a groomers holiday survival guide
groom expo 2023 wahl best in show winner lindsey dicken at groom expo 2023
December 2023
“The Grooming Industry’s Trade Magazine”

Contents | DECEMBER 2023

by Kara M. Burns, MS, MEd,
LVT, VTS (Nutrition)
by Mary Oquendo
Editorial Staff
Todd Shelly
Chief Operations Officer
Assistant Editor
Gwen Shelly
Managing Editor
Rebecca Shipman
Luke Dumberth
Laura Pennington
Brandi Aurelio
Carlee Kubistek
Cassidy Ryman
Allison Smith
James Severs
Karin Grottola
Britany Smith
Kathy Hosler
Daryl Conner
Mary Oquendo
Jonathan David
Lynn Paolillo
Dr. Cliff Faver
Jennifer Bishop Jenkins
Blake Hernandez



Groomer to Groomer TOC December '23 Cover
Groom Expo 2023 Wahl Best In Show winner Lindsey Dicken at groom expo 2023

Photo by animal photography

Copyright December 2023. Groomer to Groomer is published monthly by Barkleigh Productions, Inc, 970 West Trindle Road, Mechanicsburg PA 17055. Postmaster: Send change of address to Groomer to Groomer c/o Barkleigh Productions, Inc., 970 West Trindle Road, Mechanicsburg PA 17055. Annual U.S. subscription rate $25. Outside U.S. $79. year, surface rates. Groomer to Groomer is free to current Barkleigh Productions, Inc. customers. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written permission of the publisher. Editorial offices: 970 West Trindle Road, Mechanicsburg PA 17055. (717) 691–3388 FAX: (717) 691–3381 Email: info@barkleigh.com
Groomer’s Guide
Be A Voice For The Voiceless: Preventing Abuse In The Grooming Salon
by Jennifer Bishop Jenkins
As much as we want this not to be true, there have been incidents reported in the news throughout the United States of groomers abusing dogs entrusted to their care…some to the point of death. The subject of groomers abusing dogs is nothing short of agonizing to confront in our industry and among the worst things any of us could ever experience in our careers, but we cannot turn our eyes away.
Animal abuse is seen in other related industries as well, including dog daycares, boarding facilities and even veterinary practices. Sadly, even pet owners themselves have been criminally charged for abusing their own pets. It is an ugly reality of the world in which we live, knowing that animals are abused by humans in many lines of work. Some would even argue that what occurs broadly in agriculture, entertainment, institutionally and culturally is also animal abuse.

But for all intents and purposes, this is not a discussion about the global issue of people abusing all kinds of animals, nor is it about all animal suffering—this is about us and the pet grooming industry. This is about pet groomers losing their temper and hurting the very pets we take money from people to care for. And while it is truly hard to think about, the good news is that there is a lot we can do about it, both in prevention and management. It starts with being able to talk about it…with our eyes wide open.

I think it is fair to characterize these tragedies as rare in our grooming industry. It is certainly the exception, not the rule. It hurts us deeply because we most likely became groomers because we love dogs and want to help them. We can feel good about the many, many dogs that are groomed every single day by professional pet groomers who are genuinely loving, caring and gentle. But we don’t really know how many cases of abuse may be going unreported or unseen. We may only be hearing about more in recent years with the advent of cell phones, thus putting recording devices in everyone’s hands. And because of the internet and social media, more bad news can spread at a rapid rate.
We know that some of these horrific incidents with dogs dying at groomers have been the genesis of state legislation to license and regulate our industry. Some of these tragic deaths have been, of course, accidental. They have sometimes even led to improvements in our understanding of how to do our jobs better and the creation of better equipment, such as cage dryers without heating elements, which is now understood to be best practice for all. But some legislation has been prompted by allegations or incidences of abuse by groomers as well.
Many of us understand that licensing and regulation of our industry is not only inevitable, but truly desirable, if done right.
Many of us understand that licensing and regulation of our industry is not only inevitable, but truly desirable, if done right. However, to have regulation and licensing developed this way (because of the worst extreme of groomers abusing dogs) is not a positive or productive way for good licensing or regulation to be written. We have some very hard questions to face as an industry in addressing these tragic, if not rare, occurrences.

There are professionals in several fields that are working to understand, prevent and educate about this problem. One factor to consider is that pet groomers work in so many different venues: alone in a mobile unit, alone in a retail shop, as an employee in a big box store, in a small salon with a small staff, as a house-call groomer, out of our own homes, or affiliated with a similar business such as a boarding facility, daycare or veterinary hospital.

Grooming alone can be very stressful, and any of us that have groomed alone understand this. The ancient Greek philosopher Socrates famously declared that “the unexamined life was not worth living.” Asked to sum up what all wisdom could be reduced to, he replied: “Know thyself.” Self-knowledge is a great truth, and here are some tips to do just that:

  1. Examine yourself and be honest with yourself. Keep a journal, writing a few minutes each day about insights you have into yourself. A quick list of self-observations is helpful; you don’t have to write a novel.
  2. No one of us is perfect. We have all lost our tempers from time to time and can all benefit from some daily self-examination. Don’t be afraid to see yourself for who you are.
  3. Practice self-monitoring for rising symptoms of stress. Do you feel your temper rising with a certain dog or client? Do you ever feel stressed, overwhelmed, frustrated? Are there stresses in your non-work life that are affecting your ability to do your job in a healthy way? Just stop working for a minute and take deep breaths. Set limits every single day in your work life to protect your health and well-being for the long term.
  4. Seek counseling and support for any issues that could potentially lead to trouble. And not just in this area of your ability to manage the dogs you groom, but in your overall health and stress levels. Everywhere in America there are low-cost and free community mental health services, sliding scale fees or free, not-for-profit counseling sources. Don’t try to tackle this alone—go talk to someone!
  5. Connect with a Master Groomer or other experienced groomers either near you or through the many online groomer communities or organizations. Ask for mentoring! Lots of us will be happy to do that for groomers who work alone.

Remember, even if you groom by yourself all day long, no one of us is truly alone. We are in a very large grooming industry that is part of an even larger pet industry. Everywhere there are more experienced groomers willing to just talk or to help with advice, resources and ideas. Find out if your state has a grooming association, and if it does, join it. Reach out. Make connections.

Remember, even if you groom by yourself all day long, no one of us is truly alone. We are in a very large grooming industry that is part of an even larger pet industry.
cats and dogs heads on top of human neck and arm silhouettes
Any owner and/or a manager overseeing staff in a grooming business—even just a two-person shop—absolutely has the responsibility to prevent abuse of the dogs by any staff person. Here are a few suggestions of strategies that may be helpful in doing so:

