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3 Dog Grooming Realities that Classes Won’t Teach You

QC Pet Studies Dog Grooming Realities - Featured Image

Dog grooming classes are wonderful at teaching you the theoretical knowledge and practical skills you need to be a successful dog groomer.  A good dog grooming course (whether it’s online or classroom-based) will teach you all about canine anatomy, grooming tools, safety concerns, standard cuts, first aid, and more.  Graduating from a course should allow you to start your dog grooming career with the confidence to groom dogs safely and effectively.

But a grooming class can’t teach you everything.  Here are a few realities to dog grooming that most courses just won’t prepare you for.

QC Pet Studies Dog Grooming Realities - Grooming Poodle

1: You can’t satisfy every client

A good dog grooming course will teach you how to interact with your (human) clients.

That said, no matter how well you’re prepared, every business owner is bound to encounter a few “Choosing Beggars” or “Karens” in their careers.  These customers just can NOT be pleased no matter what you do.  Though these clients are rare, you can usually tell by these typical behaviors:

  • They ask for discounts or for free services because “you charge too much” / “Suzy down the street offers the same services for cheaper” / “they’re doing you a favor by allowing you to practice on their dog” / “other reasons”.
  • They have unrealistic expectations and don’t take kindly to being told that what they want Just. Isn’t. Possible.
  • They expect you to fall over yourself and do everything humanely impossible to please them because “you work for them” (whether they intend on paying you for your work or not).
  • They lose their mind if you dare to ask for a deposit.
  • They resort to insulting you personally or leaving horrible (and exaggerated/untrue) reviews of your business if they’re displeased in any way.

A lot of professionals will go way above and beyond for this type of client because they can’t bear the thought of displeasing a paying client or seeing a bad review of their business. But the truth of the matter is, you’ll never be able to please this type of client and doing so can hurt your business more than their bad review ever will.  Instead, focus on setting healthy boundaries with terrible clients and learn how to respond to bad reviews in a professional manner.

The good news is, people are becoming savvier at identifying and calling out these impossible clients. If your business reputation is solid and your reviews are otherwise positive, most potential clients won’t be put off by one or two bad experiences with a nightmare client.

QC Pet Studies Dog Grooming Realities - Dog on Grooming Table

2: Dogs are really unpredictable (but like, really)

Your dog grooming course should teach you all about dog behavior and how to work with different types of dogs including difficult-to-groom ones.  But reading about working with dogs and actually doing it is a very different experience.

Most groomers are surprised the first time they work on a “difficult” dog. It’s more challenging than you think it’ll be! Some scenarios you’re likely to encounter:

  • The terrified dog who wants to bite your face when you get within 3 feet of her
  • The overly-friendly dog who wants to tackle you to the ground and lick your face when you get within 3 feet of him (i.e. my puppy)
  • The dog who hates all other dogs and becomes Cujo when another dog is in her field of vision
  • The dog who loves all other dogs and screams until he’s allowed to play with them (i.e. my puppy)
  • The water-lover who refuses to get out of the tub
  • The water-hater who refuses to get into the tub
  • The dog who’s perfectly fine until you dare to touch her feet
  • The pup who’s perfectly fine until you dare to touch his ears
  • The explosive diarrhea

You get the idea.

Dogs have so many personalities and quirks. And fact is, for a groomer, an overly-friendly Labrador can be just as much of a pain to groom as a reactive Golden Retriever.

The good news is, when you’re just starting out, you can usually find enough clients who have well-behaved dogs that are used to being groomed.  Don’t be afraid of being selective with your first few clients and screening out the difficult cases! Starting out on “easier” dogs can allow you to master your craft before you start working on more challenging pooches.

And when you do find yourself working with a difficult canine, remember this: Dogs are living beings with feelings. You’re not doing a dog (or yourself) any favor by “powering through it”. If they’re scared, nervous, overwhelmed or otherwise being difficult, your best option is to stay completely calm and slow down or take a break. If that means you can’t fully groom a dog during a scheduled appointment, so be it.  Most dog owners (except for the ones in point #1 above) will be thankful that you have their best friend’s interest at heart.

