About Me:

I am a professional Pet Groomer. I have been grooming for 28 years. This Blog is a kind of diary of my work. I wish I had started years ago, writing some of the experiences I have had while grooming. Most days are fun, some can be sad, some can be just down right crazy. If you are a pet owner and come across this blog, I hope it helps you understand how your pet is groomed. If you are a Pet Groomer, I hope you can relate to some of the stories. Maybe even learn a grooming tip or can leave a friendly grooming tip for me. There is always something to learn, no matter how long you have been grooming.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Tuesday's Tip # 29

I get called back to my Self-Serve Dog Wash a lot to clip nails.
I am very careful not to quick a nail.
I especially don't want to quick a nail in front of a customer.
I tend to leave the nails on Self-Serve dogs a little longer than my full groom dogs because of this.

Today I had an old Shepard mix in the Self-Serve.
His Dad wanted me to clip the nails.
Of course he had black nails, and to top it off, he didn't like having them clipped.
He wasn't a mean or bad dog, he just liked to pull his foot away just as you were about to clip the nail.
Everything was fine until the last foot, and the second to last nail.
I hardly took anything off, but of course he cried, yanked, and I bleed the nail.

Now, I do prepare customers of elderly dogs that this may happen, because of the quick growing down with the nails in a lot of the elderly dogs.
Even though I warn the customer, I really hate when I bleed a nail.
I apologize to the dog and to the customer.

On to my tip for today...

Even though I make sure that the bleeding has stopped, and the nail is packed with styptic powder, I warn the customer that the nail may open up again, and I give them some styptic powder to take home.

How do I give them powder to take home?

First, go to a Craft store and buy tiny zip lock bags.

I found these in the craft isle at Wal-mart.

It is a pack of 100 extra small zip lock bags.

Take your Styptic Powder and put a little in a few bags so that you will have them ready when you need them.

Please excuse the sorry look of my styptic powder jar.
I keep it in my smock pocket so that I am always ready to go back to the Self-Serve.
The poor thing looks a little worse for wear.

You don't have to put too much in each bag since it only takes a pinch or two to stop a nail from bleeding.

I also tell the owner how to use the powder, and to call me if they have any problems.

I can go months without bleeding a nail, so I don't give out too many of these little bags.
To me, it is worth it to give out a little free styptic powder then to have a customer call me to say that their dogs nail was bleeding all over their house and they don't know what to do.

That's it.
It was just a short tip today.

I do have something else to talk about tonight.
Just a little moan and groan.

I am sure that many of the groomers out there deal with customers who pick their dogs up after closing time.
They just mosey on in when they feel like it, totally disrespecting when you close.
I can't even begin to talk about the customers who walk in late for their appointments.

Anyway, yesterday I was reading a post from one of my friends on Facebook.
He was stuck in rush hour traffic that was worse then normal due to a really bad accident.
Some other friends that were caught in the same traffic were posting back and forth.
One of the comments caught my eye because the woman was talking about how both her and her husband were stuck in the same accident traffic, each coming from different directions.
They were in a race to see who could get to their daughters daycare first to pick her up, because it would cost them $6 for every minute they were late.

Six Dollars!!

I have heard of Daycare's charging $1 for every minute a parent was late, but $6!
Now, I have a friend who used to have a Daycare, and boy did the parents walk all over her.
I can't tell you how many times parents would leave their kids at her house till well after dinner time.
She was always feeding these kids dinner, so I defiantly understand why Daycare's do this.

As I understand it, parents sign a contract stating that they will be charged this late fee.
There have been several times when customers have called to tell me they were going to be late picking up their dog, because they had to pick up their child first so that they would not get charged the late fee.

Excuse me.

What about my closing time?

Six dollars a minute...let's see what I am missing out on.

Some of my customers average strolling in 10 to 20 minutes after I close.
Let's see...10x6, 20x6,... $60 to $120.

Boy, I am definitely missing out.
Can you picture it now.

"Hi, Mrs. M," I greet the customer as they walk past my closed sign to pick up their dog.
"Hope I did not keep you from something, I had to stop and get somethings from the store." Mrs. M says as she hands me her pre-written check before I tell her the price.
As I hold her check in my hand, I ask her, "Oh, I see you don't have the late fee in this check. Would you like to write a new check or just write another check for the late fee?"
"Late fee? What do you mean late fee?" Mrs. M asks with a puzzled look on her face.
"Remember the contract you signed when I started grooming your dog? There is a $6 charge for every minute that I have to doggie-sit your dog after my closing time," I remind her.
"It is also posted here on my wall," I point to my neon orange sign.
Mrs. M gasps and sputters.
"Let's see, you were 23 minutes late picking up 'FiFi'. So that will be $138 for my time," I say with a big smile on my face.

Okay...back to the real world.

I want to know if these Daycare's really collect on these late fees.
If I could collect on late fees like this, I think that I would almost look forward to some of my customers picking up late.  :)
Just imagine, that customer that made me stay till 7:30pm waiting for him to show up for his two Airedales.
Let's see.
I closed at 5pm.
They finally showed up at 7:30 with no apology, just "we forgot".
So, 2 1/2 hours late..150 minutes late..150x6=
Oh! Wait!
There were two dogs...900x2
I would have slept at my shop for that.

Okay, I have to do just one more.

