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July 1, 2015

However, at-home groomers aren’t looking for a simpler version of these items. Customers who groom their pets at home, whether exclusively or between appointments, are seeking the same level of professional quality in their tools as they see used in grooming salons. Key factors include functionality, durability and ergonomics.

The UpScale Tail is an award-winning pet salon in Naperville, Ill., co-owned by pet stylists Jennie Krezel and Kendra Otto. When it comes to selecting combs for the salon, Otto said, “We look for durability. A lot of combs, when you drop them, their teeth fall out. It’s a hassle.”

Ultimately, that costs the salon time and money. Her preferred combs are manufactured by the Andis Company and Chris Christensen.

“The big poodle comb from Andis, the 10-inch, is a nice, lightweight comb that helps you get through the dog’s coat,” said Otto.

Otto is an International Pet Styling Consultant for the Andis Company and said she has had a hand in helping to develop some of their products. At the UpScaleTail, “We use slicker brushes,” she said. “I like the self-cleaning slicker brush from Andis.”

Resco’s Pro-Series Slicker Brush works for most breeds and includes dual-height stainless steel pins to make the brushing easy on the groomer and painless for the pet. It’s available in large and small and it works on cats, too.

Resco also launched an innovative rake that can be adjusted to two different angles: positive and negative. By switching to the negative angle, the groomer gets more pull from the teeth. The rake is lightweight; it has an anodized aluminum, hollow body and an ergonomic elastomer handle.

Adaptability in a tool is a bonus for at-home groomers because most won’t have the full suite of grooming tools available to them that salons have. For retail customers interested in grooming their pet at home, multiple-function tools provide an easy starting point for a smaller investment.

Chris Christensen Systems’ Buttercombs, which include stainless steel teeth and a solid brass core, are designed for lightweight comfort. The brand also offers lightweight hardwood handles that snap onto the line’s existing combs to provide extra grip.

Millers Forge manufactures a complete range of grooming implements, including a wide array of slicker brushes and a cat-specific, self-cleaning brush. The comb selection includes a two-in-one adjustable comb. The professional line spans into rakes and blades, as well.

“If the tools aren’t made well, if they’re not ergonomic or balanced properly, we definitely get sore at the end of the day,” she said. “The better quality the tools are, the longer they’re going to last you and the longer you’re going to be able to use them. The cheap stuff hurts your hands in the long run.”
Resco’s slicker brush has ergonomic handles that are co-molded soft rubber, which makes them easy to grip, even while wet.

Beyond the tools you use and recommend, Otto said it’s important to train clients how to use them appropriately at home.

“We offer free brushing and combing lessons,” she said. “We tell the clients up front that we’re not going to sit and brush your dog for you. We’re not the typical type of grooming salon. We educate our clients on diet, behavior and coat care.”

For the retailer, the key is to leverage Otto’s strategy to help sell grooming supplies: Educate your customer. It’s up to the retailer to ask about the customer’s pet, coat type and desired outcome and then lead him or her to the right purchase. Further, to prevent pet owners from inadvertently injuring their pet, consider offering training sessions like those offered by Otto. Not only will you have the opportunity to provide instruction but you likely will sell your customers on specific products and services.

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