QC Pet Studies Dog Grooming Realities - Difficult Dogs

3: Business “best practices” won’t always work for your business

Your dog grooming course should teach you how to launch a grooming business. This training is based on business best practices that have been tried and tested.  But once you run your own business, you start to learn that some “best practices” might just not work for your own business.

Now I have yet to see a business who doesn’t benefit from, say, having a website. But when it comes to setting your prices, for example, or actually marketing your business, it’s very likely that not every strategy that’s recommended in your course will be a hit with your particular business.

Maybe your business is located in a very conservative area and you have to be extremely careful about your social media use.  Maybe your target audience skews much older and you actually do benefit from advertising in newspapers even though we’d never advise it as a viable marketing strategy in QC’s online dog grooming course. Who knows?

So while you definitely should pay very close attention to your dog groomer business training and adopt most, if not all, of the advice presented within the course, you also shouldn’t blindly follow business advice if you start to see evidence that it doesn’t work for your business.  Use your intuition and common sense, and go with what works!

QC Pet Studies Dog Grooming Realities - Dog Holding Business Newspaper

Dog grooming classes are great. A comprehensive dog grooming course will help you succeed in your future career as a dog groomer.  But just as with every profession, taking a grooming class won’t teach you everything about being a dog groomer. Sometimes you just have to get into the weeds and experience the profession for yourself!

Ready to start your dog grooming career? Check out QC’s online training program here!

5 Little Known Factors That Can Help Your Dog Grooming Business

female groomer hugging scared collie

Dog grooming businesses are booming just about everywhere, but ensuring that your business prospers for the long run is a lengthy and challenging process. You’ll always need to be on the lookout for more dog grooming clients and ways to expand your business, and the reality is, not all of these things can be learned in dog grooming school. Some things will require a bit of “real world” experience.

Luckily, we’ve got 5 easy ways for you to up your game and book more clients. Great news: most of these take little to no effort and WILL have lasting results!

female dog groomer grooming a small, curly breed

1: A Website

Okay, so this one might not exactly be a secret, but it’s seriously surprising how many dog groomers don’t bother to have a website. Frankly, a Facebook Business Page is not a substitute for a professional, independent website!

We’re living in a world where every person has the Internet in their pocket. 1 in 4 homes have at least one smart speaker! Our point is, like it or not, your online presence matters. Your website, your branding, your portfolio, and your social media channels – they all matter.  If you don’t have these, there’s a huge market out there that you’re just not reaching.

But if you don’t at least have a website, you’re making this entrepreneurial thing WAY harder on yourself than is necessary…and being a business owner is tough enough!

Most people assume that setting up a website is complicated, but it actually doesn’t have to be hard at all! You can create a simple site using tools like Squarespace or Wix in just a day or two – no graphic designers or web developers needed! These services are very inexpensive, too, which is a nice bonus!

2: Online Scheduling

So you have a website. Now what?

Well, people are going to use your website to see your services and prices, as well as find your contact information. But ask yourself this: What if clients didn’t have to call you to book a grooming appointment in the first place? What if appointments could be made directly from your website?

Just think about how many people you know who absolutely loathe making phone calls. These people are more likely to opt for text or email instead, if available to them. Plus, online booking can often be done much faster than over the phone.

Think about it: what if your grooming business were to be the only local business that spares people the anxiety of making that dreaded phone call?

On your website, you could have a simple “appointment request” form, where people can request appointment slots with your company. You can then follow-up with the client directly to confirm the appointment. This takes very little effort to set up with most website builders, and can add immense value to your business.

female groomer bathing dog

Just be sure that you stay on top of the requests and keep yourself organized. The last thing you want to do is forget about them! Also, make sure to set realistic expectations with the client as to what will happen when they click “submit” on that online form. How long will it typically take for you to read and respond to their form? You can let them know an approximate wait time for a reply, either on the form itself, or as a disclaimer once it’s been submitted.

Pro tip: If you want to get REALLY fancy, you can set up online scheduling software and integrate it with your website. This way, clients can actually see your schedule and book specific appointment slots that are most convenient for them. There are tons of apps and different software out there that do this, though keep in mind the good ones aren’t free.

3: Listing Your Specialties

Think about the types of dog owners who might be skeptical about going to a dog groomer. It could be a good idea to dedicate a few pages on your website addressing their concerns before they even mention them!

