Our Grooming Principles
OVERVIEW OF THE GROOMING INDUSTRY
When Healthy Spot Co-Founders Andrew and Mark embarked on their journey in 2008 to create a pet retail and service company that prioritizes the health and wellness of dogs and cats, they discovered that America’s pet grooming industry lacked regulation and oversight. As lifelong pet lovers, they were shocked to find that groomers in the United States were not required by law to receive training or certifications before caring for pets. There was no safety standard to guide the industry and ensure pets received high-quality care. In fact, many groomers across the country handle pets without any formal training at all. This wide variance in training and safety standards causes untold numbers of injuries to pets and handlers each year. It creates dangerous environments that put stress on the pets we love and the people who devote their professional lives to caring for them.
With those concerns in mind, Andrew and Mark founded Healthy Spot to pioneer a better option for grooming services so that pet parents can feel confident that their pet is safe and comfortable throughout their salon experience. For more than 13 years, Healthy Spot has sought not only to provide pets with best-in-class, compassionate care, but also to elevate the standard of safety and accountability across the grooming industry.
OUR SAFETY VALUES
At Healthy Spot, we have worked tirelessly to develop a comprehensive safety protocol and training program. We are committed to ensuring that every dog is treated to a safe and healthful grooming session by compassionate and skilled professionals - every time they step their paws into our salons.
- SAFETY stands above all - for the dogs and our team. We believe in handling and caring for dogs in a humane way and assuming responsibility for their physical and mental well-being. We believe in keeping ourselves safe by setting the highest standards in the pet services industry and following best practices.
- We build TRUST - with clients and each other. We believe we must earn our clients’ trust and be worthy of the trust that we earn. We do this by diligently following all safety procedures, and using our best judgment, training and experience to give each dog the treatment their owner expects. Plus, we will always act with integrity by being transparent with our clients, learning from mistakes and committing to doing better one pet at a time!
- We use the BUDDY SYSTEM to share knowledge and strengthen team cohesion. We believe in helping each other. We believe in asking for help. We believe in keeping each other accountable.
- We stay CURIOUS. We believe in continuously pushing ourselves to educate and evolve as grooming practices and protocols change. We commit to questioning our practices and being open to learning from our mistakes. We are always finding ways to raise the bar.
OUR GROOMING TRAINING PROGRAM
Our all-encompassing, hands-on grooming training program includes six months of instruction under a qualified and caring grooming instructor, equaling approximately 1,000 hours of training. Our grooming instructors include multiple international award-winning groomers, master-certified groomers and a Groom Team gold medalist contest judge. Our training program topics include, but are not limited to:
- Our values.
- Pet grooming history.
- Safety and non-negotiables.
- Pet anatomy and skeletal structure.
- Communication with dogs (dog and human body language).
- Identifying signs of stress and discomfort in dogs.
- Conducting an eight-point health check on dogs (i.e. what is healthy and normal).
- Safe use, sanitization, disinfection, and maintained of tools and salon.
- Dog handling and special care case (seniors, puppies, health conditions, human and dog aggressive pets, fearful pets, etc.).
- Safe use of grooming loops and leads.
- Medical issues (signs of stress, heatstroke, panic attacks, seizures, etc.).
- First aid and CPR.
- Avoiding injuries.
- Personal safety and how to manage one’s stress and emotions.
- Essential skills (Patience, resilience, organization, attention to detail, customer service, building a clientele, and more).
- Safe clipper and shear techniques for every area of the pet (sanitation area, body, eyes, tail, pads/feet, ears, neck, rear, and front assembly.).
- Hand-stripping and hand-drying to breed standards.
- All breed grooming styles.
- Japanese grooming styles.
- Field trips to educational events such as grooming competitions, dog shows, and a variety of grooming seminars.
- And much, much more as the industry is constantly evolving with new techniques!
We have a strict zero-tolerance policy for neglect or abuse of pets under our care. We believe pets are family and strive to create an environment that we would want for our own family members. Paramount to our values is trust. We are dedicated to leading with integrity and ensuring high-quality care.
Below is a more detailed overview of some of the safety protocols and practices central to our mission. We require every team member to undergo a rigorous training course to instill these principles and our values into their daily work.
Team Member Safety Training
Each team member trained at Healthy Spot completes extensive safety training and testing before they are authorized to bathe or groom dogs without direct supervision.
Healthy Spot’s safety training is standardized across all our salons and is required for every team member—no matter their role. During our training program, handlers learn compassionate dog handling, pet CPR and first aid and bathing and drying techniques. Each team member must study our comprehensive safety manual and demonstrate they have retained the information. We even require our team members to pass a standardized test with more than one hundred questions. We regularly reassess and update our training material to ensure a safe, positive experience for your dog. Safety testing is regularly evaluated to ensure long-term retention.
Safety, procedural and technical training for all grooming team members is led by a collaborative team of nine leaders from different specialized disciplines.
Our team of trainers is comprised of certified master groomers, grooming instructors, a senior operational expert, and a certified dog trainer. We work with industry leaders to ensure a safe, compassionate, relaxing experience for the pets entrusted in our care.
Every Healthy Spot grooming salon is monitored to ensure all team members follow safe handling procedures.
Our team of experts regularly audit our services and operations to confirm compliance with our strict safety policies and best practices.
Our team performs an hourly safety check in every salon, every day to check each pet for signs of stress, clean and sanitize salon areas, and ensure all safety and best practices are followed.
