All groomers suffer some degree of groomer burnout during their grooming career.
Some burnouts can be caused by personal and family stress that has nothing to do with dog grooming, but will effect your grooming in the long run.
Most groomer burnout comes from overwork and long hours.
You get stressed and the dogs feel your stress.
This can cause the dogs to stress also, making them difficult to groom.
It can be a vicious cycle.
Are you suffering from groomers burnout at work?
Here are some of the symptoms:
~physically and mentally tired of everything: you have no get up and go left. You don't want to talk to people, or have anything to do with anyone.
~loss of passion for what you do: you used to love grooming dogs, but you don't care anymore. You don't care if you ever pick up a pair of clippers again, or touch another dog.
~Feeling alone, like you are the only one going through this: no one understands how you are feeling, not your husband/boyfriend/girlfriend, not your family, not your friends. After all, you play with dogs all day. How could you possibly be burnt out and stressed?
~Crying over small issues: Everything gets to you. A dog fusses about something as simple as taking off his collar...it makes you cry.
~Feeling like you forgot how to groom: you have been grooming for years, and suddenly you feel like you can't scissor a simple topknot right. Your dogs just don't look right to you anymore when they are finished and you don't know why.
~Feeling helpless to change things: you have to work, you have bills to pay. This is the career that you choose. You spent money to become a groomer. You still love dogs, but you don't know how to get rid of these feelings.
~Grooming on autopilot with no care for what you are doing: grooming has suddenly just become a job. A job to show up for, get done and leave. You have lost interest in what you are doing. Nothing changes. You are grooming the same dogs over and over again. There is no challenge in your job anymore. Nothing new. (this happens with Mobile groomers and groomers that have regular, repeat clientele, with no new clients to spice things up and challenge their grooming skills.)
~No motivation to get up and go to work: You just don't care, or want to go to work anymore. You can't wait until the work day is over with and you can go home.
~Feeling overwhelmed: You feel like there is too much to do, like you will never finish, like the end of the day will never come. You feel like every time you finish a dog, somehow it is magically replaced with another one.
~You are bored with grooming: Grooming is not exciting to you anymore. You don't get anything out of it.
~Feeling resentful: You are tired of working so hard every day, only to hear customers whine at you, or show up late for their appointments. Dealing with customers that make rude and tactless comments that hurt your feelings. In general, a total lack of respect for the job that you do.
Causes for groomer burnout:
~Long hours: Many groomers work 12 to 14 hours a day, with little to no time for lunch, or breaks, six days a week, just to try to fit in all of their customers, or keep the customers happy.
~Overworked and too many dogs in one day: Many groomers work at shops that want their groomers to groom as many dogs as possible. Other groomers try to groom a lot of dogs in order to get enough money to pay their bills. Many groomers don't know how to say 'no' and squeeze dogs in to keep customers happy.
~Grooming too many large or difficult dogs
~No support: Many groomers work alone and don't have anyone to help with difficult, or large dogs. They don't have anyone to talk to who understands the stresses of grooming.
~Negative Boss or co-workers: Once again, no support system, even though they work with other people. Daily co-worker drama, or a mean co-worker that makes the workplace unbearable. A boss that pushes and pushes and does not have your back when needed.
~Rude/ disrespectful customers: Just one rude customer can ruin a otherwise pleasant day of work.
~Bad/unsafe working conditions: Old, antiquated grooming equipment. Using unsafe products.
~Bad grooming equipment: Dull blades and scissors that are unsafe, and make you work longer and harder.
~Time stress: Getting all of those dogs out on time and when the customer wants them.
~Personal stress at home: Caring personal stress to work will effect the workplace. Dogs feed off of your stress, causing them to act up while grooming, causing you even more stress.
Unfortunately, a lot of good groomers have totally stopped grooming because of 'groomer burnout'.
Grooming is a very hard job, mentally and physically.
Long hours of standing, bending, brushing, clipping, scissoring, and struggling with wiggly, unruly dogs everyday can take a major toll of a groomers body over time.
Working on a live, moving animal, with a mind of its own can take a mental toll on groomers that are struggling everyday to be very careful not to injure the dogs in their care.
I have gone through several 'burnouts' in my 28 years of grooming.
One made me stop grooming for about 3-4 months.
