“Hello Michell. My name is Sylvia. I am a very generous person—maybe too generous—and I tend to give lots of perks and extra time to my clients and my employees. Basically they run all over me! Do you have any suggestions on how to stand up for myself without making everyone feel unappreciated? Thanks!” -S. Rodriquez

Hi Sylvia. Sounds like you have trained everyone around you to expect certain things and now you must re–train them. More importantly you must re–train yourself.

Many small business owners and managers cross the line into friendship with their clients and employees. It is important not to view them as friends. If someone were to ask them who you are to them, their answer would likely be, “their boss” or “their groomer”—not their friend. It is common to have a few that cross over from a business relationship into a more friendly relationship. These friendly/business relationships have boundaries too, but different ones.

You may already have job descriptions for your employees, but how about writing a clear job description for yourself. And if you don’t already have job descriptions for your employees, that might go a long way toward solving your problem! So what are your exact responsibilities as an employer? What are your duties as a pet grooming service provider?

For an even clearer perspective, try writing a job description for your employees! This will give you a clear definition of what everyone is responsible for. Now you can move forward with confidence that you are doing your job and make them accountable to do theirs.

When faced with decisions on how much to “give”, look at your job descriptions and ask yourself, does that fall within my responsibilities? Does it fall within the employee’s responsibilities? Does it fall within the client’s responsibilities? This is so important! When struggling with good boundaries, clearly understanding what your responsibilities are is critical for making the call that is best for everyone in the long run.

You may meet some resistance to the changes that you need to make. Rest assured that the clients and employees that remain are reasonable in their understanding of a business relationship. Also know that others must do what is best for them, just as you must do what is best for yourself. It is possible to make changes and assure that your employees and clients still feel valued. Be sure to inform everyone involved that these changes are simply a necessity for your well–being. 

Here are just a few ideas for a general outline of a job description. First is the job title. It sounds simple but it speaks volumes! It defines the nature of the job and the duties required. It addresses rank within the salon without gender or age references. Some examples might be; Head Stylist, Apprentice Bather, Groomer, Office Manager, Groomer Assistant, General Manager, and Owner–Manager.

The job description must clearly define the job duties and time commitments. This should be a list of the actual responsibilities. It is helpful to apply percentages to each duty indicating what amount of time/energy you wish to be applied to each item. Also how many hours they are expected to commit per week or month, etc. Example: 80% grooming, 10% cleaning, 5% reminder calls and 5% inventory per week for an approximate total of 40 hours per week. This is not an employee manual so keep it short and to the point.

Spell out what skills and competencies they are required to utilize. Skills are learned. They can be skills that they had before they worked for you or skills that you expect them to learn and exercise while in your employment. Competencies are traits that allow them to do certain aspects of their jobs with grace. For example, maybe they are a natural leader and you wish them to apply those skills as ”Lead Groomer” or they are great with organization so you assign them inventory duties.

Define their responsibilities as to the facilities, supplies, and equipment. Be specific here. This is an area of much friction due to resource guarding.

Relationships need to be well defined. This lets them know who they are supposed to report to and who reports to them, as well as,
who is equivalent. This alleviates many arguments.

Lastly, compensation needs to be defined. Include pay, benefits, and paid–time–off.

A well done job description gives a good sense of the priorities of the position, is a good reference for measuring performance, and a great tool for managing disputes.

The next time you find yourself buying a new pair of clippers for one of your staff or letting a client show up an hour late, remember to ask yourself, “Is this part of my job description?” You can still enjoy doing nice things for people, unrelated to your working relationship. Those gifts will be much more appreciated anyway.  Good luck! ✂

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]