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.

Monday, June 25, 2012


I have gone through a few  'Burnouts' during my grooming career.

The worst burnout that I ever suffered as a groomer almost made me stop grooming completely.
It was caused by a combination of working very long hours, six days a week for awhile, grooming 10 to 12 dogs a day, (sometimes more) and a boss who enjoyed playing mind games and never had your back.

Who would stay at a job like that?

A young/new groomer who didn't know better and didn't think anyone else would hire her.
I actually stopped grooming for a few months.

Then, when I went back to grooming, (because I really missed the dogs) I made the mistake of going Mobile.
It was a mistake at the time, because I was still slow, and mobile grooming was very new to the industry at that time.
I worked for the only Mobile grooming business in Maryland at the time.
She had 3 vans.
No HV dryers.
No gray water tank.
I can't tell you how many time people waved me down to tell me my van was leaking something. :/

Needless to say, I did not last long my first time out mobile grooming.
So I suffered a small burnout that time and quit the mobile.

My next burnout was years later.
Believe it or not, the next burnout was do to my shop growing too big, too fast and employee issues.
How hard could it possibly be to find good employees?


Drama, drama, drama.
I hate drama!

I can't tell you how many groomers I hired only to let them go within a week.
Late for work.
Rough with the dogs.
Arguing about the groom that they are told to do.
Arguing about the prices.
Upset because I refused to pay under the table.
Upset because I would not hire as IC's and took taxes out of their pay.
Told me they could groom six dogs a day, then could hardly finish three.

I had one groomer that did very good rough cuts before the bath, but refused to go over the dog with the clipper after the bath.

I had a another groomer, who was pretty good, quit because my shop hours at the time, (8am-6pm) did not give her enough time to groom five dogs. "I can't work here when you keep banker hours"

I had a bather work for me long enough to have me verify her employment so that she could buy a new car.
Oh, she also wanted me to tell the dealer that she was making twice as much as I was paying her.
I didn't.
They still sold her the car.
Then she walked out the next day.
After bathing a couple of dogs, she said that she was running up to the bakery for a coffee.
She got in her new car and drove away.
She had put the last dog she was bathing away in the kennel with shampoo still on him.

(We called the dealership back and told them that she quit.)

I had another groomer that would walk into work anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour and a half late for work.
On top of that, he asked how much I was charging for  a dog before he would groom it.
If he didn't think the price was enough, he refused to groom it.
Needless to say, he did not work for me for long.

Those were just a few of the groomers that worked for me...if that is what you want to call it.

I have a had a few really good groomers over the years, but there always seems to be personal drama.

I did have three really good groomers, no drama, they were great with the dogs, and nice to work with.
None of them are grooming anymore. :(

So, I 'burned out' on hiring employees.

It has been 12 years since I hired anyone.

Wait, that is not true.
I did hire a friends daughter to be a bather.
She was actually a really good bather and employee, but her personal drama away from work did her in.

That was 4 years ago.

Now I feel another burnout coming on.

I am not sure what to do about this one.

This burnout is because of my customers.
Not the four legged, furry ones, but their owners.

I just don't know what is going on lately.
People seem to be becoming ruder and ruder by the minute.
Even some long time customers that have always been great to work with have become testy.

I have always dealt with customers that will lie to try to get their dogs in sooner for an appointment.
Customers who will tell you that their dog is not matted, or that it is a smaller size so that you will quote them a lower price (over the phone) for the groom.

Lately, it isn't customers complaining  about the grooming, it is rude, petty things...
~showing up late for appointments, I mean 30 minutes or more late.
~picking up dogs after our closing hour.
~fussing that a harness was not put on right, I mean really making a big deal out of it and being nasty.
~canceling an appointment at the last minute and getting mad and rude with us when we can't give them another appointment right away.
~getting nasty because we are booked 8 weeks out, even though they were told to make an appointment before they left with their dog after the last grooming.
~more and more customers seem to be making tactless comments with no care about what they are saying being hurtful.

