In conversations with other grooming shop owners, I often find that they are all so concerned about keeping their staff, that they end up doing things that are over the top.
Here are some of these things, from my own experience, and theirs:
In our desire to build our business and to get the help that we need, we can sometimes feel a little bit desperate to make the people that work for us happy. We want them to continue working and appreciate us, however, what we are really doing is letting them take advantage of us.
Think for a moment about a spoiled child. When that child wants something, he gets it. The child learns how to manipulate any situation to get his way, and comes to expect that he can act however he wants, and get everything handed to him. While the parent may be doing this for love, the result is that the child is spoiled and does not respect his parent. Parents need to set clear boundaries and establish rewards for good behavior, and discipline for bad behavior. In this way, the child grows up with a feeling of security, and with known limitations.
If you are unwilling or unable to set clear boundaries for your staff, you’ll be perceived as weak and marked as someone who can be taken advantage of, just as the above example of the spoiled child. Even though you may be trying to be the “Cool Boss”, the reality is that you are setting up a situation where the employee is in charge, and that is the exact opposite of what you want to achieve. When I use this example with shop owners, they are often appalled at the situation they are creating!!
Rather than over-giving, take some time to consider setting better boundaries, and setting up an appropriate reward system.
Here are some ideas for Rewards and Raises when your employees have earned them:
Remember: Spare the rods, spoil the employee.
Need help Setting Up the Rules for Your Shop? Stay tuned for my next post
Are you afraid of addressing conflict? Would you rather “turn the other cheek” than meet something head on? Well, you’re not alone. Most people go out of their way to avoid the uncomfortable feelings that arise when problems are brought to the surface.
But, as Margaret Heffernan says:
“You cannot fix a problem that you refuse to acknowledge.”
In my last post, I talked about changing the energy in your shop. I truly believe that in order to have the kind of shop you dream of, you must first be willing to overcome your fear of confrontation.
In my opinion, a lot of our fear of confrontation comes from how we were raised. For instance, in my own personal life, my family does not do confrontation. They do not like to discuss emotional issues at all. I can’t remember a single situation where dealing with conflict made anything better, or were anything really got resolved. Most issues were dealt with by talking about the issue with someone else (another family member or friend), and were not addressed head-on.
So what was the message that I was sent?
Confrontation is a big, scary thing, and should be avoided at all cost. You hold on to emotions and resentment, but never come to any solution.
Obviously, this became an issue that I needed to address, and a behavior that I needed to change as a business owner. I had to learn how to confront situations and find solutions, while being empathetic to my own staff. It has taken me many years to do this, but the best advice I can give you is this:
Simply put, all people have issues. They are all going through stuff, and most people can’t split their personal life from their work life.
This is where you step in with your super new skill set.
Put on your Big-Girl-Pants and pretend you are the Captain of the ship. Your job is to direct the ship, but also look after your crew so that they feel safe and supported. Their job is to help you get to where you want to go in the best way possible. You need to rally them to work for you, work together, and remind them that you all will get there faster if everybody works together. By demonstrating strong skills as a leader, your crew will happily follow along. (Arrrrrrrrrrrr!)
If you are having a problem with an employee that you need to address…
Try to take a more objective point of view (Remember that it’s not all about you!!) This will help your employees to relax and have a deeper conversation with you. Listen as much as you can before you make any decisions or give any advice. One thing I do is pull them aside for a private conversation and ask what is going on with them. I then tell them what I have observed in terms of their behavior, without judgement.
Try diffusing the situation. Speak calmly, ask questions that get to the core of their issue, worries, or matter at hand. Find out what is really bothering them, it probably isn’t what you think!
Be careful not to fall into the trap of thinking YOU KNOW what is Wrong. Whenever I do this, I immediately realize I am wrong and the issue is always something entirely different.
Hold them accountable for their behavior. This is a human being that is going through a situation and showing you a particular behavior. Your job is to go in and find out what is happening, show to them how it is affecting the shop, and come to a solution. But, the most important thing is that this person needs to realize that their behavior is affecting other people, and your shop. Do what you can to convey this message to them and help them to realize that they are responsible for the energy that they bring to work, every single day.
Document your discussions. Make sure that you keep track of the details, dates, and specifics of your conversations for future reference.
This process may feel awkward at first, but as you practice this process over and over, you will begin to see positive results. You will see how well your employees respond, and how they begin to trust and confide in you. And, you will begin to feel more comfortable with addressing conflicts early, rather than avoiding them. This will get your employees back on track faster, and improve the mood and energy so that it feels good for everyone that comes in your shop.
You come into work and one of your employees is not talking, not participating in anything, keeps their back to you, and you realize they are having an “off” day. Even when you try to pull them into conversation, they keep their answers short. It’s obvious that something is wrong, and they don’t want to talk… at all.
