5 Easy Ways to Give Yourself a Raise

Let’s face it, many salon owners aren’t charging as much as they feel they should. Local competition and price-sensitive clients are two strong reasons why. In some cases, grooming rates are already as high as considered possible without losing customers.

In most service-based businesses, payroll is the highest expense. A typical grooming business pays out more than 50% to 60% in payroll, alone. When salons are paying out those percentages, raises are rare.

We’ve talked to lots of groomers. It’s no surprise that one of the main complaints with their jobs is not making enough money. It’s not all about the money but having fair compensation for the work we do is not unreasonable!

When people come to me and ask how they can earn more, I always remind them that time is money – regardless of how you are paid. The faster you can get through a pet safely, the more money you will ultimately make.

5 Easy Ways to Give Yourself a Raise

Use Guard Combs

Guard combs are one of the easiest ways to speed up your grooming. They allow you to set consistent length over the dog quickly. With the variety of lengths, it’s easy to customize the haircut just by switching out the guard comb. When working with guard combs you don’t need the time it takes to get a beautiful scissor finish. This is a much safer option that also minimizes the stress large amounts of hand scissoring can cause.

Invest in Chunkers

This scissor style is taking the industry by storm. Chunkers are oversized thinning shears or blending shears with wider teeth. In some cases, they can be used for the entire groom. Chunkers give a beautiful natural finish in no time.

Some stylists choose to use them in conjunction with scissor or guard comb work. When used in this manner, they dust the top of the coat, removing any imperfections swiftly. There are plenty of styles to choose from with a wide price point based on the quality of the shear. Talk to other pet stylists before you invest in a pair. Find out which chunkers are their favorites and then try them out before you buy them.

Add Accessories

Pet parents are spending more on their dogs. Many clients love a little bling – and it doesn’t always have to be shiny! It’s easy to upsell special accessories:

  • special bows
  • bandannas
  • feather extensions
  • nail wraps
  • temporary color
  • pup tattoos
  • jeweled neckwear
  • bow ties and ties
  • temporary body bling
  • feather eyelashes

There is no limit to the creativity you can have – as long as it is safe for the pet. It’s a fun way to add a little extra revenue and get people talking!

Up-Grade Specialized Shampoos or Services

Every salon has its favorite economical go-to shampoo. But what if your clients had a choice? For some clients, nothing is too good for their pets. Many spa lines of pet shampoo do a fabulous job getting the dog clean and smelling fabulous. There are many specialty shampoos that treat special skin and coat conditions. Most of the time they cost a little bit more than your everyday shampoo. There’s no reason to charge the same. Some specialty shampoos need to sit on the pet a little bit longer to be effective (if it takes extra time it should also add a little more cost). Consider these liquid tool gold mines:

  • blueberry facials
  • anti-itch shampoos
  • odor neutralizing treatments
  • skin and coat remoisturizing treatments
  • deshedding shampoos

Try a paw-i-cure instead of just trimming the nails. This type of service is a package deal. It includes:

  • filing nails with a Dremel to get them smooth and short
  • trimming the coat between the pads
  • sometimes a skin soothing ointment is even included for rough foot pads.

Many of these upsells don’t take any more time to do yet add more income to you or the business.

Stay Focused

Don’t get distracted. Most small to medium-sized basic grooms should take about an hour to do. If someone else is bathing for you, the finish trimming should only take between 20 to 30 minutes for the same sized basic groom.  Minimize the idle chitchat with your coworkers. Put your cell phone on silent and deal with it when YOU have time. Keep your station highly organized. Create a routine for everything you do from start to finish. The more dogs crossing your table translates into more money going into your pocket. Sometimes it’s in the form of a paycheck, sometimes it’s in the form of tips.

It doesn’t matter if you are commission or hourly. The efforts you put out will create faster grooms, higher-quality trims, delighted customers, and repeat business. Applying these five tips can help you groom dogs better in less time while providing great service for your customers – while adding cash to your pocket!

Happy trimming!


Shredding Shedding Problems

This is the time of year the big shedding breeds come in. They’re often the ones that haven’t been groomed in FOREVER. You know the ones  Goldens…arctic-type breeds…Saint Bernards. They have that coat that totally trashes your salon – and maybe even you. There are tricks to getting this type of job done without too much agony.  For anyone who’s missed this blog in the past – it’s a perfect time to revisit my blog on salvage work.

