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, January 1, 2013

Hot Topic....Tipping

I have been thinking about posting about this topic for a long time.
I always seem to back off in the end.
It is such a touchy subject, even for me.

Let me begin by saying that I am an excellent tipper.
I usually tip a little more then 20%.
More if I think that the service was great.

That being said, I hate tipping.

I wish that there was no such thing as tipping.
I always feel like I have to tip when I go out to eat.
No matter how bad the service was.
Mainly for the simple reason that I know the servers depend on tips as part of their salary.
For this reason, and this reason only, I tip even when I get bad service, it just is not as much as I would have tipped if the service had been good.
As a business owner, it pisses me off that restaurants get away with paying such a low minimum wage, and expect their customers tips to make up the difference.

If you search tipping on the internet, it is fascinating reading all of the comments and strong opinions that people have about tipping.
There are some great arguments on both sides.
I was fascinated to find that there is no tipping in several countries, such as Australia, Germany, China, Italy, Japan, and New Zealand.
In a few countries tipping is even illegal.
Imagine that!

On several different websites I found different suggestion charts for who you should tip and how much.
Only one even mentioned Dog Groomers.
It was funny how some of the people that they suggested never crossed my mind to tip.

~The newspaper person. We get too many wet papers or missing papers. I have honestly never thought of tipping the newspaper person at Christmas.
~The Garbage man. We have to pay to have our trash picked up. It is not included in our taxes. Our trash cans and lids are always all over the place and beat to heck. I have honestly never thought about tipping the Garbage man at the Holidays either.
~The Mailman. Really?! Maybe if he/she had to deliver a lot of heavy packages to us everyday.

I have to say that this next one totally blew me away.

~The Mechanic! The suggestion was to tip your Mechanic $10-20 or more for any jobs over $500!!!
I am speechless.
I am just lucky if I can come up with the $500 or more for a car repair bill.

I did find one website that talked about Dog Groomers.
The suggestion for Holiday tipping was the cost of one groom.
The suggestion for tipping for regular grooming sessions was 15-20% of the groom.

So, back to what I said earlier.
I wish there was no such thing as tipping.
I do not like the mixed feelings that it gives me, as either the tipper, or as the one being tipped.

Now, before I start my little rant here, these are just my own personal feelings.
I have found from reading grooming forums that groomers have  many different opinions when it comes to receiving tips.

I have mixed feelings.

For the first couple of years that I groomed, I never got tips.
My only guess is that the shop owner was keeping the tips, because both places that I worked I was not allowed to talk to the customers.
At my third grooming job there was a tip jar on the counter that I always thought was a form of begging.
I still feel like it is a form of begging.
Sorry, that is just how I feel when I see a tip jar on any counter anywhere.
The tip jar generated very little tips.

It was not until my fourth grooming job at a small pet shop that I started getting tips.
One to two dollars, here and there, but they were certainly appreciated.

Then I opened my own grooming shop.
The tips did not get any better, as a matter of fact, they were few and far between.
One pet owner who used to tip me when I groomed her dog at the pet shop actually told me that she would not be tipping me anymore, because I was the shop owner now and made all the profit.
I was shocked, I felt like saying, "I am a new, struggling small business owner 'what profit?!'"

Another thing was, the girl who used to cut my hair opened her Hair Salon at the same time that I opened my Grooming Shop.
At one vistit shortly after she opened, she was cutting my hair and I could not help but notice a large mound of ones, fives, and some tens sitting on the corner of her mirror table.
I say mound because that is exactly what it was.
A mound of bills that went half way up the mirror on her wall.
I remember thinking; "good grief, are they all her tips just from today?"
When she was finished cutting my hair, I followed her up to the main desk to pay.
When I tried to hand her her tip, she waved her hand and said; "just put it over there on my table with the rest of my tips." 
I really liked this girl, but I was so turned off by the nonchalant way that she accepted my gratuity.
Not to mention how tacky I thought that it was that she left that mound of money sitting on her table as if to say; 'Look! Everyone tips me, you better too!' 

Oh boy, I sound very peevish don't I? 
I told you tipping bothers me.
I don't like feeling this way. 
  I best time that I was ever tipped was when I was Mobile grooming.
Customers who had never tipped before were tipping me.
I think that that was because Mobile grooming is much more one on one, and feels much more personalized.
Or, maybe it just the fact that you come to them.

