Salaries 101 for Pet Groomers

by Grooming Business in a Box®

From a grooming management point of view salary wages are easier to work with when forecasting operating expenses. Commission involves more guesstimating while salaries are set by agreement. “Bottom line” differences should not be large when you compare salary versus commission calculated wages for equivalent work.  Don’t be fooled into thinking you are sure to reduce payroll expenses when using salary. The purpose of salaries is not to lower wage levels. Properly managed salaries benefit both business owners and employees. Almost 21% of grooming owners are now using salaries.

It is reasonable to expect most groomers to balk at salaries. Plenty of owners have set a salary rate in mind. Did they develop the salary rate by  comparing it with commission based amounts for the same work performance? Probably not. For this reason some groomers view salaries as wage cuts. In fairness to owners groomers often don’t analyze salary offers and sometimes unwittingly reject higher income. Both sides need to study offers based on comparison of commission versus salary for the same work, and then adjust rates such that whether paid by commission or salary, the amount is equal. It can be done.

In 2010 we assisted an owner to convert three full-time groomers to salary. She offered salaries of $700.00 to $1,000.00 a week based upon productivity and experience. The job offers included documentation showing their average commission earnings for full-time work during the previous year. The highest paid groomer had averaged $924.50 a week. Without reviewing the offer two immediately gave notice they were quitting if they had to accept salaries. They did quit, and both chose not to honor their notice period.

Two months later they asked for their jobs back with salary after working at another grooming business. They discovered the salaries paid more. Be warned, the vast majority of grooming employees don’t know how to evaluate salary job offers and “work the numbers.” Help them!

Not all groomers are adverse to salaries. Once they work in a shop with  competitive groomers, usually in less than senior positions, they often find paycheck amounts vary all year. It is stressful to live this way and maintain a household budget, especially if they have children. Guaranteed salaries support stable household planning.

Full-time pet bathers may appreciate guaranteed salaries instead of working hourly or commission. The Madson Bathing Department Supervisor position (see From Problems to Profits book) is ideal for salary basis.

Job descriptions and agreements, such as the samples in From Problems to Profits, must state expected productivity standards for job positions when paid by salary. Job agreements should be more detailed and written on an individual basis. Some business owners worry about salaried employees slowing down and grooming less pets when paid by salary. No! Their fear is understandable but unnecessary. It is the duty of management to ensure employees meet reasonable work performances described in their signed job agreements, including quality and safety.

We rarely had the slowdown problem in our business. There was always an owner or manager on duty maintaining the daily goals. Remember they signed job agreements with reasonable performance standards which in effect say they would not slow down. Both parties are in agreement but you may need to remind them. Simply ask them why they are not able to meet the established performance described in the agreement they signed, and listen.

Salaries support teamwork where commission groomers are not vying for pets to groom. Some groomers justify why they always get first pick and their quota first, and supporting arguments can be quite creative, or sadly rude and teamwork busting. Once again, where is management when this happens? Based on our observations of hundreds of operations moving to salaries removed competition where groomers erratically choose their daily commission quotas.

Salaried groomers complete a set daily quota range every workday described in their job agreements. Ranges for number of grooms expected daily are used because sometimes grooming assignments are more time-consuming such as large dogs, heavy coats or complex styling requirements.

Salaries for full-time groomers do work beautifully in team-oriented operations. They support goals for camaraderie between employees no longer working against one another for personally desired quotas often changing daily, even at whim.

Finally, refer to the illustration below. Using the two wage formulas you can calculate an annual salary rate based on an hourly rate. You can also do the reverse. If you know the annual salary you want to pay use the reverse formula to determine what you are actually paying hourly though using salary. Some owners provide this illustration to employees first going on salary to avoid confusion. ♦