for our industry, it made people realize that grooming is a necessity. It's a high demand career. After 20 plus years of dedicated grooming services, I am getting older. Will turn 55 this year and with this getting older thing comes the fact that I can't do what I used to when I was in my 20's. I will be reducing the amount I work, and the kind of grooming I do. At this stage in my career it is nice to have the choice of grooming a pet or not grooming a pet.

Why is my salon so booked all the time? Lack of staff. I have enough great clients to fully employ at least two full time professional pet stylists. Unfortunately, I haven't found the right fit for our small team. It is also about finding someone who can do the required amount of dogs with dedication, care and quality to warrant paying a high hourly rate or commission. If I could clone another me, we'd be set. New younger groomers, who are few and far between have many requirements and limitations. This in itself is a minefield and topic for another time.

Sometimes when answering the phone or reading a new application I think to myself, 'Last minute Lucy, why are you leaving this for the last minute?" Your pet, it's safety and treatment, my ability to perform the grooming effectively and efficiently, are my foremost concerns. Your pet is my priority. Do I have enough time, enough staff to help, can it be done start to finish, would the beginning of the day or end of the day be a better fit, is it a large breed or small.....there are a lot of concerns to address before I can book an appointment.

We offer dedicated appointments, early appointments, later appointments, special requests, start to finish services, as well as keep pets here for day care for those who work. If you don't communicate - I can't help as I don't read minds. All this requires dedicated scheduling and hours in front of a computer screen making sure to avoid as many conflicts as possible. This also includes booking around staff that have their own obligations.

Sometimes the day just gets away due to 100 different things - wearing all the hats from groomer - consultant - bather - assistant- receptionist -human resources - janitor - payroll - mediator....the list grows and goes on. Plus I apprentice new groomers. I take them under my wing and do my best to create a great groomer. I give them the experience they need to build confidence. This takes time - guidance - patience. Sometimes a pet just takes longer for any number of reasons - i.e. UNEXPECTED ISSUES, DIFFICULT, SPEICAL NEEDS, NEGLECTED and MATTED. We don't want to keep your pet longer than necessary, but sometimes all these "interruptions" take time away from grooming, and make us fall behind with an already demanding schedule. It helps a great deal when you, as the client, can sometimes be understanding of your pet taking longer to finish.

Not all my staff are capable of grooming with speed and quality at the same time. If you want fast quality suffers. If you want quality time suffers. We do our best to work with your pet and the time constraints that you put on us by comparing us to other groomers. We are all individuals, we are all human and have good and bad days. I expect to be given the same understanding as I give you when you are late or need to cancel an appointment. With 20 plus years grooming experience under my belt - my staff have 3 yrs or less. This makes a HUGE difference. Be kind and tolerant or go elsewhere. No one likes to be treated rudely or feel under duress to get you pet done. No one wants to be injured or to cause injury. Rushing does no one any favours - pet, groomer or client!

It is very easy to hurt the feelings of new and young groomers. They are already feeling vulnerable and scrutinized. They do not have that "thick skin". One bad experience with a pet or client can make them quit the career before it even started. I will protect them to my best ability. Me a seasoned professional, may be taken aback (might give a Spock look) by rudeness and unkind behaviour, for a short time but I will give as good as I get.

I prefer pleasant and will always choose a diplomatic resolution first. I will listen. I will take it if I deserve it. HOWEVER, rudeness and/or disrespectful attitudes = firing on the spot. Verbally attacking me or any of my staff is not a thing - no need and just don't do it. If you yell at me on the phone - I will hang up on you. I will also respond with my side (including video and photo proof) if you leave an unjustified review. If you can throw me under the bus using social media just because - I can and will do the same. Fair is fair. If you can't take it don't dish it out. In a professional service it is the professional who is right not the customer - "The customer is always right" is a standard in retail.

Please refrain from comparing professional pet grooming service to retail service. Both are considered a service, but there is a vast difference between a sweater and a living creature. If you admonish a sweater it doesn't cower. If you snag a sweater it doesn't bleed. So please don't cheapen what a professional pet groomer does just because you think a service is a service. Most upper end grooming salons offer retail along with their professional grooming services. A pet is NOT a PRODUCT! Both are mutually exclusive.

As a senior professional pet groomer who works a lot with large breeds, doodles, with elderly, anxiety and special needs pets - it often requires constant contact. Someone there all the time as an assistant. One pet that can't stand anymore, or suffers with canine cognitive dementia requires more than one person. It is NOT safe for one person alone. That means team grooming - much less stressful for everyone. I will hesitate to reach out to you if the first thing you mention is, "How much will it cost me?". Honest I don't know until I work with your pet, but my staff and I would like to be reasonably paid for our time, our dedication, our care and our effort etc.

First thing that crosses my mind when asked for a price quote is - "looking for the cheapest possible groom -don't want to spend a lot." It makes my heart sink when the response is, "What do you mean my dog will cost how much?!? My previous groomer charged this much or Oh wow really?" Thinking of it gives me chills... like, "clown will eat me...." So here it is......

"A good groomer is not cheap and a cheap groomer is not good."

This has nothing to do with skill of the job but the attitude in which the job is approached. If I charge less I will secure the client. This just hurts and cheapens the whole grooming profession. You don't barter at the grocery store or gas station - why do you think it is ok to barter for grooming services? - It is not ok.

The problem is cash services offered by groomers operating out of their homes, garages, basements, bathrooms etc. They are not a COMMERCIAL STORE FRONT! My shop is federally and provincially branded, licenced, insured to the hilt. This comes with commercial grade expenses and a large overhead - something a home groomer does not have. For this reason your pet may cost 50 cash at a home groomer but 80 plus tax in a store front salon. A store front commercial salon, has to pay tax, HST, payroll, vacation pay, stat pay, accounting, rent, hydro, heat, cooling, water, commercial area maintenance, education seminars, phone, internet, equipment, product, cars, fuel etc. - multiply that by two because we have to maintain an outside home as well. That is why your pet is more expensive. Not because we are greedy.

Price phishing calls, messages, texts rarely turn into clients. After all, my husband and I own a business and yes we want to make a living - which means "make enough money to pay our expenses". I certainly don't want to price gouge, and want to be fair, but need to keep up with the local comparable market. I want to be valued and respected for my dedication to my career - the years experience, the love for my career, the education level, the knowledge/skill, the quality over quantity, the high end product, the up to date equipment, and care provided.

Over 20 years as a Professional Pet Groomer I have come to realize that you can't help everyone, it's ok to say NO, and you just can't please everyone. Some will love you, some will dislike you (hate is a strong word), some will be indifferent, some kind, and some not so kind. It goes with being a professional in a service.

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