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.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Price Increase

I am a coward.

There I said it.

When it comes to raising my prices or pricing a dog for the extra work done on it ...I am a coward.

I am a pretty good groomer, but I have never claimed to be a good business woman.
I made the number one mistake that many groomers make when first opening their businesses.
I started my prices too low.
Then to top it off..

I can't believe that I am about to admit this.

I did not raise my prices for 5 years.
I believed that this was what I needed to do to keep customers coming, and get new customers.

I am very ashamed to admit that I have only raised my prices half a dozen times in the 24 years that I have been open.
Never anymore than $5 at one time.

I feel that my small to medium size prices for a basic clip are where they should be now.
I still undercharge for my hand scissor cuts, and my large dog prices are ridiculously low for my existing customers.

So why not just start charging what the hand scissoring is worth and what the large dogs are worth?

I know for fact that my large dog customers would not find another groomer to clip or scissor their dog for what I charge now.
They would most likely come back after trying to find someone else.

I know, they would come back realizing just how good they had it.
But, as I told you at the beginning of the post...I am a coward.

Well, maybe not really a coward.
I have no problem taking up for myself or my prices...with new customers.

It is my regulars that I just don't want to deal with.
The whining, the being offended because I raised their price, the ones who make smart comments under their breath, (I don't even pay that much to cut my own hair) the ones who will get down right indigent because you dared to raise their price by a dollar.

Because of the economy, I have not raised my prices in the last 2 years.
Do you think that my customers even noticed?
I doubt it.
They will know now.
I have mentioned it in the price increase letter that will be going out next week.
I have also offered for them to shop around if they feel that they need to, that I will understand.

I stand behind my quality of work, customer service, and care that I give all of my furry customers.
I must raise my prices.
I have bills to pay too.
I can not worry if some of my customers decide to leave because of the increase.
If I don't increase my prices to cover my overhead, all of my customers will be looking for a new groomer.

I just wish that I didn't have to hear the crap.

Oh well, I clean up crap everyday, whats a little more?

I made up a sign to hang in my lobby.

Still not 100% sure that I will hang it.
There will always be some smarta** to say something.

I have been working on a tougher skin.
Been working on that for 25 years.
I have gotten a little better.
I have!

Oh, who the heck am I kidding?

Don't make my mistake.
Charge what you are worth.

*If your work is good, and you take good care of your furry customers and their owners, they will stick with you.

Note to self:
Repeat the above statement every morning 100 times till you believe it!

Happy Grooming, MFF

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Hack Job

Yesterday I had a new customer come in.
This one I am keeping. :)
He was not a customer from the pregnant groomer.
This customer was recommended by another customer of mine.
So, I get to keep this one.

He came in with a 13 year old, very small Sheltie.
They have been getting this dog groomed every three weeks for its entire life.
The owner said that they do this because they don't brush her themselves.

If only every pet owner thought this way.

So, why are they looking for another groomer?
They relocated from New York because of a job.
They had been taking her to the same groomer for 13 years.

I hate when I have a long time customer who's dog I have been grooming all of it's life moves somewhere else.
I always wondered if they will find a groomer that will treat their dog like I did.
Can you tell that I am possessive with my furry customers?

Anyway, the Shelties owner had already taken the Sheltie to another groomer here in Maryland.
He said that they were very happy with the first grooming.
Then they took her back to the same place 3 weeks later.

All they were supposed to do was give a bath and trim the feet.
The dog had never had any of her feathering cut.

The owner pointed to his dog and said, "this is what the last groomer did to my dog."

 This is a picture of her after I bathed and dried her.
All of her feathering had been cut off.

The owner said that when he picked his dog up that the groomer said, "We hope you don't mind, but we shortened her up a bit."

The owner could not believe what they did to his dog.

I could not believe what they did to his dog without asking first.

 They could not blame it on matting, the dog gets groomed every 3 weeks.

She has no undercoat ready to come out.

