Do you have a story or an experience to share, a lesson learned or a helpful message? Please share with others in the pet grooming community - we'd love to hear it. Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Keep your article to under 500 words and please feel free to include any images!
Coronavirus (Covid-19) Business Closures:
Key Tips to Help You Manage Your Finances and Your Customers
BIGA would like to thank all our Volunteers who have made the time and effort to support the pet grooming community in these turbulent times. They have shown true patience and sensitivity listening to, and addressing, all concerns. Their chief aim has been to support each and every groomer by sharing the latest information from Government as we receive it and constantly driving home BIGA’s advice to all groomers: Follow all Government Advice. Stay At Home. Protect The NHS. Save Lives.
In the spirit of helping us all remain united and strong during this time, another of BIGA’s Volunteers has created and shared the following KEY TIPS TO HELP YOU MANAGE YOUR FINANCES AND CUSTOMERS during your business closure. Thank you Alex Mould of iPet Network / Four Paws Grooming School.
There are many helpful budget planners online to guide you on the most effective way to plan your budget for the upcoming months. This will be a great help to balance your finances and help you decide whether you can actually afford to pay all of your bills, or not, and if you will require additional financial support.
Check with your insurance company to see if you are covered to operate during the coronavirus pandemic.
Check whether your insurance covers you for any of the following:
• Payment protection insurance
• Mortgage payment protection insurance
• Accident, sickness and unemployment insurance
These types of insurance are often offered with life insurance policies or mortgages and it’s easy to forget you have them!
Gas and Electric
You may have trouble paying your gas or electricity bill. Find a recent copy of your bill for details of the number to call to talk to your provider. They will be able to tell you about ways you can make affordable repayments and they should also check if you’re on the best tariff for your needs. You may even find a cheaper tariff or provider!
Whatever your situation, now is a good time to think about switching as you could get a better deal with another energy company.
Water companies in England and Wales have put extra support in place if you’re worried about paying your water bill because your income has reduced because of coronavirus.
Support will depend on your circumstances and includes:
• Payment breaks or payment holidays
• Special schemes, such as social tariffs
• Adjusting your payment plan to cope with a drop in household finances
Commercial Rent / Business Premises
Consider asking your landlord for a rent-free period. Reach out pro-actively. We have already heard of businesses having success simply by asking.
Mortgage lenders have announced support if you have to take time off work because of coronavirus, including a repayment holiday of up to three months. This includes buy-to-let mortgages.
The government has announced emergency legislation to suspend new evictions from social or private rented accommodation during the coronavirus crisis.
Your landlord will not be able to apply to the court to start possession proceedings until you have missed rent payments for at least three months.
Instalments and arrears Council Tax is a yearly charge normally paid in ten monthly instalments, starting in April. You can request to pay the charge over 12 instalments, which will reduce the monthly payments, but you must contact your local council to do this. You may also be able to request to delay the start of the 10 months to save money now, for the next two months.
Local councils are writing to all businesses that they believe are eligible for a business support grant. If you receive a letter, you will need to complete a Coronavirus Business Support Grant application. This will ensure that the Council has all of the information needed to release funds promptly. If you do not receive a letter and feel you should, then please contact your local council as soon as possible. You can also visit your council website. Many will have the advice and application form online.
Covid 19 scams!
Believe it or not there are people and organisations taking advantage of this difficult time, so watch out! Some examples include:
Shop around and compare deals, focusing on:
If you can borrow money off friends or family this would be a cheaper option.
AVOID lending from payday lenders or other high cost credit lenders.
Some banks are offering interest free overdrafts and credit cards which could a be suitable short term solution.
Supporting your customers
As you may have already seen, a lot of groomers are doing videos on social media to show owners how to care for their dog’s coats during the lockdown. This shows you are supporting your customers and care for their dog’s condition.
Offer set times / days for Q&A sessions for your customers as they may have worries or concerns that you could easily put at bay such as, a dogs nails are too long and the owners are worried about the damage this may cause. Simple advice such as walking on more pavements will help wear them down.
Manage your bookings after lockdown
After lockdown it may be tempting to work 7 days a week to get on top of all the dogs that require attention, but you still need to look after your physical and mental health. Take this time to put in place a strategy and categorise your customers’ dogs depending on coat type, condition, health needs etc. helping you plan your bookings effectively for when you are ready to re-open. Let’s face it, a lot will be 7f all offs!