That particular burnout was caused by long hours, no time off, too many dogs, and a mean, unfeeling boss.
I quit after my boss had me runnubg to the bathroom in tears.
After leaving a really good grooming job to help him open his own shop...
After opening and closing the shop everyday while he was going through his divorce...
After grooming, bathing, answering phones all alone everyday, because the boss would just up and leave for hours...
After spending extra time to help straighten out the business account after the wife left. (I had worked at a Bank and was good at numbers)...
After never taking a vacation in two years because the boss made me feel bad about taking any time off...
After all of that...
The boss came in one day and accused me of stealing $20 from the grooming receipts the day before.
The $20 dollars that I watched him take out of the box to go get beer the day before.
That was it!
I had had it!
I stopped grooming.
Not because I didn't like grooming anymore.
I just needed to get away.
I didn't go far. lol
I started working for a fellow grooming school student that had opened her own Mobile Grooming business, but I didn't groom.
I answered her phones and took appointments for her.
After a few weeks I really missed the grooming and started looking for another rooming job.
I eventually got another grooming job and have not stopped since. :)
I have still gone through a few small burnouts over the years.
Mostly due to building my grooming business and trying to support a family at the same time.
The burnouts were my fault.
I didn't keep up with the grooming industry.
There were new, faster, easier ways of grooming being developed all of the time, and I was not taking the time to go to Expos, or seek out new education about grooming.
I was lost in my own little grooming world and thought that I already know everything about grooming.
I was taking every dog that called.
Grooming too many dogs everyday.
Working from eight in the morning till seven at night.
Trying to please every customer that came in the door.
I also made the mistake of not raising my prices for years.
Yes, I said years.
I was so afraid of my customers being unhappy, or going someplace else, because I raised their prices.
All a customer had to do was complain that my prices were too high and I would back off.
Because I didn't raise my grooming prices, I also didn't raise my pay for almost 10 years. (I was paying myself a salary)
My groomers were making more money than I was. (They were 50/50 commission)
I was struggling with home bills and shop overhead.
Talk about stress!
I actually downsized my shop from 1200 sq ft to 500 sq ft to stay in business.
At the time, I had been in business for 12 years, and am very embarrassed to say that I had only raised my prices by $5 since I opened my doors.
As of 1998, I was still only charging $25 for a clip on a medium size dog.
Hey, I never claimed to be a business women.
I just happened to be a good groomer who owned a business. :-/
So what happened?
I started to go to grooming expos.
I found groomer forums.
I read about groomers having the same problems that I was.
I developed a backbone, although it is still a little weak sometimes.
I raised my prices!!
So after all of my rambling, how can you help yourself through the burnout?
First of all, I think that we have to come to terms that there are just going to be days that are not easy.
I am not saying expect bad days.
I am just saying that we need to realize that there are going to be hard days sometimes, but we will always get through them.
It is a fact that pet grooming is a hard, very physical job.
It is a fact that there are going to be days that you have difficult, crazy dogs.
It is a fact that there are going to be days that you have difficult, crazy owners.
There are some other facts....
The fact that you more than likely became a groomer because of your love of dogs and cats.
The fact that you want to make the dog feel good.
The fact that you can work with dogs all day.
Now, what do you do if you are already going through a burnout.
First you need to figure out what is causing your burnout.
Lets go through that 'causes of burnout' list again and see if we can fix some things.
~Long hours :
Figure out how many dogs that you can groom in an 8 hour work day...got that?...now don't take anymore!
Learn how to say 'no'.
It is the hardest word in the dictionary for some people to say...me included.
It has taken me years to learn to use this word.
I am much better now, although sometimes I still have a problem saying 'no'.
You must tell yourself that you do not have to groom everyone's dog when the owner wants them groomed.
You groom everyday.
It is not your fault when a customer suddenly decides that they need their dog groomed right now.
"I am so sorry, I can't physical groom another dog today, but I would be more than happy to groom your dog (insert day) when I am not so busy and I can spend the right amount of time that it will take to groom your dog."
If you really have a hard time turning away a dog for grooming the same day, here is a suggestion that I read on one of the grooming boards that I really love.