REMEMBER: A lot of clients won’t bother calling your business to ask about their concerns. The more questions you can preemptively answer on your website itself, the more impressive you and your business will be. Therefore, the more clients you’ll secure!

Here are a few examples that come to mind:

  • First-time dog owners might be worried about booking their first appointment. Explain exactly what they can expect when they book a grooming appointment (and what their pooch can expect, too).
  • Puppy visits are often scary for dog owners! This is especially the case with experienced dog owners who understand how crucial it is to make every experience a positive one! A page on your website explaining how you introduce puppies to the grooming experience can lead to more bookings and life-long customers!
  • Owners of reactive dogs are always worried about environments such as grooming salons. A web-page dedicated to reactive dog owners will do loads to assuage their concerns. You can explain how you care specifically for reactive dogs, what special techniques/tools you use, and more.
  • Something bad might happen to their dog while in your care. While First Aid Training for groomers isn’t mandatory, we feel it should be. It’s incredibly useful, and is one of the top things that will make your clients feel at ease when trusting you with the safety of a member of their family!

Animal Shelters and Foster groups also need groomers. This is often an under-served, but important section of the dog community. Think about offering special prices or unique services for shelter dogs and foster dogs. Display it proudly on your website! Not only will this give your business some serious karma points, but rescues and shelters are extremely likely to recommend services they use themselves.

skiddish young dog next to owner

4: Register your Business with Google

Have you ever used Google to search for a business or service near you? If you haven’t, you’re in the minority (and frankly, you should try it – it’s a great tool!). When you want to compete and make your business stand out, you can’t ignore Google’s importance in terms of reaching customers.

Creating a Google Business Profile is free and helps customers find you. Using your address, business hours, etc., Google can quickly serve up your business information if potential customers search for things like, “Dog grooming near me”, or “how much does dog grooming cost?”, etc.

You can also customize your Google business listing to allow customers to call you directly from your listing, visit your website, and even book appointments (see point #2 above)!

To get started, just go to Google and search for: “Google My Business”.

5: Show customers you care!

People are suckers for heartfelt stories about animals. Just think about the last Internet video that made you cry. Odds are it had something to do with a neglected dog finding a new home, or a cat being reunited with its owner. Maybe a dog happily tippy-tapping with his new favorite toy!

You work with animals every day, which gives you amazing opportunities to have a seriously WICKED Social Media strategy. Most groomers don’t bother to use this to their advantage. But the fact is, it’s the perfect place for you to excel and get your name out there!

Share ‘before and after’ photos of all your furry clients on social media. Make a ‘photo release’ part of your client onboarding process. Most customers will be happy for you to post photos of their babies! (But of course, some customers will ask you not to, so make sure you always respect those requests for privacy purposes.)

female groomer giving dog teddy bear cut

If you offer special services to shelter animals or rescue dogs, for example, take some time to make a little video montage of that dog’s journey. Think about how you’d react to seeing a video of a scared shelter dog going into a salon so it can get pampered up. Imagine how touching and absolutely heart-warming it would be to see the dog feeling so much better afterward.

Not only will your business benefit from the publicity, odds are your video will help that dog get adopted, too. Win-Win!

There are lots of creative ways you can boost your business. Don’t be afraid to try out new things and see what works!

Interested in launching a dog grooming business, but not sure where to start? QC’s Online Dog Grooming Course comes with full business training that will set you up for success!

The Dog Groomer’s Salary: What to Expect in 2020

beautiful medium-size dog on grooming table, being rubbed down by towel

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, dog grooming jobs are going to increase by over 16% over the next 10 years.

WOW!

That means you can expect the grooming job market to grow much faster than almost any other job. Great news! So how much money can you expect to make as a groomer? What can you expect in the grooming industry in 2020? Let’s find out!

Note: Please note that all amounts listed in this article are in US dollars. 

cute up-close shot of puppy

Wages

Dog Grooming Professionals

Wages for dog grooming jobs are slowly increasing over time. According to payscale.com, a dog groomer’s salary in the US is anywhere between $21,000 (on the low end) and $54,000 (on the high end). That puts the average right around $32,000. Groomers also make an annual average commission of almost $6,000.