As many of you know, I’m a big dog person.  Working on these large furry dogs is one of my favorite things to do in a grooming salon.  Call me crazy – but I just love the transformation in this type of job.  Over the years, the process rarely makes me cringe, no matter the size or condition of the dog – I see it as a fun challenge!

My #1 rule: Never work on a dirty dog. If water can penetrate the coat, let your products do the job.

Working on a dirty dog is not only unpleasant, it also takes longer to do.  Plus, there will be a lot of coat damage and breakage.  A dirty coat is dry and brittle. The dirt and dander trapped within the fur makes it more difficult to brush out. Working on a clean coat will be easier for both you and the pet – and much more pleasant.

If there are large chunks that water cannot penetrate, go ahead and break up the tangle using the tool safe for the pet.  Don’t worry about removing the tangle completely, just break it apart so the water and shampoo can do its job.

Prepare your bathing area.  If the dog is exceptionally dirty, use a shampoo especially designed for dirty dogs.  Using a follow-up treatment of a skin and coat conditioner after bathing twice (or maybe three times in some areas) will assist with the brush out and dead coat removal during the drying process.  Make sure you have all the tools you’ll need to aid in getting the dog clean like rubber curries or scrub brushes.  And make sure you have plenty of towels handy.  To see my video lesson on salvage work at Learn2GroomDogs.com, click here.

Shedding HAir
My favorite trick when working with this type of job is to bring my high velocity dryer right into the bathing area (bring your eye and ear protection, too!).  With the dog fully lathered, blow the shampoo right off the pet while it is tethered in the tub.  The slippery soap will allow the dirt, loose coat, and tangles slide out. It’s the same principle as applying soap to get a tight ring off your finger. It speeds up the entire process when it comes to mats, tangles, and shedding coat if you get the product right down to the skin.

As you work the high velocity dryer over the soapy dog, the loose coat and shampoo will stick to the back wall of the tub, minimizing the mess.

Not all the shedding coat or mats will be removed - but a lot will - making your job easier once you transfer the pet to the drying table.

Once you have blown out the pet, follow-up with the rinsing process.  Repeat this process as many times as necessary to get the dog “squeaky clean.”

Once the pet is clean and thoroughly rinsed, apply a skin and coat conditioning treatment before heading to the drying table.  Read your directions: some conditioning treatments need to be rinsed out while others do not. Your high velocity dryer and a heavy slicker brush will be your best friends during the drying process.

Rule # 2: Be Methodical and Thorough on the Drying Table

First, blow out as much moisture and loose coat at possible with the air flow.  Use the highest power setting the pet is comfortable with and a condenser cone.  Once you have “pushed” as much water and loose fur from the pet, remove the condenser cone. Bring the air flow close to the pet’s skin.  “Boost” any loose coat out of the dog by lightly patting the area with a slicker brush right where the air is striking the skin.

Continue to work over the dog in a methodical manner until your brush glides through the coat easily and no more loose coat is trapped in the brush. Double check your work with both your hands and a wide tooth comb

Rule #3: Be Proud of Your Work!

When the dog is complete, it should smell clean and fresh.  The coat should be glossy and float freely as the dog moves.  There should be an irresistible desire to reach down and bury your hands in a freshly groomed pet.

To me, this is one of the most gratifying types of grooming jobs we do. It's relatively easy but it does require knowledge and skill to be thorough and efficient. Oh, and the right tools including one - or maybe even two - powerful velocity dryers!

Happy trimming!


What are your tricks for deshedding the big jobs? Join the Learn2GroomDogs.com Community and tell us about it.  

Learning is a 50-50 Responsibility


In this video, Certified Master Groomer Melissa Verplank discusses the importance of "bringing your game to the table" when you're learning to groom dogs. Selecting the best program, instructors, and mentors is half the task. The other half comes from focusing on the instruction you're given and committing to ongoing improvement. Education is everything! It's the key to building a successful career in the pet grooming business.

Want to enhance your techniques? Even experienced groom techs and groomers can "level up" at Paragon with an advanced level course through its Distance Learning Program. Get $100 off Tuition with code LUCKYDOG.

