Work Smarter Not Harder – My Top Tips for Running a Busy Salon

Work Smarter Not Harder – My Top Tips for Running a Busy Salon
Work Smarter Not Harder – My Top Tips for Running a Busy Salon

Dog Salon Guide

Dog Groomer Burnout

Who here has heard of or experienced dog groomers' burnout? Nearly all of us are guilty of taking on too much. We love the dogs and for some reason, it seems natural for groomers to bend over backwards and burn ourselves into the ground just to ensure the dogs are kept comfortable and well maintained even if it means working our whole lives. I am guilty of this myself and it took a long time to find a balance between my business and my life but when I did it changed my life and I learned to enjoy grooming again and enjoying my free time which was unheard of before. What we must remember is that we can work 14 hours a day and get all the dogs sorted BUT it means those customers most likely won’t have a groomer in 5 years. We only have one body so it’s very important to look after and care for it to enable us to continue to groom for as long as we can. I always advise new groomers to work smarter and not harder.

Even our most loyal customers that we adore will go somewhere else if you were unable to groom their dog anymore and it’s important to remember that. We must make sure we have lunch, get that extra coffee, leave early when we have an event and even book a holiday. A holiday I hear you ask!? I know it sounds weird, but we need things to look forward to, to thrive and allowing time for you is the key to being able to run a busy salon without burning out.

By working smarter and not harder you can allow yourself to do this. As an example, by increasing your prices slightly you can do 1 less dog a day but still, ensure you are making enough to cover your costs AND get to do something to make you feel more organised and less stressed. Whether this is going to the gym, going for a walk or even catching up on admin before you go home rather than spending all evening doing it. You only get one life don’t let your business rule it.


Charge Your Worth

This brings me onto charging your worth. This is a HUGE downfall in our industry. We are skilled professionals, and we deserve to be paid well. Not everyone can groom a dog, we need to remember what we do is a skill just like plumbers, hairdressers etc. Many of us love our jobs, I love my job and am so happy that I get to do what I adore doing every single day but I also want to ensure that it supports my family and that my business thrives to support future ventures and to support me up to the day that I cannot groom anymore.

Many of us spend thousands on training, seminars, and competitions to ensure we have the best and most up to date knowledge. Now your charges will depend on various factors such as location and whether you work at home or in a high street salon and it’s important to know what exactly you need to charge per hour to keep your business in profit. I have previously spoken to many groomers who have no idea how much shampoo they use a month or how much their electricity works out per dog.

These factors are key in knowing what to charge your customers and knowing these costs will help you avoid having groomer’s burnout or having to close your business. I know my exact cost per dog which includes things such as wages, products, time, electricity, VAT, corp tax, water etc. By knowing this it helps me to plan my month and see exactly how many dogs I need to groom a day to break even or make a small profit. Then when I do more than that it’s a bonus or means I can book some time off and not have to worry about the salon. This helps me feel organised and helps balance my work and life whilst running a thriving business. If you don’t know your hourly rate, I would strongly advise working it out.


Using Products To Maximise Your Efficiency

Products can really benefit you in your salon and I find it helpful to know exactly what is in the products that I put on the dogs so I can get the best out of them. What works on one coat won't necessarily work on another coat. By knowing what products work on each coat it can help speed up the prepping stage. I try and source products that are good quality but affordable for salon use such as the Groom Professional Fresh range which I find leaves the coat well-conditioned, without leaving residue and leaves an amazing scent.

By using certain products, you can speed up the prepping process and helps you be more efficient with prepping your dogs such as Groom Professional Fast Dri Spray , this is my all-time favourite! I LOVE it so much, even before I was an ambassador I actually tested this product on a regular cockapoo that I groom and it saved me a whopping 8 minutes on drying time PER DOG! This adds up to an extra hour for me per day which is a huge deal as I can do a lot in an hour whether it be catch up on admin or get another doggie in that slot.

Another product I couldn’t live without is my Double K blaster.  I use it with all 3 different nozzles and sometimes blast without the nozzle to get the best out of the dryer, to straighten the coat. The last product I couldn’t live without is Knott a Problem which is an amazing detangling spray that I spray on the coat after blasting to help remove small tangles. Everyone’s “Must-haves” are going to be different but finding out what they are, helps on those busy days.


Maximise Efficiency Dog Salon


Dog Grooming Tricks Are Your Best Friend

When going to seminars over the years I picked little bits from each one and adapted them to ways that worked for me. I use some sort of “grooming cheat” as I call them on every single dog in my salon. Now, this isn’t cutting corners, this is using my equipment to create grooms that work for pet owners and make my job easier. Not every dog we see in our salon are like the ones we see in the competition ring so it is important to take into consideration their lifestyle and how much they are brushed at home. Whilst most of our clients want Fluffy to look like he has just competed in a show ring at Crufts, if their lifestyle doesn’t match this it’s not going to work. It is a bit like me saying if I eat healthy one day a week ill look like Jennifer Aniston, it’s never going to happen.