(All of this said very politely but firmly)
"I am so sorry, I have all of the dogs that I can physically groom today before our closing time. But, if you really need to have him groomed today, I can work 'after business hours'. For an 'after business hours' groom, the price is double the normal grooming price. Your dog is normally charged 45 if in good shape, so the 'after business hours' grooming price would be 90, or I could just schedule you for (insert date) at your normal grooming price."
People are going to beg.
So give them an option, and if someone takes you up on the after hours grooming, at least it was worth your while.
This can help take the stress off of you, feeling like you have to fit everyone in whenever they want.
~Overworked and too many dogs in one day: &
~Grooming too many large or difficult dogs:
~Grooming too many large or difficult dogs:
Take control of your schedule. Limit yourself to one large or difficult dog a day.
If you groom a lot of large dogs, schedule only the number of large dogs you can groom in a day.
Use a number, letter, or color system on your files.
If a large dog is an easy groom give the code number 1, or the letter A, or the color blue.
If they are difficult and require more time,(like equal to two dogs) give them the number 2, letter B, or color red.
That way, you, or the person making appointments can see at a glance how to schedule the dog so that you do not become overbooked.
They can schedual you two large number 1 dogs, or just one number 2 dog.
Another idea is to make one day of your week a light day.
Only small, medium size dogs.
Only easy clips.
Nothing large, nothing difficult.
No new customers.
Only regular customers that you already know what to expect for your easy day.
Remember, you deserve an easy day.
Make your easy day at the beginning of the week, or make it in the middle to give yourself a brake.
It is so hard, as groomers, to find people who are not groomers understand what we go through in our everyday grooming job.
Family tries, and they may understand some of the issues that we deal with, but they they don't understand everything.
I wish that I could say go to the groomer down the street and make friends, unfortunately that does not always work.
Making friends with groomers close by can be hard, because groomers tend to be so competitive.
Another groomer close by may think that you are just trying to be friends to steal some of their business.
It is sad.
So where do you find grooming support?
Find a groomers forum on-line.
If you are not crazy about interacting or posting, that is okay, just read.
Read, read, read.
You are bound to find another groomer who is dealing with the same thing that you are.
There is a lot of good advice on the boards.
You will see that you are not alone in feeling the way that you do.
You may also make a on-line grooming friend that you can talk to.
~Negative Boss or co-workers:
This is a tough one.
I wish I had a simple answer for this one.
It is mind blowing how just one co-worker can make a work place a living hell.
I worked at a Bank for almost 3 years before I became a groomer.
I really liked my job.
I worked in the reconciling department and found mistakes that were made on deposits.
There were 5 people in my department and we all got along great.
Then one of the girls left to become an at home Mom.
Her replacement was a girl from the twilight shift.
She started work and our nice little office became a living hell.
I started to hate going to work.
I luckily only worked with her for a few months before I left to go to Grooming School.
I have already told you about the Boss from hell.
I don't have a lot of advice for this particular burnout other than to say get out as soon as you can.
It may take some time, but start looking for a better work environment.
You could try to talk to a boss about a bad co-worker, but more than likely, if they are already letting the co-worker behave badly, they most likely are not going to do anything about that employee.
If you have a co-worker that uses your tools when you are not there, invest in a tool-box that has a nice strong lock and lock your tools up when you are done.
Don't stress yourself by confronting the person, just lock up your tools.
The message should be clear.
As for a bad boss..no one deserves to be treated badly.
There should be mutual respect.
Do not let a boss verbally abuse you.
Do not let a boss use you, and not allow you a lunch, or reasonable time off.
Don't be afraid to look for another job.
I stayed with my bad boss for so long, because he had me convinced that no one else would hire me.
That I would not be able to find another job.
No one deserves to be treated badly at work!
~Rude/ disrespectful customers:
You are a groomer and you deserve respect!!!!
Your customers also deserves respect.
Unfortunately, there are rude, mean people out there.
You can never totally get away from them.
But, you can control how you deal with them.
Kill them with kindness!
Now, this does not in any way mean bend over for them.
It means be very polite as you correct them, educate them, or turn them away.
I had a customer bring her dog in on the wrong day for grooming a couple of weeks ago.
This was not the first time that she had done this.
How I corrected her without offending her:
Customer: "Here is B....for her appointment. You didn't call to remind me yesterday."
