Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Why we love mobile dog grooming...

For anyone who’s ever asked themselves what exactly mobile dog groomers do? Here’s a run-down of a typical day, the good and the bad, and why we love the job that we do.

A typical day would start at about 7am, when the grooming van needs to be plugged in so the water in the tank can start to heat up.  All the stock is checked and you work out how long it will take you to drive to your first customer.  While waiting for the water to heat you can have your breakfast and chill out before you have to leave the house.
The first customer is booked for around 8.30 am and on average you would groom 5 dogs a day.  This gives you about 1-2 hours per groom with enough time to drive in between customers and to take a few short breaks.  Due to time constraints we would only do ‘pet grooming’.  There’s no time to scissor a Bichon Frise from head to toe, or to do a full handstrip. 

Grooming big dogs also takes a lot longer that a normal ‘time slot’ would allow.  For these we book out two appointment slots.  This gives us plenty of time to do a good job on the groom (without rushing) and to have a little break after.  For the really big doggies like Saint Bernards, Newfoundlands etc. we usually take two groomers to split the work load.  It’s tough work, but can also be a lot of fun.  It can get pretty lonely at times when you’re on your own and having someone else with you every now and then to have a laugh with is great. 

When taking bookings we not only have to consider what type of dog it is (long haired/ big dog/ never been groomed etc.), but also how long it will take you to drive from one person to the next, is there traffic at that time of the day, and is there parking available?  It can seem like a lot to consider when you first start out, but pretty soon you get to know the area your covering so well that it becomes second nature.
Being out on the road can be a fantastic job for the right person.  There are so many benefits to working on your own as a mobile dog groomer:
  1. ·     You get to see dogs in their own environment.  How they interact with their owners, how they greet you at the door.  This can really help you to determine the temperament of a dog before you’ve even greeted him/her.
  2. ·         Because you are parked right at the customers home, should any issues arise during the groom, you can pop back in with the dog an discuss problems you are having (does the dog need to be clipped shorter than initially thought, is the dog too stressed to continue etc.)
  3. ·         You can always ask a customer to come into the grooming van with you and show them exactly what issues you are having.  I find that it really helps owners to see how much work goes into grooming their dog.  People are so understanding and really respect the work you are doing.
  4. ·          A lot of nervous dogs do really well in an environment where there are no other dogs present.  It is a complete one-on-one experience for the dog.

Of course there are some downsides as well…no job is perfect!  For example, dogs can become very hyper during grooming if their owners are right outside the van chatting to friends and/or neighbours.  They can hear their mommy and daddy and just want to get out of the van and go back home.  You really need a lot of patience as well because you have to do one groom from start to finish.  If you become frustrated you cannot put the dog away for 10 minutes, have a tea, and then come back to it.  This can be quite difficult when you first start as a groomer.


Because you are in such a small space, it can get pretty hairy in the van.  Wearing a face mask is a must when grooming fluffy dogs!  Another good/bad thing (depending on the dog) is people wanting to watch their dog getting groomed.  If the dog is easy going and doesn't mind having an audience, it can be quite fun to have people (especially kids) watching their pet being groomed.  I find it really educating as owners can see exactly what they are paying for, and you can explain to them why you do the things that you do.  On the other hand, if a dog becomes quite hyper by the presence of other people, I always feel very sorry for owners having to tell them to leave as I cannot groom their dog if they are watching.  It’s not that we’re trying to be rude or we have something to hide, it’s just for the health and safety of their dog.

Now, back to the day to day routine.  You would usually have 3 dogs done by about 1.30/2pm and take a break.  After lunch there are two more dogs booked in and your day would finish anywhere from 5-7 pm.  In the evenings you need to fill your water tank back up, clean the inside of the grooming van, and make sure you have enough Diesel in the Van and enough Petrol in your generator for the next day. 

Overall I have to say that mobile grooming can be so much fun.  There is nothing like handing a dog back into its home and having all the kids fuss over their four legged friend and telling you how cute the dog looks.  You are always invited into people’s homes and offered tea and biscuits.  It’s amazing how friendly customers can be.  We’ve been given ice creams during hot summer days, and offered warm coffee in the cold winter months.  You really get to know the area you are living in because you are always driving.  I can’t count how many new places I have been able to take my own dogs to, simply because I was grooming in the area and though “Hmmm, this looks like a lovely place to bring Bella and Penny on a walk.”  For those of us who are nosy…which, lets be honest, is all of us J, it’s very nice to see where people are living, and how they decorate their houses and their gardens.  Having just jumped on the property ladder myself, I know that I’ve gotten some of my best ideas from our customers during my working day.

So to sum up, (and before I ramble on and on), can I just say that I love being a mobile dog groomer and I hope that you will have gotten a little insight into our working life.

Carolyn Zenker (Muttz For Cutz Manager)

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