Have you ever observed how the rest of the people in the room are also quiet, and the entire mood starts to change because of this person? You may become worried, or anxious and wonder why this person is acting this way. You probably even personalize the situation, trying to find out if it has something to do with you:
Did I do something?
Are they going to quit?
Was it something I said?
The feeling in the shop is one of doom and gloom, and everybody around is trying to figure out what went wrong, and make sure nothing else goes wrong.
You come into work and one of your employees is smiling, gives you a big “Hello! How’s your day?” They are joking with the other staff, and as you look around everyone else is smiling or laughing, the mood is light, and you feel your own mood becoming uplifted.
I recently had this realization–not just how everyone else’s mood affects the people around them–but in particular, how my mood does as well. I began to experiment with changing the mood of the shop by changing how I was handling situations. And, I noticed something really interesting… whenever I was able to shift my perspective and energy — the rest of the room followed — it really worked!!
This was a profound realization for me! Being able to turn the situation around and realizing that I had the power to do something different meant that I didn’t just have to sit around worrying or walking on eggshells. I could address the situation in a new way, and almost immediately defuse the situation, and turn it around into something positive.
I shared this with my staff in a meeting, and spoke about the importance of being responsible for yourself, and what energy you bring into the room.
This is especially important in the pet grooming industry, because your energy affects everyone around you, and it affects the animals, as well. We discussed the importance of the “Shop Energy” and talked about the importance of adding to the positive energy, rather than taking it away. Here’s how:
Be responsible for the energy you bring into the room
Realize that your energy does affect others
If someone in the room is bringing it down, try to not be affected by it — or, if you can…
Try to change the energy of the room back to positive.
We can change the energy in a room, a persons mood or perspective, just by choosing to handle a situation in a certain way. In my next post, I’m going to discuss how to have these conversations with your staff to help turn things around.
If you have been following along on my blog, you know that I write a lot about having systems in place and using them to move your business forward.
Recently, I went through a period of time where one system wasn’t working. I was having a lot of trouble keeping the new staff that I hired. While most of the reasons they left had nothing to do with the business, I was getting frustrated with hiring, training, and then losing people over and over.
I realized that I needed to take a good look at who I was looking for, how I was going about it, and make some changes to my hiring process. But the biggest change I needed to make was to trust my own inner voice.
First, I needed to trust my gut instinct, that little voice in my head was telling me that something wasn’t working right.
Next, I needed to trust myself. I had to have the confidence that I can come up with solutions to the issues at hand.
I have worked with my wonderful staff for many years, and I trust them to be honest with me. For people who are starting to build up your business, it is really important to have someone you trust to have someone you can bounce things off of. When I first started out I would brainstorm ideas with my husband or friends.
When you own a business, you are in a constant state of learning. I am confronted all of the time with questions that I need to find answers for. Sometimes I have immediate solutions, and sometimes it takes a little while. Rather than getting frustrated, try to just trust that the right answer will come to you. I have found that once I can do that, a solution presents itself to me.
In the case of changing my hiring process, I had to trust in all of these ways to move forward. I took a look at how I was doing things, and thought about what I wanted the new outcome to be. I talked it over with my staff, and made some changes.
For instance, I usually try to hire long-term full-time staff, but chose instead to hire part-time workers who could cover each other’s shifts. By doing this, I could have multiple people that I could rely upon. This solved the issue of being short-handed and my other staff getting burned out and having to take on the work of the other people. This new way of hiring allowed me to get back on track and have more available staff if I needed them.
Don’t be afraid of changing something that doesn’t feel right or doesn’t work anymore. Trust in yourself, in others close to you, and that the new solution will work and help you move forward in your life and your business.
You know the feeling, things are going along, your business is running smoothly, you are confident and getting things done… and then…
Any number of things can happen to stop our momentum. It’s very easy to personalize the event, and feel like a failure. It’s at those times we can tend to feel really discouraged.
Or, maybe you feel like what is happening in your business is all your fault?
What you need to realize and accept is that this is All Part of The Process.
Realize success doesn’t happen all at once. There will be calm moments when you have the time and energy to develop your business. But they don’t last forever. Things will happen that demand your attention, and you won’t be able to keep the focus forever — and that is just the way it is — that is the natural ebb and flow of business.
Don’t judge yourself. Instead of looking at yourself negatively because you didn’t complete what it was you were trying to do, let yourself do what is in front of you, and get back to it later.
When things calm down, pick up where you left off.
This is the normal process of doing business. You can’t be productive, creative and amazing all the time. When things go wrong, realize that you have not failed. It is nothing personal, has nothing to do with how good you are, how smart you are or how hard you try. It is just Life.
