Christmas time can be stressful at the best of times.
Christmas can be very stressful for groomers.
Next to summer time, it is the busiest, and most demanding time of the year for groomers.
Where as summer grooming is spread out over three to four months, groomers are expected to get all of their regular customers (plus some) groomed within 3 to 4 weeks.
Most of those customers want the week before Christmas.
As of May of 2014 I will have been grooming for 30 years.
I no longer look forward to the Christmas Holidays.
I blame that on grooming.
Well, maybe not entirely grooming.
I can actually remember when I first became disillusioned with the Christmas/grooming combination.
I opened my shop in October of 1987.
I was so excited about the first Christmas in my new shop.
My first location had a fairly large lobby.
I stayed after work one night and decorated the heck out of that lobby.
I worked well into the night making it look like a winter wonderland.
I had cute little Christmas stockings with dog treats for every furry customer coming in for grooming in the weeks before Christmas.
I had been averaging between 8 to 10 dogs a day since I had opened.
I hired two more groomers to help out with the Christmas rush that I knew would be coming.
I was still too new at grooming to realize that every groomer didn't take pride in their grooms, or tell the truth about their abilities..
I was about to learn the hard way.
About two and a half weeks before Christmas the phones started ringing off the hook.
Let the stress begin.
I don't recall anymore exactly how many dogs I was grooming a day, but I do remember spending a ton of time running around fixing the other two groomers grooms, or doing things that those groomers didn't want to do, or were afraid to do, on top of grooming my dogs.
I also found myself spending a lot of time teaching one of the groomers how to groom correctly.
I also found myself with extra dogs to groom, because both groomers, who had told me that they could groom 6 to 7 dogs a day, in reality could only groom 3 to 4.
Not that 3 to 4 dogs was bad, I had already booked them for the 6 to 7 they told me they could groom.
That was just my hired help stress.
Then came the customer stress.
Everyone wanted their dogs groomed the few days right before Christmas.
They did not mind showing their 'Christmas Spirit' by arguing and fussing if they could not get the day and time that they wanted.
And,Fielding the angry calls from customers who thought that their dogs were at the shop too long.
I used to book so many clips a day and so many bathes.
If I was booked for clipping appointments, I would offer customers to come in just for a bath and trim to make their dog look nice for the Holidays, then we could do a full clip after the Holidays.
Of course the customer would forget that we talked about a bath and trim on the phone.
They got their appointment, now they conveniently forgot about me saying that I had no clipping appointments opened, they wanted their dog clipped for Christmas!
On top of dealing with new employees, extra dogs, fussy, demanding customers, extra long days with no breaks and no lunch, no one seemed to notice how nice the lobby looked.
Out of all the customers going in and out of my lobby everyday, a grand total of two customers complimented me on how nice the lobby looked.
Why that bothered me so much at the time, I could not really tell you.
I had decorated the the lobby as much for myself as I had for my customers.
I guess that I wanted them to be as excited about the Holiday as I was....they just wanted their dogs groomed.
That was my first Christmas as a shop owner.
I felt like I had to get every customer who called groomed before Christmas.
I worked from 8am to 7:30pm on Christmas Eve that year.
Christmas Day all I wanted to do was sleep.
I was done with the Holiday.
I still decorate every year, but never like I did that first year.
I still like to give my customers some kind of Christmas thank you gift.
One thing that I no longer do is, feel like I need to get every dog groomed before Christmas.
Christmas appointments are for our long time regular customers.
They know that they must book a year in advance for a Christmas appointment.
We do take in extra dogs between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but we try not to kill ourselves.
I know that there are a lot of groomers out there that have no control over the amount of dogs that their bosses book for them at this time of year.
Some groomers are pressured by non-groomer bosses to groom more dogs than they are comfortable with.
Some groomers take on as many dogs as they can, because the grooming slows down drastically for them after the Holidays.
Some groomers just want to make as much money as they can while they can.
No matter how you groom during the Holidays, it can be very stressful.
Try to make to your grooming days a little less stressful by pacing yourself.
Look over your day, if it looks like it may be a rough one, be up front with your customers.
When your customers are dropping off their dogs, tell them first thing that you have a really busy, tough day ahead and it may cause you to run behind.
Tell them that you will not keep their dog any longer than you have to, but they may be staying with you a little longer today.
Most customers understand.
You will get one or two that will have no sympathy at all for you.
Get their dogs out first and forget about them.
Don't let them ruin your day.
Don't forget to take a break once in a while, even if it is just to walk out side for a minute and get a breath of fresh air.
If you get too stressed out, you will pass it on to the dogs, they will start acting up and the day goes down hill.
If you feel yourself getting stressed, give yourself a pep talk.
You know that you can do this.
Think about being finished for the day.
Think about getting home and soaking in the tub for a while, or having a drink, or hugging your kids, or your own dogs.
Try not to let the stress get to you.
Try to keep your Holiday Spirit.
Don't rush yourself.
Accidents happen when you stress and rush.
Then you have to deal with an injured dog and an upset customer, and you lose any extra time you made from rushing.
So, try to take it as easy as you can this Holiday season.
Try to enjoy the grooming and making all of those dogs feel and look good for the Holidays.
Make your days easier by letting your customer know just how crazy your grooming days can be during the Holidays.
Most customer just want to know what is going on.
They just want to know that they haven't been forgotten, and that their dog(s) are being taken care of while in your care.
Try to stay calm and stress free.
You can do it!
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.