There was absolutely no reason to cut this dogs hair.

Even after 3 weeks, the hair around the rectum was cut so short, that the dog still looks like it has what I call a 'baboon butt' when you lift the tail.

Also, may I ask what look they were going for here.

Why did they cut into the leg like that?

The poor thing looks like she has a crippled leg.

If you are going to trim rear feathering, at least round it off.

I can't help but wonder, if it was a new groomer that this place had just hired or someone being trained, that did this.

 I had a couple of those nightmares when I first opened my shop.
I opened in October, and by November I was almost booked for Christmas and needed help.

So I hired my very first employees.

Boy, was I in for a rude awakening.
I must have gotten 50 calls for my ad in the paper for an experienced groomer.
Only, they were not all experienced groomers that called.
As a matter of fact, only two were experienced.
One had been grooming for 6 months, and the other for about a year.

All of the others?

Well, they had bathed their own dogs, how hard could grooming be?

Needless to say, I hired the two with experience.
They would do great right?
They must feel the same about grooming as I do.
They will treat the dogs the same way I do..right?

Let's just say we got through Christmas.
One day, one of the groomers called to me and said, "Lisa, I need help with this topknot, I can't seem to get it right."

"Okay," I said, as I looked over at her dog.
There was just one problem...the dog no longer had a topknot.

She had scissored and scissored and scissored trying to 'fix it'.
Unfortunately, she scissored all of the hair off.
This was the last customer that I needed her to do this to.
Great dog, Mom, not so much.

Boy, was the customer upset.
She reminded me about that flat topknot for more than a year after that, every time she came in for her appointment.
"Don't make her look like you hit her on the top of the head with a book again," she would tell me.
At least I did not lose her as a customer.

Now that I think of it...a P.I.T.A customer never goes away.

How was the other groomer?

I don't remember a whole lot about her.
I just remember that she was grooming a Shep/Span mix one day.
This dog was to get a clipdown #7, blend the head into the neck, blend the leg at the top of the hock on the rear leg, and elbow on the front leg, then scissor the leg feathering tight to the leg, trim up the tail.
Those were my instructions, only she did not like them.

I had been bathing a dog.
When I came back into the grooming room she was finishing up the dog.
Only she had shaved it with a #10 blade from the tip of it's nose to the tip of it's tail and toes.
I mean every single inch, every piece of hair had been shaved with a #10 blade.

"Why did you do that?" I asked, stupefied.
They didn't want the head and tail shaved!, I added still in shock.

How was I going to fix this?
Could I fix this?

Why did she do something different then I instructed?

She said that she couldn't get the clip smooth with a #7, and that she thought the dog looked stupid with a blended head, so she took it upon herself to clip the dog the way she liked it.

I lost that customer.
They never came back.

Needless to say, it is a big pet peeve of mine when a groomer does what they like on a dog and not what the owner wanted.
Over the years I have been amazed at the number of groomers who do this.

I was even at a seminar once when the speaker made a joke about telling customers that she accidentally clipped off dogs eyelashes because she didn't like eyelashes left on a dog.
I was also amazed at how many other groomers started agreeing with her, and sharing their stories about how they would go ahead and groom the dog the way they thought it should be groomed instead of how the owner wanted.

So, I asked the Sheltie owner if they would let me try to 'fix' the dogs hair without cutting anymore length off of the dog.
He told me I could do whatever I thought best as long as I didn't make her look any worse.

So, I picked up my thinning shears and started blending and softening the scissor lines.

I also blended under the scissor line.

I thinned out the hair on the leg and under the scissor line to help make the blending look softer.

I was careful to not thin too much.

I would scissor, comb, and scissor again as much as needed till I got the look I wanted.

I could not do anything about all of the feathering that was taken off of this dog, but the thinning shears did help to soften the scissor lines a little without taking anymore length off.

The owner was happy, and this little Sheltie will be coming to me every 3 weeks from now on.

