Maintaining Quality in a High Volume Shop
By Missi Salzberg
When I talk to people about my grooming salon and the number of dogs we groom, they seem perplexed. How can a shop that does serious grooming volume maintain quality control? It is a question that has no truly simple answer. It is a combination of factors.
Let’s face it, groomers, we have to do some numbers to make a living. If we were to groom two or three dogs a day to perfection, we’d be satisfied in our artistry and broke! So, how do we maintain high grooming standards and keep a steady, manageable volume of pets coming through the door?
In my situation, I have a staff of professional groomers. If you are in the same work environment, then maintaining high standards begins with the first interview for a new staff person. Call it groomer’s intuition, but I get a feel for a person the first time I meet them. I hope I don’t sound judgmental here. I’m not judging their personal character; rather, I’m looking for the points that we connect on when we talk about what it is we look for in quality pet care.
I am on the lookout for groomers that love animals, and also have their own set of high standards. If I am impressed with their initial interview, I will hire on a trial basis of one week to see their work and their handling in action. This is all to say how important it is to surround yourself and the pets you care for with pros that want to do their best for you and your clients, both two-legged and four-legged!
There is also an approach to insuring quality control that seems to elude many of us because it is just too scary to do. Communicate your standards! Yes, actually say what you need. I have found that when I express my desire for top-of-the-line grooming to my staff, it inspires them rather than makes them feel judged. It’s all in your approach.
Speak about your vision of being the premier salon and how to achieve that as a team. If you have an issue with a groomer, present the solution in a positive light. You could say, "You know those ears are totally off balance! Open your eyes!" You could also opt for a positive spin and say, "That groom is so beautiful. Could you do me a favor and just check the balance of the ears? Great job" Again, it’s all in your approach.
Maintaining quality also relies on the consistency of the shop owner or manager overseeing the final product before the pup heads home. My mother has owned the shop I work at for over 30 years. As much as we tease her and her ’evil eye,’ she has always visually spot-checked all dogs before release. Many a time she has chased clients to the door, shears in hand, to snip that last sprig of hair that we overlooked.
Obsessive? Absolutely, but her commitment to quality has rubbed off on my staff and me. Funny, too, is that clients get a big kick out of her compulsion, and they appreciate her attention to detail. Believe me, many of them notice the fine details too!
These are the basics in maintaining high grooming standards in a busy shop. I’ll leave you with one more thought. The quality of grooming you turn out is incredibly important; but, never lose sight of the fact that loving and respecting the animals in your care is, in my humble opinion, even more important. High volume, successful shops usually have found a balance between beautiful grooming and communicating their love for the animals in their care.
Missi Salzberg owns and operates The Village Groomer and Pet Supply in Walpole, Ma. She contributes to many industry magazines and speaks nationally on issues related to the professional pet care industry.