Are you seriously considering a career in dog grooming? Not sure what that entails? Well, you’ve come to the right place! QC Pet Studies’ key instructor, Lisa Day, has over 40 years of experience, having grown up in the industry. She is extremely accomplished—earning several awards for show dog grooming! The information in this article is pulled directly from our phone interview with Lisa about her daily routine at the salon. Keep reading for an exclusive insight into a day in the life of a dog groomer!
Routine? Hardly. When you say a ‘typical’ day for a dog groomer, there really isn’t one. The only constants are the presence of dogs and their owners. Other than that, there’s not too much that’s routine. Every dog you come across will be different, and every owner will be different, too. This is both an advantage and a disadvantage. But, you can guarantee that it’s never boring!
That being said, there are some procedural constants…
The first thing you should do when you go to work in the morning is to look at your schedule. Depending on whether you have an electronic or manual calendar booking system, the way you keep track of clients will be slightly different. Some electronic systems automatically send out appointment reminders to clients! You’ll also want to listen to your answering machine to see if anybody has called in to cancel.
If you don’t have an electronic system, you’ll need to manually track client information and send out appointment reminders. This may be something you do in the morning, or you may wish to make calls over the course of the day. Ensure that this becomes a routine! Dropping the ball is bad for business!
If you have your own salon and staff, then operating without an electronic booking system can be more difficult. You’ll have to communicate regularly to ensure that there are no double bookings. It’s also important that everyone is aware of the specific dogs that have behavioral issues or special requirements. This ensures that nobody books clients that have been flagged. If your salon is particularly large with a lot of staff, then you’ll want to assign client information management to one person or hire a secretary. Taking this responsibility on by yourself may mean that you groom fewer dogs.
Mixing Your Shampoo
Some shops mix their shampoo the night before. Meanwhile, other shops mix it the morning of, and there are even some salons that mix shampoo once for the entire week. This really depends on what kind of salon you’re working at and who you’re working for. If you’re the owner, congratulations! You get to decide when things get done and who has to do them. If you’re a freelance dog groomer, then you’ll be doing it all, but at least you still get to decide when. A larger salon may even have their bathers or assistants to mix the shampoo. Regardless of the kind of groomer you are and where you work, mixing the shampoo is an absolute must!
Once clients start coming in, it can be really hectic. Depending on how the shop is run, the number and frequency of grooms per day will differ. Some shops operate in shifts—a morning and an afternoon shift. Other shops will work with dogs on an hourly or half-hourly basis, where appointments are staggered. It depends on the capacity of the salon and number of staff the shop has on hand. Generally, bathers come in before the groomers– dogs need to be bathed before they can be groomed!
Dealing with Clients
When clients start showing up, start with the assessments. Returning clients will be the fastest and easiest. There shouldn’t be any real surprises when it comes to working with regular clients. New clients generally take more time, and they should! Schedule longer appointments for assessments with new clients. You also shouldn’t book in another client right after because the groom itself may require more time. Grooms should never be rushed!
Preparing Your Work Station
Your tools should always be at your station. Ensure all your tools are cleaned and in-place the night before. The last thing you want is to have to stop a groom to go searching for your clippers while the dog is on the table. Searching for tools can throw off the entire flow of the groom and even the entire flow of the day. This is especially problematic when you work at a particularly busy salon where dogs and clients are constantly coming and going. Your best bet is to know where everything is and keep your tools close by!
There shouldn’t be much clean up in the morning because most of the cleaning is done at the end of the day. The end of the day is a whole lot busier than the beginning. That being said, you should be sweeping and/or vacuuming around your station after every client. It can get pretty hairy to say the least! However, your tools don’t necessarily need to be disinfected after each groom. Doing this would insinuate that there are diseases coming into the salon with your dogs. If that’s actually the case, they really shouldn’t be coming into your shop at all! It’s fine to clean up your workspace and oil your scissors, but a professional groomer usually just disinfects at the end of the day.
Some larger shops may have towel service where dirty towels get picked up and clean towels get dropped off. Other shops may have their own washer and dryer to do their laundry. This is something that’s done in the morning and/or at the end of the day. You’ll deal with your towels similar to how you deal with your shampoo situation. It really depends on where and who you’re working for, as well as the established routine. Regardless, towels need to be cleaned, dried, and put away. Trust us, you’ll need a lot of towels!
Other maintenance duties include wiping down the cages and floors. Tubs must be washed and rinsed. Vacuums need to be emptied, and their filters need to be checked. The number and level of maintenance tasks you’ll be required to complete will depend on the size of the salon.
These are some of the basic tasks you’ll do as part of your daily routine. Know that your schedule will depend largely on the dog grooming career path you choose. One of the best things about being a dog groomer is the flexibility it offers!
Stay tuned for the next article in our 4-part series: How to Deal with Difficult Dogs and Difficult Owners – Part 1! Lisa Day brings us more exclusive insights into the life of a professional dog groomer!