Revisiting the New Language for Pet Care Businesses

by Madeline Ogle, Author of From Problems to Profits in Pet Grooming Book

Seven years after writing From Problems to Profits: The Madson Management System for Pet Grooming Businesses, I wrote an extensive article for the Madson Pet Reporter titled, The New Language for Pet Care Businesses. In this article I would like readers to revisit my original article. The New Language for Pet Care Businesses impacted many of my consultation clients in the last 18 years. You can read some of their comments below. The New Language adds an air of professional sophistication without snobbery. Your clientele will notice the difference. Try using my word selections to market a more stable business, and avoid misunderstandings by eliminating counterproductive words unfortunately common to thousands of groomers. Enhance client confidence.

Today you can make a major difference in the perception of the public for your business. By simply using more effective words to describe your pet care and client services, and eliminating counterproductive words, you can capture far more public attention and set your business apart from the “competition.”

Using well chosen words for in a specialized context as a pet care professional will significantly assist you to build a stable, loyal clientele and attract new business. You don’t have to invest any money to achieve these benefits. It does require you to develop a strong awareness for the pet care language used by you and staff you may employ, as well as the words used in your marketing efforts.

Sometimes as pet care professionals we forget our use of questionable and even derogatory words common to many pet care operations. It is not wrong to use these words, but as professionals we should be more  aware of our making the best impression at all times.

Our choice of words is a major factor in bonding loyal clients. Do not strive for random customers. Bond loyal clients maximizing appointment frequency year in and year out. Clients are steady business income. Customers are first time visitors, but clients are stability and a significant source of valuable referrals which are more business without advertising expenses.

Since I first shared my New Language hundreds of groomers contacted me and shared their delight using it. Some added more words each time replacing  common groomer vocabulary with more caring, enlightened and interesting vocabulary. As employers they repeatedly had to remind their employees to switch words. After a few weeks they noticed customers were giving them more undivided attention. Some even commented with approval for the new vocabulary.

The New Language communicates your business offers a unique standard of pet care services. Powerful pet care words create feelings of assurance, of welcome accommodation and service excellence bonding pet owners to your business.

Greater financial potential awaits every pet grooming business even during economic downturns. One goal as an owner is to maximize the net worth of your business (small or large) relative to its market area by serving people with differences transcending the local market expectations.

Use carefully chosen words to offend no one, yet impress everyone. You will capture more clientele leading to your good fortune. Your words really can set you apart from others offering grooming services in your area.


When you listen to another do you not see an image in your mind constructed by their words? Yes. That is a great purpose for language in our world. It is the same for your business. Your words create images in the minds of your clientele. What are your words describing to your clientele about your services? They are making decisions to use or not use your services, so this is a critical question for business owners.

Words can be pleasant and uplifting, or create discomfort and even sully a business image. Words can confirm and create confidence, or they can stimulate customer doubt, fear and skepticism. Your choice of words can even cost you revenue.

Words can build, fortify and expand a business, or they can limit its potential. They can provoke differences between people, or maintain neutrality and unify people. Words do indeed affect a business. Advertising agencies charge thousands even hundreds of thousands of dollars to carefully select advertising words in order to achieve the marketing goals of advertisers. (2014 Update: One word can make or break a commercial operation, especially slang such as the incident where TV celebrity Paula Deen expressed racial slang resulting in her enterprise losing millions of dollars in lost sales and brand reputation).

Selective wording has created great leaders in business. We as pet care professionals can similarly benefit by adopting a similar concern. Pet owners are already innately scrutinizing our words because they are intent on finding businesses that will best care for their beloved pets. Confirm their wise decision in coming to your business. There are many ways to do that and then you are on your way to adding more loyal clients, and earning more free referrals. By developing a mastery of the New Language you will confirm to the public you are among the best and most caring and accommodating pet care businesses.

Become an expert at listening to everything said in your business. Remember, the public is forming images in their minds from words heard by everyone in your premises. Ask yourself, “What images were created by what I just heard in my business?” Replace common pet care words with those suggested here as part of the New Language, and ask yourself if they are portraying more effective images for professionalism.