 As an example of one of my cheats: if I am doing an attachment 5 all over, I do an attachment 4 or 3 on the belly, inside the legs and under the ears. I do this because these are key areas for matting, that owners can’t brush as easily. It doesn’t affect the overall look of the groom, but it helps so the next time they don’t come in matted. As far as the owners can see their dog is as cute and fluffy as they hoped but for us, it means they have less hair in the areas that can’t be seen and often can’t be brushed easily. By doing little tricks like this speeds up my grooming and ensures not only are our customers happy but our dogs are comfortable and happy too. 


Wahl Comb Guides and Andis Comb Guides and Heiniger Comb Guides


Dog Salon Spa Treatments

If you don’t offer spa treatments, I would certainly recommend it. We offer a package in which we do teeth cleaning, a facial, add a bandana and take a luxury photo for just £10. It is our most popular package, and I would say about 80% of our customers have this on every visit. It doesn’t cost us much, but the dogs love the treatments, and the clients love the fact their dogs have had a pamper. Some customers come to us just for the photo that we get in the spa package. We change the backdrop every 2 months and do different themes which our customers love. Back to working smarter and not harder! By offering this spa package it allows us a bit of breathing space regarding the salon’s high costs whilst getting to enjoy giving the dogs the extra care and attention they deserve.


Dog Salon Spa Treatments


Use Social Media To Thrive

Whilst we are on spa packages, I want to talk to you about the impact photos have on your social media presence. Since offering our spa photos we went from 380 likes on our page to 1235 likes - just from customers sharing the pictures and new customers liking the page to see the lovely photos of the dogs. You can always do photo competitions and offer free spa treatments to anyone who offers you a review to help increase your social media presence. Social media is a great way to build clientele and gain recommendations as well as sharing your work. Most of our new clients have seen a picture of a dog on our social media and that is why they have come to us, so updating it regularly can help your business thrive and gain new 4-legged customers.


Keep Yourself Organised

One of my top business tips is to prioritise and delegate. It’s a common joke in the salon that’s if it is not written down, I will forget it and that’s the case for most business owners, I’ve gained the nickname Dory in my career as I forget stuff so quickly. What is funny is that I am actually very organised, I am always on time with the important stuff, I keep my receipts up to date monthly and know how to run my business with my eyes closed, however, if someone asked me what length I did on a dog yesterday, it's gone.

We are juggling SO much from what we must do to where we have to be, and that makes it very easy to forget the small things. I am super lucky at the salon to have a great team who help me out, but it is so important to prioritise and delegate where you can. I make lists weekly and prioritise what is urgent and not. Any of the smaller tasks I delegate to a team member to help me out with whilst I deal with the more urgent jobs. I honestly could not live without my lists, and they are what keep me grounded and stop me ever feeling overwhelmed or swamped by work.


Shop Dog Salon Stationery


Nurturing A Good Working Environment 

In a busy salon, a strong team is a must. Without a loyal, hardworking team and good old-fashioned teamwork, a salon can go downhill very quickly. Nurturing your team is a must, it is hard but essential to create and keep a good working environment for your team to thrive in. Our team help me, and I help them and that is how it should be, we all have good days and bad days, and it is important to have personalities that complement each other. We are all different and all have different strengths and weaknesses. A good team will make a huge difference in a salon and I’m so lucky to have the team I do.


Invest In Good Equipment

Good equipment is a must. Being 5’11 I’m constantly towering and bending over tables, but I have recently invested in the Groom Professional Everest Table , and I have no idea how I ever lived without one. It has saved my back and I wish I got it 11 years ago when I started out. Good dryers, blasters, tables and many other products are those that not only ensure an efficient salon but also your body will thank you.


Groom Professional Everest Table, Pink Megablast 2, Luxor LX-2500


Set your Rules And Stick To Them

My last top tip for running a busy and successful salon is to make your rules and stick to them. I’m talking cancellation fees, late fees, terms and conditions, matting policies, shave off disclaimers and so on. Cover yourself so that your clients stick to your rules and know the way you want to run your business. This will attract the right type of clients rather than the ones that walk all over you. It is professional and means you have lots to fall back on should you get complaints or someone challenging you about a certain thing such as they don’t want Fluffy shaved off but have not combed said Fluffy in 14 weeks.


My last top tip is that you have got this! Running a business is hard work but it’s the best feeling in the world at the same time. You will have days you feel like giving up and days you feel on top of the world. Roll with it and remember that you created your business, and you can make it whatever you want.

Kayla x

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