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


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:   http://www.discoveringlabradoodles.com/labradoodle/Labradoodle-Grooming.htm

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.

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