Life is like Highschool

July 11th, 2013 by ificore


Life is like high school. Those things that made you popular start to matter again. Like it, hate it, fight it, but it is true. The competent and likable pet groomer will attract far more business than the extremely talented but socially deficient expert.

I learned this fact early on in my first business; my fleet of mobile dog grooming vans.

That business grew quickly. In less than a year I was already adding vans and hiring staff. I had a couple phenomenal pet stylists over the years. I’ve also had a lot of average groomers over the years.

They were two individuals that stood out in all my years of running that company.

The first one, let’s call her Annie, was a compassionate social butterfly. But Annie was only a so-so groomer. Not only did she adore pets – she loved people. Love them. Annie was a chatterbox. She was especially fond of the senior citizens. She’d make clients special little gifts for their dogs. She had tea with clients. Have lunch with clients. Bring in the mail. Shovel sidewalks. Heck, she’d even stop at the store and pick them up milk! Clients adored her.

Annie routinely started her day late — and worked late. Many times her days would be 10 to 12 hours. She’d casually arrived at base (which was my home) between 9:30 and 10 in the morning — after every other driver was gone. She was almost always the very last groomer back at base, many times after 8:00 in the evening.

Annie drove me nuts. Rarely did she make the six dog quota we required daily.


The second stylist, let’s call her Ruth, was an amazing stylist. Amazing. Not only was she extremely talented, she was lightning fast. At the time, she could groom me under the table. She always made quota, plus, took a few extra appointments almost every day. She loved to make money. Wasting time was not her thing.

Ruth was always at base early. Most days she finished before 3 o’clock. I loved Ruth. She made us a ton of money. She was fast. She was efficient.

But then I started to look beyond the revenue. I started noticing which mobile groomer had a fuller appointment book weeks down the road.

Hands down — it was Annie. Her appointment book was almost all waste booked solid for weeks in advance. Clients simply would not take any other groomer than Annie.

Ruth on the other hand — she was always booked but her dispatchers had to scramble to make it happen. Even though she was talented and efficient, she lacked the ability to communicate. Even though she was passionate for a job, it did not show in her personality. Clients weren’t knocking down the doors to book appointments with her.

I learned to embrace Annie’s compassion for the job and the people. To Annie, it wasn’t about the money — it was about the relationships that she formed. The friendships she made. The people and pets that she could help brighten their day. Annie was one of our most popular mobile groomers — probably just like she was in high school.

Ruth? Not so much. Ultimately, I had to let Ruth go due to her lack of compassion for people and pets. Her personality just did not reflect well on my company.

Professional pet grooming is about building relationships — friendships. It’s about building trust with your clients and their pets. It’s about being personable. It’s about being able to smile while letting your love of the job shine through.

If you’re one of those folks that were extremely popular in high school, you’ll have no problem building your clientele. However, if you or someone on your team is socially inept, minimize the amount of contact they have with your customers. Let an educated social butterfly be your front person. That might be you, the owner, or it could be a well-trained receptionist who has an extremely bubbly personality.

Whoever is initially meeting your clients on a regular basis, make sure they are instantly likable. Their compassion shows strongly in all their actions. These are the same skills all the popular kids in high school possessed. Even as adults, life continues to be very much like high school. If you are in the service industry, a full book means you are winning the popularity contest.