Want to sharpen your skills with access to detailed "how-to" videos every day, all year? Join our Learn2GroomDogs.com pro membership community for unlimited access to more than 1,000+ in-depth videos on every breed in the book. Use code LUCKYDOG to get 50% off your first month.

5 Steps to Visualize a Goal

By Melissa Verplank, CMG

Reaching your goals, especially if they are lofty, is always easier said than done. It does not matter whether they are personal goals. Career goals. Health goals. Financial goals. Or goals in any other area in your life. Achieving goals is hard work. It takes planning, focus and action.

What if I told you there’s a shortcut when it comes to achieving goals?

What is it?


Personally, I’ve used this technique repeatedly to achieve my goals. I first started hearing about it in the mid-1980s. Since then, I’ve used it for both large and small goals in all areas of my life with great success.

The first thing you must ask yourself; “What does it look like when it’s done right?”

Today it’s easier than ever to find examples of what something SHOULD look like. You just need to know what you’re looking for. Regardless of whether you’re using the Internet or more conventional means, you need to have a foundation of knowledge to be able to filter out between the good and the bad.

When it comes to pet grooming and business, these are the areas that I gravitate to to find inspiration.

  • Quality images from the Internet and social media
  • Videos featuring talented and established educators
  • Articles written by leading authorities
  • Magazines
  • Online training
  • Books on any area of focus
  • Dog and cat shows
  • Workshops and clinics
  • Grooming competitions
  • Groups and organizations
  • Mentors and coaches
  • Success stories and personal journeys

One of the biggest things when it comes to personal self-improvement, is the need to know what it looks like when it’s done right. You need to get that image firmly etched in your mind.

Then you must be brutally honest with yourself.

Where is YOUR current skill set? You can’t improve what you don’t know about yourself. Take stock of where you’re currently at. Be open. Be humble. Be honest with yourself. Utilizing visualization can be a huge shortcut to achieving your goals.

Here are 5 steps I’ve used repeatedly to make it work for me. Maybe it will work for you as well.

#1) Visualize the Goal

What will it look like when it’s done successfully? Is it doing six, eight or even 10 dogs a day with ease? Creating a beautiful scissor finish? Achieving a financial goal? Mastering a particular haircut? Communicating with your clients or staff? Envisioning the outcome will give you a clearer idea of the direction you need to go to succeed.

#2) Visualize the Steps

It’s important to visualize the process. Break it down. Reverse engineer it. Imagine all the steps it will take to achieve your goal. Let’s say you wanted to increase your productivity when grooming. Your struggling with getting six dogs a day done easily. Start off by timing yourself. Know how long it currently takes you to do the following: Check in a client. Prep the dog for the tub. Bathe the dog. Dry the dog. Finish the dog. Check the pet out. Break it down step-by-step. Then, work on improving only one or two areas at a time.

#3) Visualize the Details

Just as the steps are important, being able to envision the details within each step will be critical to achieving your overall goal. If you’re looking to master a haircut on a particular breed, there are many details you will need to focus on to accomplish the task. What does the dog look like when done correctly? Do you understand the breed standard and how to apply it? What techniques do you need to master? What tools will help you achieve superior results? What products will aid in getting the results you are looking for? Understanding the WHY and HOW of what you’re doing is always in the details. Visualize every single one of them.

#4) Create a Vision

The law of attraction states, you are drawn to images you think about most. Creating a visual reference guide can help cement those visions in your head. Create a vision board filled with what something SHOULD look like. Or maybe a notebook or even a journal. For many, keeping the images on your phone or table might work too.

Whatever technique you use, make sure you see it multiple times daily.

When I wanted to master the haircut on my poodle in the contest arena, this is what I did.

I collected pictures of beautiful trims on poodles. I had images of correct bone and muscle structure for the breed. I read the breed standard over and over again until I could clearly visualize it in my head. I took profile photos of my own dog when she was stacked properly while wet. I drew in the image of the haircut I wanted to do on her using those photos. I took photos of her finished. I studied and analyzed all these images. I went to clinics and workshops with her to study with the masters. I constantly visualized what the perfect trim SHOULD look like on her. Eventually, all my hard work paid off. I won the World Poodle Competition with my Miniature Poodle at Intergroom under Liz Paul as my judge.

