A Sound System
Every grooming business should consider a bathing system, if it hasn’t already put one into use.
The grooming industry has become increasingly sophisticated and professional over the years, and along with this change has come increased sophistication in the equipment available to groomers. It’s difficult to know what equipment to purchase, especially in the case of high-ticket items such as bathing systems. Careful research is the best way to ensure a groomer makes the right choice for their salon.
Something as simple as a gallon jug on a shelf over the tub with tubes allowing gravity to feed diluted shampoo through a pistol type spray nozzle can be used to successfully deliver shampoo. Cosmos modeled a system after those used to deliver soda to pistol-type sprayers in bars. With this system, tanks under light air pressure (created by a small motor) push a diluted shampoo/water mix out through tubes to the bather’s hands.
A more sophisticated option is the Prima system, a tank with a motor that both mixes and delivers a shampoo mixture effectively through tubes to a sprayer in the hand. It has the added feature of being able to, with the turn of the knob, use the motor to move shampoo mixture from one separate gallon bottle to the sprayer, so that two shampoos (or perhaps a conditioner instead) can be used without additional purchases.
The advantage to these systems is that they are very easy to use, often economical and easy to repair. No permanent hook up into the plumbing is required, but some do require electricity. Disadvantages include the fact that cleaning and disinfecting can be difficult and time consuming, since as soon as shampoo is mixed, bacteria have a chance to hop in and multiply. In addition, shampoo and water must be mixed by hand.
There are also systems like the HydroFoamer and Hydrosurge’s Rapid Bath. The HydroFoamer is a sprayer system marketed to deliver chemicals mixed with water, similar to a lawn sprayer, which many groomers utilize for shampoo. Hydrosurge’s Rapid Bath is marketed for pet owners, but is increasingly being used in salons. It is a sophisticated sprayer system, but it can only be used with the shampoos provided with it. Both of these systems are limited by the amount of shampoo that can be put into the sprayer body at one time.
Bathmaster, Bathpro 5.1, Precision Pet Washer and Quadrabathe are examples of systems that depend upon either water pressure or water flow to create a siphon-like effect, pulling shampoo concentrate from a gallon to mix with water and air. Some systems pull from one container, while others are designed to use up to five different products, changing with the turn of a dial.
The advantages to these are that they are easy to use and do a great job getting the coat clean in a timely manner. A disadvantage is that they depend on water pressure or flow–both to apply the mixture with enough force to work well and dilute the shampoo at the proper rate. Depending upon the water supply, flow and pressure may fluctuate at varying times, causing dilution rates and effectiveness to vary. They also must be installed into the plumbing, which is more of a commitment than a portable system. Some systems are also meant to be used with the manufacturer’s shampoos–a good point to research before buying.
Recirculating systems are pumps that are placed into the tub, which is then filled an inch or two of water. A small amount of shampoo concentrate is added and the motor in the pump is turned on, so it mixes the shampoo with the water in the tub and pushes the mixture out a hose attached to the pump. Immediate suds and a powerful spray begin to move dirt off the coat right away. Once the pet is bathed, the pump is shut off, the water is drained, and the separate, original water source is used to rinse. There are many brands available.
An advantage of a recirculating system is there is no hand scrubbing needed, though the face and under the tail may benefit from a little extra attention, as the spray does a great job of cleaning. In addition, water and shampoo usage are reduced. Animals seem to like it, too.
There is one disadvantage that is common to both delivery and recirculating systems–the advantage of using higher dilution rates becomes a disadvantage when using flea and tick shampoos, medicated type shampoos or long lasting scent shampoos, all of which are meant to be used at a very specific dilution rate. Scented shampoos will still smell nice, but if they are labeled ready to use, diluting will mean the scent will not be long lasting. Medicated shampoo may not be as efficacious if over-diluted, and flea and tick shampoos used at incorrect dilutions can cause them to fail. An easy fix is to do a quick first wash with the system and then apply specialty shampoo by hand.
How much should be spent on a shampoo delivery system? Not more than it will provide in returns, which is a variable that must be figured out for each individual business. If $500 is spent on a system that saves five minutes per dog, the average single groomer will have recouped the investment back in less than three weeks. How? At an average of eight dogs a day, five minutes per dog nets an extra 40 minutes a day. That time could be used for bookkeeping or client calls, but if another short-haired dog was scheduled, that’s another $30 or so a day. In 16 days, the bathing system has paid for itself. That’s not even taking into account the savings from reduced amounts of shampoo, reduced costs due to heating less water and, unless water is provided by well, the cost of the water itself.
Every salon should consider a bathing system, since most reduce the amount of shampoo and water used. In addition, returns can come in forms other then financial, such as less chronic back pain, since groomers will spend less time bending over a tub scrubbing away. What is it worth to alleviate that?
Carol Visser is a Nationally Certified Master Groomer and Certified Pet Dog Trainer.