I make it a rule to always ask the owner first if I want to cut anything on a dog that was not talked about at check-in.
Even if it is something that has to be clipped, I want the customer to know first.
There is always that slight chance that they will say no.

This Sheltie is 13 years old.
I am not even sure if the coat will ever grow back as long as it was.
It is a shame that someone calling themselves a groomer did this.

Okay, I am getting off of my soapbox now.

Happy Grooming, MFF

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tuesday's Tip Another Little Tool Find

 Do you pluck ears with your fingers?

Do you have trouble getting hold of the hair with your fingers?

Does the ear powder make your fingers rough and dry?

Does it actually hurt your fingers sometimes when plucking stubborn hair?


You might like this little $3.00 tool that I found at Groom Expo.

I found it at the Groomers Mall booth.
It is like having tweezers with handles.

I like the wide grippers.

I can do the same with my lock-less forceps, but they have pointy tips, and do not crab very much hair.

These are nice and square.

They are a nice size, and fit nicely in the ear.

Even once I put ear powder in this ear, the hair will still be a little slick from the ear wax.

You have to keep adding a little more powder to keep a grip on the hair with your fingers.

I pluck most of the ears with my fingers.

I only use the locking forceps and twist the hair out when I have to.

I would rather pluck the hair out a little at a time instead of twisting it out all at once. 

Depending on how much ear hair I pluck in a day, my fingers can get very sore.

The ear powder also causes the skin on my fingers to dry and crack sometimes.

These Plucking Tweezers are great.

They are like using my fingers.

I can pluck as much or as little hair as I want at a time.

 They grab hold of the hair really nicely.

I also don't have to wipe the hair out of them constantly.

They will keep plucking even with some already plucked ear hair suck to them.

All of this hair plucked, and my fingers don't hurt.  :)

I plucked most of this ear with the Plucking Tweezers.

I did have to use my locking forceps to twist out that last little hunk of hair that brought up all of that hair that was way down in the ear.

You know, that long hunk of hair that just seems to keep coming from way down in the ear.

Anyway, the Plucking Tweezers did a nice job, and my fingers are clean.

Below is a very short clip of me using my new little $3.00 tool.

If you are interested in getting one of these Plucking Tweezers, here is the link to the Groomers Mall.

This link should take you to the page that the Plucking Tweezers are on.
Just scroll down a little more than half way.

I hope this post will be helpful to someone.  :)

Happy Grooming, MFF

Monday, September 26, 2011

Portuguese Water Dog

I have been grooming one Portuguese Water Dog for about 5 or 6 years now.
It is only the second one that I have ever groomed.
The other was kept in full, thick, curly coat, and was one heck of a job to groom.
Let's just say that I am glad I don't groom that dog anymore.

In the past two weeks I have had calls for grooming 4 PWDs.
The first one was a very nice dog that turned out to be very matted and had to be clipped short with a #5 blade.
The next two PWDs I already posted about.
The owner that thought we were crazy for the price we quoted her.

Then, Friday I groomed this Portuguese Water Dog.

Isn't he beautiful?

He is very sweet also.

On the downside, he is very shy and lazy.

How many large dogs that you groom aren't lazy in some way?

 He would lay down in tub 50% of the bath.

He would lay down for most of the drying also.

Of course laying down was not enough...

...we had to try and disappear into the corner.

Not get away.

He actually was very good on the drying table, he just wanted to craw in the corner.

I also think that he must have been channeling the Breaded Collie that I groom, that also likes to sit on my backboard.

I was sure that I was going to be constantly trying to keep him from sitting down.

He pleasantly surprised me by standing very good on the table for the grooming. 

There was one thing that I had to do before I did anything else.

It was to cut that bread off.

You see this sweet, big guy drools...big time.


All over himself and my table, and anything that comes near his mouth.

And yes, the owner knows that I was going to cut the beard off.
She specifically asked me to, because of the drooling.

 If you haven't noticed in other pictures that I have posted, I tend to lay tools on my table while I am grooming.

