Save Time While Grooming and Increase Productivity
As much as we love what we are doing, the point of grooming for a living is to make money. Our business expenses go up all the time, yet we tend to be reluctant to increase our prices. So, how do you increase profitability? We can either groom more dogs in a day, or find ways to spend less time on each dog. The more time you save, the more productive and profitable you will be. Here are ways to make your work go faster.
Review your normal day to see where you could be saving a few minutes. Start with the time spent checking in dogs. Find ways to make the process go more quickly. Maintain a schedule by setting up pickup time for regular clients when they phone to make an appointment.
Where do you put dogs when they come in? Some shops identify the dog with a neckband while he is in the shop. ID bands makes determining which dog is which quicker and prevent any possibility of mix-ups. Some shops put the dog in a crate or stall that the dog returns to after each step of grooming is completed. A customer card kept in that area identifies them.
Other shops use color-coded clothespins to designate where the dog is in the grooming process. The clothespins hold a card with information and grooming instructions that goes with the dog to each stage of the grooming process. Each stage is coded with a different color clothespin. You can tell at a glance where each client is at any time.
How do you contain the dogs? Vari-Kennels or wire crates are inexpensive and perfectly serviceable, but are harder to clean and access than cage banks. There are a variety of styles, from freestanding wire units to fiberglass or metal, in various price ranges. Easy-to-open and quick-to-clean, they are a worthwhile investment.
Always use a grate of some kind in your cages. Grates prevent freshly bathed animals from becoming soiled if they urinate, thus eliminating the need to rebathe the animal. Having the air circulating completely around the pet cuts your drying time by at least a third or more.
Save time by keeping two sets of clippers on hand. If one breaks down, you won’t lose a day or more of business while they are being fixed. Consider making your second set a heavy-duty type to do faster shave-downs.
For faster clipping, you should try to get your clipper work perfect before the bath, so that you will have less to do after the dog is dry. Many groomers also quickly pre-scissor overgrown coats to save time. You will have less coat to brush, wash, and dry, and your after-bath scissoring will go faster if you have already laid in length and basic shape.
When should you trim nails? Some groomers trim them before the bath so that if they cut the nail quick and have to use styptic powder, they can wash it off in the tub. However, many dogs are less difficult about having their nails trimmed if you do them in the tub or right after bathing.
A method that works well is to force dry, set them on a table to towel the head and feet and then trim the nails. The nails are softer when full of water, and the dogs seem to feel it less. The less objection from the dog, the faster you’ll be able to complete the nails. Some groomers find using grinders instead of nail trimmers works faster. Use the method that works the fastest for you.
Your tub can help you save time bathing. Try to have an easy way to get big dogs into the tub. A ramp or set of steps gives dogs fast and easy access into the tub, saving you time and energy not having to lift a large dog. A grate is also useful for saving time, as they keep the dog’s feet out of the suds as you are rinsing. If you have ever had to wait for the tub to drain so you could fully rinse a dog’s feet, you were wasting time.
Don’t brush all dogs out completely before the tub. If a dog has a lot of matting or packing, simply use a mat comb pre-bath to break mats up. Incorporate brushing mats out into other things that you do to save time.
Force, or high velocity, dryers are a huge timesaver. On short- to medium-coated dogs and double-coated breeds, try using a force dryer before, during, and after the bath. If you force blow the coat first, a lot of excess hair will come out and can be swept up easily. This will lessen the amount of coat you have to shampoo. Once the dog is soaped up in the tub, use the force dryer again. Most of the dead coat will hit the sides of the tub where it can easily be cleaned up. You’ll need less time to dry the coat because more excess hair is gone. Finally, when the dog is rinsed, use a velocity dryer as you normally would to shorten brush-out time.
Products used in the tub can be time savers too. Shampoos that clean well without excess sudsing will need less rinsing. Cut down your time per dog by using creme rinses or conditioners. They will soften and loosen the coat, allowing you to force out dead coat on the Northern breeds, and push matting on other breeds towards the ends of the hair shaft for quicker, easier brush-outs. Some creme rinses are labeled to be left in, so you can rinse lightly or not at all, saving time as well as leaving the coat soft.
After drying, spritz a spray conditioner containing dimethicone, such as Top Performance® GloCoat™, through the coat. Not only will it speed up the drying time, but will allow your brush to glide through the coat with the greatest of ease!
Replace your brushes frequently, as worn-out pins rob you of speed by making you go over the same spot repeatedly. Most breeds can be cage dried. That’s a great timesaver. You can also use faux chamois towels on feet and head after force drying, then cage dry, and do a quick brush out before beginning finish work.
Consider a recirculating bathing system. There are several on the market today, most consisting of a recirculating pump that sits right in the tub. If you tilt the tub a bit more than usual, you don’t need to use as much water, which saves money as well as time. Using a bathing system might eliminate the need for a second shampoo application. Even if you still shampoo twice, you’ll save time in several ways. The dog will get wet faster as you are applying soapy water. Rinsing time is reduced. The circulating water helps shed out coats, because the soapy water gets right to the skin. Also, it pushes mat knots to the end of coat, making dematting easier and quicker.
Don’t forget snap-on combs as a timesaver. You can save time just by getting the coat shorter on those overgrown coats before you pick up your scissors. On some coats, such as Lhasas or other similar puppy cuts, snap-on combs will give you a fairly finished product. You’ll save even more time if you use a vacuum system designed for use with clippers.
Vacuum systems will pull the hair up into the snap-on comb, making a much smoother, more even cut and allowing you to do much less scissoring. These systems save time even if you are not using a snap-on comb! Poodle feet are a snap since the hair is pulled up into the clipper, leaving none of the errant hairs alongside the nails!
One caution, though. Since the hair is being pulled up into the blade instead of lying flat under it, you will cut much closer with the blades than you are used to. For instance, if you are used to using a #30 on poodle feet, a #15 will do the same job.
Use even a few of these tips and you’ll will cut down on the time spent grooming each dog. You’ll be able to groom faster and more efficiently. Your increased productivity will help make you more profitable and your business more successful.