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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Mesa, Arizona
    Posts
    5

    Default Petco training or grooming school?

    Hi Everyone,

    I am seriously considering becoming a Pet Stylist and for the past few days I have been reading all about the industry and schooling options. Tuition to attend a grooming school will cost around $7k plus lodging expenses. I could apply for a Sallie Mae personal loan to cover these expenses (no guarantee on approval).

    In my research, I discovered that a local Petco in my area also hires and trains Pet Stylists with no prior experience. There is no tuition and you get paid while learning.

    So my question to you is - Do you think I should go with Petco or attend a grooming school? Oh, the Petco option does come with a 1 year commitment compared to grooming school - you are out and on your own in roughly 15 weeks (1 school I looked at is 1,000 hours).

    Is there anyone on this board that went through the Petco training? Was there any contracts, learning schedules (timeframes) and most importantly - did they teach you a lot?

    Of course if I selected Petco as my starting point, I am thinking that I would stay with them for either the 1 year or a 2 year personal commitment and then seek a grooming school for touch ups (general continuing education).

    I am just afraid that I might get stuck as a bather for 4 months. I of course am looking to be trained in everything there is to know about the trade (everything from intake, pre-bath, bath, style, discharge, etc...)

    Another concern of mine is - what happens after I am finished with Petco and decide to move to a private salon (working for someone else) - how will they recongnize my Petco training on my resume? Would I be welcomed with open arms or would I be told to seek professional training and come back when finished?

    In summary, spend the money for education or take the free route as a starting point?

    P.S. I am in no way shape or form down talking Petco or any grooming facility. I am only trying to ensure that I make the right decision the first time around and that I can join the rest of you as a great groomer.

    Kevin
    Mesa, AZ

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Posts
    100

    Default

    I haven't gone through PetCo, but I am corporate. In my case, I was taught the basics, but you're still learning even after you've finished training (I assume it's the same even with a grooming school).

    You will start out as a bather, until it is deemed you're ready to go through the grooming program. Quite simply there's no way around it. In order to be a good groomer you need to be a good bather first. You will learn a lot about safety - in regards to yourself and the pets you'll be working with.

    Working in a corporate salon definitely has it's downsides; it's stressful at times, you'll be working behind glass in a fishbowl. Many customers get huffy if they can't get "Fluffy" in for her groom on that day (never mind that it's 1pm on Saturday). Management doesn't always stand behind you depending on the team in your store (I'm lucky in that my managers stand behind us 100%). You've constantly got to be on the lookout for kids who think it's cute and funny to bang on the glass while you're trimming little Foo Foo's face. On the upside, you have insurance and many of the needed items such as tubs, supplies, and tables are provided (you provide your own personal tools). You're also going to be limited to what the corp thinks are "acceptable" tools. In my store we can't use skip tooth blades, and we don't have groomer's helpers.

    In the end you get out of it what you put in. You can't come out of the program thinking you know everything. Joining this board and reading is probably the best decision I've made. I ordered Barbara Bird's Bichon video, and have my eye on a couple others. I want to learn as much as possible, and will most likely end up furthering my education by going to an actual school at some point.

    There's a girl that works for my Corp in the next town over that's won grooming competitions, and the manager at that salon used to own her own salon before deciding to go corporate. There truly are a range of all sorts of groomers working for the big box stores, and plenty have moved on to open their own salons. There are contracts you'll be expected to sign, and non compete clauses, but they're really not as bad as it's often made out to be.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    NY
    Posts
    573

    Default

    I used to work for Corporate and found that the grooming training really depended a lot on the trainer. Many groomers I met that went thru the corp. school only really knew how to shave everything down. It really deepnds on the region. Corp. grooming was very stressful as the other poster stated a lot of it depends on if management is behind you. And I totally can agree! I like d alot of thigns about working corp. but many I didn't. I did not feel respected and management managed to talk about my earnigns to people in the store, did not back me up when other groomers were doing dangerous practices that were against corp. policy. I decided to decamp 3 years ago and while I do miss the medical I do not think you could ever get me to go back as a groomer. As I get older I want more to educate groomers and make things better for the profession all around.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Mesa, Arizona
    Posts
    5

    Default Thanks!

    Hi Tapplumipes79,

    Thanks so much for taking the time to respond to my post. Very helpful information.