Keep On Going!! And remember, Failure is an Awesome Thing!
One thing I’ve noticed in my business is there are a lot of reasons why people stay in a job, and very little of them have to do with money.
There are studies that show why people Do stay, but this particular article highlighted some interesting facts. These are some of the things they listed:
5 REASONS WHY EMPLOYEES STAY:
As we create an environment where employees want to stay, it is important to give them more of an incentive. I have put these into two different categories, Rewards, and Raises…
I am constantly amazed with my staff with how they strive and change and push themselves. They work so hard and are so dedicated I like to reward them with something out of the ordinary or unexpected. Here are some ideas below…
If you are paying hourly, you could consider raises to be attached to the following:
Skill Sets / Job Levels Efficiencies, Certifications, and Special Skills
I have different job levels such as Beginning Bather, Bather, Finishing Bather, etc, and have identified the different levels (check out my Job Descriptions to see what I mean). Each position has clear cut requirements so that my employees know when they are actually moving up.
Increase their skills – a more skilled worker can bring in more customers, has more training, can bring more profit into the shop either through quality or quantity. At each level that they bump up, (see job descriptions) this is a good way to determine if they are ready for a raise.
Efficiency comes into play, as well. As your staff improve and you can take on more dogs, you can spend some of that dough on your employees. In my shop, once a groomer can finish up to eight dogs a day (or more) they are contributing to the bottom line of my shop.
Each level of certification also comes with a raise, in my opinion. For example, someone who is completing a certification for the first time, like sporting breeds, once they pass that, they would get a $1 – $2 raise. In addition, I would make sure that they are mentioned in the newsletter, congratulating them, and make sure their qualifications are listed properly on the website, as well.
Increase Your Prices– Say you haven’t raised your prices or given anyone a raise in awhile due to economic reasons, you might consider a slight price increase to cover your costs. One thing I did recently, was to raise each groom by $2, and then I could afford to give them all $1 an hour raise.
If my staff invests in my business, then I will invest in them. It is your job to show them how many opportunities exist within your company for upward momentum. A lot of the stuff they are doing, is not necessarily something they are getting paid for, but because they are invested in the event, or activity, and the success of the business, they will be rewarded.
They have to want to be part of the bigger picture, and by getting continual rewards and occasional raises, this keeps them motivated to do more — and then, everybody wins!!
Summer is right around the corner, most groomers are gearing up for one of their busiest seasons. Pet owners are calling for their summer appointments and the influx of dogs we only see at this time of year can overload our shops.
This is the perfect time to start Training Up that bather that has mastered the arts of bathing.
Only book a certain number of the dogs that come around once a year into your schedule. If your shop is like mine with a fairly consistant year-round clientele, you will want to make sure that your priority is for your regular customers. We know in advance that the ones that don’t come in regularly are often more difficult grooms and take more time, so keep your priorities straight and your best customers happy!
Make sure you have a cancellation list, and offer people who you can’t get in right away an opportunity to get on the cancellation list. That way you have a constant list of potential appointments in case someone cancels or doesn’t show up.
Remember that the tempertures are starting to get hot, even up to triple didgets where my shop is. It’s important to keep in mind that you need to keep the pets cool.
Also, be sure to keep your staff cool. I’ve even found these great shammies the you can wet down for your employees to put around their necks to stay cooler. Keep your refrigerator stocked with bottled water, sports drinks and ice for them as well.
Use these steps to stay ahead and maximize your Hot season while still staying Cool!!
I’ve mentioned before that I belong to many online groomer forums. Recently, there’s been a lot of talk about the down economy and issues that many groomers are facing right now. It seems to be a combination of less clients and more competition– which can be devistaing for a small business.
Since my business tends to stay busy year round, I wanted to share with you some of the things that I feel help contribute to the success of my shop.
Know what seperates you from the other groomers in town. Do you specialize in particular breeds? Are you certified by any of the national associations? Do you cater to high end pets, promise short appointments, or work with difficult dogs? By targeting your particular client in your advertising and the way you run your shop, you will attract a loyal and consistent clientele.
There’s a lot of talk about whether or not education and certifying are really necessary in our industry. Whatever side of the issue you’re on, learning additional skills through workshops or seminars you attend will always increase your performance and make you more attractive to your customers. Never stop learning, and take the time to sharpen your skills by attending seminars wherever you can, or sign up for an online video site like learn2groomdogs for ongoing education. I find this site really helpful for brushing up on a breed I don’t see often, or when I’m teaching one of my staff a new groom.
Use your specialties, certificates and education to hype up any advertising that you have. Use an online newsletter to talk about any type of tradeshows or events you’ve gone to recently or breeds you are perfecting, and don’t forget to post it on your Facebook Page!