We hope some of these tips will help you and give you some guidance through this very difficult time. Thank you for staying safe!
BIGA’s advice remains: Follow all Government Advice. Stay At Home. Protect The NHS. Save Lives.
Cat grooming is rewarding and not as tricky as you might fear
Hey groomers........ Did you know?
As a dog groomer, you have the most transferable skills to take on cat grooming.
Cat grooming is rewarding in emotions and finances and is not as dangerous as you may imagine with 2 people, the right tools and skills to hand.
The call for cat groomers is huge, we now have 3 days available at Absolutely Animals in London and can groom between 20-25 cats a week in these days. Averaging at £65-£160 per cat it can be a skill well worth developing. Cats travel to us from as far as Brighton and Buckinghamshire.
A lot of the work we do is actually animal welfare rather than aesthetics’. Although we do have some cats in every month for maintenance grooms, most will come in when the owner can’t manage the coat anymore. This may be from a couple of small mats underneath to a full pelted coat. Often coats are left far too long.
I just love cat grooming and so do all my staff. We always record the grooming for each cat, as like dogs, each cat has its own personal likes and dislikes. Cats read you more deeply than dogs, so if you are scared and think they might try to bite you, that’s probably what will happen, which is why correct training is essential when grooming cats.
Have a look at the few grooming schools in the country for some cat training from groomers proficient in cat grooming. You can find them on www.mypetgroomer.co.uk
Meow for now....
We are now 20 years into the 21st Century
Find out how online Software can help your business TODAY
These days, there is a growing need for software solutions to make life easier, to automate processes and save time and money. Software is becoming more mainstream for all businesses and grooming is no exception, but what’s the future of Software for groomers? Recent years have seen new innovative Software as a Service (SAAS) platforms launched (like Savvy Pet Spa) which bring the latest technology innovations to the grooming world. Why have Saas systems become so popular and why are groomers jumping on board?
Submitted by Lisa Gill
A Fellow Pet Groomer shares Challenge and Triumph, in her own words
By Julie Goodall
I began my dog grooming career back in 2011 after training with the lovely Debby Knight at her salon/training centre in Oswestry.
I started my business shortly after, starting slowly but surely to being full-time by September 2012.
I loved my business, my clients and of course the dogs that we build such a close bond with.
So fast forward to January 2016, life was good, business was great, I had just become engaged to my now husband Mike who, I have to say, is my biggest fan.
Then early January I was rushed to hospital with a suspected Heart Attack. It wasn’t - thank goodness - but it did start the ball rolling with lots of medical tests.
I ended up seeing a Rheumatologist, who ordered a full body MRI. She was looking for Lupus, MS, ME, some very serious conditions, I’ll be honest, I was very scared.
Follow-up Appointment day arrived, and nothing would prepare us for the news we were about to be given. I had a Brain Tumour at the base of my skull around my brain stem...
So all systems go: The Walton Centre in Liverpool became like a second home. I think we should have had our own parking space.
I was watch-and-wait for around 18 months, during which I continued to work at a lesser amount and also married my lovely man.
Just after we married in April 2017, I had a severe dose of what we hoped was Labyrinthitis. Sadly it wasn’t, it was the tumor growing and causing a whole lot of problems.
So surgery was arranged for August, but was subsequently cancelled due to it being too dangerous!
I then had to make the heartbreaking decision to close my business Groomintails. I was truly heartbroken. I felt all hope had gone and my condition deteriorated rapidly.
I had 3 monthly appointments at Walton and then met a wonderful Consultant Neurosurgeon who agreed that it was time to operate. She was optimistic of a good outcome and we had a glimmer of hope again.
Surgery date was Thursday 14th December 2017.
I was scared but also hopeful. To be honest, I think I was that drugged up it sort of just happened.
I was in hospital for five days. It was a tough time, but I got through it with the love and support of family & friends and I was home for Christmas.
Let’s fast forward to January 2019. Recovery had been a very rocky road and we had also moved house.
Then through the post I received my Driving License back.
It was like a switch had been flicked. I felt able to live my life properly, not just as a spectator.
After encouragement from friends and family, I used Debby’s salon a few times to do our dogs. Then I asked Mike to set up my grooming equipment in our garage at home. Good friends loaned me their dogs to practice on. It felt like I had never been away.
So that’s when Groomintails re-opened, I can’t tell you how amazing it felt!
