Most of you guys are preparing for the impending Holidays in normal ways. What is normal you ask? Maybe it’s getting dates on your calendar for family celebrations; maybe it’s beginning to plan decorations, gifts, meals, or making time for cherished traditions. All around the country, Groomers are making preparations of a different sort.
Groomers view the Holiday season (encompassing the period between Thanksgiving week and ending on Christmas Day) with something akin to a love/hate relationship. Many groomers make a lot of money during this time period. They work long hours, offer services to extra dogs, enjoy larger thoughtful seasonal tips. It’s bountiful season for most in the pet industry. That’s the love part of the season.
The hate version I will now label as a form of PTGD. I just made that up but for the sake of this article- just run with me. It’s Post Traumatic Groomer Disorder. Working as a pet service professional during the holidays will thicken the skin of even the most seasoned service professional. Emotions are heightened. Finances become strained for many of our clients. Stress is at an all time high for the pet owning population (and the general population for that matter). And we are in the line of fire for it all.
I’ve often wondered about the family who wakes up 1 day before a large Norman Rockwell-esque celebration and realizes that their dog has neglected to schedule his own grooming appointments for months and it will now ruin the ENTIRE holiday if he doesn’t get fully groomed at the last minute. Just once, I want to ask, “did you not realize he was a matted mess last week? or the week before that? or last month?” And of course that coat isn’t able to be saved- lady, we crossed that bridge 3 months ago when you missed his appointment we prescheduled so he wouldn’t have to be shaved. So, as Groomers, we squeeze the dog in and feel better that he will spend his Christmas clean and being enjoyed by his family.
We wake up ourselves on our own holiday time sore, bruised, bitten, tired, and emotionally exhausted from the onslaught of clients who demand our services in those short few weeks. That’s the hate part of PTGD.
So, I challenge Pet Groomers everywhere to find a balance. We choose to close an extra day at Christmas each year simply to allow our staff to have that extra moment to relax, enjoy, and decompress. We also choose to limit ourselves to a predetermined number of haircuts during holiday weeks (no exceptions) and then provide bath/brush tidy ups to every other dog. Yes, we bathe matted dogs those weeks- and counsel them to come back the next week for a full groom. It’s the only time we let our standards slip simply for the sake of vanity. We make many more families happy by observing this policy. We have many more clean client pets who are able to participate in their family functions and Christmas photos. And then we have more dogs returning in January to get back on their regularly scheduled programs. It’s a balance for all. At See Spot, our groomers are finding that the Holidays are more festive- we’ve found a way to strike a balance.
This year, instead of dreading the Holiday rush, we are eagerly awaiting the many faces we will be able to squeeze in. Yes, our groomers are already excited about their holiday paychecks- there is no shame in working hard and making lots of money doing something you love. But, they will also enjoy those holiday paychecks a little less sore, a little less exhausted, and a whole lot more enjoyably.
When asked how I am (or I ask another person this question), I often respond with a comment about my time. “I’m staying so busy” “I am always running behind” “I can’t seem to get everything done” are common answers. I rarely stop to consider what the person asked me. He/she didn’t want to know what I was doing (or hadn’t gotten done). They asked me how I was. How I truly was doing out there on this big blue disco ball we call Earth.
Each of us has a limited amount of time. Currently, I have lived 11,680 days as a Pet Professional. I have been an adult most of them. I have taken care of, trained, and groomed a countless number of dogs in those days. Today I had a conversation with a staff member who consistently infringes on other peoples time. A few minutes later here, a lot of minutes late there. She keeps customers waiting on their pets sometimes…maybe it’s 10 minutes to put those finishing touches on a perfect haircut. But it happens more often than it should. I pointed out to her that she was stealing time from those clients she kept waiting. Just as no shows/no calls steals time which a groomer set aside for an appointment, the clients need stability and consistency from the Pet Groomers to plan their already hectic time schedules.
Your time as a Pet Groomer is valuable and so it that of your client. Every one of us is terribly aware that we don’t seem to have enough time in the days. You can see it in the impatient husband picking his dog up on the way home from work. You can see it in the frazzled mom rushing to get the dog before she leaves for the after school carpool line. You can see it in the rushed groomer who just can’t seem to get her dogs finished each day before the owners are calling and asking when to come pick them up. Everyone is searching for a balance.
We are service professionals. Wait a minute, I’m going to say that louder. PET GROOMERS ARE SERVICE PROFESSIONALS. Now that you heard that, it is our job to be considerate of our clients time constraints and to let our clients know accurately what time we need to complete the service we are hired to do. Every pet deserves our time and attention. By learning to correctly manage your time and client work load, your clients can learn to relax and enjoy your services. You/their pet/their appointment can be one less source of stress and something that they don’t have to worry about infringing on that more precious resource- time.
See Spot Grooming & Daycare is blessed to be a bunch of winners. That likely sounds braggadocious, but we like to win and prepare ourselves daily on how to achieve that result. Recently, a client called to let us know that her pet didn’t receive our customary “supafancy” haircut. We took a look at the dog- and she was right. We volunteered to correct our mistake and were both happy with the outcome. In that conversation, I mentioned to her that we don’t wake up everyday at See Spot and say “Let me see if I can only do average work for my clients today.” In fact, we wake up every day and dialog about how can we improve our skills and ourselves constantly. We never rest for long on our achievements. That perfect doodle leg Lynda just scissored will be even better the next time she grooms the dog. Because she doesn’t settle for good enough.
We were fortunate enough to receive nominations for the 2018 Barkleigh Honors National Pet Grooming Industry Awards this year (we got 2 in 2017!). Brittney Valle was nominated for the prestigious Up & Coming Groomer of the Year Award (yes, there’s a curse attached so maybe it’s okay she didn’t win) and I was nominated for Journalist of the Year, Industry Speaker of the Year, and (dearest to my heart) the top award of Contribution to the Industry. While thrilled to be among the ranks of nominees, we didn’t bring home any of these awards this year. We have lovely achievement posters announcing our nominations proudly displayed in our Grooming Salons. We were congratulated by so many peers and friends inside and out of the grooming industry for once again being recognized for achievements in our careers. We are proud that we were among these fine and legendary groomers in our quest. But we are already thinking of next year…
How many more lives can we touch? How many more groomers or pet owners can we inspire? What can we do better? Just like Lynda and her doodle leg, just watch- we will figure it out and come stronger, harder, better, and smarter in 2019. Here’s to the amazing 2018 Barkleigh Award winners and nominees- we love and respect everyone who strives to touch other professionals in our industry. #barkleigh #seespotgrooming