Me: "Oh, I don't think that I have her on for today. Let me check," I told her even though I already knew that she was not do in that day. I double checked my clipboard and then went to my computer to find were her appointment actually was.
Me: "I found your appointment. It is for next Friday."
Customer: "It is, I thought that it was today."
Me: "I am sorry, I wish I could fit her in today, but I am totally booked. How about I give her eyes a quick trim and brush her out to tide her over for another week and then we will see her next Friday."
Some groomers may think that I was being too drippy sweet.
I don't think that you can be too drippy sweet.
If it keeps the stress down...be drippy sweet.
That customer went away in a good mood even though her dog was not groomed and she would have to come back later.
I have had customers come in mad and in a bad mood, and leave smiling, because I de-stressed the situation with smiles, understanding, and some jokes.
It is not always easy to treat customers with respect when they so obviously are not treating me with respect, but in those cases I just try to remind myself that I am the better person.
And, I truly believe in karma!
So, for this burnout cause, all I can say is deal with the rudeness and disrespect the best way that you can.
Do not become rude and disrespectful yourself.
Unfortunately, we as groomers don't all have the luxury of turning away customers for being late, but we do control when and if they get their next, or another appointment. :)
There is no law out there saying that you have to groom for every customer that calls you.
If a customer has been rude and disrespectful to you, you do not ever have to groom their dog again.
There are plenty of good dogs and good dog owners out there to groom.
~Bad/unsafe working conditions:
This is another reason for leaving a grooming job to find something better.
The shop that you work at should provide you with a safe clean environment.
It is stressful to you and the dogs if you are overheated from grooming in a hot grooming room with no air conditioning, or ventilation.
You should not have to deal with bathing tubs that back up with dirty water, or standing on a wet, soapy, slippery floor.
You should have help available when needed for difficult dogs.
~Bad grooming equipment:
Yes, bad grooming equipment can make grooming stressful and help to cause burnout.
Dull scissors cause you to have to struggle to cut the coat properly, and takes a lot of extra time.
You can also not cut a coat properly with dull blades, that are also very dangerous to use.
Good quality driers will help you to dry dogs more quickly helping to lessen time stress.
Good quality shampoos and really good hand washing, or good bathing equipment, will help to speed up bathing, and get the dog good and clean without multiple bathes.
Good brushes and combs, used the right way will also help to speed up grooming.
Look for those grooming tools out there that will help you save your hands.
Money tight...buy one new, good tool a month to build up a nice, high quality grooming tack-box.
Time, time, time!!! When will my dog be done? Why does it take so long? Why isn't my dog done yet?
Time...the bane of groomers existence.
Don't even think about asking me about time when I am not at work.
Learning to manage your time helps big time with stress.
Learning to mange your customers about time outs also helps you from having stressful days.
The first thing that groomers must know is just how long it takes them to groom.
As I have said many times before in my posts, no two dogs are the same, even if they are the same breed.
Get a notebook to keep by your table for a week.
List the dogs in small, medium, large, ex large categories.
Time how long it takes you to bathe each dog.
Dry each dog.
Finish each dog.
After you have done this for a week, go over all of your times and average out how long it takes you to completely groom the dogs from start to finish.
Ex: small simple clips - @1 hour ( 10 minutes to bathe,15 minutes to dry, 30 minutes to finish) medium simple clips - 1 hour to an hour and fifteen minutes, large simple clip - hour and a half to two hours.
This will help with scheduling your day and when you tell your customers when to come back for their dogs.
One of the hardest things for a lot of groomers is (well it used to be hard for me) letting customers bully you into getting their dogs out as fast as possible.
I no longer let customers do that to me.
When a customer is questioning me about how long, I tell them that it is not up to me...it is up to their dog.
I tell them I groom for their dog.
I groom at their dogs pace.
If their dog likes the grooming, and is good, I can get him/her done in XX amount of time.
If their dog is scared, old, or difficult I have no idea when I will be finished grooming, because I have to work at the pace that the dog sets.
I give the owner a time that they can call to check on their dog.
Then and only then will I be able to give an exact time for pick up.
This has always worked very well for me.
My customers a very pleased that I am putting their dog first and thinking of their dogs well being.
