By Khris Berry
Carol works in a salon with two other groomers. The groomers in her salon get along great, and each have their regular clients as well as time to take new clients as they come calling. They pride themselves in relating to their customers and completing quality grooms.
On a recent Saturday, one of Carol’s co–workers was having a bad day. She had problems at home and spent much of the day on her cell phone handling personal business. She was in and out of the grooming room, not present to speak to her clients, and unable to help with the normal flow in a bustling grooming shop. Carol completed her own grooms and helped with her co–worker’s dogs. She answered extra phone calls and left her table more often than usual. At the end of the day, she took a call from an elderly client for which she had groomed a Miniature Schnauzer earlier in the day. The client was upset and demanding a refund—Carol had missed clipping a toenail on the front foot and the pup had scratched Mrs. Helen’s leg with his single talon–like toe knife. Carol lost her focus and Mrs. Helen paid the price. That single toenail was the cause of lost income, loss of reputation, pain for the client, and in some cases, the loss of a valued client for Carol’s grooming shop.
If you have been a Pet Groomer for more than a minute, you’ve likely felt the sting of losing your focus. Funny memes circulate the internet comparing Pet Groomers to anything from MacGyver to Harry Potter to Houdini. Groomers are often capable of leaping small Newfoundlands in a single bound and scaling Mt Everest with packs of little terrier dogs on their backs. Such is the life of a competent busy Pet Groomer. To prevent poor performance, learning strategies to maintain focus and developing processes for quality and speed are beneficial to every Pet Professional.
Like any muscle, the brain needs flexing, stretching, and strengthening. Improving your everyday focus begins with developing a defined process. Organizing your mental flow is difficult if you suffer from DOET (Different Order Every Time Disorder). If you outline the steps of your own grooming process and complete them in the same order each groom, you will be less likely to skip steps if you are interrupted.
Make sure that you find natural stopping points in the grooming process if you find yourself surrounded by disorder or in a situation which is challenging your focus. For example, a typical grooming process following bath may be: Prep Coat, Nails, Pads, Sanitary, Body, Legs, Head, and Finish. If you were interrupted during your process, you may choose to finish all four feet before stopping. When developing a routine, remember Repetition is Key.
Another key to improving your daily focus is practicing memory skills. There are scores of free computer games and mobile apps designed to improve your memory. There are even app based quizzes structured around dog related flash cards, allowing the user to recall or learn dog breeds, structure, and breed standards. These can be incorporated into a fun salon educational group experience or enjoyed alone—but improving recall is an important skill when you are doing repetitive tasks daily. It will help with finishing your grooms, customer and dog name recall, handling money and registers, and ultimately allow your work to be completed with less stress. When honing your brain’s focus, remember Use It or Lose It. Another strategy, when learning to sharpen your focus while grooming, is developing the ability to concentrate on the task in front of you. Paired closely with that skill is also the ability to center yourself, your inner voice, and learn to block the distractions around you. This is achieved through practice, at first. If you have the ability to listen to music while you groom, many Pet Stylists find that focusing on the rhythm or beat will help them collect their thoughts and slow down busy minds.
Just like your brain muscle needs practice with memory and recall, it also needs similar practice learning to relax. Learn to meditate. The addition of this skill to your brain’s already busy regimen will enhance your ability to change your focus and allow you to change tasks more rapidly, move fluidly through distractions, and return to your “zone” when necessary. Take some time and learn to Tune In and Tune Out.
Achieving Focus while you are grooming will not only enhance your work performance but also allow the Pet Stylist to enjoy a more relaxing experience while you are completing your tasks. It’s not a simple thing to begin practicing Focus in your daily grooming. Like any skill, gaining Focus will take repetition, rehearsal, and exercise to maintain it. By applying the three key strategies of Repetition, Use It or Lose It, and Tune In/Tune Out, you can eliminate errors and enjoy better personal performance. Begin practicing now so that when you experience a day such as Carol’s, you are ready to tackle the additional burden without compromising your Grooming. ✂