Help Wanted: Hiring The Right Groomer

Ask The Grooming Tutor

By Michell Evans

“Dear Michell. Our salon is so busy. We are trying to keep up with the demand but I am working fifty hours per week and my other groomers are working as much as they would like. We need to hire a groomer but we keep hiring groomers who don’t fit in and who don’t stay with us. Not to mention that their skills are not as good as my other groomers. I wonder if I will ever find the right person. I worry that my business is suffering not only because of the high turnover rate but also because we can’t get all of our customers groomed.” –Phil & Sarah

Hi guys. Hiring a groomer is a big deal! It changes the dynamics of how each of your employees feels and communicates in the work place. It takes a large amount of time and effort to train them, whether they are experienced or not. It is a gamble every time. Will you get a good return on your investment or will they take your time and training and move to Mars? Even when you have a good feeling about a person, sometimes it just doesn’t work out.

First, your comment that you “need to hire a groomer” is a trap! It is easy to fall into the trap of feeling desperate to hire a groomer when you are telling customers that you have no room in your schedule to groom their pet. You also might be feeling financial pressures, either business or personal, that keep you feeling desperate. It seems like telling a customer you cannot groom their pet is flat out declining income. That can be scary, for sure, but repeatedly hiring the wrong people out of desperation is obviously not working for you either.

Fight the feeling of desperation and consider everything that you can change about your financial situation to ease any pressures that you might be feeling in that area. Cutting down or eliminating your advertising expenses would be a good start. You obviously don’t need more calls for grooming right now. Talk to your creditors about consolidating your debt and reducing interest rates. If your pressures are coming from demands that are self-imposed try to adjust your expectations and goals.

Try viewing your situation as an advantage rather than a burden. It is a privilege to have more customers than you can accommodate. Many folks reading this are envious right now. Consider developing a waiting list. This makes you seem elite in the client’s eyes and can help you develop your new groomer’s clientele before you even know who you will hire. When the right groomer comes along you will have a base of clients waiting in the wings.

Tell the client that you would like to add them to your waiting list and that when a spot opens up in your grooming clientele, you will notify them with an invitation that they can then RSVP to and reserve their spot. No need for them to have any more detail than that. Keep the mystery and let them think you are at capacity simply because you are just that good.

Evaluate what you have to offer. What are the advantages of working for you? Use this information to advertise for your position. Do you have equipment to make their job easier? Do they have weekends off? Will they receive continuing education opportunities? Will they have opportunities to earn bonuses? Will they receive benefits? Let’s face it, groomers who are on the look-out for better opportunities are obviously lacking something in their current position. By advertising your assets you might spark interest in a groomer who is unsatisfied with their current job.

During the interview process find out what they did and didn’t like about their previous jobs and keep those things in mind when developing the position for them. One person might be motivated by abundant opportunities to earn while another might be motivated by weekends off. And keep in mind that these priorities can change over the years of a groomer’s employ. Keep communication open.

As for hiring, advertising for your position on Facebook is an excellent way to reach groomers. Advertise in groups that pertain to your position. For example, if you are looking for someone who knows how to hand strip then advertise in groups whose commonality is hand stripping. Or if you are looking for groomers in a certain area advertise in groups for that area.

Be sure to include as much detail about what you have to offer and what you are looking for in a groomer as possible. This helps to eliminate applicants who really are not interested in what you have to offer or don’t have the skills that you are looking for. Thereby saving you from conducting interviews that are a waste of both party’s time.

Consider a working interview, where you actually have them groom a pet so that you can see their level of skill and determine how they take constructive criticism. This will also give you a glimpse at how quickly they work and how well they work under pressure.

Alternatively, have them come by the salon and spend a few hours on a busy day. You can see how they interact with your other employees and best of all you can chat with them while you are grooming. Most of us are quite adept at talking and grooming. This is a great way to conduct an informal interview. Ask them questions and let them talk. The fact that you are grooming while you chat might make them feel more comfortable than they would feel in a sit-down interview. Be sure to listen to their answers and really hear what they have to say.

Remember that, even if you are in a situation where you feel desperate to fill your position immediately, (like in the case of a groomer who quit unexpectedly or who you fired) the pets that you are unable to schedule at this time will most likely come back around in search of your services. You can always do a mailing either by snail–mail or email to inform them of your new addition when the time comes to lure them back.

Give yourself plenty of time to interview and hire whenever possible. Once you have made your choice, ask the other, less qualified yet considered, interviewees if you can keep their resume for the future in case the person that you chose does not work out. This might save you time and expense the next time you find yourself in need of a groomer.

Avoid hiring for a permanent position initially. Hire with the understanding that there is a ninety–day trial period. This way both of you have the ability to end the employment arrangement. Don’t mess around with hirees who do not show a natural ability and/or don’t seem to be fitting into your salon culture in the first ninety days. Be a boss and tell them it just isn’t going to work. You might find yourself avoiding firing them only to have them drain your spirit and/or wreak havoc on your salon’s culture.

Good luck finding the right fit! ✂

I am a multi-Best-In-Show and Best-All-Around groomer. I am the recipient of many Barkleigh Honors Awards including journalist of the year. I am a Silver and Gold medalist for GroomTeam USA. I am the winner of Show Dog Groomer of the Year 2015. I am a (VIG) Very Important Groomer-Ambassador for Purina and I have been teaching as The Grooming Tutor since 2000. And I groom to make a living, just like you. Please send questions to [email protected]

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