With the pandemic still going strong, a lot of salons have closed and there is a dire need for groomers. People are getting burnt out and there are more dogs than ever since it seems like almost everyone got a Covid Puppy. Salons are struggling to find reliable, experienced help and there aren’t many options available when it comes to education as most of it has become digital learning. The nearest brick and mortar facilities to my salon are located about an hour or more away from our location and most of the people interested in becoming a groomer didn’t have the necessary income to pay for the education due to the pandemic. Personally, my training was through a big box store that I eventually decided to leave and pursue other establishments to learn under experienced groomers from different educational backgrounds. I had a foundation to work with, I just needed the guidance away from corporate facilities who focus on quantity over quality and business policies I did not agree with. Without the mentoring from some of my close friends, I would not have the success that I have now in my current position.
Finding the Right Type of Person
The shop I manage the salon for decided to take on a grooming apprentice with the hopes of mentoring someone into a quality, life-long groomer. This was a first for me as I am still learning new techniques and honing my own skills throughout the past 8 years. Our shop had the clientele numbers to provide for the hands-on portion, we were just struggling to find a good fit. I was a little apprehensive at first; however, it turned into one of the best decisions the shop has made. After speaking with some of the representatives from Paragon School of Pet Grooming, we were able to find a great candidate who met our core values with an eagerness to learn. We used Paragon’s online learning in addition to the surplus of clients we had to provide her with the necessary hands-on learning needed to progress through the education.
Be Realistic About Expectations & Timeline
In the beginning stages, I was very overwhelmed about all the things I knew I would have to teach to someone starting from scratch, whether that’s safety measures, proper technique, or simply speaking with the clients and translating their requests into the haircut they desired. The anxiety of forgetting something important was always present as I’m used to being on “auto-pilot” during my grooms. I had never thought of myself as someone experienced enough to take on the responsibility of having a dog grooming apprenticeship program. My boss, a non-groomer, was a little more enthusiastic about the process and thought my apprentice would become capable of handling the workload sooner than what was realistic, which led to a few scheduling complications. It did take some trial and error to work out the best way to progress through the digital program, as to be expected.
Moving Grooming Apprentice from Bather to Groomer
We paid the apprentice an hourly wage before moving her completely to commission and only scheduled Basic Bath and Brush appointments for the first few weeks so she could slowly adjust into how the salon functions. When the education moved into more of the haircutting, I would have her shadow me, watch my routine, and explain why I was performing specific tasks. I gradually started having her prep my grooms with pads, sanitary, nails, and light rough-ins. Then we moved into her bathing, drying, and brushing out my clients as I supervised. The last portion of her hands-on learning, to guarantee she would meet the requirements for submission, was to do a few Body Contours on her own and the rest she would bathe, dry, and prep my clients. Then I would have her groom one half of the dog while I finished the other side. We found this to be extremely time effective because I was able to make up for the extra time it took my apprentice. Every week I would tip share as she did a lot of the work. Half of her days were spent doing the modules online and when she couldn’t progress further, she would be working at my side.
Sharing is Caring: Opening the Next Generation to Grooming
If anyone has been at a loss trying to find reliable help in their salons, I highly recommend looking into an apprenticeship. There are options available for education that can help you find the best fit for your salon. You will learn more about what you’re capable of while helping someone learn the profession you love. I’ve been considering reaching out to local schools to see if they have any events centered around trade work to offer up some of my time to promote this profession and engage younger generations who may not know what career path is right for them. A lot of us are getting older and our bodies are starting to wear out, so this is excellent opportunity to give yourself a small break while mentoring someone to fall in love with grooming.
Mallory Knight manages a salon in Grand Rapids, Michigan named Fido and Stitch, a small, local boutique. She has been grooming for around 8 years, 5 of the years being at Fido. She’s been voted one of the ‘Best Groomers in West Michigan’ locally over the past several years and for 2020, her entire salon was awarded.
Follow Mallory on Instagram here. Check out Fido and Stitch on Instagram here.
Use code: RYANS100 for $100 off classes at Paragon School of Pet Grooming.
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