• Mobile Efficiency

    Mobile Efficiency by Ellen Ehrlich from her GroomWise Blog, http://groomwise.typepad.com/go_mobile_and_succeed/

    When youíre grooming in a mobile vehicle time is of the essence. Iíve always said as soon as I enter my van the clock starts ticking and itís true. Since I became a mobile grooomer Father Time has taken on a whole new meaning. Every moment counts.

    I have developed a few simple routines that work very well for me in the van.

    Having everything you need right at your fingertips is key. Since my van has such a limited amount of storage, I only have room for the tools and supplies I need on a day-to-day basis. Every so often I go through my drawers and shelves and take stock of what I have. At the same time, I clean, wipe and blow out the hair that always seems to find a place to hide. Nothing feels as good as looking though your belongings and finding everything neat and organized.

    At every appointment I always run a bath before I get the dog. I lay out all the tools I need. This includes shears, clippers, blades, SS combs, brushes and ear powder. When I bring the dog into the van I put a bow on the collar right off the bat. Then I buff the nails and pluck the ears if need be - then right into the tub.

    Maybe this sounds a bit OCD but I like to stagger my chamois and towels next to the tub. This way, when I reach for them, I donít have to restack the pile. I like neat. Right next to the tub I have my hoodies, flea combs, a rubber curry, a deshedding brush and cotton balls. I love the pumper that releases the ear cleaner when you press a cotton ball on top. It keeps you from missing a beat as you go through the grooming process.

    I feel that drying is the biggest challenge in a mobile van. It is a huge time eater. We all know the trick of using towels; one to catch the water as we HV the dog: having the dog sit on a dry towel to absorb even more. I place the dryer nozzle right on the skin, blowing the water away from the dog and into the towel as I gently rub. I use the highest speed the dog will comfortably accept. A hoodie on the head works great absorbing water as it buffers the dryer noise and keeps the forced air from blowing into or near the ear canal. I like to let the long floppy ears hang out of the hoodie so I can dry them along with the rest of the dog. My goal is to dry that dog 95% while still in the tub. I hate finding wet or damp spots when I start the fluffing process. That will slow you down immensely.

    I have a grooming routine that I follow that works well for me. I always groom the face first for two reasons. It seems more natural to me because I am looking right at the dog. The second reason I like to start with the face is because it gives me the opportunity to take a second look when I am done grooming the body. We have such a limited amount of time with our dogs that we need to make the most of it. Having a second look is important. After the face I trim the ears and tail because sometimes these parts can be an afterthought.

    I groom every head with a cordless trimmer and snap on combs. If the dog is small or doesnít need much trimming I stay with the trimmer. If not I switch to my full size clipper and vac system. I use on the vac on every dog that gets a full haircut. This is a must have tool in a mobile van. It means less clean up for you, gives a great finish for the dog and keeps you healthy as it sucks up the hair as you clip.

    Do not be afraid of a vac system. When I got my van I had never used one before but I jumped right in and used it on the first dog on my table. There are just so many benefits. Start out with a longer blade or snap on comb, keeping in mind, the vac will take the hair shorter because the suction is pulling the hair closer to the blade. This is a valuable tool for mobilers. Once you get the hang of it youíll wonder how you lived without it.

    After the haircut I look at the dog. Then I put my dryer on low and blow the hair around. I look for sticky outies. I comb it up and look again and snip. Sometimes, Iíll go over the dog with my cordless trimmer with a comb attachment to just take off the fuzzies. I use as long a comb as possible. Remember, I am not cutting cut into the hair. Just removing any stragglers that Iíve missed.

    I do put things away and clean as I work. I vacuum up the hair after Iíve used the trimmer. Iím big on multitasking. Everything gets put right back into its place when I am done using it. After the dog is finished, I vacuum one more time. When I take a look around everything is organized and ready for the next appointment. When I return the dog to the house the van needs to be presentable just in case somebody walks by and wants to take a peek inside.

    The biggest time saving tip is developing your own grooming routine. Do what works best for you! There is no right way and no wrong way. Working systematically will give you the best results and even save you time at the end of the day. Remember, if you can carve ten minutes off each groom each day you can groom another dog or get home one hour earlier!