By Daryl Conner
It seems to me that the world is mostly made up of two kinds of people; those who are naturally organized, and those who are not. Sadly, I fall into the latter category, while dearly wishing to belong in the former.
Keeping my workspace clean and organized is important to me, and when I recently asked other groomers about this topic, they said it’s important to them, too. Organized work space is a crucial component to how efficient we are in our work space.
Professional organizers will tell you that the very best way to get control of your space is to get rid of things you do not need. This can be tricky, as many of us have trouble parting with things, even when they are items we rarely or never use. For example, one company I sometimes order shampoo from very nicely includes many, tiny sample bottles of perfume with each order. Since most of my customers are not really into perfume, I carefully stash the precious little bottles and there they sit, taking up valuable real estate that should be designated for items that I actually use.
Here are some helpful ideas for getting things organized in your grooming space:
• Brutally thin out your tools. That slicker brush you’ve had since the ‘90’s, with bent teeth and a bad case of rust? Say goodbye. Your first round of editing your tools should consist of you throwing away anything that is damaged. Bent or broken teeth damage skin and coat, and have no business taking up space in your grooming area. Your next round should be putting tools that are perfectly good, but never used, in a box. We all have tools that we bought, thinking they’d be great, then realized they don’t work for us. That box should be donated. The third round should be for you to put the tools you use on just about every pet in one pile, and those you only use occasionally in another. Now, look at the tools in the first pile and find places for them within easy reach of your work space. Think creatively; there are all kinds of containers you can use that are visually appealing as well as practical. I like vintage things. My “everyday” tools are stored in funky old wooden boxes I picked up at antique stores. You might like the sleek look of stainless steel kitchen or bathroom organizers. Check out places like The Container Store and Ikea for some fabulous storage solutions.
• When it comes to big storage pieces to keep near your work station, you can take into consideration funky old bureaus or cabinets, modern mechanics tool chests, and everything in between. Peek at what human hair stylists are using, or buy any piece of furniture and make it your own by adding hooks, hanging baskets, or whatever strikes your fancy to make room for the tools you use the most. Just make sure that whatever you buy is well made and sturdy enough for the demands of a busy grooming business.
• Let’s say that you (like me) have a small scissor addiction. Keep one or two of each type near your work space. For example, a set of long/short curves, long/short straights, a pair of chunkers and one pair of thinners. The rest can be safely stowed in a cabinet. The scissors you use regularly can be stored by hanging them from racks designed specifically for them, or you can get creative. I store mine in a vintage tool box. I filled the individual sections with dry beans, and they hold my scissors upright, preventing them from bumping into each other. When the beans get hairy/dirty, I toss them out and put in fresh.
• Next, sort through your liquid products. The dematting, drying and scissoring sprays that you use constantly should be stored within easy reach. That great mousse you only use on the 2 drop–coated dogs whose owners manage to keep them in full coat can be stashed for the rare days you need it.
• Take a hard look at your decorative accents and knick–knacks. As you well know, these items tend to collect hair and dust and grime. Who has time to keep them all polished and looking lovely? Not most groomers I know. What can you pack away, leaving some “white space” in your work area? If you have items that you don’t care about, send them off in a donation box. If you have items you love, but realize they don’t all have to be out on display, pack some up and rotate them from time to time. Having open space in your work shop will lend a sense of peace and order.
• If you have a cabinet or closet to store things in, take careful measurements of the inside and keep them with you. Then when you shop for baskets/bins/storage containers you will be able to see what will fit in your space and what won’t.
• When organizing items that will be stored out of sight, look for smaller baskets and storage bins to corral them, and separate them by category to make them easier to find. First aid items for pets and people should not be mixed in with shampoos and dematting aides. Give each category of item their own space.
• Bonnie Peregoy (Bonnie’s Dog and Cat Grooming, Washington, DC) suggests that groomers invest in a good quality label maker (you can get a high–quality machine for under $50.) Clearly identifying bins and boxes will make finding things you are looking for oh–so–much easier.
• Bonnie also suggests that groomers look up. She uses the highest rated extension cords, suspended from the drop ceiling in her shop, to power stand dryers. Keeping cords off the floor not only reduces clutter, it increases safety.
• Speaking of cords, you can get a grip on the tangle of them by gathering up the un–used section and cinching them with a rubber band or zip tie.
• Many groomers make use of peg board or slat walls in their work space. The advantage of these is that there are so many options for storage solutions, all ready–made and just waiting for you to choose what works best for you.
• In the tub area, gallon jugs can take up a lot of space. Stylist, Leah Shirokoff suggests filling 16 ounce bottles with the shampoo you are going to be using that day, and keeping the bigger jugs stored out of the way.
• Mobile groomers are forced to keep their clutter to a minimum because of the limited space their truck or trailer offers. Mary Oqendo says, “As a mobile groomer, I work by myself. I can’t ask someone to grab a scissor because it is out of reach. Nor can I waste time looking for something I know I have, but can’t remember exactly where it is. Being organized saves me time. And time is money.” Mary uses Tupperware type containers of all sizes to keep things in order. “The lids keep the hair out and each Tupperware contains specific items. Bows, unopened blades, combs, brushes and so forth.”
By weeding out the tools and clutter you don’t need, and thoughtfully storing the items you do, you can make your work space more efficient as well as more attractive. Maybe you are not one of the people in the world that was born organized, but with some effort you can pretend you were! ✂