HOW OUR GROOMING SALON PRIORITIZES SAFETY
Our Grooming Team structure puts safety first.
We employ lead groomers and lead bathers to ensure compliance with our comprehensive safety and handling techniques and to mentor and coach our team members. We also have a team of salon managers that upholds our safety practices and standards.
Unlike many salons that do not provide assistants, we strive to have a grooming assistant (bather) for every groomer. We see this as an investment in our grooming experience and in every pet who comes through our doors. Our assistants help double or triple the amount of time our groomers can spend on each haircut. This gives our groomers time to showcase their artistry in quality haircuts. More importantly, it gives them time to accommodate dogs with special handling needs—such as offering senior dog rest breaks to lay down, grooming slower with nervous puppies or winning over your nipping pup.
We don’t compensate our groomers on a commission basis. Instead, we use a leveling system that rewards safety, quality, and productivity (in that order). Groomers receive higher hourly wages as they demonstrate excellence in upholding our grooming safety protocol.
At commission-based salons, groomers are encouraged to attend to as many dogs as possible as quickly as possible. Commission solely incentivizes speed, not safety, contrary to Healthy Spot’s values.
Healthy Spot employees who do not meet our zero-tolerance standard for injuries are not eligible for raises.
We reject the industry standard in which new groomers care for batches of 8 – 12 dogs per day. After completing our rigorous training process, Healthy Spot groomers begin their career by grooming 6 dogs per day, with the help of an assistant. Some of our senior groomers may do more dogs per day, but only after they have proven over time levels that they can groom to our safety and quality standards.
We closely monitor dogs for signs of stress.
Our top priority is ensuring the pets entrusted in our care enjoy a safe, compassionate grooming experience. Monitoring signs of stress is an important part of this mission. If a pet is exhibiting one sign of stress in a mild form, the pet will be given a ten-minute break, and the manager or lead will decide if grooming should continue. If a pet displays more than one sign of stress, we discontinue grooming, take the pet upfront and call the parents. If the pet’s condition worsens, the pet will be taken to the vet immediately. All Healthy Spot groomers are trained in pet body language—including common indicators of stress—as part of our comprehensive safety protocol.
We have strict policies against leaving pets unattended on tables or in baths.
Falls in the salon are a leading cause of pet injury in the United States. To avoid injuries, we require pets to be supervised at all times in our salons and our team members to stay within arm’s reach of the pets.
We use grooming loops and leads with pets in our salons.
Grooming loops are an important safety device that keeps your pets safely in our arms and significantly reduces injuries. Grooming loops and leads are like putting on a seatbelt when you drive a car.
Our team is trained to complete thorough nose-to-tail health checks on every dog that steps into our salons.
Our health checks by trained grooming professionals include examining the dog’s skin, coat, eyes, ears, nails, mouth/teeth, rear, gait, and behaviors. We discuss health conditions and review any notes on file with the pet parents prior to each groom.
Grooming Tool Safety
We train our teams on how to keep equipment in safe condition. Combs, blades, and nail clippers must not rust or dull nor have jagged or missing teeth.
Our policy is to clean and sanitize tools between each use to significantly reduce the risk of injury or irritation.
We provide extensive training in the use of brushes, combs, dematters, and other tools commonly used during grooming. When in the salon, team members are monitored to ensure stringent safety guidelines are followed while operating any of these tools.
Elevating the standard of care across our industry starts by ensuring that every member of our team is well trained in the use and upkeep of standard grooming tools.
It is our policy that kenneled pets have access to a clean, fresh bowl of water at all times.
Without the ability to sweat, many pets are prone to overheating. Access to freshwater helps pets cool down and stay happy. To avoid spreading illnesses, we make sure every pet has their own bowl.
We never use heated kennel drying.
The use of heated kennel dryers is one of the leading causes of heatstroke and pet death in the grooming industry. From day one, Healthy Spot does not use heated kennel dryers in any of our locations.
We utilize a kennel card identification process.
No two pets are the same. We use kennel cards to communicate critical safety and identification information about each pet, including their unique behaviors, health conditions, allergies, and their favorite groomer.
We train our team to clean and disinfect kennels, water bowls, tables, and tools after every pet we serve.
Constant cleaning helps prevent the spread of disease and parasites and creates a safe, sanitary environment for all pets.
Additional Safety Protocols
Our team is trained to use the tether seatbelt method and figure-eight harness to secure pet breeds prone to heart conditions, respiratory difficulties, and trachea collapses.
Safely tethering these breeds takes extra care and compassion. Healthy Spot team members are specially trained in the best practices for caring for animals with these conditions.
We require some pets—most often large dogs over seven years old, small dogs over 10, all dogs younger than 6 months, and dogs that suffer from seizures or panic attacks—to wear a happy hoodie during force drying procedures.
These dogs are more susceptible to stress during drying procedures. The happy hoodie puts pets at ease by reducing the volume of environmental noise and, therefore, reduces the risk of health episodes.
We are extremely proud of the industry-leading standards we have implemented since Healthy Spot opened our salon doors in 2008, and are even more grateful for the hundreds of thousands of pet parents that have entrusted us with their pets grooming needs.
Should you have any additional questions or concerns about our Grooming Salon or grooming safety protocols, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. We appreciate the opportunity to offer our high-quality grooming services to your family.
Interested in learning to become a groomer or want to advance your grooming technique? We offer best-in-class grooming instruction at our own Grooming Styling Academy, where you can begin or enhance your grooming career. Learn more here.