The past twelve years of cat grooming have taught me a few things, to be sure. One of those, is how to operate in the most efficient and productive manner possible. I'm kind of neurotic about efficiency and function anyway. It stresses me to no end to waste things, most of all time. My husband and kids can tell you this is true. I hate clutter, and waste, and inactivity, and most of all inefficiency. Bleh!
I schedule my clients in half hour increments with a two hour turn-around time for individual cats, a three hour turn-around for 2 cats from same household, four hours for 3 cats same household, and so forth.
If we have multiple groomers working, then we schedule each of them a cat for that half hour increment (and sometimes throw in an extra cat here and there). In other words, each groomer has 30 minutes to get their cat checked in, pre-bath work done, bathed, and in the cage dryer before their next cat is in and ready to be started. Of course, in an ideal world, ALL clients are right on time for pick up and drop off and NOTHING interrupts our perfectly scheduled day. But, alas, this is not an ideal world. So we roll with the punches.
To give you an idea of how we operate, here's a glimpse of a busy day of cat grooming .......
9:00am 4 cats are checked in. This means checking the condition of the cats, discussing options with the owner, adding or changing data in Kennel Connection records, tagging each carrier, and putting a sticky note on it with our groom shorthand. Each cat is always assigned a number which goes on its carrier, on its groom sticky note, and on its cage dryer. This allows any groomer to pick up a particular cat at any time and know its name, its groom procedure, if it's a biter or whatever, and what time it goes home.
9:20 Olivia carries the first batch of cats upstairs to begin grooming. Her goal, to get as many as possible into the cage dryer before I bring up the next batch.
9:30 I carry up the remainder of the first batch of cats and run downstairs to begin checking in the two 9:30 appointments. Dialogue with clients, tag cats, etc. Olivia continues grooming.
9:40 I carry up 9:30 cats and begin grooming. We now have 6 cats in house, the first 4 going home at 12:00 and the next 2 going home at 12:30. (longer than normal turn-out time because we have enough cats each ½ for 4 groomers but only have two on staff, plus no front end help.) Because we are alone and must man the front end in addition to grooming, I decide to give a group check out time for the following batches of cats. This will cut down on the time I am downstairs and thus, not able to groom.
10:00 4 more cats checked in. I hurry through the customer dialogue as quickly as possible, tag cats and haul carriers upstairs as quickly as possible. The phone rings a few times, which I answer while grooming, writing notes on a white board so I can handle the appt bookings and such at a later time. We concentrate on getting the last of the first 6 cats into the cage dryer, setting aside our 10:00 check-ins until we accomplish getting the first batch into the dryer.
10:30 4 more cats come in for a total of 14 in house at this point. I have now given all the 10:00 and 10:30 appts a 2:00 pick up time. That's 8 cats, start to finish in 3 1/2 - 4 hour time frame. Plus we still have the first 6 to finish and get out by 12:00-12:30.
10:45 7 cats in cage dryer (2 are together because they live together and we’ve run out of cage space), 2 in Catty Shack Vacs. Olivia is drying the two in the CSVs while I work on another quick shave down and bath.
11:00 1 cat on table for finish work, 2 in CSVs (1 almost dry), 6 in cage dryer, 5 still in carriers awaiting their turns. I run down to check in new cat while Olivia finished one on table, puts back in carrier and places at stairway landing for me to grab my next trip down. After that she goes back to the other 2 in CSVs to finish up their drying.
11:10 I head back upstairs with 2 new cats with a 3:00 check out time. The 3rd 11:00 is late. We are happy about this. I save the finished cat to run down when I go back to check in 3rd 11:00 cat. Phone rings – 11:30 client is running late, can she come closer to 12? Indeed she can! Yeah!
11:30 We have finished 2nd and 3rd cats – both in carriers at top of steps waiting on a run down to front. We’ve got 1 more 12:00 and 2 12:30’s still to finish up, so we concentrate on those.
11:40 1 of the 2 11:30’s arrives. The other is due at noon – running late. The remaining 11:00 is now considered a no-show. We aren’t complaining. I’m beginning to panic at this point. We have 1 CSV unusable because it has cat poop in it. I have two dirty tables with dried cat pee on them. We are wading in piles of dirty cat hair, which we don’t want contaminated with clean cat hair. It needs to be swept up and put in the dirty hair bin. And towels need to be washed. Plus one of the cats that came in, which the owner said was a biter, is wearing a dress. We are wondering why the owner would leave a dress on her biter cat for us to take off. That sounds like fun.
12:00 I’ve run the last of the 5 finished cats down to the front for check out. The last of the cats checks in. Sigh of relief. We’ve checked out one of the earlier cats so figure we’ve go til 12:30 to still be interrupted by pick ups. After that we can get to serious work – no interruptions.
12:10 My husband texts and asks how things are going. He knows we are running shorthanded on a full schedule. I ignore his text. No time. A few minutes later he texts again asking if he should come help out. YES! Is my quick reply. The phone rings, a long-time regular customer has a bit of an emergency and needs her cat groomed asap. I ask her if she can be here within 30 minutes. She takes the appointment. What was I thinking? At least he’s a good cat. Full coat Persian, but compliant. I’m thankful for the small things and praying my husband arrives very soon!
12:30 6 cats are done, 5 checked out and 1 still waiting for pick up. We are shaving like mad – lion cuts, sanitary clips, and belly shaves. Then off for a bath and into the cage dryer. We’ve run out of space in the 6-bank cage dryer, so are putting cats into the 4 remaining CSVs to dry. Each time we go into the drying room, we move the CSV dryer hoses to a different spot on the cat. I can tell the cats know things are crazy as they just sit there and wait patiently, doing the best to be helpful. At least I like to think that is what they are doing.
