Leaving Home: Making the Transition to a New Salon

All Things Paw

Leaving Home: Making the Transition to a New Salon

By Michelle Knowles

Maybe you aren’t happy where you’re at. Maybe there aren’t enough dogs, or the place is filled with drama—or just as bad, total indifference.

It is always a struggle to admit that the place that you have built a clientele in and invested time, effort and heart in, isn’t taking you where you want to go. It is perfectly ok to find somewhere new. 

At some point in our careers, there may be a time (or a few times) that we must make a transition to a new place of employment. This can be a time of anxiety, fear of the unknown and our inner child telling us that we are scared of being judged and found wanting in our skills and knowledge of grooming. Guilt can also play a role in holding us back from finding the perfect place for us to hang our clippers. After all, we have clients that count on us to be there to groom their pets and making them unhappy is uncomfortable and heartbreaking. The bottom line is, unless you go to work every day, happy when you walk in the door, then you are not in the right place for you. Below are a few common situations.

The Struggling Salon

This is the one that doesn’t have enough dogs to go around but is hypnotic in its pull on your heart. “I just have to have faith that things will pick up”, “People are on vacation”, “Parents are getting their kids ready to go back to school,” or any number of other things that you tell yourself in order to stay loyal to a place that is barely helping you pay your bills.

The Meat Grinder 

This salon books so many pets that none of them can possibly get a quality experience. Groomers are forced to take “just one more” until there is no life worth living at the end of the week. This type of situation can easily lead to injury and chronic pain and can contribute to job dissatisfaction. 


Bad Culture 

This is another trap. All of the employees complain about management, management complains about employees, no one feels good about being there and all of the dogs are aggressive and anxious because of the bad energy in the place. These places are toxic to everyone and if you get caught in a place like this, the best thing to do is look for another salon where the dogs are happy; usually the people who work there are happy, too. 


This is a silent killer of the soul. No one is excited about the work to be done, no one really gets angry, and everyone just numbly goes through their day, getting their pets done and leaving as soon as they are finished. In this type of environment, it seems like no one challenges anyone to be better, improve their skills or even hands out a compliment when a finish is particularly nice. 

These are just some of the things that can make your current workplace into something you dread going to every day. There is always hope. While putting yourself out there is scary, it is totally worth doing. It is an opportunity for growth and a chance to find a place that really makes your spirit happy and your pocketbook hold something more than the tissues you’ve been crying into. 

Send your resume to all the shops in your area, regardless of whether they have any groomer wanted ads out. You would be surprised at how many owners and managers are willing to explore what you have to offer. This is a great time to add pictures and certificates to your portfolio…you are working on your portfolio, right? Explore veterinary hospitals, boarding facilities, pet resorts—you never know until you see these types of operations if they would be a good fit for your particular style. 

If you are a salon owner and you have feelings of anxiety and stress, perhaps taking a good look at your culture and how you approach the climate of your establishment needs some loving care. High employee turnover, constant drama or inconsistent quality of work are all signs that your team needs some nurturing. It is always a good idea to reexamine protocols, how the pets are booked and how you listen to the needs of your groomers. 

At the end of the day, your work should bring you satisfaction. Your salon should “get you”. Being tired is normal, being emotionally exhausted is not. Every day is an opportunity to boost one another so that maximum joy and money can be achieved by all. After all, we get to play with puppies every day, right? ✂️

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