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What are the pros and cons of corporate?

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  • What are the pros and cons of corporate?

    I am currently working for a private salon and I'm fresh out of school. I do mostly shave downs with teddy bear head, yorkie head or clean face and top knot like that of a poodle. Very few clients come in and want an actual detail cut like that of a cocker, schnauzer,poodle etc. Frankly, most of my time is spent dematting the heads of these dogs trying to save any hair that I can, to give some sort of style to the poor things.

    I am learning a lot at the private salon but the benefits at corporate such as 401k, sick leave, annual leave, health insurance and W2/minimum wage is very tempting. I really want to continue to learn but afraid that corporate won't be best place to do that. Any advice would be wonderful. Thank you all very much in advance.

  • #2
    This totally depends on your individual stores. Your area of the world and the groomers that work there

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    • #3
      Agreed. The management makes or breaks a corp. Everyone has different views and does things differently

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      • #4
        Well, all I can offer is my experience at my corporate salon. I came into the salon with a fair amount of pet experience, having had worked at a family owned pet store, a vet clinic and having run my own pet sitting service. I began as a bather and my experience was pretty good. I did find that I had to learn a lot on my own. I wasn't being taught any real techniques and while I gleaned a lot from my coworkers and was given some helpful hints, most of my learning came from my own research. I think that if you are looking to keep learning, you should be very selective about the corporate salon you apply for. Look for a salon with at least a couple of experienced groomers (several years, not just one or two) who also have experience teaching and a desire to do so. Otherwise, you'll just end up mostly fending for yourself. Unless the other employee is being paid extra to mentor you, there is nothing in it for them to teach you. They have to have a passion for teaching, not just grooming.

        The guaranteed wage is pretty good, though I rarely need it. Corporate also offers me the opportunity to interact with a lot of different people, including ones who are seeking solutions to puppy problems. Sick pay and vacation are really great benefits and if you need medical or dental or vision, then there's that as well. All of these are great for a stable financial life and for your wellbeing.

        The biggest con is corporate. If you work for a grooming salon inside a Petsometing, you are an employee of Petsomething and their goal isn't necessarily providing the highest quality grooms. They have relationships with vendors so you are expected to use the products provided and not deviate. You are not encouraged to be an individual. Your salon needs to look and operate like every other Petsoandso salon out there. You will be expected to help drive food sales and push whatever promotion of the month is going on. You will be lumped in with ever other corporate groomer so when an inexperienced employee in another salon leaves a dog in a dryer, doesn't check it or leaves it and the dog dies, many ignorant people will call you an irresponsible monster by association. In fact, your salon will be like a fishbowl and your every move will be scrutinized by the public. Dremeling a pug's nails will have a new dimension of horror.

        Speaking of inexperienced salon employees, you may find yourself working with people who are there to punch in, do the minimum required work, punch out and collect a paycheck. I don't think this is the norm and I'm happy to say that while not everyone in my salon is a career groomer, they are all passionate about the job they do and for the most part are inspiring people to work with. Also, you may find yourself working with a young workforce and that carries with it it's own difficulties, especially if you're older, have more experience in the working world and a different view on the attitude you bring to work. Some of these employees are more concerned about being buddies than coworkers sometimes and drama is always lurking if not in full effect.

        Oh, another thing about being a corporate salon teammember. When someone in a Petblah salon screws up 2478 miles away from you, you're going to feel the repercussions of that screw up. New policies, revised policies, restrictions on what tools can be used and how they may or may not be used, etc. Also, you will be confined to the bargain rates that many corporate salons push while being expected to reach a minimum earnings per hour goal. I've found that I have to be very informative regarding add on services like upgraded shampoos, conditioners and nail grinds. Otherwise, I'm bathing a Golden Retriever for less than $40 and not making my goals.

        You will not be provided with any additional learning material besides what corporate spews out. Dedicated groomers will be spending hundreds of their own dollars on text books, videos and other educational services where a private salon may have more resources for you to learn from.