  1. Screen potential employees first with phone interviews before hiring. Always check references and do not hire without them.
  2. When considering a hire, run background checks on anyone that will be working with live animals.
  3. Ask directly during the interview process about temper control and anger management. Ask how they will handle a behavior issue with a dog and pay careful attention to vague answers. Take notes during the interview.
  4. Require and create incentives for staff to learn more about animal behavior management. There are dog training classes everywhere. For an excellent podcast devoted to the topic of how to manage behavior and the dog for grooming, I highly recommend Chrissy Neumeyer Smith’s “Creating Great Grooming Dogs.”1
  5. Practice scenarios with the entire staff to identify warning signs of rising frustration and stress, and go over the steps to take when these feelings occur.
  6. Post visual signs around the workplace positively stating safety rules and healthy reminders to take a break and ask for help when needed. Also verbally reinforce this often as you walk around supervising.
  7. Managers and owners should be frequently seen throughout the workday, so be sure to walk around and talk to your staff every day; don’t just stay at the front desk or in your office.
  8. Make this value central to your business culture. Write it near the very top of your employee handbook, model the loving care of the dogs that you expect of your staff and talk about it at regular staff meetings.
  9. Have security cameras throughout the business. There should be a camera on any space where the dogs will be throughout their time with you.
  10. For employees of a grooming business: If you SEE something, SAY something! Don’t worry that maybe you are misinterpreting what another employee is doing, and don’t worry about “getting a colleague in trouble.” Your reports to a manager are confidential, and all you must say is that you saw something that “may be of concern,” then leave it up to management. That is on them. Your job is first and foremost to be a voice for all the animals in your care.
Your reports to a manager are confidential, and all you must say is that you saw something that “may be of concern,” then leave it up to management. That is on them. Your job is first and foremost to be a voice for all the animals in your care.
After the tragic death of a dog in 2012 at a grooming salon in New Jersey, and the unsubstantiated claims of injury in a California case, legislation that would license and regulate groomers was driven by the strongly motivated owners of these dogs. These bills were proposed and, in both cases, passed through state legislatures and almost became a law. The problem was that no one in those two state legislatures had any idea how to address the issues or how to regulate groomers in a way that would make a difference. But thanks to some big names in the grooming industry, along with many other wonderful volunteer groomers who worked extremely hard for groomers to be heard in those two states’ processes, ultimately, they were able to defeat the poorly written and conceived legislation in both states. However, those two states nearly passing badly written bills regulating groomers was the wake-up call to the entire grooming industry that led to the creation of some important tools and organizations that now should be universally used, talked about, understood and applied throughout the grooming world, including the AKC S.A.F.E (Safety, Assurance, Fundamentals, Education) Grooming Program,2 The PPGSA Standards of Safety, Care and Sanitation,3 and the Master Groomers Council on Best Practices (MGCBP).4
While any news of groomers abusing dogs is painful for all of us who love them so much, some of us remember a time where there was no internet, no security cameras, no social media and no groomer organizations or standards in our industry. We worry what horrors may have taken place when no one was looking.

Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis famously said in 1914 that “sunshine is the best disinfectant.” These wise words help us realize that keeping bad things hidden only makes them worse. Justice Brandeis was talking about how important transparency is to an organization to prevent corruption. This can similarly apply to the grooming industry, as groomer abuse of pets sadly does sometimes happen. Ignoring it or pretending it does not exist will not help it go away.

All the dogs who go home groomed and happily cared for deserve for us to prioritize this. There is no better “thank you” for grooming with gentleness and understanding than the wagging tail and slobbery kiss from a dog when we show them nothing but the love they deserve.

  1. Creating Great Grooming Dogs Podcast: https://www.creatinggreatgroomingdogs.com/
  2. AKC S.A.F.E (Safety, Assurance, Fundamentals, Education) Grooming Program: https://www.akc.org/products-services/akc-safe-grooming-program/
  3. PPGSA Standards Of Safety, Care & Sanitation: https://petgroomersandstylists.org/standards
  4. Master Groomers Council on Best Practices (MGCBP): https://mgcbp.com/
Additional Resources:
Behavioral Animal Rehabilitative Curriculum: Rehabilitating Animal Abusers Through the Use of Technology: https://barceducation.org/about-barc/rehabilitating-animal-abusers-technology/

Humane Society Of The United States: What you can do to help stop animal abuse: https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/report-animal-cruelty

American Humane Association: Animal Abuse Fact Sheet: https://www.americanhumane.org/fact-sheet/animal-abuse/

Four Paws USA: Ten Tips To Prevent Animal Cruelty And Abuse: https://www.fourpawsusa.org/campaigns-topics/topics/companion-animals/preventcrueltytoanimals/ways-to-prevent-cruelty-to-animals

Mayo Clinic: Ten Tips To Tame Your Temper: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/anger-management/art-20045434

Psych Central: Seven Proven Ways To Avoid Losing Your Temper At Work: https://psychcentral.com/health/avoid-losing-temper-at-work

Christmas card ready
How to create a DIY holiday photo set for Grooming Clients
by Kelsey Ann Sexton
Uppercase cursive letter I dropcap in pinkn the ever-evolving world of pet grooming, staying ahead means offering not only a service, but an experience. One way to create an experience is by adding seasonal spa packages with photos to help increase add-on sales and create cherished memories for pet parents. You can go as extravagant as you’d like, creating add-on packages for every season—a Cozy Autumn Cider Facial, a Winter Magic Soothing Soak, a Refreshing Summer Conditioning Coconut Massage or Floral Spring Relieving Facial—but adding a photo set to market your seasonal packages takes it up a notch!

Online there’s an array of photo backdrops and apps to assist you as your creative juices flow. But here is a fairly simple DIY holiday photo set you can create that is sure to make it on the front of your clients’ Christmas cards this season.

Supplies you’ll need:

  • Black Tri-fold Foam Presentation Board
  • Ornaments
  • Garland/Tinsel
  • Hot Glue Gun with Glue sticks
  • Scissors or X-Acto Knife
  • Treats
  • Camera (phone will do!)

Let’s get creating:

Close-up landscape photograph perspective of a collection of items: Black Tri-fold Foam Presentation Board, Ornaments, Garland/Tinsel, Hot Glue Gun with Glue sticks, and X-Acto Knife
Close-up landscape photograph perspective of a small yellow ruler being measured halfway across the Black Tri-fold Foam Presentation Board
Step 1: Measure approximately how tall your model/s will be at the withers and mark it on the board. You can use a stool or steps for smaller dogs to sit on.
Close-up landscape photograph perspective of a person's fingers tracing around a circular object with a pencil at the halfway measurement mark of the Black Tri-fold Foam Presentation Board
Step 2: Place a circular object at the halfway mark of your measurement and trace around it. This will be for the pet to place its head through, so keep that in mind when choosing the size. If you do large and small pets, you may need to make two boards.
Close-up portrait photograph perspective of a person using an X-Acto Knife to cut out a circle shape on the Black Tri-fold Foam Presentation Board
Step 3: Cut out the circle with scissors or X-Acto knife. Be careful not to make it too big, you can always cut more if it’s too small!
Close-up portrait photograph perspective of dark/light bronze Garland/Tinsel with a cut-out circular hole through it on the Black Tri-fold Foam Presentation Board
Step 4: Measure the tinsel/garland to frame the hole, then use hot glue to attach the tinsel/garland, making sure to fill any gaps that show your cut marks.
Close-up portrait photograph perspective of some Ornaments glued around the dark/light bronze Garland/Tinsel with a cut-out circular hole through it on the Black Tri-fold Foam Presentation Board
Step 5: Next you’ll begin gluing the ornaments in any arrangement you’d like. Aim the tops of the ornaments down so you can mask them easier with the next row.
Close-up portrait photograph perspective of an assorted bigger bunch of Ornaments glued around the dark/light bronze Garland/Tinsel with a cut-out circular hole through it on the Black Tri-fold Foam Presentation Board
Step 6: Stand it up to check your work and to see if anymore ornaments need added.
Close-up portrait photograph perspective of an assorted bigger bunch of Ornaments glued around the dark/light bronze Garland/Tinsel with a cut-out circular hole through it with shiny lighted reflections off the Ornaments
Step 7: Once you’re satisfied, you’ll want to find a well-lit area or use a ring light on a low setting to test the lighting. When taking the photo, the light needs to be in front of the subject with side reflections to really make that focus pop.
Close-up portrait photograph perspective of a black fluffy Poodle dog's face sticking its tongue out through the circular cut-out hole amongst the dark/light bronze Garland/Tinsel with many glued Ornaments surrounded with shiny lighted reflections off the Ornaments
Step 8: Now you’re ready to test it out! To coax the pet to put its head through the hole, it’s best to use treats. Then, snap some photos and pick your favorite pose!
This DIY project makes it easy to incorporate a quick photo that will make life-long memories for your clients, and can add to your bottom line when pairing it with other packages. You can either print the photo in-house or send the client a digital file. The sky is the limit in your creativity with photo offerings, but this photo set is sure to provide your clients with a Christmas-card-ready photo of their freshly groomed pet!
Groomer Story

Photo by Shelby Rae Photography

From Grooming Table to Sewing Machine: Amanda Madtes Reimagines Her Career typography
by Jen Phillips April

Eight years ago, groomer Amanda Madtes discovered she had Reynaud’s Disease. She describes the symptoms as “burning hot on the fingertips, blue or white fingers, and loss of grip and strength in the hand.” Amanda continued to groom professionally until two years ago when she could no longer hold a clipper for extended periods or grip a comb when working through large dogs.

