The Role of the Pet Groomer Must Change

This is an opinionated piece of something I feel strongly about and it starts with job duties and responsibilities. It is my belief that the role of the groomer must change to have a thriving business.  If your staff is 1099, you better get with the program fast - that is illegal, you will get caught some day and this cannot apply to you because you have absolutely no say as to what your "team" can or cannot do.  However, if your team is W-2, I think you need to read this.

What I See

Even though you pay your staff to be an employee, I see groomers that come to work, groom 6-8 dogs, tidy their stations and leave at 2pm.  If your business has a system something like this, I am sure you get wicked frustrated many times in the day when you must groom your own dogs, open and close the salon, and handle everything else that it takes to keep your business afloat while your team strolls out the door after lunch! Grrrrrr......

Why is it Like This?

Groomers have gotten a pass for decades about the expectations and job responsibilities.  How many other small businesses do you know of that a staff member can do one part of the job and cut out when done?  Not many.  So why has the grooming industry absorbed this warped thinking? Don't you have many more items in your to do list that you could delegate out IF the job duties were spread out more evenly? And aren't you grooming full-time too?

My belief is that when grooming became a profession, it still had a hobby mentality.  Here's a guy or girl that loved dogs and cats, had a creative side and wanted to make pets beautiful.  The income was low - as low as the reputation of being a groomer.  There was nothing "professional" about it.  Many people did a job and went home, including the owner.

Today's Industry

Grooming salons are now big business.  There are trade shows, magazines and competitive competitions that make national television!  You can make a decent living, have respect in your community and have a large team of professional staff members.  Yet, as the owner of the business, you are still doing all the work from marketing, to ordering products, taking inventory and checking vet records and most are grooming full-time as well.  There is just too much to do to get it all done in a day.

Take Bob Dylan's Advice: "The times they are a-changing"

What to Delegate The following categories I have broken down for delegation: 1. Office Work 2. Marketing

3. Project Work 4. Cleaning 5. Budgets

1. Office Work

If you have an Office Manager, they will be responsible for all of these tasks, however, there are days, vacations and/or turnover of staff that will require your groomers to chip in.  If YOU are the office staff, then consider delegating everything that does not need your actual input.  Tasks include:

  1. Entering and filing new client paperwork

  2. Reminder phone calls, emails and texts

  3. Pet Birthday cards or emails

  4. Scheduling appointments

  5. Thank you cards to new clients

  6. Sympathy cards for lost pets

  7. Ordering supplies

  8. Checking vaccines; Contacting vets

2. Marketing

Marketing and advertising is the single most important job in all businesses.  If not done at all, done poorly or not tracked, a business will survive but never thrive.  Marketing is broken up into In-house and Outdoor Marketing; and Active and Inactive Lists.

In-house Marketing:

1. Ask each client for a referral - pass out business cards to distribute

2. Selling a product or service to each client that visits for the day (raising the average price per dog!)

3. Delegate to your team to each run one of your Social Media accounts and post on it daily. Things like funny memes, pictures, messages, tips and tricks are all encouraged and should be handled by other people because of the enormous time suck to you. 4. Email Campaigns - delegate to the best writer on your team to write a weekly newsletter, with helpful pet tips and brief plugs on what is going on in your salon, deals, specials and charity drives you are a part of. (Even if you want to be responsible for this newsletter, your team should write parts of it for you and you edit and send it). 5. In-house Signage - Your staff should change chalk board, sidewalk sign or little signs in your salon monthly to reflect your current deals and specials

Outdoor Marketing:

1. Attendance at Local Festivals and Events 2. Dog Parks 3. Bring a dog and pass out flyers 4. Flyers on Mailboxes 5. Business cards at restaurants, coffee shops, etc

6. Business to Business Relationships - find a business that your staff currently use and work together to help each other promote the others business

Active Client List: Most grooming salons have a large client list and this means lots of database management!  When it gets out of control, you lose all control and it takes wasted time and energy to get it back under control.  Mismanagement of an active client base leads to missed appointments, lost potential clients and less money for everyone.

In addition, clients that say they will come in every 6 weeks but call every 9 weeks is lost money to you and your staff.  Clients that have slipped under the radar and are still paying puppy prices for a 90 lb Doodle is lost money.   This is not fair to your team and all the hard work that goes into the job.  Better database management will avoid these pitfalls and create additional revenue for all.

