well. There are ear powders on the market that are supposed to help numb the canal,
making it easier to grip. But as far as I’ve seen, the only useful tools are hemostats to
remove the hair.
What consumer trends are you noticing in pet grooming?
Illg: Pet grooming styles and trends are constantly evolving. Social media has allowed
for easier communication and sharing, leading to new and fun ideas being implemented daily. It is important for groomers to stay up-to-date with the latest styles
and trends. We want to always provide the best experience possible for our customers
and their furry friends.
I’ve noticed that more and more folks are concerned with leaving their pets in
the hands of strangers, and rightfully so. Constant reports, videos and photos of
mistreatment in pet salons can worry anyone. Consumers are constantly looking
for a reliable, trustworthy company who will take care of their pets. That’s why it’s
so important to stay open and honest about everything that happens in a salon. Get
to know your customers, stay in touch via social media and highlight how fun the
grooming process can be.
How are groomers best educated in the industry?
Illg: The best way to get educated in this field is through good ol’ motivation. There
are countless ways of getting into dog grooming, but it all comes down to your motivation to learn. I find that grooming schools are very useful, especially if you are
more hesitant to learn. Grooming schools offer students a set schedule and routine
to help with all the information that comes with dog grooming.
What qualities does a trainee or a new groomer need to possess in order to succeed in your
Illg: While it’s not necessarily a quality, first and foremost a new groomer needs experience. In this field, we aim to provide our customers with what they want. In doing
so, we may come across a hairstyle we’ve never done before. Social media allows
people to share ideas quickly, and different styles can become popular overnight.
Adaptability is key; the longer you’re in this industry, the more skills you’ll pick up
along the way.
Patience and understanding are also key qualities. Pets are a lot like kids; in fact,
many folks refer to their furry friends as their children! The more frustrated you are,
the more frustrated your pets will become. Even if a pup has been to a groomer before
and has done fine in the past, the smallest thing can stress him or her out during their
next visit. Learning how to properly handle a dog in this situation can make or break
your success in this field.
And, of course, the most important quality needed is an endless love for pets!
How has the pet grooming profession evolved over the years you’ve been in the industry?
What are the biggest changes you’ve noticed?
Illg: Plenty has changed since I first started my career in pet grooming. Millennials
are now the largest group of pet owners in the United States. These young folks treat
their pets like children (nothing wrong with that!), and it’s led to a big shift in how
products are marketed and sold to consumers.
I’ve seen more customers engaging with us online, from sharing ideas on Insta-gram and Facebook to requesting information on certain pet grooming topics via blog
posts or videos. I find new inspiration daily—from the latest in pet
hair dyes and nail color to fun summer cuts and accessories for our
four-legged friends to enjoy. I’m excited to see how the grooming
industry continues to evolve over the years.
How do you see the grooming industry evolving in the future to meet
consumers’ needs and demands?
Illg: I believe as technology continues to evolve, the grooming industry will follow suit. Mindfulness and credibility is key in this
day and age. As more consumers opt for pets over parenthood, the
trend of treating pets like family will continue to rise. More consumers will want to keep tabs on their pets at all times; whether
that means implementing live feeds and video, creating engaging
apps or something else, groomers will have to be more communicative than ever before.
Again, I believe the rise in social media is going to have a continued impact on the future of the grooming industry. Consumers
are going to continue to come into our shops requesting certain
cuts or asking that we use certain organic products for their pets.
It can be a tricky line; you are the groomer after all and, while
you want to cater to your customers’ needs, certain things aren’t
always possible in a pinch. More folks are also leaning towards
holistic care for their pets, and that’s something groomers need to
consider as well. Pet owners are going to ask what products you’re
using, what techniques you use and so on. This industry is booming, and I believe it will continue to grow, so be vigilant, read up
on the latest pet trends and try to always stay two paws ahead! •
Liz Illg is the owner of Puff & Fluff Grooming and Pet Sitting, which has
four locations in the Phoenix area. She received her bachelor’s in business
from Arizona State University and her master’s in education from Northern Arizona University. Her education and passion for animals turned her
college pet-sitting days into full-time business ownership. Illg has hosted
events and raffles to benefit local pet rescues by partnering with other pet
businesses in the community. She has also been featured on several local
media outlets to share her love and knowledge about caring for pets.