Keep in mind that these numbers refer to dog groomers that are employed mostly at salons and pet stores. Self-employed dog groomers can earn substantially more for their work.

Dog Grooming Salon Managers

A dog grooming salon manager might be an employee of a larger company, or she could be the owner of the grooming salon. A grooming salon manager can make anywhere from $30,000 to $72,000 per year, with the average being approximately $45,000. The average salon manager also receives an annual bonus of around $2,300, and the same commission amount of almost $6,000.

groomer cutting pomeranian's nails with scissor clipper

Factors that affect salary

The numbers above are averages that represent dog groomers of every kind across the United States. Your salary will depend on many factors, including:

  • Your location. Dog groomers in New York earn a higher average salary than dog groomers in Cheyenne. On the other hand, the cost of living in New York are staggering compared to the cost of living in Wyoming.  Salary isn’t everything; consider your costs, too!
  • Your education. A certification in dog grooming can help you earn higher wages, especially if you freelance. Clients will pay more for the reassurance that you’ve been trained to not hurt their dog.

Your experience. Your years of experience as a dog groomer will have a direct impact on how much you can earn. Groomers at the top of the scales that we discuss above typically have over 10 years of professional dog grooming experience under their belt.

Job Growth

As mentioned before, the number of grooming jobs is expected to increase very quickly over the next few years. That means you can expect:

Entry Level Opportunities

When an industry expects an increase in job numbers, most of these jobs are entry-level. Therefore, anyone who is looking to become a dog groomer will have no shortage of available grooming salon jobs they can apply to. With a solid education and good interviewing skills, you should be able to land your first professional dog grooming job and start gaining experience!

shiba inu getting brushed by groomer

Freelancing Opportunities

High demand for dog grooming services means that you can likely make a very good salary offering part-time grooming services out of your own home. Not everyone is comfortable bringing their dog to a grooming salon, and many owners will pay handsomely for the premium and individualized service you can offer as a freelancer. It’s a great opportunity to earn extra income until you’re ready to make grooming your full-time job!

Expansion Opportunities

A period of industry growth like this one is the perfect time to think about expanding your existing grooming business. Depending on your experience, this might mean:

  • Expanding your salon
  • Hiring more employees
  • Launching a mobile grooming service
  • Offering specialized services
  • And more!

Changes in Customer Behavior

The millennial generation has a bad reputation, but it hardly coincides with reality. Despite popular beliefs, millennials are not selfish and entitled. This is a generation who grew up working in the service industries, and who by-and-large respect the hard work that you do as a dog groomer.

Also, with many of these millennials opting for a child-free lifestyle, they’re adopting pets like crazy. They absolutely adore their fur-babies! These customers are willing to spend their hard-earned cash on pampering their pooches.

This means that by offering a unique grooming experience that targets younger clients, you can charge way higher than the average dog grooming prices for your services.  You can be really creative with your approach! Some ideas to get your hamster-wheel turning:

  • Luxury dog grooming. This might include everything from ergonomic dog beds in the kennels, to having a doggy massage therapist on staff.
  • Green dog grooming. Global warming affects everyone, and businesses who are environmentally conscious tend to stand out in a good way. This can mean anything from powering your salon with solar panels, to using biodegradable, cruelty-free products.
  • While-you-wait dog grooming. Not every owner is comfortable leaving their dog in a salon and coming back to pick him up later. Consider having a separate “waiting area” for your clients while their dogs are groomed. Bonus points if this space doubles as a doggy play-date!
  • Partnered services. More and more doggy daycares offer grooming services. Why not flip the tables and offer dog walking services as part of the grooming experience!
  • Personalized services. Send your pupper clients a card during the holidays, and a little gift for their birthday. It’s a cheap way to stay on your clients’ minds, and hard-core dog parents will swoon!
  • Altruistic approach. Donating part of your earnings is a great way to gain some publicity while doing good work. An example: “For every 20 dogs we groom, a deserving dog from the local humane society will receive a full spa day at our salon, absolutely free!” Think about the kind of Social Media attention that could generate, not to mention how awesome that would make you feel!
cuddling small puppy wrapped in towel

All in all, 2020 will be a fantastic year to enter the dog grooming industry or to grow your business.  With a few years of experience, you can expect a comfortable salary, and as you can see, there are so many other ways you can earn even more money!