    I think I am going to contact my other big box store to see if they have training programs and then make my decision on which one to attend. I also plan on continuing my education in the trade once I graduate from the training program. From what I understand from reading these forums and other websites about the Pet Grooming profession is that education/learning is ongoing and doesn't end at the end of the 15 or 20 week course.

    Once I get my foot in the door and learn the basics, I plan on attending trade shows, networking with other groomers in my area and also attend a Pet Grooming school to sharpen my skills. I just wasn't sure if I should start off at Petco (or another big box store) or just go directly to a school. I would assume that big box stores have a sincere interest in training an individual the right way and then it's up to the individual on how far they want to go.

    Thanks again for your reply.

    Kevin
    Mesa, AZ

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    5,059

    Default What I remember

    On other posts here last year (or the year before?? lol), people were asking about the contract, i.e. the 1-year commitment you mentioned. Someone on this board actually "bought out" their commitment and left, so that is entirely possible if you find you can't stand working there.

    And whether you get trained at a big box store or at a school, it should be considered the basics; you will learn a LOT afterward! So your idea of seminars, etc., is the way to go after whatever training you get.

    And many have posted about the differences in different stores - some are well-run and engender quality grooming skills, and others are not. Maybe if you are unhappy with one you can try another.

    So good luck to you! I think if these stores had been around when I got into grooming, I would go with one - health care, holidays, flexible hours (I don't mind working weekends), and getting paid to LEARN!!! Wow!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Greenville, SC, originally Hamilton, NJ
    Posts
    826

    Default

    I agree that it will depend a lot on the location of the big box store. I went to a private grooming school (Graywood Academy in GA), worked for a mobile grooming company and then took a job at a big box store near me in NJ. I've been corporate for 4 months, and I just gave my resignation today. I loved the other girls I worked with (we have no salon manager), all except the store manager. This manager would say no to everything we asked to do even when there wasn't anything forbidding it in policy. For example, one day I was booked a gargantuan Golden Retriever (hadn't been in in months and was getting the full de-shedding package) and a Cocker spaniel that hadn't been groomed in over a year, both together in a 3-hour block. The bather didn't have any dogs scheduled and offered to start bathing my Golden while I shaved down the Cocker. My store manager came in a while later and absolutely threw a fit that the bather was touching my dogs. She flipped out on me, the bather, and the other groomers who came in to work later that day! She said I should have called and cancelled one of my later appointments than for the bather to help me!

    For me, coming from environments where I could experiment with different products, tools, and techniques to corporate where I was forbidden to do or use anything not on their "approved" list was very stifling. Only recently was I told I could use my Groomer's Helper, and the other day I was told that I could not use an organizer I had bought for the end of my table because it wasn't "on the list." I guess it isn't as bad if you start in that environment from the beginning or if you have really great managers and staff, but even the other girls I worked with are counting down to the end of their 2-year contracts. I would try and talk to the stylists at the big box store near you to try and see what kind of environment it is.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Posts
    100

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by lyttleravyn View Post
    My store manager came in a while later and absolutely threw a fit that the bather was touching my dogs. She flipped out on me, the bather, and the other groomers who came in to work later that day! She said I should have called and cancelled one of my later appointments than for the bather to help me!
    Wow! She certainly overreacted for sure on that one! We often will have our bathers help us out if they're not too busy and we need it, for instance if we're all booked and one of the girls calls out sick. The bathers are our lifesaver on days like that. We don't take advantage of them either. If one of the bathers bathes a dog for us, it's pretty much an unspoken rule that we pay the bather $5 as a thank you, since we're on commission and they're hourly.

    My store manager would never demand we call and cancel an appointment unless it's absolutely necessary, like if it's a request dog and the groomer calls out. Otherwise we buckle down and work together to get the dogs done. We warn the customer ahead of time that it might take longer than normal, and we've never had anyone complain about it.

    It really does depend on the store and the coworkers. For the most part I love the girls I work with, but we do have the occasional drama (we are all female after all, haha!).

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Manassas, VA
    Posts
    21

    Default

    I am so glad that I found this site!! I, too, am thinking of starting with Petco and doing additional training on my own. I feel that I will get a lot of experience in the basics and much practice with bathing. Does anyone have recomendations on which distance learning programs I should use? I've ordered Jodi Murphey's sample DVD. Also, how can I find out about conferences and continuing education opportunities near where I live?

