When the government guidance around business openings changed in mid-May, and dog grooming salons who could accommodate the new safety measures were allowed to reopen their doors; there was a great sense of relief for both grooming salons and dog-owning households.
Here at Groomers Online, we have been delighted to hear that the vast majority of professional grooming salon owners we have spoken to, who have reopened their premises since the lockdown period, have been incredibly busy with appointments. They told us that most days they have been opening for longer hours and working overtime with their employees because of the sheer number of ungroomed dogs that need help, especially during this recent spell of hot weather. In addition to this, as a result of the permitted daily exercise, plenty of dog owners who became furloughed or were working more flexible hours at home, were walking their dogs more often than usual and on longer routes; which led to increased contact with mud and bodies of water and therefore dirtier, smellier coats to try and tame.
Unsurprisingly, during the lockdown period, many grooming salons were being contacted for advice by concerned dog owners. Consequently, companies such as ours saw a dramatic increase in sales of smaller retail-size shampoos and cleaning sprays, as this is what the professionals were recommending for owners to keep their pets’ coats as clean and comfortable as possible before they could get back into the salon.
Furthermore, some dog owners felt the need to take the plunge and try their hand at grooming their dogs themselves, following online advice and tutorials. Here at Groomers Online, we saw double the amount of clippers, grooming tools and grooming books sold vs the same period last year, and this actually caused our most popular animal clippers to rapidly go out of stock. Although these DIY grooming steps will have been taken to alleviate discomfort for the pets, we have since heard from a number of professional dog groomers that poor cutting of the dog’s coats is actually creating more of a challenge to rectify in the salon. Therefore it may be the case that the coat is not quite back to its usual finish after one trip, however the dogs will undoubtedly be grateful for the thorough wash and tidy up.
We kept in close contact with our professional grooming salon customers during the lockdown, and they told us that they were using the closure opportunity to refurbish their salons and purchase new equipment to adhere to the guidelines for reopening. We had anticipated this need for new equipment and made sure we were well stocked and educated on products such as face shields and masks, and also effective disinfectants and cleaning products for the grooming equipment.
We spent time as a business, to look at the best options to provide for our salon customers, and chose to invest in products such as the anti-fogging, anti-reflective face shields because we recognised the importance of clear vision when working under bright lights, in warm salons. We have seen strong sales as a result of our careful deliberation over the best quality of products.
In terms of how grooming salons are coping now that they have had time to readjust to the new rules, we caught up with Sue Oliver, of Sue Oliver Dog Grooming Salon – who is a long time customer of Groomers Online. She gave the following responses to our questions:
How did you spend most of your time when you were forced to close during the lockdown?
I spent plenty of time reading all of the advice and recommendations available from the government so that I could adapt the business and be ready to open safely as soon as we were able. My business comprises both the professional grooming side and the educational training side so I wanted to make sure that both would be compliant.
Did you have a big wave of appointments booked when you did reopen the salon?
Yes, we reopened gradually to ensure the safety of our employees and clients, and have only recently caught up with bookings – It’s been a really busy time!
Have you experienced any difficulties with the condition of the dog’s coats?
Yes, many dog owners thought that cutting the coat short during the hot weather was the right thing to keep their dogs cool; however, a number had cut the coats far too short so we have been trying to work around this. Also, those owners who did not groom or wash their dogs have presented us with some very matted coats that we now have to tackle and groom them back into good condition.
How does the salon look now in comparison to when you were open before the lockdown?
We are now applying a 2-metre distance rule as per the government guidance, and this has meant that we have reduced the number of grooming tables with less dogs able to be groomed simultaneously – which has resulted in our longer working hours. Plus, all pet handovers are conducted outside the premises. Additionally, face shields, masks and gloves have been purchased and are being used by the staff members to ensure safety and adherence. Finally, to comply with the Government COVID-19 contact tracing scheme, we are maintaining a record of our client contact details so that we can easily raise any issues to all relevant parties.