2021 End of Year Newsletter

Seasons greetings and thank you for supporting Sheena’s Pet Services!

Many of you have been along for the ride with Sheena’s Pet Services since I opened in 2012. I am quite proud to say that in February, I will be celebrating 10 years in business! A decade ago this was an unimaginable idea, but looking back I can see that with quite a lot of gumption – and perhaps a stubborn streak to rival red wine on white carpet –  anything is possible. My husband once told me that mountains are stubborn, and that I’m what comes after them on the list of what defines stubborn. And he’s not wrong! 

My accomplishments, while greatly due to my ongoing education and experience as a grooming professional, are almost entirely because of the support and loyalty of people like you. Without my wonderful client family, this milestone would not be possible. I am deeply touched that you have all stuck with me through such an extraordinary endeavor.

A quick and short history of my business includes over six years in a host store (Rascals where I met most of you), moving into my very own storefront with a whole new list of responsibilities, multiple staff changes, a global pandemic and even a disastrous shop flood that all but took my business down through innumerable challenges during the demolition and lengthy rebuild. It has been a wild ride to say the least. One that took me places I couldn’t have imagined, and taught me resilience, strength, patience and flexibility. I can say now, looking back, that alongside my business I have grown immensely through the years.

Here are the biggest lessons I’ve learned:

  1. I cannot pour from an empty cup
  2. There is no award for Overworked Small Business Owner of the Year
  3. Mental health cannot be ignored, and neither can physical limitations
  4. Family is number one. No matter what

As a small business owner, I have repeatedly made changes during the past two years to adjust to what is the new reality of the pet care industry. Pet care professionals are working harder than ever before to help as many animals as we can – a challenge compounded by a swift increase in new pets in households as people worked from home during the pandemic. Going from 4 groomers down to one made it impossible for me to take care of every animal myself, and many clients had to seek grooming services elsewhere. Cleaning the shop became a mad scramble between appointments, messages were going days and weeks unanswered and clients were getting rightfully upset. If I needed a sick day, I was left to cram more dogs into already full days or leave dogs ungroomed for further lengths of time until the next available space. I was losing my grip on my career and my business and my passion was quickly dwindling. This was all entirely unacceptable.

My physical and mental health took up roost on the back burner for the last couple of years as I hunkered down to navigate the ongoing restructuring of operations as the governing bodies put down an assortment of mandates and rules to abide by. Small business ownership takes over ones life and often we forget to take care of ourselves. It’s taken far too long for me to realize that failure to take care of myself meant that I couldn’t properly take care of the furry beings I am trusted to care for. Admittedly while overbooking myself to the point of exhaustion to cater to as many clients as I could (or couldn’t) squeeze into each day, I found that I was rushing and panicked, the quality of my work was declining and the dog’s behaviour was directly reflecting how I was feeling. Dogs that I spent years helping learn to participate in the grooming process were beginning to show signs of stress. That wasn’t how I built my business and it went directly against all that I stand for in what I do. 

Outside of my catastrophic work life, there was more happening that I couldn’t give enough of my attention to. I won’t go into great detail here, but I couldn’t ask for a more understanding audience for this part. I experienced a great deal of loss over the last couple of years with 7 of my beloved pets passing away only months or weeks apart, including Lil B who was my canine best friend, heart dog and business partner most recently in September. I always said when he passed that I would need at least 3 months off to work through the pain. But I wasn’t able to take any time off work to navigate my grief for any of my pets because – you guessed it – my schedule was far too full and I had nowhere to move any appointments. So with every loss I came to work immediately afterward and greeted your dogs with a smile. After you left, I held your fur babies tight and cried with them for a minute or two to try and release some of the mounting pain and pressure in my heart. The best therapists have four legs you know. And to each of you who popped by with kind words of encouragement and understanding, an ear to listen, socially distanced hugs, shared memories and tears, coffees, lunches and so many thoughtful cards, thank you, truly, for caring so much. I will always be available with a shoulder and an empathetic ear to return the favour to you when that time comes. Family is the most important thing in the world. And I have scheduled more time to be with my husband and our furry children moving ahead. I missed quite a lot at home because I was too buried in my work and I am taking a hard stand against my need to keep busy now. 

In the past I employed a number of groomers and assistants and obviously the big question now is why I haven’t hired help. As mentioned above, I need to be less overwhelmed, and having staff adds an immense amount of work to my plate. I am now making the effort to once again restructure my operations to ease excess stress associated with running the business and to allow me to rekindle my ambition in my career. This is a personal decision that I made after a great deal of soul-searching. If and when the time comes, I may consider an assistant but for now I am honouring my need to find my passion again.

Next I would like to discuss my salon policies, a subject I have allowed myself to be far too lax on since I first opened up shop. These rules are in place to protect both me and my business to ensure I am able to continue to provide the quality service and care you have come to know and expect.

