Starting off Right with Hiring and Keeping Good Employees

Grooming Gab

Starting off Right with Hiring and Keeping Good Employees

Jenny was beginning to hate her job. There was new drama every day. The other groomers gossiped, complained and bickered with each other constantly.

But, as long as they were cranking out the grooms, the manager ignored it all. Jenny loved grooming but the endless stress was more than she was willing to endure. She left that toxic job, then took a bold step and opened her own salon. 

Jenny vowed to make her salon a professional, yet friendly and inviting place where she, as well as the owners and their pets, felt comfortable. Jenny worked really hard and built a thriving business. In fact, she became so busy that she couldn’t keep up with the demand for grooming services. She needed help.

Jenny was hesitant to hire anyone because of the bad experiences she had at her former job—and because of the horror stories she heard from friends about bad employees in their shops. In the end, she decided to look into hiring someone. Jenny contacted multiple salon owners and joined Facebook groups to find information on how to hire your first employee. She also read The Empowered Employer, a book written by Judy Bremer–Taxman. 


In her book, Judy said, “With empowerment comes responsibilities. You can be assertive, but never aggressive, and make sure that you top that off with a dose of kindness and gentleness with everyone and in everything you do along life’s path.”

That really struck a chord with Jenny. That was exactly how she wanted to conduct her business. She continued to read books and gather information to help her prepare to hire, train and keep good employees. She learned how to have a successful professional relationship with her employees, and how to avoid the pitfalls that many employers experience.

To make sure that anyone she hired was a good fit for her, she made a list of the qualities they should have. It was important that a member of her team had a positive attitude, was punctual, a self–starter, confident in their skills yet wanted to keep learning, and could work under pressure. And of course good grooming skills were a necessity.

Every applicant would have a working interview. That way Jenny could see how he/she handled the pet, their clipper and scissoring techniques, and their grooming speed. She explained to every candidate exactly what their job description was and what would be expected of them if they become a member of her team. She discussed the pay and benefits that she offered. She did not hurry the interviews. She wanted to find the right person.

From talking to other owners and doing her research, Jenny knew that her company’s most valuable asset could be its employees. Each staff member is a representative and an extension of the owner and the business. How they interact with and make your clients feel has a huge bearing on the success of the salon. She also realized that hiring a great team is only half the challenge. The other half is keeping those employees motivated and happy.

Although a talented employee expects and deserves adequate financial compensation, it takes more than money to keep one. They need to feel appreciated and that their talents are valued. 

Self–improvement pioneer Dale Carnegie said, “People work for money, but go the extra mile for recognition, praise, and rewards.”

Three groomers, one bather and a receptionist later, Jenny had built her team. There is no bickering or conflicts among these talented professionals, and they work together like a well–oiled machine. They all pitch in and help each other when needed; be it lifting a big dog or lending a hand with a senior pet. There is a tranquil, welcoming atmosphere in the salon.

From day one, Jenny expressed her appreciation to her team members. She found that showing appreciation doesn’t have to be extravagant. Small gestures make a big impact. Something as simple as finding their favorite candy bar on their grooming table when they come in to work can set a wonderful tone for the day. Sometimes she would give them a gift card after an especially difficult week, and every Friday she buys lunch for the entire salon.

Continuing education and keeping her employees motivated is one key to Jenny’s business success. She often closes the salon and pays for her entire team to attend grooming shows, seminars and competitions. And, if Jenny introduces one of her team members to anyone, she always says, “This is Linda, She works with me. She is a great groomer.” Jenny never says that her team member works for her. She feels they are all in it together, and her employees deserve the courtesy of being recognized and addressed as an equal. 

It’s been six years since Jenny brought on her first team member and every one of them that she hired is still with her. Oh, and that first shop that Jenny worked at…they went out of business four years ago.

Jenny says that anyone can learn how to be a successful, empowered employer. Take your time to select quality people, have clear communication as to what everyone’s job is and what they are expected to do, and work as a team. The rest is simple: People stay where they are treated well, respected and valued. ✂️


Kathy Hosler

Kathy Hosler opened her shop in 1971 when she was just nineteen years old. She has built a terrific business and is still actively grooming today. Kathy is also a feature writer for Groomer To Groomer and Pet Boarding & Daycare Magazines, and has been nominated twice for the Barkleigh Honors Journalist of the Year Award as well as a Cardinal Crystal Achievement Award for Grooming Journalist.

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