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Alma Road Veterinary Hospital

Notes For The Newbies

Salon Etiquette

There are even more new clients on the books at the moment so I thought it might be prudent to look at Salon Etiquette and do a more in depth piece on how to become a "Super Client" and not earn the dubious title of either P.I.T.A. or Heart Sink Client.

In a Nutshell:

• Arrive on time / pick up on time and don't leave the front door wide open at any point
• Give accurate medical updates even if it was something minor or insignificant
• Be patient. Every groom is at least 1.5 hours, most are 2 or 2.5.
• Don't bring a dog in that's had diarrhoea or been flea treated for at least 14 days
• Stick to the recommended grooming schedule or be prepared to pay higher prices
• Accept the fact that Slightly Knotty = Slightly More Expensive on a sliding scale of severity
• A shavedown due to anyone's neglect = Double Breed Fee
• Book your next appointment at pick up or book 5 - 10 ahead at a time via email
• Tell us if your dog bites or if there has been a recent behavioural change
• Do not touch any dog other than your own because we do groom known biters
• Keep your children under strict control or in a straight jacket when in the salon
• Keep it low key at pick up so you don't disturb the dogs still being groomed
• Payments - Card or Cash for ad hoc customers, Standing Order for VIPs
• No-Shows will always be charged 100% of the grooming fee they missed. No-Show or late cancel three times and you're fired. No Exceptions.
• Cancellations, as much notice as is possible please, but 48 hours min to avoid the fee.

And here's why: (sit down, and grab a cuppa - this may take some time)...

Super Clients remember to close the door behind them as they enter and leave. The baby-gate gives us the peace of mind that the dog we've just put on the floor to check over at the end of its groom isn't going to disappear through the front door as a client walks in leaving it wide open.

We all lead busy lives, I'm no exception. If you're going to be more than 15 minutes late picking up, let us know! I could take a shower, put tea on for the kids, collect the eggs and let the chickens out, whizz my dogs round the block - any one of the million-and-one 5-minute jobs that I cannot do if I'm stuck in the grooming parlour waiting!! Pick-ups later than a half an hour after we've texted or called are charged at £5.00 per hour or part thereof.

Give accurate medical info/updates on drop off. If you've been to the vet since the last grooming visit, or suspect something is amiss, please let us know. Finding out when you pick your dog up that Fido possibly has Hip Dysplasia or an ear infection, or had £££-eye-wateringly-expensive treatment at Fitzpatricks' last year, or growled at you when you stroked his paw last night is too late! We always handle with utmost care and attention however, our telepathic abilities are severely limited.

Every groom requires that the dog is bathed, and dried, brushed and combed before we can start weaving our magic. From bath to bone dry and ready to groom takes at least an hour, creative magic after that (furminating, scissoring, clipping etc) anywhere between 30 minutes and 2 hours. BE PATIENT. If you want fast, furious and cheap, you're at the wrong salon.


DIARRHOEA: If your dog has had diarrhoea please make sure its been clear for 14 days before you bring it in. When we blast the dog in the wet room, the germs go EVERYWHERE, we inhale and swallow them and get really really ill.

FLEA TREATMENTS: All of the spot on flea treatments (Advocate, Frontline etc) contain pretty nasty toxins. If you read through the microscopic bumph in the packaging it will say somewhere something like, "don't touch your dog for 48 hours after treatment". In actual fact, the product is still at a dangerous level for intensive handling for about 2 weeks. But you don't do intensive handling, so they reckon that's OK. We, however DO DO intensive handling and if every dog that comes in has been treated within the last 2 weeks we're getting 6 to 8 HOURS of exposure every day, week on week, year on year which is building up like a ticking time bomb in our systems. (Remember, asbestos was once deemed safe.) Therefore we would therefore politely insist that you treat your dog no less than 2 weeks before it comes in. That's if you must treat it at all. After all, how many of you treat your kids with Hedrin once a month just *in case* they get head lice?? When you get home, leave the dog a good 7 days before you stick the stuff back on (if you must). We've just washed away all the sebum that is required to spread it around the dog's body so you could risk a NASTY CHEMICAL BURN if you reapply before that time (that's in the microscopic bumph somewhere too).

Super Clients stick to a regular grooming schedule, either rebooking at the end of each appointment or booking 5-10 appointments ahead. (This might be a good point to say that Christmas 2016 is now full and I have bookings for Christmas 17 in the diary already.) As a rough guide the following professional schedules apply:

Fleece coats (Poodles, Bichons, Designer Dogs) every 2 - 6 weeks
Drop Coats in full coat (Maltese, Bearded Collie, Westie, Yorkie etc) every 2 - 4 weeks
Drop Coats as above but clipped, every 4 - 8 weeks (depending on length left)
Smooth long coats (German Shepherd, Border Collie etc) 8 - 10 weeks
Heavy Shedders (Labs, Huskies, Goldies etc) 2 - 6 weeks
Huge Double Coats (Sammoyd, Akita, Eurasier) 6 - 10 weeks

(But please note that Centre Stage no longer does big dogs)

If you don't know which category your dog falls into please ask.

This is of course assuming that the Super Client is brushing their dogs at home with tools appropriate to their breed. We're very happy to advise you on this.

Super Clients realise that we get really booked up at certain points of the year and pre book those times well ahead or they join the VIP Club to ensure that they'll always get an appointment when they need it.

P.I.T.A. Clients try to stretch out their grooming appointments in order to save money. However, it should be noted that grooms outside of the schedule above will attract a "fix-it" fee as they always take longer to do and are more stressful for the dog, us and our equipment.