  1. I request at least 3 hours notice of cancellation of appointments so I can fill your spot. Feel free to call or text at any time of day, my phone sounds are turned off outside of business hours but I’ll get your message. If no cancellation is given, you will be invoiced for the cost of the appointment and payment due within 48 hours. Should you choose not to pay, the remainder of your appointments will be cancelled and your spots in my rotation given to the next waiting client. 
  2. If your dog has a medical or skin concern or any injury, please get in touch to let me know ahead of the date of your appointment so that we can discuss your dog’s condition to decide the best plan of action. Dogs with torn ACL’s, slipped discs and skin conditions take significantly more time to safely groom and I thank you for your efforts to help me remain on schedule. Please understand that if I proceed with the groom, I will only complete whatever pup is comfortable with and can be safely performed.
  3. If you are more than ten minutes late arriving for your appointment, your dog’s groom will only be completed between the rest of my appointments for the day, if time permits. If my schedule is too tight for the day, it will be cancelled and the cost of the appointment will be invoiced and payment due within 48 hours.
  4. Regarding rescheduling cancelled or missed appointments, I am reserving 1 or 2 spots each month. Missed appointments can be rescheduled once any applicable fees are paid and only if a reserve spot is available. 
  5. I am not accepting new dogs at this time. You cannot switch your new pup into your current pup’s spots. I have a long list of clients waiting to get into my rotation. If you are planning on bringing a new pup into your home, they can be placed on my wait list until a spot opens up. I do not know when I will be taking new dogs, so please do not wait to find your new puppy a groomer as I cannot guarantee I will get a spot for them before their formative learning phase has passed. I am happy to refer you to some great groomer colleagues of mine if you wish.
  6. Grooming services are now all inclusive and pricing will cover any increased costs associated with running the business. Details of what is now included in your grooming appointments is outlined below. For those that have lost your jobs during the pandemic, please get in touch with me if you would like to discuss more cost-effective grooming for your dogs. There are options available to ensure your pup is getting the care they need during this unprecedented time. 

Groomers often hear that our prices are too high for what we do. Perhaps you have seen the sign in my doorway Why it Costs More to Get Your Dog Groomed Than Your Own Haircut? Simply put, we wash and cut more than just the hair on your dog’s head. They get a full sanitary wash, goobers and cling-ons removed by hand, manicure/pedicure, sap and burr removal, ear cleaning/plucking, gland squeeze, head-to-toe hair cut, and the likelihood of you biting, soaking, pooping/peeing on or yelling at your hairdresser for the duration of your stay is pretty low! :-)

My new pricing structure will be made effective January 1, 2022. Pricing adjustments are being set based on the frequency of your dog’s grooming. Dogs on a 4, 6 or 8 week schedule will go up by $5. All doodles and most dogs on a 10 or 12 week schedule will go up by $10 with exception to dogs that are given short kennel clips (¼” or shorter all over) which will go up by $5. Please keep in mind that longer coats and more complex cuts take quite a bit more time and your price is reflected accordingly. As always, there are additional fees for particularly filthy dogs, kennel soilers and severe matting. Reminder that dematting is limited to no more than 5 minutes for minimal tangling, no exceptions. I will not cause pain to any animal to please an owner.

Your dogs will be thoroughly pampered with whatever they need (and enjoy) on each visit, including toothbrushing, gland expression, dremeling, nose and paw balm, moisturizing micro-bubble and exfoliating treatments, specialty shampoos and a broad assortment of healthful coat care products. My aim is to get quality back on top of quantity and to have more opportunity to focus on each dog and provide more thorough care to each one. 

Now for scheduling. I have taken the time to pre-book the 2022 schedule to prevent lengthy wait times between appointments. I did my best to schedule each dog based on previous grooming intervals and on days you would typically have your appointments. You will notice a longer gap between appointments from June through October – I am taking the month of August off for some quality family time. I will suggest shorter clips for Spring and Summer appointments so your dogs are comfortable while they wait for their Autumn haircut as there will not be much wiggle room to move appointments around during those months. Cards have been getting put in clients hands since late October. Please let me know before January 31st, 2022 if there are any dates you know won’t work for you. Once I have everyone’s change requests I will reorganize my schedule accordingly and get in touch to confirm. The shuffling and switching around will take time, so I thank you in advance for your patience.

Next up is nails and glands which have been by appointment only for the duration of the pandemic and created a nightmare worth of messages and scheduling that I simply can’t keep up with. Starting in January I am scheduling 3-4 blocks of time each month and will announce them on my outgoing voicemail message and all social media when I will take walk-in nails and glands. These services can also be booked by appointment if the walk-in times do not cooperate with your schedule or for reactive dogs. Please text me for nail trim and gland appointments if possible. If you don’t know my pricing, nail trims are $15.00, $20 for challenging dogs, and nail trimming with Dremeling is $30. 

Last but not least, I am entertaining ideas to reopen or otherwise occupy the bay. Please follow my social media accounts if you do not already (Facebook www.facebook.com/sheenaspetservices and Instagram @calgarygroomersheena) for regular updates.

I want to say thank you again for joining my extended family and for trusting me with the care of your little furry friends. It means a great deal to me to have this honor and I look forward to many visits in the future with each of you.

Wishing you all a warm, safe and joy-filled festive season. I look forward to seeing you all in the coming New Year.

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