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Professional Grooming Marketplace: Create the Ultimate Spa Experience

Posted: November 25, 2013, 2:55 p.m. EDT


Show off a sparkling clean grooming salon and offer add-on treatments to earn more business.

By Cheryl Reeves

Whether they’re looking for a fierce and fabulous mohawk cut, a colorful "pawdicure” or a blueberry facial, today’s dog owners seek an increasing array of pampering options when dropping Fido off at the grooming salon.

Indeed, with a greater focus on glamour, health and cleanliness, more consumers want a total humanlike spa experience for their pets. Further, a grooming salon that radiates an upscale, squeaky-clean ambience is the kind of place more pet owners are gravitating toward, said industry insiders.

"Involved in the whole overarching theme of the humanization of pets, there’s much more dedication from pet owners toward grooming, and they now want to step it up a level in terms of services offered, as well as take their pets to a place that looks and smells fresh and clean,” said Brian Collier, creative marketing and public relations coordinator for Tropiclean in Wentzville, Mo.

Keeping the Grooming Salon Sanitary
"Something that will always stand out to clients is the cleanliness of a grooming facility,” said Matt McKee, sales associate for Davis Manufacturing in Atlanta. "Even if the quality of the final groom is superior, clients might still have a negative perception of a grooming shop that smells unpleasant.”

Professional Grooming
Busy, successful salons generate mess that must be cleaned constantly. Scrubby Puppy

His company offers Safe & Clean All-Purpose Cleaner in a mild solution for general use on countertops, waiting-area floors and grooming tables, McKee said.
 
"We also offer a superconcentrated disinfectant in our Dakil, which makes up to 256 gallons of cleaner from one gallon of concentrated product,” he said, adding that the product is especially effective in kennels, cages and other areas where disease can spread.

Another product from Davis Manufacturing, Break-Thru Odor and Stain Remover, is an enzyme-based cleaner formulated to break down stains on carpet, bedding and other soft surfaces.

Gina Lobianco, a groomer at Dog Day Afternoon in New Orleans, said she uses OdoBan Solid odor absorber because of its versatility.

"It’s good for floor mopping and eliminating pet odor, and you can also use it in the laundry,” she said. "Plus, it’s a great air freshener.”

Keeping everything clean, from crates and tables to tubs and tools, is an everyday challenge, said Janet Carhuayano, manager of Salty Paw grooming salon in New York.

"We think of aromatherapy as our entire salon atmosphere,” she said. "People are looking for a combination of a fresh, open spalike atmosphere, superior cleanliness and scent as well as expert staff. They want it all.”

To neutralize odors and keep his grooming salon smelling fresh, Greg Phillips, owner of Gone to the Dogs Boutique in St. Pete Beach, Fla., said he believes in the entire Tropiclean line.

"From Tropiclean’s shampoos and conditioners to its Fresh Breeze cleanup products, this is a brand that really does the job,” said Phillips.

Due to popular demand, said Richard Ticktin, CEO and founder of SynergyLabs in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., his company just recently reintroduced its X-Tract Cleaner Stain Remover & Deodorizer in a new 22-ounce size and packaging design.

"The innovation in this product is that X-Tract is oxygen powered,” he said. "The oxidizer yields two things: hydrogen peroxide and sodium carbonate. The sodium carbonate serves as a carrier for hydrogen peroxide, which is a powerful cleaner that breaks down and removes dirt, stains, odor and soil.”
 
Taking Stock of Tools
"I’m a huge fan of Furminator,” said Lisa Grieco, owner of Groomtown Pet Boutique & Spa in North Andover, Mass. "That’s one of the biggest innovations ever and one I can’t live without now.”

Dog Day Afternoon’s Lobianco agreed on the Furminator’s effectiveness and added that she also loves the Oster Undercoat Rake because "It’s the sharpest rake on the market.”

Other tools Lobianco favors include PetEdge’s Geib Gator line of grooming scissors and shears.

"These offer great weight and an ergonomic feel so I can easily access hard-to-reach places,” she said.

