Stop Looking for Groomers...Grow Your Own

Joe Zuccarello, vice president of sales, marketing and business development for the Paragon School of Pet Grooming (, discusses how the Paragon Distance Learning Program is leveraging the latest technology to produce highly skilled grooming professionals.




When surveyed, grooming business owners and operators consistently point to building and maintaining a highly skilled staff as one of their biggest challenges. What role do educational organizations in the grooming industry play in making this challenge easier to overcome? This is true. In fact, when Paragon recently surveyed nearly 10,000 grooming shop owners and/or managers, 85 percent of respondents reported that their grooming businesses do not have enough groomers. This is not a new challenge; it has been an issue for decades. Unfortunately, it is the pet and pet parent who have the most to lose because of this shortage.


Grooming businesses can barely keep up when they are short-staffed, and the turmoil this causes goes well beyond their inability to grow. It adds stress for the remaining employees and managers and causes loyal pet parents to seek out options that are more available. Some pet parents are forced to lengthen the time between grooms or begin to attempt to groom their pets at home.


As with any skilled trade, education is not only the beginning to a new career, but also key to enhancing one’s abilities. Learning improves quality while increasing speed and quantity. All of this equals more money for the individual and the business. Plus, talented groomers become more available to pet parents.


Unfortunately, the “trade” of professional dog grooming is not promoted like other careers. Usually, groomers learn from other groomers—that’s the way it’s always been done. This method is not creating enough groomers, and never will. The demand for groomers is too high. Because someone is a great groomer, this doesn’t necessarily make them a great teacher. What’s more, great groomers are often just too busy to teach. That’s where a strong grooming educational program like Paragon steps in to help.



How do the elements of a well-rounded grooming education complement one another to create high-quality professionals? The Paragon School of Pet Grooming believes in a synergistic approach to grooming education. It could take days, weeks or even months in a traditional shop to experience everything a grooming student needs to know.


The Paragon grooming education introduces students to these experiences in a proven, systematic way. We focus on how people learn. Concentration is placed on key knowledge and skills. Our system uses reading, studying, video instruction, practicing techniques, collaborating with mentors and passing tests. This ensures the learner stays on track, progressing through the programs successfully.



How has groomer education evolved over the years? How has technology improved the process and access? Traditionally, a new groomer would start off as a bather in a shop. Many didn’t even know they were going to end up being a groomer one day. While most bathers come and go, some stick around. They pick up their education over several months or years to become a groomer. Their skills range from below average to master level. The difference between skill levels was dependent on too many factors to even begin to list.


Technology such as video, remote mentorship and web-based schools has begun to dramatically reduce the barriers to learning. Today, a grooming student has a much greater chance at success.


The Paragon School of Pet Grooming embraces technology. It steps in, side by side with the student. Relying on a digital learning platform offers personal growth. This opportunity also enhances the businesses they will be a part of. The emotional and relational aspects of this industry will always make it high-touch, but high-tech solutions are changing the rules for the better.



How important is continuing education in the grooming field? Is there enough focus among professional groomers in this area? Continuing education equals more income potential—period. At Paragon, we believe in the concept of “Learn More, Earn More.” Professional pet groomers are artists. The very best artists are those who continue to seek out new techniques, new methods, new skills and new tools. They put all of these to work in mastering their craft.


Unfortunately, grooming is a physically exhausting job, leaving very little time, energy or desire for professional development. This is where technology such as the new Paragon Distance Learning Program comes in. Whether you are at the shop, at the store, at home, in bed or anywhere else, our program is everywhere you are. From a library of hundreds of grooming videos to a mobile-friendly online learning curriculum, all you need is your laptop, tablet or smart phone.



What sets Paragon School of Pet Grooming apart from other organizations that focus on educating groomers? Our founder, Melissa Verplank, is an industry icon. She's a Certified Master Groomer and a sought-after international speaker and judge. She is also an award-winning competitor and successful business leader. Melissa is the author of the industry’s most complete grooming guides, Notes from the Grooming Table and Theory of Five. Her vision for the improvement of the professional pet grooming industry is Paragon’s main driver. Education in the pet grooming business is all we do.


Our programs offer a level of unmatched experience and depth. Our method is proven every day in our on-site grooming school. It's also delivered to thousands of industry professionals on-demand through the internet. Plus, our books reach groomers around the globe. Our team is comprised of industry experts and Certified Master Groomers. Together, they have hundreds of years of combined experience in grooming, business, marketing and customer relations. If you want to learn to groom, groom better and grow your business through increased grooming services, Paragon is your best choice.



Tell us about the new program launched by Paragon School of Pet Grooming this summer. What makes it innovative? Stop looking for groomers! The new Paragon Distance Learning Program is designed for individuals who are new to the pet grooming field. It's a solution for pet supply retail businesses offering grooming services. It's perfect for the salon owner/manager who is struggling to find groomers and doesn’t have the time or ability to teach.


It's no secret that the retail landscape is changing. Many savvy retailers are adding services to drive foot traffic. Grooming is one of those services with steady repeat clientele potential. However, training groomers and reducing employee turnover is difficult. Plus, training groomers to maintain quality, support growth and increase appointment availability is almost impossible without a solid training program. This is why Paragon's program is so attractive to pet supply retailers.


The Paragon Distance Learning online program allows students to learn at a comfortable pace, but it's effective and the students are productive quickly.


Paragon’s team of experts partners with the student and management to make sure everyone is successful. We promote and encourage you to hire people who fit in to your culture and let us help you with training them for the job.


What does the future hold for Paragon School of Pet Grooming as well as groomer education in general? Paragon continues to develop new and innovative ways to enhance the abilities of our students. Our goal is to introduce more well-rounded professionals in the industry. Paragon partners with influential experts, service providers, top products and brands. This alignment will be a resource Paragon alumni can rely upon for years to come. When it comes to enhancing your skills or your pet grooming-related business, the Paragon School of Pet Grooming would love to talk to you. PB


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