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Need Direction PLEASE!!!

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  • Need Direction PLEASE!!!

    I have been grooming for 5 years now & I am feeling like it is a hopeless case. I want to appologize in advance for the leangth of this venting, but I would really appreciate some advice from some experienced groomers who have some wisdom they could share. Here's my story:
    I absolutely love grooming have a client base of about 700 of which most have followed me everywhere I go. I started out @ a corporation, but not as a bather & I had no schooling. They were in need of a groomer & the grooming manager said she thought I could just jump right in since I had the experience of shearing sheep & worked 1 summer helping my grandmother out in her shop. They actually hired me & told me I had 2 weeks to prove myself. So, the manager taught me in 2 weeks the bare basics & I ordered some videos, asked my grandmother for guidance who was by the way in a different state, & gave it my all! I took to grooming like a fish to water! I Lived, breathed, & loved grooming! Well all until about 1 year later when my grooming manager started blowing our plan out of the water (which means she was making us groom at least 12 dogs/day all of which were full groom dogs) & I was working 70+ hr/wk & got down to 90lbs, I'm 5'3 & usually weigh 135, I actually passed out @ my grooming table w/ a dog on it! The next day I put in my 2 wks notice, I was 19 @ the time. I fortunately came across a trainer who had a connection w/ a vet who needed a groomer. I was so excited, I thought to myself thank you God you never close a door w/out opening a window! I started that job right when my 2 wks was up. And since it was a corporation I couldn't tell my clients where I was going. But to my amazement, I had 150 people who "found me!" They seriously called every groomer in the phonebook to find me, did I mention I moved to a different city! I was so touched by the loyalty of these clients to call everyone to find me then drive further just so I could groom their babies. I wish my happy ending ended there. When I arrived I was so excited & all rearin' to go, until I met the lady I would soon have nightmares about. This woman was so amazingly "old school", it was ridiculous! She had the oldest clippers I had ever seen, actual kitchen scissors for shears, she used this "concoction" of a shampoo that seirously consisted of: Dawn, Downy, Flea & Tick Shampoo, & Somethinf else in an unmarked bottle - she put all this into a 5 gl bucket filled it w/ water & then poured 1 cup into each bath that had a pump, not a hydrosurge, a pump that we were supposed to bathe the dogs in (recirrculating dirty water - nothing worse!), she had glasses so thick I couldn't brake them if I ran over them w/ a car! This woman had been grooming for this same vet for 30 yrs. ! I tried to see to up side to this as, "at least there's job security!" Later on I would find out I was wrong about that.
    Ok I am sorry about this whole long speil, this is the main reason why I have waited so long to register b/c I basically write a novel anytime I type. Well if anyone is still reading this I really have way too much to say & if you are at all interested in knowing the rest of my story &/or helping me my problems, I would be much apprecitive! Please help me figure out if this grooming stuff is for me, I am still young & reall have a lot of drive & passion for grooming but I feel burnt out - not w/ grooming but, w/ the working enviorment & I am too young & not confident enough to open my own business, which is what everyone is telling me to do! Long, long, long, story short I have worked for a corporation for 1 year, a vet 1 year, was a boarding & grooming manager for 2 years at a vet that I took the monthly gross from $800 to $16,000 in 1 year, implementing new release forms, report cards, a sign off system for the kennel techs who were high school kids who have no work ethics, my mother instlled wonderful work ethics in me by showing me the meaning of volunteer work & helping others. Gosh there I go again!!!, SORRY! Ok so a corporation comes in & buys out the vet I had built up in the grooming & boarding dept. & brought in an "office manager" & said we don't need a grooming & boarding manager, but you can stay as a groomer. HA! I don't think so! I took my stuff & left the next day. There were 2 vets that left that same day corp. took over & they partnered up & opened their own clinic & asked me to come w/ them, boy was corp. every sorry they cut me as manager, they had no business after I left I had clients follow me like you wouldn't believe. The 2 young vet weren't dumb, they knew with me & the other groomer I asked to follow would bring them all the business they needed to get them started onto something huge! So here I am new job & new promises. These vet promised me 70% (which I know is unheard of, But they really wanted me) & they said I would own the business in a year. Of course I got none of this in writting being young & nieve!!!! & 2 months later they cut my commission to 60% due to not being able to afford the overhead costs at 30% - did I mention that the 1st year of opening their business they bought a $80,000 cars & so many luxuries you wouldn't beleive me. & then 1 year later no business offered to me just a "that a boy, keep up the good work!" Can you believe the nerve, I only get 60% to manage the place, actually put in 70+ hrs/wk & only groom 30 hrs/wk & oh yeah, did I mention the mold problem! OSHA shut them down fro 2 weeks after I called them b/c of the fact there was no drin in the bathing room floor for the first 4 months we were open & the walls were standard sheetrock! There was much more wong with the place that the vets were cited for & all b/c they wouldn't listen to me in the first place b/c they opened it too fast w/ not enough preperation & skimmped on the money & materials whereever they could, so they could afford those car payments if you ask me! So anyway my bather came down w/ bacterial animonia & a collapsed lung, I was having horrible migrains & allergies & asthma, now I have a corporation who just moved into this town recently, the same corporation I started working at, & they are begging me to come work there, of course so I'll bring my clients! & now I'm w/out a job & need to get one soon, but not sure what to do!?! There are so many options: Mobile grooming, own shop, corporation, private small business owner, I actually have 4 job offers on the table - none of wich I aplied for, they are all trying to recruit me & I know I could say highest bidder wins, but it's not that simple. I am getting married in Sept 07 & have no kids, but want them someday, & I want a stable job where I can grow in my careeer & work around the idea that one day I want a family & I just want to be happy. I just sometimes find myself doing something completly different like the zoo or something, but I have so many clients that I run into everyday & ask me where I'm at (grooming) & I tell them I'm thinking of quiting grooming & these people cry, I mean real trears. & know what, I applied @ a corporation for a pet care manager position & they called me in for an inerview & told me I had the job, grooming job that is - I replied I didn't apply for the grooming job, & they said yeah but that is where your experience is, & we have heard you're the best groomer in town. What do I do? I feel I bening forced to groom, but I can't quite say forced b/c I still love grooming, it's just ALL THE POLOTICS!!!!!! I just want something that will make me happy, my customers happy, pay the bills, & still have some energy & love left for my soon to be husband. Thank you so much for listening to my problems, if you're even still reading this long bunch of **** I call my life. I just don't feel like anyone knows what I'm going through & if it will ever get better. This is so hard for me to be depressed b/c I a ussually always optimistic & Bubbly Happy all the time.
    I'm also a little bummed out about not being able to go to Hershey this year b/c of the wedding, I always look foward to it, I've saved up every year & have gone the last 3 years, I also want to try competitions but I guess those are 2 more completly different problems.
    Thanks Again
    God Bless

