Mary’s Musings
Stay Organized With Checklists on an illustrated clipboard with pen
by Mary Oquendo
I asked a question on Facebook regarding what topics readers would like me to cover, and the first response I got had to do with organization. I’ll admit to actually vibrating with joy, as this is a skill I’ve learned to master since my natural inclination can only be described as chaos.

Disorganization wastes time, and time is a commodity that cannot be replaced—only managed effectively. But how exactly does disorganization waste time?

Tasks are forgotten or need to be redone because you forgot a step; time is spent looking for supplies that may or may not be there; money is wasted overnighting supplies which may or not be in stock. All of this and more slows down your ability to get things done.

My secret weapon for organization is my checklists. A checklist is exactly as the name implies—a list of things that need to be checked off. And here’s how they can help you stay organized:

  • They allow you to focus on the task at hand, thereby saving time.
  • They make it easier to delegate tasks to someone because you don’t have to take the time to explain the task to them.
  • You can train new employees quicker when all the tasks are spelled out and the new employee has something to reference.
  • You don’t skip a step and end up having to waste time redoing a task.
  • They increase motivation because you can take the necessary action, as you know exactly the order of the steps.
  • They allow you to complete repetitive tasks quicker and more efficiently.
  • They increase excellence in the care of pets and their owners, as you are consistent with your interactions and policies.

Here are some tasks around my salon that I have found checklists extremely helpful with:

1. Supply Inventory.
  • Any category of supply, such as cleaners, shampoos, conditioners, accessories, first aid kits, etc.
  • How many of each product you keep on hand.
  • What indicates an order be placed.
  • The step-by-step procedures for ordering said supplies.
  • A similar list can also be used for retail items.
2. Tool Inventory.
  • Tools used, such as blades, scissors and clippers.
  • How many of each should be kept on hand.
  • What indicates a tool be sent out for sharpening or repair.
  • Procedures for sending tools out for sharpening or repair.
3. Opening the Business.
  • Step-by-step instructions from when the key goes into the lock to enter the business through unlocking the doors for clients.
  • For mobiles, it would be what gets you out of the driveway.
4. Closing the Business.
  • Step-by-step instructions from the time the last client leaves and you call it a day.
  • This should include all client and financial paperwork.
5. Client Check-in and Check-out.
  • Check-in would include scripts on how to assess the pet for health, discuss the feasibility of the requested grooming, what paperwork needs to filled out and discuss pricing.
  • Check-out would include scripts on setting up the next groom and collecting payment.
6. Bathing Procedure.
  • The step-by-step process for how to execute a bath.
  • How to choose products and tools.
  • Under what circumstances any grooming is done in the tub.
7. Grooming Procedure.
  • This is your step-by-step process for completing a groom (everyone does it differently!)
  • Include your policies regarding dematting, senior pets, puppies, etc.
8. Drying Procedures.
  • Include all methods used, whether it’s done in the tub, tabletop or in a cage, the process for each should be well documented.
  • Also include how you determine which method to use.
9. Spa Services.
  • The process for each service.
  • Scripts for how to sell them.
10. Sanitation Protocols.
  • Include the steps for cleaning in between pets and end-of-day.
  • What products should be used.
  • Who is responsible to clean what.
11. Human and Pet Injuries.
  • Steps for dealing with an accident, including first aid, outside medical attention, emergency contacts, insurance and debriefing.
  • An emergency can send you into panic mode instead of thinking clearly, so following a checklist can get action started and give the brain a chance to reconnect.
12. Emergency and Disaster Plan.
  • This should include a shelter in place as well as an evacuation plan.
  • Many states require businesses to have either a practiced verbal or written plan.
13. Taking Payments.
  • Step-by-step for taking payments by each method (cash, check, CC, etc.)
  • If you utilize a POS (point of sale) system, be sure this is included too.
14. Phone Calls.
  • Create scripts for how phones are answered and how calls (and texts) are returned.
  • Also include the process for reminder calls and who is responsible for doing them.

As the self-proclaimed “Queen Of Checklists,” I can see at a glance what I have, what needs done and what I need before it runs out. And, while there is an initial investment of time to create them, checklists have streamlined my business so that I can finish earlier and know whether or not I can take on another project.