If you have staff, implementing the New Language can spark a team effort for Continued from page 46

where everyone becomes more aware of how their words construct images for a  more professional operation. The opportunity to gain more pride is significant. It can be fun too! The positive response from new customers and clients may be immediate. Some will love to tell you out right that they appreciate the courtesy, warmth and professional concern you and your team create using the New Language.

Training the New Language is a significant management task. Of course, don’t order your staff by saying, “Use these words now, and no longer use these words.” Your staff must understand why. Share what you have learned in this article about the nature of words creating mental images. Introduce the New Language at a staff meeting. Ask them for their opinions of each word I suggest you begin to use, and each word I suggest you eliminate. Your goal is for staff to have a clear understanding that effective “positive” words support the growth and stability of a business, and that ineffective “negative” words limit professional recognition.

Could your clients be hearing words that create images of uneasiness or anxiety? Are they thinking subliminally, “I may not go back there.” Surveys of pet owners by ( indicated 60% of them did not approve of some of the language used in grooming businesses they had previously patronized. That’s huge!

Seventy-four percent of the time they said the offending language was not directed to them but instead something said directly to another client or overheard in the background. It only takes one employee’s words to create a detriment. For this reason managing the language used by staff is clearly a management task. Employee handbooks should provide verbal guidelines in writing as well.

Whether you have staff or not, persist in recognizing that words can direct, heal, bring peace, inform, guide and satisfy your clientele. The list of benefits is lengthy. Ask yourself, are my worlds communicating desirable images? Do they encourage pet owners to say to themselves, “I feel good about leaving my pet here, and I will come back.” It is of course important for clients to appreciate your fine grooming services, but it’s just as important that you serve them, and not only their pets, with client service excellence.

Accommodate pet owners and pets. There is a powerful word not commonly used in grooming businesses, “accommodate.” It is not limited boarding type accommodations but also the actions related to accommodating people with your client relations services. You even accommodate pets by the specific nature of your grooming services and the care of pets while in your temporary care.

People love to know their pets are being accommodated. Followers of The Madson Management System’s Client Relations Program already know this guideline. They also appreciate the absence of words that may create misunderstandings, and disturb the pleasant ambiance of a professional pet care environment.

I am sure that your customers and clients believe that you are doing a fine job of grooming their pets. What else bonds them to your business? Adept business owners are always looking for ways to better accommodate loyal clients, and to make every new customer into a client. Now you know that your business language is actually another important accommodation.

As a groomer you know that most of your clients consider pets as family members. Parents love to hear others say how “adorable,” “beautiful,” “smart,” “good,” “handsome” or “pretty” their children are. Many would be uncomfortable with casual references to race, color or creed. Logically, if pets are family members, pet owners will react similarly to comments about their pets. Let’s take a closer look at an example of how words can affect customers. The goal in this example is to make a new customer into a loyal client.

A new customer arrives at your business. If the customer has scheduled an appointment in advance, they should be greeted as if they were an expected, welcome guest. “Your last name please? Following their response, “Hello (________), we have been looking forward to meeting you and your pet, Pierre. Welcome to (your business’ name).” You have relaxed the new customer and made them to feel welcome at a business now less strange to them. By obtaining the pet names when scheduling advance appointments for new customers, your personal greetings will communicate more sincere accommodation. You are  also on your way to making the customer feel expected as if they were a regular client. Everyone likes to feel expected when visiting family or friends, and in business

Now, what can go wrong? Based on my 50 plus years of experience in the pet care industry, I can say that I have heard customers, or been one of them, greeted with, “Oh, what a cute mutt,” or “What kind of dog is that, he’s kind of funny-looking,” or “He’s so ugly he’s cute,” or “Oh no! Who groomed your pet? (ed. note: hopefully it wasn’t the pet owner). This humor may be acceptable to some pet owners, but not for most. Why take risks in client relations?

Odd references to size, breed, or  conditions as well as negative comments about grooming by other groomers have no place in a professional grooming business. Never say anything that could place a client at odds with your business, and on the offensive. Avoid the opportunities for misunderstandings by using these odd references or comments.

Your clients are conditioned to expect clearly positive statements about their pets as if they were family members. Just as parents love to hear, “What a darling child”, pet owners should hear, “What a darling dog (or cat).” If they do not see their pet in that light they may give the real nature of the pet, but the point is, they did it, not you.