When the economy was good, the tipping was pretty good.
Lately, tipping has fallen off big time.
I understand.
Some people can barely afford the grooming, much less extra for a tip.

Unfortunately, tipping has a way of playing with your emotions.
I have customers whose dogs I have been grooming for years who have never ever tipped, even at the Holidays.
I honestly think that some of them don't even realize that tipping a groomer is acceptable.

I don't even care that some customers don't tip, because they are wonderful customers who always book ahead, always show for their appointments and never complain about anything.
Best of all their dogs are great and easy to groom.
All of those things are a tip in and of itself for me.

Then there are the customers who are late dropping off or picking up.
The customers who miss appointments and then get upset that you can't fit them back in right away.
Or, their dog is always in bad shape and, or hard to groom.
You very keenly notice when those customers do not tip, because you feel like you had to put up with so much that you deserve a tip.
Even a little tip would help to make you feel like your hard work was appreciated.

I have a customer that has to be one of the grumpiest customers I have.
Almost always 20 minutes or more late for appointments.
Never cracks a smile.
Never has nice thing to say.
Never tells you that the dog looks nice, or that you did a nice job.
And, always wants the two dollars back in change.

I love this persons dog.
The dog is so sweet.
Has a great coat.
Is easy to groom.
To be honest, the best tip from this owner would be a smile, and a "hey he looks great."
Showing up on time for the appointment would be appreciated also. :)

Believe me, I like a monetary tip just as much as the next person, but if there was no tipping I would not have all of these mixed feelings.

I have read about groomers that keep track of which customers tip and who doesn't.
They have said that their service depends on how the customer tips.
I personally don't agree with this type of thinking.

Every dog that we groom is treated the same way, with gentle loving care.
It is not the dogs fault if their owner doesn't tip, can't afford to tip, or doesn't know that they can tip.
A groomer should not base the way they groom, or treat a dog on the kind, or amount of tip that they receive, or do not receive for that dog.

I once had a groomer work for me (for a very short time) who would ask me how much I was charging for the groom that he was doing before he even started grooming the dog.
After a few days of this I asked him why he wanted to know before he started grooming.
He told me that the price I charged would determine how he groomed the dog.
If he didn't think that I was charging enough he would do a sub-par groom.
If he thought that I was charging enough he would do his best groom.
I was blown away.
Needless to say, we were not a good fit.
I was always touching up his dogs.

First of all, every dog that you groom and walks out of your shop is a walking billboard for your work.
Work that you should be proud of.
Your grooms should always be the best that you can do.
You should be able to look at all of your grooms with pride, and be able to say; "yes, I groomed that dog!"

I give excellent service to all of my customers.
I groom all of the dogs the same.
I treat all of the dogs the same.
Even the customers that never tip, or can be a pain in my a**.
I go above and beyond for most of my customers.

I will admit that if you treat me meanly, or are rude to me, I will still groom and treat your dog like I do all of my furry customers, but do not expect me to go out of my way for you, or fit you in for an appointment.
Oh, you will still get an appointment.
You will just have to wait for a regular opening.

Tipping can also backfire.

I once had a customer that gave me a very large unexpected tip.
I had done this customer a favor, and remember thinking that the tip was a little over the top for the favor.
I quickly found out that that tip came with strings.
I was expected to be on call at all times.
I was expected to fit the dog in whenever the owner wanted, or needed, no matter what.

Did I mention that I don't like tipping?

Tips used to be a bonus or reward for a service well done.
Many people seem to think that tips are mandatory now for many services.

Feelings are hurt if not tipped, or not tipped what the person doing the service thinks is enough.
Then there are the times when a customer that used to tip no longer tips, or tips less than they used to.
Leaving you to wonder if it is just because they can no longer afford to tip, or are they unhappy with your work now?

I can't imagine why I don't like tipping.

I try not to expect a tip, but they are definitely welcomed and appreciated.
Tips do make you feel good, and feel like the owner noticed the hard work that you did.

Try not to let tipping rule how you groom.
It can be hard sometimes.
That is why I always tell myself that the reason I groom is for the dog.
Not the owner.
I learned to groom because I want to help make dogs feel and look good.
If I make the owner happy too, that is an extra bonus.
If the owner wants to show their thanks by tipping, that is great, but try not to expect it.

