By Daryl Conner
Everyone makes mistakes. Some are insignificant, for instance, putting a bow on a dog when the owner is someone who prefers bandanas. Some are much larger, and can affect our livelihood.
Here are 10 common mistakes groomers often make, and why you should avoid them.
1. Making poor choices of foods and beverages, (or not eating/drinking at all) during the busy work day. Grooming is a job with mental, emotional, and physical challenges. We simply cannot be at our best running on soda and potato chips. It takes a little time to plan, buy and prepare healthy food to fuel our bodies, but if we don’t, we risk blood sugar fluctuations that make us feel grouchy and tired in the short term, and health problems in the long term.
There are active on–line groomer groups with folks who embrace healthy eating choices such as Whole 30, Paleo, and more. Having the support of other groomers who choose to eat right can be wildly encouraging. Feeling better once you make good choices can keep you going.
2. Wearing shoes that don’t properly support you. This may seem silly, but if our feet are not properly supported, biomechanics work against us. We exert a tremendous amount of pressure on our feet merely by standing. Add in walking, twisting, lifting, and handling dogs that sometimes don’t want to be handled, all while navigating slippery floors, and you can have a recipe for disaster. If our feet are not in good shoes they cannot support our bodies, and other muscles and joints must work harder to compensate. Besides, sore feet make us feel tired and grumpy. Who needs that?
3. An often–asked question on grooming sites is this: “How do you prevent burning out?” The answer is simple. Don’t work too many hours. Groomers are famous for working too many days a week, and too many hours a day. Many of us don’t take vacations. A schedule that does not offer time for rest, relaxation, and a break from the stresses of work is one that will put any groomer on the fast track for burn out. Why do groomers work so many hours? Often, it’s because they are undercharging for their services, which leads us to mistake number 4.
4. Not charging enough for your skills. It is imperative that groomers know what their cost of being in business is so they can charge adequately for their services and make a profit at the end of the day. This means taking a good, hard look at all your expenses (rent/mortgage, supplies, energy costs, waste disposal, insurance, etc.) and coming up with a plan to charge enough for each pet you groom so that you don’t have to work a 60–hour week just to keep your doors open. Good pet groomers have a unique skill set that is in demand. Don’t undersell yourself.
5. Avoiding annual price increases. Your cost of doing business goes up every year. Your prices need to go up, too. If you put this off for a few years you will have to have a larger increase, and that can scare customers off. It is better to raise rates a small amount each year. Many groomers choose to do this during the summer months, avoiding rate hikes during the holiday or winter seasons.
6. Not having proper insurance coverage. Accidents happen. Fires, floods, natural disasters. Customers could slip and fall on your pathway; a dog could chew through its leash and escape. One uninsured accident can ruin all the hard work you have done to create a business if you don’t have adequate insurance. Talk to someone who knows our industry and buy a policy that covers the sorts of accidents that are specific to groomers. The average small grooming shop can have excellent insurance coverage for the approximate cost of grooming around 8–10 Springer Spaniels a year. When you look at it like that, doesn’t it seem silly not to be properly insured?
7. Take care of the future. So many groomers fail to invest in a retirement plan. Historically, Americans under–save for retirement, and from looking at my fellow groomers it seems many of us are guilty of doing just that. If you are self–employed, it’s a simple matter to set up an IRA and have a set amount auto drafted from your account each month. Watching your nest egg grow and knowing that someday you really will be able to afford to retire is an amazing comfort.
8. Invest back in your business. It can be easy to let things slide, but ideally we should all be keeping up the appearance of your business. Work areas can become shabby and shopworn over time, it pays to keep things in good repair as well as looking (and smelling!) pleasant. We should also be investing in advertising if we still have spaces to fill on our calendars.
9. Speaking of investing, do you have all the time saving tools available? ClipperVac© systems, bathing systems, high velocity dryers, ergonomically correct bath tubs and tables all are investments that will help you groom both more safely and efficiently. And being efficient will help you groom more pets per day, which is a clear way to increase profits.
10. Many groomers think that they cannot afford to hire an accountant or lawyer when needed. In fact, the fees these professionals charge can save you thousands of dollars overall. For instance, a good accountant can not only make sure that your bookkeeping is accurate, but they know tax laws the way we know pet hair. You could be saving huge amounts each year by investing in a good professional to help you manage your money and deal with the IRS.
To wrap this all up, it’s important for us to remember that a pursuit in pet styling is about more than grooming. It’s never a mistake to take good care of ourselves and our business. ✂