A Retailer's Guide to Professional Grooming

A hard and honest look into pet retailers’ battle to drive business to their brick-and-mortar stores in the face of growing competition from e-commerce.




The fight is on!


Retailers everywhere are adjusting to competition from e-commerce—a force that has been coming on strong for the past several years now. Online pet supply retailers are rapidly building market share as pet parents are attracted to the pricing, assortment and near immediate delivery that can be found on the internet today—and who can blame them? Even pet retailers themselves often shop these online marketplaces for many of the products they use in their everyday lives.


It’s time to stop thinking you can go head-to-head with e-commerce just on customer service and neighborhood feel alone, and start thinking about how your brick-and-mortar business can regain a competitive advantage. Luckily, there is one surefire way to give your store a leg up on the e-commerce competition—by offering pet services such as professional grooming.


In fact, professional grooming can have a particularly big impact in driving loyal and frequent traffic through your front door.


The Challenge

Of course, starting and managing professional grooming services in a pet store can be daunting. These services are often less profitable than retail sales, and they require talented individuals to provide the skill necessary to drive a successful endeavor. Ask anyone who has been in the grooming business for any amount of time and everyone will tell you the No. 1 complaint is, “I cannot find good groomers!” That’s not surprising, as staffing grooming salons has been a challenge for decades.


So, how do you find talented professionals to build your grooming department?


First, stop looking for groomers! Stop thinking there are great grooming professionals out there searching for a job. Stop imagining the perfect groomer walking through your front door. Stop spending countless hours and dollars on recruiting experienced groomers. There is no reliable measure of how many professional groomers are currently in the field, but given the trouble many grooming businesses across the country have in finding quality employees, the supply is most certainly exceeded by demand.


Take control of your growth by developing and training your own groomers. This shift in thinking will not only free you from the burden of searching for talented professionals, it will bring enormous benefits to your business.


First and foremost among these benefits concerns the culture of your business. Every business has a culture, and the energy it generates can be felt by staff and customers alike. With that in mind, an employee’s ability to fit your culture is crucial to the harmony of your business. This is particularly true of skill-based positions, which have the potential to greatly enhance the energy of your store.


When an individual is just starting a new career, they are the most impressionable. If you supply the training, you will be imprinting your culture into that person at the most critical time. This gives the employer the best chance of a harmonious culture.


It also gives you an opportunity to make sure your employees are engaged—and engaged employees are loyal employees. Remember second grade, when you received a gold star for a good grade? Or scouting, where you received a badge for an accomplishment? Those types of well-earned pats on the back or public recognition feel great, and they can go a long way with employees.


What about building an employee’s skills, their talents and their future? How far can this go to creating loyal employees?


At Paragon, we have a motto—“Education is Everything!”


Provide new hires with education, and they start off on the right foot. Provide education and achievement for existing employees, and watch them strive to get to the next level. Encourage and reward veteran staff members with continued education and watch magic happen. In all of these cases, the employees have a clear path for growth.


The Solution

Building a successful grooming staff starts with looking for people who have a love for pets, a passion for creativity and artistry, and a drive for personal growth. Even the best candidates will only go so far, though, without a great training program.


If you already have your own groomer-training program in place, take a moment to evaluate whether or not it is consistent and reliable. How many times have you gone back to the drawing board in an attempt to perfect it?


This is where the Paragon School can help with a systematic and proven method for creating your own groomers called the Paragon Distance Learning Program. This synergistic blend of reading, watching videos, practice, testing and mentorship is creating professional groomers every day in retail businesses across the country.


Why re-invent the wheel? The Paragon educational team has hundreds of years of combined experience retailers can put to work in growing their businesses. Stop looking for groomers and start growing your own! PB


Joe Zuccarello is the vice president of the Paragon School of Pet Grooming. For more information on any of the Paragon School of Pet Grooming Corporate Partner Discount Packages, education programs, educational resources, and more, visit ParagonPetSchool.com.


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