Build a rapport with every client. Display your emotional sensitivity to every one of them. Leave it to the customer to remark on the character of their pets and such things that don’t affect your reputation. Let the pet owner say, “She’s just a mutt, but we love her.” Of course they do, and now you can express that you too love all pets. Show them you are sensitive to their feelings, and sensibilities. It’s imperative in a service business.

All too often it is what a customer or client overhears that does the most damage to your reputation. You may never know the root cause. Most customers are either too polite or shy to share something that has offended them with the source. We previously mentioned our surveys that proved this point. I’m sure that you are aware that clients are regularly making judgments about your grooming services, prices, cleanliness and many other service factors. The role of pet owner as a consumer requires them to make such judgments, similar to those made by a parent seeking child care services. Extend your managerial awareness by listening to everything that a client might hear in your business, and consider what images are being communicated.

When you believe, or know, that a client has heard something impolite, rash, or something that might be misconstrued, like a staff member saying, “Put Sammy in a ‘noose,’” you must come forward immediately and turn off the alarm bells ringing aloud in listeners. We may know nooses are grooming loops, but pet owners do not. They are likely to imagine a pet hanging. A  simple explanation to listeners corrects the incident. Review the incident in private with the employee(s) so that it does not happen again. You cannot passively expect that pet owners will know that a “noose” is a safe grooming device, when used properly. Otherwise, the client will leave thinking, “I may not (or will never) go back there again”, and you will be left wondering why they became a missing client.

Pet owners we surveyed had no idea a grooming loop was also called a “noose.” Over half thought it was a slanderous joke. Thirty percent thought it was a potentially harmful training tools being used without their authority.  The manager in you should always wonder why any new customer or client fails to return. Slang, buzzwords, and other offensive remarks, especially those that characterize people and pets are often the culprit. Certainly it is not always a displeasure with your grooming services or prices that explains the missing client.

New customers retreated from other groomers in our area because of their off color or scary language. A new customer might ask me, “You won’t put my dog in a noose, will you?” These type of clients have little problem in expressing caution to a new stranger, like me, whereas they find it more difficult to ask the previous groomer, simply because they want to get away, and not consider what may have happened in the past. They don’t want to think that they made a mistake in the past by using the services of a groomer that uses a noose! Most people want to quickly forget unpleasant imagery. Some human parents that have had problems with human daycare centers don’t like to discuss the situation with people because they are embarrassed to admit they chose to patronize problematic daycare centers in the first place. They simply leave and never go back. Well, the same logic may apply to many offended and alarmed pet owners. Groomers often say missing clients did not like their grooming services. While possible our surveys showed that it is often because of something they heard that aroused skepticism about the professionalism of the groomer.

Pet owners want to know that they are now, and they always have been, providing the best care for their pets. The New Language asserts their right action to patronize your business. It communicates your concern for standards of operation, and it eliminates their alarm. Every pet grooming business using the New Language can eliminate the risk, and revenue drain, created by the dread alarm factor. Consider everything said, or possibly overheard, in your business for its potential to set off alarm bells.

There are other words commonly used in some pet care businesses that can damage a business reputation, and I group them together for their demeaning nature. These words carry a detrimental sound with them. Their source is usually from untrained staff.  Their employers must open staff  awareness for the offensiveness of their words, and most of all, to be aware that they are actually offending themselves as well as other people and pets.

In the background of too many pet grooming salons you may hear words like “shi_”, “piss”, “crap”, “damn”, “hell” or “barf.” These demeaning words carry shocking and violent connotations unworthy of pets and caring pet owners.

Have you ever heard a professional publically state a dog or cat is “stupid” or “bad?” Are they really ‘stupid’ or ‘bad’, or do they simply require special attention? Even if owners should use these terms, ask yourself who is the professional? Hearing such words demeans everyone and everything, including people, pets and your business. They lower self-esteem.

Here are more examples, and several of these come from surveys of pet owners stating things they heard in grooming businesses that offended them .