Tipping can make you happy, but it can also bring you down.
You may not agree with how I feel about tipping, just don't let it rule how you groom.

Okay, go ahead and tell me how you feel about tipping. :)

Happy Grooming, MFF


  1. Totally agree.
    I'm always wondering "I don't want to hurt this person's feelings!! I love the work! But shoot, I got no money!" or "This work was awful. But why if the waiter is broke?! Should I tip? Should I not?" I should start briong flowers to pick petals off of. "tip" pick petal "No tip" pick petal "tip" pick petal "Don't tip"

  2. How funny to see this today -- I've been puzzling over my groomers response to a tip for the last week. I took my dog in for a pre-Christmas groom and was very grateful to get a 12/22 appointment. When I went to pick her up, I added a reasonable tip to the credit card slip. The groomer responded "Oh -- I didn't want you to do that, now I have to figure out how to re-run the card!" Um... I'm sorry I tipped you?? I mean, really, what am I supposed to say to that? I also said thank you for making her look great and so quickly. I guess next time I'll remember to have cash with me for the tip. I want to tip, but I'm not sure I should have to make a special trip to the bank to do it.

    1. Hi ProudDoodleOwner,
      I have to say that that was a very tactless thing for that groomer to say to you. I am sorry. They should not have a tip line on the charge if they do not want you to add a tip to the charge.
      All the shop owner has to do is figure the tip into the groomers paycheck.
      Of course everyone like cash tips, but a tip is a tip, no matter how it is given. No, you should not have to make a special trip to the bank.

      Maybe chalk it up to being the busiest time of the Holiday for groomers and she just wasn't thinking about what she was saying. :/
      Lisa, MFF

  3. Yeah... I'd be happy if tipping was something someone did because they really loved my groom, not to tip before they even saw the pet, or tipped me to bribe me. It loses the meaning. My best tips have been kettle corn, deer meat, satsumas, grapes, and cookies. I have to say that even though we live in a poor area, if people want to find a way of expressing gratitude they will find a way. I've received so many x-mas cards from customers this year, it was the kindest thing. About the bribery tipping though, I have a customer that tips 50% every time, because my husband allowed her to do this to us once... 2 years ago this woman brought her 2 chubby weenies in for baths and nail filings, she called an hour later and we had finished nearly 8 dogs ahead of hers and they were next, she was furious and said she was coming to get them in an angry tone, she came in the door in tears wanting her babies and had some big emotional break down, I asked her if she was okay and she just rolled her eyes and huffed like a child. I now refuse to speak to this customer unless absolutely necessary. She came the next time and told my husband that no matter what her pets need to come first because they are 'special', and that when she brings them we need to practically shut down the shop just to do her dogs and get them back to her in 30 minutes, my husband saw that she was about to cry and just gave in that one time, she tipped $15 and he was easily swayed by that gesture. He says that it is no big deal because he can do them in a hurry and get back to work, but that is a pain when he is trying to help me with something. The last time I had to deal with a customer like that I had to video tape the woman, she used to stand at my front counter and SCREAM, "PEPPER! PEPPER! PEPPER! IT'S GOING TO BE OKAY, BE A GOOD BOY, MOMMY IS HERE!!!" This little rotund chihuahua used to rip my skin to shreds with his teeth, he got everything but a bath and a haircut, it only took about 5 minutes, but lasted 10 because he was always struggling to get back to his mommy. I asked her to be quiet one time, she refused, I asked her to walk outside for a minute and she went next door. The people next door at the computer store had to kick her out, so she came back into our store... again demanded her dog and ripped out the sign-in sheet for the day and stole it. She ran out of the door and drove away! I called her and told her that she was no longer welcome back, she ran back to give me the paper and apologize, she tried to grab me and hug me but I refused, still she kept on. I had to eventually tell her she was no longer welcome and give her directions to another pet groomer. I still have the video on you tube. @_@

    1. Wow Serena, just wow! I don't know what to say. Oh, how do I find that video?
      One other question...what is satsumas? lol
      Lisa, MFF

