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.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Walking A Fine Line

I have had two situations in the last week that could have been potential problems.

The first one:

To lie or not to lie, that is my question.

Last week we had a customer with a large Shih-Tzu come in.
We had groomed her dog  once before, about a year and a half ago.
Between then and now she has made at least half a dozen appointments and has either no showed or cancelled late.
We really did not expect her to keep this appointment.

She did.

I happened to be in the lobby waiting on a customer, that was picking up their dog, when she walked in, so I waited on her.
We talked about her dog and what she wanted done with the dog.
He was not very long, so it ended up sounding like a bath and neaten up all over.
She had just picked the dog up from being boarded at her Vet for the holiday.
She was upset and complaining that the Vet was treating her dog for a urinary tracked infection that she (the owner) believed  the Vet somehow caused.

I did not comment on this information.
I just let her vent.

She was also upset that she was charged for shots that her dog had already gotten a few months earlier.
"So your dog got a second series of shots?"  I asked her.
"I guess they must have, they were trying to charge me for them," she said angrily.
I could understand her anger.
She was not the type of person you would fool around with.
She is the type of person that wants things done her way, and her way only!

Anyway, here is the situation.

Right before the owner left she suddenly asked me if I was the only groomer.
"No, my daughter also grooms," I told her.
"Will you be grooming my dog?" she asked.
"I want you to groom him," she finished.

I truly was not sure who her dog was scheduled for.
I quickly assured her that my daughter had 10 years experience, has competed, and that I had taught her to groom.
I also told her that my daughters grooming was very good.

I was fairly sure that her dog was not booked on me.

I was right.

My daughter was very upset when she found out that the woman asked for me to groom the dog.
This is a very sore subject with my daughter.
She has been working so hard to get customers to accept her grooming dogs.

Sadly, if my daughter is waiting on  a customer, and I come up into the lobby, they will stop talking to my daughter, ignore her completely, and start talking to me.
This would, understandably, really upset my daughter.
It was like she wasn't even there, and didn't know what she was talking about.
It has happened so many times, that if I know that she is waiting on a customer, I will not go out to the lobby.
When I am not around, the customers talk to my daughter just fine.

Back to the Shih-Tzu.

I was very booked and already running a little behind.
The dogs that I had left were dogs that I had to do.
I could not switch a dog with my daughter in order to groom this woman's dog.
Not to mention the fact, that my daughter felt that the woman didn't have any right to request a groomer, when she had missed her last 5 appointments.
Plus, it was only a bath and neaten.

Here is my problem.

My daughter wanted to know what I was going to tell the woman if she asked who groomed her dog when she picked him up.
Needless to say, my daughter was not happy with my answer.
If she asked, I was most likely going to say that I groomed the dog even though my daughter was grooming him.
At least that is what I was thinking of doing.


Let me explain.

Yes, I know it is not right.
Yes, I know that it would be an out and out lie.
But my decision was based on the personality of the owner, and this owner.....
Well, it is just not worth the confrontation that I am 99% sure it would cause if I told her that I did not groom the dog.

I know.
I know!

I can hear you yelling at me.

There are some customers that you can easily explain things to and they are very understanding...and then there are the others.

There are some people out there that just look for things to complain about, and start trouble.
I was 100 % sure that this woman would have no problem starting something.
To me, the easier thing to do was just let her think that I groomed her dog.

Is it wrong?
Yes, yes, yes.
Was my daughter upset with me?
Ooooooh, you better believe she was.

I truly believe that telling a small white lie to keep the peace (with the customer) does not hurt.

Yes, I could stand my ground and tell the owner that her dog was not booked on me, and my daughter had to groom him.
But you know what?
I would bet that that owner would have found something wrong with the grooming.

How do I know?
Because it had happened a number of times before over the years.

When I had my daughter, I had hired another groomer 6 months before my due date, to groom while I was out.
I also had another groomer at the time who had been grooming for me for about a year.
During this time, we had no complaints about the other two groomers.
As soon as I had my daughter, and my customers knew that I was not grooming their dogs, the complaints started coming in.
Even the groomer who had been with me for a year had people complaining just because they knew that I was not there.

Needles to say, the owner never asked who groomed her dog, and she was happy with the groom when she left.

In the end, I am not 100% sure that I would not have told that owner that my daughter groomed her dog.
I am a bad lair.
I feel like it is written all over my face when I lie.

I am very proud of my daughter.
I am very proud of her grooming skills.
At 20 years old, she could take over the business tomorrow, and do a great job.  :)

My second situation:

It occurred today.

Another customer who should not be given anymore appointments.

This customer has three small Yorkies.
I have groomed her dogs once, about 6 months ago.
Since that time she has scheduled and missed 4 appointments.
All three dogs were booked for each appointment.
When called at the time of the appointment, she always has some out there excuse for missing, or not being able to come.

This is another customer that should be refused anymore appointments.
So why did we give her another appointment for her three Yorkies?
Because this is another customer that I know for fact would blow her mind if told we would not take her anymore.
Not only that, but she would most defiantly bad mouth us.

