By Michelle Knowles
The very first job I had in grooming was in a mobile unit. I was very inexperienced but eager to start grooming dogs. When I first started, there was no fleet of beautiful units to choose from.
There were simply old vans that had been pieced together enough so that you could get the job done. The van I was assigned to was a high, square model. It smelled really bad and had old clumps of hair in every crevice. The electrical outlets were falling out of the walls and had a distinct burnt electrical smell. The table had a brick under one leg and the loop was made out of an old belt. I wish I were making this up.
I was so new that I didn’t really know it could be any different. The driving wasn’t so bad, nor was the challenge of getting the dog smelling and looking good in a short time frame with limited resources. I lasted about two weeks. I hated it. The maintenance was labor intensive, I couldn’t carry all of the products that I wanted and the time constraints were too restrictive. I decided then that it wasn’t for me and looked for work in a salon environment.
Mobile grooming has come such a long way from when I was an innocent baby groomer (ok, innocent may be a stretch). The vans that are available now are state–of–the–art with custom–built interiors, designed for safety, efficiency and cleanliness. The products used have been developed for use in the mobile environment and many groomers make quite a good living from this type of service.
Midway through my career, I tried going mobile again. This time with a nice, updated van—and still hated it. I am too set in my ways. I need more time with each pet and the room to store and mix all of my product concoctions. Trying new things is important, not only so you can enjoy new products and advancements in our field, but also so you can find out what does and doesn’t work for you.
While I know now that mobile grooming isn’t for me, I have so much respect for the people that make it work. They are a force to be reckoned with and have pushed the envelope in “to your door” services that makes my first van look like something that should have been in the junkyard. Let’s be real; it really should have been in a junkyard.
I enjoy having conversations with mobile groomers as they have developed time and product–saving techniques that are useful even in a salon environment. Each and every one of us benefit from knowledge gained from others who practice their grooming art differently from what we are used to.
Kudos to you, mobile groomers. You are a stout breed who knows how to organize and manage your time unlike anyone else I have ever seen. Mobile grooming may not be for me, but I know plenty of fabulous groomers who enjoy and excel at this way of life. Keep being wonderful and make sure to share your valuable knowledge with the next group of baby groomers with dogs in their hearts and vans in their plan.