Now, she only grooms her own five dogs and occasionally competes with her miniature Poodle. At most shows though, she sells her dog collars and other accessories through her company, Celtic K9 Dubhlinn.

The native Dubliner originally came to the U.S. to pursue a career in costume design. “I moved to NYC in 1996 to work for Calvin Klein,” Amanda shares. “I discovered and fell in love with dog grooming after getting a Golden Retriever named Dubhlinn (Gaelic for Dublin).”

“I found a fascinating correlation between my two passions of dogs and art.”
– Amanda Madtes

When Dubhlinn started blowing his puppy coat around seven months old, she panicked and took him to the veterinarian. They kindly laughed and referred her to a local groomer, which is where Amanda was first turned on to world of dog grooming.

“I found a fascinating correlation between my two passions of dogs and art,” she says. “I realized that I could have a career working with dogs, and promptly enrolled in an accredited Dog Grooming School in Manhattan, NYC.

“After my first day of training,” Amanda continues. “I was hooked. Making dogs feel and look their best while sculpting their hair was incredible and addictive.”

By 2018, Amanda and her husband moved to a house on four acres of land in Pennsylvania. Then, Amanda started competing in grooming shows with five dogs and one tolerant cat. But she also set her heart on a Poodle.

“After a lot of searching and reference checks, my very good friend found me a retired show Poodle. We named him Gazpacho or ‘Spachie,’” she shares.

Amanda says that Spachie changed her life. “Spachie came with some clothing items I’d never seen before. A Snood, leg protectors, and a satin-lined and padded collar. I already (thought) I knew how to maintain his coat being a groomer, but was stumped when I saw his clothes,” she says.

Photo by Amanda Madtes

“When I’m feeling happy, I go off on a tangent, which could be anything from a color theory to an inspiration like moths or dragons. It never feels like work, and I can’t believe I’m lucky enough to work with the most beautiful dogs in the world.”
-Amanda Madtes

Amanda researched Snoods and found they protect Poodle ears from trailing in food and water during mealtime. “The Leg Protectors,” she adds, “were to be put on during rain/snow or hiking to protect his leg hair from burrs and getting soaked, which leads to hair matting. Also, because sometimes he’s very lazy and doesn’t lift up his leg, he used to pee on the back of his front legs. The Leg Protectors help keep him clean.”

She discovered the padded, satin-lined collar protected delicate neck hair from breakage. “Everything was starting to make sense!” she shares.

As Spachie’s original collar started looking dingy, Amanda pulled out her sewing machine and made something similar from curtain fabric and satin from her wedding dress (which she had made.) However, it turns out that even former fashion designers have a hard time covering stainless steel martingale collars with fabric. So, Amanda created a collar pattern and headed to the fabric store.

“I missed the magical smell of uncut fabric and went a little wild buying all the colors that caught my eye,” Amanda says. “Next, I spent all of my free time making my boy a whole new wardrobe of collars, getting a little more creative with each one.”

Amanda then tapped into a new market when she photographed the collection and posted the pictures on social media. “I was bombarded by fellow groomer friends to make one for their Poodles,” she shares. “Sizing was trial and error; I can’t thank my wonderful friends enough for their patience in working that kink out with me.”

Once she realized people wanted her collars, she expanded, and in May of 2020, Celtic K9 Dubhlinn was officially born. “Bless my Husband and his patience as I took over an entire room of our house with sewing machines, fabrics, and every trim I could get my hands on,” Amanda says.

As soon as she felt comfortable with the patterns for her collars, Amanda started working on patterns for other products to protect the coat. For example, she created Snoods, adjustable for a growing dog. “I also realized they could be water resistant for inclement weather,” Amanda adds.

“Then, leg protectors were a three-week project to get a design that worked for my hyper Poodle,” she shares. “Finding water-resistant fabric that was lightweight enough to let my dog move easily was also a top priority.”

Her full line also includes Cooling Coats, Drying/Sacking jackets for grooming or showing, padded cases for grooming tools, and Quick Release Sets for those who work their dogs in agility and other sports.

Amanda finds inspiration for her designs everywhere, and says that some are mood-based. “I go through phases,” she says. “When I’m feeling sad, that’s when I make collars with the most brilliant and brightest trims that sparkle. When I’m feeling happy, I go off on a tangent, which could be anything from a color theory to an inspiration like moths or dragons. It never feels like work, and I can’t believe I’m lucky enough to work with the most beautiful dogs in the world.”

By May 2021, Amanda had moved Celtic K9 into a newly renovated barn on their property. “Now I have the perfect work studio,” she shares. “I want people to know a groomer makes these. I also want them to know that we try to put every effort into attention and detail, and that we stand by our products. If they ever have a problem, they can come straight back to us and we will make it right. We don’t have a warehouse or manufacturer. Everything is made by hand.”

Amanda’s hard work and commitment to her craft is paying off, too. Celtic K9 Dubhlinn was nominated for the Barkleigh Honors “Vendor of the Year” award in both 2022 and 2023. “This was out of left field for us, as we were trying to nominate our friends and fellow industry people,” she shares. “When we got the email, we were on the floor (literally on the floor, crying and laughing and terrified.) Fast forward to the night of the Awards Ceremony, and seeing our name up there with some of the amazing companies that have been established for many years was one of the biggest moments we will never forget.”

In addition to the nominations, Amanda said that being a vendor at Groom Expo was also one of the highlights of her life concerning the grooming industry. “It’s been an amazing journey from attendee to competitor to vendor,” she adds.

Amanda shares some parting words for groomers: “Protect your body. Your hands and back are your livelihood. If it’s time to leave the grooming table, find your passion. You can work within the industry without grooming!”

Groomers and oral health in pets: a win-win-win approachch
by Kara M. Burns, MS, MEd, LVT VTS (Nutrition)
Uppercase D dropcapue to the increasing number of people owning pets, services for pets—especially grooming—have grown significantly over the past few years. As members of the family, pet owners recognize the need to care for the health of the pet, and grooming is an important aspect of fundamental hygiene care essential to maintaining the animal’s health and well-being.

Grooming is a term which encompasses a number of services,1 with today’s groomers bathing, dematting, sculpting the fur to meet breed standards, performing nail trims, cleaning ears and brushing the pets’ teeth. There are also a myriad number of potential health consequences which may result from inadequate grooming, and these consequences range in severity.2,3 Imagine if a pet owner is unable to trim their pet’s nails. Depending on the severity of untrimmed nails, the pet may experience changes in anatomic position, function of the paws and altered gait.

In 2020 The American Pet Products Association reported that 81% of U.S. dog owners had groomed their pet in the past 12 months. Additionally, it was found that on average, dogs had been groomed professionally approximately four times over the course of the prior 12 months. Data on feline grooming found that 17% of cat owners in the U.S. report their cat has been groomed professionally within the past year.4 These findings show the importance of access to grooming services and the potential for improved health care when the groomer notes an issue and works with the rest of the veterinary team to address that issue. This data also suggests pet groomers may have more touchpoints for a particular animal over the course of a year than the veterinary hospital.
It is imperative that the veterinary care team, including pet groomers, work together to remind pet owners that a pet cannot truly be healthy if they have periodontal disease. The oral cavity is constantly inundated by bacteria and provides the perfect environment for microbial growth.

Oral health is one example of where groomers can have significant positive impact. Pet owners do not always equate oral malodor or halitosis with periodontal disease. Thus, it is imperative that the veterinary care team, including pet groomers, work together to remind pet owners that a pet cannot truly be healthy if they have periodontal disease. The oral cavity is constantly inundated by bacteria and provides the perfect environment for microbial growth. Animals require dental care to maintain overall health, just as humans. Dental disease causes pain and discomfort; and the associated disease processes may lead to systemic issues.5

The veterinary care team members know that animals require dental care to maintain oral and systemic health. However, dental health is seldom top of mind for pet owners. Additionally, many animals hide pain and obviously cannot tell the caregiver where it hurts. Oral malodor, changes in eating behavior and drooling are often accepted as “normal behavior” in pets by their owners. These changes may be seen during a grooming appointment, or the owner may mention that the chest area of the dog has been damp and dingy—a result of the dog drooling. To aid in oral health care even further, there is now a tool that is extremely beneficial in identifying infection in the oral cavity, which can be used by groomers.