Now I guess that some groomers would not care.
They would not give her an appointment no matter how much she fussed and bad mouthed.

You can't please everyone, so I understand that there is always a chance that someone will leave your shop and bad mouth you.
But, I have worked too long and too hard to built up a great reputation to deliberately piss off a customer and send them out there to bad mouth me.
So we gave her another appointment.
Hopefully she will show up this time.  :/

I read all of the time, on the grooming boards, about how tough groomers have gotten with their customers.
They fire customers, they make customers pre-pay, they don't let their customers walk all over them.
I wish that I was that tough....well a little tougher than I am at least.

I am very lucky that my shop is continuously busy all year round, but I am not so confident in this economy that I want to piss off customers.
Yes, I have lost money because of these customers.

I most likely should not schedule these two customers anymore.
But, I have to say, if I got rid of every customer who cost me money at one time or another, or was a pain in my a**, I would have to let quite a few customers go.

The bottom line is, that I don't like to start trouble where there does not need to be trouble.

Okay, I have rambled on way too long.
I feel like I haven't even come close to explaining myself clearly.
I am going to stop now, its been a long week.
I am sure that I have made myself sound like a fool.

Sometimes I feel like a fool when dealing with customers too.

Why do you think I like working with dogs.

I am going to try to end this post on a lighter note.
The Baltimore Ravens are in the playoffs. :)
It is purple crazy here in Baltimore.
Hopefully we make it to the Super Bowl.

Today a long time customer asked me to color their dogs Mohawk purple.

He always gets a Mohawk.

I have never seen him without it.

I usually shape it up and leave it.

Today I decided to spray it and spike it along with the coloring.

I used children's, non-toxic, blow-pens.

Oh, and some hairspray.

He is such a good old guy.

His Mom was VERY happy!


Happy Grooming, MFF


  1. I do think that if a groomer says they have never told a little "story" (tee hee!) like that they would be lying. We all know that customer!

  2. I can completely relate, we've only had a few that have kept calling for appointments that did not make it. Most of them do not call to let us know that they cannot make it, though I love the ones that can let us know in advance, we have to call the no shows at the end of the day to ask if they would like to re-schedule. They are always very nice and apologize and promise to keep that next appt. One woman no-showed nearly 20 times in 8 months... I made her an appt on a very busy day expecting her to, yet again, no show on us. That day everyone came, even her, and I was almost in over my head. Thank goodness I've taught my husband to help rough-in the general outline of the clip and skim it for me, then he would have it ready for me to scissor the rest and do the feet, head, and tail. I love my 123Pet scheduling program, it tells me when I open a customer file, with a pop up, how many times they have no-showed on us, and I can usually remember to message them on facebook at least 2 days ahead of time, that has helped out a lot. For some I've heard every excuse in the book, though I'm hoping they are excuses and that this person isn't actually as unlucky as they seem to be with constant car trouble, sick days, and that one time that their dog 'ran away' and she couldn't find him to bring him in. Yesterday was rough, I had to call a first time customer to come get her pet and reschedule. Our bather was brushing the pet lightly before the bath, and this little black shih-tzu had tape worms falling out of it's rear. One got on her hand, I thought she was going to pass out :\ while she was showing me a few more just kept falling out. Needless to say I had to ask her to stay like that while I got my camera, lol. I didn't want to risk bathing the little dog and blowing worms all over my clean walls, the owner understood. She was a very nice woman, and she seems like she will be back, she was very thankful and apologetic. I like her. Also yesterday I had 3 separate no-shows from various regulars, and a new customer with a rescued poodle that was supposed to be for a hair coloring, but she was black and matted to the skin more tightly than I have seen in a very long time.

    Love the photos you posted of your shop, I love the lighting around your table, I have something similar, yours is very nice. We've had our new location now for almost a year, we're already about to remodel a few of the back rooms. Next time the shop next to ours is available, we're taking it and converting it to large scale pet boarding. I'm tired of turning away so many customers for that.

  3. On a side note, I had a woman come into my shop yesterday, (an older woman, very thin, covered in tattoos, but very shaky and jittery...) she used to be a hair dresser, but her first words to me were, "I really hope you are hiring, I.. um... um... I'm desperate... I need a job... PLEASE HIRE ME!" I let her have an application, but she said she applied at another pet grooming establishment and they seemed excited about hiring her, they just haven't called her yet. I was asking about any experience she had, she told me she used to be a very good hair dresser for humans. I asked if she had ever groomed a pet at all before, she said, "No, but I mean how hard could it be?!" I was kind of blown back, I had to stop her and explain that a head of hair on a human (that sits still) is completely different, the layering is similar but grooming a dog is like cutting at least 4 heads of hair at once (depending on the size of the dog) and that without proper training she should not ever consider learning on someone's customers. I referred her to a PetSmart
    (which the closest one to us is still a good 30 minutes away, interstate driving) but that they would train her, and if she worked out it's a very stable career, and a good start at pet grooming if she was trying to go this route. I felt so bad, she seemed kind of cool, but you never know. I've had my share of terrible hirings and firings, I'd rather stick with just me, my husband, and our bather.