I don't know...maybe it is just me.
Maybe I have become overly sensitive.
Maybe it is because I can't say what I want back to people.

Last Friday was bad.
If someone had walked up to me, when I was closing me shop at 6:30pm (2 and half hours after my closing time) and asked me if I would like to sell my shop, I would have turned round and handed them the keys right then and there.

I had had it.
And, it was not because of the dogs.


Because of all the reasons I listed above happening  all in the same day!

My daughter took the appointment for this dog.

The owner originally called asking to get an appointment for her Golden.

We only have kennels for three large dogs a day.

I only have three large dog kennels because we don't want to groom more than three large dogs a day.

Our large dog kennels are booked up till October.

When the Golden owner could not get her Golden in for a grooming she asked if we had an appointment for a Spaniel mix.

My daughter asked the owner how large the Spaniel mix was.
The owner told her that the dog was half the size of the Golden.

Now, I don't know about other groomers out there, but when we book for appointments, we try not to book too many big jobs in a day.
Not too many elderly dogs.
Not too many matted dogs.
Not too many once a year dogs, or double coated dogs.

Thankfully we have been open long enough, and are booked up enough that we can be a little picky about the way we plan our days.

Remember...we are trying to avoid burnout!

It would be an understatement for me to say that my daughter was very upset when the owner walked in with a Samoyed mix.
A Samoyed mix packed with undercoat.
A Samoyed mix very close to the size of most of the Goldens that we groom.
A Samoyed that is 13 years old. 

Spaniel mix my bu**!
We were expecting Cocker size.
We were expecting a Cocker size, because that is the way the owner described the dog.

You can't tell me that in the 13 years of owning this dog that no one told her that her dog was mostly Samoyed.

On top of everything else, the owner wanted the dog clipped, but not shaved.
She did not want holes in the coat, down to the skin, like the last groomer did.

So Jessica bathed her and HVed out all of the undercoat.

Then she used a clip comb all over, blending in the head and tail.

It was a day with this dog, a petrified, matted rescue dog with a rude owner...

....a pelted, matted mess that had to be wetclipped.

Late customers dropping off their dogs.

One of the biggest Goldendoodles in the world that takes me 3 hours to groom.

Customers not picking their dogs up before your closing time.

Self serve customer not happy because we wouldn't groom their 90 pound dog the next day.

A customer calling to cancel their appointment 10 minutes before their appointment time, because they were moving that day. (did they just find out they were moving that morning?????)

Oh, and they were upset because they could not get an appointment for the very next week.

I know,  I know, we have all experienced days like this.

I can take days like this once in awhile.

We just seem to be getting these types of days more and more.
I have also been grooming way too many special needs and biting dogs lately.
How do these people find me?

Still four weeks till vacation.

Hopefully that is all that we need....a vacation.

Boy, I really whined today, didn't I?

Friday is still sticking with me.

How do you get through a burnout with your customers?
It is not like I could fire all of them and start over.

I really have to try and concentrate on my nice customers more.

Do you think  hanging a sign on my door saying 'We service only nice customers' would work?


Oh, that's right, nobody reads signs. :/

I'll be okay.
I have lived through burnouts before, I'll do it again. :)

Maybe I need to take some comedy tapes into work.
Some George Carlin, Billy Cosby, Ellen DeGeneres, Whoopi Goldberg.

Happy Grooming, MFF


  1. Stay strong, pretty lady!! We have all definitely been there. I hope pleasant customers come your way soon !!! I don't feel you're overly sensitive, these people are being very crude :( I hate it when that happens