A thiol test is a tool that can be used on awake animals that provides a fast, objective assessment of the pet’s periodontal health, allowing for a team approach to oral health. Simply slide the strip along the upper gumline of every canine or feline pet presenting for their grooming appointment, and if the strip changes color to any shade of yellow, infection is present. This color-changed strip should then be brought to the attention of the pet’s veterinarian. If there is no color change, the veterinary team should still be notified the test was performed, the negative result should be recorded in the pet’s medical record, and the pet owner can be celebrated and encouraged to maintain the great work done to keep their pet’s mouth healthy, and to continue to follow up with their veterinarian.

This dental health example shows the importance of pet groomers working together with veterinarians and veterinary technicians. Companion animals’ grooming needs are an important aspect of their health-related care and an important aspect of basic hygiene essential to maintaining their health and well-being. All members of the healthcare team are passionate about the needs of the pet, and all want what is best for the pet. Thus, working together to address potential health issues is a win for the hospital team, a win for the groomer and, most importantly, a win for the pet.


  1. Muvhali M, Singh T. (2021, June). Pet groomers’ occupational exposures: an under-researched group of workers in a growing pet-care industry. Current Allergy & Clinical Immunology. Vol 34, No 2, 87-95.
  2. McDonald SE, Doherty C, Sweeney J, et. al. (2022) Barriers to and facilitators of pet grooming among clients served by a subsidized grooming service program. Front. Vet. Sci. 9:1021707.
  3. McDonald SE, Sweeney J, Niestat L, et al. (2022). Grooming-related concerns among companion animals: preliminary data on an overlooked topic and considerations for animals’ access to health-related services. Front. Vet. Sci. 9:827348.
  4. American Pet Products Association. 2021-2022 APPA National Pet Owners Survey. Greenwich, CT: American Pet Products Association (2021).
  5. Burns, KM. (2019/2020, December/January). The Importance of Dental Homecare in the Management of Periodontal Disease. The NAVTA Journal. Pp. 9-16.

Kara Burns MS, MEd, LVT, VTS (Nutrition), VTS-H (Internal Medicine, Dentistry) is Editor in Chief of Today’s Veterinary Nurse. Kara is founder and president of the Academy of Veterinary Nutrition Technicians and is past president of NAVTA, the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America. She has authored numerous articles and textbook chapters and is an internationally invited speaker, presenting on topics including leadership and technician utilization. Kara currently serves as clinical advisor and key opinion leader for PDX BIOTECH, makers of the OraStripdx thiol test (orastripdx.com).

Grooming Gab
by Kathy Hosler
Photos by Animal Photography

They came to celebrate 35 years of progress, technology and education…but mostly they came to celebrate people. It’s the people who have made Groom Expo what it is today.

This has been the absolute best weekend of my grooming career by far,” shares Reginal Moorer (AKA ‘Reggie Scissorhand’) enthusiastically. “After witnessing and experiencing Hershey for myself, I now understand why the people in this industry work so hard throughout the year! To be in the presence of groomers from near and far, all coming together to celebrate one another is a beautiful thing…I wouldn’t want to be a part of any other industry!”

More than 6,000 attendees from all over the world met at the Hershey Lodge and Convention Center in Hershey, Pennsylvania to experience the 35th annual Groom Expo. They came to celebrate 35 years of progress, technology and education…but mostly they came to celebrate people. It’s the people who have made Groom Expo what it is today.

It started with Sally Liddick and Gwen Shelly, who believed that groomers needed a place to come together and an opportunity to network and socialize with each other. Add to them the people who invented new tools and equipment and showcased it at the trade show, helping to shape the industry and make groomers’ lives easier, and the people who share their knowledge through the seminars and breed demos that have given groomers the opportunity to build successful, happy careers. And, just as important, are all the attendees who come year after year to be with each other and experience everything this wonderful event has to offer.

“Thirty-five years is a long time, and our industry has changed tremendously,” says Gwen Shelly, CEO of Barkleigh Productions. “When Sally and I held the first Groom Expo in 1988, about 500 groomers attended.

Woman grooming fluffy white dog on a table at an expo
“I’ve found support and learned that I’m never really alone. I look forward to Hershey more than any other show.” – Jilly Mucciarone
“In the beginning, there were no fax machines, cell phones, or internet,” Gwen continues. “There was very little in the way of continuing education, and most groomers did not even speak with each other. We knew that groomers needed to connect and network with one another, so with Groom Expo, we began to change that.”

“It’s absolutely incredible what Groom Expo has become!” exclaims beaming attendee Theresa Wells. “I was at the first Groom Expo held in 1988. When I started grooming, I had a pair of Oster A-2 clippers and a couple pair of Double Duck scissors. My grooming table was a cut-off kitchen table with a cabinet on top of it.”

“This incredible industry has become my second family, and Hershey is where we all come together to support each other,” says attendee Jilly Mucciarone. “Every year we come to Hershey and pick up right where we left off. It’s like no time has passed at all, yet we all continue to grow and chase our own dreams in between. I’ve found support and learned that I’m never really alone. I look forward to Hershey more than any other show.”

It’s true. You are never alone when you are at Groom Expo! At events like the Internet Mingle, the Opening Night Party and the meal functions, you can begin talking to a complete stranger and soon find you have a connection and a lot in common.

“I went to the Internet Mingle and sat at a table where I didn’t know anyone,” says Mindy Hammond. “Soon, we were all chatting and having a wonderful time. Lots of the gals were winning the raffle prizes. I was thrilled for them, but my numbers were never called.”

Near the end of the event, Mindy Hammond’s number was called and she won a spectacular Shernbao stand dryer. “I never win anything,” gasped an astonished Mindy. “This dryer is fabulous! It has changed the way I groom.”

Thanks to the generosity of vendors and others who donate items, the Internet Mingle, hosted by Jameson and Melina Kon, has grown every year.

“It’s all fun and games when we get together for the event, but the money that is raised at the Internet Mingle goes to help groomers that fall into hardship or unforeseen circumstances,” says Jameson.

Woman grooming a small dog on a table
“This year we were able to raise $4,375, which is going to help groomers affected by the fire in Hawaii,” he continues. “It’s so heartwarming to know that we can make a positive impact together while having a fun time and meeting new friends.”

The generosity of the grooming industry knows no bounds at Groom Expo. The Silent Auction raised an astounding $25,810.50. Those proceeds were divided among the rescue groups that provided dogs for the Rescue Roundup. The Show Close Auction proceeds were divided between GroomTeam USA and the rescue groups.

With over 170 booths, Groom Expo hosts the largest professional pet care product trade show on the planet. Not only can you see all the newest innovations and products and try on scissors for a perfect fit, product demos and mini grooming sessions are presented all throughout the weekend.

“I have been going for nearly a decade,” shares Elli Bultemeier. “I started as an attendee, then competitor, and then a vendor rep. Now we have our own booth and I am a speaker. Seeing all sides is truly amazing!”

“As a speaker and working the booth, my favorite part is getting to talk to the other groomers,” says Anjie Coates. “I love seeing things through their eyes and seeing them get excited about a topic I’m teaching.

“The thrill of excitement and the thrum of it is palpable—more so at Hershey than any other show. I love all the shows, and will continue to go to as many as I can every year, but Hershey is my favorite,” Anjie continues. “The number of vendors is also just amazing. If you want a particular something, and it exists, someone there will have it. There are limitless options. All in all, Hershey is consistently an 11/10.”

Groom Expo has always been known as “the learning show,” with dozens of educational seminars, certificate courses and workshops presented by industry experts. Every seminar allows you to step into its specialized segment of the grooming industry. The topics run the gamut of pet grooming trends and techniques, business management, self-care and more.

