By Khris Berry
Mary began to feel mired down by the burden of business ownership. This wasn’t the dream she had set out to live so many years before. So, where did Mary go wrong?
Mary was a groomer in the Midwest. She toiled away in local grooming shops through the years, building a nice skill set and a good clientele. She was a good employee; rarely called in sick, was fair and conscientious with her customers, and followed her employer’s directions without fail. Mary, however, dreamt of a day when she could own her own grooming shop. Mary often said, “When I own my own shop,” followed by a long list of her preferences for procedures and details.
Fast forward a dozen years or so and Mary was faced with the exciting opportunity to relocate to a warmer climate and open the shop of her dreams. All those years spent planning her little shop were coming to fruition. Mary plotted her new shop’s name, designed a logo, and used her years of experience to draw a floorplan for equipment. She called upon a family friend who helped her set up the legalities of a new business. It was intoxicating—she opened her doors and groomed her first customer’s dog. Her dreams had come true.
Over the next few months, she managed fairly well. Granted, business ownership presented challenges she hadn’t anticipated but she navigated those early hurdles and kept her chin up. And then things became hard—her first bad review, followed by her second. The occasional unreasonable customer asked for a refund. And then a legitimately disappointed customer asked for one too.
She hired a few employees to keep up with business and discovered that her employees’ compasses did not sail as straight as her own. She experienced employee theft, client lists went missing, employees came and went, her equipment was broken by the invisible equipment breaking gremlins which are the crux of many shop owners. An employee cut a dog’s ear and she had to pay the vet bill. A customer lost their dog in the parking lot and posted the tragedy on local social media sites.
Mary began to feel mired down by the burden of business ownership. This wasn’t the dream she had set out to live so many years before. So, where did Mary go wrong? Or did she? Was this the price of responsibility of business ownership? Some of these pitfalls are inevitable when you own a grooming business—you will have customers, accidents, possibly employees, and unforeseen issues. Building your business your way, or as I like to call it, Crafting Your Career is one way to plan for the darker side of business ownership.
Good fences make good neighbors—and thus good agreements make good business people. When discussing building your business, many groomers get excited about their names, signs, logos, etc. I dream of a grooming industry where these same groomers get excited about employee handbooks, best practices policies, animal handling guidelines, and client agreements, just to name a few.
To begin building your business your way, it’s as simple as deciding what is important to you and drawing some lines in the sand. By planning every aspect of your business in advance, including employee handbooks, client interactions, emergency procedures, and risk management, you can create a career of your own design. Following your own moral compass and determining your actions with intent (instead of reacting when faced with a problem), you will be prepared to sail stormy seas when they arise with confidence.
For example, is it important that all animals be handled humanely while under your care and control? Then write an animal handling guideline and stick to it. No exceptions.
Intrigued by the lure of growing your business? Plan to begin with thoughtful, inclusive employee handbooks and contracts before you acquire your first. Don’t have one but already have employees? Write one immediately and put it into action.
Pets come with people and sometimes those relationships derail. Client agreements and defined policies for interacting with customers will shorten your learning curve when dealing with the public sector. Remember every time you said “when I have my own grooming salon,” and apply those preferences here, often.
Injuries and health concerns can and do happen—even to the most vigilant and safe groomers. Plan ahead for how to avoid them, handle them, and protect yourself. Business liability, workers compensation, individual health benefits, and perhaps even personal liability umbrella coverage are all aspects of business ownership that you should understand and plan for accordingly. Don’t go it alone, find professionals who are willing to explain these processes and coach you along the way.
Finding your business moral compass, passion, and stamina are key to surviving your business after the sparkle stage has worn off. Every time you find yourself in a sticky situation, if you haven’t prepared, you will be more likely to handle it poorly.
By Crafting Your Career correctly, you can be prepared for the inevitable pitfalls which befall Groomers. While best to prepare in the early stages, there is no time like the present. You can strategically plan your policies and future beginning today—and plan to revisit your plan regularly. Strategic planning is not just for corporate “businessy” businesses. You should schedule time to invest into reviewing or creating your policies. Ask fellow groomers about the issues which they face, recall your experiences and craft pathways to success around these issues.
Whether you are a Groomer or a Grooming Salon owner, Crafting your Career begins with you—so, what are you waiting for? ✂