What does recordkeeping mean to a groomer? Your perspective of the pet grooming industry may determine your answer—and how you prioritize your recordkeeping.
In the case of some groomers, it’s keeping a client’s past grooming history. For others, thorough recordkeeping includes a client’s name and cell number. No matter your perception, there is a standard of records which, when well–maintained, allow the professional groomer the ability to complete a pet’s service safely, seamlessly and flawlessly.
Mary brings her pet to XYZ Grooming Salon. She visited the salon several years earlier with a former pet who is now deceased. Molly, the groomer, checks the new dog in, gathers grooming instructions and lets Mary know to return at 4:00 p.m. to retrieve her pet.
During the course of the day, any of the following scenarios may happen: Mary’s new dog has loose bowel movements, Mary’s new dog exhibits signs of distress while drying, Mary’s new dog has a shaved area on the front leg which appears to be from a fairly recent vet visit, Mary’s dog has matting that will require a different style than Mary expects, Mary’s dog tries to bite the groomer when she retrieves the pet from the holding area, Mary’s dog has a medical issue which requires immediate medical attention, Mary’s dog has a medical issue which requires attention and a watchful eye from the staff at XYZ Grooming, Mary’s son returns to pick up the pet instead of Mary, Mary’s husband calls and asks for a different haircut than the groomer discussed with Mary, Mary’s dog appears to have been groomed at home and has a wound on his face, Mary’s dog coughs…and the list goes on.
Unfortunately, the scenes above are played out at many grooming salons every day. Having professional records which support care and communication are critical to providing professional pet services.
Below you will find a handy listing of the records you should keep, a reason each record should be kept, and suggestions for how often to manage the record for accuracy and efficiency.
This is information collected about the owner at EVERY visit to ensure that the highest level of care is available for the pet. These records should be able to be easily accessed by all employees in case of emergency. Additionally, maintaining this information completely can assist the pet professional if there are further issues medically, legally or financially. It should include:
- Owner name
- Contact phone numbers
- Emergency contact information
- Consent to Treat form (if applicable by law in your city or state)
This is information collected about the pet from the owner to ensure that the groomer can make the best decisions during the grooming service on the pet’s behalf. This information should be updated with each visit and kept readily accessible by all persons who are interacting with the pet. Technology offers many great options, but whatever your choice, having this information in an easy–to–access format will ensure that everyone working with the pet is fully briefed. It should include:
- Pet name
- Gender as well as spayed or neutered status
- Color or description
- Birth date
- Health history including vaccination or titer history
- Current veterinarian
- Pre–existing or physical conditions
- Behavior history
- Previous grooming experiences and phobias
- Known sensitivities
- Notations communicated to the owner any time the groomer notices a condition present which is outside a healthy, normal state (e.g., hot spot or lameness)
This category includes any other items which impact the past, present or future grooming services of the pet. Oftentimes, these are the most difficult records to store and the last to be documented, but their presence is the most vital when a scenario outside of “normal” presents itself. Think of these as the archives of your grooming service; what would you save for history?
- Photos (before and after)
- Video archives (Live video of a service if there is ever a serious question can prove invaluable.)
- Written communication to the owner of the pet regarding issues, recommendations or suggestions
- (Email, text and even report cards all offer a viable form of communi–cation to the owner.)
- Sales receipts (including additional services and the price of the grooming service)
- Release forms (This is an entire segment all to itself, but can include general liability, matted release, senior, puppy, behavior and safety language, and any other sort of release which indicates
- that the client is informed about a circumstance surrounding their pet’s grooming service.)
- Grooming notes (Archive all relevant details in a clear and concise manner.)
Let’s revisit Mary’s appointment with her dog. In each of the scenarios outlined in the original story, there is a record that could have been accessed to assist with the difficult situation. While each of the situations in the XYZ Grooming Salon saga may not be avoidable, having prior knowledge, the correct forms, information, releases, etc. would allow the groomer to feel more in control of the situation and have a better ability to alter his or her process or behavior.
Recordkeeping is not always an exciting part of a groomer’s job, but is necessary for the safety and wellbeing of the pets we care for. Now, happy recording! ✂️