“My favorite class was Marketing Your Grooming Salon with Community Events presented by Amanda McGrath,” says attendee Lindsey Bronson. “I love the demo classes, but this class was SO informational, and Amanda was really engaging and fun to listen to. There was so much value in that hour I spent with her!”

With over 170 booths, Groom Expo hosts the largest professional pet care product trade show on the planet.
Woman grooming white fluffy small dog on a table
“I shut down my salon from Wednesday to Monday to attend Groom Expo,” says Mindy Hammond. “Continuing education is so important. I take all the classes I can. And, the certificates I receive are displayed on the wall of my salon. My clients are really impressed by them.”

The grooming competitions are also a tremendously important part of Groom Expo. From the spectacular two-day Groom Olympics Tournaments with its $25,000 in prize money to the Abstract Creative Runway Competition, the Creative Styling Competition and the Rescue Round-Up Invitational—every competition showcases the talents, skills and creativity of the participants.

“I attended Groom Expo for the first time last year,” says competitor Monica King. “I remember sitting in the audience during Creative with my best friend, Michelle, and she said, ‘You are going to be up on that stage next year, making your dreams come true.’ I laughed at the time, but this year, I got up on that stage next to my creative friends who have become family.

“I laughed, I cried, but I did it!” Monica continues. “I had the support of the entire grooming community with me as I did my groom and presentation of ‘Nina’s Garden.’”

During the presentation of her “Nina’s Garden” Creative entry, flowers were handed out to audience members in tribute and memory of Monica’s mother who passed away during COVID.

Woman grooming fluffy black and white dog on a table
Attendee and competitor Holly Baker shares her thoughts of what it is like to compete at Groom Expo: “The part that can’t be expressed enough is the community of groomers who uplift each other. Although we are competitors, we are each other’s biggest fans. We all help each other. From getting our equipment on stage, lending supplies to each other when equipment is missing or malfunctions, caring for each other’s pets, supporting each other over our fears to, most importantly, cheering for each other’s work and accomplishments.

“Not only do your fellow competitors understand, but so do the judges,” continues Holly. “The judges do such a fantastic job providing critiques that build your confidence and provide direction of where to expand your skills. I left the show, not with a placement, but with lifelong friends, the inspiration to groom for another 20 years, and experiences that I will never ever forget.”

Saturday evening at Groom Expo is reserved for the Barkleigh Honors Banquet, the Best in Show Awards, the Abstract Creative Runway Competition and the prestigious Barkleigh Honors Awards.

“The goal of the Barkleigh Honors Awards is to recognize the people that go above and beyond in their contributions to our industry,” says Barkleigh President, Todd Shelly.

The awards cover all segments of the industry, from blogs, videos and websites to speakers, competitors and new products. Every category is filled with qualified and deserving nominees.

This year, Ren and Lynn Netherland won the Barkleigh Honors Award for “Contribution to the Industry.” They have been a staple at Groom Expo and many other shows, along with their business, Animal Photography. Their work and dedication to the industry is evident in many issues of Groomer To Groomer Magazine and through the countless amount of behind-the-scenes work they do for the industry.

Even though it is held in Hershey, PA, Groom Expo has become a meeting place for groomers from all over the globe…

“I am a cat-exclusive groomer in Brisbane, Australia and travel more than 10,000 miles to attend Groom Expo,” shares Sarah Warner. “I thoroughly enjoy the seminars, the trade show, the competitions, and putting so many faces to names.

“While in the U.S., my daughter had a medical emergency and was rushed to the hospital by ambulance,” Sarah adds. “The people within the grooming industry were immediate in their offers of genuine, practical assistance and showed so much love and compassion for both of us in what was an incredibly worrying time. This is, in my opinion, the greatest gift a show like Groom Expo can give. The connection to our peers and colleagues and the appreciation that no one is in this industry alone. The people I’ve met at in-person events is genuinely and truly the biggest incentive for me to make the monstrous financial and time investment to continue to attend.”

Groomers like Sarah Warner, Theresa Wells, who attended the first Groom Expo in 1988, and many others who come every year will tell you there are many things that make Groom Expo the most unique and popular show on the planet. But one of the things that is on the top of everyone’s list is the people…the people at Groom Expo.

Groom expo 2023 contest results
Celebrating 35 years
Lindsey Dicken posing at Groom Expo

Best in Show

Lindsey Dicken
posing at Groom Expo


Lindsey Dicken
Olga Stremiakova posing at Groom Expo


Olga Stremiakova
Erin Flynn posing at Groom Expo


Erin Flynn
Wire Coated
Allison Miller posing at Groom Expo

1st Entry

Allison Miller
Arielle Scavnicky posing at Groom Expo

1st Intermediate

Arielle Scavnicky
posing at Groom Expo

1st Open

Lis Johnston
Oksana Nooselova posing at Groom Expo

1st Entry

Oksana Nooselova
Sophie Rebehn posing at Groom Expo

1st Intermediate

Sophie Rebehn
Lindsey Dicken posing at Groom Expo

1st Open

Lindsey Dicken
Olga Stremiakova posing at Groom Expo

1st Entry

Olga Stremiakova
Lindsay Leigh posing at Groom Expo

1st Intermediate

Lindsay Leigh
Lindsey Dicken posing at Groom Expo

1st Open

Lindsey Dicken
Jamie Thieling posing at Groom Expo

1st Entry

Jamie Thieling
Anna Stowell posing at Groom Expo

1st Intermediate

Anna Stowell
Wynne Wong posing at Groom Expo

1st Open

Wynne Wong
Rachel George posing at Groom Expo

1st Entry

Rachel George
Brianna Rakar posing at Groom Expo

1st Intermediate

Brianna Rakar
posing at Groom Expo

1st Open

Macie Pisa
Alysha Kelly posing at Groom Expo


Alysha Kelly
Katherine Greaney posing at Groom Expo

2nd Place

Katherine Greaney
Macie Pisa posing at Groom Expo


Macie Pisa
Elizabeth Gosa posing at Groom Expo


Elizabeth Gosa
Rachel George posing at Groom Expo

2nd Place

Rachel George
Cheyenne Patton posing at Groom Expo


Cheyenne Patton
Kathlena Austin posing at Groom Expo


Kathlena Austin
Chelsea Anderson posing at Groom Expo

2nd Place

Chelsea Anderson
Alysha Kelly posing at Groom Expo


Alysha Kelly
Nicole Beckman posing at Groom Expo


Nicole Beckman
Jolene Siebeneck posing at Groom Expo

2nd Place

Jolene Siebeneck
Jordan Kirk posing at Groom Expo


Jordan Kirk
Creative Styling Banner
Jolene Siebeneck posing at Groom Expo
Jolene Siebeneck posing at Groom Expo


Jolene Siebeneck
Alyssa Kasiba posing at Groom Expo
Alyssa Kasiba posing at Groom Expo


Alyssa Kasiba
Jordan Peterson posing at Groom Expo
Jordan Peterson posing at Groom Expo


Jordan Peterson
Creative Styling Banner
posing at Groom Expo
posing at Groom Expo
Jolene Siebeneck

Derm Connection

How to Make Add-Ons Really Add Up!

by Dr. Cliff Faver

Most grooming salons offer add-on services, but the benefits and profitability vary greatly. Some have them on the menu board and never have anyone take them up on them, while others significantly increase their profit by marketing them correctly.

There are different philosophies as to how we can use add-ons to our advantage. Some believe you advertise a very cheap base price, and everything else is an add-on. For example, the base price may be $35, but they will include nail trim, styling, brush-out, bow and cologne as add-ons, making the actual out-the-door price $85.

Years ago, a veterinarian in my area advertised dog spays at $99 and, in fine print, it said “anesthesia extra.” No one was going to have a spay done without anesthesia! So when clients picked up, he handed them a bill for $700+ for that cheap spay. This method often ends in irate clients if you are not upfront about the additional charges.

If we look at the average clientele from local neighborhoods around the grooming salon, it is usually very diverse. And the best way to succeed is to meet people where they are (within reason).

