I have gone through a few 'Burnouts' during my grooming career.
The worst burnout that I ever suffered as a groomer almost made me stop grooming completely.
It was caused by a combination of working very long hours, six days a week for awhile, grooming 10 to 12 dogs a day, (sometimes more) and a boss who enjoyed playing mind games and never had your back.
Who would stay at a job like that?
A young/new groomer who didn't know better and didn't think anyone else would hire her.
I actually stopped grooming for a few months.
Then, when I went back to grooming, (because I really missed the dogs) I made the mistake of going Mobile.
It was a mistake at the time, because I was still slow, and mobile grooming was very new to the industry at that time.
I worked for the only Mobile grooming business in Maryland at the time.
She had 3 vans.
No HV dryers.
No gray water tank.
I can't tell you how many time people waved me down to tell me my van was leaking something. :/
Needless to say, I did not last long my first time out mobile grooming.
So I suffered a small burnout that time and quit the mobile.
My next burnout was years later.
Believe it or not, the next burnout was do to my shop growing too big, too fast and employee issues.
How hard could it possibly be to find good employees?
Drama, drama, drama.
I hate drama!
I can't tell you how many groomers I hired only to let them go within a week.
Late for work.
Rough with the dogs.
Arguing about the groom that they are told to do.
Arguing about the prices.
Upset because I refused to pay under the table.
Upset because I would not hire as IC's and took taxes out of their pay.
Told me they could groom six dogs a day, then could hardly finish three.
I had one groomer that did very good rough cuts before the bath, but refused to go over the dog with the clipper after the bath.
I had a another groomer, who was pretty good, quit because my shop hours at the time, (8am-6pm) did not give her enough time to groom five dogs. "I can't work here when you keep banker hours"
I had a bather work for me long enough to have me verify her employment so that she could buy a new car.
Oh, she also wanted me to tell the dealer that she was making twice as much as I was paying her.
They still sold her the car.
Then she walked out the next day.
After bathing a couple of dogs, she said that she was running up to the bakery for a coffee.
She got in her new car and drove away.
She had put the last dog she was bathing away in the kennel with shampoo still on him.
(We called the dealership back and told them that she quit.)
I had another groomer that would walk into work anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour and a half late for work.
On top of that, he asked how much I was charging for a dog before he would groom it.
If he didn't think the price was enough, he refused to groom it.
Needless to say, he did not work for me for long.
Those were just a few of the groomers that worked for me...if that is what you want to call it.
I have a had a few really good groomers over the years, but there always seems to be personal drama.
I did have three really good groomers, no drama, they were great with the dogs, and nice to work with.
None of them are grooming anymore. :(
So, I 'burned out' on hiring employees.
It has been 12 years since I hired anyone.
Wait, that is not true.
I did hire a friends daughter to be a bather.
She was actually a really good bather and employee, but her personal drama away from work did her in.
That was 4 years ago.
Now I feel another burnout coming on.
I am not sure what to do about this one.
This burnout is because of my customers.
Not the four legged, furry ones, but their owners.
I just don't know what is going on lately.
People seem to be becoming ruder and ruder by the minute.
Even some long time customers that have always been great to work with have become testy.
I have always dealt with customers that will lie to try to get their dogs in sooner for an appointment.
Customers who will tell you that their dog is not matted, or that it is a smaller size so that you will quote them a lower price (over the phone) for the groom.
Lately, it isn't customers complaining about the grooming, it is rude, petty things...
~showing up late for appointments, I mean 30 minutes or more late.
~picking up dogs after our closing hour.
~fussing that a harness was not put on right, I mean really making a big deal out of it and being nasty.
~canceling an appointment at the last minute and getting mad and rude with us when we can't give them another appointment right away.
~getting nasty because we are booked 8 weeks out, even though they were told to make an appointment before they left with their dog after the last grooming.
~more and more customers seem to be making tactless comments with no care about what they are saying being hurtful.
I don't know...maybe it is just me.
Maybe I have become overly sensitive.
Maybe it is because I can't say what I want back to people.
Last Friday was bad.
If someone had walked up to me, when I was closing me shop at 6:30pm (2 and half hours after my closing time) and asked me if I would like to sell my shop, I would have turned round and handed them the keys right then and there.
I had had it.
And, it was not because of the dogs.
Because of all the reasons I listed above happening all in the same day!
My daughter took the appointment for this dog.
The owner originally called asking to get an appointment for her Golden.
We only have kennels for three large dogs a day.
I only have three large dog kennels because we don't want to groom more than three large dogs a day.
Our large dog kennels are booked up till October.
When the Golden owner could not get her Golden in for a grooming she asked if we had an appointment for a Spaniel mix.
My daughter asked the owner how large the Spaniel mix was.
The owner told her that the dog was half the size of the Golden.
Now, I don't know about other groomers out there, but when we book for appointments, we try not to book too many big jobs in a day.
Not too many elderly dogs.
Not too many matted dogs.
Not too many once a year dogs, or double coated dogs.
Thankfully we have been open long enough, and are booked up enough that we can be a little picky about the way we plan our days.
Remember...we are trying to avoid burnout!
It would be an understatement for me to say that my daughter was very upset when the owner walked in with a Samoyed mix.
A Samoyed mix packed with undercoat.
A Samoyed mix very close to the size of most of the Goldens that we groom.
A Samoyed that is 13 years old.
Spaniel mix my bu**!
We were expecting Cocker size.
We were expecting a Cocker size, because that is the way the owner described the dog.
You can't tell me that in the 13 years of owning this dog that no one told her that her dog was mostly Samoyed.
On top of everything else, the owner wanted the dog clipped, but not shaved.
She did not want holes in the coat, down to the skin, like the last groomer did.
So Jessica bathed her and HVed out all of the undercoat.
Then she used a clip comb all over, blending in the head and tail.
It was a day with this dog, a petrified, matted rescue dog with a rude owner...
....a pelted, matted mess that had to be wetclipped.
Late customers dropping off their dogs.
One of the biggest Goldendoodles in the world that takes me 3 hours to groom.
Customers not picking their dogs up before your closing time.
Self serve customer not happy because we wouldn't groom their 90 pound dog the next day.
A customer calling to cancel their appointment 10 minutes before their appointment time, because they were moving that day. (did they just find out they were moving that morning?????)
Oh, and they were upset because they could not get an appointment for the very next week.
I know, I know, we have all experienced days like this.
I can take days like this once in awhile.
We just seem to be getting these types of days more and more.
I have also been grooming way too many special needs and biting dogs lately.
How do these people find me?
Still four weeks till vacation.
Hopefully that is all that we need....a vacation.
Boy, I really whined today, didn't I?
Friday is still sticking with me.
How do you get through a burnout with your customers?
It is not like I could fire all of them and start over.
I really have to try and concentrate on my nice customers more.
Do you think hanging a sign on my door saying 'We service only nice customers' would work?
Oh, that's right, nobody reads signs. :/
I'll be okay.
I have lived through burnouts before, I'll do it again. :)
Maybe I need to take some comedy tapes into work.
Some George Carlin, Billy Cosby, Ellen DeGeneres, Whoopi Goldberg.
Happy Grooming, MFF