  2. Hi Lisa,

    You just described my day (pretty much every day lately)to the letter. I think I mentioned before in an earlier post of yours, that I've noticed over the past several years, customers (even the long time nice ones) have gotten more demanding and rude. I blame it on the economy, or who knows what, but I've managed to deal with it the best I can. I've also gone through employee problems as well. I'ts all part of the downside of owning your own business. I solved the bad groomer problem by simply not having another groomer in my shop. My customers were never happy when it was someone other than myself grooming their dog. I now have two assistants who brush out, bathe, and HV, so my only job is to groom. We do on average 13-14 dogs a day. It's a lot of work for just me, but it just works out better for my mental health. If I screw up, it's all on me. I don't have to make excuses for someone else's bad job. I start at 7 a.m. and finish at 5 p.m. Long day, hard work, and burnouts do happen. I have since stopped working weekends to avoid burnout. My shop is now booking 12 weeks out. I put a sign on my counter last year that says "Grumpy dogs are always welcome....grumpy people are not" Whether it works or not, it makes me feel better. Hang in there...and don't apologize for your success..Karen in NJ

  3. Hi Mittens,
    Thanks you for the kind words. They help. :)

    Hi Karen,
    I am going to make that sign for my shop if you don't mind. I love it!
    I solved my employee problem the same way, only I trained my daughter and son. :)
    Lisa, MFF

    1. Be my guest. It's a great way to get your point across in a whimsical and non-threatening way. I placed mine directly in front of the basket that holds the free dog biscuits we give out at the end of each groom. That way, I know everyone will see it!!

  4. The customers take you for granted, the happy demeanor and the smiles, they think that they can talk to you like crap and you have to take it. They will take out their bad days on you and their family troubles, some will cuss me up and down then break into tears, I've had to just ask "Ma'am, is something bothering you at home?" Young people have little to no respect, they do NOT want to listen on how to brush their dog at home between groomings, and they will pretty much talk over you and walk on you. People 30-50 are usually the best, they listen, they brush their pets or at least try to the best of their ability. They make more appts than any other group, and if they miss they at least give you notice or a true reason. Older people, as in 60+ are awesome, but most of them will down right talk your ear off until it catches fire. The ones where you are backing away slowly and smiling, trying to be nice... but you really need to get back to work.. or at least off of the phone. I love everyone, but the ones that are starting to be really rude, I smile but I am getting to be very point blank with them. These are the rules, these are the prices, no walk-ins for haircuts, have a great day. People need facts, not friends, the second you start being too nice or too chatty with people it usually backfires.
    At least for me :\

  5. Hi Serena,
    Grooming is such a personalized business. It is such a shame that some customers take advantage of you. It makes it really hard to keep a nice attitude.
    Lisa, MFF

  6. Hi - Its 9 months since I opened my shop as a newly trained groomer and feel pretty close to 'burnout' myself. I'm really worried over whether my business is going to be successful enough to make it worthwhile i.e. earn a wage I can live off, as at present I can be booked out one week and way too quiet the next.

    I love working with dogs but everything you and Serena have said about customers rings true with me, and I have begun to realise that as a new groomer I am being taken advantage of by 'shop-around' customers. But what really gets to me the most is those customers' you go the 'extra-mile' for and take up so much of your time - then you never see them again! It would be so much better if we only had to deal with dog's and not their owners.
    Lesley - Muttley's

    1. Hi Lesley,
      It is so hard when you first open your business. You feel like you need to book anyone who calls even when warning flags are flying in your head as you are talking to them. I can't tell you how many 'shop-a-round' customers and once-a-year dogs I got when I first opened.
      I also remember those times when I would be busy one week and slow the next. Around here January and February were the hardest months to get through.
      The one thing that I have learned is that customers will treat you the way you let them. Meaning that if you let them walk all over you, they will!
      One of the things that I would have changed was to make rules for myself and stick to them. EX: If you don't want to demat for more than 10 minutes, stick to your guns and don't let a customer talk you into more dematting. If you like your dogs to come in at appointed times, stick to those times. Don't let a customer talk you into an off time because they will expect it every time.
      I sound mean don't I? I am not, I bend a lot for my customers, BUT I tend to only do it for my good customers. I don't do it for everyone anymore. 'You work with me, I'll work with you' is the way I look at it now.
      My first couple of years were hard and lean, but as long as you can still see growth hang in there. I went from praying for the phone to ring to having to listen to my customers complaining because I could no longer give them an appointment the next day and they would have to wait a week or two for an appointment. That hasn't changed, now they get mad because I am booking 8 weeks to 3 months ahead. Unfortunately, there will always be something for someone to complain about.
      If only I could figure out a way to groom the dogs without having to deal with the owners.
      Lisa, MFF