12:45 Work-in Persian arrives. While I’m checking in the last cat of the day (at least I hope so!) I hear the back door chime signaling my husband’s entry into the building. I want to cry with joy. But customer is there so I refrain. Instead I politely tell client that I must get back upstairs and get to work and that I will have her cat done around 3. “How late are you open today,” she asks me. 2:00 is what I tell her. She crinkles her brow. “Yeah,” I say, “It’s the Saturday before Christmas. So can you pick up at 3:00?”
12:55 Back upstairs. Husband asks what he can do. I smile at him. “See that spray bottle?” I ask. “Yeah,” he says. “See that poop over there?” I ask. He figures out the rest on his own and gets to work. While he spiffs up our CSVs, work stations, floors, and towels, Olivia and I continue working at full speed. Our objective at this point: finish up the remainder of the 8 cats that are due out at 2:00. We’ve got 1 hour!
2:00 6 are gone, 6 ready and waiting downstairs (which husband kindly carried down for us), 2 almost done (hoping owners are late), 3 in cage dryer, 2 not even started yet (1 is the work-in and the other a DSH that gets no shaving so we assume she’s a quickie. Never assume. Especially when cats are involved.)
2:10 While frantically grooming, I try to tell husband how to use Kennel Connection to generate invoices. I need him to check out cats so I can stay upstairs and groom. We’ve finished up the last of the 2:00’s for him to take down with him.
2:15 one of the clients wants to see Olivia. Just wants to say “hi.” They love her to pieces. There’s no time for socializing, but you gotta keep the customers happy. She goes down to see client and, while she’s there she might as well check out some cats. Husband goes with her. They leave me alone upstairs with all this cat hair. I’ve got work-in kitty in the bath, doing final rinse. Then into the dryer. Hoping Olivia gets back up here soon so she can bathe the DSH.
2:20 Olivia picks up the DSH and tries to get it out of the carrier. Aggressive. It escapes and runs around the room. Really aggressive! It goes under a groom table and poops. She calls for help – I’m in drying cats – have 4 in the CSVs. We finally get cat out from under table. I take it to the bath – forget the nail trim. It’s the kind of cat that flexes its neck muscles and whips its head around to bite as soon as you get ½” from its scruff. A fraction of a second after that, it flips over onto its back and goes after your body parts with all 18 claws and a mouthful of teeth. Bad kitty. Two towels, a soaked groomer, and a wet, soapy floor later we have a bathed DSH. She’s mad but clean. Into the CSV with an Air Muzzle on because I don’t feel like fishing her out of cage dryer later on. My energy is running out.
2:30 I have to pee, and I’m starving. And I’m sick with a sore throat and sinus thing. But no time for any of that. 30 minutes to go, no rest for the weary. Thankful my husband came. We have a clean floor, fresh clean towels, and someone to run carriers up and down. One of the morning cats weighed in at 38 lbs – wishing he had been here for running that one down. Stats: 14 gone, 2 done and waiting for pick up, and 3 in CSVs in various stages of completion. Light at the end of the tunnel!
2:40 The work-in cat pees in the CSV – he was like 2 minutes from being done. This always happens! Back to the tub for a butt bath. Olivia is finishing up her cat – almost dry and will be ready for finish shaving in a minute or two. I’m looking at the DSH sitting there with her “helmet” on and thinking I don’t really want to end my day with her. I put the Persian back into a CSV and leave him to go tend to the DSH. Save the nice for last.
2:45 Husband tells me the work-in cat has peed in the CSV and is sitting in it. Again? Really? Another butt bath. Quickly and then back to the unfriendly DSH.
3:00 The door bell is chiming in rapid succession. Clients in and out, husband is manning the fort below. I may have to fix things later on.
It takes Olivia and I both to handle the finish work on the DSH, but not before I end up with fresh, bloody wounds down my left arm. Dang. And it’s 3:00. I hope my work-in owner is just a tad late. I’m doing my best. At least if I’m going to be late on a cat, it should be the work-in. Olivia goes back to finish up that final cat. I head downstairs with the DSH in tow. She has a brother, he’s already downstairs waiting. I finish checking out cats and catching up with old clients – with congealed blood on my forearm. The mark of a true cat groomer. The owner of the DSH is surprised that her other cat did so well and that the DSH was so aggressive and did THAT to my arm. She tells me she bathes her all the time at home and she’s so good about it. Really? I wonder about this. I can’t imagine the scene at home being one of peace and tranquility. When I inquire further about this phenomenon, she tells me that her bathing regimen consists of getting a cloth damp and wiping it down the cat’s back. This does explain things.
3:10 Olivia brings work-in cat downstairs and tells me that’s it. I want to cry and shout for joy at the same time. I take my time finishing up with the remaining clients. It’s good to see them again. After the last person leaves, I lock the door and turn out the front lights. And take a deep breath. Then I sit in Dana’s office and take my time updating the client records and getting the financials in order. I hear husband and Olivia upstairs cleaning the vacuum buzzing and cage trays banging around. I sort of feel bad that I’m not up there, too, helping out. But then I remember that I’m the boss and therefore should not feel bad about this. Instead I go into the bathroom and wash my war wounds. When I’m satisfied that I won’t come down with Cat Scratch Disease, I check the mail, check the messages and shoot out a few emails that need to be taken care of before leaving on vacation. And then I head home to pack my bags, gather my children, and ride off for a Christmas vacation at the beach.