Sales & Retailing Strategies

2020 Pet Stylist Invitational!!


This year our trade show has gone fully virtual!

This learning summit offers 2 full days, 16 hours total, of educational classes on Friday, October 17, and Saturday, October 18th, and a full day of livestream grooming competitions  Monday, October 19th, judged by our industry great: Michell Evans!!

There’ll be shopping discount opportunities all weekend long to stock up on supplies before our holiday rush!

Enjoy this final opportunity of the year to invest in yourself and your business all three days for only $99!!

You can register here:


The Society of Holistic Pet Stylists

A long time ago I began to feel that I was different.

Be nice! LOL

But seriously, I have always been a little different in my thinking, my outlook on most things, and especially I felt different in that I could never force myself to stay at a job for very long if I wasn't happy doing it. I struggled with leaving things at the door, with doing tasks that I felt didn't have lasting result, with feeling lost in a sea of faces, and most of all with just taking my paycheck and writing the rest off.

But luckily, I eventually found grooming.

Gratefully, I have been able to do a job that I love, and for that it rarely feels like work.

When I began grooming, I noticed right away that everyone worked just a bit differently, and that was rooted deeply in their general personality traits.

I groomed over the years with many, MANY different types of people, but I learned most of all about MYSELF.

I learned what I liked, what I couldn't tolerate, my strengths and weaknesses, to challenge myself to always think outside the box, and to never fear trying something different. I learned more about myself from the dogs I groomed each day than any other aspect of my grooming experiences. How I groomed began to define a very large part of who I was as a person. And to this day, it still does.

It is in honor of the time I've spent just pondering and watching the pets I groom, of the previously unimaginable awe of a pet's unconditional love I have come to know, and of all the wonders an animal can bring to your life, that I still find myself so passionate and overflowing with joy that I find in grooming.

In honor of the lessons I have learned, of how "different" I am so happy to be, that I have worked so hard to try to encourage other groomers and animal lovers to NEVER ignore that little voice inside themselves, and to ALWAYS follow your curiousities... that I have worked to form a new and wonderful association for groomers that may have also always felt "a little different".

Of these honors, I am very grateful and happy to announce,

The Society Of Holistic Pet Stylists.


Our new society promises to be like nothing our industry has ever seen, a breath of fresh air, and a place for all stylists to come together to learn and share and forever change our industry through doing great things.

Together with Mary Oquendo, Barbara Bird, Daryl Connor, Lori Gulling, Sue Palmer and Melissa Jepson, we are creating an entirely new learning format and an entirely new opportunity in skill sets for the grooming industry.

Please visit our website for more information, or contact me directly with your interest! or




Understanding the Double Coat

Below is a simple chart showing the growth stages of the canine double coat; one with a dense guard coat to undercoat ratio.

This is a handy chart to have on hand when relating to clients the importance of keeping up their double coated breed. It diagrams how a coat works either for or against the dog's well being and comfort.

Double Coated hair stages

Session with Chris Sertzel on GroomerTALK LIVE!

Bio pic

Hello everyone!

Be sure to listen and call in for my LIVE session for's GroomerTALK!

This session will be on August 12th, 7PM EST.

Please call in with any questions you can come up with about things like skin and coat issues, offering supportive and spa type services, questions about competition grooming, or anything you can think of that might help you out! Its sure to be a fun and interesting broadcast!

Holiday Jester Collars

Skeeter 2My dog, "Skeeter".

These fun little grooming salon embellishments for the holidays, birthdays, or just for fun, are super easy, low cost, and really loved by clients!

Supplies Needed:

Assorted ribbon

1" wide elastic banding


hot glue or craft glue

assorted small decos to glue onto the ends of each ribbon tassel; foam cutouts, jingle bells or pom-poms work well

First, choose some ribbon! Try choosing at least 3 colors or prints of ribbon that compliment each other. You can choose just one color or two colors, but the more variety the better if you want to use less ribbon. You'll find that if you use all one color, you will need to tie on a bit more ribbon to make the collars really look full.

It makes a nice collar to have some ribbon that is 1" wide, and some that is 1/2", but ribbon of the same width works great, too. Be sure to use ribbon with no wire in it. And tulle works nicely as well.

Cut yourself a sturdy rectangle of cardboard. The length of the cardboard should be about 4 inches shorter than the length of the collar when finished. On each end, cut a slit about 1" deep that you will use to slide the knotted end of the elastic thru.