    Stephen: www.petgroomer.com/calendar.htm has most events, but we also have an EVENTS forum here on the board. Check it out.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    danbury,ct
    Posts
    2,679

    Default

    I went through Petco's training many moons ago. I started with a 4 week beginner program, then apprenticed four weeks with an experienced groomer, then went back for 2 weeks of advanced training. what makes or breaks this program is the 4 week apprentice part. I was very lucky in that I had someone who was interested in teaching. Others were not that lucky and were just bathers for them. The 1 year committment is not bad at all. You need that time to learn.
    Certified Master Pet Tech Pet CPR, First Aid and Care Instructor
    "Compassion will cure more sins than condemnation." Henry Ward Beecher US Congregational Minister 1813-1887

  10. #10

    Default

    Well ive never went to Petco's but personally really look into what is offered vs. PetSmart. Ive been with PetSmart 5yrs, manager of my shop for 4yrs. Sometimes the corp stuff drives me crazy!!! But I love the comfort of knowing Im taken care of no matter what. PetSmart has alot more to offer and they send you away to a academy store. on return from academy 40 hrs week with a 2 yr contract. All paid motel and mileage. With Salon Manager assistance Groom 100 dogs complete academy book and then your commissioned. You get full benfits as soon as the Academy is over (4weeks)PetCo does trainning in store...so pray your manager knows how to groom good! Right now Ive got a girl in academy at Reno, NV. She returns monday!!! I'm so excited! The whole process usually takes 10-12weeks.
    One of my Groomers really thought the grass was greener on the otherside...she wanted to make my commissions. I kept tell her keep do what your doing and give it time...she was a new groomer (under 6 months of earning commissions) where I've been doing this like 14 yrs, of course im alot faster. Plus I opened the store here so I pretty much know all our clients, it all makes a big difference. Anyhow she walked out on her contract and went to manage the Petco in next town...we still talk.
    She has a whole new respect for my job!!!! LOL but she has said more than once its nothing like us. Not the benfits, 401k, stock options, vacation pay (petco is your hourly rate/ petsmarts is avg commission for prior 3 months, last vacation day I took was $38. hr) vacation is less than half of what we offer, so is sick time.
    I know a few stores for PetSmart have opened there (Mesa/Phoneix) in last year....do your homework, apply on-line for PetSmart but youd have to apply as a bather first. 2-3 months if you are a good bather and show strong desire for the job you can be sent. Im actually going to Mesa next week, father lives there.
    Anyhow if you"ve got more questions gadjetgrl@sbcglobal.net on closing id also add PetSmart youve got to be atleast 18yr, keep pushing if its really whay you want
    apply alot (auto system only leaves apps 30 days) and we also offer assistance for those in college ect....

  11. #11

    Default

    As a manager in our shop...gee i can only guess where you work!! LOL. Id tell you this much, if my girls (or guys) canceled dogs simply because someone called in...Id be unglued!! Unless like you'd said "personals" but even then we still offer to keep appointment if agree someone else does work. And yes times like that
    you pull together and git it done!!! I ask (demand kinda) if there is down time...pick a long haired dog or poodle and help out with drying. when it comes down to it Im really lucky and I know it my whole team has something special to offer...and if we need to we can really pull it together. But YES, there is every once in awhile the DRAMA....that I could live without!

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    South Florida
    Posts
    19

    Default Corporate employee

    Working for corporate can by trying. Corporate "bottom line" negging will drive you crazy. That said, you do get good benefits, paid vacation (even if it is at minimum wage), you usually don't get that at private salons. I've been grooming for over 3 years, last 2 have been at a corporate salon. I went to a private school, when I graduated I started at a private salon. I, of course was slow, and was told I was not a "finished groomer", by salon manager. I was given every flea bitten, matted, and badly behaved dog that came in the door. But I took it as a learning experience. I was given many tips from fellow groomers (a couple who were excellent) and learned a lot. After several months, my speed and confidence built up. I left and started working for corporate. I think its up to you how good you become. I go to grooming seminars when possible, last one was Jay and Sue's when they came to Miami - excellent. I would definitely get Jodi's DVD's. Her DVD's are well done with great camera work. They are also reasonably priced. Good Luck

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