  • “Put him in a noose so he can’t jump.”
  • “The dog just shi_ all over.”
  • “The spoiled brat is trying to bite me.”
  • “I hate working on that dog.”
  • “He’s going to hang himself.”
  • “Show him who is boss.”

Shi_ is not only rude and demeaning, but it expresses anger and perhaps the possibility of cruelty. Jump means risk. Under these circumstances, a biting pet may only be trying to protect itself from an angry or cruel employee. Why else would someone else’s pet be biting in the first place? Perhaps it is the nature of the pet, but is it always the pet, and never the employee? In fact, wouldn’t a pet bite a groomer that hates working on a pet?

You must account for the many possibilities of language based misunderstandings when your business serves a wide cross section of the consumer public. You must correct very abrasive tones too. They are often associated with demeaning words, and that accentuates their effect.

I would like to share an actual incident I experienced with two trainees. I was shocked to say the least. A new customer arrives, and they overhear this conversation. The receptionist- trainee raises her voice to the pet bather trainee saying, “Mrs. Smith is on the phone and wants to know if Freddie is ready.” The bather trainee raises his voice saying, “No, I just threw her in the tub; it will be another hour.”

Needless, to say, the new customer raised her eyebrows. I immediately resolved the situation knowing well that the new customer had indeed experienced negative imagery. I also resolved the situation with Mrs. Smith on the telephone who thankfully hadn’t fainted on the other end after hearing that her pet was thrown into the tub. She could have already been driving madly to the salon ready to rescue her pet. Words are powerful indeed, especially when the words relate to a family member.

Your target is to eliminate the negative imagery created by problematic words used anywhere and at anytime in your business. The New Language provided in this article is an excellent start in achieving a mastery of an effective service business language. Using it, you can gain so much, and reduce the opportunity for risk, so it is more than my subtle recommendation that you adopt the New Language. Experiment with it now.

In the example above, if I hadn’t taken action to correct any misunderstandings by Mrs. Smith, or my new customer, I could have lost as much as $800.00 a year from that one incident. How? If both pet owners visit my business an average of 10 times a year and their average fee is $40.00, that’s $800.00 over the period of one year. If one such incident took place once every working day, a business could lose tens of thousands of dollars in a year. But wait, I haven’t yet accounted for thousands of dollars in lost referrals, the life blood of a pet grooming business. The New Language not only saves you from the burdens of revenue loss, but just the opposite, it makes money and protects it.

When I decided to grow a large grooming business, among my allies was the New Language and The Madson Management System. Every day my goal was bond new customers into loyal clients generating maximum appointment frequency. For each new client made you should figure at least 7 more appointments in the next year. Eight additional grooms for the same client at $40.00 each is an annual of total $320.00. If the pet lives for another ten years that is $3,200 from the new customer turned loyal client.

When I view a new customer I did not see $40.00 today, I saw $3,200 at my reception counter. This attitude explains how I built one of the world’s largest businesses and yet maintained superior, artistic and humane pet care.

In this light of potential revenue, and not just immediate gratification of today’s service fee, can you do more to secure and actualize that potential? I did, I got it. I didn’t know this when I started a grooming business. It was learned at a time when seminars and workshops were rare in our industry. With this motivation I looked for anyway to improve my client relations, including as you now know, the New Language.

There is another category of words to consider here, Environment. The words in this category are fortunately not as brash as those in the examples above, yet these words are not effective in conveying to pet owners your concern for the warmth and comfort of their pets. The best example of such a word is “cage.” You are probably saying, “You are kidding. Maddie is saying I should not use the word “cage?” Well, guess what. It is one of my top suggestions in the New Language. My use of alternate words for cage brought many positive comments from my clientele. In fact, since 1996 “cage-free” has become a keyword for some groomers realizing their clientele chooses not to have their pet in one at any time while at groomers. We were not cage-free, but at the time sensed the negative connotations of the word, cage, for at least some of our clientele.

How many times a day is the word “cage” spoken in a grooming business? Plenty! Webster’s Desk Dictionary uses the words confining, and wires to define the meaning of a cage. The Family Word Finder uses the words “coop up,” “restrict,” “shut in,” “restrain” and “barred cell” to describe a cage. None of those sound “accommodating.” It may be accurate to call a cage a cage, but you can soften the mental imagery of a cage by replacing it with lodging space. The image you are creating in a pet owner’s mind is much more favorable and suited to a caring pet care service business.