When a customer pushes for me to groom their dog quickly, ( a lot of puppy owners do this) I tell them that I want the grooming experience to be as pleasant as possible and that rushing them through and stressing them out will not make it pleasant.
Have a chart with a list of out times on it.
As you tell a customer when their dog should be done, write that dog in that 'out time' spot so that you do not tell more than one person that their dog will be done a 1pm.
Pick up chart
and so on......
If an owner calls while you are still finishing another dog, and their dog is next, you will know what time to tell them to pick up because you have timed yourself and you know how long it will take you to finish the dog you are currently working on (10 more minutes), and how long it will take to finish their dog (30 minutes).
So you tell the owner that they can pick up their dog in 40 minutes right?
Right and wrong.
I am going to add one more little thing that I do to help with time stress.
Even though I know that I should have that dog finished in 40 minutes, I add an extra 15 minutes for unexpected delays.
Such as answering the phone, or having to take time to take another dog up to a customer.
The extra 15 minutes is a safety net for me.
Especially for those owners that come sooner than the time I gave them.
Tap, tap, tap.....
You still there?
Is your head spinning yet?
Have I helped anyone at all with all of my ramblings?
Grooming can be so stressful.
You must set aside some 'ME' time for yourself.
Find a hobby that you can sit quietly at night and do.
I used to paint ceramics when there was still a ceramic store in my area.
It was so relaxing.
Fooling with pictures and blogging help me relax now.
If you feel burnt out, take some time off.
Can't afford a week off, take a long weekend.
Turn off your phone.
Lay in bed all day if you want.
Go for a walk.
Spend the day by yourself.
Get a pedicure.
See a funny movie.
Read a book.
Rent comedy dvds, Cosby, Ellen, Whoopie and sit in bed watching all of them all day and laugh your ass off.
Don't even think about grooming.
You owe yourself a day for yourself.
What I do to help keep burnout away:
~Every morning on my way to work, I just say thank you.
I find as many things as I can think of to say thank you for.
Thank you for another beautiful day.
Thank you for my families health.
Thank you for having a job that pays my bills.
Thank you for my customers.
Thank you the skill that I have.
I think you get the picture.
It does not matter what you believe in, or who you are thanking, just say thank you.
~I also tell myself that today will be a good day.
Today the dogs will behave.
Today the customers will be happy.
Today all of the dogs will stay safe.
I try to send as much good karma out there as I can.
I think one of the hardest things to do is to stay positive.
It is so easy to let negative thoughts slip into your head.
When a negative thought does slip in, and they do, I try to stop it right away and turn it around to something positive.
You really think that I am crazy now don't you? :-p
~ I hug the dogs.
Stop and hug the dogs.
I hug every dog before and after I groom it.
Don't ever forget that you are working on a living, breathing thing that has feelings.
Even the mean, difficult ones need to feel loved.
If you can't hug the mean, difficult ones, take a minute to talk and pet them.
It does help!
It helps to relax them and you.
~I do not normally look at what is coming in the next day.
I don't want to spend my down time worrying about how many dogs I have the next day, or who is coming in for a grooming.
Worrying about the dogs that I have to groom the next day is not the least bit productive in my opinion.
I am going to have to groom the dogs one why or another the next day, so why worry about it until I actually have to groom them.
~Redesign your grooming space.
When I feel like I am stuck in a rut, I move my grooming table around.
I reorganize my tools.
I find tools that I forgot that I had.
It makes me want to groom and use those tools that got lost in the bottom of my drawer.
~I go to Grooming expos.
Grooming conventions and expos help to rejuvenate my passion for grooming.
I like looking at the new equipment that has come out.
I like buying samples of shampoos.
I like talking to other groomers.
I like watching other groomers groom and picking up ideas from them.
I like the fun of an expo.
One of the biggest attitude changes that I have made since I began grooming is, that I groom for the dog!
Yes, I want my customers to be happy, and I give them very good customer service, but I groom for their dog, not them.
I want the dog to be happy.
I want the dog to feel good.
I want to help the dog enjoy grooming.
I am there for the dog...not the owner.
These are some of the things that help me keep from becoming burnt out of a career that I love.
Okay....now that I have made you burnout just reading this post, I will shut up now.
I hope that this post helps someone suffering from groomers burnout... at least a little. :)
Happy Grooming, MFF