I contacted my previous clients to let them know I had re-opened and, I would say. a good proportion have returned.
Due to planning restrictions I couldn’t continue to work from home so I found my fabulous shop/unit.
Life is much better for us now. It is still 'little steps'. I can’t, nor do I want to, work as I did.
I am stricter with my diary now. I rule it, not it me. I do struggle with the No word, but I’m getting better and people are happy to wait for me.So the moral of my tail (see what I did there) is don’t give up hope. Even when you feel at your lowest ebb, fight as hard as you can. We only have one crack at this and it isn’t a dress rehearsal.
Love and strength to you all.
Scissor and Clipper Blade Maintenance
*Groomers should clean and oil their scissors every day
*Wipe the blades clean from the outside of the blade, clean around the pivot point with a brush, oil around the pivot point and screw.
*Check your scissor for nicks by slowly closing the blades, and you will feel the nick.
*If your scissor develops a nick, it needs sharpening under normal usage this would be every 3 to 4 months
*Regularly balance your scissor, as a slack scissor damages the ride line and the cutting edge
*To balance your scissor, hold the scissor by the finger end in both hands, with the blades pointing upwards, lift one blade half way up and loose it, the blade should stop just before the tips meet. Adjust till you have this action.
*Don’t tighten your scissor to make it cut, you will damage the blades.
Tips on when to clean and re-oil a blade:
*When blade performance is not normal, you have to force it through the hair.
*If the clipper seems to be slowing down
*Blades seem to be getting hotter quicker than normal
*If the animal you just did was dirtier than normal, you may have to even clean during the groom.
*You can’t hurt a blade by keeping it clean and oiled
*If you want you want to keep repair and sharpening costs down, then clean and oil your blades “Every Day”www.new-profiles.co.uk
Contributor: Rob at New Profiles
The Groomer's Corner
... with Helen Gasson, of Gastall Dog Grooming
Thought it was time to address a few things that I’ve noticed keep getting raised within social media chat rooms. So, let’s start by hitting one head on.
As you all know, price increases are never a welcome topic with consumers. We often don’t really notice their being implemented. Some sneak into to food bills; utility providers often try to hide them and we’re all familiar with that dreaded text from our mobile phone providers. Price increases are everywhere! They’re a fact of life to the consumer. So why is it so hard for our customers, within the pet service industry, to accept them?
To those of you, who have already braved implementing a price increase, you will know the pain of losing a few customers. No one likes losing a groom. We work hard with our customer base and it always smarts... just a little. However, normally with the correct directional increase, you will make up for what you lose, when a disgruntled customer takes their business elsewhere.
So how do you decide how much, when and how to?
Following are a few simple steps of how to increase your prices, in a professional way and hopefully go away toward damage limitation for client loss.
Firstly, how do you decide?There are many formulas out there to help you calculate an increase, but also look at the predicted Consumer Pricing Index for the year. This can be found on the gov.uk web sites and is a great way of introducing your next price increase. Customers can then check for themselves and your morals will not be questioned.
Thirdly, when to go for it?
Think of the long game here! Your have an obligation to notify your customer in advance. Allowing them if they so wanted, enough time to seek the same service elsewhere. So, for example; you have a bi-yearly groom and you advertised your increase 4 months before. With a nice in-house poster of your pending increase. That customer can argue that they were not made aware, and therefore they won’t pay said increase. You need to make sure that you have covered all your bases legally. No one wants the conflict of price war in their business.
Perhaps follow these simple steps to help avoid one.
Debby Knight is a dog groomer and business owner at The Bristles Dog Grooming and Training Salon in Oswestry, Shropshire. Debby keeps Alpacas. Here she explains what grooming an alpaca involves.
Why I don't groom Alpacas
Once a year my Alpacas need shearing and Spring/ Summer is the time to remove it. I own 4 Alpacas, Claudio 15, a grumpy old man, Germanicus, 10, Monty and Merlin (aka The Camel ) who are 9.
Alpacas are herd animals and reared for their wonderful fleeces and originate in South America. Alpacas are kept in a minimum of a trio, as one is always awake and on guard, though I don’t think any of mine have read the book on Alpacas, as they will all happily sleep in their stable, with no one on guard. They are often confused with Lhamas, which are much bigger and are used as pack animals. All, however, come from the Camelid family. And yes, they spit .