#5) Visualize & Celebrate Mini Goals Along the Way

It’s easy to get distracted on the road to reaching your larger goals. Especially, if you don’t see instant success. This is where you’ll want to celebrate the mini wins along the way with each step. Therefore, it’s important to have your visual success path posted where you can see it easily. Celebrate the small wins. Each celebration brings you a little closer to your goal.

I guarantee, being able to visualize your goals will shortcut your success path journey. When you get visual clarity, it makes it easier to achieve whatever goal you set. It allows you to intensify your focus. And effective visualization helps you achieve any goal in the least amount of time possible.

Want to improve your grooming? The Paragon family of companies have a variety of solutions for you. Check out membership in Learn2GroomDogs.com, where you can find more than 1,000+ videos on every breed in the book. Or explore Paragon's Distance Learning Program.

There's No Black and White in Dog Grooming


In this video, Certified Master Groomer Melissa Verplank discusses a concept that Lisa Leady shared during a www.Learn2GroomDogs.com video shoot: There's no black and white in grooming, but there's a lot of gray. In this context, how do you evaluate techniques and products? Melissa suggests answering these questions:
Is it safe for the pet? Is it safe for the groomer? Will it yield a quality product? Will it be efficient?

Get more great grooming business tips and hundreds of instructional grooming videos from www.Learn2GroomDogs.com - Sign up with Code LUCKYDOG and get 50% off your first month!
Want to advance your training? Check out our advanced levels at Paragon Pet School's Distance Learning Program. Use Code LUCKYDOG to get $100 off tuition!

How to Build your Bath and Brush Business


In this video, Certified Master Groomer Melissa Verplank talks about ways you can be proactive in maintaining the volume of pets in your grooming business. In order to keep your business volume consistent and growing you need to deliver a service that goes beyond what customers can do at home or at a self-wash. Learn ways to set your service apart!

Get more great grooming business tips from www.Learn2GroomDogs.com - Sign up with Code LUCKYDOG and get 50% off your first month!

Doodles are Job Security

In this video, Certified Master Groomer Melissa Verplank celebrates the business-building blessing of the Doodle. These coat-carrying mixed breeds might be controversial creations among breed purists, but they provide an excellent opportunity to educate pet parents and help them understand the not-insignificant hygiene demands to make Doodles look and feel their best.

Want to learn more Doodle-Dos, like how to make them look like a Portuguese Water Dog? Join Learn2GroomDogs.com, the internet’s best groom instruction video resource and community. Use code LUCKYDOG to get 50% off!

Want to advance your Doodlin’ skills? Level 3 of Paragon’s Distance Learning Program will help you kick it up a notch! Use code LUCKYDOG for $100 off Tuition.

Fair Pricing - The Large Dog

In this video, Certified Master Groomer Melissa Verplank discuses the challenge of fair pricing. Do you sometimes feel like you’re not getting ahead, despite a full roster of grooms? How are you pricing you “big dog” jobs - the Standard Poodle and Doodles and other time-intensive grooms? Learn how to tweak your pricing structure to get ahead of the game.

Want time-saving tips on grooming the “big furries”? Check out Learn2GroomDogs.com for a robust library of instructional videos and business tips. (http://bit.ly/2Ysq3Ts) Use Code LUCKYDOG for 50% off your first month! Want to train staff to work efficiently, effectively, with reproducible results? Check out Paragon’s Distance Learning Program. (http://bit.ly/2WXQrTT) Use code LUCKYDOG for $100 off Tuition.

Managing Your Schedule

How is your summer going? Busy?? Overworked? Feeling stressed? Not being able to ENJOY your summer because you are too busy?

Having too much work can be just as frustrating and scary as not having ENOUGH work. I get it. As groomers and service providers, we want to keep people happy. That’s how you build a thriving business. However, if the business is thriving - and you are not – how can that honestly be good for your business? How can that be good for your customers and pets in the long run?

We all have the same number of days, hours and minutes each year. Everyone wants to maximize their time to make the most out their lives. How you schedule appointments, how many hours and days you work each week and how much time you allot for yourself will contribute to how you feel at the end of the day.

If you are swamped, how to you find a happy balance? How do you take control and get your life back?  Simple. Discipline and effective scheduling. Set limitations. YOU need to control YOUR schedule, not the other way around!