  7. oh my, i dont groom but manage one of those big box stores with grooming. I will tell you that every day grooming and groomers give me the blues. I am so glad that i found you and know that at least one groomer in this world isnt crazy, because so far that is all i can find are crazy groomers. They love to make their own schedules and their drama is daily (jerry springer drama).

    I have to listen to customers who swear that their dog wasnt matted, they brush it daily and dont understand why they have to pay an extra $6 (i want to take the money from my pocket and hand it to them since it is obviously such a big deal).

    My question isnt how why you are burned out, it is how you havent been burned out before now. It is incredibly difficult to have someone patronize you over a profession that you have poured your heart into.

    I used to be the same way with customers, when someone told me something negative, i would take it home with me. I would obsess over how i could have avoided the situation. I think it is just women that are this way. I once had a fellow manager tell me a story about how he was leaving and a customer waved him down and told him that he would never come back to his store because no one greeted him when he walked in, the manager apologized and went home to his family. He didnt obsess over it.

    I have learned something about customers, there are people that want you to solve their problems and there are people that just want to complain. I am more than willing to help the customers that want me to solve their problems and i am have gotten better at not carrying around the comments of the complainers because it usually has little or nothing to do with me.

    Keep your chin up, you are a passionate and great groomer and if your customers cant figure that out, fire them.

    1. Hi Paisely,
      I give you all the credit in the world managing one of those stores. You have to please the big guys upstairs, employees AND the customers! You could most likely fill a book with the petty complaints that you deal with everyday.
      Not sure what big pet store you work for but if it is the one that advertizes that 'your dogs grooming is free if you are not happy' I really feel sorry for the crap that you have to deal with, because there are people out there that will complain even if nothing is wrong just to get that free grooming.
      MATTING...that is the biggest pain of all. Owners ALWAYS think that their dogs aren't matted. I had a dog in that even fooled me until I started working on her. I try to make a point of feeling the coats while the owner is still there. If I feel mats, I part the hair and show the owner. If they still don't believe that the dog is matted, I get a comb and ask them to comb through their dogs coat to the skin. I also take pictures of the mats on dogs before I brush them out. I have called owners to tell them that the mat can be removed but it will take XX minutes at $XX "do you still want me to demat?" I also save mats that I cut off to show the owner. They are NOT going to give me a hard time about it!
      As for grooming employees...I have no words of wisdom. That is why I don't hire groomers anymore.:/
      Good luck dealing with those customers. Maybe you should start writing down all of those little stories of complaining customers. Who knows, one day you could have enough to write a book and make some money off of all that complaining. :)
      Lisa, MFF

  8. Hello there!
    My name is Shae and I am 23, I opened my salon/kennel 3 years ago. I totally feel you on getting burnt out- see the problem with assholes is the first thing they figure out how to do is reproduce! Some of them cannot even hardly stand upright but somehow they can figure out how to do that!
    Keep your chin up, at least you are not so miserable that you are harassing someone about putting on a harness wrong. At least your not so mentally f-ing screwed that your verbally assaulting someone that totally doesnt deserve it just to feel a little better about yourself. Lol I'm almost to being burnout myself..

  9. Hi I had a question...what is wet-clipping? I'm a young groomer and was taught by the groomer in this town before me and she told me to never clip on a wet dog...dulls your blades. What are the benefits of clipping a wet matted dog? Wouldn't clipping it with a #10 or 8 1/2 work before the bath just as well? Why wouldn't it?

    1. Hi Cassi,
      I did a post on wet clipping a while back that I think will answer your questions.


      I also wrote another post about matting that you may find interesting.


      Hope this helps. :)
      Lisa, MFF