        Finally, one of the really good things about grooming for corporate is that you have a lot of opportunities to practice. Most people don't expect a perfect groom from a corporate salon. We don't get a whole lot of breed cuts but we can occasionally talk an owner into something besides a #5 all over and we can learn from that. If the owner hates it, my corporation will give them what they want to make them happy and someone better than me can probably give them a cut they will be happy with. So far, I haven't had this happen (I think!) but if it does, at least I'm not ruining the hard earned reputation of some person's salon which is their baby and livelihood.

        I hope this helps. I've tried to be brutally honest. I really do love my salon for the most part. I have pretty great coworkers and our clients are really amazing (mostly!). Working at a corp salon has given me the courage and ability to pursue this dream of mine while letting me earn a reasonable income as well. All in all, it's a generally good deal for us baby groomers and many people develop into fine groomers in corporate salons.

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        • #5
          I've been in corporate for 8 years, and I have very few qualms about it. I don't feel like any job will be *perfect*, but my job is my job, and my grooming reputation is all me, so I just do it.

          For me, there are lots of Pros:
          -Benefits. I have medical, dental, physio & massage allowance, a company that matches 100% of my pension deposits, etc, etc. Benefits, benefits. I currently have 23 paid vacation days per year, paid sick days (never used them), and banked unpaid vacation if I ever had to take it.
          -Guaranteed salary. If there are slow days, I still get paid. Mind you, I've never made below the minimum in commissions forcing me to take home hourly pay, but it's there, just in case.
          -All the other perks of being an employee and not an owner (overhead costs, liability insurance, etc)

          Actual grooming pros:
          -Fixtures! All my HV dryers are Metro Master Blasters and K9 II or K9III! I have Oster stand dryers, and carpet dryer type cage dryers if I so choose to use them. I have Shor-Line tables and Shor-line kennels. I have a recirc system and if anything isn't working, I call a number and people fix it for me.
          -Lots of experience, lots of different kinds of dogs. We have all kinds of different kinds and all kinds of breeds. Lots of different types and people.
          -Being inside retail is easy to steal customers.

          The only major negative for me is policies that I may not agree with. Policies are generally company wide (thousands of stores) with zero tolerance. So a customer asks why this policy is and you just have to grin and bear it. Retail customers also tend to be annoying about trying to get things for free, but I don't know if that is specific to being in the retail setting, or if customers are just like that.

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          • #6
            Oh, another negative for me is the corporate stigma.

            It isn't the fault of the corporation that it exists, but clients and potential clients tend to judge me hard since I work for a corporate salon.

            Mind you, our salon is great. We are awesome, plain and simple. Our customers love us, a majority of our clientele have a specific groomer that they request. We are always busy.

            A regular 6-8 wk customer once told me how happy she was with my service, and when I was not in one day, she was equally happy with the work that one of my co-workers did and stood raving about us. She continued to say "No, really, you guys are the best. I've even tried REAL groomers, and they aren't nearly as great as you guys. BYESEEYOUNEXTTIME" and left. It clearly didn't dawn at her that calling us "fake groomers" was offensive. But it happens all the time. I have a good reputation, and my shop has a good reputation, but a lot of the time you have to work yourself out of a negative stigma.

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            • #7
              In my experience the petsomethings policies eliminate the possibility to do good work. if you can find a shop that does reasonable hourly and has benefits thats the way to go but corporate is in a downward spiral

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              • #8
                Agree with what was said - every salon is different. If you can find one with experienced groomers and reasonable salon and store managers, that would be great. I know of salons that have really good groomers that were there for 10+ years, and then there are salons that have very high turnaround, almost nobody stays longer than 6 months. Where I was, right before I left they were cutting hours so much, most of the days there was only one person in the salon - not much of an opportunity to learn from others!
                Also, not all customers are shavedowns, some come on regular basis (every 2-4-6 weeks) and get longer/scissored cuts.
                Dragynwing and Moo gave very good analysis of what's going on in corporate salons.
                I value my time at PetSomething, I gained some experience there, especially in dealing with clients, but I like working for myself. I do miss insurance provided by the corporate the most, though.
                Oh yes, and like Moo said, I have seen greater variety of breeds at PetSomething than in my salon.

