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  • Feeling Overwhelmed

    Hi Everyone,

    I've never posted before but come here often for a little pick me up when I need it and to see how you all handle similar situations that I find myself in.

    I am a home based groomer with one bather and have been grooming for four years. I feel like I'm pretty busy - I groom five days a week (I groom from 8 am - 4:30 pm, do bookwork 730 am - 8 am and 430 pm - 530 pm), take on usually six dogs a day but sometimes up to nine, most of my clients have standing appointments for every 2 - 6 weeks and I have a long waiting list.
    My problem is that I don't feel like I have a good balance. I constantly feel stressed and feel like I can't handle everything that has to get done. If I get a complaint (I average about one every month or two) I get super worried about it and doubt myself and can't think about anything else.

    I am having a hard time with scheduling the clients - I feel like I should be doing more dogs a day but I just don't feel confident to do that because I'm afraid that the quality of my work will go down and that if anything goes wrong it will be a catastrophe since I'll have way too much to handle.

    Some of the (people) clients are driving me really crazy -thinking they can come in late or no show and then think I can just fit in their dogs as soon as they want, pick up their dog hours after I've told them to come back etc., thinking their dog who absolutely hates their face touched needs the shortest trim possible on his face and if I can't get it absolutely perfect every time thinks it's my fault because I'm not holding him tight enough even though I explain every time that it's dangerous if the dog is jerking his head like crazy when the scissors get close .

    Even my assistant, whom I really appreciate on the whole, drives me crazy sometimes. For example, she always wants me to turn the big dogs in the tub (she's very petite but I'm not much bigger so it's not like it's easy for me!), doesn't remember which shampoo to use on which dog so I always have to tell her, doesn't remember a lot of the dogs, expects me to do the math on tips (we split tips) even though she's the one who took the money etc. I just feel like she could think/do those things because I have enough to do without having to remind her that the dog who's coming next doesn't like the HV dryer every single time the dog comes in.

    I've made steps to try to manage these feelings of being overwhelmed and worrying: I've raised prices, stopped taking new clients and I'm only making new bookings for those who don't have standing appointments if I know they and their dogs are nice, I'm trying to take more time off for myself and I schedule one day a month to deep clean the studio and catch up with bookwork so I don't have to do it on my days off as much. I try to take better care of myself now - eating lunch most days now and meditating and yoga.

    My questions are : How do you all stop from feeling overwhelmed ? How do you stop worrying when you have a complaint? How many complaints should be expected if you groom say 130 dogs a month? How much do you expect a bather/assistant to help you with? How many dogs a day should I be doing if I also have to do all the appointment making and bookwork and talking with the customers? How long should I take on an extra small , small, medium, and large dog?

    I know I sound like I'm whining - I am lol! I am just reaching out because I don't want to feel like it would be really good to get sick or injured so I can escape from my work for a few weeks anymore. I'm feeling really bad so I'm just trying to get some advice so it gets better

    Hopefully someone on here has some advice since most of you have the same responsibilities and go through the same things everyday- I've talked to my family, friends and my assistant but they all seem to think that I'm overreacting and that I have it easy and that I shouldn't care as much. That's probably true - but I am having a really hard time feeling that way!

    Thanks for any advice!

  • #2
    First of all may I say...hang in there. Many of us have shared your frustrations at some point in our careers. Just a couple of thoughts. First of all I think you cannot measure your productivity to others across the board because each salon, staff, scheduling situation is unique. Do not sacrifice safety or quality to keep up with someone else. You can watch videos or attend grooming seminars to gain tips on increasing your productivity. Having a routine to your grooming decreases wasted time as well. When you schedule appointments, are you booking two dogs on the hour? This gives you one dog to work on and when the other one shows up 20 minutes late, it can go home between your on time clients without causing a major disruption. If your bather has problems retaining too much info at once, make a simple 4×6 spa card for each dog (different than your regular client cards)with their name, products to be used, and grooming proclivities (hates HV, hates toenail trim, etc.) Nothing else, just what your bather needs to know. Clip it on each cage for her. You could even go as far as color coded stickers for each type of shampoo and conditioner you use (don't forget to color code your shampoo bottles or hoses). Just put dogs name, appropriate color stickers, and proclivities on the card. Too much unnecessary info may confuse her, but the card will save your time reanswering questions and give your bather the self confidence to know that what she is doing is to your wishes.