    By the way, Saturday after next, the 21st. We are having a new customer come, they have 5 big cocker spaniels, all matted. They actually said they wanted the dogs shaved with a 10 blade, they usually do it themselves, but they broke their equipment last time.
    I hope the same fate isn't waiting for my equipment :( I just had everything serviced last week, just invested in a new jar of blade dip and a new tooth brush just for this.
    Fingers Crossed.

  4. How do you do to apply it so well when i try and blow the color all the hair moves everywhere and i have to finish putting my hand to hold the hair so I end up with colored hands :/

  5. Thanks Bev,
    That makes me feel better. :)

  6. Hi Serena,
    It never seems to fail that when you take an extra groom because you expect that no show customer to 'no show'... they show. lol
    We have been using a hairdresser/Doctors appointment program for a long time now. It certainly leaves a lot to be desired. I have thought out the 123 program. Do you really like it, or are there things that you would like to change?
    I notice that you use facebook a lot. I am not as good at keeping mine updated. I guess because I spend most of my time on here. :) Maybe I should push that more and get my customers to friend the shop. I have tried to get customers e-mails so that I could send e-mail reminders, but I have been very surprised at how many don't want to give me their e-mails.
    I am afraid that your bather is going to have to prepare herself for MUCH worse. I have seen maggots, poop so caked to the rear that I had to let it soak and work it away with my fingers only to have some of the dogs skin come with it, and the dog have backed up bowls shoot out.
    I know that some groomers would stop and send these dogs home, but I have learned from experience that I am a lot more gentle than the Vet. I take pictures of the whole process and show the owners everything, recommending that they see their Vet as soon as possible. Nine times out of 10, by the time the owner picks up, the sores that I have found and cleaned up look 80% better than when the dog came in. I have actually had Vets send dogs TO ME to clean up rears, and infected ears, gooey warts, ect. At least I helped the dog, because sadly I don't think the owners will always take their dog to the Vet.
    I am glad you liked the shop photos. I wish that I had more room. I can always see things that I want to improve or design differently.
    As for hiring...I don't anymore. What a nightmare that could be. Don't get me wrong, I had some really good bathers and groomers over the years, but everyone of them left to start families. I don't even want to talk about the others. It is so hard to put the responsibility of your furry customers in someones hands or than myself. I can't tell you how many people would answer my ads and think that just because they liked dogs or owned one, that they could do this job. Most of the bathers that have quit was because they said that the job was too hard. I think you did the right thing sending this lady on her way.
    As for the 5 Cockers, I would seriously think about wet shaving. Wet shave with a #5 or #7 then go over them with the #10, after they dry. If you try to clip them before the bath I can almost guarantee that you will kill 4-5 of your blades and have to have them cleaned and sharpened again. Depending on how tightly matted they are, I would even consider washing and drying them first, then clip a clean dog. Boy, I hope that they show up. That is a killer if 5 dogs don't show.

    Lisa, MFF
    Lisa, MFF

  7. Hi Jessica,
    One Word....gloves. lol I should have taken a picture of my hand when I was finished. It was purple. I buy the thin throw away gloves from the beauty store that hairdressers use when they apply color. They work great. The color also stays wet on the glove for a little while so I am able to wipe the color on the hair and don't feel like I am wasting color.
    Lisa, MFF

  8. I have to say, the 123 Pet is the greatest little thing I've gotten. I'm going to make you a short video and send it to you tomorrow, you have to see this program in action. It completely organizes customers, re-occurring appts, employees(you can have separate scheduling columns, for yourself and your daughter, even a third for baths), it also keeps track of any stock for sales, and lets you set pop ups on certain customer's files if you touch them, but most of all I love the high risk pop up for the multiple no-showers. It does so much, it even helps me do my taxes at the end of the year, I can't imagine life without it.
    With one click I can see how many customers I've put into it, and how many pets I've groomed. I love seeing how much money I made at the end of the day. Covered in the worst fluids a dog can make onto you, hair splinters itching my arms, and often I think I feel a flea in my hair... (seeing them gives me the 'creepy crawlies') I like to see that I at least did a $400 day if I'm that beat up :)
    If you like go to their website for the 123 Pet and get the trial, it's fun to play with. If you want the full version, let me know before you buy it, I can get you a discount.

  9. Do you have an e-mail I can send a video to you on, I made a little blip of my screen while using the pet program. I didn't really go through all of the features, if I did it would have been a LOT longer of a video. The things I forgot to mention are, you can add photos of the pet's previous haircut to their file, that way when you click on the pet and open the little window you can see if there are photos you've posted to it to help you do the same thing again. Also, you can add re-occurring appts, and add medical history if the pet has any issues to speak of.
    Hope this helps you.

  10. Hi Serena,
    I downloaded the free trial last night and played around with the program. I did get a little frustrated with it because I could not get it to accept the employees and set up the appointment book so that I could check things out. I will try again.:) Here is my e-mail:


    Lisa, MFF

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