March 7-10, 2019
Georgia International Convention Center

Great Tips for Groomers

Q&A with Melissa Verplank, Founder of Paragon School of Pet Grooming

We asked grooming industry expert Melissa Verplank for her best tips on running a profitable business. Here’s what she had to tell us.

Q. What can groomers do to improve their services?
A. It’s no surprise that one of the main complaints that groomers have about their jobs is not making enough money. When people ask me how they can earn more, I always remind them that time is money, and the faster you can groom a pet safely, the more money you will ultimately make. These five tips can help you groom dogs better in less time while providing great service for your customers—and adding cash to your pocket!

Use Guard Combs

Guard combs are one of the easiest ways to speed up your grooming. They allow you to set consistent length over the dog quickly. Using the variety of comb lengths, it’s easy to customize the haircut just by switching out the guard comb. When working with guard combs, you don’t need the time it takes to get a beautiful scissor finish. This is a much safer option that also minimizes the stress that large amounts of hand scissoring can cause.

Invest in Chunkers

This scissor style is taking the industry by storm. Chunkers are oversized thinning shears or blending shears with wider teeth. Chunkers give a beautiful natural finish in no time. In some cases, they can be used for the entire groom. Some stylists choose to use them in conjunction with scissor or guard comb work. When used in this way, they dust the top of the coat, swiftly removing any imperfections. Talk to other pet stylists before you invest in a pair. Find out which are their favorites, and then try them out before you buy. You can see, test and compare many different types of grooming equipment and products on the show floor at Atlanta Pet Fair & Conference.

Add Accessories

Pet parents are spending more on their dogs, and many clients love a little bling. It’s easy to upsell special accessories, and it doesn’t always have to be shiny! Fun add-ons include bandannas, special bows, feather extensions, nail wraps, temporary color, pup tattoos, jeweled neckwear, bowties and ties, temporary body bling and feather eyelashes. Yes, you read that right! There’s no limit to your creativity, as long as it’s safe for the pet. It’s a fun way to add a little extra revenue and get people talking!

Upgrade to Specialized Shampoos or Services 

Every salon has its favorite economical go-to shampoo. But you can give your clients a choice—and for some pet parents, nothing is too good for their pets. Many spa lines of pet shampoo do an excellent job getting the dog clean and smelling fabulous, and several specialty shampoos treat special skin and coat conditions. These products cost more than your everyday shampoo, and if a specialty product needs to sit on the pet a little bit longer to be effective, then that should also add a little more to the cost. Consider these liquid gold mines: blueberry facials, anti-itch shampoos, odor neutralizing treatments, skin and coat remoisturizing treatments and deshedding shampoos. You can also do a paw-i-cure instead of just trimming the nails. This package deal includes filing nails with a Dremel to get them smooth and short, trimming the coat between the pads and maybe using a skin-soothing ointment for rough foot pads. Most of these upsells don’t take more time, and they add more income for you.

Stay Focused

Don’t get distracted. Most small- to medium-sized basic grooms should take about an hour to do. If someone else is bathing for you, the finish trimming should only take between 20 to 30 minutes for the same-sized basic groom. Minimize the idle chitchat with your coworkers. Put your cell phone on silent and deal with it when YOU have time. Keep your station highly organized. Create a routine for everything you do from start to finish. The more dogs that cross your table, the more money that goes into your pocket, whether it’s a paycheck, tips or your bottom line. The efforts you put out will create faster grooms, higher-quality trims, delighted customers and repeat business.

Q. What’s the career outlook for groomers?
A. The future is bright! The grooming industry is strong and attracting new attention from retailers because pet services bring customers through the front door—and after all, you can’t get your pet groomed online! Skilled groomers are in demand everywhere, and this shortage offers a great opportunity for anyone interested in a new career. New groomers may have just graduated from high school, or they may have had another career and are looking for a different, more fulfilling job.

Q. How do good groomers become great?
A. You need to always be looking for ways to improve your skills, increase your speed and provide a better customer experience. At Paragon School of Pet Grooming, we have a saying: “Education is everything!” One of the best ways to continue your education is to head to Atlanta Pet Fair & Conference 2019, where you learn from industry pros and perfect your techniques in hands-on workshops. This year, don’t miss my session, “How to Find Great Groomers,” and make sure to stop by the Paragon booth for special appearances and book signings. Plus, Joe Zuccarello’s seminar “Culture and Team Building” and our joint session “The Three Pillars of Branding Yourself” will help your business grow and thrive. We look forward to talking with you about your future—see you in Atlanta!

If you haven’t reserved your spot for seminars at Atlanta Pet Fair & Conference 2019, make sure to REGISTER TODAY!


Melissa Verplank has over 30 years of experience in the pet grooming industry. She’s a highly sought-after industry speaker, author, two-time Cardinal Crystal Achievement award winner, Barkleigh Honors award winner and contest grooming judge. She’s also a valued partner and popular presenter at Atlanta Pet Fair & Conference.

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