The Seasons of Your Life as a Groomer
By Khris Berry
If you ask any elementary school child to recite the seasons, they would likely list Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring. If you ask a romantic, you may hear Love listed. If you ask a sportsman, you would hear Baseball, Football, Basketball and maybe Golf or Hockey. Your perspective determines the seasons of your life as you know them. Ask any Groomer, and you are likely to hear answers such as Shave–Down Season, Flea Season, Slow Season and The Holidays. Some may add Show Season and Puppy Season to the above list.
Just like the seasons of our lives, a groomer’s seasons turn with the calendar, weather and whims of their clients. The turn of seasons often feels as uncontrollable as the cycles of the moon—leaving many groomers feeling as if they are riding high and low tides as these periods ebb and wane. But what if you could control the seasons that you live by? How would your life improve?
Here are some suggestions for how to cope with, manipulate and monetize common Groomer Seasons:
Depending on which part of the world you live in, you will invariably encounter at least one, if not two, shave–down seasons each year. This season brings your once or twice per year dogs out of the woodwork. Much like a groundhog seeing his shadow, shave–down season is generally heralded by an unseen force summoning these clients from their burrows. What groomer has not “donated” extra time and effort to remove a severely matted dog from an encasement of fur, filth and feces?
Grooming forums contain suggestions to survive shave–down season, such as assessing clients with “less than frequent” client surcharges. Moving to a pricing system which allows you flexibility when determining the prices of shave–down season dogs will allow a groomer to charge correctly for their time. Another groomer survival trick for this season is to limit the “project” dogs allowed on your schedule while charging a premium for those “project” appointments. Finally, preparing for the impending season with new blades or freshly sharpened shears helps make easier work of a heavy burden.
Flea Season (Alternatively known as Flea and Tick Season)
Much like a long winter that refuses to release its grip on spring, flea season can resemble the season that won’t give up. Its severity and impact on a grooming business can be devastating and impact the health and welfare of other clients. Much like a well–planned military campaign, most groomers have strategic plans in place to defend their salons, their clients and themselves from these invaders. Which groomer out there has not checked themselves, their dogs and their children repeatedly after finding a single flea or tick in their workplace? Comprehensive defensive plans are necessary when these tiny trespassing pests present themselves.
Usually arriving without pomp and circumstance, flea season requires extra time, extra attention, extra cleaning and extra vigilance to navigate. Thorough intake exams will stop many of these pests from entering your salon—but if they make their way through your door, understanding the complexities of how these insects spread, thrive and move about will allow you to counsel your client to a flea–free pet. Many shops require pets to be flea–free upon entry, but even the most stringent flea prevention plan can be breached at one time or another.
Owner education and communication is necessary. Armed with recommendations for treatment as well as local veterinarian referrals as a resource for clients, you can ease your clients through developing their own care plan. An ounce of (flea) prevention is truly worth a pound of cure. Don’t hesitate to broadcast to your clients when flea season arrives so they can ensure that their pets are well protected.
Perhaps the most terrifying season of all, slow season can be daunting for groomers without a plan. Taking a page out of a squirrel’s survival book (or maybe your financial planner), groomers should plan ahead for some seasonality in their business. Slow season can be induced by natural occurrences such as cold weather, rainy season, school sessions or vacation season. Regardless of when it comes, you will undoubtedly know that slow season has arrived.
Groomers who plan for slow season financially can enjoy increased freedom during this time to delve into new education—perhaps learning a new technique, enjoying grooming tutorials or hands–on classes, or investing in improvements in their workplace. Groomers may even find time to start or finish projects or deep clean their workplace. This is a perfect time to invest more time into your clients, yourself and your career.
This is the season which separates pet groomers. There are pet groomers who have worked through a holiday season and those who have not experienced it yet. Once you do, there is no going back—you will forever know what it means to groom during the holidays. The last minute calls; the absurd requests; the generous tips; the bounty of treats, gifts, and well wishes from valued clients; the velocity of phone calls and influx of clients who need your services in a brief time frame all combine into the perfect storm of the holiday season.
Savvy groomers look for strategies to stretch their time and energy during this season. Strategies can vary from only servicing pre–booking clients to only servicing ‘bath and tidy’ clients in the days surrounding a holiday—all are as unique as the groomers themselves.
This can mean different things to different groomers, but in every case, this season is eagerly anticipated. If you are a dog or cat show aficionado, you look forward to attending shows either near or far. You are eager to exhibit or attend, visit with other exhibitors, see or show your favorite breeds and recharge your passion. If you have an interest in competitive grooming, you are eager to attend or compete, visit with other competitors, see or showcase your favorite grooms and recharge your passion. If you are seeking education or attending the trade shows, you are eager to see new (or old favorite) seminars or vendors, visit with peers, shop, learn and recharge your passion. There is a common denominator here—show season is a great time to recharge your passion for your industry!
So, when you think of the seasons of your life—step outside your usual box. Start to chart your OWN seasons and plan ahead for them. Groomers everywhere know these seasons just as well as they know the meaning of the first snowflake or the first autumn leaf. Celebrate and enjoy the seasons of YOUR life as a groomer!