“Lodging” or “lodging space” implies the comfort of accommodation. You may already be adding a touch of warmth to your cages by providing a cotton towel, so why not invite your clients openly to bring their pet’s favorite blanket and toy to warm their pet’s lodging space. Adopting the New Language is like a wave of change yet you cannot touch it. It’s an air of difference, intriguing. If your customers go elsewhere they may notice the change in vocabulary very quickly at their new groomers.

A dictionary is an important tool for a business manager, and I recommend you refer to one often whenever you hear a word that seems to have the power to affect people, whether positive or negative. Make the dictionary available to your staff so that they can check the meaning of words too.

If you have staff, post a small blackboard where new words, or problematic words, can be posted to increase awareness their awareness for them. Edit and supplement the New Language glossary supplied here. The invitation to use the blackboard will create interesting conversation and team action. With your approval, let your staff experiment using new words in communications with your clientele.

Using the New Language regularly will give you more insight into the many natures of different people. Your communications will become more effective, and clearly understood. It will certainly assist you in developing the skills of your staff. For example, Mary, an employee of mine, wasn’t cutting pets’ nails properly. I could have taken her aside and said, “You must cut nails properly, the way you’ve been trained to.” The statement may be true, but it also creates negative, fearful imagery. Instead I asked, “Mary, what is standing in your way of cutting pet nails properly?” The question format defuses opportunities for negative imagery, and the words “standing in your way”  conveyed that I understood she wanted to do the task properly, but conceivably she was facing a challenge preventing her from performing her duties in a proper manner. Mary didn’t feel overly threatened by me. Instead she was facing her limitations with a supervisor providing reinforcement training.

Mary’s answer was, “I’m afraid of hurting the pet.” She was suffering from her own fearful images of bleeding nails. In response I could provide reinforcement training and resolve the situation. Or I could communicate that she was helping the pet, and the pet owner and how long nails can cause a pet discomfort or worse. The root of the problem was exposed by words of neutral inquiry that did not augment her existing fears. In this case, Mary succeeded in overcoming her fears, but in others even the extreme may be true.

You may actually discover a new bather is not appropriate to handle pets as an  eventual pet groomer regardless of the training you offer. As employers we must know what is standing in their way of fulfilling the duties and responsibilities of their position, and it is not likely going to be resolved in fear or admonishment. Fear may already be the problem stopping them being a successful groomer.

I acknowledge the language we each use is a “touchy subject.” I have tried not to sound as if I am preaching, or being too critical. It is my desire to share with my valued readers  something I practiced for over 50 years  making people feel comfortable, welcome and better served. My initial management training never taught me the value of clear and polite selective wording. It was a discovery for me, and a valuable one for my business that flourished with little advertising.

Clarity and courtesy expressed by using the New Language keeps businesses moving forward to achieve their goals with a greater sense of peace. I know implementing the New Language can expand your business or keep demand steady as it did mine. Certainly it will further polish your professional reputation and set you apart from your competition.

Give it a try. You are not alone in this endeavor. Hundreds of my readers have proven it works since 1996.   ♦


Webster’s: an enclosure having wires; confining.

Reader’s: pen in; coop up; impound; stall; restrict; an enclosure having wires; confine; shut in, barred cell.


It is practical to call a cage a cage. It is what you bought, right? Consider the definitions above. All of them are associated with negative imagery. We are not suggesting cage-free operations. Instead try substituting “cage” with words more accommodating of the feelings of pet owners and generating pleasant mental imagery for beloved pets.



Webster’s: temporary quarters, space, a stay, safekeeping, to rest, room.

Reader’s: temporary stay, sojourn.


Compare the definitions above for “cage” and “lodging.” Is it not remarkable how different two interchangeable words can be? The mental imagery generated by either is opposite the other. “Lodging” is a lovely, caring word. It conveys to pet owners your concern for the comfort of their pets. Of the many word replacements I practiced in my business, replacing “cage” with “lodge” or “lodging” brought the most positive comments from pet owners. They loved it and so did I. It convinced my staff that I was on to something with the New Language for Pet Care Businesses.