Cut a length of elastic long enough to fit comfortably over the dog's head and on its neck without being at all tight. Tie a single knot at each end of the elastic. Slide the knottend end of the elastic into the slit which you cut in the cardboar. Now stretch the banding across the board pretty snug. Tie another knot in the other end where needed to keep it tight, and slide that knot thru the other slit on the opposite side of the cardboard. When stretching the elastic banding across the cardboard, by pulling it fairly tight before securing it, the collar when removed, will pucker and be nice and full.

Resized collar #1

Now cut your ribbon! For large dogs cut the ribon in about 12" segments. For medium dogs, cut it about 10". And for smaller dogs, about 8" works nicely. This will make a nice drape around the neck and not hide the collar if the dog's hair is longer.

Now slip the lengths of ribbon, all laying flat, underneath the elastic banding. Simply pull the ribbon ends up and tie a single knot to secure the ribbon onto the elastic. Be sure that the ribbon is knotted closely to each other so that you can get a very full and thick collar.

Resized collar #2

Once you've knotted lengths of ribbon to cover the entire elastic except an inch or two on each end, remove the entire collar, and tie or thread stitch the ends together: DONE!

Resized collar #4

Also, as an added detail, you can also glue your embellishments onto the end of each ribbon after you've tied it onto the elastic and before taking it off of the cardboard.

Skeeter 1



Understanding Your Product Labels


  Shampoo label

For many years product labeling within grooming industry has been discussed at length.  Labeling and disclosure has always been a hot topic- with those either for or against it firmly planted on either side of the figurative line in the sand. However, nothing has ever really significantly changed the actuality of the legislature in place to require manufacturers to label and to disclose their ingredients in full.

These days many manufacturers are stepping up to the plate and acknowledging that their customers: the industry groomers and professionals, as well as their customers' own client base: the pets- need to and deserve to know just what they are using and applying every day in the salon. Yet still, many products still exist which we use on a daily basis without any inclination of just what they contain.

It is worth mentioning that it is not that any product could contain toxins or ingredients that directly would cause ill effect, but more so that labeling disclosure is a necessary component to a better path to safety and to lessen usage liability (and increase educated purchasing decisions) based on our personal preference.

Labeling is required in nearly every other industry, and it is definitively required with any cosmetic product for human use, so why is it not required for animal usage? The reason is two fold; first regarding the fact that our industry is a trade industry where no licensing such as that in the cosmetology field is required. The other reason has to do with how states and legislature view animals as pets with regard to legal liability. However, with pet ownership or caregiver legislature in place per each states' guidelines, it is important for us to be up to date on where we as care providers sit in terms of requirements and legality within your practicing state.

The second consideration with regard to liability is the one we as groomers should be most concerned about. We as care providers will have a legal responsibility to provide care for incoming clients. If that breaks down by way of any service given, or product used which we offer as part of our care, that responsibility rests with us in the event of an injury.  When a product which lacks labeling is used upon an animal in our care, it grays the delineation of where product liability starts and user liability ends, or visa versa. Meaning that if negative or ill effects do happen upon a pet in our care, while we as professionals are using a product expressly produced for animal care, if legal action is made to recoup loss in any way on the end of the pet owner who is our client, we will have to foot the bill.  It will in turn be up to us to try to not only locate and compile the necessary information regarding what is in the product which we knowingly used, but it will rest on our shoulders to show that we did so with no understanding of what was in the product to either present our case for defense, or to gain any reimbursement from the product manufacturer. This makes for A LOT of work and worry on our part. Being in the middle of a client situation is stressful enough without swimming in a sea of misinformation. Within the cosmetology field alone, human cosmetologists are required to be educated and tested upon chemical ingredients and compounds of a number of the products which they use, yet since groomers as a profession are not, many groomers do not realize that legal liability rests with us.

Fingers crossed

Legal liability is not the only reason labeling is important. Many of us will get through our entire career with no serious injury to any pet in our care, yet it only takes one accident or serious injury where we have to try to make it right for a client to seriously alter not just our financial state, but our mental state about the products and services we offer from there on out.