There is nothing like picking up your brush, comb, or clipper and having it covered in slobber.

There is nothing like trying to clip pads only to have them wet from slobber that the dog has been standing in.

So, when I have a dog that drools  excessively, I like to lay a paper towel down on the table to soak up the drool while I am grooming them.

Oh, I also make an extra effort not to put my tools on my grooming table.

Of course, I always forget until I pick up that wet, slick, cold, slobber covered brush. 

I took the beard off with a #5F blade against the grain.

If you look closely, now the slobber is dripping off of shorted hair.  :)

The owner also wanted the mustache scissored up to the lip line.

So, now I get to hold the face still while drool drips and rolls down my arm, to my elbow, before it falls onto the table.

One of the glamorous parts of the grooming job.  :/

I actually worked with one groomer that could not work on a drooling dog.
She would literally gag if drool touched her.

No, she no longer grooms.

This is the face scissored on one side.

The face comes out looking very nice and neat without the beard.

And, my paper towel is doing its job.

I also noticed while grooming this dog, that the belly and privates were very shaggy.

So shaggy, that it made me stop and question as to whether or not this dog got his belly and privates shaved.
The hair all around his penis was also stained brown from licking.

To me, this was a red flag that this dog may lick itself raw after being clipped.

So, I tried to reach the owner to ask her about it.

No answer of course.

I decided to save the belly for last, and see if she would call back before I finished the dog.

She did not return my call till well after I had finished the dog.

To be on the safe side, I skimmed the belly and privates, leaving them a little fuzzy in hopes that he would not go home and lick himself raw.

When the owner did pick up her dog, it turned out that the she would have proffered the belly shaved, but she was okay with what I decided.

I decided that I would rather be safe than sorry.

The very first thing the owner said to me when she dropped off her dog was; "you're not going to put that stupid lion cut on him, are you?"

"Not if you don't want me to," I smiled.

"Oh No!, I think that looks awful," she answered.
"I like the body short and the legs left a little longer." she finished.

Portuguese Water Dog Pet Clip:

Body: 12mm Clipcomb and scissor to neaten.
Inside Back Legs:  12mm Clipcomb down the inside of both back legs, full pressure all of the way to the foot.
Outside Back Leg:Clipcomb down the hips with the 12mm, full pressure. As you get to just above the knee, lighten up on the pressure and skim off of the knee. Scissor the hock and feet, blending into the rest of the leg.
Front Inside Leg: 12mm clipcomb , full pressure from underarm to foot.
Outside Front Leg: 12mm clipcomb  down the side and back of the front leg with not quite full pressure. Scissor up the leg to finish. (I do not like to take the clipcomb down the front of the leg. When, and if I do use the clipcomb on the front of the front leg, I skim very lightly than scissor)
Tail: I used the body blade (CC12mm) to clip down the top 1/3 of the tail. Neaten the rest. (As per owners request)

The Head:

Beard: off with a #5F blade against the grain.
Mustache: Scissored to the lip line, blending back into the cheeks.
Top of Head: skim with body blade, clipping only with the growth of the hair. Use pressure as needed. Blend into the top of the ears.
Cheeks: skim with the body blade.
Ears: Scissor to just below the leather. Clip inside of the ear with a #10 blade.

The directions above are how I groomed this particular dog, they are by know means the only way this breed should be clipped.
As a pet groomer, all clips are customized as per the owners wishes.

The owner loved the dog, but she is a customer of the other groomer that I wrote about in another post.
It sounded like she may use both of us to groom her dog.
She really liked that I have specific appointment times and can guarantee a time out.
The other groomer grooms by appointment also, but it sounds like all of her dogs come in at the same time and she can not always guarantee a time out.
Not sure if I will see this guy again or not, but he was fun groom anyway.

Except for the drooling.
I could do without the drooling.
I get wet enough bathing dogs.
I don't need to be wet when I am clipping.  :)

Happy Grooming, MFF