    2. Satsumas are these yummy little local fruits, cousin to the tangerine, they are sweet, small, and the peel just falls off without having to peel the entire thing. They are AMAZING! I am pretty sure they are a southern invention. I have a few videos of customers on youtube, when I know a customer is about to come into the door and do something unbelieveable I set up my iPhone to record and save it online, I set the audience to 'Only Me' that it stays private and doesn't embarrass anyone. The only time I had a customer really go nuts, about 5 years ago, I hadn't started doing this yet... an elderly couple, their old dog had a cherry eye that had been there for years, they suddenly noticed it because the dog's face was clean for the first time in years, when they picked up and tried to blame me, when I showed them what it was online and that a groomer cannot cause it, especially when it's already very old... they tossed the front of my store around and left. The only time I've had to call the police to file a report on a customer, I didn't press charges, they seemed so confused I really felt bad for them. :\

    3. Sounds like what we call 'Clementines'. Very sweet cousin to the orange or tangerine. :)
      No wonder you started videoing potential crazy customers.
      Lisa, MFF

  4. One of the other groomers I work with has been grooming for over 20 years and she writes down every single person that tips her. She is very organized with her life and so she saves all her tips all year long and that is what she lives off of during the slow winter months. The negative part about it is that she also only gives christmas treats to her top 10 tippers of the year and could care less about getting anything for anybody else. Even the people who scedule frequently or request her everytime. It is to the point where she expects them and gets upset if she doesn't get them from certain dogs.

    1. Hi Peggan,
      All I can say is, I think that is very sad. When I give Christmas treats to my customers, I give them to everyone.
      Sometimes people let money rule. That is not fair to the customers who may want to tip more but can't, because it is all that they can do to come up with the grooming price.
      It is a shame that that is the way she looks at things. ALL of her customers make up her paycheck. Whether they tip her or not, she would not make a living without them.
      She should always be thankful for any and all customers that she has, especially the regulars.
      Lisa, MFF

  5. Tipping really gets to you when you work in a shop with many other groomers and you start to compare who gets tips, what kind of dogs they get tipped for, and most of the tips at our shop are given before they see the finished dog, which really doesn't make sense.

    1. Hi,
      Isn't it amazing how a tip can manage to hurt feelings. Oh...The drama of working with others!
      Lisa, MFF

  6. Can I ask a question? I have a tipping conundrum every time I get my yorkie groomed (had her groomed today- found your blog doing a google search for gratuity dog grooming). Where I go to get her groomed it costs $60 (small dog price). Would you say that $10 is a fair tip? Should I leave more? They do a great job, but I can't afford to leave too much more if it's on the low side. I can never find anything online about dog grooming, anything that is current, that is. I guess I'm curious to the "going rate" of dog groomer gratuity. Any thoughts are appreciated :)

    1. Hi Jen,
      Personally, I would be honored to receive a $10 tip no matter the price of the groom. Most of the tips that I receive average around $3 to $5 and that is when I get one. It can also depend on where you live.
      I may not be the right person to ask, because as I stated above in my post, even a customer who does not tip, but truly shows me how much they love the groom and thanks me is a nice tip for me.
      I really don't get where someone came up with the 10 or 20 percent as a tip, even for waiters.
      I think that your $10 tip is very generous, and should be appreciated.
      Lisa, MFF

    2. Thank you very much for the info! The whole tipping thing is awkward (and sometimes stressful- midwest girl living in Los Angeles- two COMPLETELY different mentalities).

      Thank you,


  7. I was horrified when I started grooming dogs and had a lot of clients tip me. I'd had a very sweet lady do an excellent job grooming my dog for two years and had never once thought of tipping her. I felt like I should personally apologize to her. Having been grooming for a year now, I realize that my sincere thanks and the fact that my dog was always in great shape and easy to groom was probably very appreciated. I never keep track of who tips how much, and never groom a dog based on how much I might get paid for it. Unfortunately, it seems like the few dogs I get where I feel like I deserve a little extra are never the ones who tip, but my regular clients with the sweet dogs are the most generous tippers. I guess it all evens out in the end! But like you, I'd far rather have someone get so excited about how pretty their dog looks, book another appointment right away, and find out they sent friends to me than get a $20 tip. The best "tip" I ever got was having a client whose son had picked up the dog call me as soon as she got home and saw her to say how good she looked and how pleased she was with my work.

    1. Hi Larita,
      I always felt like the boys at the feed store were looking for a tip when they would bring my order out to the car. I would watch other people picking up feed to see if they were tipping. I never saw anyone tipping, but it bothered me so much that I finally asked one of the girls inside, while I was paying, "should I tip the boys in the storeroom?" She told me that tipping was not necessary.
      I still feel like the boys are expecting something, but I only get a few bags of horse feed and bedding at a time. I also always get out of the car and help load. I hate not knowing for sure.
      It seems the only time that I pay attention to the tipping is like you, when I groom a dog that is extra work and feel like I deserve a little extra. lol You are right, they never tip.