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    • #3
      Sounds like your biz is doing well enough that you can take more control of your disrespectful clients: have a pleasant conversation with the late drops/pu's, explaining you may not be the best fit for them. You might be pleasantly surprised how quickly they shape up. Clients don't like to be dumped. Feel confident & respect yourself!
      Only take calls when convenient, or send them to vm & encourage emails & texts...really takes the stress off interruptions, and helps clients respect your time.
      Have you already limited your walk-in interruptions by your appointment scheduling?
      This last suggestion is just me: I am sooooo happy working alone, doing 6-9/day in my home shop. It's so calm & peaceful, just me & the dog, looking out at my picturesque backyard. I think the calm atmosphere makes clients treat me better...and if they don't, I simply tell them we aren't a good fit. Sounds like you appreciate having a bather, but that is also contributing to your stress. If you're paying her hourly you could consider having her do some of your tasks, as well as being a bit more independent by looking at the grooming cards & only confirming (rather than asking for) instructions.

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      • #4
        Are the complainers right or wrong? You have the ability to make that judgement.
        If they're right, is it something you want or need to fix, or is it small stuff that doesn't matter?
        Don't hand your power over. You have a brain and can figure out if the complaints matter.

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        • #5
          I felt overwhelmed at times, even dreaming about the next day at work, anxieties. Now that is all gone. It helped me that I worked at a shop under someone for awhile and how she handled it all while I built up confidence. Don't overbook yourself, you can control that. Play music that calms you. At the end of the day take some notes like a journal, and write down what you felt you did well and what needs work on, get it all out if you need to so you can go home and get some rest.

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          • #6
            When a client is 15 minutes late I call and leave a message saying "I have Chloe scheduled for 9:00. I'm calling to see if you are on your way of if we need to reschedule." If they are in fact on their way, they get the message when they return home and when they come to pick up they usually apologize and are on time for their next appointments. The ones who are still at home realize their dog will not be groomed that day because they are late. Some people just don't realize how important it is to be on time. This method lets the client know the consequences without scolding them.

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            • #7
              It sounds like you are trying to manage your stress by weeding out those clients that are undesirable, eating healthy & exercising. I too own my own small shop, work by myself, and right now I average between 4 to 6 a day. That's manageable for me at this time. I also try to take care of myself by eating heathy foods, drinking a lot of water & exercise. I also see a chiropractor once a month as well as getting a massage every month. I've really learned that taking care of myself has to be a priority, and therefore for me, it eases my stress tremendously especially when I have challenging days. I learned a deep breathing technique from a past physician; when I'm in a stressful situation it's automatic for me now that I inhale slowly and then exhale thru my mouth very slowly like she taught me. I do that a few times and then get back to the task at hand. I hope you can find the right balance for yourself very soon.


              Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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              • #8
                Thankful to know I'm not the only groomer feeling this way! While not in the position to offer any advice right now, knowing we are not alone can be very helpful! Hang in there and try to dictate your own schedule as much as possible- learning to say no is a big challenge to me.


                Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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                • #9
                  The suggestions above are all great! Trying to implement them all at one time will add more stress so here is what I suggest.....

                  1) Write down all the ideas in order of most helpful.

                  2) Focus on implementing them ONE AT A TIME. Some things you can do immediately ( like always doing everything in the same order,) but others will take time (like weeding out clients.)

                  3) As you implement something and it becomes habitual....check it off your list and you will start feeling a sense of control and accomplishment.


                  ***I also thought of a couple of things to add.......Check out Debbie Hilley's blog on drying, and other procedural information........she changed my whole grooming world for the better!

                  ........I call all my people the day before their appt and remind them....you can add that they need to be on time because you are on a tight schedule. This is a training process
                  that works.

                  ........If they are not coming you expect a courtesy call (unless they are in an ambulance headed to the hospital )....2 no shows in my shop and I refer them down the road.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Countrygrl View Post
                    The suggestions above are all great! Trying to implement them all at one time will add more stress so here is what I suggest.....

                    1) Write down all the ideas in order of most helpful.

                    2) Focus on implementing them ONE AT A TIME. Some things you can do immediately ( like always doing everything in the same order,) but others will take time (like weeding out clients.)

                    3) As you implement something and it becomes habitual....check it off your list and you will start feeling a sense of control and accomplishment.


                    ***I also thought of a couple of things to add.......Check out Debbie Hilley's blog on drying, and other procedural information........she changed my whole grooming world for the better!

                    ........I call all my people the day before their appt and remind them....you can add that they need to be on time because you are on a tight schedule. This is a training process
                    that works.

                    ........If they are not coming you expect a courtesy call (unless they are in an ambulance headed to the hospital )....2 no shows in my shop and I refer them down the road.
                    Totally agree and do the same. All of Debi's blogs will help.....she works smarter not harder.
                    Ain't always easy to stand up for what is right.

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                    • #11
                      Thank you all for your suggestions. It's so helpful to hear what you all do to make life easier - I really need the input! Definitely going to put more effort into managing the stress!

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