Webster’s: a loop with a running knot that tightens, as in a snare; death by hanging.

red_sad_faceAlarm bells go off with this word. Here is one word to eliminate entirely from your business to prevent misunderstandings. Even “secure the pet safely in a noose” generates negative imagery remains.



green_happy_faceIt is easy to replace “noose.” “Loop” is neutral and means a ribbon doubled back on itself to form an open eye. Now there is no cause for alarm.



 Webster’s: do a kindness; help, aid; provide a service, oblige.

green_happy_faceThis word carries the essence of your desire to serve both pets and clientele. There is noble virtue in the businessperson that seeks to accommodate its clientele. Use this word in your promotional materials too. “It is our pleasure to accommodate your pet grooming needs.” “If there is anything we can do to accommodate you better please let us know.” How many groomers speak like this? Few. Your business language can “separate you from the pack,” and at no cost.


Webster’s: to part; estranged from a parent or person; existing by one’s self; fearful; apprehensive; uneasiness; concern worry; earnestly wishing.

green_happy_faceSince 1996 when I first wrote the New Language the use of the term “separation anxiety” has been adopted rather well. It describes what a pet endures within minutes of being separated from their owners. The effects may be accentuated with blind, deaf and disabled pets. Some pets that frequently urinate, or defecate or display a nervous itch or chew may be displaying signs of separation anxiety. Every pet owner desires to be free of worry and concern for their pets left in the care of another without their having. You can ask of them to ensure they return on time to retrieve their pets and thereby reduce the chances of their pet enduring separation anxiety. It sounds professional and not yet not scary. Your concern sounds compassionate too.


Webster’s: identification with; or experiencing the feelings of another.

green_happy_faceIf your clients sense your empathy for their concerns and their pets, you are on the right track to bonding more loyalty to your business. You might find a great use of this word in your promotional materials.



Webster’s:  lessen the merit or reputations of a person or thing.

Reader’s:  uncomplimentary; belittling; unfavorable. 

red_sad_faceDerogatory words affect both people and pets. Use the term as needed to explain to an employee that what they have said is offensive, and therefore derogatory. By knowing their misspoken words are derogatory, and “lessen the merit” of the business, they usually respond quickly to adopt the New Language. The challenge to eliminate derogatory words builds self-esteem.



Webster’s:  words not considered part of the standard vocabulary. 

red_sad_faceSlang is somewhat common in grooming businesses. The worst slang has a demeaning factor like spoiled brat. When overheard by pet owners it can damage the reputation of the business. I have faith that all readers of this article know that most slang is inappropriate in business, but I will list examples. Consider the following: crap; shi_; poop; pee; piss; wee-wee; hell; damn; ass; horny and balls. You have likely heard groomers use them. Anguished groomers working on behavioral pets might passionately say, “I hate you!” Offensive slang explains why shy pet owners say nothing and never return. Eliminating slang takes time but you must persist. It never promotes a professional reputation. Apologize if clients hear it from staff.


Reader’s: friendly; comradeship; sociability; company; pals; chum.

green_happy_facePut pet owners at ease with their choice of you as their groomer by simply communicating that your business encourages and provides companionship for visiting pets. Pet sitters know the marketing value of this word. Is it not your intent to be friendly with pets and to treat them as temporary company? Companionship communicates positive imagery. “We provide regular companionship and supervision during your pet’s stay.”


Webster’s: paying strict attention to; mindful; recognizing and noting fact.

green_happy_faceObservation plays a crucial role in providing professional pet care services. The word creates positive imagery too. It is appropriate for groomers to observe pet conditions and record them. By doing so, are you not “paying strict attention” and being “mindful” and “recognizing and noting” facts? By sharing written observations with your clientele you help them take better care of their pets. We used a Pet Groomer’s Report and Health Alert form shown in the From Problems to Profits book. Do not diagnose. Instead, describe observations. “Mrs. Smith we observed sores on Eddie’s right leg. Please provide our written report of observations to your vet.” What pet owner won’t appreciate you and your observations?


