By Michell Evans
“Dear Michell, I am overworked and underpaid. I am a commission paid employee. I feel like I need to cut back but I can’t afford to cut back. My days feel frantic and the quality of my work is suffering. I am short with my co-workers and even my clients on some days. I am exhausted when I do have time off. I talk to other groomers and it seems many others feel the same. What can we do?” – Leslie K.
Good question Leslie. Let me first say, the prices suggested in this reply are only examples. Like other appointment based businesses, grooming as a profession can be a double edged sword. On one hand you can make your own schedule and design your career around your needs and wants. On the other hand you are literally selling your life away in one to two hour increments. You must have clear limits or you will sell too much of your life away. What good is the income if you are tired and sore and have no time to spend it?
First, try to reduce your personal living expenses. Create or amend your budget to reduce expenses as much as possible. Cancel all unnecessary expenses. Talk to your lenders and service providers about reducing your monthly payments. Choose your minimum comfortable income. Often folks find that they can reduce more than they ever thought possible.
Then, focus on adding a few bucks to every groom in the form of add-on services or simply increase prices. For example, if you typically do seven pets per day at fifty bucks, cut down to 6 pets per day and add $8.33 to each of those six pets. Your pay check will be the same. $10 dollars every four to eight weeks ($60-$120 per year) has very little impact on your customer’s life compared the incredible, positive impact it will have on yours! If you tell them that you are having a price increase so that you may spend more time with their pet and reduce your stress, they will gladly pay the extra amount and probably tip you more! And if they don’t, someone else will.
Focus on quality in conjunction with your price increase or add-on service. You can do something as simple as a different fragrance of the same shampoo so that the client smells a difference. Successful add-ons might be nail filing, tooth brushing, or coat and skin conditioner. Simple things like a little hair spray in the top of the head to add volume for the first impression are huge improvements from the customer’s prospective.
After you have reduced your daily load, don’t fall into the trap of simply continuing the frantic pace just to get off work earlier and make more money. Instead, focus on a more reasonable pace while working. Take time throughout the day to enjoy the pets, add a little extra style, stretch, breathe, take a dog for a potty-walk or take a few extra minutes to speak to your most generous tippers. If you are so exhausted after work because you did not take the time to stand up straight, eat, drink, and smile your family will not enjoy the extra hour they get to spend with you anyway.
Consider four ten hour days instead of five eight hour days. A three day weekend might help you get through the week a little easier, but remember to maintain a reasonable pace. Or consider taking a day off during your week to rest and rejuvenate. Both of these options can be helpful for your home life because you can get your life-chores done and still have a couple days off for one of those endangered events called a weekend.
Consider an odd schedule. Because grooming is appointment based, you can make up whatever schedule fits your needs. You might choose to work the night shift and Sundays to avoid co-workers. You could work around your lunch time yoga class or mid-morning college course. You might keep your mornings to yourself and go to the salon at 10 am and working until 6-8 pm, or go into the salon at 7 am and spend the afternoon with your family.
Attending a grooming show or dog show, purchasing a new clipper, subscribing to a streaming educational site, or buying a set of grooming DVDs and/or book are all things that can help you be more inspired at work. A new smock will make you feel better! And a new pair of supportive shoes can help with fatigue!
Remember, when making decisions about your well-being, ask yourself, if I were the person I love most in this world, would I ask them to live as I am living?
Good luck Leslie! ✂
I am a multi-Best-In-Show and Best-All-Around groomer. I am the recipient of many Barkleigh Honors Awards. I am a Silver and Gold medalist for GroomTeam USA. I am the winner of Show Dog Groomer of the Year. I am an educator for Andis Clipper Company. I have been teaching as The Grooming Tutor since 2000. And I groom to make a living, just like you. Please send questions to [email protected]