Archive for February, 2014

Grooming the Designer Dogs—-and Overcoming the Idea that the Client Hasn’t Been Flim -flammed.

February 14, 2014
This is a Maltese I groomed in a puppy trim. They do not  grow like this naturally. they need haircuts.

This is a Maltese I groomed in a puppy trim. They do not grow like this naturally. they need haircuts.

Where I currently work, the owner of the business…whose only real dog experience  has been walking dogs and bathing dogs for another groomer, has hired a marketing specialist to overcome our stagnant  business.  I know why the business has been stagnant, but the business owner is not paying ME, she is paying  the marketing specialist.

The marketing expert asked me why I thought the business wasn’t growing, and I told her.  I told her  that I was not the first contact with anyone calling for grooming, but my supervisors, whose only experience with grooming has been bathing dogs, were.  They refused to send out reminders to  my regular clients in a timely fashion, but the owner also would not let me do it (she is so paranoid the groomers will steal her business), and she  doesn’t have the right key words in her website.    Prospects can’t find our business if they are  specifically looking for grooming and use several key words to find a groomer.

I told her that I had a 1 page website, with very specific key words, and although I didn’t get a lot of business from it, I got specific business from it, and that’s what I wanted. In doing research on key words, I came across this:

If you think this gave you any clear idea on how to maintain your Doodle, great.  I—an experience groomer, was baffled. It says nothing about what kind of brush, the method  of brushing, suggests  using a thinning shears…I can go on…but most of the sites that come up when you Google labradoodle grooming do not really  tell  anyone the specifics.  Why?  Because THE BREEDERS have no idea how to groom their own dogs, and have never learned. Yet, because they are experts, because they breed the dogs, they have credibility. This is why I have to work so hard to  change the mindsets of people who have fantasy ideas in their heads.

Ask any groomer who has been grooming for several years. We’ve heard it all. “The dog only needs to be  (bathed) (groomed) twice a year.”  “You don’t have to brush the dog.”  “Brush the dog every day (WITH THE WRONG LIND OF BRUSH—A PIN BRUSH).”  We also have rescue ‘volunteers’ sending out nonshed dogs  who don’t tell  people to consult with a groomer before they adopt this dog, so they know how much the dog is going to cost to maintain.

About half the new clients I get are grateful that someone is showing them specifically how to   maintain the dog.  There is no ‘in between’, however. The other half are  very angry that I  address  brushing or at home care, because they breeder/seller (or rescue) told them  how to  take care of the dog.

I  often have clients bring in a Doodle  that hasn’t seen a slicker brush since his last grooming, and the owner wants , “…a little off the top…”  Well, the problem is the dog is matted at the bottom…by the skin. I don’t want to shave any dogs.  It takes very little talent to shave a dog (although I have to say it does take skill so you don’t cut the dog), but I can’t overcome weeks or months of neglect.  I have several Spinonis.  Great dogs, Very sweet.  For those who haven’t seen them, they are a large  wire-haired hound type dog. They are, like the Petite Basset Griffon Vendeen, supposed to look like an unmade bed.  If they are brushed once a week with a slicker brush,  they still look ungroomed.  They will shed.  Once you clip their hair, like all  wire-haired terriers, the coat will soften and matt.  One client complained that the last groomer irritated her dog’s skin.  I had to tell her, by trying to brush out the dog, she pulled out matted hair, and that is what irritated the dog’s skin,  We’d have to start over.

I know how it is. I had Afghan Hounds for years.  You brush them, and they don’t look freshly groomed unless you bathe them first. That’s how it is. However, if you don’t brush them,  they really look awful.  Plus, their skin is so thin, it is really easy to cut the skin when you shave them.

Is there a solution to this  problem of clients  not willing to face reality?  I know what happens.; they go to  several groomers, hear the same from each, and finally   usually either end up being the client of the last groomer who told them , again, why she had to shave the dog, or they keep trying a new groomer every six months or so.

So, why is business stagnant?  1. Bad weather.  People don’t get their dogs groomed when it is very cold or there is rain.  Even if the dog needs grooming, they will wait until it stops raining to  call to make an appointment;

2.  We haven’t established a relationship and asked them to return.  Were it me, I’d talk to every client as they were picking up their dog (as well as greeting them), but the way we are set up is that I am at the back of the  facility, and I have to put  a dog I am working on away and  run a guantlet of barking dogs with a dog.  Very stressful and time consuming;

3.  We NEVER post photos of dogs I have groomed on our daily Facebook feed…only the daycare dogs;

4.  New clients find us only by accident, because we don’t have the right key words  on our website;

5.  When I started grooming, every dog was a Poodle.  The other breeds  generally went back to their breeders for grooming—and still do, because  grooming schools do such a terrible jo0b of training groomers. Rarely did you see a mixed breed dog—because the  idiots wanting extra INCOMER wouldn’t have thought to breed their dog—not in urban or suburban areas. Now, they are all Pit bulls, Pit mixes, or designer dogs.  Those  people with the designer dogs want  the hair either very short or very long, but won’t always maintain the dog so I can give them what they want.  As long as the people who influence these owners do a better job of marketing than we do, this will be how it is.

Full Employment? Then YOU Hire Him!

