If you have been grooming for any period of time you understand that the months of November and December can be your best friend or your worst enemy. People some out of the woodwork to try to get their pets groomed. I mean, forget that Fluffy hasn't had a bath in 6 months! Grandma is coming to visit and that means Fluffy MUST be groomed, and it MUST happen today!
Many of us increase our grooming exponentially during these two months. It means we have extra money for the holidays, but it also puts a terrible toll on our bodies and our minds. There will be little time to get things done that need doing during the heaviest of the rush, so I try to plan ahead.
There are things that you can do now, during the two weeks or so before the storm hits in full force, that will make your holiday rush go more smoothly.
- Post and changes to your hours as soon as you have them set, and make sure all of your clients know what days you will be available during the holidays. We are usually open the Friday after Thanksgiving and it is generally a very busy day for us. I post signs in October to tell our clients what they can expect. Don't forget to update your website with your holiday hours as well.
- Order shampoo and sprays in advance. Having extra on hand will help when you have the extra dogs in the shop. Adjust your inventory to handle any excess you are expecting. I usually have an extra full case of shampoo on hand and two gallons of conditioning sprays as back up.
- Service all clippers and have spare parts on hand in case something decides to quit working. If you have one pair of clippers this is extremely important at all times, but during the holidays it can be critical. I keep hinges, blade drives and Tune Up Kits (Laube user) in case I need them. I have multiple clippers but I am sending off all of the ones that might need servicing this week. I have been stick with no clippers working before and I will not let that happen again.
- Make sure your dryers are in good working order. Have extra brushes on hand and know how to install them if they need it. Recently one of my dryers stopped working altogether. It was simply brushes but it happened at a time when I had to have a dryer, so I ended up buying a new one to have on hand until the older one was repaired. If you can afford it, buy a backup dryer just in case. Either a small, new one or a used one will work great until you can get your favorite one serviced and will generally not cost as much as you will lose if you are down a dryer. Used products are listed here quite often http://www.petgroomerads.com/used_products.htm and I have been very lucky when buying things here.
- Do a deep cleaning now so that the weeks when it is crazy you do not have to do it. Things that may not normally get done, like moving cage banks, baseboards, dusting picture frames, cleaning out closets and drawers. Wiping down walls in places that may get forgotten. Doing these things will help you out in the long run and mean that it does not need doing during the busiest time of year. Plus it is always nice to have a clean shop. I also hire someone to clean up the exterior of my building in October. They pressure wash, clean up all the extra brush and limbs, trim hedges, mulch flower beds and all of the outside stuff so that I do not have to worry about it and then, when the decorating for Christmas is done the place is clean and neat.
- Sharpen all blades and shears that are even thinking about going dull. I remember one year having my husband drive 3 and a half hours to Atlanta to have shears sharpened in the middle of the holiday rush to get blades and shears sharpened because I was down to one pair of shears and just a handful of blades. I no longer have that problem, aw I have lots of shears and blades, but I also prepare better. If you have a tradeshow coming up or a mobile sharpener that services your area then take advantage of them and get your things done now so that you will not be stuck when you need your things to work the most.
- Get your holiday ribbons and bandanas ready to go. In the afternoons when I am waiting on pickups, I cut and sew my bandanas, get my bows ready and get whatever decorations we want on collar covers made in advance. When the need arises I am ready to go. It gives me something to do in the down time and helps me be better prepared for the crazy times.
- Sign all Christmas cards and get whatever coupons or gifts you are giving to clients ready. I like to have a basket full of signed and stuffed cards on the desk during the holiday rush, and by spending an hour or so every week on this I am able to have y cards signed and coupons cut out and inserted in the envelopes before Thanksgiving. You can buy a stamp that has your holiday message in it if you like and that will make it even faster. Because I bought all of my cards last year after Christmas I am ready to go and that is one less thing I have to worry about.
- Start pre-booking your clients holiday appointments now if you haven't already done it. It will help them out and you as well.
- If you are going to need extra help for the holidays, interviewing should b e finished by now and several days of trial runs and training should be going on before the rush actually begins. I recommend shops at least consider hiring a part time bather to help out at this time of year. You can do what I do, which is offer bath, fluff out and nails and have the new help trained to do them. Many clients who cannot get in for a groom can at least take advantage of having Fluffy clean and pretty for the holidays and the income will more than pay for the help hired. A part time groomer (if you can find one) is also fantastic to add on at this time of year. They can add to your income, make it possible for clients to get dogs done that otherwise would go undone and it helps out a person who just wants a small income. I have one hired for the season already and she is working two days a week now so she can get the feel for how the shop works.
- Take a weekend off and relax! It is critical that you stay fresh and alert during this time of year and taking a break ahead of time will help you stay awake and motivated during the rest of the season.
You will find that once some of the things are done in advance you can relax a bit and truly enjoy the grooming and the holiday spirit a bit more. By doing the things listed above you can assure yourself an easier holiday rush, in most cases. I cannot promise you it will all go smoothly, jut that the bumps will be less evident.