If you’ve chosen pet grooming as your career, continued education is one of the most important aspects of success and happiness.
I remember being that young groomer going to my first trade show; talking to people with the same love and interests as me and being blown away at my first seminar. I thought I was a pretty decent groomer and had already learned a lot…until that day.
After that show, I was hooked and found learning more about grooming was a never-ending addiction. Even to this day, I enjoy learning new breeds and techniques and especially trying new tools and supplies to make our grooms really stand out from the norm. It helps save me from burnout.
Here are some of my favorite ways to continue grooming education:
Books - Pre-internet I purchased every book I could find by Sam Kohl, Shirlee Kalstone and Melissa Verplank. I also bought every edition of the AKC's “The New Complete Dog Book” and subscribed to “Groomer to Groomer” and “Groom and Board” magazines.
Now, most of this is available online, although I still love having the books to be able to look at as a quick reference.
Trade Shows - There are so many more trades shows around the country, and attending as many as you can afford is invaluable.
When my salon first started attending shows back in the early ’80s, we’d take photos and display them on a bulletin board for clients to see. We included a “Thank you for your tips. They help further our education to help us better serve you.” message. This worked for two reasons, 1) It let our clients know how dedicated we were, and 2) We got more tips.
Online Programs - For those who can’t seem to get away, online programs have become a godsend. Jay and I started our Super Styling Sessions as a one-day seminar, which turned into a series of DVDs, and now it’s an online membership, always growing in members and content.
One of the nicest compliments is groomers saying, “I learned to groom by watching your videos.” Then I feel like we are doing something right and giving back to an industry that has given us so much.
There are other online programs out there, and the more knowledge you get, the better your skills will become.
Webinars - A large variety of webinars are available for your enjoyment. Plus, you get to learn from the relaxation and privacy of your own home.
Jay and I host eight to 10 of our Super Styling Sessions per year. Social media is a great resource for finding webinar dates. Ours are also listed with Groomer’s Choice, who is our main sponsor.
When selecting webinars to attend, just beware! Not all content is correct or valid, so pick and choose carefully.
Dog Shows - Going to dog shows is a very big eye opener for groomers. I remember years ago watching my first Terrier group at a breed show and thinking “I don’t do my Terriers like that!” I had to update an awful lot of what I was currently doing.
I know a lot of show people seem hard to approach, but the key is to never approach with questions when they are getting ready to go into the ring. Wait until their breed is done, and they can breathe long enough to talk to you.
Most people really want their breed to be groomed correctly so they’re happy to help. I’m a breeder who LOVES talking about my breed with anyone who will listen.
Breed shows are also an excellent way to find good breeders if you want to try grooming competitions. The better-quality dog you find, the more it will enhance your groom.
Certification Programs - These help you be a step ahead of your competition. As far as I know, being certified is not mandatory in any U.S. state, but with talk of licensing, it will definitely be a step in the right direction, not to mention sharpening skills and knowledge you’ve forgotten or didn’t have.
Competing – It's not for everyone, but if you have broad shoulders and a competitive spirit, getting in the ring is one of the best forms of education. Every time you compete and get a critique from your judge is a great learning experience.
My customers felt I was the best around when I first began my career. Then, I entered my first contest grooming against my peers and found I still had so much to learn. Each contest made me a better groomer than the one before, until I ranked No. 1 in the country on GroomTeam USA.
Several girls from my shop were interested in competing as well. We would use our tip money to hire an expert from whatever breeds we were competing with. A top Terrier person, Poodle person, sporting breeds person, etc. would come for one-on-one private lessons. This idea is very beneficial with the right people.
Outreach – The final tool is to personally reach out to a groomer you admire who is willing to help by simply answering questions in a text or email. I don’t know any top-ranking groomer who would not be happy to help in any way they can. All you have to do is ask.
Please remember Jay and I and the wonderful people at Groomer’s Choice are always happy to help. Your success is our success.