Another approach is to include everything in an all-in-one package. The issue we commonly fight with this is that we often price ourselves out of the market with the local competition. This is also true with the salons that only offer luxury products and charge a premium. Neither one allows the client a choice either. It sounds like a good plan, but it limits your clientele very quickly and does not allow for any upsells.

If we look at the average clientele from local neighborhoods around the grooming salon, it is usually very diverse. And the best way to succeed is to meet people where they are (within reason). Figuring out how to help Mrs. Jones with Fifi and Cowboy Bill with Butch in the same salon strengthens your business. Does it mean we must cut Cowboy Bill’s prices to make it work? No, it simply means they have different needs and you need to meet them with a price point that works for you. Both can be good clients, they just have different needs.

So how do we offer different levels? We can provide different services at each level and different qualities of products.

One solution is to offer choices to your clients. I always did three. Why? Well, let’s look at it from the client’s perspective: First, if they call in and ask for prices, we can say that the groom ranges from $65-$105 (just an example), depending on which packages you want. That addresses pricing yourself out of the market with the person who doesn’t understand the differences between the salons and gives you a chance to win them over. Secondly, when they come in, most clients will look at the packages to decide their comfort zone. And unless money is a huge issue (which isn’t as much as most clients say), the average client will commonly pick the middle option. They don’t want to look cheap, so they don’t want the cheapest one, yet they want to try you out before making the jump to the highest price package. Then you will have the Mrs. Joneses out there who only want the best, and they will pick the most expensive, no matter the cost. Cowboy Bill wants the no-frills option just to get the manure smell off his dog, and you can accommodate him also. All levels can be great clients, so we shouldn’t judge them on what level they picked.

So how do we offer different levels? We can provide different services at each level and different qualities of products. This doesn’t mean we compromise the health and well-being of the pet’s skin by using harsh products or skipping conditioners for the economy services, we just don’t use luxury products. Most shampoo lines have economy, routine, and luxury in the lines they offer, and the products should be the basis of our packages. The difference in price from economy to luxury may only be a couple of dollars difference (your cost per bath price) but can amount to a $10-20 difference in price to the client. Remember, you are giving them the option to choose. You should get very little pushback as long as they can see a difference.

Add-ons can be a considerable tool to increase a salon’s profitability, but an add-on or upgrade must increase the value to the client. It must be something they can see, feel or smell.

Once clients have picked the level of service they want, they rarely upgrade independently. Why? Well, if they are happy, they don’t see the advantage of making a change. The way to overcome that is to show them the advantage. Here is one way to do that:

“Mrs. Smith, in honor of Valentine’s day I want to do something special for Tiffany. The next package up is normally $20 more, but I will give it to you at your normal $85 fee today. All I ask is for you to give me feedback about the upgraded products and services.” Do not be surprised when Mrs. Smith calls back and tells you she wants you to do to the higher-priced package every time!

So what does that mean for the salon? You just increased your bathing price by $20 with a minimum cost upgrade (just $1-2 for you), and you get no complaints from the client because it was their choice. I have seen salons convert as much as 25-30% of their clientele to higher packages. Just think of what that would do to help your profit margin!

Add-ons can be a considerable tool to increase a salon’s profitability, but an add-on or upgrade must increase the value to the client. It must be something they can see, feel or smell. The one thing you do not want to do is compromise your services in the lower-end packages. Remember, every dog that walks out of your salon is a walking billboard.

The real goal is to offer the upper-level services and products that no one else does. You want the reputation with your clients that you are the best so all their like-minded friends also want to come to you!!

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.

Better Cat Grooming
Bespoke Cat Grooming: A Customized Plan for Each Feline Client
by Lynn Paolillo
W ith more and more cats being considered members of the family and grooming salon competition increasing, a one-size-fits-all approach to grooming just doesn’t cut it anymore. As professionals, we know that each cat is unique, with its own set of needs, preferences and quirks. To truly stand out and provide exceptional, high-end service, consider adding customized grooming plans to create an exclusive experience for each client.
Understanding the Feline Client
Before developing your customized grooming plans, it’s crucial to grasp the specific needs and characteristics of your feline clients. Cats come in various breeds, sizes and temperaments. Some may have long, luxurious coats, while others sport short, sleek fur. Each cat might have different sensitivities, health conditions or behavioral quirks that require adjustments to grooming services and handling techniques.

Start by making a list of all the services and options you already provide for cat clients. Include the services that are part of every groom like nail trimming, as well as specialty products and services you offer like hypoallergenic shampoos, minimal trimming and your different options of haircuts. Organize your list to make it easy for you to mix and match to create some sample plans for reference.

grey and white cat with lightbulb above head indicting a curious thought
While the cat’s needs will always come first, still make sure to listen to the owner’s preferences and expectations. Some may desire specific grooming styles, whereas others are primarily concerned with maintaining their cat’s health and hygiene.
The Consultation
A comprehensive new-cat-client consultation is a more upscale version of the “meet and greet” and the first step towards crafting the perfect grooming plan. Take the time to sit down with the cat owner and gather essential information, including the following:

  • Breed and Coat Type. Understanding the cat’s breed, coat type and length will help you to determine its grooming needs. The cat’s current coat condition will also need to be assessed by touching the coat and feeling for any matting, skin issues, etc.
  • Temperament and Behavior. During the physical assessment, observe the cat’s reactions and body language. Is the cat generally anxious or relaxed? How does it react to any new or louder background noises? Are there any areas of the cat’s body that show signs of pain when touched?
  • Health Considerations. Inquire about any underlying health conditions, allergies or skin issues. Always keep the cat’s comfort and safety the top priority when choosing appropriate grooming products, services and techniques. Some health issues may limit what can be done, while others can make the cat more sensitive to stress or handling.
  • Owner’s Preferences. While the cat’s needs will always come first, still make sure to listen to the owner’s preferences and expectations. Some may desire specific grooming styles, whereas others are primarily concerned with maintaining their cat’s health and hygiene. No matter what services you ultimately offer for each cat, be sure to include how the client’s questions and requests are addressed.
Note: This can be true even if the best services for the cat are not what the client asks for. For example, if a client is asking for a Lion Cut, but their cat is not an ideal shaving candidate, ask why they are looking for a full shave-down. In many cases, a bath and deshed groom will solve many of the same issues as shaving, including less hair, relief from allergies, cleaner paws and rear end, etc.
Tailoring the Package
Once you’ve gathered all the necessary information, it’s time to design a grooming plan that caters to the cat’s unique needs and the owner’s desires. Here are some areas to consider:

  • Grooming Services. Select the specific grooming services that you recommend for each cat. These can range from basic services like bathing and brushing to more specialized treatments like flea control, de-shedding, color enhancing, hair styles, etc.
  • Products & Tools. Shampoos, finishing products and grooming tools can be selected to best fit the cat’s coat, color and any skin sensitivities or needs. This can also include tools and product recommendations for the client to use at home as well.
  • Frequency. Along with the recommended services, include the ideal grooming frequency for appointments. More hair typically means more frequent maintenance, so be sure to discuss how often grooms should be executed to meet the goals you’ve established with the owner.
  • Options & Pricing. Some cats may have multiple options available to them. For example, a healthy adult cat that is compliant for handling and isn’t matted can either be maintained in full coat or a candidate for various haircut styles and lengths. Include what options are available for the cat, along with the price and frequency differences for each.
  • Available Upgrades. Finally, include any optional add-on services that the client can choose to add to the regular grooming, such as temporary color, shaved or trimmed designs, specialized haircut styling, nail caps, accessories, etc.
Tailored care ensures that each cat receives precisely what it needs, enhancing their overall well-being and building a positive grooming relationship between you and the cat.
white cat
Providing Education & Clarity
Clients should fully understand the services included in each package and the benefits they bring to their beloved felines. Provide educational materials and information about your grooming approach, preventing and relieving grooming issues, and even short demonstrations for home use. Transparency and clear communication are key to building trust. These resources can be shared privately with clients or publicly through your website or social media.

