By Khris Berry
Management of any business can be intimidating and exhausting for even the most seasoned Pet Professional. After all, many of us started our Pet Businesses because we preferred interacting with Pets rather than People. There is no shame in knowing where your passion lies—this series will spotlight common issues and solutions to help you manage your Business and staff more seamlessly and effortlessly.
Here are Grooming Business Basics tips for Managing in a Pet Service Environment:
1. Herding Cats? Flying Monkeys? Guess what—this is YOUR Circus. Don’t dwell on the short comings of the people around you. Learn the capabilities of your staff and co–workers and focus on effort and hard work. Not everyone can be a Superstar or an MVP but you CAN ask everyone to give their best personal effort.
2. Know WHO you are managing so you don’t get overwhelmed or confused. On any given day, you should focus on managing Employees, Co–Workers, Clients, Yourself, and perhaps even Family. Expect the same behavior, respect and courtesy from each of these people and hold yourself to the same standards you set. Write down three basic values that are true to you and begin there. I ask for courtesy, kindness, and respect from everyone —myself, customers, and co–workers alike. Find your core values!
3. Be your BEST Employee or Team Member! Lead people whenever possible rather than dictate where they should go. Your actions should represent the type of work ethic and behavior you are asking your Co–Workers to exhibit.
4. Stay true to YOU! Let your leadership style be true to your personality. If it hurts your feelings when someone doesn’t follow a rule, that doesn’t make you weak but rather empathetic. You don’t have to be “bossy” to be a good boss. If you are compassionate, let that shine through. If you are impatient, it’s okay to let your staff know that as well. Being true to yourself and allowing your staff to see the real person behind the rules allows them to understand your viewpoint and perspective when you have conflict.
5. Passion. To be a great leader, you must have a passion for what you are doing. Your passion may be for the services you offer, the clients you cater to, or the money you make. Regardless, focus on your driving passion and make sure that fire is burning. If it goes out, it will be transparent to those around you and work against your goals.
6. Personality. There is no ideal Leadership personality style. However, you must make sure that you can forge and maintain connections with other people to achieve success. Even if you work alone, you still need to examine your personality dynamics to ensure that you are managing your client relations appropriately for long–term success. Hint: The Golden Rule applies very well here!
7. Perseverance. True leadership simply comes from showing up every day. Make certain that you have the stamina to lead your Team, Self, Customers, and Co–workers daily. You may not always have the answers to every problem but being present and sharing the burden goes a long way in taking stress off those around you.
8. Dialog often and openly. Open lines of communication are necessary in most dynamic work cultures. Establishing a culture where people can speak openly and honestly with their co-workers in a group setting will eliminate work-place drama, increase connectivity between Team Members, and eliminate major issues before they develop. Having real-time conversations about issues as they arise also eliminates the perils associated with passive–aggressive behavior and the possibility of resentment in the future. In many cases, issues that become larger than life could have been addressed in their infancy and ultimately resolved more quickly and less painfully.
9. Establish rules of engagement. Having clear set boundaries will allow you to set expectations and resolve conflicts much easier when those are not met. Establishing your expectations not only about how your team, self, and even customers will engage with your business is important but I also suggest establishing expectations about how you will dialog and interact with people when those expectations aren’t met. I like to let new employees as well as new customers know that we will engage in open dialog if they have a complaint or concern. It’s much easier to talk openly with people during conflict if you’ve already set the stage for them.
10. Learn the difference between Emotional and Rational thinking. Learning the difference between Emotional and Rational thinking is a hallmark of learning to handle conflict and interact with other people successfully. If you “feel” strongly about an issue, you likely need to learn to set the dialog aside until you can have a rational conversation. Putting your thoughts onto paper will allow you to separate emotional responses from rational ones. In some cases, if you can’t reach a Rational state of mind, it’s okay to enlist the help of an intermediary to speak for you so that you can make sure your point of view is clearly translated.
11. Learn when to build and utilize a committee. Managing a Pet Services business, co–workers, or even yourself can be a many faceted adventure. Realizing you don’t have all the answers and soliciting help is another hallmark of a great leader. Learn to construct committees if you feel you need advice or aid in making decisions. Sometimes that committee may include your accountant, attorney, and spouse. Other times, you may choose to select a senior co–worker, a client, or even a business mentor from another industry. Make sure when you choose to solicit advice from outside sources that you thoughtfully consider their qualifications to advise on your decision, why you value their advice, and let them know you are leaning on them for advising on a specific task. This will help eliminate unsolicited advice on other issues in the future. Additionally, consider constructing specific small committees to help you make decisions rather than just enlisting your whole staff—too many opinions can serve to confuse and muddle the decision even further.
12. Nurture them/Nurture You. Great leaders are remembered for not only what they achieved but how the people they led were treated. Think of the legacy you wish to leave and how you will be remembered by your people. Caretaking can come in many languages; for some people it’s what you give, for others it’s what you do. Many business owners focus on what they have provided for their staff, or what they’ve selflessly given to their clients when indeed their staff would rather have been thanked more often. Whatever they dynamic is, make certain that you are nurturing the needs of the people you lead. In order to nurture others, you must also make sure that your own needs are met. The responsibilities of Leadership can place toll on your personal self so make time to rejuvenate your body, mind, and soul.
If you work alongside other Pet Professionals, you can utilize these dozen tips to engage, problem solve, and forge better workplace dynamics. ✂