Webster’s:  the process of determining by examination and analysis the nature and circumstance of a diseased condition.

red_sad_faceProfessional groomers make keen observations of the pets they groom. They share their observations with pet owners and advise them when veterinary care should be considered. This process is best in writing too and that allows the veterinarian to learn how much of a professional you are. As a result you may earn vet referrals; we got thousands over the years. Vets clearly saw that our descriptive words of pet conditions never included a single diagnosis which is the responsibility of a licensed medical professional only.


Webster’s:  to discharge urine; to discharge waste matter.

green_happy_faceUrinate is an acceptable replacement for undesirable slang words that describe such as: peeing, pissing and pee-pee. “Urine” replaces “pee and piss” too. All too often the slang terms for urine are spoken with angry or offensive tone too. It is only natural in a pet care environment that pet waste will be mentioned in conversation but it doesn’t have to seem rude, crude or offensive to shy pet owners. “Urine” and “urinate” sound “medicinal” perhaps, but they have the virtue of little negative imagery and no prejudice.


Webster’s:  expel feces through the anus.

green_happy_faceSome of the most offensive slang used in pet grooming relates to feces, and defecating. Pet owners do not want to hear four-letter words for feces, even “crap” offends some. It is more socially correct to say defecated or “bowel movement.” The best you can do when having to communicate about this subject is to keep negative imagery at minimum by using “defecate” and “feces,” and perhaps bowel movement.


Webster’s:  abnormally frequent stools.

red_sad_faceIt is not improper to use this word. Certainly there is a great deal of negative imagery derived from this word, and bad jokes. For these reasons we looked for a replacement. A far more neutral term is “loose stools” and that is descriptive and does not attempt to diagnose.



Webster’s:  spew, eject violently, gush.

red_sad_faceMuch like “diarrhea,” the word “vomit” attracts negative attention. We switched to “spew” instead. It is not critical to switch spew for vomit compared to poor slang but give it a try. You may say “vomit” once in a conversation and then switch to “spew.”



Webster’s:  spew, eject violently, gush.

red_sad_faceSimilar to “diarrhea,” the word “vomit” attracts negative attention. We switched to “spew” instead. It is not critical to switch spew for vomit compared to poor slang but give it a try. You may say “vomit” once in a conversation and then switch to “spew.”


Webster’s:  to overindulge; to damage; to harm; to plunder; indulgent.

Reader’s:  ruin, botch; mess up; foul; mar; impair; destroy; mutilate; coddle.

red_sad_faceHave you or your employee called a pet “spoiled” or “spoiled brat?” Certainly a pet’s behavior might provoke such a response from the impatience of the groomer, but it is to be avoided. Actually the pet’s behavior may have nothing to do with the coddling of its owner, it may be fear. “Spoiled” is a very derogatory word and judgmental. Labeling a pet as spoiled implies that its owner has damaged it even if we consider Webster’s definition. Groomers do not mean to be so derogatory, but it is a harmful sign of impatience not desired when working with living creatures. In our surveys of pet owners using the services of pet groomers some were quite offended when told they spoil their pets, and some heard that term in the background of the business with another pet. It is all very negative and not appreciative of consumers buying our services. Avoid the word “spoiled.”


Webster’s:  exclusive; special; individual; particular; privy.

green_happy_face“Personal” and “personalize” are exceptional words for regular use. Personalized services for both pets and their owners is a plus when building a steady clientele. They defy comparison with other groomers. Find ways for pet owners to personalize their pets’ lodging spaces with favorite toys or blankets, perhaps something you sell as retail too. Train staff to describe your client and pet services as personalized. Solicit their personal opinions of your business with a client questionnaire. Large businesses can still be personal, in fact they usually have the grooming demand necessary to hire receptionists. Your receptionists should be experts in the New Language. In conversing with pet owners they can learn more about the individual personal services needed by your clients and note that in your records.


Webster’s:  humane; kind; tenderhearted; sympathetic.

green_happy_faceThis word is excellent for job descriptions. You require this quality for hired staff, and it is something you as the owner always want to convey. Without this attribute a job candidate would not be eligible to work in my business. In your promotional materials mention that you strive to meet the compassionate needs of pets when separated from their owners. “Pet parents” love that quality!