A branded handout or template that can be customized for each client is a great way of providing more information about the services you’re offering and to reiterate the recommendations you’ve made for their cat. This can be stored for your records as well as shared with the client.

The Benefits
There are many benefits of providing customized grooming plans, including:

  1. Tailored care ensures that each cat receives precisely what it needs, enhancing their overall well-being and building a positive grooming relationship between you and the cat.
  2. Satisfied clients are more likely to become loyal customers, stay on regular grooming schedules, be willing to pay premium prices and recommend your services to others.
  3. Offering custom packages sets your grooming business apart from competitors and positions you as an expert in feline care.
  4. Spending the extra time initially can lead to increased revenue, especially when clients opt for premium services, add- ons and increased frequency of appointments.
Promoting Your Services
In order to effectively market and promote your customized grooming plans, start by updating your website, ensuring that you prominently showcase all of your options, the benefits of your personalized care plans and the details of how your consultations are conducted. Share different stories of happy cats and clients on social media, mentioning how your customized services kept them looking and feeling their best. And don’t forget to include your current clients when launching these new options by offering complimentary consultations to discuss whether their existing schedule and services are meeting their and their cat’s needs.

By tailoring your services to meet the precise needs of each cat that walks through your door, you not only enhance their well-being, but also position your cat grooming business as a premium service that stands out from the rest. And while hosting private consultations and devising these individualized care plans may require some extra time initially, the dividends are substantial. Clients will deeply appreciate the personalized attention, place greater trust in your expertise and become more actively engaged in their cat’s care. This, in turn, fosters stronger client-groomer relationships, making clients more willing to invest in these specialized services, increases their respect for your time and policies, and reduces the likelihood of missed or canceled appointments.

Boost Your Revenue
Illustration of person riding in shopping cart with shopping bags around them
By Adding Retail to Your Grooming Business
by Brooke Jackson
Managing a business can be challenging in the current economic environment. Pet-focused businesses, such as grooming establishments, face even greater challenges. In fact, the cost of pets and associated products surged 10.6% between May 2022 and 2023. This increase is more than twice the inflation rate for general goods and services in the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.1

That said, there are steps owners can take to enhance these businesses. One effective approach involves adding retail products to the grooming salon, which can help increase sales, attract more clientele and even boost customer loyalty. The process of adding retail to your grooming business does not need to be complex; the two areas of the business can actually complement one another.

Let’s dig into the four ways you can enhance your grooming business by adding a retail arm to the salon:

1. Streamline Inventory Management
When unifying a retail and grooming business, your inventory can include products that your groomers are already using at appointments. For example, if a client likes the shampoo and conditioner you use on their dog, they can have the option to buy these products directly from you. A significant advantage of adding retail to your grooming business is that it serves as a “one-stop shop” for pet owners. It is crucial to maintain this role for your customers; therefore, you will want to ensure your inventory is always fully stocked.
2. Train Staff to Know the Products & Services
Personal connection not only offers advantages to the customer, but to the business as well. It is imperative that employees are aware of all products and services offered, regardless if they work in the grooming area or retail store. For example, if a groomer is using a new product on a pet, they can suggest the new product line to the pet owner and recommend it for use at home. On the other hand, if a pet owner is only shopping in the store, a sales associate could inform them of current grooming specials or services being offered.
3. Establish An Online Presence
It is crucial for all organizations—regardless of industry—to have an online presence, as this medium offers substantial benefits to a grooming and retail business. Not only should the website have the option to purchase products online, but it can also provide features like an online booking portal for grooming services. Another enhancement option is giving your customers the ability to pick up online orders during the same visit as their pet’s appointment for added convenience.
4. Institute Loyalty Programs & Bundle Packages
Offers and deals do not have to be separated between the two sides of the business. In fact, combining them could lead to more customer usage. Your business can easily customize its loyalty programs and bundle packages through solutions like a comprehensive POS system by choosing guidelines, points systems and more, all in one interface. To illustrate, if a specific product is not selling, store associates could offer a discounted nail clipping when two or more of the products are bought.
Adding retail to your grooming business will set your organization up for long-term advancement.
Adding retail to your grooming business will set your organization up for long-term advancement. Doing so gives the business the potential to grow not only its customer base, but also net profit. Today’s consumers demand customer-forward, convenient experiences when it comes to the stores and brands they trust, and giving them reputable, accessible, and seamless in-store and online interactions is what grooming businesses need to double down on to become the best resource for pet owners.


  1. Jaracz, J. (2023, August). Inflation for pet expenses grew at twice the rate of other consumer products last year. eTailPet. https://etailpet.io/blog/inflation-pet-expenses/

Brooke Jackson is the General Manager at eTailPet—the cloud-based POS platform created specifically for independent pet retail businesses. Leveraging her extensive background in customer experience and support management, she brings over a decade of valuable expertise to the role. With a successful five-year tenure as a Franchise Owner, Brooke adeptly integrates key performance indicators (KPIs) from her franchise experience to optimize operations at eTailPet. Her passion and commitment to customer satisfaction dri­ves her to deliver top-tier service through eTailPet’s comprehensive all-in-one POS platform.

Mary’s Musings
A Groomer's Holiday Survival Guide typographic title; person sitting at a desk with a blanket wrapped around them and a Christmas tree in the background
by Mary Oquendo
The holidays are a festive time of year, but they can also be very demanding. With all the hustle and bustle of shopping, decorating and attending holiday parties, it’s easy to forget to take care of yourself—especially for those of us in a service or retail business.

Not only do we have to deal with stressed-out customers who have no problem taking their frustrations out on us, but there are also other factors that contribute to our mental well-being…or lack thereof. Some of these factors include:

When you’re pushing yourself beyond a healthy amount of work, it takes its toll on your mind. You may start to feel overwhelmed, distracted and exhausted. Your stress levels may rise, along with frustration and anxiety.
• It gets dark early. Every day, the sun seems to set earlier and earlier. The lack of sunlight can take a toll on people’s mental well-being and cause sluggishness. It makes it harder to stay motivated and productive.

• Working extended hours to accommodate the holiday rush. When you’re pushing yourself beyond a healthy amount of work, it takes its toll on your mind. You may start to feel overwhelmed, distracted and exhausted. Your stress levels may rise, along with frustration and anxiety. Not only do these negative emotions hurt your mental state, but they can also lead to physical symptoms such as headaches and digestive problems. We may not even notice problems because adrenaline starts to take over. Sleep quality becomes affected, along with poor dietary choices, thus compounding the problem.

• We still have our holiday preparation to deal with. It’s no fun working a 12-hour day and then dragging our tired bodies to stores for shopping and prepping. Between shopping for gifts, decorating the home, planning dinners and ensuring everything is running smoothly, the holidays can quickly become a source of stress instead of joy.

Tired and stressed groomers make mistakes and may cause injury to themselves or pets in their care. So how can you help yourself, your co-workers and grooming friends get through the sometimes no-so-joyful holiday season?

• Have realistic expectations. Groomers should not have to groom more dogs than they are physically able to or work 16-hour shifts. And no one should bear the brunt of abusive clients.
• Have healthy snacks available. Instead of a candy bar and soda for lunch, make sure you’re making healthy food choices. Unhealthy food can decrease your energy, making it harder to get through a busy day.
• Have a place to get away and chill. While a break room is excellent, it’s not feasible for all shops. You may have to mprovise. Maybe use a storage room or partition off a section of the shop by hanging curtains. Make it fun. Hang a “Do Not Disturb” sign and call it the “Holiday Season Anti-Stress Room.”
• Recognize when someone is at a breaking point and step in. Sometimes all someone needs is five-minute break.
• Replace fluorescent lighting with natural or LED. Fluorescent lighting is harsh and can cause glare, eye strain, headaches and fatigue, leading to decreased efficiency.