Another facet to labeling is our own personal safety. On nearly any given day, within the grooming forums or chat groups, someone mentions have skin or respiratory issues and is concerned as to the origin of such symptoms. With the plethora of products a pet stylist or groomer uses each day in the salon to address grooming and skin and coat care needs, we handle many different chemicals and formulations- any of which could be the cause. As products continue to develop to address these needs, so does the amount of products we can choose from to use. It can be greatly difficult to isolate just what product we used which caused any ill effect, and really only over time can most people begin to make a connection between a product and an outcome. By labeling our products, and by finding products which we understand and keep regularly within our care and usage program, it can be much easier to make those connections. Furthermore, with the ever growing amount of products we have to choose from to make our grooming work easier, we could easily also be choosing products to use which make the business side or our salons easier to define and keep our arms around as well.

In the event of any adverse reaction, whether upon ourselves or upon the pets in our care, we need to be able to know quickly just what we have used in any given product. Having that knowledge at the ready is not only a consumer's right, but it could save us much time, money, and suffering.

So what can we do?

To start, we can support those manufacturers who are towing the line and giving disclosure of their ingredients. We can respectfully ask more manufacturers to not hide behind flimsy excuses for not spending the time and money it may take to have a product labeled, and we can talk with those manufacturer on an educated level about our concerns to best represent our professional ability and to create a ripple effect of positive change upon our industry.

Whether we want to personally use more "eco-friendly" or simply formulated products, we need to also realize that while we can make those choices, we should also be educating ourselves to just what those labels we DO have at our disposal mean and translate to on our skin and the pets as well.

Since our industry does not have any regulations in place requiring manufacturers to list all of their
product ingredients, we should know that anything they list is completely voluntary whether on the
label or the technical data sheets. Many companies will list certain key ingredients which they wish to
place importance on, but not necessarily disclose everything which actually makes up the product.
Most complete labels should begin with water and end with either a colorant, preservative or
fragrance. As with foods, the first three to five ingredients comprise most of the formula makeup, and
the ingredients are listed from the greatest in volume to the least in volume, but anything at less than
1% can be listed in any order. If a product touts a certain ingredient, always be sure to read the label to
see just where that ingredient actually falls within the list- if it is listed farther down than the fragrance
ingredients, it is likely less than 1% of the total product, and therefore not necessarily as beneficial as it
is being claimed.
Also a side note on MSDS (material safety data sheets) ( It should be noted that
MSDS –sheets- are not necessarily the complete list of ingredients within a formulation, but instead are
only a list of the ingredients within a formulation that have been known or documented as having
caused negative reaction or ill effect upon a human- this does not included any reaction upon an

Do some research, ask some questions, and make some decisions. Any change always starts in small ways and grows from there.

This and much more information concerning product labeling and understanding what ingredients are is all included in my newest book, "Caring For The Canine Coat".

Caring For the Canine Coat Book cover photo form

Adding Supportive Servces to Your Salon


We would all benefit immensely by being able to increase our salon revenue without having to wear ourselves out with grooming more pets.  We know that there is much more to owning a pet than keeping up on their grooming.  So why not consider providing more than just grooming for our clients and their pets from our current salon? 

There are many services and programs that can be easily added to your pet salon or spa that will require only a little change to your frame of mind and your appointment book.  Most all of the care and services you can offer in addition to grooming take less money to add to your business, but they do take time to add to your focus.  Dedicating some of your time to learning about and scheduling these services will take you much less time than figuring out how to possibly groom more dogs in your already busy day.  You should always know exactly WHY you are offering any service or recommending products and giving advice. This will shine through every time you counsel and talk with pet owners.  Or it will be your greatest hindrance in taking yourself and your business to the next level.  The worst thing you can do for yourself at any time, and especially when starting to make these changes, is to try to sell things just for profit and to not be able to treat your clientele genuinely and supportively.  You should work with the mindset that you are focusing on educating yourself first and sharing that education with great purpose to your career and your livelihood.  After all, time is money, learning takes time, and you don’t want to have your new plans and goals undermined by poor planning and not following through. 

 Remember to network.  One of the most important things we should realize is that we cannot do it all.  One of the most lucrative and business supportive things we can work on is to create a network of reputable and honest people who can offer the care for our clients that we cannot.  Of course, we want to maximize our business opportunity and to not turn clients to others that we could be caring for ourselves. But if there are things your clients needs that you just aren’t able to address, setting their course with someone who can, will still land you in a position of being the go-to person for your clients.  They will respect & appreciate your guidance, so they’re still going to value you just as much.