The shearer arrived last Sunday, in a down pour. We need to have dry alpacas so their fleece can be bagged up for sale, so my 4 boys were herded into their stable to keep them dry, except for the nice green saliva balls hurled at each other in protest.
For the uninitiated, watching an alpaca sheared looks barbaric. A piece of vinyl was laid on the paddock floor and the shearer grabbed the first victim by the neck and rump. He wrestled it to the ground, with a swift swing and they were laid on their side, with both back and front legs stretched out like tent ropes which were tied to either side of the paddock. The shearer then deftly clipped off all the fleece except for a little bit on the head. The teeth were checked and their padded toes trimmed. (they don’t have hooves, just 2 padded soft toes on each foot ). The whole shearing episode lasted less than an hour for all 4 boys Total cost £80 .... a bargain !!
I am often asked why I don’t do the job myself as I am a dog groomer .The thought of manhandling my 4 boys myself reminds me why I stick to dogs.
The image here is of Claudio. I added a bit of colour !!
An article appeared recently in The Daily Mail about the owners of a Samoyed who were 'horrified' their pet had to be shaved because the coat was badly matted. Here, BIGA member Katie Rourke-Dowding explains the consequences of a neglected coat and encourages all groomers to share this message with their customers. This isn't preaching to the converted or just the responsible dog owner: we all know dog owners talk to other dog owners because we meet each other when we're out walking our dogs - so this is a great way of educating the public and raising awareness.
A bit of a Close Shave - when Naked isn't Nice
Last week saw yet another painful story in the press regarding a dog that had been shaved “bald” by a dog groomer. This begs the question, why would a groomer shave a dog bald? After all, isn’t the groomer’s reputation resting at the end of their client’s lead?
The general public generally seem to have a pretty low opinion of Dog Groomers. In fact, many of them seem to think that they are only grooming dogs because they lack the ability to become a human hairdresser. There may be no regulation in the industry, but there are some highly trained professionals in this field. One thing that all groomers have in common, however, is that they have the dogs’ best interests at heart. This principle is reinforced by many of the bodies that a groomer may join. The International Professional Groomers (IPG), British Isles Groomers Association (BIGA) and the Groomers Association all have a Code of Ethics which their members must agree to follow to become a member. Dog Groomers are also bound by the Animal Welfare Act 2006, which states most clearly that they cannot intentionally cause pain or suffering to the dogs in their care.
When presented with a dog in a severely matted condition there is no way that a groomer can comply with their professional body’s code of ethics or the Animal Welfare Act if they even attempt to brush out these matts. This is because a matt is not a mere tangle, where a few hairs have gracefully entwined, its more akin to felt, where the guard hairs poke through an undercoat which has become so inextricably knotted that it cannot be brushed or combed out.
If left untouched each matt joins to its neighbour and before long the entire dog is residing in a living straight jacket of restrictive fur. Unlike a straight jacket however, this is joined to the skin at the roots, so every movement of the dog is accompanied with stretching, pulling or pinching of the skin. The lumps that the matts form are uncomfortable to lie on and so the poor dog gets no rest at night. If the dog becomes infested with fleas or has an additional burden of thorns, burrs or ticks also lurking in that fur, his life becomes a living hell. But this is all happening at skin level and it's totally astonishing how many dog owners are completely unaware of the distress these matts are causing – it looks fluffy on top so everything is ok, right?
The major causes of matted fur are:
• Rubbing the coat dry (it needs to be blotted)
• Leaving the dog muddy or snowy after a walk
• Having the dog spayed or castrated (the lack of hormones really affects the coat)
• Using the wrong brushes for the coat type, or not brushing at all. (A good groomer will always be happy to educate their clients here, after all, if the client does a good job at home, the groomer can do a brilliant job on their dog.)
Experienced groomers have encountered this scenario many times and each one will have a different method of dealing with the customer who brings them a dog in this lamentable condition. The process should include a thorough consultation with the owner, a signed Matted Dog Release Form to relinquish the groomer from any responsibility and printed After Care form so that the owners know how to look after their dog, both in its present condition and how to continue forward so that this sorry state never occurs again. I personally prefer to have the customer stay and watch the entire process. They then know that even a shave-down is not “the easy option” that they imagine having watched too many episodes of Countryfile where the sheepshearers race through a flock averaging on two minutes a beast. They then see that even with the greatest care taken it still causes their dog some discomfort (though not nearly as seriously as attempting to brush it out would) and they see their “naked” dog emerging from the straight jacket so the shorn locks are no surprise. I think had XXX been invited to stay and watch her dog’s procedure, she would not have been so quick to berate the skill, compassion and care of the groomer who was left to face the aftermath of the neglect of her dog.
