By Michell Evans
“Dear Michell, I have tried and tried to develop speed in my daily work and as hard as I try, I am still only doing a fraction of the work of my co-workers. Do you have any advice for me on how to get faster?” -Lilly
Ah speed, it is a challenge every day for every groomer. Some people have a temperament for speed and others, not so much. I am going to assume that since you are asking, you are one of the not–so–muches.
There are two typical kinds of slow pokes. One is the disorganized, distracted and random groomer who shows up every day without a plan and somehow gets through it all. The other is anal retentive, fixated and can’t stop finding more things to perfect. No matter what your issues, you will have to make some changes in order to improve your speed.
What is the functionality of your space? It is very important that you have everything conveniently located and in good working order. In the case of the organized groomer, it may mean that you scrutinize your work space for efficiency. Look for things that might have been in the same location for years, but in all actuality, if you traded their place with something else, it would be easier to reach. If you do not have a current organization system then please take an hour or two to clean up your area and organize your tools in a way that they are all accessible and useful.
Make sure that all of your tools are in good working order. Try having a weekly check list of clipper and blade maintenance, as well as scissors. Also fill all of your product bottles the night before. Make sure you have good lighting. An inexpensive floor lamp might make a big a difference. Check your eyeglass prescription, you would be surprised how quickly that can change. Mirrors are a good way to improve efficiency. They allow you to check the other side of the pet while working on this side, therefore saving time going back and forth. A table that you can move around or has a swivel top is a big time saver because the dog can simply stand still while you work.
Make sure that you have good water pressure, good velocity dryers and solid dog handling skills. Have shampoos that clean the dog in one shampoo and make sure it rinses quickly and easily. Multiple baths are costly, both in time and product. Consider taking a look at the pet before the bath to determine if the pet needs a flea shampoo. Plucking the ear hair (if your salon does that) can be a good way of determining the ear health and if you might need a de-greaser on the ear furnishings. Clipping the nails and foot pads can be a good way of determining if the pet needs a medicated shampoo. Knowing ahead of time what products are needed will save you from having to put a dog back into the tub.
Develop a system and stick to it on every groom. This will help you work through each haircut in a fluid, efficient and thorough manner. Most groomers do this to some degree but take the time to fine tune it for yourself. This will help keep you on track despite distractions. You may think you have a great method and process but I urge you to really scrutinize your systems. Is every single thing in its place and performed in the most efficient way? One example of a system might be to always start your styles by leveling the top line and then proceed to your throat, rear angulation and underline giving you a rough outline of your style.
Scissoring legs is an area that often slows groomers down. The worst trap you can fall into is to have the comb in one hand and the scissors in the other. This type of comb/scissor–comb/scissor–comb/scissor trap will keep you fussing for way too long. Try limiting yourself to three passes. Thoroughly comb all four legs up, put the comb down, then scissor all four legs. Next comb all four legs down, put the comb down, then scissor all four legs again. Finally comb all four legs up, put the comb down, and make your final finish.
A final thought about cell phones; they are a huge time waster! If you put it away you will make more money! At the end of the day practice is the path to speed. Good luck, Lilly! “
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]