Passion Performance Paychecks…by Khris Berry


Outside of work, Amy juggles a husband and a few kids, a pack of dogs, and ever-constant extended family responsibilities. She always loved animals, her aunts and grandma tell her stories of being good with family pets growing up at the occasional family gathering. She graduated high school a few years ago and stumbled through life for a bit before accepting a job as a kennel assistant. Fast forward on Amy’s life playlist and she is now a really good groomer. She learned from a veteran groomer and found she had a knack for the trade. She supplemented her education along the way by attending a few seminars and has recently been exploring on-line Grooming tutorials.  Amy enjoys her job and it earns a nice living for her family. If you ask her what she thought her career would be, she will likely list 3-4 different trades or professions but none of them would have been Pet Grooming.

Enter Amanda. Amanda always knew she wanted to be a dog groomer. From her first employment experiences, she positioned herself to work with animals and become a dog groomer. She listened, learned, and honed her skills. She attended dog shows and tagged along with professional handlers and groomers. Today, she juggles a husband, a few kids, a pack of dogs, and ever constant extended family responsibilities. She an Amy have similar lives with the exception of the path which brought them each to this moment in time.

One of these groomers is a passion groomer. And the other one is a paycheck groomer. This leads me to the question of the day…is one preferable to the other? You may think you know the answer but before you jump to conclusions, let’s explore both of these groomers, and gain some insights into their motivation.

The Passion Groomer is a Client’s dream. Their passion lies somewhere between the client, the pet, and the craft itself. They get excited about a new Airedale client on their appointment book because they have been studying the breed standard and can’t wait to apply the knowledge. Our Passion groomer may also offer discounted services on the area’s only Afghan Hound for the experience gained by handling the coat and begin to draw rare breeds and high-level styles into a salon.

Our Paycheck Groomer is an Employer’s dream. She shows up early and stays late- not necessarily for the salon itself, but to groom an extra dog or two each day. She out earns the groomers around her, and can whip out a shih-tzu faster than you can say shih-tzu thirty times. She will never discount her services- she is keenly aware of the connection between her hard work and her paycheck.

And there we have a paradox- Passion and Paycheck converge. Much like Venus and Mars, these Groomers inhabit the same universe but speak dynamically different career languages. Passion Groomers cannot understand why Paycheck Groomers don’t invest in constantly elevating their education. Paycheck Groomers cannot fathom why Passion Groomers spend an extra 30 minutes to ensure every hair is in place before revealing their masterpiece to their loyal client.

The common denominator in this debate is Performance. When you begin to communicate with both types of groomers using this common language- you are closer to bringing their worlds together. Passion groomers must understand that if they are discounting their services, not charging appropriately for their time, or not running their business in a professional and profitable manner, they are harming the industry. Inversely, Paycheck groomers must understand that they should be held to a quality standard as well. Paycheck groomers who cut corners to squeeze an extra dog into the schedule, rush to finish their dogs, or send out an average groom because they ran out of time are equally harmful to the industry.

By defining standards for yourself, and your salon if you have that power, you can diminish the roots of Passion and Paycheck and begin to focus on Performance. Your client is purchasing a SERVICE. You are providing that SERVICE. You have a responsibility to charge appropriately and provide a quality product. Your industry depends on it.

Scissors and Clippers and other tales of tools groomers use…


Recently Jack came to visit See Spot. Jack is a nervous little fellow of snub nose, small dog, no-you-can’t-touch-me-there descent and his visit proved true to that statement. During the grooming service, Jack jumped into the path of an oncoming scissor blade and found himself with a nicked foot pad. Jack’s human mom was understanding of the unfortunate turn of event having been informed of his behavior during previous grooming services. The next day, Jack’s human dad called and was both upset and aggressive in his approach to the situation. My husband intercepted the phone call and recounted the events of Jack’s scissor incident to Jack’s Mister.  As tensions eased and Mister began to think rationally and understanding how the cut happened- Mister stopped abruptly and declared, “What do you mean you use scissors- that’s Barbaric!” When my husband translated the conversation to me afterwards- I was immediately defensive and shocked that the question had been posed. Most groomers would instantly quip- how do they expect us to cut their dog’s hair without sharp instruments. I know this because I have done it. I have heard it. I have been in the room when it was said. Countless times.

And that’s where the lesson for the day lies. Never forget, the pet-owning public knows nearly nothing about what we do and how we do it- it’s up to us to educate clients about our process, limitations, what we can and cannot do and what we ask of their pets during the grooming or daycare process.

We are accustomed to the tools and processes involved in our day to day careers. Any groomer worth their salt can trim nails, shave the paw pad on a foot, and scissor finish that same foot as fast as you can read the last three sentences. Let’s admit it, most groomers begin by learning to scissor feet. We lose sight of the fact, that most pet owners don’t know (and perhaps don’t really care) how we accomplish our daily feats of grooming greatness.

We are the professionals- let’s softly educate our clients about our training, tools and how we actually do our jobs. In a world that is largely unlicensed and unregulated, more owners should be asking questions. Instead of recoiling when they ask about our safety protocol, our training, or our qualifications- professional groomers should respond with “I’m so glad you asked…”

In retrospect, while an unfortunate moment for Jumping into Scissors Jack, it provided a moment of clarity for me to further connect with and encourage open dialog with pet owners. So, the next time you are tempted to state that you will be using your magic wand to create the mystical doggie-do your client requests, take a moment instead to let them know you will be using multiple sharp objects in close proximity to every inch of their pet’s skin all the while managing his behavior and identifying troubling skin or coat issues. You may even suggest that you will also find time to bond with him and develop a groomer/canine client bond that will last for many years to come. I learned that if Jack’s owners didn’t know we used scissors to cut his hair- it wasn’t shame on them. Rather, shame on me for assuming they did. The devil is always in the details.


Team USA wins World Championship GOLD!


Team USA wins GOLD! With what could be arguably one of the best Groom Teams ever assembled in the World (Victor Rosado, Lindsey Dicken, Mackenzie Murphy, Michelle Breen Krahenbul, and alternate Cat Opson), the United States team charged to GOLD with strong performances by all. Surrounded by their closest friends and supporters both international and from home, this talented group of groomers entered Grooming Legend status when they were announced World Champions! See Spot Grooming is honored to have our own Brittney Valle, NCMG ringside supporting her mentor Michelle Breen Krahenbul and the rest of the team. We can’t wait for their triumphant return home and for Brittney to share her experiences as well as newly gained knowledge with our team!

Grooming Teams from 24 countries gathered this weekend in Kortrijk, Belgium to vie for top honors. Italy earned Silver honors and the team from Russia earned Bronze. Groomers compete for many years and learn to execute intricate finish work, scissor skills, and intimate knowledge of dog anatomy and breed profiles to reach this level of success. These fine Groomers have achieved the pinnacle of success in their industry and garnered the admiration and respect of the entire world!