Consistant bookings means regular cash-flow. Having a Preferred Customer Program ensures that my pet owners schedule multiple appointments on a regular basis. Want to get new customers? Try rewarding existing customers who refer new business to you, and that way they feel appreciated and are motivated to spread the word!
I also have a 10% off coupon on my website to bring in new business (actually, we give this to all new clients). This gives new clients a reason to try your shop with less risk and more reward.
Be sure to develop consistency throughout your shop and make quality your number one goal. Try the following…
While it is hard to put money into improvements during down times, your shop should be clean *and smelling good* at all times. A clean shop shows you care about details and have pride in your business. Customers will want to come back if they know you run a tight and tidy ship.
Lastly, keep your chin up, and move ahead. Instead of getting caught up in what other shops are doing, or the economy, try to stay focused and put energy into your own shop. By putting time into developing these systems and training your staff, you will also develop customer loyalty. Customer Loyalty translates into repeat bookings which keeps the cash coming in. If you’ve covered all of these bases, your shop can thrive in any economy!!
For all of you dog lovers out there, here are some photos to make you smile!!
Just because I’ve written this book / blog about how to run your business does not mean that bad things never happen to me.
Recently, I’ve gone through a period that in the past would have probably made me want to shut my doors. I lost 3 of my 4 bathers in a very short amount of time. Then, a fabulous receptionist that I had just hired left for a new job.
All this happened while I was training up my existing staff to step in when my head groomer and manager leaves for maternity leave. And to add to this on a personal level, my mother had surgery with a long recovery that required a lot of attention.
There was a time that this would have completely overwhelmed me. However, now I find myself able to get through these moments without falling apart. I don’t worry or go into panic mode. I have my program and systems in place, so I know what to do.
I find myself being very calm, which helps to keep my stress level down, and also allows me to be comforting to my remaining staff who were kind-of freaking out about the situation. I was able to calm them down and let them know, “I’ve got this, we are going to get through this, and we’ll be fine.”
The first thing you have to do is stabilize your shop. If you are in a situation that you lose two or more employees at a time, you may have to move people around, bring in an old staff member, or even bring in a family member or significant other just to get things covered. In this situation, I was able to shift people back towards the bathing, while I stepped in to handle the grooms. By doing this, my staff didn’t feel like they were taking the burden for me or going beyond their comfort level to take on more. I also held more meetings to discuss what was going on. I remained calm and was able to let them depend on me throughout the transition.
Next, I went into hiring mode. Since I had my ads already stored on Craigslist (click here to see How to Write an Ad) it only took me five minutes to tweak and post the ad. After which, I put the rest of my hiring and process into place.
This all took a couple of weeks, and my life didn’t stop during this time. I think one of the most important things that I’ve learned is to pace yourself during these times, so that you don’t get so wrapped up in the issue that everything else stops. You might need to remind yourself that this is just one part of your business and that it is not the whole thing. You need to make sure that you are taking breaks from the process, like not looking at resumes on Sunday or taking a day off from interviewingl.
There’s a paragraph Zen an the Art of Happiness by Chris Prentiss that states: Imagine that god appeared before you this instant and said: “I promise you that everything that happens to you from this moment forward will be of the greatest benefit to you and will bring you the utmost good fortune“. Suppose God went on to say, “Even though what happens will sometimes appear unfortunate, or hurtful, in the end your life will be wonderfully blessed, and hugely benefited by whatever happens.”
These things are not happening because you are doing anything wrong, or because you are a bad person. It is just that these things happen. We never know how long we are going to have someone in our lives or business, it could be for a short time period, or for longer. So, rather than falling apart and going into the “Poor Me” mode, I try to embrace the situation as an opportunity.
It’s not to say I do not find it somewhat frustrating, because I have to stop moving forward, and need to go in a different direction for awhile, but what really helps me keep things in perspective is to anticipate positive things from the new people coming into my shop. (And, by doing so, this also helps new staff feel welcomed, and relieves the tension in the shop!)
Lastly, If you have your system in place, and you go back to that system, you aren’t redoing the whole process each time. One of the reasons that I’ve talked so much about systems in my book / blog, is because you need them — especially in times like this. Having a set of steps that you take when something like this happens means that you efficiently get back to work much faster, and with a whole lot less stress.
If you think about it, all big businesses and small businesses should be alike. When McDonalds loses someone, they don’t sit around wondering how they are going to go on. They don’t throw their hands up in the air and shout, “OH MY GOD, I AM GOING TO MISS THIS PERSON! What do I do?”
When you have your ad, your process for reviewing applicants, your selection process, interview questions, working interviews, hiring, and training methods in place –then you just go through the motions that you already know how to do. And, as the title of this post suggests, you can go through all of this process… without freaking out!!