Table Talk
by Carol Visser
September 1, 2011
Since one size does not fit all, grooming tables these days come in various styles with a wide range of features for salons to choose from.



Groomers use tables for all sorts of things. Of course, they put dogs on tables so they can groom them at a convenient height, but tables fit in a lot of other places in a salon besides the styling area.

A table in the front of the salon allows groomers to easily check incoming dogs for matting, fleas, dry skin or any other issue that might require attention. Inspecting the pet before customers leave gives pet owners the opportunity to see the problem for themselves, and there are then more likely to agree to a fee for an additional service. Electric tables are ideal for this as they operate smoothly and are easy to put a big dog on.

Tables can be used for prepping, drying and even in the tub area or bathing room, where one might not think a table belongs. Some groomers use tables on wheels, electric or hydraulic, so they can move it right over to the tub, eliminating the need to lift the dog from floor to tub. With GFI outlets and a table specifically made for the grooming industry, the risk should be minimal, but it’s still sensible to question the manufacturer carefully as to the advisability of using their electric table in a water laden area.

Whatever your preferences, make sure you take all of the features of the table into consideration before purchasing one.


Electric
Electric tables are a godsend, especially for large dogs and groomers with bad backs. Most dogs will hop up or at least put their front feet up, allowing a groomer to simply give a boost.

Some tables advertise that they go as low as 12 inches from the floor, but check to make sure the grooming arm does not need to be removed for the table to lower fully. Some will carry a pet as high as 48 inches from the floor, making it a snap to do poodle feet, even for a tall groomer.

Make sure that the base is made in such a way that you can stand with your feet well under the table to reduce back stress from leaning over—some bases are as wide as the tabletop, which makes standing close awkward and using a stool impossible.

Mobile groomers may want to consider tables with accordion-type mechanisms, as they do not move to the side when raised as the Z-configuration ones do, thus reducing space used.

Most electric tables are 42 to 48-inches long and the standard 24-inches wide. Daryl Conner, noted speaker and author of “Practical Grooming Tips,” points out that as useful as a big table can be, it’s a lot of real estate for a little dog.

“Many groomers see the possibilities in a large table and don’t realize just how much a small dog can squirm away from you on that much surface area,” she says.

One solution is to use a Lazy Susan or a rotating table top that sits atop of your existing table but is only about 20-inches wide. She also recommends choosing tables with a pebbled surfaces, as the type with ribs are difficult to clean well. In addition, says Conner, “Try using an inexpensive yoga mat cut to size. They stay in place and are easy to wash clean.”

Electric tables move smoothly and can make grooming easier. However, remember that if the power goes out, you cannot move your electric table up or down.


Hydraulic
Hydraulics admittedly do not raise or lower as smoothly as electric tables, although some are close. Ask others in the industry or go to trade shows and try every one you can find to get an idea of the differences.

Any dog can be frightened of a table that moves up and down with a jerky motion. Make sure the hydraulic you are considering is stable as well. Some will wobble if a large dog gets a little shaky while on it. Most round-based tables have a height range of about seven to nine inches—or from 28 inches from the floor up to 35 to 37 inches. Scissor or Z-type lift mechanisms have a greater height range, from 15 to 22 inches, and may go as low as about 20 inches from the floor to as high as 42 inches. Table-top sizes from 30 to 42 inches long are common.


Folding
For years, the only option for groomers, the folding table is often overlooked these days. From the pint-sized table that can be carried into the grooming area at a show to one that is 24 by 46 inches and comes in either 30 or 24 inches tall, these basic pieces of equipment are still useful and very inexpensive.

Adjustable-height tables can be set up as “steps” into a tub and used as a drying area on the way back out. Although they must be upside down to re-adjust the height, these tables are still tremendously useful, as you can fairly easily adjust the height to suit the dog’s size or the groomer’s height.


Color Choices

Black was the default color for many years, but tabletops come in pink, blue, and even purple these days, which is great. Black, besides being boring, absorbs light-making it more difficult to see. It also holds heat in summer.  At least two manufacturers offer a lighted table top on electric tables designed to reduce eyestrain, and at least one manufacturer will custom color a hydraulic or electric table base to complement your salon’s color scheme or to match your cage bank.

Table tops can be found in round, oval, rectangular and even bone shaped, which allows the groomer to move in close to the dog.

Billy Chen, vice president of marketing and sales at ComfortGroom, suggests checking the shipping costs carefully, as a table that looks like a good deal can turn into a nightmare if you haven’t confirmed those costs–some tables must ship motor freight.

 Electric, hydraulic and stationary (folding) tables all have their place in a well-equipped grooming salon. The ease of electric tables especially for large dogs has made them popular choices, but there are times when a simple hydraulic or four-legged table is just what is needed.


Carol Visser is a Nationally Certified Master Groomer and Certified Pet Dog Trainer. Formerly a pet product expert for PetEdge, she and her husband Glenn now own Two Canines Pet Services in Montville, Maine, which provides grooming, boarding, training and day care services to Waldo County.