How do you save time without dropping standards? Lesley Garratt, of the Canine Design Academy of Grooming, discusses how to maximise your earning potential, without impacting on the quality of your work…
When you schedule dogs into the diary, you need to work out which way is most efficient for you, bearing in mind the number of people working
in your salon and the drying methods available to you such as if you have a cabinet dryer. Take into consideration the amount of time you are spending with your customers – it is very easy to spend 15 minutes talking to a customer, but that is 15 minutes which could have been used more constructively. You have to learn to be polite and efficient with customers. Consider at what intervals you are booking in the dogs. I prefer to book
several dogs in at the same time, as it is rare that everyone is on time for their appointment and if you have a short queue, it means that people will
be conscious of the person waiting behind them. This way they won’t spend as long chatting to you, which in turn means you don’t have to feel you are being rude by cutting short their conversation. If you allow, for example, 15 minute intervals between each appointment, it is difficult to get
much done in the time between each customer arriving and you tend to spend a good hour or so, just waiting for dogs to arrive before you can really get anything done.

Taking appointments 

The telephone can take up a huge amount of time in your day. If you spend ten minutes on the phone talking to six customers, that is a whole hour taken out of your day. You might like to use an answerphone to take your calls during the working day, then call people back at your convenience. Another good idea is to advance book appointments at the beginning of the year. We have many customers who make their appointments for the whole year, so we don’t have to spend time at each visit making their next appointment. Having a website and communicating with customers via email can also be time saving as can using a computer based system to keep customer records and make appointments.


You may think you cannot save much time in this area, but there are a lot of things you can do to save  yourself time, such as investing in a hydrobath, Bathing Beauty or similar. The hydrobath can really reduce the amount of time you are spending on the bathing process for large hairy dogs. For example, you can effectively bathe a Newfoundland in a hydrobath in around 15 minutes, but it would probably take around an hour and 15 minutes using conventional methods. When bathing in the conventional way, apply diluted shampoo directly onto a dry coat. This is quicker, it saves water, it will kill fleas more effectively (even using a non-insecticidal shampoo) and it gets the dogs cleaner. Use a scrunchy to get the dogs really clean. This will save you time, means you have to use less shampoo and lathers your shampoo really well.


The old fashioned method was to completely de-mat a dog before putting it in the bath as the thinking was that if you wet the knots it will make them worse. Some training establishments and a lot of books still advocate this method. Do not waste lots of time de-matting the dogs before the bath. There are so many excellent de-matting products, tools and equipment on the market now that this is an unnecessary and time consuming practise. A good rule of thumb is the quicker you get your dog in the bath, the quicker it will be finished. There are obviously some exceptions to this rule, but on the whole this is the fastest, most efficient way of working. It is much easier and more efficient to remove knots on a clean coat than a dirty one. After your dog is shampooed, blot it to remove excess water from the coat, blast thoroughly, then apply a good quality de-matting spray into the coat. Brush the product well into the coat, then blast thoroughly. The de-matting product in the coat will help the blaster to slide the knots away from the skin, making them easier to remove. In our salon the favourite de-matting combination is Demel’ex spray, together with a Les Poochs Matt Zapper. I have never found a combination which is more effective at removing knots. You can also use conditioner after the bath if you like, but this is not absolutely necessary.


There are drying methods which can massively speed up your time and efficiency. A combination blaster/ stand dryer is a really efficient method
of drying the dogs and will save you loads of time on the old traditional method of fluff drying from wet with a slicker brush. After initially blasting the wetness off your dog’s coat as normal, use a stand dryer on the coat and instead of a slicker brush. Utilise your blaster where you are pointing your air flow, drying the longer coat first and leaving the shorter coat until last. This will dry the coat really quickly. You can then quickly brush through on completion with a slicker brush for a better result, but you will speed up your drying probably by around 50% by using this method. There are also now products on the market which speed up the drying process – Showseasons have a speed dry shampoo and a spray, which definitely do speed up the drying process. Christies have also recently introduced a speed dry spray. A cabinet dryer can also help with efficiency. It is a very useful addition to the grooming salon and, if used safely and  responsibly, is a humane method of drying your dogs. Never force
any dog to go in who is afraid of it and always situate your cabinet dryer in your grooming room in full view of the groomers, so you can see  instantly if any dog becomes distressed or is looking hot.


The most innovative and time-saving tools I have come across in recent years are stainless steel comb attachments. These can be used in place of  scissoring in many instances and will product a lovely result, almost as good as a scissor finish. The Wahl stainless steel comb attachments are excellent, but my personal preference is for the Moser Arco clipper with metal comb attachments. The clippers are light and cordless and you can use them on a #40 setting, which will give you a sharper finish. Other time saving techniques are the use of straight scissors in place of thinning scissors wherever possible. Thinners are a really useful tool in the grooming salon and are invaluable for blending and bulk thinning, but there
are occasions when you can use your straight scissors instead, achieving a good result and saving time. Be methodical and plan your groom.
Try timing each part of the dog – allow yourself, for example, five minutes for your clipper work/blending, ten minutes for each leg, five minutes for the tail and 15 minutes for the head. If you haven’t finished each part of the dog when you reach your allotted time, move on anyway and come back at the end to finish up any tidying which needs doing. You can gradually decrease the amount of time you are taking on each part of the dog, and with time and practise you will get quicker and more efficient.