The holiday season is upon us, rich with goodwill towards all. It makes me think about groomers, extending goodwill towards (gasp) OTHER GROOMERS. A few thousand years ago I went to my very first grooming seminar. It was given by John Stazko, an industry legend. It was a wonderful seminar, and I learned a lot. But all these years later I remember two things. The first thing was that at the beginning of the seminar, John had us all stand up, and introduce ourselves to the groomers sitting on either side of us. We were to shake hands. It was... awkward.
When we all sat down, John said, "There. You just talked to another groomer and you didn't die," (or something to that effect.) It as then that I realized, many groomers do NOT like to interact with others in our field. I'm not sure if it's insecurity, or competitiveness, or something else entirely. The second thing I remember is that John handed out his business cards to all of us and told us if we ever had a question to call him. I was in awe. This guy was a BIG DEAL. And he was giving us his personal contact information. He seemed very sincere. Many years later I DID have a huge question, and I called. Guess what? He called me back! He was on his way to go on vacation, but he took time to call and help me out. He talked to me for a long time, answering all my questions. Learning from his example and lessons, I have tried to be available to other groomers any time I could. I don't know if I have helped anyone, but the many groomers I have relationships with have certainly enriched my life.
Some of my best friends are other groomers. I have a bunch of on-line groomer friends, only a key stroke away if I have a question. Better yet, I have some that I see and interact with in real life. There is nothing like having another groomer for a pal. Only another groomer fully knows the day-long horror of getting a squirt of anal sac "juice" on your face. Or worse, in your hair. They understand what happens when a dog has blow-out diarrhea when you are using a high velocity dryer. They get it when you tell them that you dropped your favorite, most expensive scissors on concrete.
In on-line groomer forums there is endless support and encouragement for others in our field. And there is also some terrible meanness. And locally, so few groomers even speak. It does not have to be that way. At my last job we had a wonderful thing called, "The HAPPY List." This list encompassed customers that we would be happy to NOT do business with. We shared this with other pet stylists in the area. Here are some examples: the customer with a vicious dog that refused to divulge the fact that their pet would cheerfully remove a finger. Or a facial feature. Then there is the customer who repeatedly bounces checks. The serial last-minute canceller. Or the one that is never, EVER happy, no matter what you do. Even that customer that makes you cringe when you see their name on the appointment book. We had a little group of local groomers who would share this info with one another. It was terrific. More recently, a local groomer bought a new, second, business. I took flowers. I took flowers when she opened her first business, too. The second ones made an impact, we are beginning to be friends. I think you can never have too many friends. Especially if they have a line on a really good local blade sharpener.
And then there is this. A favorite customer moved away to another state. They sent pictures of their cockapoo after the new groomer had given him a trim. It wasn't what they had in mind. They asked my advice. I wrote up a fairly detailed list of how I used to groom their dog, using groomer language. I started with the bathing and preparation process and finished with exact trimming notes. I tried to be kind. They took the instructions to the new groomer. She took them to heart and did a terrific job. That made me feel good. My customers were happy. I was happy. I HOPE the new groomer was happy.
Goodwill. It does not have to be seasonal, and it does not have to be just for people who are not in our profession. I plan to have a "groomer gathering," for the folks that scrub dog butts for a living in my area after the holidays. I've done this before, but it's been too long. There will be food, beverages, and maybe some helpful connections made. How about you? What can you do to foster pleasant relations with others in our industry? Keyword: #Goodwill