      Sources to look at networking with:

  • Veterinarians-

Work diligently and proactively to gain several Veterinarian sources that are supportive to your pet care ideals, and supportive to your services as well.  I believe strongly in Holism and Integrated Alternative care, so I have worked to find Veterinarians who offer their care with the same basis.  I do this because I understand and believe in this as a way of life, and I care for my own pets this way, so it comes natural to look at my client pets this way as well.  Networking with like-minded business people can take only help you in your own business.   You can also consider that most Vets in turn network for things such as dental care, internal medicine specialties, and surgery specialists, so it is only natural that we could as well.

Other pet care providers:

  • Day care or pet sitting
  • Pet Walking
  • Boarding
  • Behavioral Counseling & Training
  • Nutrition Counseling
  • Local Kennel Clubs and Class Sources- for activities such as agility, earthdog, dock dog, ground work and Canine Good Citizen
  • Contacts for living assistance programs such as LABS, Angel On a Leash, or TheraPaws, and for therapy dog programs that offer to train your clients’ dogs
  • Food and Supplement Retail (some may have no space for food retail in their salons)
  • Extended Pet Supply Retail (this is very important because you want to turn them to people who will advise them on purchases they cannot make with you, and not just sell them things they don’t need)
  • Massage or Acupressure, Chiropractic and Supportive Care
  • Emergency Vet Care (always have a list of Vet contacts near your salon phone)
  • Reputable Breeders
  • Rescue and Shelter Organizations
  • Pet Hospice Care
  • Pet & Owner Bonding & Communication Counseling
  • Pet Memorial or Remembrance Services and Grief Support Groups

~Just think, about all of the things “pet” out there, and work to either get your business involved, or have a source of referral for it for your clients.

I say give the extra time, give the extra knowledge, and by all means give that part of yourself that wants to consider those things outside of the average or the norm that a grooming salon offers.  We can only add to the longevity of our careers, add to the enjoyment and fulfillment we take from our work, and add to the healthy, happy percentage of well cared for pets in our area.  The rewards are immense, and the return comes in ways that are meaningful- not so much just as profit, but the pride and professionalism of our industry as well, and of being part of that positive progression.

Boosting the Revenue of your Salon (Without Grooming More Pets)


 *Don't let anything stand in your way!!*


Years ago I faced a decision.  I needed to either scale back on my volume of daily grooming, or I had to hang up my clippers all together.  Faced with that final decision, I felt hanging on to my love of grooming at all costs was put into a more realistic light.  I needed to really change the face of my business and dedicate my skills to not just the grooming that I loved, but dedicate myself to re-facing my business or I would have to give up all of it, and I wasn’t willing to do that.  With that decision, I sat down and wrote out a new business plan. A new plan with new goals, and a new time frame. Only, there was a twist; the time frame actually had to be shorter than my previous business plan in order to keep moving forward.  In essence, because I could only groom dogs of a certain size and had to get back on track from an extended absence, I actually had more to do, in less time. With that hurdle and a determination to figure out a way over it, I decided that the best thing for my business and my frame of mind was to re-face my current business.  I started by giving my salon a facelift.  I made many changes to the design of the salon and added some new equipment and marketed the salon aggressively in all of the local media that I could.  I also got out and pounded the pavement and met with and talked with many people in all the neighboring towns in effort to get my salon name as well as my personal figure out there.  Once my phone started ringing with a frenzy of new clients and new earning opportunities, I knew the light at the end of the tunnel was fast approaching.  This gave even more steam to how quickly I could move ahead in my plan and that gave me renewed belief in the possibility of earning more from my current business without having to relocate or hire additional staff in order to make more revenue.  So, from my business plan and what I saw as best for my business and my own fulfillment in my work, here are some of the additional services that I have implemented into my salon and spa and that have all have been tremendously well received.  For those things that I cannot cover myself, I have a network of area sources to refer clients to.


Boutique or specialty retail items- if you don’t want the extra work of adding full line retail, or want to but lack the space, consider specialty retail. Be it at home grooming supplies (one of the most lucrative sections you can have in a salon), gourmet and healthy treats, nutritional and vitamin/mineral supplements, flea & tick care, quality collars & leashes, breed specific gifts, or seasonal supplies & gifts; give it a try.  If you are strong in recommending the products you decide to carry, and you are carrying things that you know many owners could use or will need, then offering these things seems obvious.

Expanding Your Business- Do you have a knack for baking? Do you have an eye with the camera?  Do you organize one heck of a party?  Then why not appease your inner need and show your strengths and utilize them to grow your business?  Add pet photography, or gourmet treats, or host play dates or pet birthday parties as a service at your salon.  You can add to your business and offer more revenue sources all under the same roof. 