There are a great many inexperienced, new groomers just starting out, who are still in a position of needing to retain existing customers and are the ones who are likely to get bullied into attempting to de-matt the poor tortured hound, either not realising that they are going to cause so much distress and pain or too worried about losing the customer to care.
The truth is that until a groomer gets his fingers into a dog's coat it is impossible to say how bad the situation may be.
To sum up, a groomer should never intentionally cause an animal distress but will not earn a living by upsetting clients. It follows then, that a shave-down is not the easy option, but an unfortunate necessity.
EXAMPLE of a matted Samoyed BEFORE (credit: Absolutely Animals London School of Pet Grooming)
...AFTER... ahhh, much better... thank you...
It's Oscar season. BIGA's acting-chair Kristian Maris recalls an accidental life lesson.
And the Oscar Goes to...
Years ago, cinema-loving friends and I gathered to watch the Academy Awards in my sitting room. The big screen television was ready. Popcorn was popped. Cocktails were served. My friend Lindsay brought along a platter of the most delicious chicken satay I’ve ever tasted.
The evening was great fun as we all guessed and groaned and cheered at the actors, directors, set decorators and others winning their respective Oscars.
At one point, somebody bumped the remote control (I'm sure it was David). We found ourselves unintentionally watching a slow-moving documentary about Katherine Hepburn. We assumed it was part of the Academy Awards broadcast.
It was moving stuff. Katherine Hepburn talked about her long, unconventional relationship with Spencer Tracy. The films they made together. The lives and work they shared. He was her everything. But then Spencer Tracy died. After more than 25 years, Katherine was alone. How could she go on?
She couldn’t. She was utterly bereft. But she resolved to survive her grief.
“Get busy,” she told herself. She threw herself into her work. Made appointments. Read scripts. Kept acting. Attended industry events. Anything and everything to get busy and stay busy.
She took the time properly to acknowledge her grief over Spencer. To mourn his death. But to survive, she had to get busy. It prevented her from the paralysis of inescapable despair.
Eventually we realised that we were watching the wrong program and switched back to the Academy Awards. But we were all touched by Katherine Hepburn’s resolve. It was one of those accidental life lessons that I remember to this day. I don’t recall which film won Best Picture.
BIGA member (and BIGA's new co-ordinator), Sarah Sturley, shares her experience of mustering up the courage to attend dog grooming seminars. Thanks for sharing Sarah!
Going It Alone
by Sarah Sturley
When starting my business from home and working in my own little shed - erm, I mean Salon - in my garden, I never knew how lonely or daunting running a dog grooming business could be.
I desperately wanted to keep up-to-date with all the current Grooming gossip and trends but I soon found out that I wouldn’t be able to get that just from reading magazines. I had to find another way of meeting like-minded people, who shared the same passion for grooming as I did. But the thought of going to grooming seminars alone was more than way out of my comfort zone and I didn’t think I could do it.
I thought I would feel intimidated or under-qualified to be with other groomers who had been grooming for such a long time. That I wouldn’t have a clue who any of these people were (only the top groomers I saw in the magazines - and to think I could approach and talk to them was a definite no no, after all, they are important and wouldn’t have time for me, would they?) I also thought that no one would talk to me and I would have to sit by myself the whole time I was there.
Well, let me reassure all of you who are thinking the same way. Going to grooming seminars on your own is amazing and up with some of the best things I have ever done. Ok, so it was a little scary at first, but as soon as you walk in, everyone makes you feel so comfortable and welcome that all fears soon disappear. I have met some amazing people (who are not all groomers) at each seminar, including some of the most experienced groomers in the country/world who, I soon found out, are normal human beings after all and more than happy to chat and help with any questions and even share some fantastic grooming tips.
I have been grooming and going to seminars for just over 18 years now. Sometimes I go with others, but if they are unable to go with me then I just go on my own and enjoy meeting and making new friends. I am still gaining knowledge and tips from both new and experienced groomers but, most of all, sharing conversations and being in an environment with so many like-minded and passionate people, is certainly worth taking that jump and going it alone if you have to, because trust me, you are definitely not alone when you get there.