Groomers Go the Distance: Learning in the Time of Social Distancing

Grooming Matters

By Daryl Conner

The dark cloud of the worldwide pandemic has not been without its silver lining. New opportunities for continuing education—already on the rise, have expanded. 

Savvy groomers have taken advantage of this to increase their skills without having to travel. Groomers who have had difficulty attending expos due to work or family obligations, or financial limitations are finding that the increase in distance educational offerings are a huge boon. 

Experts expect that distance education will be a continuing trend, allowing interested people to learn and grow from the comfort of their home or workplace. Frosting on the cake; research suggests that online learning has been shown to increase retention of information, while taking less time than the more traditional forms of education. 

This year, Barkleigh launched World Groom (Worldgroom.dog) and has future sessions planned.  The classes are held live on Zoom and students pay a reasonable registration fee to sign up for the seminars. Students are not seen or heard by others, but do have the ability to submit questions to the instructors. 

Stylist Helen Schaefer said, “It’s been really nice for me, because with competing, I never get to go to many classes. I was able to take the Salon Sanitation course I have been dying to, and Dr. Faver’s Skin and Coat class. Plus, I took some other classes I might not have ever taken and found that I greatly enjoyed them.” 

Some of the classes offered came with an option to earn a continuing education certification. Certificates are mailed to participants after completion of the class. 

Grooming Certification groups are offering some continuing education classes as well. Debi Hilley, director of the Intellectual Groomers Association says, “I think it is critical to have certification programs and learning programs being offered remotely, with videos and online seminars. These programs allow more people to reach educational programs than ever before in a way that is affordable for everyone.” 

“I watched a poodle show trim seminar and took the AKC S.A.F.E. Salon Certification. I am teaching two seminars on the upcoming CPPGA California Dreamin’ virtual tradeshow and will be watching the other 13. I have watched every livestream I could and taken advantage of every free webinar available. It has been a good opportunity to learn and keep my mind occupied,” said Erin Martin, of how she has invested some of her time during the pandemic shutdown. 

There are even ways to learn while you are working. I frequently listen to grooming–related podcasts while I am in my studio. Barbara Bird and Suzi Scott’s popular Groompod and Mary Oquendo’s Women Petprenurs are two of my favorites.

Along with for–pay grooming classes, there is lots of other content on the internet for groomers. Super star stylists like Angela Kumpe can be found giving mini demonstrations of specific techniques—free for the watching. It is also possible to polish your skills on other pet–related interests through virtual learning. One groomer told me she found a Gun Dog class online and another acquired two certifications in Pet Nutrition. 

Here are some tips for those who want to get the most out of distance learning opportunities: 

✓ Ask other groomers what classes they have taken that they found helpful. 

✓ Set goals. Do you want to tackle a class that will earn you a certificate at the end, or just learn a few new styling tricks? Be aware; learning can be like snack foods—you may soon crave more and more! 

✓ Explore the technology. Familiarize yourself with the online system before the class begins so you will not have any frustrations when it is time to start.

✓ Designate a workspace. We all learn differently, but minimizing distractions is important. It can be tempting to turn on the television or wash a few dishes while the seminar is playing, but you will retain the information better if you are set up to really focus on it. 

✓ Have a notebook and pen handy to jot down notes or questions. 

✓ If the class you are taking has the option of asking questions, do not be afraid to do so. You may help others who are feeling shy by getting your question answered.

✓ Keep an open mind. You may be presented with ways of doing things that are completely foreign to you. Give them a try before dismissing them, you may end up learning things that completely revolutionize the way you work. 

Participate. Many distance learning classes will be paired up with a chance to interact with other participants in an online group setting. Sharing ideas and questions in these groups can be wildly helpful—and you may make new friends while you are at it. 

If you earn a continuing education certificate, display it proudly. Your customers will be impressed! 

Some of the remote learning classes are sponsored by vendors of grooming products. By supporting these vendors, we not only learn about what tools and products are currently available, but also support the industry businesses that support us. We may not be able to go to a trade show and pick up those new scissors or brushes, but seeing products online can encourage us to try new things, too. 

Taking advantage of the wide array of educational opportunities, now at our very fingertips, is just a few keystrokes away. What are you going to learn next? ✂️