Webster’s:  household animal; favored, cherished, beloved, comradeship.

green_happy_faceWe include the word “pet” here for its wonderful simplicity, and its beautiful definition. Ask job candidates to define the word. Once they understand the nature of dogs and cats as pets. A professional staff in mindful every moment of every working day that they are caring for creatures, household animals, favored, cherished and beloved by people that have placed their faith and trust in you, their groomers. This may seem a silly thing to ask you to do, but try it! Ask others to define “pet” and compare their answers to this definition. As groomers you have deep responsibilities often taken for granted and seen as shallow. Caring for pets demands our best every day.


Webster’s:  command; govern; direction; manage, in charge of; supervise; plan.

green_happy_faceOperating a pet care service business may be your charge. Every workday is not only your demonstration of your grooming skills, but perhaps your management skills, and management is problematic in this artistic field. If you are to be in control in an environment with living pets do so, carry the hats well and balanced of both groomer and manager. The use of the New Language is but one matter for you to exert positive control. Positive control encourages teamwork, and acts without  admonishment-based management.


Webster’s:  assistance given to someone; render assistance; to treat in your specified manner; answer purpose.

green_happy_faceWe have DOUBLE service responsibilities. We serve the needs of pets as well as their owners. Most groomers focus on the pet needs but I forgot the least expensive way to grow a one person business, or large staff operation, is client services. Advertising brings you customers but clients stay for years and years. I served an entire generation and then their children before I sold my business. We only used a road sign and yellow pages advertising at that time. REFERRALS launched and maintained my business. Our commitment to equally serve BOTH client and pets grew the business many times larger than we dreamed. We saved tens of thousands of dollars in advertising expenses with this proven system discussed in my From Problems to Profits. Service excellence consistently delivered gives pet owners and veterinarians the confidence to send you hundreds or even thousands of FREE referrals. Never forget grooming is a client service industry as well as pet care. One of the biggest obstacles in grooming are not hiring at least a part-time receptionist well-trained to handle the paperwork, records, telephone and classic intake and outtake service using the New Language. Eliminate burnout by hiring at least a part-time receptionist allowing groomers more time to groom uninterrupted.. What a stress reducer! In my book I showed you how receptionists “can pay their way.” You can afford one!


Webster’s:  a group of domesticated animals; often family.

green_happy_facePack animal is a useful term when describing aspects of dog behavior. Dogs are pack animals now living with humans as a result of domestication. Just as we consider them family members dogs may consider humans as part of their “pack.” For this reason dogs often become anxious when left alone and unattended for extended periods of time. They innately desire regular periods of quality human interaction. A great use of this term applies to staff training. Make them more aware and understanding of dog behavior related to their origin as pack animals.


Webster’s:  to grow vigorously; excellence; successful; to influence; to be at the height of fame; occurring fresh.

green_happy_faceEven a one-person business would love to grow vigorously (flourish) when starting out. In fact every business needs to grow to replace missing customers and pets that pass without replacement. Is it not your goal to flourish as a businessperson that grooms? We can afford to keep up shops or mobile units better. We can maintain the best equipment and tools. We always have something left over for us too! I do not want to be “rich” in the overused sense of that term. I do want my business and myself to feel the joy of flourishing by being a pet care professional. What a better word, and a feeling to cherish.


Webster’s:  characterized by kindness, mercy and compassion.

green_happy_faceIf your goals include 1) catapulting your business reputation ahead of the competition, 2) attracting major attention from pet owners for your services and 3) promoting your ethical business and professional management, then humane is one of the words that hits the bulls eye target.

What pet owner doesn’t want to think that their groomer is kind, merciful and has compassion for pets? Yet many groomers take pause understandably before using humane in addressing their business. It does sound like a word that requires specific proof or evidence before using it. We used the word, and we chose to document why to back our claim. You can do the same.

The Humane Bath Procedure (you can update it too) in From Problems to Profits is but one example of documenting your humane procedures. More than lip service you back your claims with documentation and other support and even endorsements by qualified professionals.

Can you imagine the positive imagery of humane in your promotional materials? If you are delivering it, promote it for it will interest the market you serve. Share your documentation to back your claim. Our employee handbook contained our humane procedures expected of employees leaving us to supervise it.  ♦