February 7, 2014

It’s really a very middle class notion that  we can have full employment and that everyone who wants a job should  have a job.  In my  inner city neighborhood, we have a ‘make work’ scheme where we hire chronically unemployed men to  sweep the streets.  It would be one thing if they were supervised and  sent out to  several different areas, but you often find five or six guys, one with a broom, one pushing a garbage can on wheels, and the others a  group hanging with them.  If we got after the litter bugs, and didn’t allow stores to sell cans, bottles, and candy that can be discarded all over, we wouldn’t have the mess. No matter. The fact is that none of these guys doing this will ever be able to get real jobs.  They just don’t know how to do anything  that would add value to any business, and I bet there are some other issues.

Issues like  either not showing up on time, or on a regular basis, or showing up drunk.  I used to have a small business  where I often  employed just one person to assist me in bathing dogs, cleaning up, and lifting large dogs.    There wasn’t enough work to make it even a full day, so I paid a high hourly wage, and split tips, so whomever I hired got paid  decently for the day even though they usually only had to work  four or five hours.  Usually what would happen is I’d get a student on break for the summer, and when they’d go back to school,  business would slow down, so I could take my time in hiring.

One of my clients  was an independent human resources  consultant, ans she told me how to  screen so I could make sure  I was hiring people who could follow instructions. That helped me weed out a lot of people.  Still, a lot of time was wasted.  I’d explain, on the phone, that this job entailed washing dogs—a lot of physical labor, even getting wet.  Then they would show up dressed for work in an office.  Many would start out, and  then  realize it was too much  physical  work for them.  One guy was really good, but he  kept  not showing up, with no explanation.  After the third time, I had to fire him, and he was baffled.

I know that I am not the ideal employee, but I do understand showing up on time and being ready for work.  Usually, I am the only employee in a place that has the skills to do my job.  It’s a matter of integrity to  be  on time and ready for work, with working tools.  However, the reason I groom dogs, and have stuck with it, is because I  can work without supervision and like the creative aspect of  the  job tasks.  What makes me not so ideal is refusing to take instruction or bullying from ‘supervisors’ who don’t do my job, but want to tell me how to do my job.  People who often break their corporation’s rules, but  want me to take the blame.  People who  think they should decide what my labor is worth, and that I don’t deserve to make more money than they do because they are my bosses.

I have Asperger’s, and at least I know I am the way I am, but many Aspie’s do not.  My brother is an example.  He has an R.Ph. and a DVM.  He is very well educated.  Very intelligent when it comes to science. He has no social skills whatsoever, and, due to the way he was raised—being led to believe he is valuable because  he is a male child, he never learned anything about humility or cooperation.  He became a drug addict,  and either would not take a pharmacy  job or the word got out that he stole drugs.  He wouldn’t take a veterinary job because  they didn’t pay enough.  He decided he would make his living raising snakes,  but if you are not organized,  or your expenses are too high, you can’t make a living raising snakes.  So, he took manual  labor jobs and  started  selling precious metals on the internet to supplement his  snake ‘business’.

At one point, my father asked my brother-in-law to hire my brother.  The brother-in-law, ‘J’ was the manager of a warehouse, and he hired  packers and drivers to deliver ordered parts.  Simple enough.  Well, J hired S and told him  the workday started at  8:00a.m.  S complained that was too early for him, so J made it 8:30, and S still couldn’t manage to show up on time.  I know what that’s like.  I have had jobs where the start time was  impacted by traffic. so, I got up earlier and made a point to come in early even if I couldn’t clock in, but that’s now how my brother rolls.

No phone calls were allowed during work hours except on breaks but that didn’t sit well with S, either.  At one point, he complained that a  Hispanic worker had stolen his wallet out of his car.  Since they had a security camera system,  J reviewed the tapes with S, and indeed, tapes showed someone  going into  S’ car.  “That’s  Diego!  See, I told you!”  S  exclaimed to J.  “No, it isn’t. That’s  YOU going into YOUR OWN CAR!  Don’t you recognize your vest and shirt?”  J  yelled back at S.  What made it worse was that the tapes have a clock on them, & S was implicated  going into his car while not on a break…. but it gets better.  J reviewed all the surveillance tapes, and saw S on a pay phone—also not on  an official break, and saw him take his wallet out of his pants and put it on top of the pay phone!  He called S into his office to show him this tape, and as they were watching, Diego came into J’s office and said, “This is S’ wallet.  I found it on tip of the pay phone.”

J knew he was going to have to fire S, but bent over backwards  to make this work. S still came in over 1/2 hour late every day.  He asks to use J’s company computer, which was against the rules, but didn’t care. Finally, he was going out on a delivery, and he stopped at the end of the driveway to make a call on his cell phone.  He didn’t notice a car behind him, waiting to get out of the driveway.  The guy in the car was patient, but finally, called J from HIS cell phone  and asks J, “Isn’t that your brother-in-law in front of me?”  It was J’s boss. J had no choice but to fire S.

My father had a business, and he wouldn’t have put up with  this.

We don’t want anyone to be homeless, but  should we accommodate people who think they are entitled?  We all end up losing.  These people can’t farm, so they can’t grow their own food. We don’t want to see them sleeping on the street, so we have to take care of them. We pay no matter what.What happens in less developed countries, where the social fabric has been torn, and there  is not enough n resources to take care of these people?  In India,  you see them ‘camped out’ at the gates of the  rich.  In Africa, they get into thievery,pimping, selling drugs or alcohol, smuggling, or poaching.  Most die young, usually by violence, many by poor health.

I don’t know that there is a solution to this, but like I said:  if you think they all  deserve jobs, then YOU hire them. good luck.