Want to earn your dog grooming certification in 2020? Enroll today in QC’s leading online dog grooming course!

My 4 New Year Resolutions for My Dog Grooming Career

dogs in party hats, celebrating New Year's

QC Pet Studies graduate, Casey Bechard, works as a full-time dog groomer and shop manager at Off The Leash Pet Grooming in Regina, Canada. Today, she talks all about her dog grooming career resolutions for 2020.

Now that the New Year has arrived, there’s always that, ‘what are my resolutions going to possibly be!?’ crisis. It happens to the best of us! Whether it’s with regards to your personal life or work life, it’s always at the back of your mind. For me, my New Year resolutions will focus on my business.

My dog grooming career this past year was challenging, but very rewarding at the same time. Looking back on the resolutions I made in 2019, I can admit that some weren’t seen through. So I think I’ll make a point to carry that unfinished business into this coming year (with new goals, too, of course)!

4. Take on New Challenges

I always love a new challenge! But this year, I believe I can take on more. It will be a good test of all that patience I first had at the start of my grooming career. Having good patience when you’re grooming a dog is honestly so important! Dogs know when your patience is running thin, I swear. Trust me, they won’t waste a second before they’re trying to test you for everything you’ve got.

Personally, I don’t mind working with a dog that doesn’t like to be groomed. The end result is either going to be successful, or you’ll see areas where you know you can do better next time. But no matter what, whenever I finish working with a dog, regardless of how it went, I see that as a win in my books.

Taking on dogs that are a bit of a challenge and working with them, however the job may turn out, is one of my goals this coming year.

3. Taking on New Tasks as a Manager

Being the manager at Off the Leash Pet Grooming has been so rewarding; I’m so thankful for the opportunity to be in this position! That being said, I also feel like I could be doing more with this title at the shop.

brown and white pomchi getting teeth brushed with finger brush

I want to start being more involved in the managerial side of things, and I don’t mean just being in charge when the boss is away. For example, I’d love to make monthly newsletters to feature new items and new perks around the shop. I would also love to start introducing our store’s employees, because I believe that our customers would love to know who’s taking care of their dogs all day. I have ideas and I’m ready to use them!

I also think it would be important to focus on up-scaling our social media presence, since it’s a huge way to not only keep contact with past clients, but create contact with potentially new ones. If people are tagging your business account and posting about you, it catches other people’s eyes.

Social media provides opportunity for growth. This even goes for my own Instagram account, which I use to promote the dog grooming work I do independently. I tag my friends or people that I know in my post, and they sometimes share it or make their own posts. This is a big deal because it can lead to new followers, or even just bring in traffic to your page.

2. Move the Salon to a New Location

I put this one on my resolutions last year, but it just wasn’t in the cards at the time. This year, however, it’ll be happening. I am so excited! Finding a new building for our business that’s both located in the right area and set up for what we need is hard to find, but we’re working on it.

Hopefully in the next couple of months, we’ll find something we love, so we can move on in! Our space right now is just too small for what we do on a regular basis. Our number of staff increased quite a bit in 2019, so it’s time!

groomer petting old golden retriever

1. Always Keep Learning

I love this resolution because it will never get old. You can literally never stop learning, no matter what your occupation is. Learning is everything, especially when you’re first working towards becoming a certified dog groomer!

I love learning new things, especially when you’ve been doing something for so long and it’s your passion. Going to conferences, watching videos on YouTube, getting new books, talking to other groomers – there are always new ways to learn. You just have to find them!

With grooming, people’s grooming techniques can vary drastically. Just by watching someone or talking to them about their process, you can learn so much but about their grooming approach, their preferred tools, how they deal with difficult dogs, etc. I can’t wait to further my learning in this very challenging, but rewarding, career.

Now that I have put some of my New Year’s resolutions out there, I challenge you all do to the same! Always keep them in the back of your mind when working. They can be anything you desire. Don’t limit yourself, either! I didn’t just focus on grooming; I also want to aim to be a better manager, and explore how my whole team can benefit from trying new things! Just go for it!

Happy New Year, and happy grooming!

There are plenty of negative myths about online dog grooming school that are just plain FALSE. Let’s do the world a favor and debunk 5 of them