The people who didn't pick their two Bichons up the day that I had my first son.
We closed at 5pm.
My groomers had gone home.
My husband waited till 7pm, calling the customers every 30 minutes.
Calling me every 30 minutes to see how far along I was.
At 7 pm he bedded the dogs down for the night, and he called to tell me that he was going to stop home to clean up and then get to the hospital.
No problem I told him.
I was only dilated at 8, and I had had to push for 3 hours with my daughter, I'd be waiting.

At 7:32pm my son was born after only two pushes.
My husband called 10 minutes later to say he was on his way.
I said, "you have a son."

The owners of the Bichons did not pick those dogs up until noon the next day.
Let's see..from 5pm til midnight, 7 hours, from midnight til noon, 12 hours, 7+12=19 hours of doggie-sitting.
19 hours=1140 minutes.

I know that I never could have collected that kind of money, but it is fun to pretend.

I tried to charge late fees once.
About a year after I opened.
I gave out a notice stating that any dog arriving any later than 15 minutes after their scheduled appointment would be charged $5 for every 15 minutes after the first 15.

Did that make sense?

If you were 15 minutes late, no charge.
If you were 20 minutes late, you were charged a $5 late fee.
If you were 45 minutes late, you were charged a $10 late fee.
It was the same if you were late picking up after closing.

My hope was that just the threat of a late fee would be enough to keep people from being late.
The first time that I tried to charge this fee, it turned into a big blowout.
I got reamed up one side and down the other by a Pastor of all things, because he was an hour and 15 minutes late for his appointment.
I gave him the option of rescheduling the dog.
He couldn't, because he had to be somewhere, and had to leave the dog.
The fee was posted, and he was told about it before he left the dog.
He still left the dog.
The dog was one of the sweetest Cairn Terriers that we ever worked on.

Well, he must have been saving it up all day, because when he came back in to pick up the dog, he blow his mind.
He accused me of being a thief, and that we told him to bring the dog in at 11am, but we wrote it down for 10am so that we could accuse him of being late and collect extra money.

I kept my cool, but I was pissed.
I can not stand to be falsely accused of anything.

I placed my appointment book in front of him and showed him that I didn't even have 11am appointments.
I also told him that I would prefer that people show up on time for their appointments so that I would never have to charge anyone a late fee.
Sad to say, this man of God was one of the meanest customers that I have ever had to deal with.

Needless to say, big old chicken me didn't want another confrontation like that, so I never tried to charge that fee again.
I'll say it one more time.
Do those Daycare's really get that late charge?

Okay, I am done.
Can't wait to see how many customers are late for their appointments tomorrow.

Oh, one more thing.
I am still working on the next True & False Test for clipping.
Hopefully I will have it ready by next Tuesday.

Happy Grooming, MFF


  1. Hmm at my salon we stay only 30 minutes past closing and after multiple calls to the owner if we get no hold of them we make sure the dog is fed and we take them outside to go the restroom and close for the night and charge a 25$ late fee, if the customer does not come the following day we will call animal control. (this is our policy, it's never happened since i've worked there though) But i have stayed 30 minutes past closing and I hate it since we close it at 9pm :/

    1. Hi Joanna,
      My problem is, I worry too much. All I would do all night is worry that the dog was chewing the kennel and pulling out teeth, or digging so bad that his nails would be bloody by the time I came in the next morning. I know...I am nuts. I could care less about the owner, but the dog....
      People can be so inconsiderate.
      Lisa, MFF

  2. Quick question...if the usual charge for a bath is $45 and my groomer charges an additional $20 for essentially a difficult dog should I also tip on top of that? It's almost a 45% surcharge. I do admittedly have a very difficult dog to groom. I just want to make sure I comply with proper tipping etiquette for dog groomers. Thanks.

    1. Hi mightycow,

      Hmmmmm, this is a hard question for me to answer.

      As a groomer, no matter what the size of the tip, it is greatly appreciated. It is a way for the owner to show that they like, or appreciate the service that I provided. It normally does not bother me if a customer does not tip. I have found that a lot of pet owners don't even think about tipping.

      Now.....I will say, that when I have a practically difficult dog, or the dog comes in a big mess, and the owner does not tip, or even give a 'thank you, he looks great' it bothers me. I spend so much extra time with these types of dogs that a 'thank you', or some kind of tip would make me feel like all of my hard work was appreciated.

      Now, my response as a pet owner....I am a good tipper, especially if you give me good service. That being said, if a groomer were charging me extra (a lot extra) for my dog being difficult, I would be hard pressed to tip very much.

      I do not charge an extra flat fee for difficult dogs. Dealing with all types of dogs is my job. If I charge a little more for a difficult dog it is only because that dog took up more of my time then another dog that is the same breed and easy to groom. I have had many difficult dogs that didn't take me any longer to groom than the easy ones. The ones that did take longer to groom were charged a little more depending on the extra time they took to groom.

      I am curious about what is difficult about grooming your dog. You stated that your dog was just being bathed. Is your dog a biter? Or just hyper? 20 is high (to me), BUT I am not the one grooming your dog. Your dog may be difficult for that groomer, but may do really well with another groomer......it is hard to say. I have had pet owners bring in dogs and warn me that they are bad about the grooming, then I don't have any problems with them.

      Sorry it took me so long to reply.
      Lisa, MFF