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How to Grow Your Grooming Business While You Grow Yourself

There are still educational opportunities available — many more, in fact — in this pandemic world.

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BEFORE OPENING my pet grooming salon, I took a six-week grooming course. It taught me the basics of how to use my clippers, scissors and other tools. While it was vital to know the basics, I still had a lot to learn. Some of it, such as breed-specific patterns, I could learn from a book, but what required hands-on experience was how to handle dogs and what to do when they didn’t like my handling.

That was in 1982. The internet had yet to be invented, but there were a few books and one magazine. The Groomer’s Gazette was the only industry magazine at the time, and I would pour over every issue as soon as it arrived. There was so much information I was unaware of — articles on how to trim specific breeds, stories on top competitors — I loved it!

My first grooming show opened my eyes to what a good groomer can do and how a well-groomed dog should look — this was the start of an incredible learning journey. I loved the atmosphere and the education; that experience invigorated me to go back to my salon and make my grooms look as good as those I saw at the show. I worked on using the new techniques and updated equipment and tools to make my job easier and more productive.

The past year has been different. Tradeshows and educational seminars have been canceled to keep us all safe. However, because of this, there has been so much online education — much of it for free. Top groomers are posting Facebook videos on how to groom specific breeds or trims. Now many of the grooming shows are virtual. You can attend trade shows and seminars online safely in your own home. Many of the companies that manufacture and supply us with equipment have webinars, including the brand I serve as a grooming educator for, The Andis Company. Many have educational information on their website, such as andisgroomingcollege.com, where you can find a library of educational videos at no cost.

We are never too old to learn new things. No matter what level we’re at, education can always improve our grooms and overall client’s experience.

Social media is another excellent educational tool. If don’t already, post on your business accounts daily about new ideas and educational events you are attending. Taking a class or webinar? Post it. Your clients will see that you are continuing your education and staying up to date with new trends. Win or place in an online grooming competition? Post pictures! Even if you didn’t place, post the photo. Your clients will be impressed just because you entered.

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It isn’t all about grooming skills either. There are many business-related classes that can be useful as well. There are classes on how to use social media for your business, how to clean and sanitize your salon, and even first aid and CPR for pets. Taking courses like these is another opportunity to impress your clients and show them how much you care about them and their pets. You can frame and hang your certificates as credentials! Look into business classes as well. Community colleges, along with private enterprises, offer many different types of courses. I took a class on teaching, which helped me understand how people learn and understand behavior, which you can even use in handling your pet clients.

It is so easy to feel burned out in our profession. We work hard physically and mentally, and it takes a toll. Attending a seminar, taking a private grooming lesson on your favorite breed or just getting together with other groomers will give you a boost of energy. It will help to keep you focused and striving to be the best that you can be.

Diane Betelak, NCMG, has owned Heads and Tails Professional Dog Grooming, Inc. in Liverpool, NY, since 1982. She groomed competitively in the U.S. and abroad and has numerous "Best in Shows" and "Best All-Around Groomer" wins and placings in prestigious competitions. In 1996, Diane qualified for the GroomTeam USA traveling team and went to Milan, Italy, where she won "Best in Show" with her Standard Poodle, helping the team clinch the gold medal. In addition, she has judged all major grooming shows throughout the United States and Canada, and is a certifier for N.D.G.A.A. In 1997, she was the recipient of the Cardinal Crystal Award for American Groomer of the Year, and in 2011 was named its Grooming Competition Judge of the Year. Although now retired from competitive grooming, Diane remains active as a grooming educator for Andis Company where she teaches the finer points of grooming across North America. Diane has also been showing championship Standard Poodles in confirmation and obedience since 1987, winning multiple titles. She is now actively competing in agility with her current poodles, Sid and Rickie Boa.

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