By Khris Batts
Grooming is a demanding craft. A professional groomer must be knowledgeable in many facets from animal handling to customer service. He/she must be proficient in hundreds of different breed styles, profiles, and handling various coat types. Our techniques are as broad as the personalities who work in the industry. Most days, groomers have more conversations with pets than they do their human counterparts. For many groomers, this is a desirable thing. They enjoy being in their own space and don’t mind being isolated.
Grooming is often like an island —and the lone groomer can feel like a castaway addressing problems with few tools and makeshift solutions. Thanks to the internet, increased education, and a collaborative spirit in the industry, that island no longer needs to be lonely. Groomers today can develop rich social circles with competitors near and far. The groups that a groomer creates around him/herself can offer advice, knowledge, and much needed support.
With the advent of social media groups, groomers now have a lifeboat to create and join social circles. A single search of grooming groups on Facebook brings a harvest of options for groomers who are interested in opening themselves to opportunities. Within these groups, one can find laughter, social support, frank discussions with like-minded individuals, and a direct link to many pet industry leaders.
In their communities, groomers can develop collaborative relationships with area pet professionals. In an industry which is underserved, there are plenty of puppy cuts for all. Many times, extending the olive branch to a competitor down the street is the beginning of a strong alliance that will assist groomers in handling difficult clients, as well as prevent the transfer of difficult or unsuitable employees.
Trade shows and Expos offer yet another outlet for increasing and sharing your own knowledge base. Many groomers look forward to attending the nearest trade show to investigate the newest advances in grooming equipment or secure show specials on their favorite products. There are missed opportunities at these events to meet and roundtable with new faces and share experiences. Every new person you meet offers an opportunity to explore a new way of doing things. You can mine these nuggets of information and bring them home for future use.
For groomers, stepping into the competitive arena can be daunting. Once inside, however, you will find another warm and inviting network of groomers. The support and collaboration is representative of the finest side of the grooming industry. New and seasoned groomers enjoy a support system fostered by the various Professional Grooming Groups; Certifiers, Master Groomers, Presenters, Competitors, and Educators all combine to offer comprehensive advice and feedback.
Strategies that the lonely island groomer can employ to broaden his/her collective group are:
• Join grooming groups that reflect your passion on social media sources such as Facebook.
• Visit Trade Shows and Pet Expos, not just to shop, but to meet other professionals. Introduce yourself!
• Visit local grooming shops and introduce yourself. Better yet, arrange a monthly Groomer luncheon with all groomers in your city and really get to know one another.
• Find a mentor. If you are interested in owning your own shop, find a respected business person. If you want to enter the Competitive Grooming arena, find a competitor whom you respect.
Once a groomer begins to explore the seas of mixing with other groomers, navigation becomes easier. Transfer of information is passed at a lightning pace and the former lonely groomer may even find a mentor. Grooming is an art, a craft, and a trade. Groomers know it is a skill that is enhanced and built by many hours of honing and learning. Whether for business advice, technical knowledge, or comradery, a mentor can serve as an industry sounding board and co-pilot.
Whether a sole groomer, working in a corporate setting, or in a bustling salon, reaching out to other regions and professionals in your industry will open your knowledge base in all aspects of your profession. Consider your own Groomer Island and who you will invite to join you! ✂