Choosing a Pet Groomer

When it comes to choosing a business and groomer to care for your pet’s grooming needs you likely have an abundance of options. It can be a series of trial and error to find the right groomer for your needs. Once you choose a grooming salon, how do you know if you picked the right one for you? In this article you will learn the difference between a groomer and a good groomer, and get assistance with making a decision on which groomer is the best fit for you and your pet.

Business Model

Stationary salons, house-call, and mobile groomers offer multiple ways to serve you. Your schedule and your pet’s preference will likely determine which business model you choose to patronize. Stationary salons are most common and usually require drop-off and later pick-up. This might be convenient if you like to run errands or tackle housekeeping without your furry companion. House-call groomers typically bring their equipment, use your bathing areas and electricity, and complete the grooming in your home. Mobile groomers bring the entire salon in a compact package right to your home or office. The entire process is completed straight through and removes the time and hassle of toting a dirty dog across town. A mobile might be the best fit for your dog if they don’t enjoy the activity level of a stationary salon or being caged.

Experience & Education

The grooming industry is not regulated like the human cosmetology industry. Groomers are not required to attend a school or take regular classes for continuing education. Groomers can enter the workforce with a little or a lot of education. Groomers may be self-taught or have completed an apprenticeship or formal schooling.  Any of these forms of education can produce a good groomer. A true professional groomer will choose to attend continuing education seminars and should have certificates to show for it.

A groomer should know about common medical issues, safe use of restraints, proper sanitation, accident prevention, first-aid, common breeds and their styling, and suitable pet trims for mixed breed dogs. Don’t be tempted to choose a groomer based solely on their years of experience. There are many groomers with less than 2 years of experience that would be a better choice than a groomer with over 20. You need to evaluate the groomer on the whole, not just their education and years of experience.

Erika Elfstrom was trained as an apprentice and continues to attend seminars every year. She has owned and operated Doggie Works Mobile Grooming since 2008. Her years of experience, combined with her professionalism and skill, has made her a successful groomer.

Legitimate Business

Like many other industries, you can find groomers and salons that do not operate a legal or ethical business. Grooming salons (remember, groomers themselves are not licensed like a hair dresser) are required to obtain business permits/licenses through the county and/or state. It is not required for businesses to carry liability insurance but a responsible business owner will purchase coverage to protect themselves and their customers. A true professional groomer will properly establish their business and maintain their licenses and insurance. Do not trust your pet’s care to a groomer/salon that doesn’t run their business legitimately.

Erika Elfstrom and Doggie Works Mobile Grooming operates a legitimate business with all required permits/licenses and carries liability coverage.

Price

Prices for grooming services can vary between grooming salons and from grooming salons to mobile groomers. Typically, groomers establish their prices by calculating the cost of operating their business and divide that by how many grooms the can do. Price can’t always tell you how good a groomer is. Some groomers are mediocre in their quality but have high over-head. Some groomers have to keep their grooming prices low to get more dogs in the door, perhaps to compensate for a lack of skill. Once you choose a groomer ask yourself, is the service they provided worth what I paid? When considering the relatively higher cost of mobile grooming, keep in mind that the groomer is taking their time and fuel to drive to you.

Erika Elfstrom does not groom a high-volume of dogs, ensuring she is able to dedicate the time she needs to perform a quality service. 

Knowledge

There is a lot more to grooming dogs than just combing and scissoring. Groomers handle every part of the pet, getting a close look at their skin, eyes, ears, coat, feet, etc. Dogs are individuals, with their own personality, likes, dislikes, and quirks. Groomers need to know how to evaluate a pet and tailor the service to the dog’s specific needs. Pet Groomers should have a solid understanding of the common pet trims. Some groomers may have a breed that they specialize in grooming. For most pet owners, selecting a groomer that is familiar with their breed (or the owner’s desired styling) and has an understanding (or willingness to learn) about the pet’s special conditions should suffice.

Erika Elfstrom has years of experience caring for many dogs and their many needs. She takes the time to understand what the pet owner wants and what the pet needs. She is experienced in grooming nearly every common AKC breed and a few of the more rare breeds. She is knowledgeable and will bring any concerns to the pet owner.

Personality & Customer Service

Finally, the last key to success in selecting a groomer is finding one who’s personality “clicks” with the owner and the pet. It is not a fault but simply fact, not all pets and groomers get along. This is one area that you can’t determine until after a groom, sometimes a few grooms. It is common for dogs to be hesitant to go to the groomer, they do the awful stuff like cutting nails and finding tangles. Here are some positive signs to look for after the groom:

  • Your dog comes back from the groomer fairly relaxed and happy.
  • The groomer provides positive feedback about the grooming experience.
  • If there were any challenges during the grooming, the groomer discusses these in an objective and professional manner. Ideally, the groomer would have suggestions or a plan to improve the situation moving forward.
  • The groomer asks for your feedback and is willing to make adjustments to the styling as needed to fit your expectations.