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                • #9
                  I'm going to piggyback on this thread with additional questions instead of starting another.

                  I have been grooming for myself for almost 17 years. I've always been able to do it my way, choose my own products, refuse dogs I don't want to do. I have been very successful in each grooming environment I've worked from vet clinic to now my own strip mall shop, filling up the schedule year round to the point of not taking new clients. But. I am in a position now where benefits really matter. I could make more money for this by hiring more people (and business is there to support that), but I am frankly not interested in managing people and having employees anymore. No, thanks. My quandary is that to be able to afford benefits and the quality of life I want, I need more staff. Not happening. I would (maybe) rather be someone's employee than employer. I am basically willing to walk away from a potential of well over six figures in a rural low cost of living area rather than manage people. I am that averse to it. I wasn't when I started.

                  I am considering closing my doors and going corporate primarily for the benefits. Even though I love love love the autonomy of being my own boss, I do work well with others, no drama, and have been a successful corporate employee in other industries. I have a very open concept shop and my table is right up front with a big window overlooked by a busy sidewalk, so fishbowl grooming and schmoozing with the public doesn't intimidate me.

                  I worked in a PetSomething nearly 20 years ago as a bather, and it was a horrific experience. One thing that interested me in grooming was the notion based on that job of how easy grooming was because all the groomers had to do was stand at their tables and work on freshly prepared dogs presented to them. No phones, no cleaning, no bathing, no paperwork. It looked like a gravy job, and those groomers made pretty good bank. It was all me all the time. Management was surly and I was surrounded by divas. Really, I have worked many, many corporate jobs in other industries and absolutely conform well and work well with others. This was just a horrible environment. I realize now that most stores don't operate like that and that a lot depends on individual stores. The thing is how can I tell before I try to sign up? I have at least a couple of feasible stores to check out, but I'm assuming just loitering around and observing would not be appropriate, and even if groomers on the floor had time to stop and chit chat, I don't know how honest an answer I could get while they are on the job representing their company. Who's going to openly say, "this place sucks!"

                  Since I've only groomed for myself, I don't really have any other perspective. I guess I'm just looking for input and thinking this through. I really, really need benefits that I can't afford on my own. That's a huge motivator for me. I've always been pretty boot-strappy and do-what-I-gotta-do. To what degree are you limited in corporate? I already know I'll have to give up my beloved ClipperVac. Don't they dictate exactly what type of equipment is to be used (clipper brands and such), and I have to buy that, right? I have a hydraulic table in my shop for big dogs. How are big dogs handled in corporate as far as bathing and grooming? It seems like I remember bathing big dogs in PetSomething on the floor over a floor drain (or some such set up), but it's been nearly 20 years ago. I have no idea how they were lifted and handled for table grooming.

                  Any points of interest or other things I need to consider? Closing my successful shop and going corporate would be a really huge commitment.

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                  • #10
                    Totally Clips, it will depend a lot on how corp. stores in your area are ran. Maybe you can visit them, look around, even talk to the groomers there to get the feel of how everything is organized. How good and understanding are the managers - both salon;s and the store itself? Like it was said many times, working at corp. can be great, and also can be not so great. How far would be the store from your home?
                    Also, consider the prices. How different the prices at your local corp. from what you charged? You will only get 50% at corp. Yes, they provide shampoo, tables and dryers, but you still are responsible for blades, shears, etc., and sharpening. Like you said, having benefits is huge plus. I really miss having health/dental/vision insurance with more benefits and for less than just my health ins. now.
                    So, here are few things to consider, you will be the one making final decision. Good luck!