      Those 'thank you, he looks great' callbacks do make your day. :)

      The best tip that I ever got was from an elderly lady that lived in the neighborhood across from my shop. She would come in about once a month to have her little poodles nails trimmed. (she groomed the poo herself, and didn't do a bad job of it either) One rainy day she walked in. Her dog had passed away. She came into thank me and give me a hug. As she hugged me, she pushed something into my hand. "Here is something for you," she said. After she left I looked at what she put in my hand. It was the nicest tip that I ever got... A quarter. :)
      Lisa, MFF

  8. I love getting tips, I save them up for new equipment, bow-making-supplies, or put them in my Christmas money jar.. They seem to be given at random, or few and far between, (go for weeks with nada, and then everyone seems to? odd) but I don't keep track of them, and though it did a little when I first started grooming, (like many other things, right?) I don't let it bother me if someone doesn't tip. I will agree with Serena, some of the best tips are not money, but something personal. I've had people give me candy, sunglasses, lanyards (lol), picture frames, all kinds of silly stuff, love it! Even if its just a compliment on the groom, or especially if the client requests you, its just nice to know that someone appreciates all the hard work you do.

  9. wow I'm in shock at all these comments!! I can't believe that customers are so rude! I live in st. Louis mo. A groom costs me anywhere from $65 to $80 and I always tip 20%. All of the shops have a posted list of extras. $25 per hour for mats, $15.00 for flea, etc. The girl I go to owns the shop but that doesn't make a difference. I also give them a small Christmas gift. I am astounded at how unappreciative some of these clients are!!

  10. Let me ask you this. Do you tip your hairdresser? Well just think how easy they have it just grooming the top of your head. Could you imagine him/her trying to give you a haircut while you are moving all around resisting every thing they are trying to do, or has your hairdresser ever had to clean up after you peeing and/ or pooping, or trying to bite? Does your hairdresser have to clean out your ears, pluck hair from your ears, trim you around your private parts, get soaking wet from you shaking water everywhere, cutting your nails, and best of all, has your hairdresser ever had to express your anal gland? Have they ever have to trim around your eyes with large scissors when your are thrashing your head all around? Have you ever let your hair get all matted and tell your hairdresser that you want to keep it full and long?
    I think your groomer most definitely deserves a tip.

  11. I only tip my groomer if it's someone I want to have a good working relationship with. ie, I don't tip the chains because I'll probably never have the same groomer anyways, and don't REALLY want to take my dog there in the first place. however, if I find an individual "salon" I tip just like I tip my hairdresser. I want to be that customer that when I have to ask for an abnormal appointment, or for you to stay late you don't mind because you will get tipped. (I also increase my tips if I know they went out of their way to help me, like the time my hairdresser stayed at work late because the person booking the cut and color did not book enough time.)

  12. I think you should tip anyone you want to have a good working relationship with, or if you know you're going to be a problem customer. Now, I'm not saying a crazy customer, but I generally move my hair appointments at least once in the 6-8 week time frame that I'm on. I know this can be an issue, but I'm never nuts about it and I tip really well. Anyone that I want to NOT dread me bringing in my business or having to do small favors (could you get Levi out by noon on our next appointment, I over scheduled my day) I tip well.

  13. I once had a customer tell me if I have their dog done in an hour I'd get a nice tip. I had 2 dogs to finish. I got the dog done in 2 and he didn't tip me a thing. What makes me angry is that people assume a tip rules me. The safety and quality of your dog does not your tip :/

  14. I have been very blessed to have many costumers that tip me very generously. I am however a very firm believer in costumer service. I have a costumer that once brought her doodle in completely matted, literally head to toe. She said that she wanted her dog to be left at least an inch long so I told her that as long as the dog didn't seem to be in pain that I would do my best to get the matts out. They were not tight matts, but they did take me 3 hours to get out. This costumer now brings her dog to me every week and always tips. A little bit of extra work goes a long way. Of course I have costumers that don't tip, but that doesn't bother me, some people don't know that dog grooming is a profession that often receives tips.