  • #2
    Ok I read your whole long story and stayed awake, not too bad.

    You sound really confused. It doesn't sound like your too young to venture out on your own.

    If you already have all that experience and a customer base that will follow you anywhere you should get your own thing started.

    That is the ONLY way you will not have to deal with the corpporate bull----. Doesn't sound like you'll ever be happy with that atmoshpere.

    Maybe you do still love to groom but the pushing of others "As I learned to perform quantity instead of quality" and pushing you above your comfort level and abiliities by doing 12 full grooms per day tends to make the job and your life (at least mine) more stressful than it needs to be and makes you start thinking that maybe you weren't cut out for grooming.

    Maybe just start out with mobile at first and stick to those 100+ loyal customers who will follow you anywhere if you want or expand but at least you'll have control of the number of hours you work and number of dogs per day you groom and find time for you and your soon to be new family life.

    Don't burn yourself out this young and end up hating grooming all together.

    Don't compromise on a job if you know it's not what you want.


    • #3

      I am the exact opposite because I am a little brief. I woul suggest you go mobile!


      • #4
        Here's what I think.

        From reading your thread, it sounds to me like having your own business is the way to go for you. First, take a job for a while so you have income coming in and at the same time, start your business plan. "Grooming Business In a Box" is a great way to start and will answer most if not all of your questions. You can find all the information you need to order it on this website. Take your time and plan properly. You will feel more secure about your decision if you TRULY plan out every detail. Then after you have completed your plan, go for it! Having your own business is so rewarding in so many ways. (It is also nice when you are ready to have a family and can work your hours around your family situation). Whatever you decide to do, I wish you the best of luck!


        • #5
          First let focus your life outside of grooming. You have a man in your life and i hope he gives you some insite and help to make decisions. Since you plan on getting married do you know where you will be living. Will his job also keep you close. You say you want to have kids. You need a time frame for that in your life. Is that a year or 6 months. These decisions cant be made in a whim. So once you make these decisions you can focus how your career will pan out. You dont like corp. Possibly a small grooming shop in your area might be the best bet. You cant be an employee and build a business up such as you did and expect something in return. You have learned the hard way that there is no job security. You put way too much energy into these jobs. That type of energy only belongs to those of us who have our own businesses. That is why you have been told you need your own. If you want to work for someone dont make any changes to the system. Do your job and do it to the best of your ability. If you want creativity then build your own business. If you have drive then focus that on yourself and not on others growth. Job mentality or business owner. Don't mix the two.
          Stress is nothing more than a socially acceptable form of mental illness.- Richard Carlson


          • #6
            "Mijothewonderdog" -- almost longer than your post, hehe made me chuckle!!!

