Thousands of groomers have never worked in a grooming business furnished with drying counters. Instead pets are dried on grooming tables, in tubs or cage-dried. We know from decades of hands-on experience that hand-drying on drying counters was the best experience for us.
As grooming business owners we served over 400,000 pets and their owners. Some say quantity means no quality. We hand-dried over 400,000 pets, every pet we ever groomed. They were never left alone in a cage to dry. How is that worthy of negative grooming-related colloquialisms? It isn’t of course.
There’s nothing wrong with drying pets on tables, or in cages or tubs. However, we know counter drying by hand outperforms other methods with advantages and maximum safety. It may cost a little more to hand dry every pet. Counter drying cut the cost of the luxury of hand-drying because it is faster and easier for most pet bathers. Once trained in counter drying techniques none of our bathers wanted to use grooming tables.
Drying counters lined the perimeter of our bathing department supporting our Contain-Abate-Prevent (C.A.P.) objectives described in our book and CD titled, Floor Plan Concepts for Pet Groomers.
Here are the key benefits of drying counters:
Faster Drying Times. Assume you have a dog on a drying counter along a wall of your bathing department. Face the counter and wall. The pet is between you and the wall, and positioned parallel lengthwise with the wall. Some of the heated or room temperature air blown onto the dog spreads around and past the dog and bounces back off the wall. The coat facing the wall is simultaneously drying at a slower pace.
We found the bounce effect so pronounced we kept spray bottles of water handy for stretch-drying pets. By the time groomers finish the front side with stretch drying, some areas of the back side may be curled and almost dry. Quick sprays of water wetting the curled spots solved the problems. This minor problem is testimony to how fast counter drying works.
Containment and Abatement Success. Counter drying within a bathing department enables the building design to noticeably contain and abate noise, moving air, heat and humidity. The walls prevent these problems from spreading throughout the grooming environment where it is not desired or useful for any reason.
Table Drying Consequences. Drying on a grooming table is counterproductive to C.A.P. goals to contain, abate and prevent. In fact, drying on grooming tables in open areas is one the worst environmental quality practices for professional grooming environments. It’s not wrong for pets.
When you dry in the open on a grooming table there is no containment. Blown air, heat and humidity travel across the pet and across the room. Groomers working on any adjacent tables may receive blasts of air and noise. Groomers trying to “stay in zone” concentrating on the art of finish grooming get plenty distracted. Why do stylists have to overlook and have their zone challenged by noisy equipment including dryers, nozzles and vacuums? Resolving these issues creates natural productivity, and less stress.
Blown air sends big and little hairs out into the open adding to cleaning duties in all departments. Some groomers flip the drying nozzle around, up, down, here, there, left and right and heat and humidity are being shot everywhere. Dirt, dust and dander already at rest on objects, furniture and fixtures become airborne again and sail throughout the business. If you have a retail area, you are forever dusting. Dryer and nozzle noise fans out 360 degrees too. Overall, C.A.P. directives fail when drying on tables in traditionally designed shops.
Accident Prevention Improves with Counter Drying. A dog securely looped to a fixed position on a walled drying counter has more security, and security makes for calmer pets. It’s easier to dry a pet that feels protected. The groomer stands on one side of the dog and the opposite side is a wall. Some pets love to rest against it. The wall reduces visual pet distraction. It prevents looped pets from moving sideways. Fortunately the pet retains forward vision, the most important direction if they are to feel comfortable and less restrained. Counter drying done properly by pet bathers supports pet satisfaction with the grooming experience.
Pets on open grooming tables receive 360 degrees of distraction. Information comes at them from all sides. They can more readily struggle away from groomers even when looped to a grooming arm. Pet positioning becomes more of a task when compared to counter drying. Missing counter walls are like third arms helping groomers to keep pets positioned comfortably.
In summary, what are the advantages of drying pets on grooming tables? Absolutely none. It’s not wrong. It’s simply without advantages. Counter drying done correctly successfully allows pets to dry faster with hands-on attention, contain noise, heat and humidity and loose dirt, dander and haircoat. What more can a professional ask for? Well, how about a lot of extra storage space without taking up more floor space?
Here are some additional tips.
Construction. Drying counters may be mounted on walls leaving open space below them. There’s no problem with that design. However the empty space below the counter could be used for significant storage, and additional counter support. Construct storage cabinets and secure them to the walls of the bathing department as indicated on your floor plan. Build countertops secured to top of the storage cabinets and the result is a very stable drying counter solution with plenty of storage. Some of our floor plans incorporate more than 100 cubic foot of storage under drying counters. What does that mean? You need less square footage and that lowers rent.
Countertops. They should extend about six inches forward from the front face of the cabinets. This air space is also leg space for pet bathers sitting on stools while they dry pets. It also allows some room for dryer stand bases and rollers.
Don’t use cabinet hardware that sticks out from the face of the cabinets, such as handles and knobs. Bathers could bruise their knees on them, and cords can catch on them. Instead use hardware that is flush with the surface of the cabinets. Raise the cabinets on feet creating some air space between the bottom of the cabinets and the floor. Bathing departments are wet areas and you don’t want water seeping under cabinets with solid bottoms resting on floors. Seeping water can rot wood and harbor sanitation problems.
Pet Positioning Safety. Secure very strong eyelets into the studs of the counter wall. Strong but comfortable grooming loops should be able to attach to the eyelets. Never allow pets of different families to commingle on drying counters. Space pets on your drying counters so they cannot touch one another. Then attach their grooming loops maintaining the separation. The pets are now safe at all times from touching or harming one another.
Pets should never be left unattended on grooming tables, and the same is true for drying counters. Grooming loops attached to a counter wall should never be relied upon when a bather needs to temporarily step away. Instead, bathers use temporary holding cages the same as groomers. ▲
Article based on excerpt from Floor Plan Concepts for Pet Groomers, a CD and User Guide part of the Grooming Business in a Box® series. www.groomingbusinessinabox.com