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Caution: Grooming Your Own Shih-tzu May Lead To Grooming School

Remy Bibaud | 13 October, 2021

            Groomed Shih-tzu Doggie Styles Grooming

Pet Inspirations: Cheryl Patrick, Doggie Styles Grooming

Please tell us about your company and what role(s) you play.

Doggie Styles is a family owned and operated business. My husband and I run the admin side, while our daughter Sadie manages the groomers/bathers and grooms as well. Our extended family includes 5 groomers and 4 bathers. We all enjoy what we do and have fun doing it. Its important for us that everyone enjoys coming to work.

How and when did you start your business? Was it inspired by a pet?

In 2001 I called my groomer to have my Shih-Tzu groomed and was told there was a 2 week wait for an appt. I thought how hard can it be, and tried to groom her myself. It was hard. I enrolled in grooming school and bought a grooming van. I was the first mobile groomer to ever graduate in that school. I went from classroom to grooming van. With Sadie’s help as a bather, we hit the road. In 2006 we opened our current salon and haven’t looked back.  We have been in business 18 years. 

Do you have a pet(s) that joins you at work, what are their names and roles?

We are definitely a Border Collie family (although Shih-tzu’s and rescue mutts have also been part of our lives). Our first Border Collie was named Keeper and he became our logo and beloved mascot. His portrait still adorns our lobby window, reception area and business cards. He passed in 2012. Our newest Border Collie is 10 week old Flick. Flick enjoys coming to work with his Mom Sadie and a few days a week he goes to day care. He has big paws to fill and we love him dearly.   

What makes your business or brand unique?

Our foundation has always been customer focus and pet safety. We groomed over 7000 dogs last year and word of mouth and personal recommendations have always been our best advertisement. It’s important to us to build that relationship with our customer so they trust us with their pets. When I went from mobile grooming to a salon, I understood why my customers didn’t want to use a salon so we designed our grooming area and practices to address those concerns.  We have open air crates, non-heated dryers, and pets are always in the same room as us. Its important we can see them at all times. We are flexible with our services and drop off and pick up times. 60% of my mobile clients came to my salon when we opened it in 2006. 

Our mobile business was very successful and the wait time for an appt was running about 6 weeks.  The only way to increase volume (and reduce appt wait time) was to purchase another van.  That was a $60,000 investment.  And with CT weather, mobile grooming could be treacherous.  If you had to reschedule due to weather, it could really be a challenge. So between those factors, we decided to open a salon. We sold the van with the mobile business to the groomer that was working for us at the time. She is still a successful mobile groomer.  With the salon, we were able to hire additional groomers without increasing our overhead and cutting our wait time for an appointment significantly.  Not to mention, its great having a bathroom. LOL.   


What have been some of your biggest challenges in running your business? How did you overcome them?

Every salon has challenges, but we minimize these by keeping open communications to the customer. Whether its grooming preferences, pricing, appointment times or difficult dogs, we are honest and open with the client. 

What qualities have made you successful or do you feel are important for inspiring leaders?

Our groomers learn from each other as well as online training and in person classes. Everyone has the opportunity to grow within the company. Bathers have become groomers, groomers have learned front desk jobs and monthly staff meetings allow everyone to have a voice and implement change. We have a reward system in place where groomers can reward each other and receive awards when they go above and beyond for a customer. These rewards are then turned into cash to purchase grooming supplies.


Where can someone get more information about your business?

People can learn more by visiting:

Doggie Styles Website

Doggie Styles Facebook Page

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