If you are having trouble, open up that dialogue with friends and co-workers. If you see someone having difficulties, start the conversation.
• Have co-workers’ backs when problems with clients arise. Assign someone who can handle client interactions without stressing over the encounter if possible.
• Encourage communication. If you are having trouble, open up that dialogue with friends and co-workers. If you see someone having difficulties, start the conversation.
• Order lunch and have everyone sit down and eat together. It will reduce overall stress and encourage camaraderie.
• Hire cleaning or towel services to reduce the workload of an already overburdened grooming team.
• And always remember that a kind word goes a long way.
In addition, it’s important to be aware of warning signs that are out of the ordinary for anyone, including yourself, such as:

• Mood swings. We all have our ups and downs, but mood swings can get out of control. Increased irritability may be the first indication of mood swings. Minor things may get a reaction resulting in snapping at people or erupting into rage. Then there is the inability to concentrate. The slightest distraction can send a mind spinning, leaving someone unable to focus on any one thing for long. As a result, tasks that once took minimal effort now take longer than ever. Lastly, watch out for changes in sleeping habits. If you used to sleep like a log and now toss and turn every night, it could be due to fluctuations in your mood. Similarly, if you suddenly start sleeping far more than before, that could also be a sign that something isn’t quite right.
• Burnout. A lot of goomers experience burnout at some point in their career, and the stressful holiday season often brings it to the surface. Signs would include someone doing a less than adequate job or putting themselves or the pets in harm’s way due to rushing through their work or having a careless attitude. Other indicators would be threatening to quit or walking out on the job.

Anyone struggling with depression should seek help, especially if someone talks about suicide or alludes to the fact that the world is better off without them.
• Depression. Depression can be a complex subject to discuss, as it affects everyone differently. Those who suffer from depression often find that they cannot enjoy activities they once found pleasurable and struggle to get through the day-to-day tasks that make up life. Depression can also cause physical symptoms like headaches, muscle aches, fatigue and changes in appetite. It can also impede concentration and memory, making it hard for those suffering from depression to stay focused or motivated. People who are depressed tend to isolate themselves. Anyone struggling with depression should seek help, especially if someone talks about suicide or alludes to the fact that the world is better off without them. This time of year can also highlight the loss of loved ones, increasing depression.

While this time of year can be physically and mentally draining for pet professionals, being aware of our limitations and those of the person standing next to us will go a long way in keeping the season joyful.

Yes, Dear…
layla decorative title as ornaments
by Anjie Coates
Photo by Anjie Coates
  • Layla is a Beagle mix I’ve groomed for her entire life, and she is known at the salon as being the happiest dog ever born.
  • Scissors
    “Hey, babe. You ready for your finish?” I ask as I kneel before her crate and open the door.
  • Dog
    Layla: “I’m ready! Catch me!” And she bounds into my lap.
  • Scissors
    “Oof! Easy on the jump there, kid. I’m not as young as I used to be,” I tell her.
  • Dog
    Layla gives me a flurry of kisses and head bonks as I carry her to the table.
  • Scissors
    “If only you were a happy dog,” I say sarcastically.
  • Dog
    Layla: “I am happy! I love my spa day! I love you! I love my bath! I love my finish!”
  • Scissors
    Next I file her nails and try to avoid her tail in my face as it whips from side to side.
  • Scissors
    “You are probably the only dog that loves nail trims this much. You know that?” I ask.
  • Dog
    Layla: “You’re touching me and that means you love me!”
  • Scissors
    “Yes, I do,” I reply as I kiss her head.
  • Dog
    Layla’s tail thumps in time to the Christmas music, and I am once again thankful for pool noodles covering the overhead bar on my table lest she bruises it.
  • Scissors
    “Are you excited for Christmas?” I ask.
  • Dog
    Layla: “I am! The Christmas tree is up! It’s so pretty! I love the Christmas tree.”
  • Scissors
    “I’m going to guess there are very few ornaments at the bottom of the tree,” I say.
  • Dog
    Layla: “How did you know!?!”
  • Scissors
    I look at the ever-wagging tail and grin, “Just a guess…”
  • Dog
    Layla: “I hope I get a new toy.”
  • Scissors
    “I’m going to bet a good girl like you will get a new toy,” I say.
  • Dog
    Layla hops up onto my chest and give me three quick kisses.
  • Scissors
    “Thank you. You need to stay on the table though, hun,” I tell her.
  • Dog
    She sits back down and continues to wag, despite sitting on half her tail.
  • Scissors
    “You are just fur-covered joy. I’ve never seen you have a bad day in all these years,” I say.
  • Dog
    Layla grins and leans against my stomach as I brush down her back with the boar bristle brush.
pine trees top border
  • Scissors
    “Well, what do you say we get your Christmas picture taken?” I ask.
  • Dog
    Layla: “Yay!”
  • Dog
    Layla hops as I lift her to carry her to the picture room with her tail beating loudly against my smock sleeve.
  • Scissors
    “OK, so now you have to pick a costume. You want to be an elf?” I ask.
  • Dog
    Layla: “Did that last year.”
  • Scissors
    “Right. How about a Christmas tree?” I ask.
  • Dog
    Layla: “Yes! I love that!”
  • Scissors
    I put her costume on and she wags wildly as I get it situated.
  • Scissors
    “Ok, lemme see that sweet face,” I say.
  • Dog
    Layla does her best to pose despite her entire back end wiggling.
  • Scissors
    “Gorgeous!” I tell her and hand her treat, but she doesn’t want it.
  • Dog
    Layla: “How about some Christmas hugs and kisses instead?”
  • Scissors
    And I reply,
    Yes, dear
Show Schedule
Barkleigh Productions Inc.
New Jersey
groom expo west
2/15/2024 – 2/18/2024
Pasadena, CA
groom expo
9/5/2024 – 9/8/2024
Hershey, PA

pet boarding & daycare
11/4/2024 – 11/7/2024
Hershey, PA
8/23/2024 – 8/30/2024
Pasadena, CA
(717) 691– 3388
all american grooming show
8/15/2024 – 8/18/2024
Schaumburg, IL
new jersey
4/4/2024 – 4/7/2024
Secaucus, NJ
northwest grooming show
4/25/2024 – 4/28/2024
Tacoma, WA
pet boarding & daycare West
5/20/2024 – 5/23/2024
Las Vegas, NV
new england grooming show
9/26/2024 – 9/29/2024
Springfield, MA
6/20/2024 – 6/23/2024
Wilmington, OH
groom texas
7/19/2024 – 7/21/2024
Houston, TX
fun in the sun
10/10/2024 – 10/13/2024
Orlando, FL
(717) 691– 3388
New Products
Petstar Limited ShakeYourTail Dog Grooming & Pet Software
ShakeYourTail is a redesigned state-of-the-art online scheduling service aimed primarily at dog grooming businesses, dog walkers, and doggy daycare centers. It offers a user-friendly interface that makes it easy to manage poodle parlours and other pet businesses. Far from being just another dog grooming software, ShakeYourTail is a comprehensive solution that serves as a pivotal tool for businesses looking to optimize their services. It helps with efficient scheduling, thereby allowing businesses to focus more on providing excellent service to their furry clients and their owners. Try for free for 30 days! www.shakeyourtail.com
Woman grinning holding Notes from the Grooming Table spiral notebook and holding smartphone as the screen shows the companion interactive digital experience application
Notes From the Grooming Table, authored and released by Melissa Verplank nearly 20 years ago, and purchased by tens of thousands of pet groomers worldwide, is now available as a digital book. The digital version of Notes From the Grooming Table allows users the ability of highlighting and bookmarking important information, freehand drawing on the pages with a stylus or a finger, searching the entire book in seconds for keywords, and of course the ability to view precise grooming illustrations and techniques for all breeds with an enhanced zoom feature. ParagonPetSchool.com/NotesDE
Call (717) 691-3388 ext 224 to place a Classified.
Rates: 25 words or less – $50.00 | Each additional word – $2.00 each
Classified ads must be prepaid | Call for issue deadlines.
Agency Discounts Do Not Apply.
Kenn-L-Kards Advertisement
Wisdom & Grace bible verse (John 16:33) sentence with a red flamed heat floating in the air and brown cross symbol floating above the heart with nine ray beam sun shaped lights in the distance
Groomer to groomer logo
Thanks for reading our December 2023 issue!