            "If you want to work for someone dont make any changes to the system. Do your job and do it to the best of your ability. If you want creativity then build your own business." Stacie, I think you said that so well.

            Crystal, it sounds like you're about 23 yrs old. Young, but with your experience and background in grooming added to the huge amount of 'own your own business' info here and other places, I think you can and should start your own shop.

            You'll find all the support you need right here, wish I had found this site when I first opened.

            p.s.: How do you take care of 700 pets??? I'm booked for the year and have less then 180.


            • #7
              Shew, I have tired eyes have any Visine??? j/k

              I agree w/the others that you need to start your own business!! You don't have to invest in a mobile unit or a shop, you could do a home based business or go to the clients houses and groom in them. There are several groomers on this board who are home based and that seems to me like something that you could get into w/a smaller amount of overhead and then save for a van or shop if you want to. Good luck w/what ever you decide. It sounds like you have a lot of energy and ambition, you just need to channel it into the right direction.
              SheilaB from SC


              • #8
                I agree with the home based business idea. That is depending on your living situation of course. Do you or your fiance have a house or will you be renting. If you will own your own home (or maybe even if you rent) you could probably work out a home based grooming business and groom way less dogs since you get 100% rather than 50% or so working for someone else.


                • #9

                  I am so glad I finally decided to write it all down & ask for help from people who know what I'm talking about. Thank you so much for all of your feedback!!!!!!!!!! I think I will stay away from the corp. stuff & try & find a job w/ a groomer in town. Ok sorry can you help me w/ this? I know if I want to have my own business in this town I can't work @ corp. b/c all my clients would follow & corp. makes you sign a no compete clause, right? & should I just be up front & honest w/ the groomer that I would work for while I'm getting my business plan done & tell whomever that I do have a lot of clients & I am trying to start my own business. Oh & as far as the 700 pets, it's just an estimate, at the last shop I was managing there was only me & one other groomer & 2 bathers. In our Kennel Connection program last I checked we had 1,200 pets in the system. Now a lot of those were 6-8+ wk pets, but we probalby had about 40 pets that were weekly grooms, 80 pets bi-weekly, 70 pets tri-weekly & gosh I'm not positive on the numbers but I know they're close. We were the highest priced shop & don't mean to toot my own horn, but by far the best in the area, & I just happen to be in the right location were it is growing faster than they can build houses, w/ only 3 groom shops in a town of over 35,000 pop. & growing. They have declared it the fastest growing city in Oklahoma. So, we had the bathers bath, dry, & brush While we groomed & made apt. & we avg. 12-20 dogs a day each working about 13 hrs a day. It was stressfull, but exciting at the same time to know we were the best & we were booked out anywhere from 2 wks to 6 wks depending on the season. Crazy, isn't it? See my delima w/ it all I know that this town needs a "doggie meca" Pet Salon & Spa, Doggie Daycare, Pet Hotel, Definately a dog park & just so much more! I wish you all could see this place I just know if there was someone out there that knew how to put all that stuff into play here it would thrive, I looked it up, the statistics for this location are astronomical! I just wish I had the knowledge & I feel that by the time I get the knowlege someone else will come in & do it first.
                  Thank you again!


                  • #10
                    I also agree with what has been said, Own your own shop. You have the clients just following you from one shop to another. Open a shop and give them a rest!!! lol You have way too much knowledge and love for grooming to be working for someone else.
                    "There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face."


                    • #11
                      While working for others, take the time to take college business courses before going out on your own. It'll save your bacon down the road.


                      • #12
                        I ran into this problem (not exactly the same, but similar) in my first stint as a groomer. I learned that customers do get over it, it may take them a while, but they will get over it. I had people shedding real tears every time I talked about doing something different. I had people follow me everywhere I worked, driving an hour plus to see me. One customer drove two and a half hours one way for her yorkie to get a westie clip. Finally one day I decided I had enough of the grooming insanity, and joined the armed services. I gave everyone plenty of notice (6 months) and shipped to boot camp. Although I am back into grooming now, I never regretted a minute of the military or grooming. Moral of the story is do what is right for you. There are moral grooming shops out there, and there are plenty of other opportunities out there not grooming related. Do what is right for you. The only regret I have is that I did not try to become a military working dog handler, I think I would have surpassed all expectations there.


                        • #13
                          Or you would be a great

                          independant contractor candidate. You'd thus have your own customers and hours etc. Then you are expected to take the list with you if you leave.

                          Long long ago I was working at a busy pet shop (pre-corp days) that got sold for likely too much, possibly mis-managed, and they folded. The grooming list was large. I sort of felt no choice but to open a grooming shop right up the street. The client list waiting. It was a piece of cake, had the other employees become my employees and made a darn good living at the time. I do recommend it in this case, but you're steering the ship.
                          Money will buy you a pretty good dog but it won't buy the wag of it's tail.