Dogs that bite: If your dog is a biter, for whatever reason, YOU MUST LET US KNOW. The law regarding dangerous dogs changed in the middle of May 2014. It is now an offence to let your dog bite, or give anyone cause to be afraid that it might do so, even in or on YOUR OWN PROPERTY. So should your dog bite someone coming into my salon (a private property), I will be deemed to have been "in charge" of the dog at the time and therefore I am the one who can be prosecuted. Therefore clients who ask, "Did he try to bite you?" at pick up are sacked instantly.

In my previous life I trained dogs for film and TV as the owner of The Canine Film Academy and prior to that was a Senior Instructor at Cranbourne Dog Training School. I'm therefore extremely well qualified to handle challenging or difficult dogs and do so on a fairly frequent basis.


Because of this, you MUST NOT touch any dog that does not belong to you whilst visiting the salon. It doesn't matter how cute it looks. Or how friendly it appears to be. ESPECIALLY if its on the grooming table, because a dog that is restrained may not be comfortable with a stranger approaching it even if its normally really friendly. I have the most delightful Border Collie on the books who will smile at you, and wag his tail in the most enticing manner, just so he can get you close enough to take your nose off...

Children who cannot be trusted with this rule should be safely strapped into a straight jacket before entering the salon, or left tied up outside.

We use extremely sharp pointy scissors so its very dangerous if dog on the table is disturbed while we're working on it. Please come in quietly, don't shriek and gush over your dog (or the dog on the table) and be extremely low key about it no matter how ecstatic you are about the trim; we may then just stand a fighting chance of finishing the dog that's on the table, even if its not yours. If you come in loudly cooing and gushing, ALL the dogs get excited, not just yours and we'll have to abandon the dog that is still being groomed at that point, because trying to trim a dog whilst its doing brilliant rendition of River Dance is totally beyond the scope of even my magic wand. This can set that groom back by 20 minutes or half an hour which is very irritating if a customer needs to pick up their dog on time.

So, if you do happen to be "just passing through" and arrive early PLEASE wait outside and text or call us. In 99% of cases once your dog has seen you we won't be able to continue with the groom for quite some time, if at all.

Payments are by Card or Cash for ad hoc customers. VIPs pay by Standing Order, monthly. We no longer accept Funds Transfer as a method of payment because there aren't enough hours in the day to go online and make sure they've been paid.

Finally, a bit on CANCELLATIONS and NO-SHOWS. The Super Client gives plenty of notice of the former and wouldn't dream of inflicting the latter on us.


So, regardless of whether the client uses their appointment or not, we charge the full price for that breed of dog. Please believe me when I tell you that if we had had even 24 hours notice we probably could have sold that slot to someone else who would be desperately grateful to have got in at such short notice and of course, if we can do that, there is NO CHARGE. Repeat offenders have to pay for their appointments in advance and it must be noted that we operate a Three-Strikes-And-Out policy.

Most clients don't realise that no-showing their groomer is effectively the same as walking into the salon and taking their grooming fee straight out of the till.

How we work at Centre Stage

9am All the morning dogs arrive

Dogs are bathed in order of coat length and type.

They are given a Lavender Wrap and an Emmi-Pet dental treatment.

Each dog is then finished. It may be clipped, it may be scissored, it could be hand stripped - this bit depends on the breed or type of dog we're doing.

Every groom includes NAILS, if you are tempted to remind us to do them at drop off, you're likely to go home with a dog with neon pink ones.

We also clean ears at every groom.

As each dog is finished the owner is texted and they are picked up and go home.

And at 1pm we repeat this procedure with the afternoon dogs. We don't work half days... At 1pm the whole procedure starts again.

We scan every dog that comes in to be groomed for its Microchip

Every time the dog comes in.

This gives you peace of mind that the chip is still working.

We have found 7 chips so far (November 2017) that have failed and of course the owner was blissfully unaware their dog was no longer safe or legally compliant.

At the end of each week I send out an email to all the clients with the list of dogs to be groomed the following week and the free spaces that are available. Sometimes I also publish this on the CentreStageDogs FaceBook page. Invariably, within an hour or two, all the free spaces are filled.

If I get a late cancellation or a no-show, I'll also email the client list. This generally fills the appointment 50% of the time.

Sometimes the day goes really well and we get ahead of ourselves - its always worth ringing to see if we have an appointment that day, but you cannot rely on it.


Centre Stage Dogs is a business, not a hobby and we require payment for our services.

We take payments by card or cash.

The only card we do not take is American Express.

You cannot take your dog away if you have not paid in full for the groom.

Roxy Shepherd's owner (Chocolate Labrador Retriever, last seen in Sunningdale) was the last person to ever promise that she would just "pop up to Ascot High Street" and get cash from the machine. She took her dog with her in her top of the range Range Rover with lovely alloy wheels and we never saw her again. That was in 2012 and before we had a credit card terminal. We called, we emailed, we wrote, we turned up at her electric locked gates but she would not answer. So we've resorted to naming and shaming Lorraine Shepherd, who thinks she got the better of us. All this for £20. Tut Tut. What a shame. If you know her, perhaps you can give her a gentle nudge in the direction of this page. I'll remove this section as soon as she pays up.

We do do some freebies - notably dogs brought to us by recognised rescue societies who are often in dire need of our services. Every groom we do pays a little bit towards this service, so pat yourself on the back and know that you're helping a homeless dog every time you visit here.

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"A good groom is never cheap and a cheap groom is never good" ~ Jackie Grimmett