Derm Connection
Why Are You Burnt Out? typography stylized over the tip of a burning match

by Dr. Cliff Faver

W dropcaphat is it that stresses you out in life or in your business? Often, we don’t take the time to define it—we just know we are stressed out! However, reflecting on what causes stress or burnout is critical to your professional wellbeing.

battling boredom
The first, and most obvious, is being burnt out due to boredom. Doing the same thing day in and day out gets monotonous. Without stimulation, we soon grow to hate the routine tasks we face. So how do you deal with that? Learn something new! Maybe you can learn a new technique like Asian Fusion or coloring. Maybe you take a course to learn how to treat skin issues. Perhaps you take some business or marketing courses to run your business better. If you enjoy what you are learning, it will create new excitement and force you out of the rut you may be in.
Dreaded duties
Another stressor is having to do tasks that you are not good at or comfortable with. How many of you stress over raising your fees? If we don’t have a good set of rules or plan to raise our prices, it becomes arbitrary. And as soon as we do it and a client complains, we start second-guessing ourselves. Then, the next time we have to do it, the anxiety is even worse.
Even though groomers and veterinarians tend to be solitary creatures and think we must do it all by ourselves, we don’t. Learn to pull from your resources. Maybe you need to take a course on the subject, or sometimes several, to find a method you understand and can use. If the course is way above your level of understanding, that can sometimes have the reverse effect and cause stress, so pick your courses wisely.

If the task is not something you want to learn, hire an accountant, business consultant or CPA to do it for you. As you start working with larger businesses, you find out the most successful ones are not necessarily run by the person who knows everything, but the ones that surround themselves with good people in their weak areas. The mistake many of us make in business is we hire people who are like us—not the ones who complement us or are good in areas we are not. One quick way to bring happiness back into your life is to hire people to do what you hate!

challenging clients

Clients are one of the most significant stressors for many of us. We all have one or two clients that cause our anxiety level to rise simply by walking through the door or seeing their number come up on caller ID. Why do we keep these people? If they cause that much stress, is the money worth it? Some people probably spend more money with their therapists to overcome the trauma than they make from the client that caused it. Learn how to fire a client!

The best line that I have heard was, “Mrs. Jones, I can see we are not meeting your expectations, and I care enough about you and Fifi that I have taken the liberty to get you the numbers of several groomers in the area in hopes that you will find someone that can meet your level of expectations since we can’t. We will miss Fifi, but hopefully you can find a better fit for you and Fifi.”

What is the client going to say? Not much! Many will backpedal very quickly at this point, putting you in the driver’s seat to control how the relationship goes from there. If you allow them to stay, some become good clients. Often, though, we must return to the statement and the list of local groomers, but we gave them a chance.

We are not in control or responsible for nasty people; some people are just that way. Don’t let those people ruin your day, week or month. Rarely is the money they spend worth the headaches they cause. They also hold appointments that an excellent new client could fill.

identity crisis
Another area I see many groomers struggling with is the question of, “Is grooming a service or a professional industry?” What do I mean by that? In the service industry, we provide a service that the client requests, which lets the client decide what they want. A professional industry is there to educate and guide the client to the best services for their pet’s needs (versus the client’s needs). In other words, a professional takes charge in the room versus a client dictating what is to be done with the pet.

As a groomer, you should have the knowledge and expertise that the average client does not have in caring for hair and skin. For example, a client wants their Pomeranian shaved down. Many groomers will follow the client’s request because they feel like if they don’t, they will lose a client. But what does the client learn from that? What happens if the dog goes into shave alopecia? Did the client even know that is a possibility? Who is responsible for that? What is your liability for the future care of that pet?

As professionals, we should refuse to do anything that’s not in the pet’s best interest and educate clients on why we made this choice.

As professionals, we should refuse to do anything that’s not in the pet’s best interest and educate clients on why we made this choice. Educating and still doing it doesn’t solve the issue. Imagine, as a veterinarian, I tell the client that if I do it your way, there is a good chance your dog is going to die, but I do it anyway, and it dies. This is still malpractice! And releases don’t remove the liability—what is wrong is wrong.

Some may say they don’t know how the last statements affect their stress levels. I see it often when groomers learn the science, and especially in groomers who work for other groomers. They know they are doing wrong, but they have to do what the “boss” says because they are not in charge.

In everything we do, we have choices. A non-decision is a decision also. That means we keep doing what we’ve been doing and hoping for different results. It’s time to look at what is causing your stress and then take action to change things. Maybe you can’t see it, so ask your significant other or a friend. The problem is often blatantly apparent in their observation.

The bottom line is that you should spend some time figuring out and solving the issue before you burn out and start hating the profession you love.

Dr. Cliff Faver graduated with a BS in Biology/BA in Chemistry before getting a Veterinary degree in 1987. He is the past owner of Animal Health Services in Cave Creek, Arizona and now the US distributor for Iv San Bernard products, teaches the ISB Pet Aesthetician Certification program, and speaks internationally on hair and skin. His passion is to merge groomers and veterinarians to aid in helping and healing pets. He is also a member of AVMA, AAHA, AZVMA, Board member with Burbank Kennel Club, and has served on Novartis Lead Committee, Hill’s International Global Veterinary Board, and a Veterinary Management Group.