Specific tasks related to maintaining the Active Client List are as follows: 1. Every Day - Logging Notes the Proper Way (according to the procedures set in your salon). 2. Each employee has a section of the database to maintain regularly, assigned by letters of the alphabet is best. For example, Judy gets A-F, John gets G-L, etc. 3. The team is required to complete their section of the alphabet two times in the year -  by June 30th and again by December 30th.

4. During this cleanup, they will determine if the clients prices are fair, additional fees should be required (i.e. dematting, late fees, express grooms, group hug fees, etc) and if the client should be inactivated. 5. Contact any client that has not been seen in 6 months.  Put them in a separate list to inactivate if you have not heard back.

Inactive Client List: Marketing 101 states that any client that have used your services at one time are more likely to continue to use you again.  To gain new clients requires a lot more time, energy, resources and money!  Your business should feel strongly about keeping all clients to the best of your abilities. 

Clients that have been inactivated fall into various categories: moved, pet died/do not own pet, and not happy with your services.  You have even fired quite a few over the years!

It is important for your staff to continue reaching out to these people, at least once a year to see what is going on.   Use the assigned letters of the alphabet above to delegate.

3. Project Work

As with any company, there is always lots of little, sometimes tedious projects that need to be completed, documented and maintained.  It is just too much for one person to do on their own while trying to grow a business.  The following are some of the projects that you can delegate to your team: 1. Vet Records

2. Stuffing Envelopes (if doing a mailer)

3. File waivers and policies that clients need to sign

4. Stuff treat bags

5. Record inventory for retail items and for cleaning and grooming supplies

6. Increase prices per breeds, clients, etc in computer or on cards

4. Cleaning

The majority of the salons I visit have a pretty good cleaning system in place but there are a few that have staff cut out and leave the salon owner with the cleaning duties.  If you are one of those salons, creating a cleaning checklist is in order.

5. Budgets

I really like this one and many salons do not use it.  I think it is important for your staff to see what kind of money goes out the door.  Too many times your staff believes that you are sitting on a pile of cash.  What I have created is a set of budgets that requires my team to stop and think before they ask for me to buy 10 more Kwik Stops.

I provide a list of things I budget with a dollar amount assigned to each.  Different members of my team are responsible for different budgets.  When an item is needed in the spa, the team goes to the person in charge of the budget first.  If it's in the budget, then I will get notified.  If it exceeds budget, then it waits.

You will be amazed at how many things can wait or not be needed at all!  In addition, it makes your team feel like a bigger part in the company - which is quite empowering to them!

The budgets I delegate are:

  1. Office Supplies

  2. Cleaning Supplies

  3. Miscellaneous (like lunches and other random stuff)

  4. Retail to Purchase

  5. Grooming Supplies

Added Job Duties - Do you have to pay more?

This is a tricky one and one that I must leave for you to decide.  It is my personal opinion, that if your team is on a 50% (or more) commission structure (or an hourly pay that equals 50% or more), than that is adequate enough to ask then to do these job duties without more pay.  I know many of you will have a mutiny on your hands so honestly, you must decide for yourself whether or not you can continue to do it all yourself.  It is your piece of mind that I am looking to protect here, not theirs.  After all, if you are paying someone 50% - doesn't that mean they are required to do 50% of all the work of the business, not just the grooming? Because seriously, doesn't that mean they are a partner in your business? (And let's be real for a second - aren't they the one that is making MORE money at 50%???)

You can always talk to your team and ask them what they think is fair.   Explain the struggles you face, what you specifically are looking from them and how long these added duties should take. You will have some that will outwardly balk at your proposal while others, that want to see your company thrive, embrace the change.  Why not ask?

Freeing up your time is more valuable than anything else.  You can then spend that extra time taking care of yourself, your family and also working on aspects of your company that only the owner could do.  

Finally, you can put your feelers out for the new and improved groomers to hire.  Those people want to do more.  They want to see your business take off and they want to be a part of every stage.  They are willing to put in the marketing and they value maintaining your client lists.

Survival of the Fittest

Because of the popularity of the grooming world, there are better and greater shops opening up every day.  I am super impressed by some that I visit - they put my salon to shame!  I constantly think to myself that the ones that embrace this new employee relationships are the ones that will dominate their marketplace.  The salons that have an owner that does everything and a staff that is not involved will barely squeak by.  If those salons close, the groomers will be forced to go to the better salons and their new job descriptions will be more than just grooming.

In order to compete successfully in the days to come, all staff members must be involved in the growth of the company.  All job duties.  More responsibilities.

As I stated above, this is just my opinion - whether it is right, wrong or completely off the mark, I value your input on what you think.  I do not wish to offend or anger anyone in this piece.  Please comment below so we can further this discussion.

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