There are several ways to efficiently schedule appointments in a salon setting. You can book all your appointments by assigning them a check in-time and then stagger your check out or completion times, or you can opt for a couple sessions per day. You can accept a few pets at a time, complete their grooms and then accept another set after the first group has been completed and left. Or, you might prefer to book one pet at a time – but that’s the least efficient use of your time for a salon-based business. What method is right for you?

There is no right or wrong. It’s whatever method works best for your situation. Over the years, we have used all the methods effectively in my businesses. Hopefully, one will inspire you take control of your schedule, allowing you to regain control of your work life.

Whatever system you choose, there are a few common elements you want to think through before you settle on a method that works best for you. There are advantages and disadvantages to each option.

Scheduling All Appointments Within One Arrival Window Advantages: This option allows for the most flexibility and efficiency by working on a larger group of dogs at one time. But just how many can you work on at one time? It can allow for an assembly line fashion of grooming which is highly efficient if that is how your team works. Pets are normally checked in early in the morning. Pick-up time can be staggered through the day based on your workload. (Tip: Practice giving your clients a time to return versus promising them you will call them when the pet is ready. Save time on the phone and give your clients a pick up time.)

Disadvantages: The salon can get loud with all the pets in the facility at once. You may experience bottle necks at the tub and maybe even the loss of hot water. You may not even get started on some pets for quite a while. You need enough enclosures to house all pets safely when they are not being worked on. Pets are held for a longer time period which many clients do not appreciate. This could mean more potty walks or potty accidents that now need to be cleaned up. This method could result in the lack of convenience for the client both for drop off, and sometimes, pick up. Scheduling Appointments By Blocks of Time or Staggered Arrival Times Advantages: 3-5 pets are booked per session, per groomer/stylist allowing for a flexibility and efficiency. Blocks can be anywhere from two, three or four hours in length. You can easily schedule morning, mid-morning, afternoon, late afternoon or evening grooming sessions. It is less stressful for the pets and staff due to limited pets in the facility at one time. Limiting the number of pets serviced at one time is convenient and advantageous for positive client relationships. And there’s something really cool that happens when clients are given a specific appointment arrival time. It is proven this results in less ‘no-shows’! Try it and see!

Disadvantages: Timing can be challenging based on experience of groomer/stylist. If booking less than 3 pets at a time, there can be wasted time if there are cancelations within the day, but you will know if you have a late arrival or cancel much earlier so you can backfill this spot with a possible ‘call in’ or wait list client. It can be disruptive with check-ins and check-outs happening all day but some would argue this is better than spending a lot of time checking in multiple dogs at one time in the morning and causing your clients to stack up in the lobby.

Schedule Clients a Year in Advance: This is highly effective for ‘in-demand’ stylists and mobile stylists where routing also comes into play when booking appointments. It ensures a full schedule however, the groomer/stylist must have a highly organized outline of their annual responsibilities and travel dates for the full year prior to booking their clients. This is helpful if you book appointments for yourself such as vacations, and other necessary breaks. Some groomers even practice booking their own breaks before booking client appointments (see below). Holiday Appointments
Holidays are prime dates for grooming, especially if the holiday revolves around family and high levels of entertaining. Start scheduling Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hanukah appointments in August and September. Offer prime holiday grooming dates to your premier clients first starting with your weekly and bi-weekly customers. Then move into your three-week clients. Continuing scheduling your four, five and six-week regular clients in that order. This will ensure you take care of your best clients first during the busy holiday season.

Vacation Time: We all need a break from our daily grind to stay our freshest. Make sure to take time for yourself. Work in your own down time FIRST, then schedule around it!

Have Someone Else Manage Your Work Schedule:
Learn to delegate. Let someone else manage your grooming schedule. A business grows and flourishes when you focus on your strengths and you delegate the rest. Outline the number of dogs, the types of grooms you need, and the time frames you want them booked. Oversee and monitor them closely to ensure you have the right balance of work, adjusting as necessary. Typically, it’s easier for someone else to be the gatekeeper of your time other than yourself!

The most indispensable thing we can have is TIME and when it is gone, it’s gone, never to be regained. Be disciplined and effective with your scheduling.

Working is important. I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. Additionally, managing your schedule to have down time for yourself is crucial to your well-being. This not only goes for you, but your fellow team members too.

Set limitations on how many hours you – or they - work each day. Each week. And each month. Don’t forget, YOU need to control YOUR schedule, not the other way around!