Cleaning Plus Curing: Advanced Medicated Treatments
Stocking and using deep cleaning shampoos and conditioners that offer extra health benefits will attract consumers seeking a spa that keeps abreast of new trends.
"There’s a lot of innovation in finding more focused solutions that not only clean, but also soothe,” noted Brian Collier, creative marketing and public relations coordinator at Tropiclean in Wentzville, Mo.
To meet rising consumer demand for extra benefit products, Collier said Tropiclean has recently expanded its Oxy Med line with an array of new medicated treatments that clean, reduce shedding and stop itching and flaking.
Richard Ticktin, CEO and founder of SynergyLabs in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., reported that his company’s Veterinary Formula product line offers added value with more treatment benefit.
"This is how you can bathe a dog with a superior shampoo, but at the same time provide treatments to hot spots and relieve fungal/bacterial skin infections,” he said.
A recent addition to the Atlanta-based Davis Manufacturing line is Grubby Dog, designed to remove dirt, caked-on mud and grease, said Matt McKee, sales associate for the company.
The PPP AromaCare Aromatherapy For Pets line also continues to expand into new and popular categories, including dental products, tear-stain wipes and ear foams, said John Plant, president of Professional Pet Products Inc. in Miami. —CR

In addition, Lobianco said that Millers Forge slicker brushes are more durable than most brands because they don’t break when dropped.

"In blades, I only use the ones Wahl makes because they are absolutely the sharpest blades you can get on the market,” she said.

To keep her blades clean between clients, Eileen Davis, owner/groomer at Franko’s Grooming in Vancouver, Wash., said PetEdge’s Top Performance ClipperCool Cooling Spray is her favorite tool cleaner because of how quickly the time-saving product works to keep blades in top form from client to client.

More Shine to the Bottom Line
A disinfected, freshly scented atmosphere is just the beginning. To prep for holiday business, groomers can clean up in sales by expanding their menu of pampering services.

At Salty Paw, demand is up for creative grooming.

"We’re getting a lot of requests for fun, temporary fur dyes in all sorts of colors,” said Carhuayano. "The safe, nontoxic chalks that wash off within a week and a half are very popular, especially as the holidays approach and people begin taking their dogs to parties and events. ‘Pawdicures’ are another fun fashion trend. We use the Warren London line of dog nail polish pens.”

According to Davis Manufacturing’s McKee, pet grooming salons that offer creative grooming services will generate significantly more profits.

"Creative grooming has really taken off,” said McKee.

His company’s product, Glamour Glitter, comes in 18 colors, plus a variety of stencils that include holiday designs.

Further pointing to strength in the fashion trend, Grapevine, Texas-based manufacturer Espree Animal Products won the most votes in the grooming category at SuperZoo 2013 for its new Bark Art Blow Pens, available in 12 vivid colors plus stencils.

Groomers also reported more requests for stylish cuts.

"People are really into trendy haircuts,” said Carhuayano. "For example, the mohawk is a big favorite now.”

Groom Town’s Lobianco said she’s earned significantly higher profits in the past two years due to consumer demand for more treatments, including everything from facials to dental care and paw massages.

"Everyone wants their pet looking and feeling great,” she said. "Especially for the holiday season.”

Finally, putting the finishing touch on a freshly groomed canine client also has become easier. New on the market from Davis Manufacturing is the Bow Jig, a DIY bow-making option designed for professional groomers.

"The Bow Jig makes creating pet bows extremely easy by standardizing the tying process to come out with a perfect bow each time,” said McKee. "It features adjustable pegs that gauge how large or small the bow will be and makes it easy for groomers to sit and tie bows while watching TV. It will also save them a lot of money as an alternative to buying premade bows.”

In addition to using superior cleaning products and updating add-on treatments, salon owners can distinguish themselves as a special pet pampering destination by adding the kinds of décor touches found at a human spa.

"Add some plants, rolled-up towels, a water fountain and stones,” suggested Tropiclean’s Collier. "It’s also key to display products that have attractive, eco-friendly packaging. You want your customers to make an emotional connection to create an authentic spa experience.”

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