Owning a business is not a 9-5 job that ends after the last groom of the day. But, if you find a way to utilize each day’s time in a more productive way, you will gain more energy to do the things that need to get done.
It’s no secret that the current employment situation is wonky (to say the least). When the whole world shutdown in 2020, we all waited with bated breath to see what the economic impacts would be. We could see a lot of the issues coming, but one impact everyone is still struggling with is employment. The most common employment issue for our industry is finding skilled pet groomers that will fit in with our culture and brand to add to our businesses.
I have been in the industry for 25 years, and it has been amazing to watch the grooming industry evolve and grow over the years. When I first started, pet grooming was unheard of as a career and corporate grooming was just getting started. I am a firm believer that corporations made this profession one that is sought after and has helped such a large number of skilled groomers within the industry. They helped mold groomers with their academies within their business models.
Small businesses need to keep this in mind to continue growing their companies; the corporations innovatively lead this industry by utilizing creative ways to make their own groomers. Because of this, grooming is a viable career option for those that wanted to work with animals without pursuing a college degree. They made grooming popular. We are now in a position where we need to get creative to move forward.
Just like any skilled trade, the industry has seen its ups and downs. Some regions were flourishing while others were seeing a shift where the demand was less than the supply. We reached a point where the number of groomers started to outweigh the need for their services. However, over time, the industry started to even out and become more consistent as a whole.
Then the pandemic hit and turned the entire industry upside down. Older groomers chose to use this time to retire, poor business models could not sustain the shutdown and closed permanently, other groomers took this time to pursue a much needed career change, and some just called it quits due to working in the service industry in a society that often did not appreciate them.
While the number of groomers started going down, the number of pets started going up with pet ownership skyrocketing during the pandemic. The demand is now outweighing the amount of skilled workers, creating a perfect storm for problems to arise in the industry. The struggle is real for business owners to try and meet a high demand and find the right people for the company, all while dealing with the public’s lack of understanding of the huge changes that have taken place. Business owners must get creative and think outside the box for their needs.
There are many ways to add to your business—with or without having skilled groomers coming on board. Support staff is a great way to expand. This allows a business owner to offset responsibilities so they can focus on other tasks, buy time to find the right groomer to fit the culture and be able to bring in increased revenue while doing it. This is also a great option for newer business owners that have inconsistent days, making hiring a full-time groomer difficult. Beginning with a support-staff hire is a great way to get started in employment. The employment costs can be significantly less than hiring on a groomer as well.
In order to grow a support-staff team that is right for the company, business owners need to sit down and itemize three things:
- What tasks do you need the most help with?
- What are the tasks that you want help with?
- Why do you need the help?
This can prove to be difficult as it is hard for owners to give up control of some aspects, but holding on to all of the small things is what leads to burnout and strained mental health the quickest. The most common “problem” that I see owners struggling with is time. Owning a business is not a 9-5 job that ends after the last groom of the day. But, if you find a way to utilize each day’s time in a more productive way, you will gain more energy to do the things that need to get done. So, start that list, and let’s see where you can add to your team.
Here are some ideas to help you get started:
- A receptionist can help unload the tasks of answering phones, scheduling and dealing with client problems, and allow you to focus on the dogs so you can be more efficient. They can also assist with office/clerical work, social media, selling products, upselling services, telling clients “no,” and (my favorite) take the emotion and awkwardness out of raising prices by notifying clients so you don’t have to.
- A bather can make daily tasks easier and can raise revenue in multiple ways. You can physically handle more dogs with less wear and tear on your body. In addition, you can cross-train them to do some receptionist-type work too, give them the smaller tasks so you can catch up on the backend of things at the end of the day, or train them to finish shorthaired dogs to help offset the increased industry demand.
- A virtual assistant is worth their weight in gold when you find the right one for what you need. They can be the person who takes on the less desirable tasks for you, such as marketing and advertising, content development or even some of the paperwork. This frees up time for the things that you enjoy.
When we start thinking outside of the box, we open up the employment pool to find a great fit for the company and the brand. We are now looking for a different set of skills or someone who is getting a fresh start in the industry, and we have a huge advantage when searching for people to employ because we work with animals. That alone draws people into our job posts. The more candidates we have, the better chances we have to hire a strong team.
This crazy world is definitely keeping us on our toes, but there is always a way to grow and achieve your dreams. ✂️