Branding Your Business- I took my passion for supportive care and encompassing grooming and created my own line of skin & coat care products for dogs, Canine Spa Therapies.  These are products that address skin & coat care issues that I saw so commonly in my own salon, and they offer all natural topicals for overall better health and enjoyment of a pet during a grooming session.  So, I saw a need for something to address the care I couldn’t give, and I created tools to help bridge that gap.  In that way, I offered care that no other salon in my area was offering.  There is no better way to specialize in a service than to offer supplies and products that carry your own name and business credo behind them. No one will be able to get them anywhere else. And with creative and dedicated marketing, the products you believe in will be what your clients reach for when they care for their pet.  Sell what you use and use what you sell.  It does take time and money to brand your business, so do not enter into it lightly. Do your research and get the education you need to do it the right way.

Skin & coat care- think of all the problematic health issues we see every day. At many times, our grooming provides pet owners with a complete superficial exam more so than an average wellness check at a vet visit. Not that Vets aren’t thorough, but we cover every inch of that dog or cat’s skin and coat and we see things like teeth, ears, eyes, glands, and nails.  Sometimes we notice blood in urine, or worms and parasites, or lameness. Not to mention all of the issues we see like suspect warts, lumps and bumps and sores. All of these things could be referred to a Vet, and some of them that Vet could in turn refer to us for supportive care.  We should never diagnose or treat, but we can alert every owner and offer guidance to get the pet help. We should never overstep our scope of care or practice with regard to legal repercussion, but we have a duty to be sure that our clients’ needs and well being are addressed if at all possible. We also could have thorough education for ourselves to help give relief to the pet.  We are offering professional services and there is no better way to raise your level or professionalism than to educate yourself.  We should never be afraid to not speak up when we see something.  We should speak carefully when we do alert clients, but if we let it fall through the cracks, no one gives a voice to the pet who cannot speak up for themselves.  Also, some owners may decline to follow through with care, but at least we can offer relief to the pet at its visit and have them leave feeling relaxed and refreshed.

Massage Therapy, Aromatherapy and Hydrotherapy- once you get your formal certification and education under your belt, the possibilities are endless. I once was the travelling canine sports medicine therapist for a German Shepherd Schutzhund team, and I got to travel all over, including overseas, by caring for their animals.  Not only can you add this to your existing business, if you ever cannot groom or want to change your career focus, this field is a wonderful one. It is very rewarding and genuinely gratifying work, and yes, a lucrative one as well. 

Breed fun days- book all dogs of the same breed and have a meet & greet for the owners and a play day for the dogs. Offer seasonal treats and promo gifts that spotlight the breed.  Offer add on services in the salon that are easy to do and can be offered at a discount or special price to promote the day’s events for owners.

Day Spa stays & Weekend Spa ReTreats- If you have the staff, or the time to do it yourself, and the space, look at adding day care and integrate that with client grooming visits.  Many clients enjoy knowing their pet is at the spa getting pampered and in safe hands while they are at work or running errands.  Look at offering your grooming clientele whose dogs you are familiar with that extended stay option when they are leaving on vacation.  Not only will you have them in for grooming while they are gone, so their pet is not put on the waiting list- they won’t come in late for grooming and a matted mess from not being kept up, but you’ll also have added revenue from having them stay with you.  No one will vacation more happily than when they know their pet is doing the same thing.  Much can be done for “boarding” pets, without having to have a complete boarding facility.  Be sure to have all of your bases covered for the best of care while they stay, be sure that your own pets are safe, and everyone is current on vaccines and interacts well with each other, and you’ll likely find through word of mouth that this service grows quickly.  

Host a Grand Re-Opening- reinvent your business in the light that you want it to proceed in and then host a special day and advertise it actively.   Whether it is a new coat of paint, a new set of services, or a total revamp and build out, be excited about it!  Focus your energy into moving forward on a new path and in a new frame of mind, and you’ll see yourself & your business rewarded. 


Remember that your business will grow in the avenues that you pursue. You can do it most of all by just your frame of mind.  Deciding to turn your business around or to start new from the ground up takes great resolve and dedication, and if your outlook doesn’t match your business plan, neither can succeed. 

~To learn more about the full line of Canine Spa Therapies skin & coat care products, visit