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                    • #11
                      Totally Clips, if your shop is as successful as it sounds, you have room to raise your prices so you CAN afford your own benefits. It sounds to me you would be completely stifled as a corporate groomer. I thought about doing that when we moved but the more I talked to a friend who worked for Petco the more I thought, there was no way I could do it. Nothing to do with Petco, or Smart, but me. Raise your small dogs two bucks and your big ones five and you can afford health insurance and put money into retirement.

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                      • #12
                        I did recently raise prices to the very top end of what I think I can feasibly charge in my area. My starting prices are (as far as I know, unless theirs have changed since I last saw) at least $10-$15 higher than the competition's. The only other feasible alternative I'm aware of is hiring another groomer. I don't have the time to train one, and there seems not to be a pool of qualified candidates to choose from locally, but it is a very rural area. I get a lot of interest from "I groom my mama's dog, and she said he looks fine" types. I admit as well that I am a bit neurotic about managing other people. I do appreciate the input and am not trying to "yeah, but" my way out of anything. I am really, really going to need insurance pretty soon, and I'm not able to afford it on my own. My place is doing great as far as all the business I can handle by myself, but I seem to have inadvertently set it up so that it needs additional help to make it profitable enough to buy health insurance. Basically, I need to be doing more dogs than I can do by myself. I have the space, and people are storming my doors, but alas no help. And not sure I want any, anyway, because ugh, managing people. The thought fills me with anxiety. I have put myself into an uncomfortable position. When I started, I had (and at least temporarily still have) insurance through my husband.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Totally Clips View Post
                          I did recently raise prices to the very top end of what I think I can feasibly charge in my area. My starting prices are (as far as I know, unless theirs have changed since I last saw) at least $10-$15 higher than the competition's. The only other feasible alternative I'm aware of is hiring another groomer. I don't have the time to train one, and there seems not to be a pool of qualified candidates to choose from locally, but it is a very rural area. I get a lot of interest from "I groom my mama's dog, and she said he looks fine" types. I admit as well that I am a bit neurotic about managing other people. I do appreciate the input and am not trying to "yeah, but" my way out of anything. I am really, really going to need insurance pretty soon, and I'm not able to afford it on my own. My place is doing great as far as all the business I can handle by myself, but I seem to have inadvertently set it up so that it needs additional help to make it profitable enough to buy health insurance. Basically, I need to be doing more dogs than I can do by myself. I have the space, and people are storming my doors, but alas no help. And not sure I want any, anyway, because ugh, managing people. The thought fills me with anxiety. I have put myself into an uncomfortable position. When I started, I had (and at least temporarily still have) insurance through my husband.
                          Girl if people are still storming your doors you can afford to raise prices more. You just can. You may lose a few people but you'll gain more at the new higher price.

                          I understand your predicament I really do. I am now at a time in my life where I have to get insurance. I don't have any health problems yet, but I know they are coming. I have a micro managing problem too and refuse to hire help. I could likely have three vans on the road, and still have people waiting, but I just won't do it.

                          You sound a lot like me and I KNOW I could NOT work for corporate.

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                          • #14
                            I admit that I die a little inside at the thought of giving up my autonomy. I hadn't considered raising prices again. I will give it more thought. Like everyone else, I worry about losing longtime favorites, but well, money. Seriously, though, I turn away business every day because I simply can't take anymore. People beg to be put on a waiting list. There is puh-lenty of work available, but only one of me.

                            In the meantime, I've increased my hours and days of service. Six days a week and often 14-16 hours a day. I've also improved speed and efficiency, but I'll be the first to admit that I'm no power groomer. I don't mind working these days and hours, but I sure don't want it to be a longterm thing.

                            You get me! The thought of managing people, ugh. I could make so much more money (in theory, if the magic employee fairy blessed me with already trained reliable, competent, honest help and a crystal ball to see how they would work out), but... people.

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                            • #15
                              Have you ever thought to run your own business?

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